By Paul Partridge

What are some things that you used to do, and haven’t done in awhile – that you would like to do more of in retirement?

This is a question I often ask clients. Here are some of the most common answers I hear.

Take long walks.

Enjoy more sunrises.

Learn to cook.

Sit on the beach… under the moonlight.

Attend a lecture series.

Build something from scratch.

As for me, I feel like I’ve dropped the ball in the music and reading departments, and look forward to catching up.

How about you? What was the last new album that you bought? Who was the last artist that you went deep with – buying multiple albums, dissecting the song lyrics, studying the liner notes, and learning the names of the band members?

I used to love getting a new Steely Dan album and seeing which studio musicians Donald Fagen and Walter Becker enlisted for each tune. Larry Carlton for his killer guitar on “Kid Charlemagne.” Tom Scott’s sax riffs on “Black Cow.” (Then that led to exploring Tom Scott’s solo albums and his work with Joni Mitchell, etc., etc.)

So many rabbit holes. So much fun.

I don’t seem to have the time anymore to explore and learn every song on an album. Heck, I don’t buy many albums anymore, mostly just songs. And where do we even find liner notes today?

I also used to be an avid reader of books. I enjoyed history and biographies and good fiction writing. But these days, other than research for work, I’m ashamed to say I’m down to about one pleasure book a year.

Beyond embarrassing.

Now that I’ve established I’m no book expert, here’s the best book title I’ve seen in years:

“Horoscopes for the Dead” by Billy Collins (Random House).

I did a Google search and discovered that Billy Collins is a poet . Not just any poet but a two-term U.S. Poet Laureate.

Stuff I used to know when I was a reader.

So . . .

What’s all this got to do with being able to tell a good retirement plan from a not-so-good retirement plan?

Some people get all caught up in the financial “stuff.” They want to know:

What’s the best mutual fund?

What kind of rate of return can you get me?

What ETF/REIT/MLP/IPO should I invest in?

How much should I put in cryptocurrencies?

That’s not a retirement plan.

That’s a game of darts.

To me, a good retirement plan is one that lets you do the things you want to do . . . when you want to do them . . . without having to worry about finances.

And that means not only in Year 1 of retirement, but in Year 20 or Year 30 if we’re that lucky.

It’s not about a number.

It’s about having income that supports the lifestyle we want.

I have a client who, on the first day I met him, told me exactly what he was looking for in a retirement plan.

He and his wife enjoy cruises. They travel the world, taking multiple cruises every year. He explained it like this:

“I don’t know how many years we’ll be able to travel – whether it’s 10 or 15 or whatever. But my wife and I want to be able to take at least two cruises a year for as long as we can. And when we’re on that cruise, I don’t want to be checking the stock market every few hours to make sure my portfolio is okay. I don’t want to be thinking about money at all. We just want to enjoy ourselves and know that when we get home, whether the stock market was up, down, or sideways while we were gone, all our bills are taken care of and we’re in good shape.”

That’s a good retirement plan – and the best description I think I’ve ever heard.