By Mark Venning, ChangeRangers.com
Special to the Financial Independence Hub
“We’re on a bit of a crusade to change the way our society thinks about retirement.” — Jonathan Chevreau & Mike Drak
Mike Drak and Jonathan Chevreau, co-authors of Victory Lap Retirement (published, October 2016) are not the first to head out on this crusade. Apart from the material on the larger subject of aging and longevity, in my library I must have at least 19 books, in addition to the stacks of reports, studies and new models on the subject of Retirement.
Over the twenty years in the career services industry, where I worked directly with business executives in their later life transitions – leaving the corporate crow’s nest, as I call it, I can appreciate where Mike and Jonathan are coming from in their take on this. I have produced three retirement programs since 2001, and in the process suffered from metaphor madness, developing novel ways of reframing the concept of retirement and our later life journey.
However, this Drak & Chevreau volume is a welcomed new addition to this crusade. The book, by way of its novelty, weaves the conversation from the threads of a concept called Findependence, as the cornerstone of a Victory Lap Retirement. So here we go. Rather than a traditional book review, here in this blog post, I present views of the authors as shared through interview questions with them in late October.
Mark’s Q: Your co-authored book, early on, takes a shot across the bow at the “financial media & financial services industries” in the way they persist to push “Retirement” as if it were some final destination. (There seems little shift between the 1970’s London Life’s Freedom 55, to Prudential’s 2016 Race for Retirement campaigns for example.) What one new key message should marketers take from reading Victory Lap that could become a differentiator in their marketing?
Mike: The industry is using the same commercials that they used 40 years ago. The only difference is that they are now in color. The world of retirement has changed significantly over the years and most people cannot afford nor do they want to live the lifestyle portrayed in their commercials.
Banks assume more money equals better retirement, which is wrong thinking. Banks are good with the investment piece but they need to become more involved with the lifestyle piece. How can you ever know if you have enough if you do not have a firm handle on what type of retirement lifestyle you want in retirement and what that lifestyle will cost?
Mark’s Q: At one point in Chapter 3, you make the point that: “Compounding the problem is the lack of financial education our children receive in school.” You also say in Chapter 4 that the importance of financial independence is a prerequisite to the new stage of life you call “Victory Lap Retirement.” Let’s play here. What do you think about an opportunity for you to design/deliver a “Findependence” course relatable to high school teenagers that didn’t use the word Retirement? What then would the main message sound like to them? Read more
Here’s my latest MoneySense blog, which they’ve titled Working to Live Better, Longer. Since it’s based on a reading of books about Longevity and even Immortality, we’re housing it in the Reviews, Encore Acts and Longevity & Aging blog categories of our sister site, the Financial Independence Hub.
Click on the blue link above to reach the MoneySense version or if you want to see images of the book covers discussed, they are in the version posted below. (The two sites tend to use different images to illustrate):
By Jonathan Chevreau
Whenever I suggest in a blog that investors might want to rethink Early Retirement, I usually hear from a few readers who insist that after 30 or 40 or more years in the workforce, they have a “right” to spend their last decade or so in the pursuit of leisure.
Readers are of course perfectly free to reject exhortations to “just keep working” but if I end up in email correspondence with them, I may reply that my stance is not predicated on the desire to give the financial industry still more assets to place under management.
Rather, it’s based on my growing perception that life expectancies are on the rise and the pace of medical breakthroughs in biotech and gene therapy does not appear to be slowing. Read more
Happiness, longevity, health and money are all (as you might expect) intertwined. In his book, You Can Retire Sooner Than You Think (also reviewed at the Hub), Wes Moss focuses on the five money secrets of the happiest retirees.
One of the books he mentions is Dan Buettner’s The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who’ve Lived the Longest. We will review that book, first published in 2008, in due course.
In the meantime, we’re going to look at Buettner’s followup book on happiness: Thrive: Finding Happiness the Blue Zones Way, originally published by National Geographic in 2010.
To research the book, Buettner travelled to four of the world’s allegedly happiest countries, two of which I’ve visited myself: Denmark and Mexico, and two I haven’t: Singapore and San Luis Obisco (in California). In each locale he contacts local elders known for their wisdom about happiness and how the city or country built its infrastructure to maximize it.
He then wraps it all up by summing up what these nations have in common with a chapter entitled Lessons in Thriving.
He concludes there are six “life domains” that can be shaped to boost one’s chances for happiness. These six “thrive centers” are:
Where you live is hugely important to happiness and the happiest spots tend to promote economic freedom, a high employment rate, tolerance, quality government, more community space, limited shopping hours, a limited workweek (37 hours in Denmark), support for the Arts, walkability, quiet surroundings and plenty of sidewalks and bike lanes.
The happiest workers are in jobs that don’t have long commutes, limit the workweek to 40 hours, take six weeks of vacation a year, socialize with co-workers and have the right boss. However, the self-employed and business owners report higher levels of well-being.
3.) Social Life
The wider your social network, the happier you’re likely to be. Buettner suggests joining clubs, creating your own Moai (a group of mutually committed friends), reconnecting with your faith, marrying the right person (someone similar to you with similar tastes and earning ability).
4.) Financial life
The book quotes Ed Diener to the effect “the key to greater well-being is to have money but not to want it too much.” (author’s emphasis). He recommends paying off your house (consistent with the Hub’s stance that the foundation of financial independence is a paid-for home, something Wes Moss also advocates), enrolling in automatic savings programs, avoid credit cards, create a giving account and invest in experiences rather than stuff. (also consistent with the motto in Findependence Day: “Freedom, Not Stuff!”).
The happiest homes have fewer television screens, ideally only one, they cancel their cable TV, own a pet, create a meditation space, create a “pride shrine” of family awards and trophies, grow a garden, maximize sunlight and reserve bedrooms for sleep, not electronic distractions.
6.) Self & Purpose
To yield well-being benefits for the long run, the book suggests you “recognize your values, strengths, talents, passions and gifts.” Once you do, this should help you realize your life purpose: determining “your reason for getting up in the morning.” He mentions Richard Leider’s bestselling The Power of Purpose, which uses the simple formula G+P+V=C. That is, Gifts plus Passion plus Values equals Calling.
I’ve been reading several books on Encore Careers, second acts and the like. A few weeks ago, we reviewed Marc Freedman’s The Big Shift. Over a one-week break in Florida, I read Freedman’s earlier book, Encore, subtitled Finding Work That Matters In the Second Half of Life.
Work that matters
If you believe that living to 100 is a distinct possibility rather than a one-in-a-thousand outlier event, then it follows that financial planning needs to take these extra years into account.
All these books start with the premise that the baby boom generation may end up living a lot longer than they may have once imagined, which goes double for their own children and the generations coming after them.
Freedman’s Encore does suggest that a lot of American boomers (that’s the book’s focus) may need to keep working in part because of limited financial resources, but as the subtitle suggests, it’s mostly about finding “work that matters” in the second half of life.
There’s a lovely quote Freedman uses at the outset, attributed to Marge Piercy in the book “To be of use”:
The pitcher cries for water to carry and a person for work that is real.
A new stage of life
Freedman suggests there’s an entire new life stage between MidLife and what used to be called Full Retirement. This phase may begin after either an involuntary or voluntary departure from paid employment in giant corporate or government organizations. It could last 20 years, meaning there’s enough time to reinvent oneself and find an entirely new career, even if that means going back to school to qualify for it.
“The emerging reality looks like this: Retirement as we have known it is in the midst of being displaced as the central institution of the second half of life. It is being supplanted by a new stage of life opening up between the end of midlife and the arrival of true old age, a period that essentially amounts to the second half of life, at least adult life. And that’s just the half of it: The new phase under development is every bit as much a new stage of work.”
Funding Encore Careers
Freedman describes some Encore acts that were funded by raiding 529 plans, which are the equivalent of Canadian RESPs (Registered Education Savings Plans). Canadian RRSPs (like IRAs in the US) are similarly well-suited since the government has made it possible to tap retirement savings for higher education, as long as the money is eventually repaid.
All this also is strongly connected to the other blog category over at our sister site, The Financial Independence Hub, which we call Longevity & Aging. Read this post from last week on Why Longevity Changes Everything: Why you should think twice about Early Retirement.
Great online resources
But back to Encore. This is one book I’d suggest buying as an e-book because the appendix contains many pages of useful web links to useful resources in government, education, health, the non-profit sector and much more. I’ve touched on a few here:
Retirement Jobs: http://www.retirementjobs.com
Nonprofit Times: http://www.thenonprofittimes.com
Exploring Careers in Aging: http://www.exploringcareersinaging.com
Troops to Teachers: http://www.proudtoserveagain.com
The American Medical Association: http://www.ama-assn.org/ama
The Career Key: http://www.careerkey.org/
Here’s my latest MoneySense blog, entitled Why you should re-think Early Retirement. This is a topic I’ve been researching for several months, going back to some blogs I wrote on Mark Venning’s ChangeRangers.com, which challenges readers to “envision the promise of longevity.” He also sensibly counsels that we should “plan for Longevity, not for Retirement.”
As you can see by clicking through to the blog (also reproduced below), some of this message was articulated in a speech delivered Wednesday evening at the Financial Show, and which I also gave Monday night at the Port Credit chapter of Toastmasters.
By Jonathan Chevreau
I recently delivered a talk about how longevity changes everything. I began by showing the front cover of the latest Bloomberg Business magazine, which shows a woman celebrating her 173rd birthday. Read more