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Clear view

More than eight out of 10 Americans are worried.
Statistics from a 2013 study by the National Institute on Retirement Security show that 85 percent of Americans feel somewhat (30 percent) or very (55 percent) concerned about current economic conditions affecting their ability to achieve a secure retirement.
These Modern Woodmen members are different. They have a sense of security and excitement when looking at their future. Why? It’s all in the planning.
Members Jessica and Nolan, Eliot, Maine
Jessica, 32, is a former teacher who serves as stay-at-home mom and office manager for the family business. Husband Nolan, 35, owns and operates an electrical service contracting company. They have two children, Madison, 6, and Chase, 4. Kevin Monroe, Alfred, Maine, is their Modern Woodmen representative. Jessica answered our questions.
Q: When would you like to retire?
A: We definitely want to be very comfortable by 65. Many people work decades beyond that, but if we have the opportunity to retire at 55, we will. Right now we have the financial means to put in a little bit more, and hopefully that takes a few years off the top.
Q: When did you begin planning for retirement and why?
A: We started pretty young – about a decade ago. We’re motivated to be able to do things that we see our parents not able to do right now. We’ve always set high goals personally and financially. You’ve got to have a plan, and if you can do better than that plan, that’s great! If you can meet your goals, that’s nothing to complain about.
Q: How has Kevin been helpful in your retirement planning process?
A: We meet at least once a year if not more, and we talk on the phone multiple times. He’s easy to talk to, and he knows us well. He knows we want to be aggressive about it – we want to have a plan, and we want to do the smart thing. If he sees an opportunity for us, he gives us a call or makes a suggestion. And he helps make sure we have it all covered, from life insurance to retirement [including mutual funds] to disability insurance.
Q: Most Americans are somewhat or very concerned about current economic conditions affecting their retirement. How do you feel?
A: I don’t think we’re as concerned as the greater population. In the last five years, we’ve been able to put away more and get educated more every year, so we’re excited.
Q: As you look forward, how do you envision spending your first day of retirement?
A: We’ll be on vacation somewhere! We have a good system now, where we enjoy life. We’re not just working every day. We do a lot of camping, and at least once a year we go on vacation without our two small children Maybe [when retired] we’ll get a two-week vacation in. You’ve got to be able to reward all your hard work.
Q: What do you look forward to most in retirement?
A: By then we might have grandchildren. Hopefully we’re spending time with them, sitting out front with a cup of coffee and watching the sun come up. We planted a small apple orchard last year, so hopefully we’ll have some apples to pick too.
Q: What advice would you give to other couples your age regarding retirement planning?
A: Just start. It doesn’t matter how little [you put away], just the sooner, the better. It’s worth a small cut in some other expense now. I find it exciting to watch it grow. Even if it’s a little growth, it’s still growth.