New retirement goal inspired by the Olympics

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I have come to realise, over the past few weeks, that it’s all very well striving to improve my finances, and saving for retirement, but if I’m not working towards a more specific goal I am making life difficult for myself.

One thing that many personal finance bloggers have in common is that they state clearly what specific goal they are working towards. The targets vary, and often involve huge sums. For example, pay off £50,000 in debt, save £20,000 for a deposit, increase dividend income to cover monthly expenses, accumulate £1 million in net wealth to retire early. Yet they often achieve it, and more! By spending time choosing a goal that means something to you, writing it down and tracking your progress, you make it much easier to keep focused and stay motivated.

I’ve already discovered how useful this is this year, where I’ve been setting myself monthly targets. It helps me to prioritise activity, and I can also then go back and remind myself of exactly what I’ve achieved when I feel I’m getting nowhere.

Focus on what is most important

Once you get beyond the ‘task’ type activities though – cutting bills, finding the best savings account etc. – then you move onto the much harder ‘what do I want out of life’ type decision-making.

I set this blog up specifically because I was worried about my retirement savings, but it’s only been 9 short months since I first had the realisation that I needed to do something. I’ve gone from saving for a future point in time, with no real thought as to when that might be or how much I might need, to suddenly confronting it head on. I can’t throw every spare penny I have at it, because retirement does not sit in isolation. I have other things I need to save for, spend money on, so I’ve had to look at the bigger picture and try to work out where my priorities lie.

Choosing the right goal is not always the easiest of things.

There is one I’ve picked though that after a lot of thought suddenly feels right, which is….

…RETIRE AT AGE 55.

This is an easy thing to write, but a huge mountain of a goal to achieve. I have no idea at present if this is going to be possible, but I plan to try.

Apart from the growing feeling that I need to be planning my exit from the rat-race (20 years of working has not left me looking forward to another 20 years of working in the same way), my husband is older than me.  It’s impossible to think about retirement without also confronting mortality, and my main aim is to get to a position where we can lead a more flexible life and spend more time together at an earlier age.

How I achieve this is very much a work in progress!

I know it involves less spending, more saving and, the big one, earning more.

At present, all of my income comes from my employment, which is not a great situation to be in when I’m increasingly feeling the urge to get out! I’ve read a lot about setting up multiple income streams, and this seems to me one of the main areas I need to focus on. I can pump any extra cash I earn into savings, and hopefully also set the ball rolling so that the income continues into my retirement.

Olympic inspiration

This is where I’ve taken inspiration from the Olympics! Age 55 is still many years away, so I’ve decided to borrow the 4 year schedule used by athletes to train for the Olympics. Inspiration came when I was watching the GB men’s eight rowers being interviewed after their gold win in Rio. It struck me that all their hard work is focused specifically on a 4-year plan, and their strategy is to achieve peak fitness based on this time-frame. If they don’t achieve it, they get straight back in, and work towards the next one.

Find new ways of earning money, to cover a third of my expenses, by Tokyo 2020

Four years seems a nice length of time for me to work with. It’s long enough that smaller goals I’ll set in the coming months will have time to show results. It’s also half-way roughly between now and me reaching 50, which seems another ideal way of measuring progress. So I’m going to start trying to find new ways of earning money, outside of my employment, with the (possibly far too ambitious) aim of earning enough from this to cover a third of my expenses.

I like the idea of working alongside Olympians aiming for their dreams in Tokyo, then again in 2024, and maybe it will be an added motivation when I think of them!

Have saved £200,000 in 13 years

I also need to re-assess how much I need to live on in retirement, from ideal scenario, to bare minimum scenario. Age 55 is a game-changer for my planning. I wasn’t on track to retire at age 65, so to move it forward 10 years makes things even more difficult. Based on one calculator, if I could save £200,000 between now and age 55, this might give me enough money to live on until my state pension kicks in at age 67. This will involve spending all the investment over that period.

It’s a difficult set of goals, and they need work. However, in the words of Jurgen Grobler, British rowing coach, after the men’s eight victory:

“There are no secrets. Hard, hard, work, having vision of what is coming up and running a good training programme and they’re still having fun.”

 

I like the mention of fun at the end of that quote, as it’s a timely reminder that there needs to be some balance between enjoying life now, even while planning for a tough retirement target. I’ll flesh it out in the coming weeks!

Image: Pixabay: stux

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6 Responses

  1. JT says:

    Love the big dreams! Good luck and looking forward to reading about your progress along the way.

    • Sarah says:

      Thank you very much JT! I have a feeling I will need all the good luck and support I can get along the way, so appreciate your good wishes, thanks!

  2. weenie says:

    Hi there

    I came here via Twitter – thanks for the follow!

    It’s great to discover another UK personal finance blog.

    I love your 4-year plan, with the Tokyo Olympics to aim for! I wrote a post about the Olympics recently but it was a lot more generic!

    Your goals aren’t too dissimilar to mine – I’d like to be able to retire before I’m 60 but for my stretch target, I’m aiming for 56.

    This will be a challenge as like you, I want to continue to enjoy my life right now, so am probably not saving/investing as much as I can but balance is the key. Another challenge is that I’m losing my job at the end of the year so my plans will be in disarray at some point soon but I hope they will be back on track with little interruption.

    I wish you all the best with your plan and look forward to following your progress. I’ll be reading your older posts over the bank holiday weekend!

    • Sarah says:

      Thanks very much Weenie, really pleased you found my site and liked the post! Sounds like our goals are very similar, I will check out your site to see if I can pick up some tips too! Sorry to hear about your job, that thought hangs over my head too, wondering exactly how much I might need put aside to cover that scenario and how much I can safely tie up in pension savings. At least if you know it is on the horizon you can hopefully plan better than if it is sprung on you out of the blue? Good luck with your progress too!

  3. Hi Sarah,

    Great to find your site (from your comment on Weenie’s Quietly Saving site). I too feel like I’m in a similar situation to you. Earlier this year I found myself wishing that I could step away from my current type of work as I have lost my enthusiasm for it. So I started a blog and set a goal to retire by 50 in 10 years time. My plan involves saving up a lump sum which I will fully use up before my personal pension starts to kick in…most FIRE sites I’ve come across don’t discuss this approach, so it’s nice to find someone with the same idea.

    I’m also in the process of experimenting with side income ventures, it’s scary at times but feels empowering at the same time.

    Looking forward to following your journey and sharing ideas with you!

    OR

    • Sarah says:

      Hi OR, it sounds as if our goals are very similar, I’ll be heading over to your blog for some inspiration! In an ideal world I wouldn’t use up the lump sum, but I think I need to stop looking at ideal scenarios and instead look at anything that might work. If I can build the lump sum, and spending it allows me to fill the gap between early retirement and traditional retirement, then I’ll be happy! Thanks for your comments and I’m looking forward to following your journey too!

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