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  • Writer's picturePeter Mu, CFP® ChFC®


One of these days I am going to call my high school counselor and tell her that I have finally found the answer to her dreadful questions “Peter, what are you passionate about and what do you want to do when you grow up?”

Fishing, I’d say, with clear intent and purpose. But this article is not about fishing. It’s about retirement.

Last week I went on a fish-out with a local fly fishing club and as you might imagine many of the members are retirees. Over the next four days while fishing, driving hundreds of miles in the desert and hours of conversation I got to ponder a lot about how I would want to spend my time in my own retirement.

I still want to live an active lifestyle. Fishing, hunting, hiking, climbing mountains, see the world...whatever it is. I will still be the nature-loving outdoorsman. Quit working for money will not change who I am as a person.

I still want to be engaged in my community. I want to join clubs that interest me, hang out with others with similar interests, organize outings, dinners, holiday parties, raise money for causes...just like I do today.

I still want to buy nice things. I've always appreciated quality, craftsmanship and tradition. Owning things that last makes sense to me.

I want to live in California, well at least partially. Aside from having such gorgeous climate, endless things to discover, well educated and progressive minded population, California is also where all my friends and family will be. I will not want to be away from these people I love.

Have money and time to spend with my grand kids. I want to take them to disneyland, teach them fishing, mushroom hunting, read books, conduct science experiments or just throw rocks in the river, like my grandparents did with me. I’m gonna be an awesome grandpa.

Pay my fair share of taxes. When I asked my carpool buddy Bill, who is 71 and happily retired, whether his tax rates really are lower in retirement he replied without hesitation - NO!  This answer is consistent with many others I’ve interviewed. You see, income is taxed the same way regardless if you are working or retired. The more you make, the more taxes you pay. In addition, the most significant tax incentives our government gives us, qualified plans like 401(k), IRAs, mortgage interest deductions, business expenses and children...are not available in retirement. If your income is high to support all those fun things you want to do your taxes will not be lower.

Ah...retirement, so far away. Or is it? The second habit(1) reads “Begin with the End in Mind.” Regardless what life stage you are in today, Be Proactive (2) and seek help from a Financial Professional. Begin with creating a vision of what the endgame looks like. Research all the potential perils along the way, study with those who came before you, define measures of success then implement an action plan to get you there. Life is good folks because you make it that way.

  1. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, first published in 1989, is a business and self-help book written by Stephen R. Covey

  2. “Be Proactive” is the first habit.

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