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Retirement Needs Purpose

View retirement as the next chapter, not an end.

MarketWatch posted an opinion piece about Social Security’s woes citing that “come 2034 or so — just 16 years away — payouts could be slashed by about 23%.” While I would note that I recently saw something that the latest data says the cut could push back to 2035, this is a serious issue. No matter which of the hundreds of studies you look at they all say the same thing, (almost) no one has saved any money increasing the reliance on Social Security in retirement. Someone due to collect $30,000 upon retiring in 2037 might only get $23,000. They could very well be in a lot of trouble if they have effectively no portfolio to draw from.

Of Dollars an Data had a post about the importance of finding purpose during retirement. People who devote themselves to their careers at the expense of other cultivated interests create the possibility of a real emotional letdown upon retirement that could lead to depression.

Figuring out retirement beyond the dollars and cents of it has long been a favorite topic of mine. It is great to meet people and learn about how they have created their own solution. I blog about all sorts of ideas that I hear about because while being a tour guide at some sort of park in Ecuador won’t be the solution for too many people, but it could be the solution for someone and, as an example, help lead you to what is your ideal solution.

The Of Dollars an Data post makes the case for purpose in retirement being more important than money. In some ways it is but of course in some ways it isn’t. A point I think is key is monetizing what your purpose might be. This would be an ideal scenario in a situation where someone is under saved. The flip side would be having to take a job that you really don’t want.

However, this requires being very proactive very early on. I spoke to a former work colleague this morning about this very thing. He’s about my age and has a particular interest that he wants to start cultivating with an eye toward monetizing it over the course of the next 10-15 years. While I don’t think it will take him anywhere near that long, the willingness to commit is impressive and a key ingredient to success.

The outside interest I have learned most about is firefighting. The qualifications needed for the various things I am interested in don’t take many years but take a couple as well as some time spent networking. For anyone new, large wildland fires are run by Incident Management Teams. During the fire season, these teams are out for weeks, working on different fires and the pay is lucrative. I have a fair bit of training in logistics and want to explore becoming a liaison (between the team and local agencies impacted by the fire/emergency). It is unlikely I will pursue this but it genuinely interests me and volunteering as a firefighter with my local department is likely to be a part of my life for a very long time having 15 years in already. I offer this personal example in an attempt to convey that truly loving something, finding purpose in it, increases the odds for success with whatever might interest you should you need to monetize a purpose.

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