Ready For Retirement

Spend Guilt-Free: How to Shift from a Savings to Spending Mindset in Retirement

September 26, 2023 James Conole, CFP®
Ready For Retirement
Spend Guilt-Free: How to Shift from a Savings to Spending Mindset in Retirement
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

One of the most ironic things about retirement spending is that the people who have saved the most money are often the same ones that have the most difficult time spending that money. 

We often think that if we save up enough money or build up enough of a portfolio that in retirement it will open up unlimited fun and enjoyment.

The reality is, for those who have saved well, one of the hardest things you'll find about retirement is the difficulty you'll likely face trying to spend some of that money. 

James discusses how you how you can shift your savings mindset to a spending mindset.

Questions Answered:
Why is it so difficult to go from a savings mindset to a spending mindset?
How do we start making the shift with our mindset? 

0:00 Intro
4:57 James' perspective
7:48 Example
10:47 We need to realize this
14:52 How do we reframe?
16:58 Pillar 1
18:38 Pillar 2
19:19 Pillar 3
20:36 Pillar 4
22:25 Pillar5
24:34 Summary
27:18 Outro

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Speaker 1:

One of the most ironic things about retirement spending is that the people who have saved the most money are often the same ones that have the most Difficult time spending that money. We all somehow think that if we can just save up enough money, if we can just build up enough of a portfolio, then by the time we can retire it will open up this new world of possibility, with unlimited fun and enjoyment. The problem, though, is that's just not reality. The reality is this isn't true. For those who have saved Well, one of the hardest things you'll find about retirement is the difficulty you'll likely face trying to spend some of that money. So today's episode of ready for retirement, I'm gonna tell you how you can shift your mindset to go from a savings mindset to a spending mindset. This is another episode of ready for retirement. I'm your host, james Kanol, and I'm here to teach you how to get the most out of life with your money. And now onto the episode. This episode and this topic of how do we shift from a savings mindset to a spending mindset. It was actually prompted by a conversation I recently had with a client, and these clients they had just recently retired, they had saved Well, they had an, invested well and they had previously had a financial planner. But the financial planner didn't really go over some of the projections and what's possible and how much can you spend in retirement. So at the beginning of our relationship, one of the first things that we did is we went through some of those projections. We said, based on your investments, based on your income sources, how much you want to spend, let's see what's possible. You know what? Let's see what's possible of really comfortable retirement. And we modeled that out and we showed year by year here's how much you can think about spending. And not only is this amount that you could spend Significantly more than you've been spending up until this point, but on top of that, let's fast forward 30 years. 30 years from now, your portfolio balance is projected to be Significantly larger than then. It even is today, even if we extract out the impact of inflation. So what that led to was some really fun conversations about look, how much more could you do in retirement, how many more trips could you take, how much more impact could you have, how much more fun could you have because you've got the means and the resources to do so. So at the end of the conversation, I think, these clients, they were a bit dumbfounded to see oh my goodness, you know, we knew we were in a good spot, but we're in a fantastic spot to be able to spend all this extra money and do the things we want to do. And that's what they left the conversation thinking. Here's the irony, though we recently had another meeting and after this meeting they had just wrapped up part of their trip where they went on vacation and they had dinner together, nice dinner. And they said afterwards when do we want to go for dessert? And he simply said you know, I just want some M&M's for dessert. Nothing fancy, just a bag of M&M's. To which she said great, you know, at her hotel bar we actually have M&M's there. Why don't you just have some of those there? Well, the first thing that went through his mind was those are hotel bar M&M's. Those are five or six bucks. If we need to take those, I'm not gonna pay $5 for a pack of M&M's. I'm gonna drive down the store and get a pack for 99 cents or something like that at the local 7-eleven or the local convenience store. So instead of eating the M&M's that were right there in the hotel room, he left the hotel, drove to a convenience store, got the M&M's and saved three or four bucks in doing so. And they said, james, you had just showed us in our last meeting how much we could spend. And what you showed us is we could spend an Extravagant amount more than we've previously been spending and still be just fine for the rest of our lives. So why is it that it's so hard for us to pay five bucks for the M&Ms in our hotel room and instead of we drive down the street so we can pay one dollar for that same bag of M&Ms? What they started to realize and started internalizing is something I think so many people start to face when they get into retirement, as, oh my goodness, this mindset that we've had of living within our means, of being frugal, of prioritizing savings, that mindset no matter how much money you have, it just doesn't automatically shift as soon as you're in retirement. The charts and graphs and projections that was cool to see and mentally and rationally, we could see that we're in a good position to be able to spend a whole lot more, but we still can't bring ourselves to buy this five dollar bag of M&Ms. James, what's up with that? How come it's so difficult to go from this savings mindset to the spending mindset. So, because this is such a common and such a difficult challenge for so many people, this whole episode is about how do we make that shift, how do we start making the shift with our mindset? And, at the end of the day, this isn't to say that you should have or shouldn't have eaten the M&Ms in the mini bar versus the M&Ms from the convenience store down the street. It's not even about the fact that they had enough money to buy all the M&Ms and all the mini bars in that entire hotel. It's about something completely different. Instead, this is about how do we view things, what is our belief about things and how do we make sure that we have the proper mindset in retirement to ensure we can fully enjoy everything that we've worked so hard for Before we go any further. I know some people listening are probably saying what on earth? People have trouble spending money. How can that be? That sounds crazy. Well, it might sound crazy to many of you listening, but I assure you that this is one of the most important things I like to work through with many of my clients, because my perspective is who cares how optimized your investments are how much you save with your tax strategy, how perfect your withdrawal strategy is. If, at the end of the day, the only impact of doing all that is that you die with a few more million dollars in your bank account, then we've completely missed the point. The point is not to accumulate and hoard money. The point is how do we align our spending in a way that allows us to get the most fulfillment, joy, contentment out of our retirement, and that's why this topic is so important. To start with this, I want to make very clear what I'm not saying in all this. What I'm not saying is okay, if you're in this position, just start spending. Just start spending frivolously. The wrong way to think about this is okay, I'll just start buying more expensive cars, or I'll go start buying designer clothes, even though I don't like designer clothes, or I'll just buy more stuff, more toys I really don't care about. That's not what I'm saying. I will be the first to say that money does not buy happiness. More spending doesn't necessarily bring happiness, but better spending does, more mindful spending does. So how can we start to incorporate that better spending, that more mindful, that more aligned spending? That's what we're going to do, because here's the thing I'd like to point out to people Everyone follows some type of a principle in their spending decisions. Now, we're not often aware of it, but the reality is we are following something. We are basing our spending and our decisions on a principle. Let's look back at the M&M example to illustrate what I mean by this. My client was following what I would call a money focus principle. He said there's $5 M&Ms I can get here in my hotel room or I can simply go down the street and get a $1 bag of M&Ms. The principle there is I'm not going to make a foolish money decision. That principle was likely internalized just simply from childhood and seeing how parents spent money and how they viewed money and not making dumb decisions around money. But that's something that's subconsciously internalized and we then carry that with us going forward. So it's very much a principle, but it's a money focused principle. What I like to shift towards and help people shift towards is more of a life focused principle. Here's how I'd frame that Am I willing to spend a few more dollars to enjoy the convenience that money can afford me? So in that M&M example, sure there's more of a cost, a five times greater cost to enjoy the M&Ms in the room versus the M&Ms from the convenience store. But what's my time worth? What's my well-being worth? What's my convenience worth, thank you. I think that everybody should have an aspirational hourly rate of what is your time worth. Let's walk through an example. Let's say your time is worth $100 per hour. Now, clearly, you're just making something up to start. But let's say your time is worth $100 an hour and you go on Amazon and you order a t-shirt that you think you're going to like and it costs $15. Well, that t-shirt comes, you try it on, you don't like it and you say, okay, well, I've got to return it. This cost me $15 to do so. Well, think about it. You then have to go print out a label, drive to the post office of the UPS store, wait in line, process the return, drive that home. Let's say, conservatively, that takes you 30 minutes. Well, if your time is worth $100 an hour, then you just spent $50 to get back $15. Now, none of us would actually do that in real life. But the problem is we don't actually think about our time. Our convenience is having any dollar value. But if we don't assign some dollar value to our time. What we're unintentionally doing is we're devaluing ourselves, we're devaluing our time. What I would do instead there, if that t-shirt came, I didn't like it, well, instead of going through the hassle of returning it, that might go in the donation bin, sounds absurd, sounds crazy. How on earth could you spend money just to throw it away? But I'm not throwing it away. What I'm choosing to do is saying I'm not going to throw away more money by go waiting in line, driving to the post office, doing all these things that I could be spending with family, spending at the beach, spending doing something fun. I'm not willing to pay $50 of my time that could be really well spent to get back $15. Now you can make up your own number for what it is for you, but as your net worth grows, you should continually elevate the hourly rate that you filter these types of decisions through. So, going back to that Eminem example, if I was to apply more of a life-focused principle there, I would say what's my convenience, my time worth, and does it make sense for me to spend an extra 20 minutes to go? Save $4 by getting Eminem somewhere else? Or should I just open up the bag of Eminems in the hotel room. Now again, I'm keep parking on this specific example and it sounds absurd. Maybe it sounds funny, but we all face those things, myself included. I remember as a kid we didn't ever pay for parking, at least as I can remember. We go to a Padres game. So we're in San Diego. I'd go to a Padres game with friends. I would park a mile away to park somewhere for free, instead of paying the five bucks or 10 bucks now it's a lot more, but back then it's a bit less instead of paying the $5 to park right next to the stadium. That was just a money belief, a mental belief of I'm not going to pay for parking. That's absurd. Well, now I do, but now it's because I have a different mindset of what's my time worth, what's that convenience worth. But I think all of us can probably find examples, if we're honest with ourselves, of where are we spending money in a way, or spending time, I should say, in a way that's actually costing us more than it's actually saving us from my money standpoint. Hey, everyone, it's me again for the Disclaimer. Please be smart about this. Before doing anything, please be sure to consult with your tax planner or financial planner. Nothing in this podcast should be construed as investment, tax, legal or other financial advice. It is for informational purposes only. Here's the next thing that we need to realize these principles that we base our decisions on. They're not rational principles that we can say, okay, well, I'm just going to start doing things differently. They're so much deeper than that. In fact, they're based upon our identity and the things we believe to be true about ourselves. Now, these identities are built up over years. So my client's example. It was probably absurd. He would have never seen his parents growing up spend more money on and I'm just speculating here but if they were in a hotel, I'm not going to use a hotel bar. I'm going to go down the street and get something and, by the way, in many cases, depending on your financial situation, that is the right thing to do. If you're in a situation where you can't afford the extra money to spend on convenience or to buy back time, you need to be going down the street. You shouldn't be spending frivolously. I want to make very clear that I'm having this decision, this discussion, because of their financial standing, because they could absolutely afford it. That's not the case for everyone. But, going back to this. So many of those decisions. They're based on our, or they're reflected on our identity and the way we see ourselves, and so often that goes all the way back to our childhood. How did we see parents spend money? How do we see those around us spend money or not spend money? I grew up we didn't have very much money. So, going back to that parking decision, we would have never paid for parking if we could have avoided it. Anywhere that we went as a family, even little things like we never ordered appetizers or dessert in the few occasions we would go out for dinner. That was just absurd. That just wasn't a thing we do. We have these limited number of dollars. We're not spending it on. As a kid, what you think of as frivolous extra things. Now, those frivolous extra things, those appetizers, those desserts they're not inherently good or bad, but as a kid and you start to internalize this you almost see them as such. Okay, we don't spend money on it. That must be because it's bad. Therefore, my identity is based on something that says I'm only buying this or I'm not paying for that. And if we're not careful about this or if we don't spend some time in self reflection about this. What we'll start to see is those behaviors just continue for the rest of our lives. And not only do they continue, but they continue to be more and more reinforced because those behaviors are built upon our actions. So as we continue to have the same action over and over again of not ordering appetizers, of not paying extra for the bag of M&Ms, of not paying for parking, those actions continue to reinforce our identity and what we believe about ourselves, and it just makes it harder and harder to change. Over time and in some seasons of life, those habits that are ingrained in you may serve you really well, but you may come to a point where that habit no longer serves you, it's no longer beneficial to you, and that's when it's important to understand that, to recognize where that identity lies and see if it makes sense to take proactive steps to change it. I've mentioned many times before in this podcast that one of my favorite authors is a guy named James Clear. James Clear has a quote where he says it's hard to change your habits if you never change the underlying beliefs that led to your past behavior. You have a new goal and a new plan, but you haven't changed who you are". For my clients. I can tell them hey, you could spend another 20,000 per year, 50,000 per year, even 100,000 per year, based upon your portfolio and your financial situation, but unless we work on their underlying beliefs and habits, no actual lasting change is going to happen. They may walk away from that meeting and say great, I've got an extra 20,000 to spend, I've got an extra 50,000 to spend, and they might think about it, but then they just revert to who they are. That's very natural. We all revert to who we are. So the question isn't are we or aren't we? We're absolutely going to do that. The question is how can we be very intentional, not about who we are, but who we want to be, and then start taking steps to become more of who we want to be, unless of who we currently are and this is an ongoing process, as I mentioned, some of these habits serve us very well for specific stages and seasons of life and at some point, some of these habits stop serving us well. So how can we start to reframe and think about this differently so we can start to build new identities? Because here's the risk if we don't If you're listening to this and this is resonating, saying you know what? It's no big deal If I can't ever bring myself to spend more. Yeah, I get it. It's hard for me to do, but I just can't bring myself to do it. Here's what's going to happen. It may sound like there's not a lot of risk with that, and if you're quantifying risk as are you going to run out of money, you're probably right. You probably won't run out of money the less you spend in retirement. But here's the bigger risk you may continue accumulating lots and lots of money over the course of your retirement and you're going to wake up one day with a really large portfolio but feel pretty empty, because what you're going to start to realize is that portfolio alone is not what holds value. What holds value is what that portfolio can do for you, and what you're going to realize is gosh, my life has passed me by. The last 10, 15, 20 years have passed me by where I had the means to do some really special, incredible things, but I couldn't bring myself to do it, and now the opportunity to do so has passed. So how can we start doing these things when the time is right, as opposed to procrastinating and I know this sounds like a weird thing to procrastinate on, but many people do. I'll spend later. I'll do more. If I can just keep building my portfolio, then maybe it becomes easier to spend. I'm here to tell you it's not going to be easier to spend. Your comfort is not going to come from the size of your portfolio. Your comfort should come from having a plan, but also from changing your identity and your habits and the beliefs you have about yourself. So in just a bit, I'm going to walk you through a very simple but a very effective way to actually start to change this identity. But before I do so, I want to walk through what should you spend money on? A lot of people say well, james, you said I shouldn't just go buy more cars or more clothes or more things. That's exactly right. More things aren't going to bring you happiness. But in my experience in doing this with so many different clients, there are five core pillars of what I like to think of as impactful spending spending that is going to drive more fulfillment, more happiness, more joy. So here's those five pillars. Number one spend money on things that allow you to buy back your time. What do I mean by that? Well, there's all things that consume our time, and time is the only non-renewable resource that any of us have. So how do we preserve that and protect that with all that we can? Well, what does that look like? Could you hire a house cleaner? Maybe you already have a house cleaner. Could they come more frequently? Maybe it's a gardener? Maybe you pay for grocery delivery. Maybe you pay for someone to do your laundry or wash your car. These are just simple, practical examples of can we spend money in a way to buy back the only non-renewable currency that we have, which is our time? Could you buy a home gym? Now think of it this way a home gym, that's pretty expensive, geez. I got to buy the weight rack, I got to buy a treadmill, I got to buy all these different pieces of equipment. Well, if we go back to how we value our time, let's look at an example. Let's assume that you commute 30 minutes round trip to your gym, 15 minutes there, 15 minutes back, and let's say you do that four times a week. What that means is, every week you're saving two hours of time. If you work out 50 hours a year, that's 100 hours in a year that you've just saved by having a home gym instead of having to drive to the gym. If you value your time at $100 an hour, you just create a $10,000 of value every single year by investing in a home gym. Now again, I know that some people their financial resources aren't to the point that they can invest in that. This is more. Once you're at a point, you've done the saving, you've done the investing, you have the resources. How can you now start shifting to use those resources to buy back time instead of using your time to accumulate more money? The second pillar of effective spending is spending money on health. Confucius has a quote. He says a healthy man wants a thousand things. A sick man only wants one. Wealth without health is poverty. It doesn't matter how much money you have in your portfolio. If you sacrifice your time and your health and your well-being to get it, you're not going to be able to enjoy it. How can you spend your money by investing in a nice gym, a gym that you actually want to go to, invest in a trainer, invest in healthy food. All these things are actually truly investments in your future health. Again, it does not matter how much money you have in your retirement if you don't have the health to actually enjoy it. So spend money on health. The third is spend money on experiences. How do you buy good experiences? Well, the first thing that people talk about is travel. Well, yes, absolutely. But what if you take it a step further? What would it look like if you could bring your family with you? What would it look like if you could bring your friends with you? Again, this depends upon your level of wealth and your level of call it excess money that you could spend. But think creatively. Sometimes the biggest impediment to our ability to spend money is our lack of imagination. How can we imagine what's possible? How can we think about things that aren't the usual trips, that aren't the usual vacations that we see people take? But how can we create really meaningful experiences and spend lavishly on those experiences, of course, assuming it fits within your plan but spend lavishly in a way to create those experiences and those memories that are going to serve you for the rest of your life? You could also think about this in the reverse Don't just spend money on good experiences, also spend money to avoid unpleasant experiences. So maybe you love travel, but that plane is just really difficult. You don't like the plane trip, you don't like being crammed in there. Well, do you spend your money on a first class ticket or a business class ticket? Can you use your money to avoid an unpleasant experience? Because that's just the inverse of spending money on good experiences. The fourth pillar of effective spending is spend money on giving. Now you may have been saying earlier, james, it's not a big deal to me if I pass away with a lot of money. That money just goes to my kids when I die. So I honestly really don't care if I have a bunch left over. In fact, maybe I prefer it. Well, great, let's play that out. Let's assume you live until age 90 and say, by that point, maybe your kids are age 60. How much will your money really mean to them at that point? Sure, more is always better, sure, it's going to mean something, but that money won't mean as much to them at that point as it could have meant earlier. What if, instead, you've been able to help them at the home purchase? What if, instead, you were able to help them save for their kids, your grandkids, college? What if, instead, when you are taking great trips around the world, you paid for all of their expenses, their airfare, their hotel stay, all this again? I'm going to harp on this, but this depends upon do you have the resources to do it. But assuming you do, instead of trying to save all this money until you're 90 or 95 and pass it down, then what greater impact could you have by seeing that used along the way? Not to mention how much happier would you be if you could help with some of these things and see the impact of some of these things during your lifetime, as opposed to waiting until you had passed. Or charity spend money on giving, spend money on charity. Same thing If all or part of your money is going to go to charity when you pass, wouldn't you love to see the impact that could have while you're living? On top of that, how many needs go unmet every single day simply due to lack of resources? If part of your goal is to give money to charity, see that charity meet that need. Now make sure that you both get to meet that need and you also get the enjoyment and the satisfaction, the fulfillment, that comes from seeing that need met. There's a better way of doing it than just unintentionally letting that money compound and grow forever in 20, 30 years from now, meaning whatever needs exist at that time In the fifth pillar of effective spending spend money to improve your environment. Have you ever walked into a poorly lit, disorganized office room or any room for that matter, and then compare that to walking into a room that has great windows, great natural light, very open, very light? How do you feel in each of those environments? I think too often we don't realize how important the environment around us is, not just the physical environment, but also the people around us. How important is it to be surrounded by the right people, to be surrounded by the right physical environment. The right environment has a huge impact on your mental and your emotional state. This is a big factor that I think enough people don't think about. So where you live, is your environment, both the location, so where you happen to be surrounded with, was it naturally beautiful? Are there cool things to do around you? Is it a city or a town that inspires you, or is it not? So the location, plus, on top of that, the actual environment within your home. How is it decorated? How is light coming in? What are your windows like? I know this maybe sounds a little bit absurd, but this is real. There's any interior designers listening? They're probably clapping their hands right now saying yes, james, exactly that's right, but this is so important. Do you have a beautiful environment around you? So where you live, the layout of your home and even the people around you? So I live in San Diego, california. It's expensive, taxes are high. California has its issues. Why do I live here? Well, environment is important to me. Being around great people. Now, my family is here, my great friends are here. That's part of environment, but so is the natural beauty around me. I love to ride my bike down to the ocean with my wife and daughter, and we like to spend time splashing the water, running around in the sun. Those are memories that are created because of the environment we're in that I couldn't get in many other parts of the country. I could save way more money living in a different area. But the environment that we live in is so important to who we are and what we enjoy doing that San Diego is a great place for us. So those are the five pillars of effective spending. But how do we actually do it? Well, it's not easy, but it's pretty simple. I'm going to read you another quote by James Clear. James Clear has a quote where he says every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become. No single instance will transform your beliefs. As the votes build up, so does the evidence of your new identity. This is one reason why meaningful change does not require radical change. Small habits can make a meaningful difference by providing evidence of a new identity, and if a change is meaningful, it is actually big. That's the paradox of making small improvements. End quote. This is so simple but so profound. What do you need to do to change your identity? Choose one thing you want to spend money on, not just to spend money, but hopefully something that corresponds to one of the five core pillars of spending that I mentioned just before this. How do you buy back time? How do you invest or spend on health, experiences, giving or environment? Choose something and commit to regular activity, regular spending on that activity. For example, grocery delivery. I used to hate going to the grocery store. I don't know what it was, but the drive there, spending the time going up and down the aisles, I did not like it. It was the worst part of my weekend. I know life could be a lot worse than simply having to go grocery shopping on the weekend, but one thing that we committed to? Is we committed to saying let's just order groceries online we pay a few bucks to do it, but if that saves an hour and a half of time an hour and a half of time that we didn't really enjoy spending then that's an investment we'd gladly make. So commit to something that makes sense for you, something that buys back your time, something where you're investing in health, investing in experiences, giving or creating a better environment around you. Commit to doing that for the next 30 to 60 days. If it's not improving your quality of life, even just a little bit, then stop. But if it is, then recognize that by doing this, you're starting to recreate your identity, and that identity is something that's going to allow you to spend in a way that allows for more fulfilling and enjoying retirement. So all you have to do to change your identity, it's no big grand action. It's little changes, but there are little changes that you commit to. So you start small, you build the habits and over time, you'll start valuing your time and your money in a different way, and you'll stop looking at money as the almighty dollar that must be preserved and grown at all costs, and instead you'll start looking at it as a tool that you can use to get the most out of life. So that is it for today. So, whether you're struggling to buy M&Ms at the hotel bar or pay for parking or anything else like that that we've mentioned, there is a simple solution. But what you have to realize is it starts with your identity. It's not about the actual actions and the difficulty in spending or not spending. It's about your identity and the beliefs you have about yourself that have simply been reinforced over years and years and years of doing something the same way. So I hope that was helpful for you. If you've enjoyed this podcast or any of the other podcasts we've done, I would really appreciate it if you take a little bit of time and leave a five star review, letting everyone know that you enjoy it, and if you haven't already, be sure to check us out on YouTube. The channel name is James Cannell, c-o-n-o-l-e. You'll find this episode. You'll find a lot of other great content there as well. As always, I appreciate you listening and I'll see you all next time. ["the Time At Podcasts"]. Thank you for listening to another episode of the Ready for a Time at Podcast. If you wanna see how Root Financial can help you implement the techniques I discussed in this podcast. Then go to rootfinancialpartnerscom and click Start here, where you can schedule a call to one of our advisors. We work with clients all over the country and we love the opportunity to speak with you about your goals and how we might be able to help. And please remember nothing we discussed in this podcast is intended to serve as advice. You should always consult a financial, legal or tax professional who's familiar with your unique circumstances before making any financial decisions.

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