Your highest priority should be assembling a well-stocked savings fund through a combination of retirement accounts, annuities and investments. But once you’ve successfully shored up your retirement plan, that doesn’t mean you should ease up on the gas, savings-wise; it just means you should change direction. Now that retirement is a short-term goal, you need new long-term aspirations to guide your investing decisions.
Naturally, financial advice designed for younger individuals just starting their careers and families isn’t as helpful for those who are ready to start planning their golden years. We’ve gathered up some mid-life investment lessons from the world’s richest billionaires to help you transition into your next phase of life like a pro.
1. Think Beyond Retirement
Fast food tycoon Ray Kroc had a saying: If you’re green, you’re growing; as soon as you’re ripe, you start to rot. As the man responsible for the establishment of the McDonald’s empire, he was certainly an authority on the topic of continuous growth. He signed on with Dick and Mac McDonald as a franchising agent in 1955, when the brothers owned a single restaurant in San Bernardino, California. By 1959, Kroc had grown McDonald’s to a corporation with 100 restaurants. When he died in 1984, he was still senior chairman of the company, which had 7,500 locations in over 30 countries and was worth $8 billion.
The lesson here is that retirement shouldn’t be your only goal, or else you’ll have nothing to aim for once you accomplish it. When you retire, you should still be green and growing. Whether your ultimate goals are lofty, like starting your own charitable fund, or more personal, like visiting all seven continents, they should give you something to work toward even after you’ve retired.
2. Invest in Passive Income Streams
Consider making investments that generate income. Your portfolio should already be generating interest on its own, but those with slightly higher risk tolerance may also consider options like real estate, rental properties or small business investing.
Alice Walton, a member of the multibillionaire family that founded Walmart, maintains a clear directive in her business dealings that all savvy investors should follow: Make your money work for you. It’s important to make sure your investments don’t only protect your assets but also grow them. As Alice says, “One of the great responsibilities I have is to manage my assets wisely, so they create value.”
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3. Continue to Educate Yourself
When we’re good at something, it’s easy to forget to continually educate ourselves. You’ve managed your finances well, and you’re now able to retire comfortably; it’s natural to feel like you’ve gotten a better-than-average grip on your investments. But as you make new investment decisions, you should enter into each one with the same attitude you held as a beginner and seek out information as eagerly as if you had no idea what you were doing.
Ray Dalio, the billionaire founder of Bridgewater Associates, tells a story in his book “Principles” about having taken ski lessons from an instructor who once taught Michael Jordan the same skill. The instructor said that Jordan, despite already being a champion basketball player, enjoyed the process of making mistakes as he learned a new skill.
Similarly, investors should always be looking for areas of weakness and gravitating toward them as opportunities for growth. Perhaps you’re a traditional investor with very little knowledge of cryptocurrencies, or you’re interested in better understanding sustainable investments. This tip doesn’t mean you need to follow through and invest in these assets — the important thing is to continually seek out new ideas and develop a learner’s mindset by exploring them.
4. Align Your Investment Goals with Your Personal Values
As you evolve your goals beyond retirement, cast your mind back to what you wanted from life when you were just starting out. Did you want to be a great writer, philanthropist, artist, scientist, inventor? What would you have majored in if money were no object? These are the ideas you should consider not just as you plan your life in retirement, but also as you make investment decisions.
The wealthy may never have to worry about affording their retirement lifestyle, but they still maintain rigorous goals and aspirations — and so should you. Michael Dell, the billionaire founder and CEO of Dell Technologies, demonstrates well how even those whose jobs make up a good portion of their lives might also find fulfillment outside of their careers. Dell is an avid philanthropist, and his involvement in causes is impressively hands-on. He and his wife, Susan, run the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, which was created to help children living in urban poverty gain access to better education, health care and economic stability. He also serves on the board of the World Economic Forum and is deeply involved in community causes in his home state of Texas.
Dell sets an excellent example for soon-to-be retirees who might be evaluating their post-career priorities. By investing in things that have more significance than just their financial value, you’ll ensure you don’t lose your sense of purpose once you reach your retirement goal.
5. Have Short-Term and Long-Term Goals
A common piece of financial advice for younger investors is to make both short- and long-term goals. Though retirement can feel like a finish line of sorts, this tip holds as true later in life as it does for those just starting out.
Crafting a robust timetable of goals can feel more difficult later in life, but that’s just because you have more freedom. It’s easy for someone in their 30s to set short- and long-term goals because so many of their financial needs have yet to be met. Once you’ve funded your retirement, paid off your mortgage and put your kids through college, you have to turn to your own individual desires to decide what comes next.
What you shouldn’t do is consider your checklist complete — ever. As billionaire Domino’s founder Tom Monaghan says, “I don’t like having to think about a day when I might stop having new [dreams].”
Continue setting new and ambitious goals for yourself up to and throughout your retirement, and take them as seriously as you did the financial goals you had before you “made it.” Experts recommend setting both short- and long-term goals because it increases our likelihood of success; long-term goals allow us to see the big picture while short-term goals give us something specific to track in order to remain accountable.
6. Establish Non-Financial Goals
This may not seem like an investment tip, but it is! Establishing non-financial goals is essential in order to determine the motivation behind your financial objectives. Billionaire and chairman of Reliance Industries Mukesh Ambani says he learned from his father that “any business that has the sole purpose of making money is not worth doing.” Similarly, individuals whose only investment goal is to amass wealth will eventually find themselves questioning the purpose and meaning behind their goal.
When you have a clear purpose beyond your financial objectives, you’ll find it guides your investment decisions as well. Perhaps your family is your life’s priority; you may decide to purchase a rental property that generates passive income and can be used for a new tradition of annual family vacations. Maybe your passion is for animals, and you can make a small business investment in a family-owned grooming business.
No matter what it is that you love, having clear goals that accompany your passion will become even more important as you grow more financially stable. Once your financial needs are met, your life goals will make it easier to determine your next investments.
7. Consider Your Legacy
Everyone should have an estate plan, no matter how close to retirement they are. Once it’s written, it’s just as important to continually revisit it as you grow older and make sure it reflects your priorities. If you haven’t updated your will since you had young children, you’ll definitely want to update it with your current desires in mind.
Estate plans for younger people who are just starting out and building their families tend to outline action plans for emergencies. As you approach retirement age, your estate plan should evolve with you to reflect the type of legacy you want to leave behind.
Beyond providing for any children or grandchildren you may have, what kind of lasting impact do you want to make? How do you want to be remembered? As billionaire entrepreneur and philanthropist Eli Broad says, “Civilizations are not remembered by their business people, their bankers or lawyers. They’re remembered by the arts.”
This sentiment applies to individuals as well. You won’t be remembered by the robustness of your financial portfolio or the impressiveness of your business acumen; it’s what you did with these things that people will celebrate after you’re gone.
As you recalibrate your personal and financial goals for your golden years, remember that financial security isn’t the goal — it’s the means to achieving your goals. Though funding your retirement has to come first before you can enjoy it, it’s important to never lose sight of the passions and interests that leave you feeling truly fulfilled. The purpose of planning for retirement is so that you can create and pursue new opportunities, knowing you have the financial safety you need to do so.