Retirement used to be a word that had a very clear definition to me. Basically, it meant you stop working, eat dinner at 4:30 p.m., and spend your golden years sitting in a rocking chair.
When I was a young man this was my vision of retirement. You kick back enjoying the fruits of decades of labor. It seemed perfectly logical at the time. Didn’t everybody wake up at 6 a.m. and work 60-plus hours a week in a job they couldn’t stand for 40 or so years?
Over time my perception of retirement has changed dramatically. But no matter what my vision of retirement looks like, the path to get there is the same…ACHIEVE FINANCIAL INDEPENDENCE.
Now I like to think of myself as a 45-year-old millennial. Yes, I know that sounds odd. But I do respect my younger counterparts’ idea of retirement. Who wouldn’t want a future that involves doing what you love and taking time to see the world?
Also, the idea that happy is the new rich — a life less focused on acquiring stuff and more about real experiences connecting with people — really appeals to me. This mindset helps when it comes to financial independence. You need less money if you have less stuff.
So if this is what the typical millennial believes in, I swipe right. Let’s take a moment and travel through how my retirement vision has changed:
1. My 20s Retirement Vision…
In my youth, I had a lot of young man wishes. I’m going to make millions of dollars, purchase a mega mansion with an eight-car garage for all my high-end sports cars, and travel the world on my yacht Lonely Island style.
Now, those ideas make me think…That is WAY too much house to clean! How much would tires cost for that car? And if I’m really being honest, I get seasick standing on a dock.
At some point, adulting does happen and perceptions can change. And no matter what you envision retirement to look like, a plan is a must (if you’re currently in your 20s and can set your plan now, you’re one of the lucky ones).
2. My 30s Retirement Vision…
When I hit my 30s I was still focused on material things. But wakeup call!
Having kids makes you reassess your priorities. Ten years earlier, it had never occurred to me that I’d like to help my kid’s graduate college without $100,000 in student loan debt. Ten years earlier I never considered the idea that my girls may not stay in Kansas City once they grow up.
What I learned about my retirement vision in my 30s was that I had come up with a slew of brand new questions without MANY answers. The few answers I held to: Keep saving. Keep bumping up my 401k another percent every year. Keep my debt as low as possible.
3. My 40s Retirement Vision…
I’m officially half way through my 40s and my retirement vision is much clearer. The planning I’ve done over the past 25 years is starting to bear fruit. I have my 401k and an IRA. I kept my debt low and managed to save some money for my daughters’ college. Even so, it is a little weird. I see the finish line but I still think of myself as a 25-year-old millennial.
So how has my perception recently changed…. First off, there is no rocking chair in my future. I want to live a life with purpose and kicking back doing nothing sounds downright boring. Through some tough times and a little luck, I have found a career that I truly enjoy and feel fulfilled. My work life is now a life with purpose and strong relationships.
So my retirement vision includes continuing to help people with their retirement with work I do here at blooom.
Couple that with some extended breaks in between spending time with my family and friends, and I have a balanced life of challenge and enjoying experiences with those I love.
My vision is for my wife and I to sell our house, buy a little place in downtown Kansas City with NO yard to mow, NO upkeep needed, and see the world (Bora Bora, Fiji, and Spain here we come). Our dream is to see our daughters and future grandkids (fingers crossed) wherever they end up.
The ‘What’ May Change, But Never the ‘How’
Regardless of your own retirement vision, which like mine can and will likely change over time, the way for most of us to get there is through disciplined saving and careful planning.
That plan should include keeping your debt to a minimum and getting help in areas you are not an expert.
As part of my retirement vision, I’m here to help you reach yours…whatever it looks like.