Making Your Way to The Retirement You Want

in Save by Lacey Langford, AFC®

For most people, the freedom to do the things you love, with the people you love, in a place you love is a good description of happiness. Coincidently (or not), it’s also a good description of retirement goals. 

Most of us want a good quality of life for our entire life. We don’t want our way of life to change just because we’re retired. No one likes financial interruptions, especially when you’re retired!

Unless you’re Jerimia Johnson and your goals are to live and die off the grid, you need money and planning to have the quality of life you want—now and in retirement. Of course, money and planning don’t make your life perfect… but they sure as heck make it easier. 

Money gives you a better quality of life and financial freedom. And financial freedom gives you options and opportunities. When you’re financially free and faced with a decision, you have the option to do what’s best for you and your family. Versus when you’re not financially free. Then you may be forced into making decisions that aren’t the best for you because of your current finances. Financial freedom also allows you to take advantage of more opportunities because you have the money to pay for them. 

But how do you prepare and retire without the fear of interruptions nagging at you? You start making your way to the retirement you want by:

  1. Get Retirement Advice
  2. Make a Retirement Plan
  3. Take Retirement Action
  4. Retirement Goals (Maintain the Gain)


1. Get Retirement Advice

Part of figuring out the life and retirement you want is to have a full picture of what retirement is, how it works and how to get there. You need a 30,000-foot view. For most of us, that requires talking with an expert in the area. Someone who eats, sleep and breaths retirement is the person you want to help explain the whole situation. 

A great place to start receiving help is your bank. Because, oftentimes, your bank will have retirement experts that can give you an overview and best steps to get there for… wait for it . . . FREE. 

They can help you “figure” out your retirement savings numbers. Such as how much to save and how much you need in retirement. Get the advice and retirement numbers because you need a clear understanding of the playing field to move into the next step, making a plan.

2. Make a Retirement Plan

This step is the most important to reduce financial interruptions during your retirement. If you want to get somewhere you have to have a plan of action or you could end up going in circles. You need to know the action steps and when to take them.

The good news is, if you do step #1, a retirement expert is going to do most of the leg work for ya. To be honest, for most people, it would be easier to get guidance or help to make a retirement plan. That’s not to say you can’t do it on your own but some people will like having a professional lay the plan out for them.

Don’t forget to account for yourself in the planning process. You know yourself better than anyone. There may be a few things you need to add to your plan or identify about yourself to avoid problems. For example, if you know you tend to go over budget, then getting a side hustle might be part of your plan to save for retirement. Or it could mean your saving rate needs to be higher.

Whether you get help or D-I-Y it, you need to have a plan mapped out for your retirement to make sure you arrive on time and on budget!

3. Take Retirement Action

Out of all the steps, this is by far the most difficult for people to accomplish. It’s difficult because people are fearful of change! But to get the results you want (good quality of life now and in retirement) you need to do something and many times, it will be something different than you’re doing now. 

The easiest way to take action towards the retirement you want is to take it one thing at a time. Don’t look at your action list and try to accomplish it all in a day. It will become overwhelming. Instead, look at your list and begin with one thing. If “create a budget” is on your list, then start by writing down all of your expenses. Even though it’s possible, you don’t have to complete a whole budget in one day. You can start with a list of expenses and review them to find ones you can reduce or cut. 

Going at a pace that works for you and doesn’t overwhelm you is a great start. The point is to begin taking action so don’t worry about building your retirement in a day. You can improve your pace as you go. You know what you need to do so don’t overthink it, DO IT. Remember this, if you’re ever doubting or at a loss, you can always go back to #1, get retirement advice. 

4. Retirement Goals (Maintain the Gain)

Once you’ve done all the leg work to get the retirement advice you need, and to create and put your plan into place, it’s time to maintain all of the gains. Here are some ideas to keep your retirement goals on track.

Keep Improving 

Just because you got here doesn’t mean you set it and forget it. Continue to grow your retirement knowledge to find ways to make improvements where it’s needed. Read and research to keep improving.

Retirement Calculator

Use a retirement calculator to stay on track to reach your financial goals. Seeing the numbers can often be the kick in the pants you need to stay focused on the task at hand.

Get a Financial Checkup

Just like going to the doctor for an annual physical. You need to make sure your retirement is healthy and happy. Talk with a retirement expert every year to ensure your retirement is on track to meet your goals. If something is wrong, this way, you’ll catch the problem early and can intervene.

Figuring your way to the retirement you want will not only help you reach your goals, but it will also help reduce interruptions! And a fantastic by-product of taking these steps is you’re improving your finances and therefore your quality of life with every step!