Day after day, week after week and year after year, you put your work clothes on and trudged off to work. You put up with company politics and survived corporate takeovers, incompetent bosses and sometimes meaningless re-orgs. You did your best to keep food on the table for you and your family, clothes on their backs and everyone out of the doctor’s office. All this plus, you kept somehow putting money aside for your retirement.
There are numerous books written on how to retire successfully, most noted by CPAs and financial experts. They are full of graphs, endless statistics and excellent information and should not be ignored, however, we are. When we talk about you being able to afford retirement, it transcends the almighty dollar. We’re talking quality of life for the rest of your life.
Quality of Life can be summed up in a few words or phrases:
- The availability of Good medical services
- Having fun and not working!
- Making new friends
- Living within your means
- Living somewhere you have always dreamed of
Through the years, we have all done what we could to prepare for our retirements in our own way. Yes we could have done more but the financial meltdown of the worlds’ economy in 2008 also didn’t help. And with the housing markets in most northern markets trying to get some traction, unfortunately the prospects for many hard working Americans might be nothing more than a dream.
What one must keep in their sites at all times though is that housing in many rural parts of the country can be and is very affordable. Perhaps instead of walking away with the $240,000 from the sale of your home you walk away with $170,000. After you put 30% back into your IRA, you still should have enough to move somewhere and begin the life you have dreamed of. Do not give up on those dreams for if you do, you will be compromising your quality of life.
During the 80s I lived in the suburbs of Atlanta. I spent 20 years in Industrial Automation before entering a career in real estate in the late 90s. One of my favorite clients was Luke from Lockheed in Marietta, GA. Luke was born and bred in Georgia and loved work, his wife, his kids and God.
Luke had a dream, and that was to buy some acreage outside of Atlanta and build a home to retire in. To accomplish this goal, he put money aside and for over 37 years. Luke and his wife hardly ever vacationed for if they did, it was local and very affordable. After he and his wife retired to the home he built her, complete with an acre pond he dug out himself, I had a chance to visit them and life was wonderful. A few months later, Luke passed away suddenly of a brain aneurism, only 6 months to the day after his retirement party.
We all have Luke’s in our lives and what is hard to accept is that even if we have a plan and work the plan to the precise degree we intended, it still may not work out like we had hoped. Luke was in his mid 60s, in great shape and always had a smile on his face. He could have retired several years earlier for a slight adjustment in his pension, but he didn’t.
When you sit down to look at your financial picture, don’t ask yourself if you can afford to retire, but rather, can you afford not to retire? We all hope to lead a healthy and long life but with all the uncertainties life can throw at us, the sooner you can execute your retirement plan, the better your chances are of enjoying a well deserved retirement.