In those carefree summer days as a boy, my brother and I loved to spend time in and around a pool. That required either riding our bikes to the park or begging a car ride to my uncle and aunt’s house. I was very skinny in those days; my brother was equipped with, shall we say, more insulation. He would strip to his swimming trunks and enter the water with a cannonball. I, on the other hand, would start in the shallow end, slowly descending one step at a time. Once on the pool floor, I would slowly hop toward the deep end until I finally resolved to commit with a dunk under the water. My brother said I got in the pool like a granny.

Now, in defense to all the grannies out there, wisdom often calls for moving forward conservatively and intentionally. In true fashion, that is also how I am approaching my retirement which came earlier than anticipated. I am not alone. The Employee Benefit Research Institute found that 47% of people retire earlier than planned. The Lord has allowed us to accrue a retirement account which will be supplemented by social security. There are several things to consider as I enter this financial phase of life.

CUT EXPENSES

This is the time to reassess lifestyle and priorities with your spouse. Put all the options on the table. Downsize your house. Pay off the mortgage. Move to an area with a lower cost of living. Get out of debt. Sell a car. Shave your phone plan. Trim the cable service. Reduce investment fees. Travel in the off-season. Take advantage of senior discounts. Beware the overbuying at warehouse stores. Don’t use credit cards. And if it’s too good to be true, run.

MAKE A NEW BUDGET

Set financial boundaries on eating out, gifts, clothing, and other variable expenses. Account for increased utilities (with more time at home), anticipated travel, medical expenses, and other expenditures related to changes in lifestyle. An early retirement may require paying for health insurance until eligible for Medicare. That alone can be a significant expense.

REBALANCE MY PORTFOLIO

Most of us have no idea how long we will live. That means I need to conserve as much as I can for the coming years. The final years of my life will likely require a significant increase in housing and care expenses. My portfolio leans toward income now, and will become even more conservative as the years progress.

CONSIDER PART TIME WORK

While I still have time and ability to exercise my skills and experience, a part time job provides income, socialization, and a sense of accomplishment. Employers are looking for people with a good work ethic who can be a model and mentor to the upcoming generation.

Retirement is a time of new opportunities and a different pace of life. Take a page out of granny’s playbook and step into the retirement years conservatively and intentionally. In all we do, let’s honor the Lord.

Go to the ant…consider her ways, and be wise. Proverbs 6:6 (ESV)

Twisted Vines

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