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Retire Your Way. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired May 10, 2015 - 07:30   ET


[07:30:13] CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN HOST: Retirement today isn't the end of your daily commute. It's the beginning of your second act.

What's the key to a happy retirement? The answer to that question depends on you.

For some people we talked to, that means sailing around the world or maybe moving to Costa Rica or even starting a second career sky diving.

These happy retirees have one thing in common: planning. They saved enough to live comfortably and pursue their retirement dreams. But get this: most Americans spend more time planning their vacations than planning their retirement.

So, where to start? Know your magic number -- how much money you'll need for retirement. Here's Fidelity rule of thumb: you need at least eight times your ending salary for a 25-year retirement. Let's say you're making $60,000 a year, when you're 67. You need $500,000 to you retire.

Start small. Aim to save one part (ph) of your salary by age 35 and then go from there. An easy trip to start building that portfolio Fidelity recommends saving 1 percent more than you do right now. You probably won't miss it and it really adds up.

Let's go back to that $60,000 salary. You save an extra 1 percent. That's $50 a month. That can translate into a $270 a month in retirement.

So, whatever your retirement dreams, start working on a road map to RETIRE YOUR WAY.


MAX, RETIREE: To be on a sailboat and to be free is, like, something I've craved all my life. You get to appreciate the rhythms of nature. We've seen a whale swim alongside the boat and roll and look at me and roll back down. And it's just something you just never get in any other way unless you make an effort to cross the ocean.

We retired in May of 2014 and we've been living on this boat ever since.

I was sailing when I was in my mother's womb -- honestly -- and they took me cruising when I was a year old or so. My dad was great sailor. My grandfather was a great sailor. It was just in my blood.

I got back from a sailing trip in 1985 and started working for a little company at 5.50 an hour and did whatever needed to be done and became CFO of that company. We were able to put 25 percent of our income into a 401(k). And I did; I maxed it out.

To me, it was just a means to an end and that was to be able to support sailing trips.

LYNNIA, REITREE: When we were dating, he had just gotten his boat. And I loved being on the water. And we would go for some weekend cruises and stuff. And it's just great and it's beautiful, and he's such a good sailor, I always felt safe.

MAX: Lynnia and I had known each other for ten years. Finally, she had the sense to go out on a date with me! We got married in 2001 and took a three-year sailing trip.

My father died in 1999. That was a big momentous thing in my life and it reminded me that life is short and that you need to do the things you wanted to do. And so, I ended up buying this boat.

Last year, I think Lynnia was getting close to turn 60 and just said if we want to go sailing again, we better do it sooner rather than later. So, we said, OK, let's go.

So there is a lesson that Lynnia and I, the night we got engaged on an airplane. In our excitement, we made a list of all the places we wanted to go to. Gosh, it looks like we have been through about half of them so far.


MAX: We retired in May of 2014 and on June 6th, we sailed from Maine to the Azores, which took 13 days. Left there on August 5th and sailed nine days right up to England.

We came to Ipswich and folks said why would you want to go to Ipswich? We came here and said this is a lovely little town. It's got a great little market. It's got a beautiful swimming pool. It's just nice to be able to walk into town and buy your produce at the market and just have that kind of small town feel.

Our ultimate goal was to get to Norway. So here we are. We're set up nicely so that this May we'll start working our way up the east coast and sail as far north as we can, and hopefully getting up to the Arctic Circle and the Lofoten Islands in Norway and then work our way back.

You can never be scared because you can't be scared for 30 days nonstop. What you do is you just break it down and take one wave at a time. You don't worry about tomorrow. You don't worry about yesterday.


[07:35:02] ROMANS: Max Fletcher climbed the corporate ladder to enable his trip around the world. But civil servants can make their retirement dream a reality too.

Just ask Rich Grimm. He spent his career running into burning buildings as a firefighter and now he spends his retirement jumping out of airplanes.


RICH GRIMM, REITRED FIREFIGHTER: My first jump in 1980, we're over this cornfield in Ohio. And it was out of a little Cessna 182. So I was in the plane and there was an older gentleman in front of me. And so when they opened the door and he climbed out on the strut to hold on. As he let go, he went, wham!

Right there, I was in mass panic. I was so scared. I was just thinking this was the stupidest thing in the world. And I was holding on with a death grip. He was, like, go, go, go. And I just let go and closed my eyes and a big old round World War II parachute opened up and then I looked down and I was, like, wow. This is pretty cool.

My name is Rich Grimm. I'm a retired firefighter from Ontario, California. Now I jump out of airplanes. As you get older, and running into burning buildings starts getting a little more painful, so I started thinking about changing gears and retiring from the fire department and starting a full-time sky diving center.

Most fire departments have a retirement system. When I turned age 50, after 31 years, I received a pension. It allowed us to pursue our dreams. Pursue my dream, not my wife's dream, let's say.

During my fireman career I was sky diving recreationally as a hobby. And I realized that maybe I could turn this crazy hobby into a full- time business. And then when I retired in 2010, we started a full- time sky diving center for first timers and experienced sky divers in Oceanside, California. And then we do these once a year exotic sky dive trips somewhere cool in the world. It just kind of snowballed, so it's one of those things I just kind of -- no pun intended -- fell into.

We're here in Costa Rica. This is one of our yearly trips. And I'm way too young to be this old; I'm not going to go move into some senior citizen gated community. I want to be out there, jumping out of airplanes as along as I can and having fun. So, it's a pretty good retirement gig.

It's not just about jumping out of the airplane. It's about jumping the airplane with. To come here with my friends from around the world and to make sky dives with them in an exotic location. You know, for me it doesn't get any better than that.


ROMANS: Coming up, a former NHL player hangs up his skates and picks up a whistle.


ROMANS: According to a recent Gallup poll, most Americans retire at the age of 62. But for athletes, they are lucky if they can extend their career into their 30s. Former NHL player Jim Montgomery knew he could not stretch his hockey money into old age. So, for him, a second career was a necessity.


JIM MONTGOMERY, FORMER NHL PLAYER/HOCKEY COACH: Hearing your skates glisten off the ice and push forward and hear the snap of the ice break away underneath you, and then the competiveness of trying to get that puck first against an opponent, to feel that with your brothers and your best friends on the ice is something special I wish everyone could experience.

I'm Jim Montgomery. I was a professional hockey player for 12 years. And I retired, and now I'm a professional hockey coach at the University of Denver.

You know what I was in grade eight, they gave us the opportunity to have intramural floor hockey teams. I stayed more on the sidelines and was making the substitutions and trying to feel the parts and chemistry of played well with who at which times in the game. I played professionally for 12 years, six of those in the NHL.

ANNOUNCER: In front. Score! Jim Montgomery was all alone!

MONTGOMERY: It's very hard as a professional athlete in a second career to find anything close to the passion you had when you were a professional athlete. After your playing days are done that is when you find professional athletes go into depression the first couple of years. That transition into your second career is the most important segment of your life. Well, you got to make sure that you're responsible. That you don't spend needlessly. You have to be very disciplined and have the ability to say no you have a nest egg to carry you through whatever your career.

I knew coaching was going to be my next career. People don't open up their arms like they do when you're a professional athlete. So, it made sense to me that in coaching, I was going to have to volunteer or make very little money my first couple of years coaching.

As a coach, you're trying to impart on these young men so that they can enjoy that brotherhood together, and you're more of a father figure. How you help them grow individually as people will help ensure that they have great careers in whatever path they choose.


ROMANS: If your career is the time to make your money and provide for your family, then retirement is the time to pursue your passions. Iris Rideau spent decades in finance but headed to wine country for retirement.


IRIS RIDEAU, OWNS A WINERY: I never imagined owning a winery. There are two different types of businesses here in the valley. It's either you're raising horses or you're growing grapes. And I don't ride horses. And I drink a lot of wine.

My name is Iris Rideau. I was born and raised in New Orleans. I spent my adult years in California, and I moved here to this beautiful valley of Santa Inez, and now I enjoy fine wines and wonderful Creole food.

[07:45:02] Oh, there was always hustle and bustle. Yes.

My years in New Orleans, that Sunday dinner was always about being in the kitchen with my grandmother, helping her to get the food to the table. There was always this wonderful, beautiful antique vase of red wines that her father made. And the kids all got a little small glass of wine. They probably put water in it at the time. But I've been drinking wine since I was 5 years old.

In 1980, I became California's state director for a national pension planning company. So that's really what launched my career and how I made my money. And I did that for another 20 years. And it was at that point I decided it was time for me to start looking to retire.

So I got in my car by myself, left Los Angeles, and drove up north. And when I got to the valley, I said, this is it. This is where I want to live.

This winery property came on the market just at the time when I was getting ready to retire. And I thought, why not? I was 59 at the time. I just had so much more life in me.

Everybody makes wine in the valley. You have to have something different. And you have to give people an experience. And so, I started cooking in the kitchen, making my gumbo, and jambalaya, like my grandmother used to do. So when you walk in this house, you feel like you're at grandma's house.

I'm on the floor. With my staff, pouring wines. I just enjoy people.

They call me the rock star. At my age, I'm a rock star.

You never know about life, you know?


ROMANS: Up next, a jingle writer finds harmony in retirement.


ROMANS: A dream requirement is not all about the money. Financial planner Wes Moss found the happiest retirees have the happiest hobbies. So, volunteer, garden, start a book club, or how about a barbershop quartet?


BRIAN BECK, RETIRED RADIO JINGLE WRITER: Singing is in my blood. When I was a little boy, my mother and dad and I sang. So we had a trio and we sang barbershop without a bass. I loved it then. I love it now.

My name is Brian Beck. I sang radio jingles for years. Now I'm retired and I sing in a barbershop quartet.

I was a jingle writer for 30 years. The jingle business really started about 1955.


BECK: That was CJOR. That's in Toronto.


BECK: That was pretty good stuff. We were pretty good back then.

It was like heaven. Go to work, sing, get paid for it. What could be better? You've got to plan ahead. That's all there is to it.

We didn't have any pensions. We didn't have any 401(k)s. It was just -- we were all independent contractors. So, wound up saving 10 percent of everything.

Kind of saw the writing on the wall and my wife said, you know, I'd like to move to Colorado. At some point, the jingle business was winding down and it was the perfect time to retire. So let's do it. So we did it.

Saturday Evening Post is the name of the group.

We just re-formed about six months go. That was the two gold medal quartets back in the day. They said, well, if you move here, you want to sing bass with our quartet? I said, well, yes.

Each member has to be at least 55. I kind of skew up the age so we have a comfortable total.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get this right. Come on. Here we go.

BECK: And we are the current 2015 International Seniors Quartet Champions. There are quartets that form a bond that's stronger than brothers. I think Saturday Evening Post is one of those.




ROMANS: When we come back, a couple retires south of the border.


[07:56:43] ROMANS: According to the AARP, 90 percent of the retirees prefer not to relocate. And for others like this couple, adventure calls.


DAVE MURRAY: Grecia is in Costa Rica's central valley.

MARCIA MURRAY: I never imagined living any place other than the United States.

DAVE MURRAY MALE: We pretty much feel like home is where you make it.

MARCIA MURRAY: We're Dave and Marcia (ph) Murray and we're living in the beautiful mountains of Costa Rica in wonderful retirement.

Both Dave and I worked for the State of Michigan approximately 30 years.

DAVE MURRAY: Nothing that people can do for their long-term welfare is as important as starting to save early, because what a few dollars saved each week or each month will do for you in retirement, it's a matter of buying your own freedom.

Well, we bought 3 1/2 acres of farmland already planted in coffee and here we are.


MARCIA MURRAY: Our houses are surrounded by coffee plants.

DAVE MURRAY: The coffee itself is beautiful. It holds the land. Cultivating the coffee provides work and income for some of our neighbors.

MARCIA MURRAY: Three times a year they come and they pick the coffee, which then they sell to a co-op here in Grecia.

DAVE MURRAY: There seems to be good research that says learning a second language as you get older keeps your mind sharp. I think that same thing may apply to going to an entirely different environment. It's a challenge, but I think that's refreshing.

MARCIA MURRAY: We definitely have more friends here than we ever did at home. Here, you make the effort to go out and you have the time. I am enjoying myself, and that's retirement for me. We love it. This is home.

The Costa Rican greeting frequently is "pura vida", which is pure life. And for the most part, living in Costa Rica is pura vida.