First Person: Counterintuitive Advice for Retirement

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The other day I stumbled across an interesting article by David Ning on the US News & World Report website entitled, "Counterintuitive Advice for Retirement." I wasn't sure what to expect, often finding articles with such titles not living up to their billing. However, this time I found that the article had some valid points, and points that our own family has found useful for our retirement planning as well as our financial lifestyle in general.

"Get used to losing money in the stock market."

Having been in the stock market since the tech bubble blew up and then blew out near the turn of the millennium, I agree with Ning's note on getting used to losing money in the stock market. I used to watch the markets -- and my retirement account balance -- daily. It was enough to make me want to pull my hair out. One day I'd gain, the next I'd lose; then I'd gain big and then I'd lose big. It was aggravating, frustrating, and frankly, there wasn't much I could do about it anyway other than make short-term bad decisions like selling my company stock for $14 a share due to impatience, only to have it go up to $45 a share several years later. Being able to think longer term when it comes to the stock market and ignore short term losses would have helped me avoid such mistakes and has now reduced the stress that used to come along with having retirement funds in the stock market.

"Appreciate being a loner."

No, author David Ning isn't saying to turn into a Silas Marner-type miser or a Howard Hues-like recluse; instead, with this advice he's advocating avoiding the "follow the herd" mentality and not be like the Joneses.

We find that this works in our own life, even though I'll admit it's hard at times. We see friends, family and peers living certain lifestyles, having certain things, and throwing their money around wastefully, and I'll admit, sometimes we're a little envious. However, living without things like a smart phone, a flat-screen television, the biggest and best cable package, a new vehicle or multiple vehicles, a big house, and similar trappings of the consumer lifestyle allows us to spend tens of thousands of dollars less than those around us, yet still enjoy a reasonable existence. And it's an existence that we can carry with us more easily into retirement.

"Try working fewer hours than everyone else."

Without all those material possessions -- and the costs that go along with them -- we're able to work at jobs that we not only enjoy, but that allow us to choose schedules that fit our lifestyle. As I write this article, I do so while on vacation, in flip-flops and a bathing suit, sitting with my wife on a fourth-floor condo balcony overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, fresh from several hours spent down at the pool with the kids.

Sure, do I make a little less money being self-employed and working a lighter schedule? Yes. But is it something that I enjoy and that I would like to do in retirement? Yes. And this means that I can continue earning an income and therefore will hopefully need less retirement savings to sustain my retirement lifestyle.

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Disclaimer:

The author is not a licensed financial professional. The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute advice of any kind. Any action taken by the reader due to the information provided in this article is solely at the reader's discretion.

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