My Retirement Planning Story

Effective Retirement Planning Strategies For Success

By Ivon T Hughes
retirement story
Figure 1. Retirement Story

Brad Smith from Toronto, Canada

My name is Brad Smith from Toronto, Canada and I am 60 years old. Although my parents are American, I am Canadian by birth and I want to share with you my retirement planning story since I have noticed the disparities between my generation (seniors) and today’s generation. Let’s face it. Retirement is more of a mystery nowadays. Earlier generations of workers like mine could afford to rely on employer provided pensions. Today, it’s a totally different story. My son’s generation (I have a 36 year old son) rely on personal and work-related saving plans as well as government benefits.  

If you are having problems planning for your retirement, this article is for you. I was in the exact same position 15 years ago. I was faced with multiple financial problems i.e. car loans, a mortgage and credit card loans. It wasn’t until I decided to overhaul my lifestyle completely that I found a breakthrough to secure my future financially. It doesn’t matter how indebted you are. You can start your journey to successful retirement today. Below I will share my story on how I was able to successfully plan my retirement in a record 15 years. 

I recognize the fact that times have changed. Nevertheless, I will share retirement planning strategies which I think are timeless and universal. Following these strategies will definitely help you realize any retirement dream you have.

Let’s start with the first strategy;

  1. Start tracking your money today
  2. Regardless of your financial situation, you have to stop worrying and start acting. Worrying about your current debt only makes things worse. I have done it and it doesn’t work. Instead of worrying where your money disappears to every month, start writing down every single expense. Form a habit of recording all your daily expenses. I started doing so 15 years ago using a notebook. Fortunately, you don’t have to do that now considering there are all sorts of handheld devices which can easily double up as organizers. 

    Tracking your money today is important in that it helps you see what you can spare for the future. Your focus should be minimizing unnecessary expenses and channelling extra cash into retirement investments. If you have retirement accounts/assets already, it is important to think about the best way of managing such resources. I would recommend you keep your money in no more than 3 financial institutions to make it easy to manage your retirement portfolio. It is however important to diversify your investments for the sake of spreading risk.

  3. Track your future expenses
  4. This is another important retirement planning strategy in my opinion. You need to look realistically at your future expenses when you retire to discover how much you will need as well as discover and plan for other important factors i.e. the effect of inflation. Such numbers are crucial in successful retirement planning. Your focus should be on discovering how your future expenses are expected to change 10-20 years from now. Doing so will help you discover if the amount you are planning to save and invest is capable of lasting you throughout retirement. Your ultimate focus should be controlling your spending as much as possible since you can’t control inflation among other uncertain occurrences in the future. 

  5. Determine your future lifestyle
  6. This is another important retirement tip bound to give you a headache. It is important to note that running a house takes a lot of money. It is also important to note that where you live determines other things i.e. how you spend, your physical, social and emotional well-being. Where you live also dictates home heating and cooling costs. 

    Other home related costs to consider include; real estate taxes, maintenance, condo and insurance costs. Housing aside, you need to factor in other lifestyle related costs i.e. health care costs, holiday expenses, entertainment e.t.c. In a nutshell, determining the lifestyle you want to live in the future helps you uncover all expenses you should expect to incur. In my own opinion, this retirement strategy is very crucial when you want to avoid being cash strapped in the future as a result of unplanned expenses.

  7. Compare your current income with your current and future expenses
  8. This is the last strategy to consider. Once you know the kind of lifestyle you want to live, it is now time to determine how you will be able to do so with your current income. The best way of doing this is comparing your current income with your current and future expenses. This exercise will help you determine how much money you need to make, save and invest to live the life you want to live once you retire. 

    I had been saving for many years for retirement without knowing the exact amount of money I needed to make and save for retirement. You shouldn’t make the same mistake I did. In most cases, you will come up with a negative figure which means that your current income can’t be able to sustain your current expenses and future retirement plans. If this is the case, you will have to think of new ways of making money. 

    Cut down on expenses

    I personally decided to cut down my expenses and take part-time jobs to ensure I kept enough money aside to cater for future retirement plans. There are very many ways of reducing current expenses. You just need to follow all your expenses and decide which ones you can do without. It can be anything from avoiding expensive restaurants and drinks to car pooling and considering indoor entertainment. 

    You can even go as far as looking for more lucrative retirement investments. For instance, I realized that the stock market gives better returns than mutual funds if you choose the right stocks and cash-in when the time is right. All you need to do is identify financially sound companies which are bound to thrive for decades. You can never go wrong with such companies unless there is an economic crisis.

    This explains why you must keep your ear to the ground at all times when you decide to invest part of your retirement funds in the stock market. Your focus at this stage should be getting the best out of your entire retirement portfolio. Once this stage is complete, you will definitely have a more successful retirement plan. 

Phil Barker

About the Author

Phil Barker

Phil Barker is a leading expert on life annuities in Canada. has different financial products and has been a recognized authority since 1972.

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