Your Money and Your Retirement Dreams

Is there a brighter future in your retirement than you think? There just might be.

The subject of retirement dreams conjures up widely different images. Instead of retirement being a mysterious future unknown, it can be a life you enjoy because you’ve planned, sought out expertise, and taken control early on. If you are proactive in your efforts, you avoid getting caught up in the day-to-day of hoping and praying that it all works out and that things fall in to place. Take today’s opportunity to dream, visualize and prepare well.

Accomplished dreams or just far-fetched aspirations:

Aspirations can take more than just desire; they can be vague and have no plan. Real dreams are measurable, attainable, and meant to be realized. It’s simply a function of specific goals, a time horizon and regular habits. Surprisingly, what people want most often isn’t a grand and glorious existence, but simplicity, longevity, flexibility and security.

On the other hand, we find that those who form and follow a plan have a little more glory in their retirement years than they expected. Yes, it can be that easy.

Retirement dreams have stages. Early in our adulthood we think about what we want to be, do and have. But life teaches us. In the course of living, our experience reveals what we truly value and appreciate. The beauty is in that fact that it’s a little bit different for everyone. Maybe the mansion isn’t as important as we thought, but the sports car is. Some of the most important things don’t require much money, but do require good health to enjoy. Romping through the countryside with your grandkids is a lot more enjoyable when you feel well, physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Get Specific Sooner

Specific dreams serve as an incentive. We save and sacrifice for the things we clearly value. Put some detail in developing your dreams. Having early, intentional dialog with a financial planner makes it easier. We find that people who have those conversations in their 40’s and 50’s are far better prepared to enjoy retirement than the ones who put it off.

Waiting to get specific only makes the retirement transition harder. Our clients who position themselves the best are the ones who save and make all the right sacrifices to have the resources they need to retire. Those habits without specific plans, however, tend to keep them locked in “frugal mode.” When retirement arrives, their default assumption is, “We can’t…”

Getting specific at least fifteen years ahead of retirement helps you paint a different set of assumptions on the canvas of your future. The transition to retirement will then be much smoother and happier. Those who plan with some degree of detail tend to find a retirement wallet that’s a little bigger than expected, and are better prepared to enjoy it.

Good, Better, Best

No one has a crystal ball. Careers take unexpected turns. Some choose to work longer, just because they love it. Others take a hit from a sudden health event or are pleasantly surprised by an unexpected inheritance. The many variables you may face don’t have to prevent you from planning with detail and purpose.

One way to accommodate those variables is to use the Good, Better, Best approach. Outline three different lifestyle scenarios that reflect different spending levels. Consider three different homes, different cars and varying frequencies of travel. Document a monthly spending plan that includes everything from food and utilities to that occasional, or even frequent, trip to Hawaii.

Documenting three possible levels of spending helps you make your dreams specific. It also helps you make concrete plans and choices along the way. The transition to retirement, then, will simply be part of a logical progression in life. Even the spontaneous among us want to plan for plenty of options.

I wish I had known…

One unexpected aspect of retirement is the impact of a major purchase. If, in your retirement years, you want to purchase a vacation home or go on a world tour you should plan well in advance. The financial impact of those purchases is proportionally more significant in your retirement years, as you’re in the distribution of the wealth you’ve created.

Retirees are also often taken aback by the thought that this thing called retirement could be a 30-year gig. It’s not often considered in the normal course of hammering out a living, but it’s recognizing and planning for the possible length of your retirement that will help you immensely.

I can’t believe I get to…

If clients have worked with us and been fairly disciplined, it’s not at all uncommon for their retirement years to show up with pleasant surprises.

It’s always rewarding when we hear clients say something like this; “I have the flexibility, comfort, and peace of mind knowing that my financial house is in order. I don’t have to stress about getting a monthly check. I really don’t know what I was concerned about.” Their sense of relief is obvious when they discover that regular income, in some form, continues. Of course, risk is being managed as we navigate through various market periods, along with helping work through other contingencies. The assurance that we are planning intelligently for those possibilities is a great source of comfort.

Another surprise comes in the form of options. The “aha” moment comes when clients discover just how much in the driver’s seat they are. Their discipline and planning pays off in the freedom to craft the kind of daily life they want for themselves. Paid consulting and volunteer work are just two of the many possibilities. It’s a matter of asking the question, “How much of which things do I want to do and how do I wish to utilize my time?”

Dream your dreams and make your plans

Retirement can be rewarding and exciting. If you take control and plan for it, you will enjoy it. There’s less mystery than you think and more options than you thought possible. Dream and visualize in detail today and plan for tomorrow. Your happy future will come sooner than you think.