Everybody has a theory and/or a detailed recommendation about how/when you are to get to your desired retirement. While that’s all fine and good in conjecture, the truth is you’ll never really know how/what it is to get to your own retirement until you actually do it. That’s it folks. That’s the secret to retirement. Everyone has a plan. Everyone has some sort of idea. Eventually they will get there and it probably will have nothing to do with anyone’s advice.
I already came to my own conclusion about how I was to arrive (and survive) at my own retirement. It seems my plan is starting to catch on because now financial advisors are touting my three-pronged approach to a successful retirement. Throw out the charts. Throw out the books. Forget about saving a million dollars because basically most of us earned around $75,000 a year and scrambling up a million dollars ain’t gonna happen.
My three-pronged C.I.W. retirement secret is this. These are the three things you MUST have in retirement IMHO in order to make it somewhat successful: Cash (savings, social security, pensions) Investments (annuities, stocks, bonds, CDs EFTs, treasury bonds etc. etc) Work (full time, part time, when-you-feel-like-it-time, otherwise a.k.a in retirement as ‘The Side Hustle’). If you don’t have enough in cash or investments, then increase your side hustle. It should be noted that not all retirees can do a side hustle in their retirement years due to either health or some other issue. But you knew this about yourself, right? So, you are either on disability or made adjustments accordingly.
Retirement is NOT rocket science. Retirement is really 20+ years of unemployment. Think about that last statement for a while. Have you ever had a bout of unemployment in your lifetime? Sure you did. What did you do? How did you survive? During The Great Recession my husband was out of a steady job for 2.5 years. What did we do? We survived by tapping into our savings AND we both did odd jobs around our neighborhood. Whatever we could get, that’s what we did. But our main survival strategy was we didn’t have any debt. No mortgage payment to worry about. No car loans to cause us stress from the repo man. No consumer credit lines. No midnight collection calls. No knocks at the front door.
This recent article (click here) written by Pete Dunn, in USA Today regarding a successful retirement for a 65 year old woman who has no debt and only $180K to her name further proves my point. (Note: I edited the letter for brevity)
I am 65 and retiring. I am reluctant but feel it’s time for various reasons. I hope to work part time. Two years ago an adviser helped me navigate my upcoming retirement years. After filling out their profile I am told I am on course to have adequate funds to age 100. I own my home, no debt currently, $180K in investments. Estimated monthly expenses $2,600. Pensions total $600 monthly plus SS at about $1,860 monthly. Any words of wisdom? — Donna
How in the world is $180,000 going to hold up against a 35-year retirement?
I ran the numbers over and over again. I kept arriving at the same answer — As long as things don’t get weird, you’ll be fine.
For the last ten years or so I’ve been convinced the vast majority of Americans, if able to successfully retire, will do so because they don’t need a lot of money, as opposed to a successful retirement based on having a lot of money. This isn’t an exercise in semantics. Donna, your financial scenario is proof of my theory.
It certainly blows the doors off the misconception that a person needs over $1 million to retire successfully.
You paid off your house, which eliminated your largest monthly bill. You have no other debt. And your lifestyle never really strayed too far away from your available retirement income. By my standards, you could arguably teach a master class on this topic.
Will plans go off key? Maybe. Will Donna get hit with a large medical bill? Possibly. She could also get hit by lightning or get run over by a Mack truck while changing a tire along the freeway. In other words, we can’t plan for every single scenario. We plan for the best. Expect the worst and adjust our lives accordingly. That’s it.
I’m not writing about retirement planning anymore because I think most people, when faced near the challenge, come up with their own plans and make it happen. Your main retirement survival kit should include buying a reasonable, affordable, dependable forever home no later than 35 years of age. Never, ever tap into your precious equity and pay your home off in the 30 year mortgage. (kudos to you if you get it paid off in 15. In my case, the value of my marital home rose so much, that after 16 years of ownership I was able to sell, downsize into another smaller home, mortgage free with enough equity left over to buy two newish cars for DH and myself, pay off all my charge cards AND sock away some money into a retirement fund fifteen years BEFORE I turned 65).
Keep your expenses low. Live small and you will have it all. Save whatever you can, even if it’s only $5 you’re able to sock away each week. Do it. Learn to love ROTH IRA’s. Discover the wonders of compounding interest. Be a bit wary of Wall Street. Follow your gut. Only YOU know what to do with YOUR money.
I’m going to continue to write, however, about what life is like for DH and myself while in retirement! I’m there already people and I’m moving forward. Life for DH and I right now is a lot of fun. We want to spend our time continuing to have fun and forget about worrying about money. We’re there and we’re here.