I LIKE CHALLENGING myself to do hard things. I guess it’s just the way I’m wired.
Recently, I started thinking about the hardest things I’ve done. Convincing my wife to marry me was hard. She was a tough sell. But eventually I wore her down and got the deal done—one of my best deals, by the way.
Attempting Ironman Cozumel at age 68 was hard and, even though I failed, it’s one of my most cherished memories.
I INVESTED A GOOD chunk of 2022 getting ready for the Ironman triathlon on Nov. 20 in Cozumel, Mexico. A lot of people have asked me why I would even attempt an Ironman at age 68. I tell them I’m investing in my future self.
I know what I want my future to look like, and I’m focused on putting the pieces in place to get me there. My good health is a big piece of that picture.
EVERY DECEMBER, I watch two Christmas movies—movies I’ve been watching for as long as I can remember.
My favorite is A Christmas Carol, based on the novel by Charles Dickens. It’s about the mean and miserable Ebenezer Scrooge, a money lender who constantly bullies his poor clerk, Bob Cratchit, and rejects his nephew Fred’s wishes for a merry Christmas.
Scrooge lives only for money. He has no real friends or family, and cares only about his own well-being.
CHRIS CROWLEY IS co-author of Younger Next Year, a book that opened my eyes to what’s possible in retirement. When I grow up, I want to be just like Chris.
Since turning age 75, he’s managed to find the energy to publish five books. At 86, he’s still having fun skiing downhill, going on 30-mile bike rides, leg pressing 360 pounds at the gym and giving the occasional paid speech.
His example reminds me that,
ON THE CORNER OF MY desk, there are two binders. One contains my financial plan and the other my longevity lifestyle plan. One is no good without the other. How can I know if I’ve saved enough money if I don’t have a clear idea of what I want to do in retirement and how much that lifestyle will cost me?
The financial services industry’s focus has been on financial planning, with the objective of helping people accumulate as much money as possible.
WHEN I WAS WORKING fulltime, my goal was to have enough retirement savings to replace 100% of my income. I knew I could live comfortably on that amount, while still having enough left over to do the things I didn’t have time for when I had a fulltime job. I figured that was the key to a happy retirement.
But after retiring, my thinking changed, as I began focusing on how I could live longer and better.
ACCORDING TO MY local newspaper, the average home price in my town rose 450% over the past 25 years. That made me ponder how I could use my home equity to fund my desired retirement lifestyle. I’m certainly not alone in thinking this way.
There are three ways you can access home equity. You can sell your home and downsize, you can take out a home equity line of credit or you can take out a reverse mortgage.
WHAT ARE THE MOST important financial notions? For me, the answers are “compounding” and “financial independence.”
Albert Einstein purportedly called compounding the eighth wonder of the world. Warren Buffett has said that the power of compound interest played an important role in his success. But what I’ve learned is that compounding doesn’t just apply to our finances. It can also be used to improve our health, our relationships and our mastery of whatever topic we choose.
THERE’S AN EXPERIENCE I keep thinking about. I was visiting Italy pre-pandemic, enjoying a great dinner with a lovely family. I was introduced to two nonnas—grandmothers in Italian—who were in their 80s. Although fine physically, they were both suffering from dementia.
That got me thinking about how that could have happened. I’ve read plenty of research on how retiring to a simple lifestyle, and not being challenged mentally, accelerates cognitive decline. I wondered whether that’s what happened to the two nonnas.
WE’VE BEEN BRAINWASHED by advertisers and financial firms into believing that retirees are a homogeneous group who all want the same things. They aren’t. Instead, they have differing needs, values and wants, and this divergence is getting greater because of things like increasing longevity, dwindling job security and the elimination of pensions.
Let’s consider the standard bell-shaped distribution curve—and then apply it to people’s retirement behaviors. On the far left and far right of the curve are the outliers,
ONE OF MY FAVORITE movies is based on A Christmas Carol, the Charles Dickens classic. It’s about the mean and miserable Ebenezer Scrooge, a money lender who constantly bullies his poor clerk, Bob Cratchit, and rejects his nephew Fred’s wishes for a merry Christmas.
Scrooge lives only for money. He has no real friends or family, and cares only about his own well-being. As the story goes, on Christmas Eve, Scrooge is visited by three ghosts.
AMERICANS THINK they need an average $1.9 million to retire, according to a survey of 401(k) plan participants by Charles Schwab. Years ago, a finding like that would have terrified me.
I worked really hard in my younger years and socked away money diligently. But between paying off the mortgage, saving for the kids’ education and being hit by an unexpected divorce, there’s no way I could ever have amassed $1.9 million.
Still, I’ve learned to live well in retirement.
I SEE THIS LABEL used a lot. But it hit me that I really didn’t know what “senior” means. I know it’s used to describe old people. But truthfully, I don’t know what “old” means, either.
We’ve been manipulated into believing that, when we turn 65, we automatically turn old—which isn’t true. It’s a mistake to label people based on their age, because biological age can vary considerably from chronological age. A person’s age is a meaningless number unless we’re dealing with hard-and-fast rules,
DURING THE PANDEMIC, I’ve taken to reading the obituaries. I especially enjoy the stories about people who lived a long time. What I’ve found is that many of them volunteered in some fashion or continued to work until late in life. Most didn’t do it because of the money. They did it because it gave them a sense of purpose.
I’ve come to believe that doing work that we love and have a passion for—that’s meaningful to us—serves as our own personal “fountain of youth.”
Ask yourself: Why do rich people,
I READ A LOT—and every now and then I come across an “aha” book that ends up changing the course of my life. Here are two of the most important:
How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free by Ernie Zelinski
In my mid-50s, I wasn’t happy in my banking job. The stress was starting to get to me. Don’t get me wrong: I was good at my job and it paid well.