When you’re learning something new, it’s helpful to understand both theory and practice. Planning for retirement is no exception. What can we learn about life in retirement from those who planned well for retirement (and wrote excellent books about it) – and are now living it?
In this new installment of a series of panel discussions with our most popular previous guests, we’re joined by Fritz Gilbert, Dr. Barbara O’Neill, and Mark Shaiken (you’ll find their bios below).
- Their lessons learned about life in retirement so far
- How they’re investing their time now versus their full-time working years
- What do they know now that they wished they did then
- What they learned about themselves by writing a book about retirement
- The ingredients for a Good Life today
- Their advice for pre-retirees who are planning for retirement now
Dr. Barbara O’Neill joins us from Florida, Fritz Gilbert from Georgia, and Mark Shaiken from Colorado.
Fritz Gilbert is the author of The Keys to a Successful Retirement. He retired after more than three decades in corporate America, where he progressed through the various levels of a multinational corporation serving the global aluminum industry. His award-winning blog “The Retirement Manifesto” is focused on people achieving a great retirement. Fritz and his wife, Jackie, live in a cabin in Blue Ridge, Georgia, an Appalachian Mountain town where they’re active in their local church and various local charities, including Jackie’s charity Freedom for Fido (FreedomForFido.com). When he’s not writing, Fritz enjoys spending his time outdoors and is an avid fly fisherman, mountain biker, hiker, camper, photographer, and fitness fanatic. He also cherishes his daily walks in the woods with their four dogs, who run the household. Fritz and Jackie also travel cross country in their RV to visit their daughter and her family in the Pacific Northwest.
Barbara O’Neill, Ph.D, CFP®, CRPC®, AFC, CHC, CFEd, CFCS, CPFFE, is the author of Flipping the Switch: Your Guide to Happiness and Financial Security in Later Life.
As the owner/CEO of Money Talk: Financial Planning Seminars and Publications, Dr. Barbara O’Neill, CFP®, AFC®, CRPC®, writes, speaks, and reviews content about personal finance. A Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Rutgers University, after 41 years of service as a Rutgers Cooperative Extension educator and personal finance specialist, Dr. O’Neill has written over 160 articles for academic publications and received more than 35 national awards and over $1.2 million in grants to support her financial education programs and research.
Employed by Rutgers since 1978, she provided national leadership for the Cooperative Extension programs Investing For Your Future and Small Steps to Health and Wealth™ for over a decade. Part of her work time is bought out to provide personal finance training for military family service professionals (for the eXtension Military Families Learning Network) and for New Jersey financial educators as part of a state Department of Education contract.
She is also the author of two trade books, Saving On a Shoestring and Investing On A Shoestring, and co-author of Money Talk: A Financial Guide for Women.
She is a certified financial planner (CFP®), chartered retirement planning counselor (CRPC®), accredited financial counselor (AFC), certified housing counselor (CHC), and certified financial educator (CFEd). She also holds the CFCS (certified in family and consumer sciences) and CPFEE (certified personal and family finance educator) credentials from the American Association of Family & Consumer Sciences (AAFCS).
Dr. O’Neill received her Ph.D. in family financial management from Virginia Tech, a master’s degree in consumer economics from Cornell University, and a bachelor’s degree in home economics education from the State University of New York (SUNY) at Oneonta. She has received over three dozen awards for personal or program excellence, including a 2016 AAFCS Distinguished Service Award, and over $1 million in grants and contract funding to support her financial education programs and research. In 2003, she served as president of the Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education (AFCPE).
From 1996-2000, Dr. O’Neill directed the five-year MONEY 2000™ Cooperative Extension savings and debt reduction campaign in the 1990s that resulted in over $20 million of documented economic impact nationwide. In addition, she has delivered almost 300 national/regional conference presentations throughout her career and over 70 webinars for eXtension, AAFCS, and other professional organizations. In addition to being an AAFCS board member from 2016-2019, she serves as Academic Editor of the Financial Planning Association’s Journal of Financial Planning. Dr. O’Neill is an avid Twitter user and tweets personal finance information and research findings using the handle @moneytalk1
Forty-one years in the law and then one day, no more law, just like that.
After retirement, Mark Shaiken authored: And… Just Like That: Essays on a life before, during, and after the law. Mark is a survivor of a decades-long career in the corporate bankruptcy trenches. He sat for 10 years on his law firm’s board of directors and was a member of its strategic planning committee. He holds his B.A. from Haverford College and received his J.D. from Washburn University. He is a graduate of the Colorado Business Committee for the Arts’ Leadership Arts program. He holds seats on Art Boards, sits on Habitat for Humanity, Metro Denver’s audit and finance committee, and is a member of the Downtown Denver Partnership’s Mobility and Housing Councils. He now measures his life by what he gives and enjoys that immensely. Mark has published his second book Fresh Start a bankruptcy novel.
Check out the book trailer
“I looked at five years out as sort of a trajectory assessment point. It was hard to imagine at that point what my life would be like if I wasn’t going to be a lawyer anymore. And I look at that as an opportunity to sort of look at what my career was and decide whether this is my career was plateaued, whether it was going to continue in an upward mode, whether it was starting to trend downward because in a law firm, eventually everyone plateaus. And then there’s a trajectory downward, which may also exist in corporate America, but it’s palpable in a law firm. There was a point at which things just naturally start to happen in a law firm. And the older population in the firm is going to start to trend downward and the younger population is moving up in the ranks, which is all good and natural. But the trajectory for me was important because if you’re resisting the trending downward, then you’re also potentially resisting the notion of thinking through what you will do next in life. If you’re at the top of the world or in that case, the top of the law firm, and you’ve plateaued, you’re going to be there for a while. You don’t tend to necessarily think about all of that, but I think it is important to step back and say, I’m going to start trending downward. I’m going to start to scale back on the number of hours I really want to spend as a lawyer. And what does all that mean? And it’s better to have that discussion with yourself when things are going great…So in other words, on your own terms, have that discussion. And the one year out for me, the one year out was to really get much more serious about what I was going to be doing thereafter. So I guess from five years out to one year out, I was able to start to focus a lot more on the things that I use, an overused phrase, the things that would give me purpose.” – Mark Shaiken
On Planning How You’ll Invest Your Time
“I think one thing that people should kind of look at is just thinking what a typical day will look like for them. And I think many people don’t do that and they leave the workforce and they have no idea what they’re going to do. So the more you can be thinking about what is that structure that Fritz was talking about the structured time and the unstructured time. What are some things you’re going to fit into that? I think that would make for a much easier transition because I’ve seen a number of people here in my community that just seem kind of adrift. And I don’t think they really took the time to think about what they would be doing once they left the workforce.” – Dr. Barbara O’Neill
“Recognize that the non-financial areas need as much planning as the financial. Most people focus on the financials. You have to have the financials – they’re necessary, but I would argue they’re not sufficient. You need to do the planning on the non-financial side as well. It’s interesting. Most of this discussion we’ve had is focused on the non-financial aspects because we’re all now retired. And I think once you get into retirement, the financials become less important and the non-financial side arguably becomes more important. But that’s for each individual to determine for themselves. But on the non-financial, one thing that I would add to what Barb said is to make sure, if you’ve got a spouse, you’re looking at it as a partnership. It’s a big change for both of you. make sure you’re talking as you’re preparing for retirement, how are you going to handle it. How much time do you want to have together? How much time do you want to have apart? I call it Me time, We time, and She time in my mind. And it’s basically, you want to have the freedom to go do things that you want to do. She wants to have the freedom to go do the things that she wants to do. And neither one of you should feel guilty about that.” – Fritz Gibert
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