One of the most important questions we help our clients answer is, "What's the money for?" After all, if the purpose of your financial plan was just to keep growing your nest egg, then the best financial strategy would be to keep working and growing that nest egg as long as you physically could.
Our happiest retirees have improved their Return on Life not by earning as much money as possible, but by using that money in ways that make every day meaningful. Here are three ways you can start planning to build that same sense of purpose into your own financial plan.
1. Put your gifts to their highest uses.
A financially independent retiree might consider time to be their most valuable resource. Now that you don't have to spend 40+ hours every week at a job, you can organize your days around using your personal and professional skills to do work that's important to you.
So, what do you do best? And, just as importantly, what do you enjoy doing? Somewhere there's a community organization that could benefit from your pro accounting skills or graphic design background. You could volunteer as a tutor at a local school or adult education center. If you'd like to maintain some ties to your old professional world, you could start your own consulting firm or serve as a mentor to the next generation. Or perhaps your favorite part of the work week was the spare hours you could focus on exciting new initiatives. Could you grow one of those unrealized ideas into your own company?
2. Create a charitable giving strategy.
Do you feel an extra bit of joy around the holidays when you donate to families in need? With proper planning, you can make giving back a part of your year-round routine.
The most effective giving strategies usually focus on making regular contributions to a couple core causes that are personally meaningful. When you have a special relationship with a particular organization, it's that's much more fulfilling to see your generosity in action. You might even feel inspired to start your own charitable organization and work on building a legacy that could impact your community for generations.
3. Have some fun!
Some retirees embrace an "endless weekend" mentality about their retirement. That can be a negative if your typical weekend involves lots of time on the sofa watching television.
But if you're the kind of person who packs as much fun as possible into your off days, you might really enjoy filling out a new daily retirement schedule. Set a few weekly tee times with your retired friends and family and see how low you can get that handicap. Take your spouse out for date nights at your favorite restaurants – and between courses, start planning that dream vacation you never found time for when you were both working. Try a new exercise routine. Schedule some extra trips to visit your grandkids and catch their soccer games and dance recitals.
Perhaps most importantly, give yourself some space to experiment. Very few seniors get retirement right on their first try. It's possible that some things that made you feel purposeful when you were working don't excite you as much at this new stage of your life. Be open to new experiences. Follow your curiosity.
And if you ever feel your financial plan and your sense of purpose drifting apart, schedule some time to talk to one of our advisors. We can review your plan and work through some of our interactive Life-Centered Planning tools to reestablish that connection and make sure you're getting the best life possible with the money you have.