By Bryan Trugman, CFP

We work with clients at various stages of life, some closer to retirement than others. When retirement is still 20 or more years away and seems far off, a question that comes up a lot is, what is the right balance between enjoying life today and preparing for the future? While there is no hard-and-fast rule or formula, there are a few simple principles you can follow to set yourself up for success tomorrow while living a fulfilling life today.

Ask Yourself How You Will Fill the 40-Hour Gap

When you retire, you suddenly have a large hole in your schedule that work once occupied. We call this “the 40-hour gap.” It’s never too soon to think about what you really want to do with your days when you no longer work. As my father once put it, “I love golf, but I can’t play golf for 40 hours a week.” The subject of how to fill the 40-hour gap most often comes up in the years close to retirement, and I think most people would be better served to think about the question sooner and more often. How you will spend your time can influence all aspects of your retirement plan and the decisions you make today.

Seize the Day

While most of us still need to work to pay the bills today, we usually have more opportunity than we think. You don’t have to wait until you retire to start building your dream and your legacy. For instance, if you have always envisioned taking a few years to travel the world when you retire, there may be ways to travel more often during the working years. Opportunities for remote work are growing every year, allowing more location flexibility than what was possible 10 years ago. Think about what is most important to you about the way you spend your time, and challenge yourself to imagine new ways to do more of what drives your passion in the short term.

Reassess Your Priorities

At the end of the day, it’s always a tradeoff. We can’t have everything we want, so it comes down to priorities, deciding what is most important. When you think about the way you want to spend your time, what might you be willing to sacrifice in exchange for getting to do more of what is truly meaningful to you? The key is to give up something of lesser value in exchange for something of greater value. For instance, if you cut back on fast food, you could save up the extra cash for six months and take your family on a nice vacation.

Consider Your Living Situation

Where you live is the single greatest factor influencing the choices you will have. If you can downsize to a smaller home or move to a less expensive area, you can buy yourself a lot more freedom in the long term and the short term. Also, think about where you will eventually live when you retire. Once again, everything comes down to a set of tradeoffs. What is most important to you? Would you rather retire sooner and live frugally in your later years, perhaps continuing to work part-time? Or would you rather work longer and be able to live in a nicer home? There is no right or wrong answer; it comes down to personal preference.

We Are Here to Help

Thinking about how you will retire—and what your lifestyle will look like in the meantime—involves a lot of decisions. A big part of our role is to serve as an outside pair of eyes and help you objectively determine what you can realistically afford, both now and in the future. If you’d like to explore how we can help you live your best life today while also putting a solid foundation in place for the future, reach out to me via email at btrugman@attitudefinancial.com or give me a call at (516) 762-7603 to set up a consultation.

About Bryan

Bryan Trugman is managing partner, co-founder, and a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ practitioner at Attitude Financial Advisors. With more than 13 years of experience, Bryan specializes in addressing the financial needs of new parents as they seek to realign their finances, assisting divorced individuals as they navigate an unforeseen fork in the road, and strategizing with those seeking to accrue a dependable retirement nest egg. Bryan is known for being a good listener and building strong relationships with his clients so he can help them develop a customized financial plan based on what’s important to them. He is passionate about helping his clients experience financial confidence so they can worry less and play more. Bryan has a bachelor’s degree in industrial and systems engineering with a minor in mathematics from State University of New York at Binghamton. He has served on the board of the Financial Planning Association and continues to be actively involved in the national organization. He is also a member of the Plainview-Old Bethpage Chamber of Commerce and has served as its vice president and as a board member. When he’s not working, you can find Bryan on the ballroom dance floor or engaged in a fast-paced game of doubles on the tennis court. To learn more about Bryan, connect with him on LinkedIn.

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