First Person: My 3 Rules for Retirement

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While I was reading an article about Social Security and retirement the other day on CNN Money, I was struck by the situations that several of the retirees mentioned in the article were facing. Mortgage payments at age 94, and a 67-year-old having to take care of a 99-year-old parent for the past 12 years by way of Social Security were two such situations mentioned in the article that hit me hard.

As I scanned the comments at the end of the article, I began to consider how or why the examples in the story had come to the point they had in their retirement lifestyle, and in turn began to ponder some of my own goals for retirement that I have in place in an effort to help me avoid such dire situations.

Don't Touch Investments

One of my most major goals right now is not to have to touch my investment balances in retirement. Being able to live solely off of things like Social Security income, savings interest, and investment earnings by way of interest or dividends would be the icing on the cake in retirement. While it might not be feasible, drawing down as little upon my investment balance as possible would be the best case scenario. However, I feel that setting the bar high, and then shooting for that, rather than just assuming I'm going to immediately start drawing against my investments is the best route to go.

Continue to Earn Income

Another aspect of my retirement goals that could help me with that "don't touch investments" goal would be if I could continue to earn income of some sort in retirement. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not talking about working full-time or anything like that since that really wouldn't be retirement, would it? I am however of the mindset that I'm not likely to enjoy a retirement completely devoid of things to keep me occupied and productive. And if in the process of keeping myself busy, I can earn an income related to those hobbies or activities, then so much the better. Continuing to earn income writing, growing a garden and selling my excess produce at the local farmers market, getting a part-time job just to get out and socialize a little bit, or selling things online could all be great ways not only to stay busy and earn some extra money and that I already know how to do, but to avoid touching that nest egg I mentioned in my first goal.

Carry no Debt

I was somewhat amazed when I read about a 94-year-old with a mortgage in the CNN Money article I mentioned. I found myself wondering how that was even possible. I mean, I know it's possible, but why or how would someone get to that point financially?

Whatever the circumstances, it drove home the point with me that I certainly don't want to end up carrying debt into retirement. Even if it's something that many people might consider "good debt" (if there is any such a thing) like a mortgage, I want to enter my retirement debt free. Again, such a goal can help me with that first goal of not want to touch investments by reducing my regular expenses, and it can help me protect against the unknown, since as proven by the 94 and 99-year-old examples in the CNN Money article, I don't want to end up outliving my money.

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