My recent article talked about the elements of financial security, both before and during retirement (or semi-retirement). I happen to live in a community where the vast majority of the residents are comfortable when it comes to finances and they certainly qualify as financially secure. They possess the means to pay all their expenses, fund the lifestyle of their choosing, and have plenty of assets available to cover unexpected emergencies.
When compared to people who eke out a living paycheck to paycheck, or who have to fund their retirement primarily from social security, these people are living the definition of the dream, yet they don’t see it that way and constantly worry about the financial future, including many things outside their control. What should be a blessing becomes a curse if people in far less comfortable circumstances experience more everyday joy and happiness.
As I read at The Eight Keys to a Successful Retirement Life, “Financial comfort refers to being able to manage your life in a satisfying and fulfilling way using the financial resources that you have.” If financial discomfort contributes to retirement stress, then your financial plan becomes a negative rather than a positive.” This is so true.
One of the signs that you feel financially insecure (despite the facts), is that you spend a lot of time checking bank and investment account balances and constantly tinker with the details; buying, selling, transferring assets, etc. Just as there are political junkies who watch their favorite news show all day long and then obsess about it (driving their friends and family crazy), financial junkies can get captivated by details they can do nothing about.
For me, the scariest thing to ponder is not running out of money. Rather it is to get to the end of the road with a large bank balance that only my heirs will enjoy. I want to use my assets to see new places, experience new adventures and benefit some folks who were not as fortunate. Remember the old expression that was going around about a decade ago – often attributed to Malcolm Forbes: “He who dies with the most toys wins.” What a pathetic viewpoint. The truth is that life is about living, learning and loving, not accumulating. Buy the toys indeed, but make sure you get to use them fully and share them willingly.
Sometimes, the solution to insecurity lies outside of finances. One of the books that had a big impact on me is called, How Starbucks Changed My Life by Michael Gates Gill. It’s about a man who had seemingly everything -money, prestige and family. After going through being fired from his high-paying job, plus a brain tumor and a divorce (a really bad trifecta), Gill reluctantly took a job at a local Starbucks. I won’t give away the rest of the story but if you read the book, you’ll find out how Gill discovers what is best about himself and becomes much happier, even while making just a fraction of his former salary. Now that’s what I call security!