Where do the years go? At age 38, I still have most of my hair, though a gray strand or two has joined the neighborhood. I feel young at heart, though my occasional aching joints and bones remind me that I'm not a kid anymore.
I certainly don't feel like hanging up my jester cap anytime soon. However, after coming to terms with the aging process and my own mortality, I've found myself pondering my eventual retirement.
After all, that's something you have to plan for if you want to do it right. I live in the retiree hotbed of Florida, and I see the differences between the planned and the planned-nots every day. I see the active octogenarian, merrily teeing it up at the golf course. Yet I also see his high school buddy flipping burgers or sweeping theme parks because he just couldn't make ends meet after retiring.
There's no shame in working at any age. I feel more confident placing my fast food order with someone who is 80 than someone who is 18. The only shame here is that some folks either take too long to start planning for their retirement or plan so poorly that they don't realize it's not enough.
I don't want that to be me. I don't want my Retirement Party to be followed by my Coming Out of Retirement Party a few years later. So I decided that I should check out Robert Brokamp's Rule Your Retirement newsletter service to see how far along I am to one day retiring on my terms -- and staying retired on my terms.
The 10-year plan
Since we've been taking a look at 2016 over the past few days, I figured it would be timely to see if I would be ready to retire in 10 years. I went through the eight-lesson How to Plan the Perfect Retirement Web-based seminar that is available for free to all of Robert's subscribers. It was a pretty sobering experience.
Obviously, retiring at 48, before my IRA withdrawals and Social Security distributions start kicking in, was going to be a challenge. I'm a modest guy with a modest wife, and we abide by the "Live Below Your Means" credo. My two sons are a different story, but we've still got time to raise them right. However, going by my current savings, and factoring in the magic of compounded returns for another 10 years, I would be retiring at 48 and scraping gum off the Fantasyland floor by 50.
If you will be old enough to qualify to start pulling money out of your pensions, IRAs, and Social Security come 2016, you will be in much better shape -- but only if you save and plan accordingly.
It's all about the Callaways
I am blessed to live a reasonable walk away from three magnificent golf courses. I even serve on a Coral Gables committee, granting me a lack of greens fees during certain parts of the day. Alas, I don't play golf. That hasn't stopped me from dreaming about my first purchase when I eventually do retire -- a shiny set of Callaway (NYSE: ELY ) golf clubs. Sure, I'll be taking those oversized titanium beauties out to a driving range or two first, so I don't truly embarrass myself. But I don't want to buy them until I'm ready. I don't want to pony up the cash for a Callaway Big Bertha if she's going to be heading off to the pawnshop a few months later.
Rule Your Retirement isn't going to make my golf game any better. It's just going to make it possible.
Living in the watery oasis of this fine peninsular state, a boat would be a nice big-ticket retirement goal, though I have always been partial to recreational vehicles. The problem is that my older sister and her husband financed $70,000 for a new RV last year that they really can't afford. If and when I go that route, it's going to be for keeps.
Perhaps that's why I've been looking at many of the stocks behind my inspiration lately. How cool would it be to beef up my retirement nest egg by buying into the companies that may claim my cash when I do reach the point where I'm able to retire?
Thor (NYSE: THO ) and Winnebago (NYSE: WGO ) seem to be doing well with their RVs, though you can never discount a turnaround at Monaco Coach (NYSE: MNC ) or Coachman (NYSE: COA ) . On the boating side, you can't buy into Chris-Craft or Genmar these days, but you can still nibble away at rival boat makers like Marine Products (NYSE: MPX ) or Brunswick (NYSE: BC ) .
It's all very tempting, though I think I'll stick to my more modest goal of owning a set of Callaway clubs for now. It wouldn't be like me to aim that much higher, anyway. Then again, now that I've dedicated myself in 2006 to at least improve my retirement outlook come 2016, you never know what may be possible.
So I'll take Robert's newsletter service to heart. I'll devour the monthly issues, the perpetual community updates, and the free webinars. I'll be ready. Because, man oh man, even though I know they don't sell chewing gum in the Magic Kingdom, I've seen what careless families can do while on vacation. Those Fantasyland toddlers can be messy. I hope I'll have better things to do with my time than chase after them with a broom, a scooper and the heavy burden of a broken dream.
For further far-sighted Foolishness, check out our other stories on 2016.
You can join Rick in planning for your retirement -- and owning your retirement if you're there already -- before it owns you. Subscribe to Rule Your Retirement, or simply kick the tires for the rest of January with a free trial.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz didn't exactly feel ageless at his 20-year high school reunion a few months ago. He does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story. Not yet. The Fool has a disclosure policy. Rick is also part of theRule Breakersnewsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.