Preparing for a successful retirement can require changes in attitude. I’m not referring to the “I hate working” attitude. Rather, we are burdened with thought processes that are barriers to achieving our retirement goals, both mentally and fiscally. Here are five attitude adjustments that will enhance your retirement security.
1. Your retirement is more important than your kids’ college education. We must learn to accept when our parenting obligations are complete. If you are sacrificing the building of a retirement nest egg to pay your kids’ college costs, it is time to change your thinking. Let your children find a way to pay for their degree. This also means that you should not borrow against retirement funds or guarantee student loans to educate your kids.
2. Your retirement is more important than your kids’ lifestyle. Adult children should not be receiving an allowance from you. Don’t pay their cell phone bills, make car payments for them, or subsidize their rent. And don’t indefinitely support boomerang kids at home. You will need that lifestyle money later much more than your kids need it now.
3. You can cut costs in retirement. Each dollar spent early in retirement may mean one dollar less to live on twenty years later. If you are accustomed to driving around as a two car family, consider making do with one used car. Do you really need a supercharged cell phone with a data plan? No, you don’t. Retirement can also mean more time to cook and eat at home with more careful shopping. Your spending attitude must change when income becomes fixed.
4. Debt is your enemy. Our borrow and spend culture has damaged a lot of us. We have been trained to think that mortgages, car payments, and buy now, pay later are part of life. That attitude was wrong then and is even more wrong in retirement. Entering retirement with debt is like swimming upstream with one hand tied behind you.
5. Retirement is a journey. Retirement is not just quitting work. It is more like a combination of financial independence and doing something that fulfills you that does not require a paycheck. You need an attitude that helps you discover what that something is. Then go with it.
Mark Patterson is an engineer, patent attorney, baby boomer, and author of The Failsafe Retirement System. He blogs on matters of personal finance and retirement planning at Tough Money Love and Go To Retirement.