Not Everyone Wants the Same Thing in Retirement
When it comes to thinking about your retirement, don’t fall for the trap of thinking about retirement tools. Start with your retirement dreams and goals.
Just what is it that you want out of retirement? Specifically?
If your answers sound anything like, “sleep till I wake up” or “fish whenever I want to,” let me suggest you’re not thinking about retirement; you’re thinking about a three-day weekend.
For too many, retirement represents the elimination of a negative (like a job or an alarm clock or a boss), rather than the elevation of a positive (like time with the grandchildren or travel or volunteering).
Now, I’m not suggesting that proper use of financial tools (like your company sponsored 401(k) plan) isn’t important. But without specific life goals, even the savviest use of retirement tools can be like a jet pilot without a flight plan – no idea where she’s going but making record time.
Over the years, I’ve seen several ways individuals approach retirement, some healthier than others. See if you can identify with any of the following.
1. Survival. Like a drowning man, a retiree with inadequate income will cling to anything and treat it like a life raft. Lifeguards know to approach the struggling swimmer with great caution, lest they get pulled under themselves and a double drowning result. A “drowning” retiree is struggling to make ends meet and grasps at any perceived solution – even spending down their assets to zero, or falling for overly aggressive sales pitches, promising rosy investment returns for so-called “little or no risk.”
Survival mode is not a goal, but it’s a result of inadequate planning for retirement.
2. Leisure. This is the great American retirement dream and the focal point of most Wall Street advertising. “Work with our firm and you too will be taking beachfront walks in the sunset with impossibly good-looking people with silver hair standing by your side.”
That may sound great to you if you are inundated by deadlines and dreary duties at work. And some may never tire of a lifestyle of perpetual leisure. But from what I see, there’s only so much travel and beach combing that retirees really want to do.
Will leisure be enough to satisfy you in retirement, or might you want something more?
3. Legacy. Others experience a heart hunger to know that their life has had meaning or purpose. For many, that meaning can be captured in one word: family. For them, it’s deeply satisfying knowing that their life’s work will mean that they can leave a financial legacy that will impact their family. It may mean money for grandchildren to attend college. Or a tract of recreational land on which their family can hunt or fish or enjoy the outdoors, even after they’re gone.
Others have larger or different legacy desires. They may have religious or scientific or educational institutions whose mission they admire and support. Knowing that their legacy gift will mean a significant step forward in that mission brings great satisfaction during retirement years.
Would leaving a legacy give deeper meaning, purpose and satisfaction to your retirement years?
4. Goldilocks. People don’t often fit neatly into one category or another. We are messy combinations of a lot of different categories. So, a strict survival or leisure or legacy label just may not fit you. Maybe you’re some combination of all of them.
So, if you’re getting serious about preparing for retirement – well good for you!
Just make sure that you first identify what you specifically want (your goals), then plan what financial instruments and products will help you get there.
It’s a good idea to know your destination before you focus on getting there faster.
Offering you Wisdom on Wealth, I’m Byron Moore.
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