By: Raymond J. Ohlson, CLU, CRC
Ann and I were sitting on our deck at our beach house in South Carolina gazing at the beautiful, blue Atlantic Ocean. It was a wonderful October day, with the temperature about 77 degrees; the skies were blue, and there were just a few whispering clouds and a light breeze. You know it just doesn’t get any better than that! Every time I see the palm trees, the lush vegetation, and the dolphins playing, it just doesn’t seem as though anything is out of place or in harm’s way. But I know we have protection problems.
The beach has been eroding over the last few years and has lost some of its strength. This erosion happens about every decade. The winter storms take their toll on the sand dunes, and then storms like Katrina and Rita add to the misery. Although they didn’t reach the Low Country, their powerful winds and storm surges made their presence felt. Some of the most recent storms are doing like-wise.
You see, these dunes are very important for all life, including the human population of South Carolina. The dunes must be at least three feet tall, with an area of roughly ten to twenty yards of vegetation, followed by another set of dunes at the sea wall. The ecosystem depends on the vegetation and wild life inhabiting and strengthening the center portion of the beach. The dunes behind this center portion help stop the waves from entering our homes and flooding the island, which is below sea level. Of course a hurricane would be too much for these dunes to handle, so evacuation plans are always a necessarily.
We must also be ready to repair these dunes when they have deteriorated to an unsafe level. Over the next few years, the state of South Carolina will begin another Beach Renourishment program. What I didn’t know is that it’s very precise work to replace sand, because not just any sand will work. Let me explain. I learned that sand has it’s own DNA. It has its own “blood type,” so it must be matched perfectly. To renourish the beach, the Army Core of Engineers will tow barges out three to five miles off shore to begin drilling for the perfect sand. They will prepare parts of the beach for the installation of the perfectly-matched new sand by clearing away some of the existing land and vegetation in the area. The actual process of installing the new sand is quite impressive: The Engineers blow the sand through huge pipes similar to those used to create “man-made snow” and the Palm Meadow State appears to be having its own Midwestern snow storm! The Engineers will have already erected sand fences to which the new sand will stick. The tides will then harden the dunes, new sea oats will be planted, and we’ll be okay for another ten years or so. However, protection and security are not a one-time job. We have to review and occasionally take action before the next disaster strikes.
A similar type of renourishment process applies to our financial planning. We may think that our financial plans are solid and “bullet proof,” but the reality of inflation and taxation, along with the looming threat of long-term care needs, can threaten our security. And any of these types of “disasters” can strike without warning!
Furthermore, longevity is actually a double edge sword. Although the average life-span for both men and women has increased dramatically over the past few decades and most of us are fortunate enough to enjoy longer lives on this great planet, sometimes we may come up short on the dollars we need to sustain our lifestyle for those additional golden years. So, it’s time to get out of our barcaloungers and get to work! There are millions of us all across America who may be in a future “storm’s” path. If you think you might be at risk, it’s time to give your Safe Money Agent a call and schedule a “renourishment” review of your financial situation. Just visit www.safemoneyplaces.com, click on “Ask A Question,” and we’ll help you an the Agent near you. Don’t wait for the next “financial hurricane” to hit while you’re unprepared. Your Safe Money Agent can assure that you’ll be safe in both sunny and stormy times.