Can You Afford to Retire?

by Dr. Christopher on June 17, 2010

Editor’s Note: This post is written by Laura Mattia of the Baron Financial Group

Before deciding to take early retirement from your job, stay home a week and watch daytime television. ~ Unknown wise person

 So you think that I’m going to talk about money.  Most people do when they talk about affording retirement.  However before you decide how much money you will need, you need to determine what you need it for.  I have decided that I will not need it for a nursing home, handfuls of meds or a larger television.  I have plans…You see as we all get older we are going to have more time, freedom from responsibility and wisdom than we ever had before.  These are all gifts that I encourage you to consider when you are thinking about retiring or getting older.  I am inspired by the promise of plentiful opportunities and my dreams motivate me to prepare for that sacred time.  Have you thought about what you would do with additional time, freedom from responsibility and wisdom? 

 Obviously I plan to have my health.  Your health will absolutely impact whether you can afford to retire.   When talking to people about taking care of their health; exercising and eating right, a common response that I hear is, “I don’t want to live that long”.   Okay then…as if you have a choice.   Today people are living longer and longer which they never anticipated nor prepared for.  


This weekend I was at a hotel in Lubbock, Texas where I met a lovely gentleman, Arthur, who is 88 years old.  He was sitting by himself at a counter having his breakfast and since there was a seat next to him, I sat down.  It turns out he was visiting his grandson who was attending a local university.  He told me that he wanted to visit him more often but his finances did not allow for it.  His wife who is 87 is in a nursing home and all of their savings go towards her care and his medications.  It was very apparent that his health was poor as his tremors made it very difficult for him to eat.   Imagine one of the top joys in life, eating a meal, was a miserable experience for him. 

 As we talked, he asked me about my profession.  I told him that I help people prepare financially so that they can enjoy blessed long lives into their 90’s and 100’s.  He just stared at me –“I didn’t want to live this long”, he said “and I certainly am not looking forward to living into my 90’s or 100’s”.    Ah, I responded, but what if you do?  We don’t always get to choose.  How would you like to spend your next fifteen years?

 And in the end it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.  ~ Abraham Lincoln

 Well it might be on the late side for Arthur to plan for his retirement but it is not too late for you.   Before we talk about affordability, why not take a moment to imagine what that actually looks like to you?   Planning for a healthy and financially secure retirement where you can do the things that make you happy is about enjoying your life.  Now that’s something I can sign up for… and I bet you can also.  Imagine the ability to have those additional quality years to do the things that you enjoy.  To pursue the things that you didn’t have the time, freedom or wisdom to engage in during your working years.

 Do you have a vision of what retirement could look like?  Does it get you excited?  Go ahead, close your eyes and start to dream.  Let yourself go wild.  Once you identify those dreams and you get a vision of what they look like, write them down and put them someplace where you can revisit and refine them.  This vision does not have to be a list of unachievable dreams; this list is now your retirement goals.  Almost anything is possible.  Do you want to travel the world in a sail boat for your 90th birthday?   What about running a marathon when you are 80?  Maybe you want to try sky diving.  Or have you thought about going to school for a second career, taking dancing lessons or entering into a body building contest?  Maybe you are still young and you don’t have a specific dream but you want to have your health and wealth available so that when the time is right you can look at all your options. 

 Preparation for old age should begin not later than one’s teens. A life which is empty of purpose until 65 will not suddenly become filled on retirement.  ~ Arthur E. Morgan

 Spend some time and think about all the possibilities!  Retirement does not have to be something that you fear.   If you have goals and dreams it can be the most exhilarating and fulfilling time of your life.  Keep your list and work on it periodically.  I find that an annual review, around my birthday is a good time to pull out my list and make revisions.  What gets you excited?  If you tell me what is on your list, I will tell you what is on mine…

 Prepare For Longevity –    First Purpose, then Health and then Wealth

  1. Make a list of 5 things that you would do if you had:  Time, Freedom from responsibility (not having to go to a job, not raising children, etc.) and Wisdom (sense of comfort in who you are, what you know and believe and where you are going)
  2. Are you excited?  If not go back to step 1 and redo the list.  Remember these are things that you would really like to do but you don’t have the ability at the moment.
  3. Could this become the list of things that you want to do when you retireWhy can’t you do these things when you retire?  Is there something wrong with the list or is there something wrong with your perception of retirement?
  4. Find a place where you can keep the list and review it at least annually. 
  5. Ask me what I have on my list.  
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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Chris June 17, 2010 at 7:19 pm

1. Plant a ridiculous garden with fruit trees and vegetables everywhere similar to Willie Wonka’s Chocolate Factory but not of candy.
2. Spend time with friends and family, kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids, and probably great-great-grandkids.
3. Hike the entire Appalachian trail.
4. Stay at various monasteries and ashrams.
5. Split my animals into different teams, ie. dogs and pigs vs. chickens and cows, and have them relay race to see who wins.

laura June 17, 2010 at 8:27 pm

That’s an awesome list Chris. That could keep me going too. If you want, you could start that garden at my house this weekend. Come on over!

eileen June 17, 2010 at 9:08 pm

I haven’t spent my life chasing after money.
I enjoy my work and my life…lucky me.
When it’s time to retire… my plan has
always been to cash in all my chips, put
whatever cash I have in a pile, and
move to a place where that is considered alot.
Uruguay is looking pretty good….
One day at a time… with gratitude
for what I have… not worry for what I have not!
My list: move,create,dance,sing,laugh.

laura June 17, 2010 at 10:56 pm

Hi Eileen, You have the right attitude. Chasing after money for the sake of money can leave us with a very unsatisfied experience in life. However it is important to remember that if used wisely money can serve as a tool in helping us have the experiences that we want. It is all part of the balance that we strive to achieve in our lives. Uruguay may not be the most enjoyable place to retire if all of your friends and family are located somewhere else. The truth is that with a little thought and planning you can choose where you want to be, not because that is all you can afford but because it offers you the greatest satisfaction. Planning is not as hard as it might first appear and you don’t have to be exact. You just want to move in the right directions. As the famous quote from Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carrol says (spoken by the very wise Cheshire cat); “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there”. I don’t know about you but I prefer to exercise my freedom to choice.

Alexander J. Rinehart, DC, MS June 17, 2010 at 11:34 pm

I want to age like a candle…burn strong for the entirety of my life with just a slight flicker before I go out. We spend too much time dying and not enough time living…and your right we don’t always have the choice as to whether we’re going to live in our 90’s. If you think about it…we’ve only been a couple of generations in where this is a real possibility, so it’s our generations that still have the choice how we want to reach our later years.

Oh just a note, it was my 25th birthday today and at dinner with my g/f the waitress asked if I wanted them to sing, and followed it up with “I always give older couples the choice”.

laura June 18, 2010 at 1:22 am

Hi Alex,
I really like your candle analogy, thoughtful and i made me smile. You bring up a very good point regarding this very new opportunity that is unique to recent generations. The thing is that if you watch the people who are there now, you will realize that this “opportunity” has come to them as a rude surprise. They never expected to live this long and so they didn’t plan for it. Many of these lucky (or unlucky depending upon your viewpoint) individuals;
•Did not take care of themselves physically so they are in nursing homes, taking lots of medication, are in pain and are physically limited.
•Did not save enough money so they are not living where or how they want. Many are afraid that they will outlive their money…some of them will if they are not careful l.
•Did not develop passions or vision for how to spend this gift of time so they have nothing to do but watch television.
We have the luxury of learning from the experience that many of our older generations are enduring. Happy 25th Birthday! Let’s get together to celebrate your 100th!

ron guzenski June 30, 2010 at 4:54 pm

i love hearing from anyone under 30 that understands that following the pack will not change your life, physically, emotionally or financially. If you help others make a difference in their lives, it will certainly effect your’s, r)

Chris July 1, 2010 at 10:05 am

Thanks Ron. My mom, who wrote this post, has been a great mentor for me. Following the pack won’t work simply because what conventional wisdom preaches doesn’t work. And yes, it’s give, then receive. Hope to see you again soon!

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