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Is Retirement Really About a Dollar Amount?

Is Retirement Really About a Dollar Amount?

| January 14, 2019

The first thought that comes to your mind is most likely “Sure it is.” We need X amount of dollars to live off of for the rest of our lives. And we want to fund our grandchildren’s education. And we want to give back to our community. All of these involve a dollar amount.

And you are right…money is the tool that allows you to achieve your retirement goals. Yet you’re only partially right. Retirement is about your vision and achieving your most meaningful life pursuits, as well as deepening the values you hold dear for both you and future generations of your family.

Listen to Anna’s story and see if any of it sounds familiar.

Anna visited her advisor, who works in a Life Planning firm. Her goal for the visit was to open, and begin contributing to a college savings investment vehicle for her 11 year-old granddaughter, Marie. Hence, Anna linked a specific dollar amount with a goal. Nevertheless, her advisor walked her through a series of “Life Goal” questions that focused on her underlying values and motivations. Anna discovered that her true intention was not just for Marie to be well-educated, but for her to develop a desire for learning.

By focusing on her actual wishes for her granddaughter’s future, Anna and her advisor utilized the Life Planning process as a guide to brainstorm additional strategies that could have a lasting impact on developing Marie’s desire for learning. At the end of the visit, Anna concluded that she could divert some of Marie’s college funds toward a summer computer design camp—a camp which she believes will fit Marie’s interests and which could further her desire to learn.

51% of retirees stated that if they had the chance to do it over, they would have focused more on “Life goals” and less on a specific nest egg dollar amount in retirement planning. Moreover, 38% of this group stated that they would have spent more time on how they wanted to live in retirement.1

The word “Legacy” is often used to refer to the wealth you leave behind. However, a “Legacy” goes far beyond a dollar amount. Anna’s story is just one needle in a huge haystack of Life Planning stories. Life Planning is about “Living Life on purpose”—no matter if it relates to your grandchildren or other family members, a charity, or even visions you hold about your own future.

So what are your values? What is your vision?

Is your retirement plan a financial plan or a Life Plan?

There is a simple Latin phrase you have heard before, but can never be heard too many times: Carpe diem!


  1. Financial Advisor Magazine. 2010. Retirees Give Nod to “Life Goals” Rather Than “The Numbers”. Merrill Lynch Insights Quarterly Survey.