People spend years working relentlessly to prepare for retirement. I love seeing clients finally achieve the retirement lifestyle they dreamed of!
When learning about retirement preparation, I prefer to hear straight from those who are experiencing it and thriving!
So, I interviewed a remarkable lady, Maile Doyle, who I greatly admire. Her story demonstrates that retirement looks different for everyone! There is no cookie cutter mold to create a satisfying retirement.
I hope you enjoy her sage advice and learn from her life experiences. My additional takeaways from my conversation with her are in blue.
1. In what ways did you consciously prepare for the financial aspects of retirement?
As newlyweds, we began the practice of saving. We gave to our church, a certain percentage to savings, and then to our budget. We hit bumps in the road for the first 10 – 15 years of marriage including moving with the military, cancer, having 2 kids, job loss, and schooling. (They have been married for over 50 years!!!)
Bill had a great opportunity to work for Marathon, who provided an excellent match for their retirement savings. We saved the maximum allowed for the next 19 years. We converted stock options and added the money to savings.
We enjoyed vacations with the kids. Nothing extravagant as we lived within our means. Our only debt was the house and cars, and we planned to pay the house off before Bill turned 70. However, life happens. Marathon held an early retirement incentive and in 2000, Bill took it. We took a lump sum and invested it with a professional.
Maile shared about a difficult time in their life after a job loss where they went through their savings and had to accumulate some debt. It really showed me how you can prepare and prepare all you want, but sometimes, life throws you challenges that don’t have an immediate fix. You just need to be resilient and stay positive through the struggle.
I admire how she and Bill worked through this tough financial time. However, it’s important to note that they saved and planned ahead should something like this occur. May we all take their experience and wisdom and apply it to our own financial lives!
2. What were some of the emotional/mental preparations you made?
We had to save for the future while still raising and educating our children. We had watched Bill’s parents try to cope on social security only! They ultimately came to live with us for a time. We did not want that to happen to our children.
We drove our cars for many years, so we chose them wisely. We listened to Dave Ramsey and concentrated on debt reduction. We also led a financial group from our church in Crown Ministries.
It was evident to me that Maile and her husband consciously sacrificed while they were younger. They financially educated themselves and others, which laid the foundation for retirement satisfaction!
Maile also discussed how they lived frugally, but they always purchased high quality, long lasting items. Over the long term, it has saved them a lot of money in replacement costs!
3. In what ways is life in retirement more difficult than you imagined it might be?
The realization that our money is finite. I worried that we could outlive our savings, but our financial advisor really helped us understand that we could confidently retire. Bill has worked another 20 years at the university, so we have continued to have income.
Also, it’s been really hard to say no to helping family financially.
4. Looking back, if you could have retired sooner, would you?
I think I retired at just the right time (2004). I was 57 and became a non-profit management consultant for the next 10 years.
Bill chose to leave Marathon at a good time in his life and has had a whole new career that has allowed us to travel and pay to fix our house up out of current income.
For both Maile and her husband, Bill, retirement was not just quitting work and relaxing on the couch. Retirement was a change. It was a transition from their old careers into new ones. For Maile, that meant working for herself! Find something you WANT to do in retirement (it may not make money!). Productivity does not end at retirement.
5. What are some of your favorite parts about being retired?
Being able to travel and to not have any money worries. We are blessed with fairly good health and we enjoy each other. We have more time to volunteer in our community.
I can attest that Maile truly makes the community a better place. During our interview, the city’s mayor walked by on the sidewalk. Maile was sure to flag her down and tell her what an excellent job she was doing. May we all strive to share that kind of positivity!
Maile mentioned that good health has helped them enjoy retirement and travel. Let that be a reminder that we need to take care of our bank accounts, minds, and bodies NOW if we want a fulfilling retirement!
6. Do you have any tips for staying motivated and active when you don’t have deadlines?
We enjoy life together. We plan activities both separately and together. Don’t put off that next happy time! It is something to look forward to. Do socialize with others and explore – be impulsive!
I am not afraid to just sit and be. I enjoy the distractions. When there are things to get done, I plan for it. I know I have the free time available to get my work done, so I don’t feel tempted to procrastinate.
7. What is a general piece of advice you would give to someone who is approaching retirement?
Don’t fear the perceived “empty” hours. You will find satisfying ways to occupy your time. If you have planned your finances wisely, you will see that your spending may be less than when you worked. Your money, invested wisely, can continue to grow.
Bill and I chose not to buy long-term care insurance when we were younger. We’ve been happy with this decision. But, if health issues are a concern, do so.
8. What about a piece of advice for someone who is just starting out in their career?
Save! Invest! Listen to Dave Ramsey and take the Financial Peace University classes.
Enjoy life but be prudent in your finances. Be flexible in your career choices. Above all, trust God.
I really enjoyed my conversation with Maile, and I definitely learned a few things that were not in my financial planning textbooks. In the future, I hope to continue interviewing more retirees and learning from their experiences! If you are retired and wish to share your experiences, email me!
I will leave you with this last quote from Maile, “Choose to love. Choose to save. Choose to do what’s best for your family. Remember, it’s not about ‘me.’”