“Paint me a picture of your future. Tell me what retirement looks like for you”.
As a retirement financial advisor, this is what you will often hear me ask a new client at their first financial planning meeting. If they are just beginning to accumulate funds, I want them to have a reason for accumulating the funds and to have a clear vision of the purpose behind what they’re working towards.
While I can’t remember exactly where I first heard this, there’s a saying that sums up my perspective on retirement well: “Don’t accumulate possessions, accumulate experiences.” This may sound like strange advice coming from a financial advisor who counsels clients to grow their assets because one day they will be drawing from them, but I’ll explain myself.
I read a book a few years ago called “A Trip around the Sun: Turning Your Everyday Life into the Adventure of a Lifetime.” In the book, the authors challenge the reader to stop living as if the purpose of life is to arrive safely at death. With every trip around the sun (or birthday), they encourage readers to take more risks and dream bigger dreams.
To be honest, I have never really liked the word retirement. Wikipedia defines retirement as “the withdrawal from one’s position or occupation or from one’s active working life.” Does that get you excited? I think not. The authors of the book I mentioned were cautioning against this idea of “withdrawal” or leaving an “active working life” behind.
Retirement is a worthwhile goal but not in and of itself.
This is why I will encourage folks to share with me their plans for the future. I want them to think about more than just the end goal, but also how they will work towards those goals they make, and how they can cherish the experiences along the way. This isn’t “retirement planning” but rather “financial freedom.” To me this means being able to transition to something new and different when your plans, desires and callings change.
The responses I get to my “paint me a picture” prompt, of course, vary widely. The freedom to travel, to spend more time with grandchildren, volunteer at my church, or assist aging parents. Sometimes we learn that folks desire a future that allows them to continue to work but they want to determine when they work and where they work. True retirement or “financial freedom” is about more than having accumulated enough funds to stop working; it’s about making memories while doing things that are important to you every day at every stage in life.
“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” —Winston Churchill
Over the years as a retirement financial advisor, I have done my best to make memories with my family and friends within the constraints of a family budget. I have found that with proper planning, there are adventures that can be had while also saving and investing so that when that transition time comes, there are funds to draw upon and memories to reflect upon. True financial freedom is about creating a life where you can spend time with the people you love and enjoying experiences than can be remembered—regardless of your working status.
Contact us at 757-436-1122 to see how we can help you develop a financial plan that will transition you well into financial freedom while also enjoying the present moment.