When trying to determine when we can retire, the easy way is answering the question, ‘How much money do I need?’ But this does not address the real outcome. “Why do you want to retire?” This is the question that is often overlooked when you are working. What are your retirement goals? Are you dreaming about being with your kids, going on a mission with your church, or sailing the world?
Why do you want to retire? When I was growing up, I babysat for a family that had two young boys. I was in middle school and the parents liked having a guy babysitter. The parents loved sailing and taught their sons to sail. The whole reason they worked was to save money to be able to sail around the world for three years with the entire family. This was their “WHY”. And they were not going to wait for retirement to sail around the world with their family.
This family was certain and intentional about why they wanted to retire and what they needed to achieve it.
I have a client that loves making furniture. Consequently, he wants to retire and spend time woodworking and building furniture. The reason you want to be intentional is that it will help you understand how much money you will need to attain what you really want to do. Also, it helps you realize the enjoyment you have in reaching your retirement goals.
Recently I met with four different clients. Two of them were older. They were enjoying what they were doing: One was a consultant to software programmers and the other was a sociologist. They enjoyed the interaction with people and having their own schedule. They have no plans to retire. They will probably reduce their work hours, but don’t plan on retiring.
The other two individuals were not content. They were both working for larger companies. They were interested in having more time to themselves and certainly more flexibility. In one case I was going through the conversation. I was trying to dig deep and penetrate into what the individual wanted.
The one individual wanted to go back to their roots. While they are a computer programmer now, when I started asking them when they wanted to retire he said he wanted to retire by the time he was 60. Then he paused. There was a long silence. He said he wanted to fill me in on a couple of things. He discussed his love of working on a farm. He had grown up on a farm. When he left the farm he sought the excitement of the big city.
What was realized as he toiled away in computer programming is that he enjoyed the outside, and the satisfaction of working the land. He figured he could live on a lot less, put some more money away while he was working now, but look out to a few years, when he could go back to the family farm and eventually purchase the farm. This may not exactly be retiring, but it is helping the client determine what they really want.
You may think this is getting into a lot more than what you would discuss with your typical financial advisor, but I think it helps solidify for people what they really want to be doing. Asking good penetrating questions and spending the time with an individual to see what they really do like is a valuable exercise for both the individual and the financial advisor to peruse.
Accordingly, understanding your life goal is beneficial in clarifying what you want, how much you need to feel fulfilled and knowing that you are on the right path in reaching your retirement goals.
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