Do you ever meet someone at “retirement” age who is working at a job they hate because they still have too? Or pinching pennies simply trying to survive instead of enjoying retirement?
It breaks my heart and seems to happen too often. I’ve had three different instances where it has affected me deeply. One was a 70-year-old Uber driver, another was an 81-year-old Wal-Mart worker and a 75-year-old stranger I met golfing.
Golf is not a cheap sport, nor is it one that takes an hour of your day. It’s expensive and can be 4-6 hours on the course, sometimes with complete strangers.
But one thing is certain, you get to meet a lot of people playing golf.
Depending on where you play you get to meet older people who have a higher supplemental income to spend on clubs, rounds, memberships, etc.
I’m fortunate enough to live in Scottsdale, Arizona which is home to hundreds of golf clubs, avid golfers, and retired people with lots of money.
Last year I really got back into the game and played all over Arizona — usually paired up with strangers.
Some were fun to be with during the round, some were not memorable, and some were assholes. But a few of them provided advice and life lessons I will carry throughout my life.
Playing with so many different strangers gave me a look into my future and understanding what I truly want out of life.
One day I ended up trying to a new course for a tournament but it was horrible. It was not well maintained and more affordable than a lot of other courses.
I thought about leaving and withdrawing from the tournament but figured I already took a “sick” day from work, might as well play some golf — I’m glad I did.
Being a blogger is a great talking point and easy to way to gain insight into these strangers I get paired with. I love to ask people about their life and what kind of advice they offer a newly minted 30-year-old.
I played with two older gentlemen who were in very different places in their lives:
Golfer 1: Late 60’s — Former CFO and lives half the year in Arizona, the other half in Canada. Had brand new clubs, nice outfit and seemed to be doing well financially.
Golfer 2: 79 and just retired a year previous — former mid-level manager. Old, worn down clubs and an outfit that had seen better days.
Golfer two in this story was one of the nicest guys you will ever meet.
On the second hole, we had a big delay so I took advantage of the time to ask him more about his life and found out he just retired last year.
I’ll use “retired” loosely as he made it seem they live pretty frugally and said these were some of the only courses he could afford play anymore.
When I asked him about retirement he gave me a quick story about his life. He had five children and never saved a dime until his kids were all done with college. With five kids he almost always had two in college at any given time.
He also said they put off savings when they could — instead opting to buy a newer car, bigger house, or new toys.
He and his wife realized that age 50 they had almost nothing saved — despite both him and his wife working full-time jobs their entire adult lives.
They decided to change it — from age 50 – 65 they saved 20% of their income, predominantly in the stock market, to grow it as aggressively as possible. Unfortunately, the 2008 stock market crash absolutely crushed his savings.
Unfortunately, the 2008 stock market crash absolutely crushed his savings.
I asked if he panicked and sold at the bottom or persevered and saw his money come back up after 2008?
He responded sadly, “I was scared, I panicked and sold it all at the bottom.”
I was literally crushed.
This was one of the nicest old guys spilling his financial problems to a 29-year-old he just met.
He ended up losing 40% of their retirement nest egg (which they finally saved) and has avoided the stock market ever since. Could you imagine not saving your whole life, then once you do lose half of your investment nearly overnight?
Could you imagine not saving your whole life, then once you do lose half of your investment nearly overnight?
I could tell it was weighing on him and still had so much regret through the entire process. We talked the rest of the day and found out these lessons to help you plan for your future:
Ask For Advice
I love asking people for advice or to learn more about their story.
My big rule is “only listen to advice from someone you would switch places with” but it came up naturally in my previous story. Even if you don’t take advice from everyone you can almost always learn something from older people and retirees.
Old people love to talk and give insight — why is that we never ask? And if we do never listen?
These people have been around this Earth 2-4x as long, they’re bound to know more than you!
Whether it’s your grandparents or someone you may meet, don’t be afraid to ask older people for advice or tips to make the most out of life.
One of the biggest reasons people join private country clubs isn’t just for golf — it’s for networking and being around like-minded people.
Whether you play golf or not, the important thing here is to learn how to network. I’m not talking about going to lame “mixers” but instead making an effort to talk to more people wherever you are.
Thanks to social media and smartphones people rarely talk to strangers anymore — but it’s ok to change that.
If you introduce yourself to people in the elevator at work, at the coffee shop, or the golf course you never know what can happen.
I got my last job from playing golf with a stranger who’s son worked at the company. What if I had never gone out that day or decided to play alone?
You never know where opportunity may come in life, don’t be afraid to network and meet new people.
Health = Wealth
In my former story, both of the gentlemen told me several times about how important your health is. Without it, you can’t enjoy anything later in life.
Whether it was smoking, not exercising, or being too angry or stressed through life it can ruin your later years.
Don’t work your ass off to save, save, save to not be able to enjoy it when you’re older.
I’ve written about this extensively and is the topic of my first book published — Advice For My Younger Self.
You only get one body — be sure to treat it right throughout your life.
Have a Plan
What do you want to do with your life? Do you want to retire at 45, 50, 60, 70, or never?
You don’t have to know this question exactly but it is well worth asking yourself so you know what you are aiming for.
“Without a target — you’ll miss every time.”
If you want to retire “early” aka before 65, you’ll need to plan ahead as you can’t access your 401K or Roth IRA without penalty. Again, it doesn’t have to be set in stone but plan ahead so you know where you are headed.
My ultimate goal is to never retire — I want to do life-fulfilling “work” forever.
Sure, I don’t want to wake up at 4 am until 90-years-old but being as sharp and passionate as Warren Buffett is the ultimate dream.
Related: Life Lessons from Warren Buffett
Start Saving Early
One of the biggest lessons I’ve always heard from anyone older than me is to start saving and investing early.
If you don’t — you lose out on compound interest.
Compound interest is one of the easiest ways to earn money over time.
Automate your finances so you are paying yourself first each month in 401K or Roth IRA. Even if it’s only 2% or $1,000 a year in a Roth IRA invest what you can.
I talk extensively about this topic in my book and make investing easy. Check out three free chapters here to learn more.
Don’t End Up With Regret
A famous Austrailian nurse interviewed people on their deathbed and the single biggest regret is wishing they had the courage to live a life true to themselves. The other regrets were:
- Working too hard
- Not expressing their feelings
- Losing friendships due to being too busy
- Not allowing themselves to be happier
I imagine these people on their deathbed have a true insight into life that you can’t experience anywhere else.
Don’t end up on your deathbed with any regrets, make the most of your life and take some risks — don’t go through life, live life!
Whether you want to start your own business, travel the world, earn a million dollars in a year or become an Ironman competitor.
Whatever your goal is, give it a shot — see it through.
While earning money is important don’t get so caught up chasing the paper that you forget your relationships and experiences. You can always earn more money, but you can’t get back time.
Make the most of it by finding a balance between doing what you love, spending time with people you love and leading the life you want.
I don’t want to end up with regret and I sure don’t want you too either!
My absolute nightmare would be pinching pennies, playing mediocre courses, simply surviving old age instead of living.
Golf is a metaphor for retirement. I’ve learned a lot from older people on the course and would recommend asking advice when you can.
Don’t make these mistakes and have to worry about money in your older years.
I’m sure you want to be able to afford to travel, eat without looking at menu prices, and work only if you are passionate about it.
Start by saving early, having a plan, taking care of your health, and don’t be afraid to live a life true to yourself.
You only get one shot at this thing called life, make the most if and live life on your terms.
Have you learned any other life or money lessons from older people or retirees?
Let me know in the comments!
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