Retirement success means something different to each of us. Some people see themselves working in retirement because that’s what they’ve always done. Others are afraid to stop working for fear of running out of money. Some people just want to feel secure when they stop working and know they’ll have sufficient money to live. Since retirement isn’t really a destination, but a process, try our 3 P’s to help create your vision of a successful retirement.
Planning for what you need and want
Planning is about answering the questions, “When can I retire?” and “Will I have enough money to last my lifetime?” Planning starts with generating ideas about what you need and want in retirement. Visualizing what retirement looks like for you is a step in planning that tends to be overlooked. Planning for the future can seem abstract, almost like fantasizing. In order for us to get excited about it and hold it as a goal, it needs to be attractive to us. We will be more likely to put our money toward it if it is something real in our mind’s eye.
Tracking expenses is an important step in understanding your basic needs and to help direct your money to where it matters most. Inevitably there are trade-offs to be made. Sometimes we have more wants than our resources can satisfy.
Prioritizing with your values and priorities in mind
This is where prioritizing comes in. It helps to be in touch with your values, that which matters most to you in leading a satisfying and fulfilling life. These are really your beacons when it comes to questions of how to spend your money and allocate resources/savings for retirement.
This may require something as simple as forgoing dining out a few times a month in order to have more for retirement. It may require trading off a ski boat for long term care insurance. It really depends on what matters most to you. Being clear on the difference between needs and wants helps with this as well.
When you have established the importance of savings and understand the need for additional income (beyond Social Security) it becomes easier to make tradeoffs because you know what is most valuable and vital to a more secure future. This may sound like giving up “stuff” that could lead to enjoying life now. Actually, it is an exercise in becoming more clear on our values. You find ways to make small adjustments that can have a profound impact on your future. And aligning your spending with your values is as close as you get to “buying” happiness with money!
Persistence over the years will pay off
Persistence simply refers to the idea that retirement is not a destination. It is not like crossing the goal line and spiking the ball. It is a process that depends on a certain commitment to living a financially sustainable life. That means spending less than you earn. Obviously starting to prepare early is desirable. But no matter when you start it is vital that you do. People who haven’t started tend to ask, “What’s the use? I’ll have to work until I die.” By taking a few of these basic steps clarity starts to emerge, about what you need and how to direct your money in ways that matter. Yes, you will be making changes, but they can make a world of difference over time. Persistence will pay off.
Planning is about knowing your needs and values. It is about having a compelling vision of what retirement might be like, one that makes you want to bring it to fruition. Prioritizing is about putting your money where it matters most. Tracking spending makes this possible. Persistence keeps you on task. You periodically monitor your progress and make adjustments. You continue to live within in your means. Small actions have a big impact over time. Take those actions and keep at it. Result: retirement success!