Here's how I came to create a retirement I love.
I’ve wanted the security of financial independence for a long time and regularly spent some of my time over the years on financial planning.
I was considered a “valued” employee, and yet I still felt the fear during the periodic corporate practice of motivating employees with threatened layoffs. And sadly I did get caught once in the wrong place at the wrong time, ouch.
When I later had my own business it was up to me, and I was working toward the point where I could retire.
I’ve also had the added twist of living with cancer for 15 years now and have really wanted to have the time to travel and live life fully on my own terms.
Even with all that financial and retirement planning, I never seemed to find a way to make it work.
Starting My Journey
I shared my situation with my 2 sons. My younger son Sam, who’s a finance major, said I might be doing better than I think. I agreed to look into it again.
Here I was: divorced, living on my own, still trying hard to make my business a success, and not making the kind of progress I wanted.
I had a financial advisor and, at Sam’s suggestion, I looked at the impact of the 1% management fee. Wow, it did have an impact! And I later discovered the conservative investments my advisor made had significantly held back the growth of my nest egg.
A Really Big Challenge
As I mentioned, I’ve also been living with cancer for the past 15 years: Multiple myeloma is a blood cancer that can cause spontaneous bone fractures and kidney damage. It's treatable but not curable and I live with it constantly. It's part of me. I’ve dealt with life-threatening situations including potential paralysis with extended forced bed rest and spinal surgery, other scares and fears, and additional challenges.
I don’t know how long I’ll get, although I’ve been very lucky since I was first diagnosed (it seems so long ago now). I’ve sadly known others who haven’t been so lucky, so I cherish what I have. All this really brings things into sharp perspective.
I've chosen to be a cancer "thriver," rather than simply a survivor.
Thriving is a choice. I look for ways to make the very most out of what I've got. I've applied that same mindset and approach to my retirement. And I also apply that mindset and approach with the people I serve, who want to create a great retirement for themselves.
Continuing with my journey, although I kept trying different ways of retirement planning, still none really helped much. I didn’t see how I would be able to retire comfortably in my current situation.
On the bright side, I was able to adapt some of the methods I’d been using with my business clients. Those methods have been great for helping entrepreneurs discover what was next for them. They've been able to find something that was both a great fit AND that they would love doing. I was able to apply those things to my own retirement planning and they really helped me get clear about what I wanted.
By coincidence, I also found the book Investing at Level3 by James B. Cloonan, founder and former chairman of the American Institute of Individual Investors. He made a number of unconventional assertions and suggested an equally unconventional approach to retirement investing. I investigated his claims thoroughly and confirmed them for myself. When I applied some of his investing ideas, I saw I had the means to retire and support myself with a modest, but adequate lifestyle – so I did!
And wow, what a difference those methods I’d been using with my business clients made! Being really clear about what I want has allowed me to create a lifestyle I love, and I'm still creating it!
Part of that clarity was being reminded that one of my important goals was to create a stream of “passive recurring income” sufficient to support me in my retirement. Cloonan’s ideas let me make it happen for myself.
And equally helpful is that I've been able to take what I’d learned as a business executive and business owner about getting things done and use those methods to make a great retirement for myself.
As I played with my new retirement planning methods, things really began coming together.
My son Sam, the finance major, helped me build a very solid planning structure and I developed a process for using it that put my retirement finances in order. I’ve improved it as I’ve used it with others and they've gotten their own great results.
Those methods I adapted from working with my business clients got me really clear about what I wanted for my own retirement. All the tweaking and tuning I did as I worked with them made the experience simple and easy.
As for making it happen, as I mentioned, I turned to what I'd learned from my time as a business executive and business owner about structuring my time and staying focused. I adapted those things into a simple, easy way to make my retirement happen while still having plenty of time to have fun.
Together, these things have led me to where I am today, happily retired and loving life.
I've come to this: For me, the most important thing is time with family and close friends. And also having a fun, vital life filled with friends, travel and play. Plus, I want to give back and make a contribution.
And how about others I’ve worked with closely? How have those retirement planning methods worked for them?
Barbara said, “I haven’t felt as tuned in to what's really me for a while. I feel much more inspired by my vision [and] I’m excited to start moving in that direction.”
Sean went from almost abandoning his own business to building a successful business that, most importantly, leaves him time for his passions of performing and spending time with his wife.
Allison says that for the first time she now understands “where she’s at and what she needs to do” with her retirement planning.
Gail and Steven went, in Gail’s words, “from confusion and fear to clarity and a workable plan.” They’re now in a position to achieve their goals.
Gisele and Curt thought they were 6 months from bankruptcy after they weren’t able to sell their successful 20-year-old business (the had market shifted under their feet). Now, in Gisele’s words, they have “miraculously taken what looked like survival and moved into abundance.”
Creation and Transformation
So here I am today, happily retired and loving my life.
I’ve moved from NJ to Florida to be close to my 2 sons.
I’ve been traveling a lot, including trips to my 2 top lifetime destinations:
- New Zealand
Patagonia in the southern tip of South America plus Buenos Aires
I've also taken trips to London/Normandy/Amsterdam, the Caribbean including Havana (Cuba), the Grand Tetons/Yellowstone/Badlands, scuba diving in Cozumel with buddies, 3 weeks up the California coastline with my younger son, and more.
I already have a growing circle of friends here in my new home.
- And I'm not done yet with making a contribution! I’m having fun building a business to help other retirees create a retirement they love. I’ve already transformed a number of lives with more to come!
What do you want to create?