Going the Distance

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.

Going the Distance

Mike Drak  |  Oct 4, 2022

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.

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Nun Sense

Mike Drak  |  Jul 7, 2022

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.

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Home Rich Cash Poor

Mike Drak  |  Jul 1, 2022

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.

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My Favorite Ideas

Mike Drak  |  Apr 21, 2022

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.

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Use It or Lose It

Mike Drak  |  Jan 28, 2022

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.

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Life’s Not a Beach

Mike Drak  |  Jan 21, 2022

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,

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Choosing Your Legacy

Mike Drak  |  Dec 22, 2021

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.

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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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