Can luck play a part in retirement?

In speaking to one of my neighbors, a retired dentist I’ll call Edwin, I asked how he planned for retirement. The answer appeared haphazard. Edwin is 92 and has been retired for about 20 years.

Back in 1960, when he was about age 38, a friend of his had built a couple of apartment buildings in the Palms area of Los Angeles. He offered Edwin the chance to own half of the next 7 unit building he was constructing for a $6000 investment. To a young dentist raising a family that was a lot of money. But Edwin was able to borrow $6000 against his life insurance and made the investment. While it didn’t pay much for the first 10 years, the profit did grow. By the 1970’s Edwin was receiving about $1000 per month. Now… the building is paid off it is generating about $4000 per month profit at this point.

In addition to his social security, and income from the apartment building, Edwin has income from selling his dental practice, income from a Bank of American corporate bond, and about $450 per month from an IRA. Edwin has always been a conservative spender and avoided wasting money on the latest fads or gadgets. He lived a comfortable life, but not an extravagant one.

Edwin told me he didn’t really think about retirement until he was in his 70’s, and he’s in good health too. Aside from the usual medications that someone at age 92 might take, he exercises 1 hour each morning, swims, plays golf 3-6 times per month, and walks the neighborhood. Both from the inside, and how it looks on the outside, life for Edwin is pretty good, even with haphazard retirement planning.

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