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Reflections: Saving and investing

Planning for life in retirement
By Tom Jager

There is more to retirement than finances. Twenty years is a long time, almost half the number of years of employment. We spend a lot of time planning and preparing for our working years. We probably spend much less time planning and preparing for our retirement years. I have certainly spent more time on financial planning for retirement than I have spent planning what I will actually do during those years. In particular, for the past 35 years I have defined myself, to a large extent, by what I do at Calvin. It will be a major adjustment for me to think of myself in other terms. But I have to remember that my vocation, my calling, is not tied solely to my career at Calvin. So I am thinking about how to live out my vocation in retirement. Although I do not yet have a good concrete plan for how to do this, I have crafted some principles for my retirement years.

Retirement from employment is not the same as retirement from work. I have always found my work at Calvin to be satisfying and enjoyable (well, 95 percent of the time, anyway). I hope to be able to find something useful and satisfying to do in retirement as well. The advantage of a financially secure retirement is that I am not limited to work that produces income.

The end of employment does not represent the end of our obligations to our communities. Hopefully, opportunities will become available for me to serve in ways that have not yet been possible, given the time and energy commitments of full-time employment.

Finally, I have to keep reminding myself that regardless of how well we plan for the future, we don’t have total control over what happens. Changes in health, finances or family situations can interfere with the best-made plans. So I must add the need to be flexible to my list of principles.

Questions for reflection:

  • What skills and talents have you been blessed with that you can use in retirement to enhance God’s world?
  • Where could these skills and talents make the biggest difference?
  • What kinds of events in your life have, or might in the future, affect your life in retirement?

—Tom Jager, Class of 1966, Professor of Mathematics, Calvin College

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