Contact Info Subscribe Links



are you ready?

by Norma Jackson Goldman

To find out more about retirement options for Free Will Baptists, visit

ARE YOU READY? These three words hold a great deal of meaning, depending on who is asking and in what context. Picture a bride waiting to make her entrance, eager to meet her groom. After weeks of planning and preparation, her father steps forward, asks the question, then guides her down the aisle. A young athlete waits for a word from his doctor. Medical tests have been run, and the doctor’s opinion will determine whether or not he will play in a crucial game. His father arrives, and they both enter the doctor’s office to hear the results. A diligent student imagines the day when he will stand before his professors to defend his dissertation. “Are you ready?” they ask.

Your imagination can take you to many other situations where the critical question was (or will be), “are you ready?” The question implies that you have had opportunity to prepare, plan, exercise, or work prior to the moment of truth that reveals if you were truly ready. Yet human tendency puts off today what will prepare us for tomorrow. Students must study now to prepare for tomorrow’s work challenges. Parents must teach now, to prepare children for life away from home. Couples must prepare now for the day when they will purchase their first home. People need to plan now for the time when they will no longer earn a living.

The single biggest factor in retirement planning is time—time to save, time to invest, time to use
resources wisely, time to prepare.

Let’s focus for a moment on that last statement—an area of life that often seems so distant, so difficult, so unthinkable that we are tempted to procrastinate. We say, “I have so much on my plate right now, I can’t even think about retirement.” Worse, we say, “That’s a long way off; I’ll have plenty of time to deal with it later.” Yet the single biggest factor in retirement planning is time—time to save, time to invest, time to use resources wisely, time to prepare.

Investment professionals start by asking you to provide some basic information. How old are you? What is your income? How long do you expect to work? Are you in good health? How much debt do you have? What is the total dollar value of your savings and investments? Does your employer offer a retirement plan? Will your employer allow you to continue medical coverage after retirement? Have you confirmed your Social Security earnings in the past 12 months? They often refer to gathering this information as “the discovery phase.”

The professional then guides you into a second phase involving goals for the future. How much income will it take for you to live comfortably in retirement? When will you retire? Do you have a plan if you are forced to retire earlier than expected? Do others depend on you for support? Where will you live in retirement? Will your home be paid for at retirement? All these factors influence the amount of money you will need.

The final phase of planning is a strategy to move from where you are now to where you must be to achieve your goals. Professional help can be useful at this stage. Some of the following strategies may help bridge the gap between your current financial condition and what you need for retirement.

  • Increase savings and investment by a certain percentage.

  • Develop a plan to pay off your mortgage early.

  • Reduce/eliminate all other debts.

  • Sell off assets or real estate that do not fit goals.

  • Extend your planned work life as needed.

  • Examine/realign current insurance policies.

If you don’t have answers for these questions, resolve to begin addressing them while there is time. Ask yourself regularly, “am I ready?”

Former magazine editor Norma Jackson Goldman enjoys a free-lance career in her retirement. She lives in Nashville, TN.






©2005 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists