Jason Parker interviews Fritz Gilbert who is the founder of The Retirement Manifesto.com  Below are links to some of the articles mentioned in this interview.

#36 When Can I Retire – Putting it all together

#38 Top 5 regrets people have on their deathbeds (And How to avoid them in your life)

#35 What me, worry?

#1 Contentment (Personal Choice)

Below is the full transcript:


Announcer: Welcome back, America, to Sound Retirement Radio where we bring you concepts, ideas and strategies designed to help you achieve clarity, confidence and freedom as you prepare for and transition through retirement. And now here is your host, Jason Parker.

Jason: Welcome back, America, to another round of Sound Retirement Radio. I’m your host, Jason Parker. As always, we are looking to bring experts onto this program who we believe can add significant, meaningful value to your life as you prepare for and transition through retirement.

I’ve got a really special guest with us. This is something that we’re looking to do more of, and I’ve already had a couple of our listeners reach out to us. Today’s program is going to be taking somebody out there in the community, one of our listeners, who is preparing for retirement and just kind of sharing their story and some of the work that they’re doing as they prepare for retirement.

If you’re driving down the road this morning, if you’re not going to be able to catch this entire episode in the car, be sure to visit Sound Retirement Radio dot com or Sound Retirement Planning dot com. You’re listening to Episode 057, The Retirement Manifesto with Fritz Gilbert.

Before we get into the program though, I know how much you guys all enjoy our jokes on Saturday morning. So I’ve got one here for you. Here you go. This is for you to share with you kids or your grandkids. What is brown and sticky? A stick (laughs). My good friend, Dean, told me that one. His granddaughter actually told him. He got a real kick out of it. What’s brown and sticky? A stick.

The other thing we want to do is get our mind started right this morning. I’ve got a verse here for us from Proverbs 4:5. Get wisdom. Develop good judgment. Don’t forget my words and turn away from them. That’s awesome.

All right. Here we go. Episode 057, The Retirement Manifesto with Fritz Gilbert. Let me give you a quick introduction here. Fritz Gilbert is the founder of The Retirement Manifesto dot com, a website aimed at helping others achieve a great retirement. He’s been married for 28 years, has a 20-year-old in college, has been a passionate financial planning hobbyist for 30 years, and is on track to retire by age 54 or 55. Fritz Gilbert, welcome to Sound Retirement Radio.

Fritz: Thank you, Jason. Real pleasure to be here with you.

Jason: Oh boy, it is a pleasure. The way that this interview came about, just to share with our listeners, is we noticed that you had been sharing some of the content we were creating for Sound Retirement Radio with your fan base, with the people that are paying attention to what you’re writing about. I just wanted to thank you for being a loyal listener, and also letting our listeners know that other than the fact that you listen to the show, we don’t have any kind of relationship. I’m not working as your financial advisor or anything like that. So just a full disclosure there.

Fritz: That’s right. I will say I’ve really enjoyed your show for a long time. One of the things that I’ve moved into the Retirement Manifesto work is there’s a lot of people that are better at this than I am. I can consolidate. I learn from other people. You’ve been a really good source. I believe fully in sharing and helping everybody through the best knowledge that I see out there, and you’ve got some of the best content that I’ve seen. Congratulations on a good show and a good book. I just bought your book as well.

Jason: Oh great. Thanks a lot. Well I’m really excited to talk about the work that you’re doing there with the Retirement Manifesto and kind of just your life story, this path that you’re going down. Maybe we could start out, if you’d give us a brief introduction and a little bit of background about yourself?

Fritz: Sure, Jason. I appreciate it. I’m a corporate guy. 30 years in corporate America. I’ve done reasonably well. I’d say probably mid-to-upper level management. As I said, 30 year passionate financial hobbyist I guess you’d say. I’ve always paid attention to this stuff. It’s probably within the last year or so I started thinking about what am I going to do post retirement? I am hoping to retire a bit early. I’ve always been intrigued by blogs and podcasts and things like that.

I think I’ve learned a fair bit. I’m old, but I do think I’ve got a lot to share with people. I was really trying to come up with a mechanism to share some of the stuff that I’ve learned with other people. Really developing it now as a post-retirement hobby and going to work on it the next couple years to see how it goes. The response has been great, and I’m really excited about it. I think it’s going to be a good benefit for people, and I appreciate you sharing it with your listeners.

Jason: Absolutely. I’ve had the opportunity to read several of your posts at The Retirement Manifesto dot com. I really enjoy the perspective that you’re writing from, because you’re not a financial advisor. You’re a guy that’s figuring this all out for your own situation and kind of sharing your story. It’s a different way of looking at this.

Somebody once told me the word team stands for together everyone achieves more. That’s one of the things I like to think about when it comes to Sound Retirement Radio. We have this collective wisdom from so many people heading down this path that it’s kind of fun to share.

A minute ago you mentioned that there’s some blogs and some podcasts you listen to. Thank you for making Sound Retirement Radio one of those choices. What are some of the other, uh, shows you enjoy listening to?

Fritz: I actually wrote a blog. If anybody wants to look at my site, I wrote a blog about podcasts specifically, and in there I listed the ones that I consider the best. Just off the top of my head, I think the Retirement Answer Man, Roger Whitney, does a real good job of people really getting close to retirement and working tactically through how to put together a retirement cash flow plan, things like that.

Radical Personal Finance, Joshua somebody down in Florida. Apologies for not remembering his last name. Really technical, but very good. Joshua Sheetz. Probably the best technical podcast I’ve heard. I’ll mix it. I’ll do some [Tim Ferris 05:58] type things, personal development, ways to be more effective and efficient. I listen to a variety of things beyond just finance. Within the finance world I would say probably those two are favorite in addition to yours, obviously.

Then there’s one other I should mention. It’s the [Doughroller 06:15] podcast. If people aren’t familiar with that one, he’s a lawyer. He’s kind of like me. He’s not a financial specialist, but he’s got a lot of experience through the years. Then there’s a variety of others. I won’t bore your readers with all of them, or listeners, but those are probably the top three or four.

Jason: All right. Thank you. Tell us about the actual creation of The Retirement Manifesto and the primary purpose behind it.

Fritz: Sure. Well actually, it’s kind of a neat story. Earlier this year my wife was going to be away for a weekend. On a Friday afternoon before I left the office, I was just starting a note on some things I wanted to work on over the weekend while I had some time, and going to be a little bit quiet and could work on some things. I wrote down four or five items around this theme of sharing my retirement knowledge. It came time to save the note, and just off the top of my head, although I do think it might have been divinely inspired, I just named it The Retirement Manifesto. Okay. Fine.

Well later that night, one of the items on the list was to start a website, start a blog. And I’d heard a podcast about it, so I started going through the steps. As I got to the point where I had to name a domain name, I just typed in The Retirement Manifesto dot com, and was absolutely blown away to find that it was available. That was kind of the origin of the name.

What I like about manifesto, in hindsight, now looking at it, if you look at the Webster definition of manifesto, it’s a written statement that describes the policies, goals and opinions of a person or group. In hindsight now, I couldn’t think of a better definition of what I’m trying to do with my website. I’m real excited about it. The subtitle, as you mentioned, is Helping Others Achieve a Great Retirement. That really is my first and primary goal.

Jason: Yeah. That’s awesome. You talk about purpose, and purpose is something that I really get excited about. Partly, because we went through this exercise here at our firm where we defined our purpose statement, why it is we get out of bed every morning to do what we do. Take a minute and talk about your purpose and what that looks like.

Fritz: Yeah. It’s interesting, because when I started this blog, I really thought it would be around the financial aspects, and asset allocation, and putting together retirement cash flow. There is a lot of that. That was my initial thought, but as I got into it I kept being led to a lot of articles that talk about the many non-financial aspects that are equally, or some could argue, more important than the financial side of it.

There’s not as much content out there on that. As I moved forward, I found myself just kind of naturally leaning towards a blend where I might do one financially-oriented article, and then maybe two or three that are on some of the less financial aspects. Things like how do you reduce worry in retirement? How can you do things in your portfolio perhaps? Like things that will reduce your worry. Things like focusing on relationships. Things like focusing on your purpose.

Some of the broader mindset things that I think are truly great requirement has to incorporate those into your planning as well. My purpose now is kind of a more holistic view on various aspects that come to mind as I’m writing my articles that I think the readers would be interested in as they try to develop their personal goals for how to have a really truly great retirement.

Jason: Yeah. I think that is so important. There’s too often where I’m meeting with a husband and wife where the wife is actually a little bit concerned about the husband retiring, because he spent a lifetime developing a career and doesn’t have a lot of friends, and doesn’t have a lot of hobbies. It’s actually kind of a scary proposition for them.

When you start with purpose, when you understand that why, why do you get out of bed in the morning? That just is a lot different way to work from, a different place to work from. I really appreciate some of that content. I think it was number 38 that you have on there too where the five regrets that people have when lying on their deathbed where you requote that article that was written on the Business Insider. That really is a clarifying article. That was a good one.

Fritz: Yeah. I think a lot of what I’ve focused on is how much personal choice we have in our mindset towards things that face us. A lot of the regrets where people didn’t pursue something that they wanted to pursue or whatnot. If you look at what we have in our control, things like contentment, regardless of your situation you can make a personal choice to be content.

I think we’re instructed to do that biblically. It is a personal choice. I think we’ve got to wrap our heads around a lot of these areas where it’s within our power, but it’s a matter of how we view things and our attitude towards it that ultimately leads to happiness and contentment on this earth. That’s a really important part of it. It will avoid a lot of the regrets that I wrote about in that article. Yeah. I think that is a good one. I appreciate that.

Jason: Well when you talk about contentment, because this is something that I know I personally struggle with, and I think part of it is our culture is always saying if you just have a little bit more of this, or a little bit more time, or when you live in this place, or when you hit that retirement button then you discover happiness. Tell me a little bit about your experience with contentment, Fritz. How have you learned to be content with where you are at in your life?

Fritz: Ironically, the very first article I wrote back six months ago or whenever I started this thing was around the issue of contentment. I’m a Christian, and I look at Paul. I think about he’s in prison. He’s got all these things that he’s been through. He was just so blatantly content, and it was a personal choice. For me personally, I do think it takes a relationship with God. I think it takes a different way of looking at the world than a lot of the materialistic people look at the world.

I think you’ve got to learn that material possessions aren’t what bring you happiness. Even when you’re facing a difficult time, I think you’ve got to look at it as this is an opportunity for personal development. I mean it’s not easy, and I’m certainly not perfect at it. I think it really is changing the lens through which you look at things that are happening in your life, and really trying to find ways to view them in a favorable way. Again, it goes back to personal choice.

Jason: Yeah. I love that, and I’m really glad that we’re giving you a voice on this subject, and that you’ve started The Retirement Manifesto, that you’re sharing some of these things with other people. What’s the main content on The Retirement Manifesto? As you’re talking about this topic of retirement, what’s your number one topic would you say?

Fritz: There’s really two different areas that I touch on. The first is the financial area. That’s really where I thought the focus would be. If you look at the things that I focused on in the financial area first, and I’ll move to the other side. On the financial side, I started with some of the fundamentals. Start early. The power of compounding, and I really encouraged my readers to reach out to their kids and their grandkids and share the power of compounding. If you miss that when you’re in your 20s or maybe early 30s, you never get a chance again. All right? It’s a lot of the basics. The power of compounding.

One of the things I talk about is it’s relatively easy to get wealthy. You just have to spend less than you earn and do it for a long period of time, right? I talk about that. I talk about asset allocation. I talk about the value of having a net worth statement. I put together a four-part series on determining when you can retire, which focused on your spending plan, your investments and what kinda cash flow you could generate from those. Make sure you build in a contingency plan to take into account potential things that could go wrong, inflation, healthcare, things like that. Then kind of putting it all together to determine for yourself when is a realistic time for you to be responsible in targeting a potential retirement.

It’s a lot of the basic stuff. I like to build these series. Do multiple parts where you get a little bit deeper on a subject. What I’ve found is a lot of my readers, when you focus exclusively on the deep financial stuff, they really kind of lose interest. They like the other side. The other side that I focus on is things like, as I mentioned earlier, how to reduce worry in retirement.

I wrote one that I got a really favorable response on, seize the day, carpe diem. A lot about taking accountability for your own retirement planning. You can’t count on somebody else to do this. Yeah, you can hire a financial professional. That’s fine. That’s a choice you can make, but it’s in your realm. You’ve got to be responsible for this. Things like showing gratitude.

I talk about a real good friend of mine who retired, and I took a special trip just up to tell some stories and show him thank you. I went to Montreal this week. I pointed that I could have stayed home. I could have sent a letter. I could have made a phone call, but I made the effort to go up and spend time with him personally to show that gratitude. I talk a bit about charity. Really I’d say the broad brush topics are intentionally adapting your mindset to these things that I think will help you drive to a great retirement.

Jason: That idea of reducing worry in a world where people like to turn on the TV, and there’s red flashing signs. I was talking to my dad this morning on the way to work. He was telling me about how the West Coast is coming to an end for us. I don’t know if you’ve heard this or not, but apparently there’s some big earthquake on the way. I don’t watch the news, but apparently this earthquake is going to hit. This wall of water is going to hit Western Washington, and we’re all going to be under water except for those all the way to Idaho or something.

Fritz: Oh boy. I’m glad I’m in the east, and I’m up at a couple thousand feet. So I guess I’m safe.

Jason: I didn’t even know that, but he’s like the fourth person that’s brought this up.

Fritz: Wow.

Jason: Yeah. But reducing worry, if you just had one thought there for our listeners on how to reduce worry, what’s that?

Fritz: One thought is read my blog, post number 35. In post 35, what I really focus on is how we can’t get overly reactive to short-term gyrations. Things like earthquake fears and [Greece 17:04] potentially going bankrupt, and the stock market gyrations. We have to make a conscious decision. I listed ten specific points that I think would help. It focuses around having healthy cash reserves so you don’t get into a situation where you’ve got to pull money out during a bad time. Stay out of debt. Have long-term asset allocation strategy. Maintain your diversification. Don’t try to time the market.

I think a lot of the basics, that if you do them right, you could still have downturns. If you structure your portfolio at a minimum, hopefully you can minimize your financial worries and know in a worse case scenario you’ve got liquidity to get through a two-or-three-year downturn. That will help reduce the anxiety that you have if there is a downturn.

Jason: Yeah. Folks, if you’re just tuning in, this is Jason Parker. You’re listening to Sound Retirement Radio. You can find us online at Sound Retirement Radio dot com or Sound Retirement Planning dot com. This is Episode 057, The Retirement Manifesto with Fritz Gilbert. Fritz and I met through Facebook. Fritz was sharing some of the content that we were creating for the radio show with his tribe, if you will. That’s how this came about.

Something I really want to do more of, and I’ve got another one of these interviews lined up with a gentleman that’s reached out to us just recently, where we’re telling real retirement stories. These are people that are making this transition. The cool thing about what Fritz is doing, is he’s actually writing about this. So you can get inside his head. You can understand how he’s finding a greater sense of confidence. How he’s defining purpose. How he’s reducing worry in his life. Then the financial decision he’s making too. It’s really a great way to just kind of see one of the people in a similar financial situation.

Fritz, you’re looking to retire by 54 or 55. I think it’s safe to say you’re doing a pretty good job. Did you ever have an interest or a desire in becoming a financial advisor?

Fritz: Actually, yes, very much so. A couple years ago I got fairly serious about it. I have looked at taking the classes to become a CFP and things like that. The problem I’ve always had with it, Jason, is a three-year working requirement after you complete the academic side. I could very easily see myself doing something like this post-retirement.

I think I’d really want to do it right, get the CFP, but that three-year work requirement has just been something that’s turned me away. Absolutely, I’ve been serious about it. I’ve thought about maybe getting into coaching or something that doesn’t have quite as high of a licensing requirement. I’m always a little bit cautious about people that call themselves coaches. I really like the legitimate designations. At this point in my career, I think that’s probably just a little bit more than what I really want to put myself through as a hobby.

Jason: Yeah. I have several questions I want to ask. We may not, during the radio portion of this interview, be able to get to all of the questions. We may need a couple extra minutes. If you’re listening and we end up having to stop because we’re out of time for the radio, Fritz and I are going to continue recording this episode. So you can listen to the entire podcast online at Sound Retirement Planning dot com.

Fritz, if someone were to read just one article on your blog, which one would it be?

Fritz: Yeah. That’s a good question. I think it really depends on, there’s probably 50 articles out there. What I’ve seen is there’s basically two camps. If somebody really has the financial interest, which I would suspect is most of your listeners, I would probably read the When Can I Retire series as a good introduction to my blog, article 38. I number all my blog entries. Article 38 was the last one where I put it all together. So it’s got links back to the previous ones in that series. I would suggest that.

If it’s more around some of the mental mindset things that we talked about, I’d probably go to my very first blog. It was post number one. It was contentment, and it was around my declaration of personally choosing to be content in my life and as I approach retirement.

Jason: All right. What’s the biggest issue that you see facing retirees today?

Fritz: Oh boy, biggest issue? I think there’s really two populations, and that’s oversimplifying. I think if you look at kind of your listeners and people that are financially prepared, and they’re trying to self-educate or they’ve got a financial professional that’s helping them, I think that group of people, if you’ve saved your 15 plus percent. If you’ve got diversified assets. If you’re maximizing your 401k or your tax deferred options, I think the biggest thing I see is I think people probably worry too much.

My personal view is I don’t think God put us on this earth to spend all of our time worrying about whether we have enough money, right? There’s so much more to life. I think we have to personally decide to be content with our life, focus on our real purpose, worry a little bit less as long as you’ve got the basics covered. You might have to work a few years longer than you want to. You’ll be okay.

Be confident that you’ll get there. Then it’s just a question of timing. Now that’s for the financially-savvy listeners. I think for those that don’t have a clue on this stuff, I really worry about them, Jason. I think we’ve got a massive amount of our population that are facing a very real possibility that they’ll never be able to retire. I faced it in my own family. I had an in-law that passed away, and two days before he died he was on the phone trying to sort out some business stuff.

You can’t wait on this stuff, and you can’t rely on anybody else. You can’t rely on the government. Just talk to the people in Greece, right? You’ve got to be responsible for your retirement. I’m really worried that there’s just not enough awareness in that mass of the population. Hopefully, through my site and others like it we can reach some of them to increase awareness and build some of the foundational knowledge that they’re going to need to start getting their house in order. They’re facing a world of hurt if they don’t address this and address it soon.

Jason: Boy, great thoughts out there from somebody that’s going through this. Folks, if you have been listening to this program, you know Sound Retirement Radio is all about adding value to your life. I think one way that we can add value to your life is to let you plug into the minds of other people that are preparing for retirement and what they’re thinking about.

Fritz Gilbert is doing that, and not just on the program here. He’s got a blog, The Retirement Manifesto dot com, where he’s writing on a regular basis. I think it’d be really cool if you enjoyed this radio show today to reach out to him, either through Facebook or on his blog. Just make a comment and make a note. Let him know you appreciate the work he’s doing.

Fritz, this is the end of the program for the radio show. We’re going to end it right now, but we’ll be back in just a minute to continue our conversation for those listeners that are going to be joining us via the podcast. Thank you for being a guest on Sound Retirement Radio today.

Fritz: A real pleasure. Thank you, Jason.

Announcer: Recording: Information and opinions expressed here are believed to be accurate and complete and for general information only, and should not be construed as specific tax, legal or financial advise for any individual, and does not constitute a solicitation for any securities or insurance products. Please consult with your financial professional before taking action on anything discussed in this program. Parker Financial, it representatives or its affiliates have no liability for investment decisions or other actions taken or made by you based on the information provided in this program. All insurance related discussions are subject to the claims paying ability of the company. Investing involves risk. Jason Parker is the president of Parker Financial, an independent fee-based wealth management firm located at 9057 Washington Avenue Northwest, Silverdale, Washington. For additional information, call 1-800-514-5046 or visit us online at soundretirementplanning.com.