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Navigating The Second Retirement: Civilian Retirement!

by Tracy Latona |

Retirement…You’ve done it once through the military, which was an incredible and honorable feat! This time around, in the civilian world, the emotions feel a little bit different. Perhaps there’s a feeling of anticipation, or maybe emptiness. “What am I supposed to do now?” is a question I hear from those retiring a second time.

What if it didn’t have to be that way?

You’re told what to do when you get out of the military: Find a good paying job. You’re told that when you retire from the military, too! Often, those who retire from the military still have a good 20-30 working years left.  It’s easy to know what the next step is once you get out, because the answer is pretty obvious.  However, there is often a different mindset around retirement from the civilian world. You don’t have someone to tell you what your next steps are. Or, what your life ought to look like.

Here’s the beautiful thing: You get to decide that! The first step is to create a crystal clear vision of what you want your life to look like. You’ve spent the last 40 years of your life working, and now you get to live life on your terms, and spend your time the way you want to. Does that include traveling? A lake house? Time with grandkids? Or, buying lots of land? 

Once you have your picture of what you want your life to look like, ask yourself this: What needs to be true for this to happen? From there, you have steps to where you can work backwards. If you want to travel, where do you want to travel to? How often? What needs to be in place (or needs to be true) to make this a reality? 

Once you know where you’re going and have a general idea of how to get there, let’s put some systems and processes in place to make this feasible. It’s great to dream, but making it happen is a whole ‘nother ball game! 

-Get on the same page as your spouse, and communicate. My dad once told me during a visit that he felt he had to keep working so he could take my step-mom on trips and vacations. My step-mom told me she wanted my dad to stop working, so he could relax.  It sounded like she had no idea that my dad felt this way about having to work to take her on the trips she wanted! It’s a classic case of non-communication. Couples that work together on their finances have stronger marriages. (A great financial coach or couples therapist can help with this, if you’re in different libraries, let alone on the same page).

-Make a mission for your money. Budgeting is more than knowing what your bills are. It’s telling your money where to go, including towards those retirement goals! Tracking your transactions daily is what makes your spending plan come alive and helps you stick to those boundaries. 

-Get out of debt! When you’re giving your money away in payments, you’re not using your income to build your future. How would it feel to retire with no debt and a paid off house?

-Have money in the bank. At this point, financial advisors recommend having 1-2 years worth of expenses as a “gap bridge” so you don’t have to take money out of investments when the market is down. You also want to have money in the bank to cash flow large emergencies. 

-Take advantage of your VA compensation. If you’ve served 20 years, your back, knees, and neck all probably hurt. If you haven’t been rated by the VA for disability compensation (which is another way of saying they know you didn’t go into the military in the same condition as you got out), talk to your Veteran Service Officer and start the process to get the compensation you’ve earned. VA compensation, on top of military retirement, on top of civilian retirement? THAT’S a great tool belt to have! 

-Think about the Legacy you want to leave. Not just financial, but what do you want your obituary to say? How do you want to be remembered? You can use this time to build your legacy and live the life you want to be remembered by. 

Lastly, if your financial situation is nowhere near what you pictured and you feel like you’re running out of time, there’s still hope. I’ve heard of 70 year olds paying off over $100,000 student loan payments because they were determined to not die with them. Determination is a beautiful thing. As long as you have breath in your lungs, you still have choices to take control of your money. 

Tracy Latona 

Golden Rose Financial Coaching  

(502) 665-1127