When you think of retirement, what do you think of? Even better, what
do you think you might actually need in order to retire?
Does the list look something like this?
A big pot of money
A continuous income
A fully paid house
Sun, sand, water
A 1971 Hemi Cuda
(Ok, ok…the last one is mine. Indulge me a little, I’ve wanted one since I
was 9 years old.)
I’ll bet the rest of the list may look familiar though. Maybe worded or
expressed differently, but the themes probably resonate to one degree
If so, what exactly is a big pot of money? Whatever number just popped
into your head, are you sure its enough? Is it more than you need and
thus actually unnecessary for you to retire well? Do you know?
What about continuous income, or less expenses? How much income
and what level do you need those expenses to get to?
Are you sensing a theme here?
For any plan to be successful, you need clear measurable objectives that
you can track and be accountable to achieve.
You also need the ability to get creative to make the plan meet your
goals. More on that in a little bit.
Whenever I’ve coached people on their retirement plan, I always have
them start with some “Imagineering” and answer the question, “what
does your retirement look like?”
You get all types of answers here.
I want peace and quiet on a sun-drenched beach
I want to stay in my house and be near my family
I want to have a boat and sail as much as I can
I want to travel and see the world
I want to be the guitar player in a Motorhead cover band
(Ok, ok!…Yes. The last one is mine again. Stop judging me. Sheesh!)
Whatever that answer is, I always follow it with some questions.
- What do you think that life would cost?
- What do we have to start with today?
- When would you like that life to start?
The question everyone struggles with is the first one.
No matter what their answer is to it, I challenge them on it.
The rule of thumb figure of using a percentage of current expenses that
most advisors use to calculate this answer is often way off of actual
requirements. Also, this is pretty much where the advisors plan and
For me, we’re just getting started.
Let’s park the cost figure, and even time aspect for a second, and we can
come back to it. I have some questions that may impact both favorably.
How set are you on retiring in the home you occupy now? Would you
ever consider selling your home and moving to a lower cost area so that
you can invest some of your equity?
Do you have things you’d like to do in your retirement that requires
access to certain things…water, a city, forests, mountains, solitude,
family members, or the hustle and bustle of a downtown?
Are you on your own or married? Are there dependents to consider?
What net assets (cash and non-cash) and income streams do you have to
start with now? What is the return/growth rate you’re currently getting
on those assets? (You’d be surprised how many people have no idea the
answer to this)
How much are you contributing to your investments per year on
average? At the current growth rate, what would they be worth when
you plan to retire? Would all of your current assets be included in that
number, or would some no longer be there? If so, how much value do
those assets represent so that we may deduct it?
For the income streams you have today, which of those (if any) would
continue into retirement? What new income streams might replace them
or add to them based on what you know today? How much would that
Will any debts continue into your retirement timeline? If so, how much
do we expect those to be and what are they?
At this point, we’ve asked just enough questions to paint an accurate
picture of “here’s the net of what I’ve got now, here’s what it will be
worth when I would like to retire at current growth rates, here’s what I’ll
still owe, and here’s the income I think I’ll have’
Mapping this out on a simple Excel sheet allows for the fun to happen
as we get creative in comparing what we have, to what we think we’ll
(We have an easy template for this at LiveAnywhereLeaveAnything.com)
Usually, when that process first starts, the reaction is typically one of
The reason for this is the gap between return rates required, assets
needed, and income expectations vs. what we’ve mapped that we think
Ok, let’s get to the fun part, as all of those numbers you feel like
reaching for a large bottle of Tequila over are actually all adjustable.
Yep, every single one of them.
Start with location. Would you consider living in a different area or even
country where the cost of living is a fraction, but your quality of life may
actually go up for the same cost? Could you invest the excess equity to
provide more income? If so, how would that impact the numbers?
What about your investment returns?
Chances are when you see your fees adjusted returns you may wish to
fire your advisor as fees can take up more than 50% of your growth.
That’s a lot of money no longer in your pocket.
What if you were to take those investments and put them into things
like ETF’s, High Quality Dividend stocks, that pay higher returns than you
can usually get from your advisor and can self-manage for free? How
does that impact the numbers?
What about income? What ways do you have to either grow your current
income or add to/replace it with another? (Hint: Learn to Fish Part II is
specifically designed to give virtually anyone a secondary, or
replacement income source) If you can change the income rate now, or
have a new source in retirement, how does that affect the numbers?
What are your options to reduce costs now in order to accelerate
growth? What about options to reduce costs in retirement?
Adjusting all of these can get you closer to retirement than you ever
thought possible. I know in one of my coaching sessions, the person
reduced their timeline from 15 years, to just 3.
This is entirely doable. It just depends on what you’re willing to do,
question, plan for, and execute on. Diligently, and consistently.
By going through the questions, it forces you to get specific, and narrow
down to an actual plan. A plan complete with timelines, areas of focus,
and actions to hold yourself accountable to.
It’s also miles ahead of what the vast majority of people have ever even
thought through even with the help of an ‘advisor’
In my opinion, this step is critical.
After all, if you don’t know where you’re going, any road looks like
progress…but you’re still lost not knowing if you’ll get where you want