Retirement Planning + Retirement Goals + Retirement Home + RRSP = RIF until you RIP.

No thanks. I have bigger plans for my “golden years.”

My parents made retirement sound like a place similar to Hawaii or Heaven. That’s not the definition of retirement according to my research.

After interviewing many folks about their thoughts on the word “retirement”, I’ve found the responses depend mostly on age (how close they are to their “golden years”) and whether the person is an employee or a business owner. When I ask the grade seven and eight students I meet through Junior Achievement, they mirror what their folks say about retirement.

Most youth believe one of the top reasons why they should save and invest their money is to retire one day. When I ask them what retirement is and why it appeals to them, they often respond with, “retirement is when you stop working” and “retired people can sleep in, play golf and travel lots.” Then I ask them the class to think about their favorite thing to do. I say,

“Imagine you can make money at your favorite thing to do. For example, imagine you can make loads of money wake surfing or designing wake boards or manufacturing wake boats because you are really, really good at it. If you are making money at something you love and excel at, which allows you time and money to sleep in, golf and travel too, would you still want to retire?”

You know exactly what a bunch of grade seven and eight kids would have to say about that…

HELLLLL NO!

As a teenager growing up in Dawson Creek BC, I observed my family members longing for retirement. They couldn’t wait to get off the weekly grind merry-go-round. They weren’t loving their careers. My first job began at age 13 at the gas station my mom and step-dad owned. My mom and step-dad were always stressed out from teenaged employees ripping them off and customers charging to their accounts and not paying on time, or sometimes at all. Owning a gas station didn’t appeal to me, but I loved working at my mom’s gas station. Mom taught me how to get over my shyness by greeting customers, washing windshields and asking everyone who put more than $20 worth of fuel in their tank if they wanted their oil checked. (She also asked me to pay close attention to my co-workers whom she suspected were stealing!!) As I got better at dealing with people, I began to earn tips! After a few years, I decided to use my expert gas station attendant skills at the restaurant where my girlfriend worked as a waitress. It wasn’t the work that appealed to me - it was the huge tips she earned during Saturday and Sunday breakfast shifts! It turned out that I made better tips at age 14 as a gas jockey than I did at age 16 as a waitress! This fact is probably due to my high level of passion for vehicles and my minimal passion for whether or not to hold the onions on a customer’s omelette. One or both of the husband & wife owners were always at the restaurant and they, like my mom and step-dad, argued often about their business. Once again, the idea of owning a business didn’t appeal to me.

I loved working. I rarely didn't want to go to work, unless I hadn't had enough sleep the night before. Mostly I loved working because I loved this...

My first love, my high school bestie and me.

My first love, my high school bestie and me.

I could continue showing you more pictures of that beautiful machine, but I'd better get back to my story...

In addition to owning the gas station, Mom had a part-time job working for the provincial government. My dad and step-mom were also government employees. All three had the flexibility to work from home or on the road rather than always being stuck in an office, which seemed great, and each talked about "my pension" with great enthusiasm (I had no idea what a pension was). They encouraged my siblings and I to get government jobs, climb to the top of the government job ladder and stay in the safety of that government job forever to ensure a nice pension during retirement. I eventually concluded that a pension pays for trips to Hawaii which is the government’s way of thanking its workers once they are too old to be of use to the government anymore. This childish assumption turned out to be somewhat accurate.

My mom and step-dad eventually separated and sold the gas station, but I continued to work there until a week after high school graduation. Then I moved to Vancouver BC.

In Vancouver I met people who were passionate about not spending 10 - 20 years working in a career they didn’t love. This was my introduction to the term “Financial Freedom”. I compared financial freedom to retirement and discovered neither one is defined by trips to Hawaii. Financial Freedom is the ability to choose whether or not to work whereas retirement is ending your job completely. Another commonality with my new friends was their desire to change the world for the better. I heeded their advise to read How To Win Friends And Influence People by Dale Carnegie. That book changed my life by giving me new perspectives on owning a business, understanding people and earning income, which I had never heard before. At age eighteen, I learned the most important lesson of my life:

The more money we make during our lifetime,

the more we can give to those who are suffering.

After moving from Vancouver to Grande Prairie, Dale Carnegie’s lessons began transforming me into a successful business owner. After completing my 1400 hour apprenticeship and passing my journeyman hairdresser exam, I began my own mobile beauty company. A few years later, I had a perfect, blue-eyed baby boy. I coasted through my twenties as a self-employed single mom having tons of fun. “Work” was busy (it usually didn’t feel like work) and financially, I was doing OK. It felt great to be running my own successful business but after a few years, I realized 2 things:

  1. I needed to learn how to save and invest my money.
  2. My full potential couldn’t be realized in my “hair engineering” career.

After moving from Grande Prairie to Cochrane at age 27, my financial coaching career found me. Around my 30th birthday, I realized WHY I do what I do for money. I encourage you to ask yourself this question and write down your top 3 answers:

Why do I do what I do for money?

  • I love what I do for money
  • I excel at what I do for money
  • I am changing the world for the better

Congratulations if you are like me and your answers do not include “to retire”. You either know 100% that you are in the right career at the right time, or you are miserable and want a change. (What are you waiting for???)

If your answers to "Why do I do what I do for money?" don’t exude happiness/fulfillment, find a job or start a business doing something you actually want to do right away. There are many fun ways to make money and there will be many more as time goes on. By the way, it is much easier to transition to the career you love if you aren’t tapped out from debt or have a 30 year old son or daughter living for free in your basement. We’ll talk about your debt in another article. For now, why not volunteer to help a cause you are passionate about?

How great would it feel to take your focus off the weekly grind by donating your time and talents to a great cause? Not to mention, I bet you’ll meet people who are links to new career paths. If this sounds fun, but you're not sure which causes to get involved with, I have a few suggestions:

www.kiva.org

www.kidsportcanada.ca

www.branchoutfoundation.com

Whether or not you will join me for the snowshoe tour (Feb 2017) or bike tour (June 2017 - join my team!) to fund MS research, if you’re facing a money challenge, please send me a message. I'd love to help you! Thanks!

Branch Out Snow Shoe Tour 2017

Branch Out Snow Shoe Tour 2017