The Illusion of Retirement to Reality

Where will I be in ________ amount of years?

What will I look like in the month of ______?

How will I know I’m satisfied with where I’m at when I reach the age of _______?

Illusion of Retirement


Do the questions above have you pondering? I’m sure some of you may feel matter of fact about answers when you fill in the blanks with specific numbers. But will those answers remain true when the time comes?

I’ve got a better question….

What will my life be like when I retire at the age of _____?

I can’t even figure out what I’m going to eat next week.

Wait…scratch that. What I’m going to eat tomorrow morning.

Does anyone have it figured out in their 20’s what life will be like several years later?

And I get it. We make plans. We’ve got goals. Accomplishments to achieve.

I’m a planner. I can be very type-A. I like to get stuff done. I create a goal, a detailed plan of how to get there, and do my best to reach it. Sticky notes everywhere with affirmations & to-do items that decorate my cubicle & home. One of my favorite tools to use is a planner to write in vs. my phone. I feel gratification to see list items get physically crossed out with the power of a pen in my hand (ahhh yes, another item off the list). But you know what? Every now & again I tell myself just go with the flow (better yet, it’s my fiance giving me the confidence to do so). Things will happen. So maybe for a day that to-do list & the sticky notes are forgotten. Maybe even crumpled up and thrown in the trash. I take some deep breaths & slow down.

With this go-with-the-flow mentality, things may tend to go differently than planned. But that’s OK. I’m cool with that. Not everything has to be so systematic.

But right now I’ve got systems in place for retirement. I’m socking away money to my 401(k) and IRA. I have automated savings. I’ve got mapped out plans of where my money goes to make it work for me. What I’m incredibly satisfied with is that only after a few months of working on the psychological aspect of saving & spending, I don’t even think about touching the money that’s going towards retirement. It is OFF limits, hands-off!

But what happens when you just get exhausted?

How can the motivation be maintained to ensure that the goal of how I see myself in retirement is met? Because you see…I’ve experienced life happening. I’m sure a lot of you have, too. Where the anticipated outcomes you believe will happen in 2 years…well you end up getting to 2 years later and recognize next to everything is beyond different than what you planned. Suddenly, I feel like making these money systems go by the wayside…just like those crumpled to-do lists that I choose to forget about for a bit.

Who is to say that what I plan right now will play out in retirement? I’ve got quite a bit of time before that day comes. Even if I decide to speed up my retirement goals (say set a date for my early 40’s), that’s still over 15 years of life happening and taking it’s course.

I’m feeling like retirement is an illusion that somehow has to make its way to reality.

What am I actually saving for? Even with the process of creating tangible goals to reach in retirement, I’m struggling mentally with the fact that most of it is potentially going to change. So I’m reaching out to all of you, because I know many of you have plans to retire earlier than what the traditional age would be.

How do you maintain your drive to save for retirement?

What do you do on days when you’re just ready to throw in the towel?

Do you feel the way you envision yourself in retirement will become a reality?

I would absolutely love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

 

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19 thoughts on “The Illusion of Retirement to Reality

  1. I’ve come to think of saving for retirement more as saving for future time off, be that when I’m of traditional retirement age or not. Having savings might allow me to take a few months off every few years to re-charge and re-group. That somehow makes it all feel much more manageable. Saving tons of money for something 40 years down the line is too amorphous.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ali,

      I like that viewpoint! Future time off vs. retirement gives more of a flexible viewpoint. The savings aspect for that allows for more independence to make choices with that time off as well. Thank you for stopping by! 🙂

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  2. To expand a bit on what Ali says above, you are saving so that you have the ability to do what you want. What I mean by this is that many people in their 60’s, 50’s and even younger hare are in a position where they cannot make the best life choices for themselves or their family because of financial decisions they have made or not made in the past. You are providing yourself with flexibility.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Daniel,

      Thanks for coming on by! The flexibility to make decisions in the future based off savings now is definitely appealing. By saving now you’re giving yourself that freedom in the future to make several different choices, vs. just a limited amount based off previous financial decisions. I appreciate your feedback!

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  3. I don’t even think of saving for retirement, I’m just putting money in a big pile. I like money, so I’m continuously motivated to make that pile bigger.

    I try not to focus on what my life will look like in X years or what age I want to retire. Retirement is for people that hate their life. Personally I hope I keel over in the middle of a venture capital meeting when I’m 105 years old. I never intend to stop working. I never intend to stop earning money.

    IMO there’s levels of “retirement”:

    1) you have created income streams from self-directed activities (ie. blogging, day-trading, etc) that you know longer need to rely on someone else to employ you, though you might still choose to in order to achieve steps #2 and #3 below.
    2) you have saved enough money to live off of, but your resources will be zero or near-zero at the time of your death. You live off both passive income and capital.
    3) you have created an amount of wealth that cannot be depleted over your lifetime, unless you drastically scale up your lifestyle. You live entirely off passive income, your capital remains untouched.

    Most people skip #1. Most people suck at #2. Almost no one goes for #3.
    The choice is yours.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bridget,

      I’m definitely digging your attitude. I enjoy life every day (even not in retirement). I’m such a busy-body that the idea of continuing to work really motivates me. I’m hopeful that by building up my foundations now that I can actually accomplish what you’ve listed in #1 for the future! It’s all about finding that intricate balance between everything and I feel as if I’m continuously learning that. I look forward to following your content because you’ve got the willpower that a lot of people lack! I know there’s a lot more I can learn from you. 🙂

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  4. “I don’t even think of saving for retirement, I’m just putting money in a big pile. I like money, so I’m continuously motivated to make that pile bigger.”

    I like this thought. A lot. I think similarly. Actually, I say to myself, “what you are doing is creating a cash-generating machine.” Investing in dividend growth companies like printing money (slowly). **All** you have to do is have the financial and intellectual equity to ‘pick’ the right company. This may not be the best path for everyone, and there are other ways to put your cash to work, but it works for me.

    The PF blogosphere is partly responsible for maintaining my drive for saving, but what’s more powerful is seeing my savings and investments get to work, earning more money for my partner and I while we sleep.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cash-generating machine, I like that! Yes, I’ve slowly dipped into investing and I intend to keep putting my money to work. Something that a lot of Millennials shy away from! The making money work while you sleep is definitely excellent, and it’s wonderful to hear your drive is for you & your partner and not just for yourself. 🙂 Thanks so much for stopping by!!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Your struggle is totally normal, but if it feels like a STRUGGLE, then you might be trying to do too much too fast. Back off on some of your savings goals so that you feel like you have enough money to live your day-to-day life without feeling deprived. Then, as your income gradually goes up, you can up your savings rate using your income gains, and you won’t feel deprived. That’s what we’ve done, and I can’t recommend it enough! See Wednesday’s post for more info on our approach. 🙂 We’ve never trimmed our budget back to an untenable level, or made ourselves feel artificially poor. Sticking with a plan over the long-term, like our early retirement vision, means following a plan that’s not painful to stick with. If it feels like a diet, you’ll always want to cheat, so instead make it feel like just a way of living healthily by giving yourself enough calories/money that you aren’t always hungry. A dumb metaphor, but you know what I mean! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Just read your Wednesday, post! Thank you for that!! Not a dumb metaphor whatsoever at all. 🙂 That’s the best way I think about it too, the more restricting the more difficult it is to stick with it! I don’t necessarily feel like I’m making myself feel deprived with all of the savings, I think I still struggle from time to time when I feel like the outlier in wanting to start saving at this age! It may seem tough from day to day, but I know in the future it’s going to be wonderful to not have to stress about money in anyway & solely focus on financial independence. 🙂

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  6. Retirement can seem like a long way away (even if you want to retire early, like I do)! I focus on watching my savings grow for the sake of growing rather than retirement. I get excited about saving so I see the fun in checking my savings each quarter to see how they have grown. I can get bogged down if I think too far ahead!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a great way to put it, Jess! It allows for the overall picture of progress, and not just the destination. It’s very daunting to think too far ahead, so thank you for the reminder that in the meantime look to see how well everything is going. 🙂

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  7. I actually find it quite easy to maintain the drive for retirement, but perhaps that is because we have evolved our mindsets to a point where it doesn’t seem like hard work. I can actually envisage retirement as well, and given that it is inside the next 10 years it doesn’t feel like it is too far into the future, so that probably helps us stay focussed also.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I actually keep my millennial clients focused on saving by not talking in terms of retirement and focusing more on lifestyle adjustments and near term savings. It’s very difficult to stay focused and energetic around a goal that will not become a reality for almost double your lifetime, so instead I focus more on tangible goals and know that when my clients change their lifestyle choices, they create the opportunity to save more in all different goals buckets.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Those are great focus points! The energy aspect is definitely important, and reaching towards the short term tangible goals would allow for a mindset switch. Thanks so much for sharing, it’s a great way to start viewing saving like that!

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  9. We do our best to eliminate willpower from the equation. You only have so much per day.

    We’ve got auto contributions for 401k / IRA and a savings account. We never see the money (except on our balance sheet) and it doesn’t feel like deprivation. The less effort the better. I agree though it feels like a long way off.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Auto contributions are a glorious thing! The out of sight, out of mind always helps me. With everyone’s advice, I’m definitely approaching saving for retirement in a different way because it does feel a long way off! Thanks for stopping by, I appreciate it!

      Like

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