Retirement Education: What Back to School Night Can Teach You About Retirement Planning

It is back to school time.  While you are probably past the phase when you report to your children’s elementary, middle school or high school classrooms, these evenings can have some really valuable insights that you can apply to retirement planning.
retirement education
Here are a few ideas that teachers are talking about this year.  See if they inspire you to try different ways of planning for a more secure and happy future.

Different Kinds of Intelligence

Financial and retirement planning are not going to be easy for everyone. Some of us have the natural ability to excel at math, reading or finance.  Others have different strengths.

In 1983, developmental psychologist Howard Gardener defined at least 9 different types of intelligence:

  • Naturalist/Nature Smart: In tune with the natural world.
  • Musical Intelligence: Capacity to hear pitch rhythm, timbre and tone.
  • Logical-Mathematical Intelligence: Ability to calculate, quantify, consider propositions and hypotheses.
  • Existential Intelligence: Good at tackling deep questions like the meaning of life.
  • Interpersonal Intelligence: Able to understand and interact effectively with others.
  • Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence: Physical abilities including a sense of timing and mastery of body movement.
  • Linguistic Intelligence: Ability to effectively use language.
  • Intra-Personal Intelligence: How well you understand yourself and your thoughts.
  • Spatial Intelligence: The ability to think in three dimensions.

Understanding your own types of intelligence can help you know in what areas and how you might want to seek help for planning a secure retirement.

Know Your Learning Style

A recent study from Fidelity found that — on average — people only got a score of 30% on a quiz about retirement planning.  And, absolutely nobody got all the questions correct.  Take the quiz here.

Because we all have a lot to study, it can be hugely beneficial for you to know how you learn. Just like there are people with different kinds of intelligence, we all also have different ways of learning things:

Traditional Learning: Some people can read an article and get the information they need.

  • You are lucky if this is you, there are so many articles and books you can use.

Visual Learner: These learners need to watch a video or see examples to fully grasp information.

  • Look for charts, graphs or even videos to help you understand retirement planning.

Auditory Learner: If you are an auditory learner, you can gain knowledge more quickly if you hear the information.

Hands On Learning: Most of us actually learn best if we can get our hands around something and actually do it.

  • This does not mean that you simply retire and learn as you go.  If you are a hands on learner, try using sophisticated retirement calculators that enable you to enter all of your own information and model different strategies.

The NewRetirement retirement planning calculator is a comprehensive tool that encourages you to try out as many different strategies as you can imagine.  And, it immediately shows you the impact of each change on your overall financial health.

Growth Mindset

Growth mindset is the idea that human beings are capable of learning and changing.  It is the opposite of a fixed mindset — where someone sticks to what they know and give up when frustrated.

Research has shown that people with a growth mindset are more likely to succeed.  They find that people who believe that their brain can grow actually behave differently — they work harder and try new approaches.

This can apply to retirement planning because many of us feel a sense of frustration about not having quite enough to retire.  However, creative problem solving, working a little harder or a little longer can enable us to create a plan for a secure future.

Having a huge nest egg is nice, but you can achieve a secure retirement other ways too.  Here are just a few examples:

Delay the Start of Social Security: Starting Social Security at your full retirement age instead of at 62 can sometimes mean more than $100,000 over your lifetime.   Use a break even Social Security calculator to assess the best time for you to start.  Or try different start dates and amounts in the retirement calculator to see the overall impact on your plan.

Work Longer: There are so many benefits to working longer — social, emotional, intellectual and financial.  And, it does not have to be nose to the grindstone forever.  There are lots of ways to make work a bigger part of your retirement plans — an extra year at your job, a part time gig, a sabbatical instead of retirement or start your own side business.  Try out different work scenarios in your retirement plan.

Tap Home Equity: If you are like most households, your house is your most valuable asset — exceeding your retirement savings.  If you own your home, you can give a serious boost to your retirement plans by downsizing or getting a reverse mortgage.  This retirement calculator lets you model these strategies.  See which works best for you and when might be the best time to tap your equity.

Get Creative: Desperate times call for creative measures.  If you are nearing retirement and are short on adequate funding, you may need to start thinking outside of the box.  Getting a roommate, retiring abroad, and finding passive income streams are a few ways to get creative to fix your retirement plan problems.

Spend Less: Anyone can retire at any level of income and savings — it is just a matter of spending less and making do.  Some people manage to make retirement work on Social Security alone.

Using a retirement calculator or by working with a financial advisor, keep playing with your retirement plan.  Change the numbers and dates until you have a plan you can live with.

Art Instruction

Project Zero is a research group from Harvard University that studies how artists work.  They have identified 8 different pathways — the “8 Studio Habits of Mind” — that an artist uses when creating.

These approaches can easily be applied to almost any kind of project — including creating a retirement plan.

When you are planning your retirement, try these different ideas — they do not have to happen in any particular order:

Develop Craft: Learn about the different areas or concepts that impact retirement planning: Social Security, Investments, Housing, Budgeting, Inflation, taxes, health insurance, long term care insurance, Pensions and so much more…

Engage & Persist: If you encounter a problem with your plan, look for ways to overcome it.  For example: Maybe it looks like you will run out of money in retirement, you can try retiring later or spending a little less to solve the problem.

Envision: Being able to imagine the next 20 or 30 years is a critical part of planning retirement.  In retirement, you need to make a relatively fixed set of resources last as long as you do.

Express: You need to be able to document and communicate your plans.  Talk with your spouse, other family members or a financial advisor.

Observe: This approach requires you to be able to see all of the details of your plan and assess risks and opportunities.

Reflect: Take learnings from your own plan and apply ideas from other sources that can strengthen what you intend to do.

Stretch and Explore: Consider creative approaches to retirement planning.  Could you retire abroad?  Have a retirement job walking dogs?  What can you learn from these types of ideas?

Understand Community: Interact with other people who are planning retirement or professionals who could help strengthen your plans.

Plan Your Retirement

Planning retirement can be really hard. However, knowing how you learn can really help you. Get started now with this easy to use retirement planner. It has features for traditional, visual and hands on learners and appeals to different kinds of intelligence. Customize your plans and take control over all the details of your future finances — even pensions. This tool has been named a best retirement calculator by the American Association of Individual Investor’s (AAII), Forbes Magazine, The Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, MoneyBoss, CanIRetireyet and many more.

Apply what you have learned to your retirement plan




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