The Foreign Service Journal - January/February 2018
62 JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2018 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL “I meet with couples all the time where the spouse has little to no Social Security or pension,” says Beagle. “The bottom line: work if you can. Find those skill sets that can work remotely.” Beagle’s FS spouse clients have skills that include transcription, editing, physi- cal therapy and computer support. “Think of skills that you can transfer anywhere and be self-employed or remotely employed,” he recommends. “Then bank more than half of that pay.” Carrington adds that spouses need to maintain their own financial identity, and keep credit cards and checking accounts in their name. Look for a need and find a job or start a business to fill that need, says Mandojana: “Be creative and persevere. If you aren’t concerned about working, then enjoy the adventure—but be sure to save for retirement, too!” Take Action It’s a complicated topic, but don’t put off thinking about, and planning for, your future retirement. If you haven’t started saving yet, start today. Not saving early in your career is the biggest mis- take you can make. FS members “need to understand that paying themselves first (by saving 10 percent in the TSP) is an impera- tive, not an alternative,” says Beagle. “I see many who failed at this and cannot retire as a result.” But don’t let your TSP savings lull you into complacency. “Count the huge blessing you have in the pension system,” says Beagle. “More than 85 percent of Americans have no pension plan.” It’s a great start, he says, but it isn’t enough. FS members “often make the mistake of thinking that the pension will suffice in retirement. It will not.” Plan for your future: Start a separate account to save for a house. Write down your short- and long-term goals. Track your day-to-day spending. Talk to a tax adviser or financial planner who can help you build a realistic plan. Yes, you’re busy at work. And at the end of the day, you have gym buddies to meet, children to ferry around town, laundry to be done, work functions to attend. But don’t let today’s road- blocks keep you off the path to a comfortable retirement. n At the 20-year point it’s time to do a goal check-in, and see where you want life to take you next.