Every day I help others develop, tweak, start and manage retirement plans. So when Paul Gagliari, Manager of Social Media at Sun Life and Brighterlife.ca asked me to describe my retirement goals in a sentence or two, it really forced me to re-think what I want my future retirement to look like. One would think that having an award winning blog called Retire Happy I should have that answer ready to go.
The truth is I do think about my retirement plan often and what I can tell you is it's not conventional and it's always changing.
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The early years
Retirement planning for those in their 20's and 30's is typically a number. It's the dream of achieving financial freedom by a certain age. It's hard for young people to dream about retirement as a lifestyle or a vision because that future is so far away.
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For me, retirement planning when I first started my career (in my early 20's), was simply a dream of Freedom 55. Why? Because that was what society put in my head as a reasonable retirement goal.
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As a result, I wanted to grow wealth fast and retire early. Back then, there was no retirement dream of vision but more of a financial goal centred around a high savings rate. I've learned a lot about retirement planning since my young naive days.
Financially, I was really achieving my goals. I was maximizing my RRSP contributions every year. I had paid off my mortgage in my 30's and I was well on my way to Freedom 55. In fact, in 2007, I sold my business and became asset rich but took a real hit on cashflow. When I sold the business, many people joked that I had retired in my late 30's but was it true? In some respects selling the business was a form of retirement. I had a lot more time to spend with my family and do other things but I also took a significant cut in income. I continued to work part time like many retirees these days do building a new business. As much as I loved working less, I really hated the pressure of living on less income.
Work – Life Balance
Today, my retirement goals are very different largely because of the influence of my wife and 4 kids. With kids age 10, 9, 7 and 6 it's hard to imagine retirement in the near future because they are really expensive little buggers!
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Retirement is more realistic once they are finished school and more independent financially. At this stain in life, it's also important for me to set a good example for my kids and have them watch me go to work and work hard everyday. I don't ever want them to think that making money is easy so I have ramped up the business and am working full time but with some lifestyle balance in place.
My future retirement goals
After thinking about Paul Gagliari's challenge to articulate my retirement goals in a sentence or two, I have come up with this:
I plan to retire in about 15 years once my kids are more independent. My goal for retirement is that it will not be drastically different than my life just before retirement. I don't want to wait until retirement to retire. Instead I see retirement as an extension of the life I am already living as I want to live my lifestyle dreams long before I retire. I see retirement as a journey as more of a slow transition from full time work to less full time work to part time work to maybe a little work. I am building a business that allows me to include work as part of my retirement plan.
It's more than a couple of sentences and it's not a typical retirement plan but that's OK because I tell people all the time “Retirement can be anything you want it to be. The key is to figure out what you want it to be.”
What are your retirement dreams?