Retirement 101: Before we begin

by | May 27, 2021 | Retirement 101 | 0 comments

Table of Contents

If you know me, you may know that aside from my financial hobbies, I am also a bit of a fitness nut. I studied to be a personal trainer back in the day, and I still enjoy constantly modifying and optimizing my exercise and diet. The similarities between physical wellness and financial wellness have always struck me as interesting. There are huge industries built around both. Both have a lot of rabbit holes you can go down, exploring the intricacies and miniscule details of various aspects of each. The industries built around both of them like to use examples of those high-detail aspects, combined with industry-specific jargon and bit of fear to make things seem more complicated and intimidating than they really are… Because how else can you convince people to pay top dollar to handle things for them?

But here’s the thing. All that detail, all those confusing decision trees and caveats, all those studies that go back and forth about whether something is “good” or “bad” for your physical or financial health… Most of it is only important when you’re at the stage where you’re optimizing and trying to squeeze out the last few percent improvement. In fitness, you can get 80-90% of the way there without knowing the difference between concentration curls and preacher curls, or the names of each of the essential amino acids. And you can get to a very solid level of financial health without knowing how credit default swaps work, or how to invest in commodities.

Each industry also has a “holy grail,” the highly desired end-goal that tends to get the most attention and marketing. In fitness, that big goal tends to be weight-loss. And in personal finance, it’s retirement. Both have highly individualized definitions of “success,” yet both have tons of one-size-fits-all books and programs that promise to get you there. And you can find countless “one weird trick” clickbait articles for each, that promise to let you in on a secret that will make everything easier. But we all know there’s no hidden secret to losing weight. Likewise, the “trick” to financial wellness and being ready to retire is that the work is simple, but not easy. 

With weight loss, the simple equation is “eat less + move more,” consistently and over the long term. For retirement planning, it all boils down to this: Spend less + Earn more + Invest the difference. Again, consistently and over the long term.

Simple, but not easy. It takes grit. You have to stick with it for long time in order to have lasting success. You have to be willing to try something that feels uncomfortable, and then stick with it. You have to be willing to make mistakes along the way, but keep pushing forward, anyway. And most of all, you have to take action.

There are a ton of articles out there that will attempt to help you do those three things more effectively.

There’s no “one weird trick” to fitness, whether physical or financial.

Well, here’s one more. Find one that works for you. Maybe what I say resonates with you and helps you make sense of retirement planning. Or maybe someone else’s article will do that for you. Either way, take action! Reading every article ever written about finances won’t change a thing for you unless you take action and do something with the information. The first step doesn’t have to be anything major. And I promise, it’s not as complicated as it may seem.

Have you ever tried to teach a card game to a friend, and found yourself floundering through the rules, realizing that you’re making it sound more complicated than it is? Then you tell your friend, “let’s just start playing, it will make more sense as we go along.”

Well, financial wellness is like that. If you try to explain it all at once, it can seem complicated (and the financial guru industry wants you to think it’s complicated!). But once you start “playing,” things start to make a lot more sense.

Ready to play?

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