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Saying Yes to Life

How would you answer the question, “What does it mean to be wealthy? Interestingly, according to the Charles Schwab Modern Wealth Survey 2023, 7 out of 10 people said that their definition of wealthy was “not having to stress over money” and “being able to enjoy experiences”.  So for the vast majority of people, wealth is about well-being and the quality of their life experience - not a fixed dollar amount.  


So how do we get to that nirvana state of stress-free wealth?  It’s different for everyone of course, but I say that it starts with a plan and some deliberate thought.  Pretend like you have to drive to Dubuque, Iowa and you set out on your journey with a full tank of gas and yummy snacks, but no map and no plan as to how to get there.  You think you’ll just figure it out as you go – until you get hopelessly lost in the middle of Illinois and wish you’d gotten a AAA TripTik (remember those?) or Google mapped it. 


I’m just saying that this is how most people approach retirement.  They’ve saved up for that full tank of gas and snacks, but they have no map for retirement – no plan as to how they want to experience life after their work stops.  In fact, according to that same survey, only 35% of people said they have a written financial plan.  No map = no successful journey.

A financial plan also defines the type of experience you’ll have along the way.  After years of teaching yourself to say “no” to so many things in life while you’ve been paying to raise the kids (and put them through college), get the mortgage paid off and save…save…save for retirement, it’s a whole new skill to learn how to flip the script and say “yes” to life in retirement.  To say yes to that glorious European river cruise, to the thrill of a new car, to the generosity you want to share with your family.  It’s hard to say yes, when you don’t know if you CAN.


What I see happen time and again is that people without a plan ultimately say “no” to retirement glory.  They live way below their resource level, playing defense against the potential what-if’s in retirement – whether an unknown health event, a big market correction or just living way longer than they thought they would and running out of money.  But guess what? Their kids inherit the money that was never spent, and the KIDS live the glory; they live the “yes”. 


Don’t let that be you.  If you don’t have a plan and you’re within 5 years of retirement, it’s time to get one.  I promise it’s not difficult or time-consuming.  The clarity it will bring, and the incredible retirement you’ll have, is well worth it.


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