He was forced into retirement several years before he was ready for that phase of his life to begin, and he is still looking for another job to fill the gap.
But Auito says the sting of his sudden unemployment would have been far worse if he hadn’t already been working toward retirement with a trusted financial planner.
“I had kind of prepared for this,” he said. “I didn’t have any hard feelings about it either, and I didn’t take it personally. It was kind of a blessing.”
The 57-year-old Marietta resident worked with Lockheed for 33 years as an engineer.
Auito wasn’t sure how many others from the company were let go at the same time he was, if any, but said the transition hasn’t been so bad because he had what he calls his “trump card.”
“I was able to get unemployment from the State of Georgia and six months of severance pay,” he said.
So, while he continues to look for another job, because he’s not ready to be retired, he has helped out neighbors, started running daily, works to get his home ready to put on the market and has caught up on his hobbies of fishing, kayaking and working on his 1971 Corvette Stingray.
“Psychologically, you never know what you’re going to do until you’re in that circumstance or situation,” Auito said. “The secret of retirement is not to focus on yourself but those who could use help.”
Having a financial planner has also helped soften the blow for Auito.
“The last thing you want to do is joke about life savings,” he said. “Tolerance for mistakes is very little when you get in your older years.”
He ended up hiring Richard Artzi with Atlanta Capital Group about three years ago. Nearly 60 percent of Artzi’s clients are Lockheed employees or retirees like Auito.
He advised Auito to seek ways to invest and manage his savings, external accounts and financial portfolio and better prepare his 401(k) and IRA accounts.
“It helped set me up for my retirement,” Auito said. “He also encouraged me to pay off my house, which made me feel better because everybody likes to have a house that’s paid off. He told me to double-down on my mortgage payments, invest this much and pay against my mortgage.”
Just a few months short of being let go from Lockheed, the Cobb native had his home in Marietta paid off.
Artzi said his role is to make sure clients retire comfortably.
“A lot of people who work for companies neglect the idea of putting money away,” he said. “A lot of individuals think that they can manage their funds themselves and since 2008, it’s come to a lot of people’s attention that it’s harder than it really seems, and we try to take the emotional responses out of it.”
He tries to catch employees about three to five years prior to their retirement.
One of those clients is James Kohler of Cobb County, who retired from Lockheed in 2011.
He was a director with the company for 26 years and met Artzi through his wife around 2008.
With Artzi, Kohler said he was able to take his 401(k) out of Lockheed, balance it and learn how to self-manage his portfolio.
“I hear from Rich at the bare minimum on a monthly basis,” he said. “We sit down together, tweak my retirement funds if needed so that we don’t run out of money each month.”
Kohler said it was important for him and his wife to find a financial planner to keep a close eye on their funds.
“Get advice from people that know where you need to be and take an interest in where your finances should be, rather than just wing it,” he recommended. “It’s pretty unforgiving if you’re wrong.”
He also said the importance of keeping his finances in order was handed down from his parents.
“They taught me to balance my money, not live from month to month,” Kohler said. “I’ve always done that, and I think that if you do that, you can develop some good financial and spending habits.
“Having said that, I think people need to start planning for retirement the day they start working because you just never know. Some people may think they are set, but they don’t consider the medical costs or other cost-of-living expenses. If you wait till the last minute, you may not be able to retire.”