do you want retirement to exceed your present

June 12th, 2008

Do You Want Retirement To Exceed Your Present?

Being forced to stay in a reclined position for a few days after my wisdom teeth surgery, I had the opportunity to observe some TV. I don’t have a laptop computer and the pain medicine made concentrating on reading almost impossible, so TV occupied my brain when I was awake. Mostly, I slept, but I did see snippets of television here and there when I was conscious. And I noticed a lot of commercials about retirement. Most of what I remember are beaches, golf, traveling to fun locations, and a whole lot of relaxing. It made me consider what I envision retirement for my spouse and I to be like, and I realized, I honestly don’t have a clue.

Our retirement plans – what we save, how much we save, and what we want to accomplish – are fuzzy, to say the least. We, of course, want to be able to retire, and we don’t want to be a burden to our children when we do. Self sufficiency is our goal, but beyond that, we’re decidedly unsure. We’ve been slowly increasing the amount my spouse saves in his 401K from 3% when I started this blog almost a year ago, to 6% today (the extent of his company match). That won’t be the end of what we save, but for now it is our start. But the question is – what are we saving for? A house on the beach where we sip cocktails and laze under an umbrella all day? Travel? It probably won’t be golf, since my spouse doesn’t play and I declared my distaste for the game at the tender age of 6 when I threw my clubs into a water hazard.

And I realized, that one of the problems we have with saving for retirement is that we don’t have a vision or something that we’re aiming for. And that is fundamentally tied into the fact that until a short time ago, I couldn’t picture being able to save money for retirement. We were saving, a bit, but we were not doing it with any real focus or purpose or direction because the idea of saving enough while still surviving our present seemed rather impossible. But now that I do feel that saving money for the future, and enough to make a difference, is a real possibility, I’m starting to try and envision that future. And I realize – I don’t expect retirement to be any different than my present, because I haven’t learned how to see beyond the present and into the future.

What does your retirement look like to you? Can you see beyond the present to what you’d like to happen in the future? Are you already retired and living out your dreams? Are they what you expected when you were still planning for it? As I evaluate my goals, hopes, dreams, and reality, I need to learn to see past the present so that I know what I’m aiming for. Without a vision, motivation is hard to maintain.

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13 Responses to “Do You Want Retirement To Exceed Your Present?”

  1. My full answer is definitely coming in the form of a blog post :)

    I do want to say that you probably have nailed why a lot of people don’t save for retirement. They either don’t see “retiring” or they don’t have a vision for it when they do.

  2. I think more of what I like to do now – I hope to travel, and otherwise relax and be involved in music, maybe do a second degree and so on. It depends a great deal on when I will be able to retire. At the moment it’s looking like I’ll be well into my late 60s, and it’s possible that I may not be well enough to do anything exciting then – I don’t come from very long-lived stock.

  3. My husband and I aren’t big travelers, so I see us doing a lot of what we currently like to do on weekends. Gardening, working on the house (there will always be projects!), going for walks, spending time with family. I’m sure we’ll also enjoy spending more time on our hobbies (ie. scrapbooking for me, woodworking for him).

  4. I have a vision of my retirement, it involves an RV -hopefully a hybrid one, time to write and finish a novel, relaxing and enjoying the time with my spouse to be proud of what we accomplished

  5. peachblush Says:

    June 12th, 2008 at 2:33 pm

    I think I have a good picture of what we’re working for. The wild card for me is my 12 year old daughter. Will she choose to live in the same area of the country or even in the US? She has dual citizenship US/EU, she could very easily end up far far away. So, just what will it cost us to see her and once she has kids, we’ll travel as much and as far as necessary to be involved grandparents. How does everyone else plan for this?

  6. It does help to have that vision. Mine is to have a small house, edible landscaping, a big garden, time for family/grandkids/friends, catch up on reading, enjoy sewing, maybe some community volunteering and school lunch buddy program, traveling in my state, scrapbooking my family’s past for the future generations, family history research, and finishing my family history book. (The same things I’d like to have more time for now!)

    In line with that, I bought my old worn small 460 sq ft house 3 yrs ago – at age 51 – and have been busy working on it ever since. It’s now a comfortable 1036 sq ft – with room for the 2 grandkids that ‘live’ there parttime when their mom works/ goes to college.
    I remodeled it as handicapped accessible and easycare floors etc. (to be ready for my older age!) I plan to live there til I die, or whatever has to happen. I just keep working on it, and the yard, while I am still working parttime. (33 hr/wk) I’ll work parttime (with health insurance) until old-age health insurance kicks in :)

    Having my vision – and being quite happy with it – makes planning for retirement fun :) It is a good feeling to know that ‘this is it’ – I don’t have to move again – this IS my retirement home – and I just love it! It may be cute and cottagey (small) but it’s comfy and it’s mine and mostly – it’s paid for!

    If you can visualize it – you can make it happen! :)
    Good luck with your dreams!

  7. I really have no idea, but then I’ve only been out of college for a year. I do know that I want to be working–whether it’s paid or volunteer. Maybe get a library job working 12 hours a week shelving as long as I’m physically able. And then write and sew. I don’t know if/when Micah’s going to retire, either. Philosophy profs can just keep going. ;)

  8. I had a vision also, but somehow life circumstances changed it all. After raising my children, I have raised my granddaughter. She’s now 19 and pretty well independent. Hurricane Katrina ended my teaching career in 2005 and since I was 3 years away from retirement, I wasn’t able to retire on a full benefit. I do have a contract job in my field now and will be working well into my 80′s I hope, as I can’t live on my 2/3s retirement alone.

    I had visions of retirement also, but life has a way of intervening and all we can do is rise to the challenge and adjust our lives accordingly.

  9. I say that I want to retire, but to tell you the truth I cant imagine what I would do. I would like to be financially independent. It would be great to know that I could retire, but not have to.

  10. This really got me thinking. I hope to have enough investments so that I will have enough money for my bills when I am retired, but I have not really thought any further than this. I have not thought about holidays and second homes or maybe the fact that I may have to travel around to visit the children etc. I am concentrating on paying off my debts and my next move will be saving for retirement and this is an interesting question – as without real focus it will be hard to know not only how much to save but to have the motivation to actually do so.

  11. 15 years ago my hubby and I started to think about what retirement would look like for us. Now at age 60 I can look back and see that our plans have drastically changed 3 times over the years. However, our saving for old age did not change. We continue to fully fund the deferred comp and our Roths each year. Hubby is semi-retired now and I’m leaving my job in less than a year. Our home and its location is a gift from God that we could not have imagined 15 years ago. Our circumstances with where our children and grandchildren are could not have been imagined correctly 15 years ago. And our health is never a certainty. So, my advice, as if you asked me — is to dream big dreams. Let your imagination go wild and in the meantime continue to sock away as much as you can. While we can never know what our circumstances will truly look like when we get there we can be certain we will need money at the time. :-)

  12. funny that commercials about retirement are on during the day when most people are working

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