Preparing for a fulfilling retirement is about more than finances. Are you paving your way to a happy life?
I recently attended a retirement party I can’t seem to forget about. In honor of John, a long-time client and friend, the party was like a backyard wedding you see in the movies, complete with a big white tent, a great live band, and plenty of food and drinks—plus well over 100 guests.
But it’s not the hors d’oeuvres and the atmosphere that have stuck in my mind—it’s the genuine happiness and relationships shared between John and his guests. He clearly has lived his life well.
John spent his career selling property-casualty insurance to large companies. As you know, it’s not necessarily the most glamorous job—and it’s among the most stressful and competitive, which sometimes leads producers to divorce, depression and, occasionally, unfulfilled lives.
This was obviously not the case for John. As I reflect on the choices he made over the past 10 years I’ve known him, I believe these five attributes are what has allowed him to retire well:
1) Live below your means. One of the greatest challenges an insurance producer faces is the ability to effectively manage cash flow. Even during the good times, John always maintained the same type of lifestyle. During peak earning years, he increased his savings, not his spending. The financial choices he made during his career gave him the flexibility to retire on his terms.
2) Put family first. Throughout his career, John worked hard and devoted countless hours to building relationships with clients and developing new business. And yet, he never wavered on his commitment to his family. John continued to invest time and energy in his personal relationships even when work put restraints on his time. That investment in his family is paying off now as he enters his retirement. The genuine happiness John’s wife and children feel about his success is evident in their desire to spend time with him today.
3) Remain goal-oriented. John regularly set both short- and long-term goals for himself, then pushed himself to achieve them. Whether it was an annual sales goal or a time limit for completing a marathon, John was laser-focused on achieving. He wanted to retire before age 60, and much to his credit, he was 59 years young on his last day of work.
4) Be generous. John derives a great amount of joy from helping others. He consistently served as a mentor for younger producers and is actively involved in charitable causes. And he doesn’t just write out a check—he’s an active fundraiser and board member for many nonprofits. In addition to fostering deep personal relationships, being generous with his time and money gave John a greater sense of purpose as he approached retirement.
5) Stay healthy. John will never be confused for Arnold Schwarzenegger (sorry, John), but he has always maintained a healthy lifestyle. While working, he found time to train for marathons. On weekends, you can find him biking or hiking along the Illinois Prairie Path. His healthy lifestyle has helped balance the stress that comes along with high-pressure sales.
John’s retirement party served as a great reminder that retiring well is more than just a financial calculation—it’s an accumulation of years spent building deep personal relationships, smart financial decisions and a healthy lifestyle.
Jim King, CPA, CFP®, is an owner and wealth manager at Balasa Dinverno Foltz LLC (BDF), where he leads the commercial insurance professionals practice group. He uses his understanding of the insurance industry to help insurance professionals maximize their prime earning years, develop a discipline around saving those earnings and put a plan in place to best utilize assets.
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