Winning Retirement

Mike Drak

Mike is a 38-year veteran of the financial services industry. He’s the author of "Retirement Heaven or Hell," published in 2021, as well as an earlier book, "Victory Lap Retirement." Mike works with his wife, an investment advisor, to help clients design a fulfilling retirement.

Winning Retirement

Mike Drak  |  Nov 24, 2021

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.

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Who’s a Senior?

Mike Drak  |  Nov 11, 2021

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,

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Fountain of Youth

Mike Drak  |  Nov 4, 2021

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,

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Books to Live By

Mike Drak  |  Oct 29, 2021

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.

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Free to Work

Mike Drak  |  Oct 28, 2021

FOR THE RECORD, I’m a card-carrying member of the FIRE—financial independence/retire early—movement. Except I don’t believe in the RE part.
All the folks I know who advocate FIRE, and who have achieved financial independence, are still working in some capacity. Many of them have websites, put out podcasts or write books on how to retire early—which is funny because they’re still working and making money.
For some reason, they feel the need to deny that they’re still working.

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Pursuit of Happiness

Mike Drak  |  Oct 23, 2021

NOW THAT I’M RETIRED, I use two metrics whenever I’m faced with opportunities that require an investment of time or money.
First, there’s ROTI, or return on time invested. I use this metric to determine if something is worth my time. I want to invest the bulk of my time in things that’ll make me happy. Some examples of high-return time investments are:

Seeing family and friends
Going on new adventures
Making new friends
Starting a business
Learning something new
Going fishing


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An F in Retirement

Mike Drak  |  Oct 16, 2021

IT’S EMBARRASSING to admit in a public forum that I failed at retirement. But I’m doing so—because I think people can learn from me, and thereby avoid making the same mistakes.
I spent my entire 38-year career in the banking industry. Naturally, I learned a lot about money and investing. I helped thousands of clients save for their own retirement. On top of that, my wife is an investment advisor.
But despite all that knowledge and expertise—and having enough money to retire comfortably—I still managed to find my way into retirement hell.

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Retiring on Purpose

Mike Drak  |  Aug 15, 2021

WHEN I GIVE presentations on retirement, I ask folks about their worries. For pre-retirees, their biggest concern is not having enough money. That’s no surprise. Financial firms spend millions pushing the importance of saving for retirement.
But when I pose the same question to recent retirees, I get a completely different answer. Overwhelmingly, their biggest concern is finding purpose in retirement. Similar results emerge from a recent survey by Age Wave and Edward Jones,

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Better Together

Mike Drak  |  Aug 9, 2021

I’VE LONG STRUGGLED with the fact that, despite living in one of the world’s richest nations and having the best medical care in the world, Americans have a shorter average life expectancy than the citizens of 30 other developed nations.
I believe it all comes down to the high level of stress that Americans carry, much of it caused by economic hardship. Far too many Americans, both young and old, live paycheck to paycheck.

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Ill-Gotten Gains?

Mike Drak  |  Jul 27, 2021

FOUR OF CANADA’S five biggest banks recently announced they’re going to raise service charges, even though they continue to rake in billions in profits. Taking advantage of people, when they’re struggling to make ends meet during the pandemic, is beyond comprehension—and it’s in direct conflict with my values.
In their defense, the banks stated that the increases were made after careful consideration and that other options were available to customers. This is classic bank-speak.

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Rough Start

Mike Drak  |  Jun 17, 2021

RETIREMENT AT FIRST is fun and feels pretty good. No more setting an alarm. No more dealing with a long commute. No demanding work schedule that leaves you exhausted most evenings.
Best of all, no one is telling you what to do. You can sleep in or travel to all those places you dreamed about. You can golf as much as you like or spend lots of time with the grandkids.
You’re as free as a bird.

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Who Are You?

Mike Drak  |  Apr 8, 2021

THE PRODUCERS of retirement commercials would like us to believe that all retirees are the same. They aren’t. To be happy in retirement, we need a good handle on what our needs are—financially and otherwise—and then find ways to satisfy them each and every day.
That might sound difficult, but it isn’t. To help get you started, here are the three general types of retiree I discovered during my research on retirement:

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Retirement Preview

Mike Drak  |  Feb 10, 2021

THE PANDEMIC HAS given many folks a taste of what retirement could be like. An abrupt end to work. A loss of social connection. Trying to make ends meet on a much lower income. Many haven’t been happy with the experience.
Worried that your retirement could be similar? Here are eight lessons we can learn from the pandemic, all drawn from my new book, Retirement Heaven or Hell:
1. Retirement can be a shock.

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