March 2013′s issue of Money magazine has a great feature article entitled “Retire the Way You Want: Six Secrets to Securing Your Dream” What I expected the article would be about was six different investment vehicles or instruments, i.e. diversified portfolio of stocks, treasury bonds, ETF’s, Mutual funds, etc. In fact only the first of the six secrets talked about Investments.
5. Midlife Changes
These were the six topics discussed with relation to your dream retirement. While most retirement planning will involve making sure your financial house is in order, and that your portfolio is diversified, I really enjoyed reading an article that pointed to some overlooked important issues that greatly effect how and when we can retire, like Health and Family.
I definitely suggest any and everyone read this article. A lot of financial guides and books on personal finance will point out “the things college doesn’t teach us” with regards to our money. The book will go on to talk about real estate tricks and tips and knowing tax law. What a lot of the books won’t talk about however is how important our health is in our younger years to our retirement. Staying active throughout our 30s, and 40s will help us avoid ailments or chronic sickness in our 50s and 60s. By avoiding health issues around retirement we are able to save that money that might have otherwise been spent on Healthcare costs. This is just one example of why its important to not focus solely on money or our portfolio, but in fact there are some other major related factors when it comes to retiring when and how we’d like.
So, without getting too mushy and off topic I thought of a few words that seemed relate-able to the aforementioned article.
The Four L’s
Live Modestly – By this I mean, keep your expenses low. The majority of us, as we save for retirement, will not have the luxury of living a luxurious lifestyle. We will need to budget, save and live within our means. A mistake many people make is to increase their expenses as their salaries and savings increase. Instead of allowing your expenses to rise, increase your savings.
Love your family – A family that stays together, plays together. When it comes to your relationships, spouses and children, put them first. Don’t live at the office or live to work. Live to love and be with family. An good and decent employer will respect the home / work life balance. Sleeping at the office may get your that raise but what good will all that extra money do if you end up divorced or missing your children’s milestones.
Laugh Often – Even when its not that funny. Laughing every day will will decrease blood pressure, reduces stress brought on by hormones, increase the response of tumor and disease killing cells and increase memory and learning. That doesn’t include the short term gratification we get from laughing and other benefits.
Learn, Learn, Learn – Never stop learning. As we get comfortable in our older years we get complacent. Complacency is a huge disadvantage in our career and in our home lives. If there is one constant in the world, it is change. As things change so must we. Getting stuck in our ways is a great way to lose our job, keep bad spending habits and lose touch with family and our kids. As your children grow old everything will change. Their taste in music, clothes and friends. Learn about your children, listen to their music listen to their banter and respect their opinions and feelings. Stay close to your family and grow with your job and company. Never stop learning.