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The Retirement Puzzle: Will We Be Happy?

There are times when I wish I could be like Lorraine and Tabby. They both model love, kindness and happiness to me every day. Even when I don’t deserve it!

I had posted earlier about our retirement puzzle and, now that I have committed to a retirement date, three lingering questions:

  • Will we have enough money?
  • Will we be happy?
  • Will we stay healthy?

I have a truly impressive spreadsheet that contains a detailed budget expense worksheet for the current year. It also contains a summary of the following financial ratios along with specific targets:

  • Gross Debt Service Ratio
  • Total Debt Service Ratio
  • Liquidity Ratio
  • Solvency Ratio
  • Housing Payment Ratio
  • Annual Savings Ratio
  • Debt Payment to Income Ratio
  • Total Savings to Income Ratio
  • Total Debt to Gross Income Ratio
  • Total Debt to After-tax Income Ratio
  • Total Assets to Income Ratio

We carry no debt and all of our ratios look great right now. They did not always look that way though especially in our thirties with kids and mortgages and lots of other expenses.

My spreadsheet contains a worksheet for our net worth, a detailed breakdown of our investment assets and allocation, our passive income from investments, our investment portfolio performance over the past 25 years of investing, pension estimates, income and taxes paid for my entire career, and retirement ratios for Neutral Income Retirement Target and Real Discretionary Income. The latter trying to answer the question: do I have enough for retirement?

This is not just any spreadsheet. Oh no. This spreadsheet is a work of art.

And you can see the trap, can’t you? I have approached retirement largely from the first question, from a financial perspective. I have spent countless hours over the years planning and investing to get us to this point.

But really, with less than 8 months from retirement, we will have whatever we have from a financial perspective. And it is more than enough. My real discretionary income will go up in retirement.

The second question, will we be happy, is a more important question than whether we will have enough money. Well, at least it is now once I had some confidence that we are going to have enough money in retirement!

A few quotes from a fellow Canadian, Ernie Zelinski, author of numerous books including one of my favourites, How To Retire Happy, Wild, And Free.

… many people spend forty years building an impressive retirement nest egg, but no time at all thinking about how they are going to enjoy retirement. Indeed, the biggest mistake you can make with your retirement planning is to concentrate only on the financial aspects.

And,

Freedom and happiness are easier to attain than you think. Take your lesson from children. Don’t fret about the future. Don’t regret the past. Live only in the present. The happiness you have at any moment is the only happiness you can ever experience. Reminisce about your great yesterdays, hope for many interesting tomorrows, but, above all, ensure that you live today.

One more,

All things considered, your retirement reward should be a life that is at least as exciting and interesting as your work life was. In fact, with creative and constructive use of your time, you can be happier than you ever were in the workplace, regardless of how much satisfaction your work provided.

I can learn how to be happy from Lorraine. And from Tabby. That golden retriever of ours is the Zen master of happiness and contentment.

And I need to turn that question around into a statement:

We will be happy.

I know it.

I can feel it.