Recently I got a call from a client-one of those calls you never want to get- that her husband had recently passed away. It was relatively quick: just a few weeks from diagnosis to passing. A one in a million occurrence. So rare you only read about these things in magazines, or never heard of the diagnosis. It could never happen to me or someone I know. Well, it did... .and it's the worst kind of terrible.
I am a Certified Financial Planner®. I plan- it's what I do all day, every day. I help people plan for the most obvious events in life, and I help people plan for the unexpected. I have a personal theory about planning: since when we were born we didn't come out with an expiration date stamped on our bum, our last day on earth is the eternal mystery date. They say that man (and women) plan, and G-d laughs: it's true. No matter how hard we try to seek out all the answers, facts, faults, remedies, alternatives and solutions to our problem, there always lies just beyond our comprehension an outcome not figured into the equation. Sometimes it's the obvious we overlooked, and sometimes, like my dear friend, it was beyond our realm to include in our calculations. I likened this sad occurrence to all that retirement planning I do for my clients: you've put so much time into your planning for the event, have you planned for the event itself?
Let's do a little dig, shall we?
Retirement planning, for the vast majority of us, is the act of putting a little bit away every year for decades with the intent of having enough at a certain age to be able to stop working and continue to live in the manner we have been accustomed to. Let's dig a little deeper: I said certain age, and not a pre-determined age. Retirement planning is like a road trip: if you don't know where you're going, you're never going to get there. How do you know if you're on track to have enough money to retire at a pre-determined age if you've not designated that precise age, or how many years specifically you have to reach your goal? But I digress: what I really want to talk about is not you in your saving years, but you in your retirement years. Besides saving, what are you doing to prepare for that day when you finally have the rest of your life to yourself, and what do you need to do to get there? It's not about Friday-I-was-working-and-Monday-I'm -retired. If you're paring down, do you need to sell a house or properties, cars, clean out closets, set up your new soon to be workshop, or any of a thousand things to be done to prepare for retirement besides saving. Let's face it- all those years you saved, you sacrificed every year by having less money in that year to spend, getting ready for that elusive, sometime in the future retirement date. But have you put much thought into what will happen when you actually do retire? You put so much time into planning for the event, have you put in as much time planning what to do with the event?
Allow yourself to dream- but while you dream, put some definitive into the equation. Driving somewhere without a destination will keep you driving your entire life- with no stops to enjoy the scenery...