Episode 69: The Journey to Retirement with Fritz Gilbert – Transcript

Wealth On Any Income Podcast Episode 69

Rennie Gabriel  00:09
Hi folks, welcome to episode 69 of the Wealth On Any Income Podcast. This is where we talk about money tips, techniques, attitudes, information and provide inspiration. I'm your host, Rennie Gabriel. In past episodes, we spoke about how to build an Income and Expense Report, how to measure the level of pleasure based on where you spend your money, how to track your money in 5 - 10 seconds, and what to look for on a net worth statement to see how close you are to Complete Financial Choice®. Last week, we had Jeff Prager, a retired CPA who owned the second-largest private homebuilding company in Colorado. Today, we have as our guest, Fritz Gilbert. Fritz retired in 2018, at the age of 55, after a 33 year career in corporate America. For the past six years, he's been writing about his preparation for and transition into retirement on the Retirement Manifesto, the award winning blog he founded 3 years prior to retirement. In addition to the blog, Fritz published his first book in 2020, Keys to a Successful Retirement, which captures the key things he learned from his journey into retirement. Fritz, welcome to the Wealth On Any Income Podcast,

Fritz Gilbert  01:30
Rennie, thank you very much. I'm honored to be on your show.

Rennie Gabriel  01:33
My pleasure. And first, I need to say I don't like the word "retire". On a ranch, that's what they do with cows that can no longer produce milk. Okay?

Fritz Gilbert  01:45
I'm good with that. But I don't think of it as retire. I think of it as re-tire. You're putting new tires on your vehicle. So now you can put whatever kind of tires you want on whatever kind of vehicle you want. And you can just become, you know, whatever interests you. So it's still retire, but it's re-tire.

Rennie Gabriel  02:02
That's good. However, unless you put a dash between re and tire, you still have something where a cow is put out to pasture to die. Okay?

Fritz Gilbert  02:13
Okay, fair enough. Fair enough. 

Rennie Gabriel  02:14
All right. So anyway, I like to talk about Complete Financial Choice®, which is the term that I registered as a trademark. Now you can use the word re-tire. But I want my listeners to know you created Complete Financial Choice® for yourself and your wife.

Fritz Gilbert  02:31
I did indeed. And that's a good word, your, kudos to you for trademarking it. And it does encapsulate more of what it means to be re-tired. And it's a better way to phrase it without having to explain why you have a dash in the word. So kudos to you.

Rennie Gabriel  02:47
Thank you so much. So second, as you know, I donate 100% of the profits from the work I do, to the charity Shelter to Soldier, that rescues dogs and trains them as service animals for soldiers who've returned with PTSD or traumatic brain injuries. Now, I know you and your wife Jackie live in a cabin in the southern Appalachian Mountains in North Georgia, where you're actively running Freedom for Fido, the charity founded by Jackie. So before we get to how you support people who want to transition from work to a place where they have more choices in life, let's talk about the charity that Jackie founded.

Fritz Gilbert  03:27
Yeah, thanks for that opportunity. Rennie. It actually covers both topics because it was an example of my wife kind of discovering her purpose in retirement. And it's a charity she started about two and a half years ago, and we build free fences for low income families that have dogs on chains. You know, we're in Appalachia here. So there's a lot of dogs on chains and, you know, there's a lot of poverty. So it was breaking her heart and she started this thing up, and I'll tell you what, Rennie, it has become, we're building our 49th fence next week, we've freed over 100 dogs from life on a chain and it is so rewarding to see the dogs get their freedom. But even in addition to that, the gratitude that these people have, and the camaraderie that's developed among the group of volunteers, we've probably got 75, 80 volunteers at this point, we might have 10 to 12 at a build. It's kind of like if you think about Habitat for Humanity, where people go out and build a house together, it's a very similar feeling. They come out, we've got all the supplies, we just, you know, they show up, they work for a couple hours and it's a really great charity. So thank you and I love your support of charities in general and obviously Shelter to Soldier, you know, spot on I love what you're doing. So, kindred spirits.

Rennie Gabriel  04:39
Thank you, thank you. And I, you know, I know exactly where Jackie is coming from. If I see a dog on a chain, which is we don't see that in our neighborhood. 

Fritz Gilbert  04:49

Rennie Gabriel  04:49
But if a video comes by, it just breaks my heart. So kudos to you and to Jackie for the work you're doing. I'm thrilled for that. 

Fritz Gilbert  05:01
Thank you.

Rennie Gabriel  05:01
Now, you wrote a post about 'One More Year Syndrome', and why you decided to work one more year after you achieved financial independence. Now, looking back, what are your thoughts about that decision now?

Fritz Gilbert  05:16
Yeah, and I've, this has been a common topic in the whole world of pre-retirement planning, you know, when's the right time to go? And I'll tell you what I based my decision on. I had an uncle, I was talking to him at a wedding, maybe 10 years before I retired, he retired a little bit young. And he said, 'You know, when you get to that point,' he said, 'You'll never make the money you're making. If you're not 100% sure that you're ready, work the extra year. You'll never regret it the rest of your life.' So fast forward, eight years later, I told a friend of mine who retired two years before I did about what my uncle said, he decided to work one more year. So he calls me up a year later, and I was about a year away, and I asked, 'Should I go now? Or should I wait a year?' And he said, 'Fritz, best advice you ever gave me. It's fantastic.' So I decided, even though the number said I could go, I'm a conservative investor, I wanted to have a little cushion. You know, my work wasn't intolerable. I mean, I wanted the freedom and the choice that comes with it. But I, you know, I didn't hate my job. And I like, you know, life isn't too bad. I'm going to go ahead and put in the extra year. And once you've done that, that year feels long when you're in the middle of it. But once you're done, for the rest of your life, you know you've got a little bit of cushion, and it just takes that anxiety down on all the financial aspects of retirement. And it, to me, I have absolutely no regrets for doing it.

Rennie Gabriel  06:29
That makes so much sense. I'm so glad you explained that to me, because my son is very conservative. He's a chartered financial analyst. 

Fritz Gilbert  06:39

Rennie Gabriel  06:39
And a certified financial planner. And he has heart palpitations, with the way I handle money. I'm not risk adverse. And he just, I mean, yeah, it drives him bananas. But I mean, like, he'll say, 'Dad, the safe thing is a four and a half percent, and actually a 4% withdrawal rate.' And I'm telling him, 'I don't even have anything that pays that little.' So anyway, so but, so the idea for most people, I think that idea of working an extra year, makes a lot of sense.

Fritz Gilbert  06:54
Yeah. And I think the value of it is, at the time when you're making the decision, it feels like a long commitment. But you've got to, you've got to look at it from a lifelong perspective and think about the value you'll get from, you know, that extra year. And it's not for everybody. But for me, I'm glad I did it.

Rennie Gabriel  07:34
And I think - the listeners need to pay attention to that. Now, from your experience, what's the most important thing for someone to think about as they prepare for re-tirement?

Fritz Gilbert  07:48
Yeah, and I thank you for asking that question. That's, that's spot on. You know, I think the natural inclination is for people to focus on the financials. 

Rennie Gabriel  07:56

Fritz Gilbert  07:56
Can I re-tire? Am I ready to re-tire? Can I cover my spending? I don't even know what my spending is going to be. Am I going to get health insurance? You know, it's all focused on the financial. 

Rennie Gabriel  08:05

Fritz Gilbert  08:05
What I really encourage everybody to do, I just wrote a post last week called the 90-10 Rule of Retirement. And what the 90-10 rule is - it's a new concept. But people had been telling me this as I was getting ready to re-tire, and I didn't believe it. Now that I've been re-tired three years, man, they are spot on. And what the 90-10 rule of re-tirement says is, as you're planning for re-tirement, you spend 90% of your mental energy looking at the financials - am I good to go, you hire a financial planner, whatever - but you really focus on the financials. And you only give about 10% of your thought to what you want your life to be when you get into re-tirement. After you re-tire, that ratio reverses. And you really don't spend that much time thinking about the money anymore. You know, the decision of when to re-tire. Once you've made that decision, you kind of have what you have, you get on with living, you know, you find a way to make it work. And you spend your days living your life, and you spend your time finding your purpose, Freedom for Fido, as an example. You know, writing my blog is an example. Filling yourself with those self-chosen activities that bring you purpose. And I really encourage people. There have been some studies, I've written some posts on this, that the people that have the most successful transition into re-tirement - it can be a tough transition, don't fool yourself - and the people that have had the most successful transitions tend to be the people that have taken the most time to think about those non-financial aspects of life before they get to re-tirement. So that's the number one piece of advice I give people. You've got to have the numbers, but the numbers in and of themselves are insufficient to ensure a good re-tirement.

Rennie Gabriel  09:11
And by the way, I read that post, and I could see that it makes so much sense. And here I am. I'm 73 now, so I got a few years on you. 

Fritz Gilbert  09:53

Rennie Gabriel  09:54
I have, I'll say attempted re-tirement, and I've lasted about two weeks. 

Fritz Gilbert  10:02

Rennie Gabriel  10:02
Because I don't know what else I would do if I wasn't doing all the things I do.

Fritz Gilbert  10:07
Yeah. Yeah. And you know, I think the the value that re-tirement brings, you know, as you said, you've got the freedom financially to do things.

Rennie Gabriel  10:15

Fritz Gilbert  10:16
What's so nice about it is you can now make the decision on what you want to do, without making money as one of the criteria. So you can do things that don't generate income. And what I found is the best, the most fulfilling things for me, and for a lot of my readers and others that I've talked to, is finding ways like you're doing with your podcast, find a way to give back to others, from your experiences. Find a way to be generous, you know, focusing on others instead of self - and you don't have to earn any money doing it. That's where you get real satisfaction in re-tirement, and you can still be, quote, unquote, working, you're not necessarily generating income, you're working on something that you enjoy working on. 

Rennie Gabriel  10:54
Exactly. Two things. One of them is that it's the reason I'm able to donate 100% of my profits to charity.

Fritz Gilbert  11:01

Rennie Gabriel  11:01
Which is far more fulfilling than if I got a new car. And the second thing is something my son said to me, which has probably been around the block a few times, said, 'Dad, if you enjoy what you're doing, you're not working a day in your life.'

Fritz Gilbert  11:16
Exactly. Yep. You've raised, you've raised a smart son.

Rennie Gabriel  11:22
Yeah, it comes back to bite me sometimes. Let's see what else. Oh, well, something really important that I need all my guests to do is to tell them how people can connect with you, or find out more about what you're doing so that you can support them?

Fritz Gilbert  11:41
Sure. Yeah, you can find me, just type in Fritz Gilbert on Google and I'll pop up or you can type in the Retirement Manifesto. You'll find my blog. I'm pretty much everywhere out there. I'm on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, you know all the social media platforms. But I'd say my blog, the retirementmanifesto.com, is probably the best place to look for me.

Rennie Gabriel  11:59
Perfect. I'm going to put that in the show notes. Because I wouldn't be able to spell manifesto.

Fritz Gilbert  12:05
It's not too hard to spell. It spells like it sounds.

Rennie Gabriel  12:08
Okay, fine. Yeah. Well, I know I, my name Rennie spells like it sounds, but no one gets it right.

Fritz Gilbert  12:14
I'm sure. I'm sure.

Rennie Gabriel  12:16
So I've asked you some questions. I've gotten great answers. But what's the one thing that I should have asked you that I didn't?

Fritz Gilbert  12:23
I think probably the thing that I think about, when I was in pre-retirement, you know, I was really curious, what's it going to be like in re-tirement? And it's just one of those things until you cross that starting line, as I call it into your freedom years, you can't really appreciate what it's like. So I would say, you know, what's been my biggest learning or surprise from my transition from pre-retirement into post-retirement.

Rennie Gabriel  12:48
Okay, so what's been that transition?

Fritz Gilbert  12:53
Oh, I have to answer it. Oh, no.

Rennie Gabriel  12:55
Yes. I forgot to mention that.

Fritz Gilbert  12:57
I think the biggest . . . several things come to mind with it. One is, as I said earlier, the financials don't really matter all that much once you re-tire. So you're really focused on the financials. But as I said earlier, find a way to focus on the non-financials. That's number one. Number two, you know, we've been indoctrinated since we were in probably kindergarten, to kind of follow what somebody tells you to do. And then you get into high school, you got to get the good grades, so you can get to the good college, and then you got to get the good grades and get a good job. And then your boss tells you what to do, and you've got to do that presentation, blah, blah, blah. All of our major activities - not all - but the vast majority have been dictated from somebody else. 

Rennie Gabriel  13:34
Mm hmm. 

Fritz Gilbert  13:35
When you get into re-tirement, that's totally gone. There's nobody telling you what to do. And finding a way to exercise that brain in your muscle, that can self lead to where you're doing things that bring you joy, is not easy. And I think that's where people struggle, that struggle with the transition - is they're suddenly sitting around and they're like, 'Gee, I don't know what I'm going to do with my time. I'm bored. I don't have any purpose. You know, I feel lost. I've lost my identity. I've lost my friends at work.' So I think the thing that I've learned is the importance of focusing, as I said, on the non-financial aspects and think about it as a wedge. And as you're coming into re-tirement, start ramping down how much time - you're still going to do 110% when you're at the job - that's fine. But on your way home, you know, once you get home, on the weekends, don't sit there and think about that project you've got to do at work. Start being intentional at trying to drive that wedge down on how much mental capacity you dedicate to your job, and start building up the opposite wedge of those things that you want to do in re-tirement, you know. And the biggest tip I guess I would give people is foster your curiosity. And anything that gives you the least amount of interest, pursue it take a step. You know, maybe it'll maybe it'll go somewhere, maybe it won't. But the best way to find something that you enjoy is to just listen to that inner voice and follow that curiosity and see where it goes. That's, my blog was that. I was kind of curious about starting to write. Turns out, I absolutely love it and I've built this community and I've got the camaraderie and I get, you know, tremendous satisfaction over some of the comments I get from people on the impact I'm making on their lives, whatever. The point is, it all started because I was a little bit curious, and I took the first step, and it turned into a major source of fulfillment in my re-tirement. So that's probably the biggest thing I've learned is the importance of finding those things that bring you, you know, real, real joy in re-tirement. And it's a mental muscle that you need to recognize has not been exercised, basically, your whole life.

Rennie Gabriel  15:43
Yeah, I get it. And it could be anything from long distance bike riding to ballroom dancing, whatever someone's curious about, you know, check it out. That makes so much sense. 

Fritz Gilbert  15:55

Rennie Gabriel  15:56
And I guess one more little side note about the idea of re-tirement. I think I was around 65, and one of my neighbors, a fella by the name of Peter Marshall, used to host the show Hollywood Squares. 

Fritz Gilbert  16:09
Okay, yeah. 

Rennie Gabriel  16:10
And when I met him, he was in his 80s, and I said to him, 'So you know, Peter, when are you going to retire?' And his comment to me was, 'Retire? I enjoy what I do. Why would I stop doing it?' 

Fritz Gilbert  16:23

Rennie Gabriel  16:24
And he's a song and dance man. And I mean, he was in his 90s, I saw him doing a commercial for some videos or something. And the point is, again, if you're enjoying what you do, there's no reason to stop it, and it doesn't matter if you're earning money from it or not. 

Fritz Gilbert  16:42
Yep, that's right. 

Rennie Gabriel  16:44
Fritz, it's been a pleasure having you on the show. I want to thank you for being here.

Fritz Gilbert  16:50
Thank you very much, Rennie. It's a, it's a true honor. I love what you do. And I love your charitable mindset. And I think you're you're doing it right. So thanks for having me on, and I enjoyed the chat.

Rennie Gabriel  17:00
Thank you so much. And to my listeners, thank you for tuning in. You can listen to the Wealth On Any Income Podcast on your favorite platform. And please rate, review and subscribe. And if you'd like to know how books, movies and society programs you to be poor, and what the cure is, then log on to wealthonanyincome.com/TEDx. You'll hear my TEDx talk and can request a free 27-page roadmap to Complete Financial Choice® and receive a weekly email with tips, techniques, or inspiration around your business or money. Again, that's wealthonanyincome.com/TEDx. Next week, we'll have Rob Bedell, who's only been in a coaching business and coaching owners of other businesses for about a year. But he started because business owners kept asking him to do it. He has three questions you can ask to discover your value proposition for your clients to get more of your best clients. Until next week, be prosperous. Bye bye for now.

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