Financial Planning

Rethinking Retirement

This morning I spoke at one of my clients’ businesses–we’ve created a monthly financial literacy program that started with the topic of “What Is Money” and will end with investing in November. Today’s topic was retirement… 

Before I get to today’s talk and what inspired this post, I wanted to highlight the genesis of this program. When my client approached me about setting it up a few years ago he shared that his motivation was to empower his team. His ultimate goal was to help his employees learn to manage their finances and eventually help them become business owners themselves–maybe even franchise owners for his firm or to launch their own businesses. 

I hope more advisors think about investing and empowering their employees without the worry of what that empowerment could mean to their own business–for my client, it will hopefully mean he will need to hire new employees as the veterans move on. A business owner who is forced to worry about hiring because she has helped her employees improve their lives and grow into being business owners will never really have to worry about hiring—the universe will take care of her.

Ok, back to today’s talk on retirement… 

We covered the importance of starting early, focusing on controlling what we can control, compound interest, savings vehicles, and how to piece together retirement income. We also talked about what THEIR retirement would look like…not the retirement they have been told they should strive for but the retirement that they actually wanted.

I also encouraged them to think about what they wanted their career path to look like.

Old: Work, Save, Retire, Die

New: Work, Save, Live, Save, Semi-Retire, Retire, Die

There is no “right” career path. However, I do think the old career path is wrong for most individuals–they just don’t know it. We’ve been conditioned through experience (our parents and grandparents), the content we’ve consumed (TV, movies, books, etc.), and what we’ve been taught that we’re supposed to go to college, work for 30-35 years, and retire. Many financial professionals and financial content tell the story that we must sacrifice today for the ability to enjoy retirement later in life. We’re supposed to put off traveling, experiencing, and doing today to be able to live those moments when we’re older, assuming we make it to “older”. I’m not sure we would actually choose the scripted career path if we were never told that’s what we’re destined to do. We only know that path because it’s been what has been old/shown to us.

And this is where planning gets personal…

The traditional career path will always be right for some. But it won’t be right for all. It’s certainly not right for me and I’ve realized I don’t have to follow that path–I have the ability to create my own path to retirement and my own definition of retirement.

Blazing your own path does not come without hard work, sacrifice, planning, and maybe a little luck but it is much closer to your reach than you might realize. I can promise you it will be worth it–creating the life you want to live on your terms makes the hard work and sacrifice worth it because it’s bringing what you want most to your life. You might even be surprised that the hard work and sacrifice and won’t seem so hard and like a sacrifice.

I shared with the group I believe we will see a transition from work 30 years non-stop and retire to a career path that has a leveling off for a period of time that picks back up and ends a little later–I envision the plateau being mid-career to have more time for family and creating more experiences with family. In my vision, the career path might look like this:

23–late 30’s/early 40’s: bust it, work hard, establish reputation (brand), save, pay debts, and establish a solid financial foundation

Early 40’s: slow progression of career growth, potentially stop working or change job to lower seniority position to have more time and less stress, be more present with family, travel more, create memories, and continue to network and keep in touch with professional contacts.

Late 40’s/early 50’s–early/mid 60’s: back to the workforce, heavy focus on saving and paying down any lingering debts, final preparation for retirement or semi-retirement.

Mid 60’s +: Semi-retirement or retirement with purpose (I will revisit this concept in a future post).

So, just as I challenged the group this morning, I want to challenge you to really think about the life and the career path you want to have.

What does it look like?

Now, start planning for it.


Disclaimer: Nothing on this blog should be considered advice, or recommendations. If you have questions pertaining to your individual situation you should consult your financial advisor. For all of the disclaimers, please see my disclaimers page.