Retirement Planning Must Have – Goal Setting

Ever since we were little tykes, back eons ago, we have been taught that in order to achieve anything of real consequence, we must set goals. Without defining an ultimate destination, how can we know the right steps to take, if we are on the right path, or if we are even getting closer to our desired result? If you want to be happy, set a goal that commands your thoughts, liberates your energy, and inspires your hopes” said Andrew Carnegie. Achieving our goals is one major motivator in the workplace, providing real personal satisfaction along with praise and recognition from others, plus it keeps us in a job! Is it possible to achieve a similar satisfaction in retirement life? Does goal setting fall to the wayside when we retire or does it still have a place in the lives of senior citizens?

Goal setting for life

Although we no longer have project deadlines or sales quotas or corporate goals to strive for, retired life can still be very busy. Particularly if we follow what should be our personal commitment to do everything that we want to do now that we have the time to do it. That can generate one heck of a list, even overwhelming if you do not have a strategy. Setting goals that can be measured helps keep you on track, focuses your efforts on what works, and provides you with the satisfaction of a job well done once achieved.

To be effective pursuing goals, I find it helpful to think of each as short-term (today or tomorrow), medium term (weeks to months), and longer term. For example, today I uploaded and labeled pictures from our recent Paris trip and sent an update to family and friends on our safe arrival – short-term goal, achieved. Also on my list is to research replacing our cable TV/internet/phone service with a more affordable alternative. Over the past week, I have collected information from the internet as well as making some calls – the upcoming Google TV sure looks interesting – and I plan to make a final decision before the end of September – medium term goal. As for long-term, one example is my plan to get back to playing the piano well, something I did in high school, loved, but have not pursued. To play the way I want to play will require lots of practice and it will take time, a long time, and so a long-term goal on my list.

There are some wonderful blogs out there focusing on retirement life with all of its rewards and challenges. Here are a few that I read regularly that may help with your retirement goal efforts. And as an added bonus – each site contains a lot of useful and pertinent information for us all as we approach and live our retired lives:

Have some fun with it. After all, goal setting in retired life SHOULD be fun – you are making plans to help achieve your dreams. Nothing happens unless first we dream” said Carl Sandberg. This time around, your success will not be rewarded with a bonus or accolades from your boss, but with your own deep felt personal satisfaction. Can you think of a more worthwhile goal to have?

 

Don’t forget to pick up a free copy of my Navigating the Retirement Jungle, available upon request by mailing to lovebeingretired@hotmail.com.


The Real Price of Success – Sacrifices to build your Retirement Nest Egg

After a lifetime of work, as we retire to our second life, how will we define our success? Is it in the size of our bank account? Is it the collection of things we have amassed residing within the bigger-than-I-could-even-need-house? Or is it the memories of experiences and quality time spent with those who matter most to us? How big of a retirement nest egg do you need and at what cost?

It is a reasonable expectation that we work hard to make money to provide a good life for our family and prepare for our retirement – no one questions that. And along the way, it is expected that sacrifices need to be made. But the choice of what to sacrifice needs to be a conscious one as everything involves trade offs. In David Ning’s post “Sacrifices you should not make to save money” he acknowledges that sadly, people often neglect their friends and family as they endeavor to climb the corporate ladder. Whether consciously or otherwise, choices have been made and you are where you are because of them. But at what actual cost?


A hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove…but the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child – Simone Weil

The real costs of pursuing success

Success does not come cheap:

  • Commute time spent going to and from work each day – it is not unreasonable with rush hour traffic being what is to spend an hour plus commuting each day – each way. More than two hours every day just getting to work and back. These stress packed hours add up to many negatives that impact the rest of our life:
    • Stressful beginning to the work day – instead of arriving with a ready-to-go attitude, we are already beaten down.
    • Frustration as we wait in traffic, unsure of the cause or duration, just waiting and burning gas as our blood pressure rises.
    • Upon arriving home, wound tighter than a rubber band, tempers run short and patience is at a premium. Do you really want your first interaction with your smiling child running to welcome you home to be a snarl instead of a wide grinning hug? How long can a kid keep it up if each time they share their love you shut them down?
  • 60+ hour work weeks – no time for your spouse, no time for your children, and for sure no personal time for yourself.
  • Travel requirements – you need to be in Chicago tomorrow by noon for an important meeting and no one checked to learn your daughter has her ballet recital tomorrow evening. And guess who gets to explain to her why you cannot be there at this important event in her young life.
  • Weekends are not your own and your family misses you.

All in all this is a very unbalanced situation with the majority of your life revolving around your job. And what is you need to work after retirement? Each decision you make along your career path involves trade offs. Yes you want to provide for your family but without being a part of the family, who are you kidding? And once spent, you can never get this time back.

“The trouble with life in the fast lane is that you get to the other end in an awful hurry”John Jensen

I had a good friend who told me that he consciously spent his money on a beautiful home with fancy pool and tennis court and all the bells and whistles. If something should happen and he lost it all, he said he would just start over again. Throughout his career, he worked very hard and rarely saw his wife and kids, typically on a plane each Sunday, returning at week-end, ever in pursuit of fame and fortune. Yes he has an awesome house and all the “things” you could ever want. But I wonder, if he in fact did have to start over again, if anything would change? Maybe instead of such a monstrous castle, he would choose to attend a few of his son’s baseball games. Maybe he would choose a few more weekends away with his wife sharing and building on those moments that brought them together more than 30 years ago.

But you know what? He cannot go back. He lives the life he made and though very successful as measured by his bank account, I wonder how much more truly successful he could have been with a little less focus on money and a little more on the real cost to have that much money. We all need to realize before it is too late that true fulfillment in life and retirement goes far beyond a hefty bank account.

Don’t forget to pick up a free copy of my Navigating the Retirement Jungle, available upon request by mailing to lovebeingretired@hotmail.com.


Senior Citizen Discounts – Get Your Money Worth

Everyone loves a deal and one benefit of getting up in age is the discounts you now qualify for. Get ready for travel deals, vacation packages, weekend getaways, and discounts across the board. And with the 75 million baby boomers starting to enter retirement, get ready to let the good times roll! Join me on a journey through some of the deals out there for retired folks – some are just too good to pass up.

Before we set sail, I discovered a service today called Groupon which sends you special deals daily for everything from restaurants to spas to leisure events in your local area. If you like the offer, you sign up and if enough others sign up to justify the special price being offered (businesses have to make money too and if enough people sign up, they do) you get it. For example, today my special offer is from a local Mediterranean restaurant offering $15 worth of food for $7 if I buy the Groupon. Put your collective buying power to good use.

Where the deals are

Travel – A good place to start your travel planning is http://expedia-aarp.com/ , a powerful partnership between our friends at AARP and Expedia. A familiar Expedia front end with AARP driven senior discounts.

  • Hotel dealsHyatt Hotels & Resorts – 62 and over receive up to 50% discount in Continental US and Canada; Choice Hotels International – 60+ earns you a 10% discount with advanced reservations http://www.choicehotels.com/en/deals/senior-rates?sid=tSoy._Oaj0g06L.1 ; Marriott Hotels offers 15% for 62+ seven days a week; Best Western – minimum 10% discount for 55+.
  • Airlines – so I ran down the usual suspects and visited their websites in search of senior citizen specials on airfares. My challenge was finding any specifics as no senior discounts were specifically mentioned. I recommend you work directly with the airline or through an aggregator like Expedia or Travelocity. But here are a few helpful details from www.cheapflights.com :
    • American Eagle and American Connection may offer senior fares in some domestic markets for seniors age 65 or older.
    • United Airlines – Travelers age 55 and older can enjoy savings on travel and other travel partners – as much as 50 per cent off at luxury hotels and resorts – by joining Silver Wings Plus.
    • Northwest offers senior discount fares in select markets.
    • Continental offers senior fares to select travel destinations for passengers who are 65 and older.
    • Delta Shuttle offers senior fares for travelers age 62 and above.
  • Amtrak – 15% discount on adult rail fare with some exclusion for ages 62+.

Entertainment

  • Restaurants – kind of challenging as we have different restaurants in our neighborhoods. But here are a few: IHOP offers 10% discount for 55+; Mrs. Fields 10% for 60+ (mmmm); AppleBees offers a Golden Apple Card for 55+ patrons with discounts and deals.
    • If you are willing to buy a coupon at a discount to sample a local restaurant, take a gander at Restaurant Discount Center www.restaurant.com. Enter your zip code and view the options in your own backyard. And remember Groupon that I mentioned earlier.
    • Fast food places have a wide variety of different offers for seniors from coffee to fries.
  • Movie discount dealsAMC Theatres – guests 60 and over receive 20-30% discount on general admission
  • National Parks – with $10 purchase of America the Beautiful Senior pass – valid for the lifetime of the owner – free entrance. http://store.usgs.gov/pass/senior.html

Shopping Kohl’s offers 15% discount for 62+ on Wednesdays (day may vary by store, you can find Kohl’s coupons and promo codes at http://www.couponsherpa.com/kohls/); Ross has 10% off Tuesdays for 55+

Health and WellnessKmart – Gold K prescription discount program offers up to 20% discount on prescription medication for ages 50+.

As I said, this is but a sample of many discounts available to senior adventurers. If you want to do some additional research, here are some  good links to investigate:
http://www.seniordiscounts.com – register for access to discounts on pretty much everything. The only requirement is that you are over 50.

http://www.shopathome.com/Free-Coupons.aspx – free coupons for just about everything based on your location.

And don’t forget our tried and true friends at AARP. Visit their site http://www.aarp.org/benefits-discounts/services_discounts/ for a long list of available discounts. For the annual membership fee of $16, it is hard to go wrong.

If you have a favorite link or insight into good senior citizen discounts, feel free to comment or send an email my way.

Don’t forget to pick up a free copy of my Navigating the Retirement Jungle, available upon request by mailing to lovebeingretired@hotmail.com.