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From Financial Integrity

Carolyn - Tracking for retirement

  • Married
  • Suburban Northeast
  • Chooses to work


Our culture is intensively at work attempting to keep us from being in relationship with our spending. Even financial institutions that used to be focused on helping and encouraging people to save are now sending out notices telling us how we can access credit to take 'worry-free' vacations (an actual quote from a credit union flyer I threw away an hour ago).

About a year ago I heard a financial program radio interview with three retired financial advisors. The question put to them was what had they missed in their own personal planning. Without exception, all of them underestimated what their spending would be in retirement--sometimes to a rather high degree.

This points up to me, perfectly, a significant difference between traditional financial planning and FI thinking. If you track consistently and thoroughly, and then as you near retirement ask the question 'what would this amount be if I were not working for money,' you won't be far off the mark. By then, you would be so in tune with the actualities of your spending, that you can project easily what your travel would look like if you had more time off, or what you would need to be adding to replace benefits you'd received through work.

My husband has become totally clear that having an absolute grasp on our spending and our resources was essential to his being able to retire; he made a serious commitment to tracking and has maintained it; we re-negotiated our finances so that we have a more joint approach about planning for retirement (link to Step 7) so that we can move his retirement date forward closer to mine.”

I have come to realize how unusual it is to come from a home that tracks money (step 3). I grew up with a mother who tracked her entire life, and started her children doing it at the age of seven. Of course I drifted away from it for a period of time as a young adult, but once I returned, I never wanted to give up the sense of clarity that comes with really knowing what's going on in this fundamental area of life. I can't not track any more than I can not brush and floss--for me it's simple but necessary life maintenance.


This page was last modified on 7 October 2008, at 04:03. This page has been accessed 7,026 times.