When we think about retirement, whether it’s a long time in the future or just a few years down the road, we usually think about money and whether we will have enough money to live on. Some of us also wonder if there will be any Social Security payments during our retirement.
I challenge you, though, to change your mindset from money to activities and fulfillment. I submit to you that a fulfilling retirement is independent of the amount of money you have. Billy Graham said, “Old age may have its limitations and challenges, but in spite of them, our latter years can be some of the most rewarding and fulfilling of our lives.”
When do you want to retire? Do you want to continue working? If so, do you want to work full-time or part-time? Do you want to continue working at your current job or do you want to do something different? What do you hope to accomplish in your retirement? Do you want to travel? Where do you want to go? Do you want to spend time with your children and grandchildren? Do you want to move? Do you want to volunteer at your favorite charity? The questions could go on and on.
For many people, being retired simply means doing what they want to do full time. Dick Van Dyke said, “To me, retirement means doing what you have fun doing.” Others, like Betty White, don’t want to retire — “Retirement is not in my vocabulary. They aren’t going to get rid of me that way.”
With this mindset, you don’t start the money planning until after you have solidified what your dream retirement will look like. What do you need to achieve your dream? What will the activities cost, if anything? How will your spending change? How will your income change? Then, develop a retirement budget to determine how much money you will need when you retire.
Preparing for your retirement in this way helps you focus on life rather than money. It also helps you avoid the post-retirement feeling of “What do I do now?” My mother was a perfect example. She retired at age 65 from her regular job as head cook at a nursing home and immediately went to work part-time at a senior center that provided a noon meal Monday through Friday. At the same time, she invested many volunteer hours for various groups. She continued working at the senior center as a paid employee until age 82. Ever after her “second retirement,” she continued to volunteer at the senior center and many of the other groups. She lived like the earlier quote from Billy Graham.
Changing your planning process about retirement can make that retirement much more fulfilling and change your attitude about money. Using another quote from Billy Graham: “If a person gets his attitude toward money straight, it will help straighten out almost every other area in his life.”Judith Ackland has more than 26 years of experience in accountancy and financial planning, including seventeen years as a CFO of a diverse business. She started Crystal Financial in 2010 to help a wide array of individuals, families, and business owners better understand their finances and how good financial management could help them achieve their goals. Judith has an MA in Professional Accountancy from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln as well as a Certified Public Accountant Certificate and a Certified Financial Planner designation.