The Only Time You’ll Know Your Retirement Planning Was Successful Is When You’re Dead.

You can plan all you want for your retirement. You can save all you want. But unless that savings is in the millions of dollars (upwards of at least five million) you will have no idea how your retirement years are going to be. Retirement planning comes with a lot of uncertainty. More so than ever before. Gone are the days of working twenty years with one company and an ending gold watch reward. Not only do we have to contend with American factors, we now have to contend with global financial discords as well.

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To be honest, retirement is a feat that no human being can predict.

Every four to eight years, as a new political administration moves in to The White House, the rules of the game change. I find it near impossible to comprehend that our financial well being is constantly being manipulated by whomever we elect into any political power. And the realization that other countries, such as China, Japan, England and Venezuelan can have an affect on our bottom lines is mind blowing as well.

To be retired now, in this day and age we have to be nimble, educated and quick. We have to be fluent in ALL global activities, all global corporate shenanigans and all global political administrations. It’s enough to make me want to vote yes on legalizing crystal meth (just kidding, but you get the idea).

Countless, endless studies ad nauseam have shown that it is very difficult to predict recessions, interest rates or how the financial markets are going to react. None of us have any idea how our tax rates are going to go. We’re unsure about health insurance, disability insurance (will it cover what aches me in my future?) or long term insurance. The rules are constantly being changed and many times we don’t know that the rules were changed in the first place.

Let’s face it: the ‘experts’ couldn’t even predict who was going to win our last presidential election, so how can we expect any other ‘expert’ to correctly predict anything to do with our daily lives?

When you wake up in the morning, odds are good that this new day is NOT going to be the same as any other previous day. Every day is different. We’re really handling our retirement years by instinct rather than logic or knowledge. We’re facing things that never happened before. There is no precedent. There are no guidelines.

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This really is what retirement looks like. You have to sit down with your partner often and decide and discuss what you both are going to do in order to keep succeeding at this retirement game. You will be making decisions/choices almost on a daily basis.

There is too much going on in the world now that we can’t predict our futures anymore. We really are handling our current lives by the seat of our pants.

Maintaining a lifestyle isn’t as easy as it looks. Sooner or later you will figure out that frugality is going to be your only course of action to get you through your latter years. Inflation is real. Health care, property taxes or coming up with monthly rent money are big inflation concerns. We’re being forced to take on some sort of risk whether we like it or not in order to survive. If we stay on a predictable safe path eventually our lifestyle will shrink and fade. There is no such thing as ‘protection’.

We can’t even go shopping at a WalMart anymore and be guaranteed we’re going to come home that afternoon. Did you ever think that setting foot inside a WalMart was now going to come with risks?

Rather than trying not to lose, life now is starting to look more like fun if we play it to win. It’s a game of survival. Retirement is turning out to be NOT the time to relax but more in tune to a set of current top video games. Is it any wonder that Manhunt 2 has been labeled as possibly the most violent video game ever made and is infamous for being one of only four video games to have received an “Adults Only” rating due to violence, with the other three being The Punisher, Hatred, and Agony. Look at the names of these top video games: Manhunt? Punisher? Hatred? Agony?

Sounds like a normal day for me strolling around New York City.

There’s only one way we will know if our retirement years were successful. Unfortunately, we won’t be around to hear the final ending score. We’ll be dead. If we can die with our lives still intact, roof over our heads, bills paid on time, all medical needs met, and maybe some money left to our heirs, maybe then and only then will we know that all that saving, scrimping, planning, yearning and agonizing paid off.

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“Well dear, at least we got that mountain view you always dreamed of”

If we can get a Significant Other to whisper into our ears just before we take our final breadth “You done good!” there really isn’t much more I can say about retirement. Except, do the best you can, live your life to its fullest each and every day. Don’t wait for your retirement years to take that vacation, learn a new hobby, live that experience. Do it now while you’re young AND still have a job.

Learn how to pray. It’s up to you and the good Lord above if you’ll be fortunate enough to survive this wicked world we all live in and yet manage to still retire well.

And save, save, save, save.


  1. Hi Cindi, I am more optimistic, after 21 years of retirement I love where I am and the possibilities are exciting. Isn’t this joy and happiness success in itself, not needing someone else’s validation your retirement is successful? Lara


    • Lara after 18 years of retirement I’m sick and tired of this good fortune being ruined by others. They have no right. It’s exhausting. Didn’t you just state that the seniors in the old age home were furious that the interest rates had fallen and they have no more safe place to invest their money? How’d you like to be someone in their 70’s, 80’s or 90’s and have to worry about that crap? I find it bewildering to see how these politicians just manipulate the currency or scream and shout to demand the interest rates go down so that they can look good? And now Washington wants to change everything under a new retirement policy called The Secure Act. Who can keep up with all this nonsense? And “they” know that.
      It’s a game of manipulation in order to survive.
      You have to be three steps ahead of these policy makers.
      You know that.
      Just because we’re smart doesn’t make it right.
      It used to be in my state that seniors over the age of 65 and who earned less than $86K a year could apply and get a discount on their property taxes. Currently, that annual amount has now changed and the new amount is $29K per year. That has wiped out a lot of seniors who still need that discount to make ends meet. As if that hardship wasn’t enough, now seniors have to apply each and every year to get the discount, rather than fill out the application once and give authority to the state to look at your annual filed 1040. Do you think elders in their 80’s and 90’s will remember or even be able to get to the assessor’s office and file the correct papers? This new law was done specifically to hurt the seniors because the state knows many will forget or be unable to file and the state will make even more money off the backs of the elderly and get away with it.
      The older you get in this country the more you’re targeted.
      And it’s only getting worse each year. Not easier.


  2. I understand your frustration, and you are writing a blog post after all, so getting all the angst out is probably a bit cathartic. I sure hope though that you are not letting all the worry about things you can’t control or predict ruin significant portions, heck, any portion of your days. We don’t know the future, but even the great depression showed us that if folks didn’t panic, most got through it. I grieve for those that literally had nothing, and then were forced to less than nothing, but from what other posts you have, that doesn’t seem to be you. While I don’t think I am a Pollyanna, I also can’t waste whatever time I have. I’ve lost too many people in my life shortly after retirement.


    • Hi Sam. I know I’m doing AOK. I am just frustrated to watch Washington play games with people’s fortunes. As I get older I see that there just is no regard for the elderly. I find it to be very sad. I’m fortunate to still have my brain cells intact. LOL. I just hope my brain can continue to pull me through my retirement years.
      Thanks for your comment.


  3. There is always noise and changes and we do have to adapt. When you have a President that changes his viewpoint on cutting taxes in 24 hours it’s hard to not be confident in what to do. Adaptions do sometimes include taking more risk to have your money make more then inflation. As you said many many times before we are the best person to handle our own money. I am being proactive in getting even more passive income., a healthier lifestyle , and more physical activities.? The operative here is focusing on my personal retirement journey and letting go of the noise. Lara


    • HI Lara. I’ve totally stopped watching the news. Except business news on PBS (NBR) and Bloomberg. All I care about right now are corporations and their impact on the economy. I can’t believe that there are politicians or people in office who wish for a recession simply so their party can win a stupid election. How can people be so heartless? The president is scrambling to offset it which in turn upsets an entire apple cart. There is no precedent for such destructive behavior.
      I just feel fortunate enough that I still have my smarts about me. It’s a game of manipulation and being 3 steps in front of the opposing forces.
      Thanks for your comment.


  4. We have beenhappily retired for about 8 yrs & KNOW our planning, saving & choices have been successful. We are enjoying life to the fullest, enjoying the rewards of our many years of planning & saving. No chance of running out of money due to a great pension, SS (when 70) & our savings. Living the dream here!


    • Susie, you’re not at 70 yet? Hmmmmm. I’m not going to say a word. My husband was supposed to collect at 62. Everything was geared towards that. Then he became seriously ill and can not forgo his current health insurance. That pushed back his retirement to 65 when he can go on Medicare. Hopefully, he’ll live that long.
      No amount of planning prepared us for this.
      Thank you for your comment.


  5. Cindi,
    I have been reading your blog(s) for years. Although I don’t always agree with you ( but mostly I do) I have to thank you. You are always honest, frank, insightful and thought provoking – and you have opened my eyes on the perils of retirement financial planning.


    • Casey, I hope I haven’t turned you off to saving, saving, saving? Stay ‘woke’. Understand the factors going on in the world. Be agile and you’ll do just fine.
      Thanks for your comment.


  6. We got a handicapped sign last year. My husband is disabled with ankylosing spondilitis. He has had it since his teens and is very bent over. There are new medicines to help his condition, but he is too crippled to make use of them. He has other issues and for that medicines work well. We are enjoying using the handicapped sign.

    Our county has discounts for homeowners and seniors on their property taxes. Also, there is a discount for those who have low income. That discount freezes the taxes. Yes, you have to get in your paperwork your income tax report to the county each year. Our senior citizens group helps older people do this. My friends all network to make sure we share information and help others. Just by keeping close to each other we are not alone. Also, by hearing about others, we realize that our situation is as bad.

    Because we get up and move each day we stay in better shape than just sitting. We love to plan and fix things. We make lists, clean, and enjoy what we have. Autumn is coming and I am looking forward to the change. The colors are spectacular. I itch all summer and soon that itching will stop. As left our N. Illinois my husband was having congestion due to tasseled out corn. Up north he is breathing just fine. The air is cleaner and is not filled with corn pollen. We bought red raspberries at a local market and had them for breakfast. I will head into town later and get a USAToday and see what is the latest outrage. I look at this as a step in history and, although I do not know where this will lead, I am interested in the story. I will not be defeated, because I keep trying.


    • HI Sue. I love your attitude. I won’t be defeated either. My husband and I have very strong survival skills. I have just come to realize that every single thing we have been through the last 20 or 30 years have prepared us for this moment in time. I’m not afraid anymore and that is a BIG accomplishment for me!!! I’m up for the challenge. I’m going to make this work because for the first time ever my husband is on board with me. We sit down and discuss everything. he put in his slants and I put in mine and together we have been making joint choices. We really do talk about it almost every single day!
      My husband is ill also. He has two aneurysms and I never know if I am going to see him the next day. Everyday we both wake up together is a miracle. It’s an awful feeling. We’ll know in December if he need open heart surgery. In the interim we’re proceeding as if he were well. I don’t want to waste these years.
      Thanks for your comment and for sharing your story with me.


  7. So as a political refugee I have a slightly different perspective. My parents came as legal immigrants from Cuba in the 1960s. They lost everything they had, their homes money in the bank, they were lucky to escape with their lives. Much of their family stayed behind until they were approved to emigrate.

    All they had was an education, but guess what, coming to the United States did not guarantee they could work in their chosen field’s. So they went through years of re- training, while living a very minimalist lifestyle. I remember it vividly, although I came here at the age of 7.

    This was before any benefits for refugees were put in place so there were no food stamps, free medical care, or anything else available to us. Not that our family would’ve taken it. I did get some help from the Catholic Church, which means the other two back when he was able to as he was very n this was before any benefits for refugees were put in place so there were no food stamps, free medical care, or anything else available to us. Not that our family would’ve taken it. We did get some help in the Catholic Church, which means the other two back when he was able to as he was very prous

    My mother recycled everything. Kind of what you read about in the Depression years. No food went to waste. What bread was made into breadcrumbs or bread pudding or something. She made all her clothes until I was a teenager in the 70s. They only owned one car for ever .

    So life can turn on a dime, and you just have to be ready. Have faith, trust in God.

    Since I live through this I don’t fear what is coming, because I know one way or the other we will all survive in the end. All of us and up in the same place anyway, the cemetery one way or the other. Just my two cents.


    • Teri, thank you for your two cents. I too am a child of immigrant parents. My parents were broke till I was 17. My mother used to beg her own father for money just to buy my sister and I clothes. I grew up seeing all of that. It certainly makes an impression on a little girl. Anyway, after 17, my parents hit it big and became multimillionaires! Yay! But the financial lessons learned still resonate. My father learned how to speak English by reading The Wall Street Journal and The NY Times every day. He was a fantastic investor and did very well with Fidelity.
      My dad always advised me never to give up hope, believe in God’s good graces and that is what I still do. He tried to teach me how to invest but I never listened. Bad move on my part for sure.
      Having trust and faith in God is, IMHO, the BEST retirement advice of all time! God will never fail you. I believe all my past mistakes were done for my own good and now, at this point in my life, those life lessons learned are going to pay off.
      Thank you for sharing your background and for your comment. XOXOXOXO
      PS: I was with my father everyday for the last 3 weeks of his life. He used to fret so much over money and if he had enough in retirement. Before he died I was able to hold his hand and I whispered into his ear “You done good, dad. It’s OK now. You can let go” and with that he squeezed my hand. He died later that night.


  8. Ugh stupid Siri, I meant to say that this was before any free assistance was available for immigrants. Not that they would have taken it. They did get some relocation help from the Catholic church, which my father paid back as soon as he was able because he was very proud.

    Sorry about that Cindi if I’m not typing it in and speaking it in Siri usually gets it wrong .


    • I understand everything you said, Teri. My dad was the same way. He wouldn’t even borrow money nor did he have any credit cards. My mom was president of The American Committee On Italian Migration. She was very instrumental in getting fellow Italians to gain entrance in to America. We come from very good stock, you and I. 🙂


  9. Great post, as always, Cindi. As I read this post, I thought about my young adulting kids. They’re going through the same things – they have jobs, but their earnings, just out of school aren’t that far off from what it is like to live on retirement savings -it’s a constant state of managing/balancing to make ends meet. Maybe they’ll be experts in how to enjoy their lives, travel while their young, and not buy into the illusions that when they retire it’ll be better than the current moments they are living? They’ll definitely know the feeling of penny-pinching to survive!


    • Hi Shelley. I see my own kids struggling also. I tell them not to look for me for anything. Sad. Hopefully, there will be some changes as they reach their own retirement.
      Thanks for your comment.


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