Fear must really sell, at least in financial publications. It seems like every day I read headlines like “America Braces for Retirement Crisis” or “For America’s Seniors, the Future is Very Scary”. That is just plain depressing. Please don’t misunderstand, I recognize the problem and I understand the statistics. How could I not? I read about them every day. Statistics like, the average 50 year old only has $42,797 saved, the average net worth of a 55-65 year old is only $45,447 or 45% of Americans have saved nothing for retirement. I get it. But what about the 55-65 year old that is prepared for retirement?
What is not in the headlines or talked about enough are the people doing it right. Maybe it just doesn’t sell or maybe it’s boring. I want you to know about the people that are on track to retire successfully, the people transitioning into retirement with peace of mind, and the people that are experiencing a full life away from work doing all the things they dreamed of. Let me introduce you to a real couple whose story is real and filled with sacrifice and discipline. I hope their example inspires you, because I know they have served as inspiration to me.
Randy is 67 and Judy is 65. They’ve been married for 45 years. They have 3 grown children and 7 grandchildren that live in the Knoxville area. Randy worked in the construction industry, as he puts it, “as long as he can remember”. Judy taught school for 33 years. When they got married they wanted to make enough money to own their own home, raise their children, go on an annual vacation, live debt free, and have the option of retiring one day. Judy retired 10 years ago. Retiring was hard because she enjoyed her work and loved the people she worked with. After much discussion and planning Randy recently retired.
I sat down with Randy and Judy the day after Randy’s retirement party. I was curious, with so many people not in a position to retire, how did they do it? Why were they the “outlier” to all the statistics we read about in today’s financial headlines. At first, they discounted the fact that they’re different. Randy pointed out, “All we did was go to work each day and try to make smart decisions with our money.” Randy and Judy went on to describe how early in their marriage they committed to always communicate around the subject of money. They made the decision to save each month for retirement and committed to living debt free. They described sacrifices made in order to reach their goal.
Randy stopped in mid-sentence, reminiscing about one of the sacrifices made and said, “You know, I always wondered if would be worth it. It was.”