My Retirement Plan – Fully Executed with New and Authentic Life Experiences

As we each learn to navigate our own personal retirement jungle it is nice now and then to hear success stories from fellow travelers. A reader of LoveBeingRetired shares her journey and proves once again Retirement is Only the Beginning!

Written by Lynn Lotkowictz

About two years ago, at age 63, I realized it was time to create a meaningful retirement plan. My 30+ year, very rewarding career in sales and management was winding down. My pension was set so I was lucky that I had flexibility.

Retire? But to what? I don’t play golf, crochet, play bridge or enjoy any of those interests my friends do. I adore my grandson and family, but they are 1,200 miles away so a weekend four or five times a year is the best I can do.

Travel, the outdoors, healthy endeavors and children are my passions. In 2013 I started to work on a plan for the next phase of life. The goal was for it be meaningful and rewarding.

I surfed the internet looking for travel ideas, cost-effective options and different ways that volunteering would be mutually beneficial with my interests, skills and passions.   My good friend bought me a book on volunteer travel. In my free time I read, analyzed and sifted through websites, books and talked with colleagues and friends.

I narrowed down the volunteer organizations to those that had places I’d like to go and involved my interest in helping young people. I called each group, asked lots of questions and, most important, asked for email addresses of people who had traveled with them. That, I thought, would be the best way to learn about the pluses and minuses of a program.

During my last two years of full time employment, I traveled to Crete, Greece with Global Volunteers, a non-profit, non-governmental organization (NGO) based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The trip was wonderful. I worked with the Morfosi school, an after school program that helps students practice conversational English. The location is breathtaking. The students are energetic and genuinely interested in learning. There was ample free time to enjoy museums, archeological sites and traditional dining. I worked with a team of volunteers who have similar goals and interests so I also made friends.

After I returned from my second trip (2015) even more enthusiastic than the first, I decided to look into some options to enhance my skills. Since many GV service program center around working with students on English, I researched courses that might give me some tips and new skills. There are some online courses in “TEFL” and a Eckerd College, here in town,  offers a four-week, day program through Via Lingua that qualifies you in some countries to teach English as a second language. I’m not planning to move to China or anywhere else, but think it would be useful to pick up some solid tips on teaching English as a second language and the more I learn the more impact I can have on the students.

My third trip with Global Volunteers Crete program was in October 2016 and it was my best experience to date. Why? After three trips to the same island, I’m familiar with the local bus service to comfortably get around. I know the best spots for an espresso, spanakopita (spinach pie) and a cool drink beachside.

The students remember me and their warmth is exhilarating.  It’s a joy to watch them mature from year to year and improve their skills. When I was leaving this year they hugged me and said we hope to see you next year.  By going back to the same program, I’m building meaningful relationships. I stay in touch with a handful of the students all year round via social media. I’ve made friends with the teacher and her family and am invited for coffee on the weekend with her friends.

My very generous boss wanted to throw me a retirement party.  I suggested he instead make a donation on my behalf to Global Volunteers for future trips, and he did!

(Dinner entertainment in Havana!)

In January 2017, my first month of official retirement, I took a trip to Cuba, also with Global Volunteers.   Along with nineteen other volunteers, ranging in age from 30-78 I spent s week on various work projects that included painting a fence, visiting with seniors at a care center and working with students on conversational English after school.  The beauty of this trip was we stayed in guest houses with locals (private room/bath etc.) in the neighborhood of Miramar.  This was a short fifteen minute ride from Havana.   Put simply, this was a wonderful authentic experience in a country that most Americans know little about as it has been off limits for most of our lives.   There was ample free time to visit museums, art galleries and experience the wonderful Cuban music/dance.   Some of us even went to the famed “Tropicana” show!

I am happy to report I’m executing my retirement plan exactly as I had planned!

The Importance of Retirement Planning, Pitfalls to Avoid & Top Tips to Follow

Written by Rick Pendykoski

Retirement planning is a crucial aspect of personal finance, and one that should be at the top of your list. Let’s look at why it’s important, what mistakes you should avoid and some expert tips on doing it the right way.

Why is Retirement Planning So Important?

Today’s workers want to be financially secure, as well as completely independent and free to follow their passions or interests after they retire. Without a proper plan and a sizeable nest egg, however, it becomes impossible to maintain the standard of living they’re used to.

Many people have no choice but to continue working after retirement, simply because they don’t have enough savings or income sources to keep them financially comfortable.

Today, it may seem that retirement is so far that you can afford to think about it later in life, but it’s always closer than you think. Proper retirement planning is especially important in today’s scenario, where inflation, low interest rates and market downfalls may also be working against you!

Retirement planning(imbreyandassociates)

Top 5 Retirement Planning Pitfalls to Avoid

Here are 5 of the most common mistakes people make, and why you should avoid them:

  1. Not Defining Your Financial Goals

This is the biggest mistake you could make, since you can’t get to a certain place without knowing what it is! The majority of people haven’t clearly defined their financial objectives for retirement, written them down, or started planning how to achieve them. When you commit to your goals by putting them down in writing, you can calculate how much you need to save and start taking action to make them a reality.

  1. Saving Too Little or Starting Too Late

It’s much harder to reach your retirement goals and maximize your tax benefits when you’re putting small sums of money in an IRA or other retirement plan every now and then. After all, the most important element of effective retirement planning is time. When you start saving and investing for your retired years early in life, and saving as much as possible, your money can grow into a large nest egg sooner.

  1. Expecting Pension/Social Security to Cover You

It’s no longer enough to rely on your employer’s pension plan or social security benefits, since many of these plans are under-funded already. There’s no guarantee that your employer or the government will be able to provide what you need, especially with longer life expectancy rates. Age often brings unexpected health-related expenses, and you don’t want to be left stranded or dependent on someone else.

  1. Spending Retirement Income Too Fast

Many retirees take out too much money from their nest egg every year, which depletes their savings as well as the potential growth for that money. Since people are living longer, it’s quite likely that either you or your spouse will need retirement income for 30 years or more, and you may also want to leave something to your kids. After you retire, the rate at which you withdraw your savings will determine how long they last.

  1. Investing Too Conservatively or Aggressively

This is another common mistake, where people worry about putting their savings at risk and end up with too little income in retirement, or place all their hopes on high-risk investments only to lose everything they saved. It’s important to diversify your portfolio, balancing the low returns from safe investments with potentially larger gains from riskier ones. Consult a financial advisor for guidance on allocating assets effectively.

Expert Tips for Retirement Planning in 2017

If you want to be financially comfortable later on in life, put these tips into action now:

  • Educate Yourself – The ‘fiduciary rule’ going into effect in 2018 requires brokers and financial advisors to put your interests ahead of their own commissions and earnings. Knowledge is power, so learn everything you can about the latest tax rules, contribution limits, growth benefits and investment options available.
  • Diversify Investments – With a self directed IRA, you can choose exactly where your retirement savings will be invested. Seek expert advice on building a balanced investment portfolio that leverages gains against risk, for maximum long-term benefits.
  • Avoid Debt – Debt is the biggest threat to your retirement security, so work on paying off existing loans, starting with the most expensive ones first. Stay away from future debt by making frugal lifestyle choices and avoiding unnecessary expenses.
  • Save More – Increase your savings every month/year and automate them if possible, so it becomes a habit. If you want to leverage tax benefits while saving for retirement, contribute as much as possible to IRAs and other tax-smart plans.
  • Manage Risk – Other than planning retirement income, set up an emergency fund and invest in insurance coverage that protects you against potential risk. Anything could happen between now and the time you retire, so take the right steps to protect your savings.
  • Plan Your Estate – Protect your loved ones in case of your untimely death with an estate plan that includes insurance. Other than defining asset distribution and providing for dependents, proper estate planning can also boost your retirement income.

If you haven’t already started putting money away for the golden years, it’s definitely time to start. Otherwise, you may find yourself facing a life of dependence and insecurity instead of the comfort and freedom you’d want to enjoy after retirement.

Rick Pendykoski is the owner of Self Directed Retirement Plans LLC, a retirement planning firm based in Goodyear, AZ. He regularly writes for blogs at MoneyForLunch, Biggerpocket, SocialMediaToday, NuWireInvestor & his own blog for Self Directed Retirement Plans. If you need help and guidance with traditional or alternative investments, email him at or visit