We all recently received our annual benefits statements showing an estimate of our future retirement income from LAGERS. For those of you close to retirement, congratulations, you are one year closer and may be sniffing the finish line within a few months.
But for many of us in the millennial generation, the annual benefit statements are easy to ignore. I mean, it’s so far away it may even be a little depressing (I have at least 20 more years to go). But you know what else I think about when I see my annual statement? Financial independence. Isn’t that a goal for all of us, at any stage in our lives? It should be. It’s the freedom to do what you want, when you want, and not have to rely on your family, friends, or the government to support you.
Financial independence, to me, represents dreams and aspirations. It means contentment and well-being. It’s good health and low stress. It’s a cabin in the woods and vacations. Man, all of that sounds great. Yep. That’s what I want, now and into the future. OK, I have a goal, now how do I get there?
It’s hard. I have two hilarious, smart, happy young daughters. I want the best for them. I want them to have the best education, the most supportive home life, great friends, awesome experiences, and so much more. So much of me (and my income) gets poured into making sure they are taken care of to the level they deserve. But I also know I have to take steps now to ensure my financial independence, not only for tomorrow, but for 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 years from now.
Wow. That’s a little overwhelming.
The good news is that some of the income I will need in retirement has already been earned and protected with my LAGERS benefit. Of course I know it’s not going to be enough, but it gives me great comfort knowing that if I continue to work hard and put in the time, my LAGERS benefit will help me towards the retirement lifestyle that I want. It’s great to get my statement each year and see how my benefit grows with another 12 months of service.
Receiving my statement gives me a chance to dream of all of the things I want to do in retirement. I visualize the things I want to see, the places I will go, the kind of lifestyle I will have, how my wonderful wife and I will look when we’re in our sixties. How many grandchildren will we have? Where will my daughters be living? Where will I be living? For me, visualization is the key to financial independence.
My parents never made a lot of money. Neither is a college graduate. They had to fight, scratch, and sacrifice for everything they ever had. They are hard workers. My parents are also great visualizers. They never take their eye off the ball. They provided my sisters and I with a great childhood and helped us start lives of our own. Now, because of the sacrifices they made and a ton of planning and visualizing along the way, my dad was able to choose to retire at age 60 and my mom is very close. They travel often. Their stress is low and both are in great health. When they were my age they visualized the life they wanted and they now have it.
My parents won. It was hard. I can win too. So can you. Visualize your future. Our goal is financial independence, today, tomorrow, indefinitely.
So, for all of you who are decades away from retirement like I am, I have a challenge for you. The next time you look at your annual statement, take a moment to visualize your future. Close your eyes, stare out the window, whatever you need to do to focus for just a few seconds. Picture yourself. What do you look like? What is your life like? Is your visualization a picture of the life you want? The life you dream of? If so, are you on track? If not, what do you need to change now to ensure your financial independence when you get there?