Skills And Time Or Money And More Money? Thumbnail

As one of the younger guys in the office, I hear a lot about retirement planning from people at the office.  Some if it is pretty solid advice like “start saving now or you’ll regret it later”  or “don’t wait till your mid thirties like I did”.  Unfortunately, this is all stuff I already know, so I read articles in magazines and on blogs for more information.   I also have met with a financial planner before, and they all suggested that I would need a very large amount of cash when I retire.

I’d need all this cash to keep myself healthy and take a lot of medicine and go to the doctor all the time.  I’d need a lot of cash to make sure that I’d be able to cover inflation costs and keep food on the table.  I’d need a lot of cash to visit children and grand children, unless of course I wanted to put my grandchildren to work so they can pay for their own plane ticket to come see me.

I’d also need a large pile of cash so that I can stay in my own home as long as possible before I moved to the basement at my kids house.  Clearly, this list is not exhaustive, but it is exhausting.  With so many things to consider and the amount needed to save seeming so large, it’s no wonder that people put it off.  “It will be easier when I earn more money” as they say.

Still A Long Way Out, But Better Plan Now

Obviously, I’ve got quite a bit of time before I retire (40+ years), so there’s plenty that I can do starting now to make sure that I wont need as much cash as the estimates (which were north of a million bucks).  I’m all for living lean, so the more I started thinking about it, the more ideas I got.  I’ll share a few.

This past weekend, I was a few miles west of a small farm town in Wyoming at a property auction.  I wasn’t really looking for anything in particular (though they did have a nice 15 year old truck with very low miles and a few other interesting odds and ends), but got a number anyway and started poking through the stuff.  Most of the people who were at the auction were old – probably older than 55, and just about all of them were men (this auction had a lot of tools for sale).

As I got to seeing who was bidding what for things, It began to dawn on me that I was in the midst of a great way to reduce retirement income needs.  As these guys were purchasing the right tools, the would head back to their place and start fixing things and making other things that they need.  You no longer need to pay someone to fix the sink, change the oil or any home maintenance.  With the proper skills acquired over a long period of tools and the proper tools, you open yourself up to fixing many things.  In addition to this, you can even sell your fixing services to your friends and neighbors – the benefits will be two fold:  you’ll be able to practice on someone else’s stuff, and you’ll get an income boost.

As I mentioned earlier, these guys were old.  They aren’t women who would chafe at being asked their age, but I didn’t ask them how old they were.  A lot of them were in really good health though –  All standing for the entire 3+ hours that I was at the auction with out assistance, moving around quickly and mocking the auctioneer for taking such a long time.  These guys were still sharp, and they had clearly taken care of their health in younger years.  None were overweight, or had any other visible health problems – most likely from farming or doing some other type of physical labor for their entire life.

There was quite a few things that were auctioned off – half full propane tanks, an old metal swinging lawn bench, plenty of tools, a welder and some other choice goods.  Many of these things could be gotten for great deals (including a 50 ft extension cord for ~4).  Sure, these are things you can buy new, but if you can get them used for 20% of the price, why bother?  Instead of spending tons of money on a new tool or extension cord, they were able to buy a product that served their needs used.  Doing this over a lifetime and continuing in retirement can begin to add up, and it will surely decrease the amount of cash you need to save for retirement.

Easy enough right?  Just be frugal, stay healthy and learn quite a few skills – you’ll lower your retirement cash needs in no time.

Readers:  Do you think increasing skills and having more time that retirement provides will give you something to do in retirement and help you save money in new ways?  How are you planning to manage your retirement?  Do you want a vault of coins like scrooge mc duck so you can pay everyone to do tasks for you, or are you more interested in doing things on your own to occupy your time?  If you do pay everyone for tasks, what would you do all day?