6 Ways to Help Boost (or Start) Your Retirement Plans

6 Ways to Help Boost (or Start) Your Retirement Plans

6 Ways to Help Boost (or Start) Your Retirement Plans

As we approached our 30th wedding anniversary, my husband and I decided that it would be a good idea to get away for a few days to take some time to think and talk about what moving forward might look like for us.

Over the past 5 years, we have navigated more changes than I ever imagined we would face in such a short amount of time. Like the loss of a job and the loss of both of my husband’s parents. And this summer was another kind of whirlwind with our daughter getting married and our son becoming engaged and moving out of our home.

Now that we find ourselves in the “empty nest” season, we have discovered that it is harder than we imagined it would be and we need to be intentional about how we are going to approach this new season.

Here are 6 things we’ve learned so far about growing older and approaching retirement.

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1. Reach out for help.

1. Reach out for help.

It was only a couple of years ago that we had to do another kind of evaluating and planning. After we faced the death of my husband’s parents, it took months for us to sift through the finances left behind. Thankfully, my father-in-law invested his money very wisely and generously. Even so, it was overwhelming!

We finally decided that we needed to contact a financial advisor to help us not only with this process, but also to plan for our own future.

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"It was humbling, overwhelming, and sobering."

"It was humbling, overwhelming, and sobering."

All the financial decisions that we had made over the past 29 years – the good ones and the not so good ones – were laid out before the eyes of a stranger.

It was humbling, overwhelming, and sobering.

There are certain situations in life that put you in a position where you feel most vulnerable:

  • Sitting in a doctor’s office wearing one of those paper gowns that open in the back.
  • Getting your hair cut and colored.
  • Enduring 24 hours of labor before giving birth.
  • And sitting at the table with a financial advisor as he looks over all the financial decisions that you have made over the past 29 years!

But it was helpful and worth it.

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2. Start thinking differently.

2. Start thinking differently.

The “empty nest” season of life in which we find ourselves is a bit surreal. We have been so busy living life, raising our kids, being a part of an amazing ministry, and trusting God to provide for all our needs. Sitting down to evaluate and plan in this way never really crossed our minds until we found ourselves being hit with so many life changes! 

At times we feel like we are still young, but then we remember that we have a 28-year-old married daughter, and a 25-year-old engaged son. The reality is that we are at a point in life where we need to be thinking quite differently than we have up until now.

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3. Decide what you want your money to do.

3. Decide what you want your money to do.

As we’ve started to discuss our future and the standard of living in which we need to live, I feel very grateful for what God has been teaching us over the years.

Because of the salary that accompanied my husband’s job and ministry, for years we have been “forced” to live a simple lifestyle. For the most part, I was okay with this reality because I knew that it was what we were called to do. So I adjusted to it. (I suppose we were minimalists before it was cool to be a minimalist!)

As we look ahead into what is considered to be “the second half” of our lives, we want to continue to live simply. We don’t want that standard to change because we want to use the money that God has entrusted to us wisely and in a way that will further God’s kingdom. What that will look like is yet to be seen, but we are planning with that in mind.

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4. Consider what legacy you will leave behind, other than money.

4. Consider what legacy you will leave behind, other than money.

I remember one evening after my father-in-law had passed away, I walked into our bedroom and found my husband sitting at his desk. I stood there next to him, silent. He was staring at the bag that the hospital had given him of his father’s “personal effects” – what was left in the room when he passed away. Two watches and a wallet with a few dollars and some credit cards. There they sat as another reminder that he was gone.

But the reality is that he left so much more than that. He left a legacy of being wise with his money, being generous with all that he had been given, and actively serving God even when he was in a nursing home.

“I want to help,” He used to say. “God has been so good to me!”

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5. Live simply and bless others.

5. Live simply and bless others.

Following the example of my in-laws and following the way God has led us to live over the past 30 years has formed a philosophy of life that we hope to implement for the rest of the time we have here on this earth:

Live simply and bless others.

Of course, there are things we want to do and trips we might want to take. We hope to be able to spend as much as we can with our children and, Lord willing, one day our grandchildren.

But over the past few years that we have walked through the deaths of both of my husband’s parents, both of our kids leaving home, and all the changes we are now facing this new season; we are even more aware of the legacy we want to leave behind.

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“God has been so good to us!”

“God has been so good to us!”

Anything that we have been given, we want to hold on to loosely, invest wisely, and allow it to be used for God’s glory for generations to come. Our goal is to follow in the footprints of my in-laws. We want the voice that echoes in our children and grandchildren’s ears, long after we are gone, to be one that says, “I want to help! God has been so good to us!”

Like my in-laws, we want to live simply and bless others.

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6. Start planning now, so you can finish well.

6. Start planning now, so you can finish well.

The reality of the season of life we are in and what that means, can be humbling, overwhelming, and sobering. But we are so grateful that we have the opportunity to evaluate our lives and set up a plan, so that we can finish well. We are not looking forward to retirement; we are looking forward, meaning: we don't intend on retiring and taking it easy. We want to work as long as we are able to and be used for God's kingdom. God has been so good to us.

“I will sing to the LORD, because he has dealt bountifully with me.”  Psalm 13:6

Gina Smith and her husband have served on a Christian college campus as the on-campus parents for over 20 years. They have lived on the campus where they homeschooled and raised both of their children. In her spare time she loves to write and recently authored her first book, “Grace Gifts: Practical Ways To Help Your Children Understand God's Grace." She also writes at her personal blog: ginalsmith.com.

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