The One Retirement Question Project

I’ve had an amazing week.  The highlight, without a doubt, has been The One Retirement Question Project.  It happened serendipitously, and it’s been a blast.  This was too much fun to have by myself, so I decided to share it with you.  The story revolves around one retirement question.  That’s it.  One Question.

In the past 24 hours, I’ve asked the exact same One Retirement Question to 4 folks who are living Great Retirements.  Then, I RECORDED their answers, which I’m sharing with you in today’s post.

The One Question Was: If you could give ONE piece of advice to someone 30 days from retirement, What Would It Be? Click To Tweet

Today, I tell the story of how The One Retirement Question Project developed, and the individual answers I received from four “happily retired people” in response to that question.

PS:  A side note: Always be on the lookout for opportunities.  Last week, I saw an opportunity, and I took it.  Here’s what happened…

It all started with a photograph of an old barn. 

The darndest thing happened to me a few days ago.

It all started shortly after I had parked my new truck by a rustic old barn in the North Georgia mountains, and was taking the photograph below (I like the interplay of the dark light in that shot).  As I was shooting this pic, a white van pulled on the side of the road and stopped:

A picture of my new F250 by a cool barn, and the beginning of this blog post.

North Georgia is a friendly kind of place, so I strolled over to the van to let them know what I was doing.  I assumed they owned the barn and were wondering what I was up to.

As I was walking toward their van, I caught a glimpse of their license plate, and smiled:

Mr. & Mrs. Smith’s License Plate. It kicked off this entire “One Retirement Question Project”.

My First Conversation:  Mr. & Mrs. Smith

I walked up to the driver side window and said, “Nice license plate!  I’m retiring in 40 days, I’m going to have to get one of those for my truck”.

We hit it off immediately.  Turns out Mr. & Mrs. Smith are two of the friendliest people I’ve ever met.  We talked for almost 30 minutes, just standing on a country road (there’s a reason we retired here), and really connected.  Turns out that Mr. & Mrs. Smith live a mile up that narrow road and were just relaxing watching me take the photos.  Nice folks.

As we talked, I got an idea. 

I have no idea where the idea came from, but I ran with it.

I'm going to ask them for retirement advice, and see if they'll let me record their response. They did, and I recorded it for all of you to hear. Click To Tweet

I decided to ask The One Question and have Mr. and Mrs. Smith answer it individually.

Little did I know that this was only the beginning of what would become a fascinating project.

The One Question

“If you could give ONE piece of advice to someone who is 30 days away from retirement, what would it be?”

I asked them to not answer right away, but to take a few minutes to think about it.  While they were thinking, I asked if they’d mind if I pulled out my iPhone and recorded their response.

They Said Yes.

You Have GOT To Listen To This

I pulled out my phone, found the voice recorder, and hit “Record”.  Here’s how they answered the question:

Why are you reading down here already?

Come on, it’s only 1m 56s long.  Go back up there and click “play”.

Trust me, you won’t regret it.  It’s worth it.

I’ll wait.

(PS – You’ll love their Georgia accents, too!)

Mr. Smith’s Answer To “The Question”

As you just heard (you DID listen, right?), Mr. Smith went first.  Short, concise and to the point.

I like Mr. Smith.

What You Don't Do Today Will Still Be There Tomorrow. Mr. Smith. 74 Years Old Click To Tweet

Mrs. Smith’s Answer To “The Question”

Mrs. Smith was a bit more philosophical, and waxed for several moments about the importance of Purpose and staying busy in retirement.

You have GOT to hear her answer.

If you haven’t clicked on that 1m 56s recording yet, go up there and play it now.  (Are you taking the hint?  Trust me, it’s worth hearing!)

Try To Accomplish One Goal Every Day. Have A Purpose. Mrs. Smith, 76 Years Old. Click To Tweet

We talked for a few more minutes, shared some laughs, and made plans to get together in the coming months.  Mr. Smith plays golf a few mornings a week with a group of guys at a local golf course, and I think I’m going to join them one morning after I retire in June.  He’s a nice guy, and I suspect we’ll become friends in the coming months.

We’ve traded a few e-mails since our chat, and they signed up for the free email subscription to my blog.  They’re reading these words for the first time, along with all of you (Hi, Mr. & Mrs. Smith.  I really enjoyed our discussion beside that old barn in the North Georgia mountains! Hope you like this post!  Looking forward to that golf).

How cool is that?

Ed Wolpert – The Next Victim.  Age 82

My Second Conversation: Ed Wolpert

Ed Wolpert is a good friend of mine.  He’s 82, and we meet every few months for lunch together.  I met him a year ago during a chance encounter at a “Blue Ridge Writers” kiosk at Arts In The Park, a local art fair.  He’s written several books about Personal Finance, including Financial Planning For Retirement and Beyond (I’ve read it, it’s good, and I recommend it for anyone thinking about retirement).

Ed’s a Veteran of the United States Army, and I appreciate his service in Europe during the Cold War in the 1950’s (his hat says “Cold War Veteran”, in case you can’t make it out in that pic).

I’ve written about Ed previously in 4 Challenges To Improve Your Retirement (he’s listed in Challenge #4).  I consider him a mentor, and I consider him a friend.  He’s also the ONLY person in the world who I can talk options trading strategy with, and he enjoys “taking me to school” (he was a professor, and it shows).  “May All Your Options Expire Out Of The Money”, we joke.  We both trade options actively, and we share ideas.  He goes for companies, I go for ETF’s.  We share ideas, and we make some money.

He’s taught me a lot.  And, he’s made me some money.  The next lunch is on me, Ed.

Ed’s also written THE BOOK on options trading, literally.  He’s a smart dude, and he’s a lot of fun.  He’s good with money. He made a killing in 2017 on options trading.  He knows what he’s doing.  Did I mention, He’s good?

Really good.

I happened to be having lunch with Ed the day after my interview with The Smiths.  As Ed and I talked, I got another idea…

I Could Turn This Question Into A Series Of Interviews

Ed loved the idea of “Answering The Question”, and agreed to be the next victim.  After our lunch, we stepped out on the front porch of the restaurant (too much background music inside).  Sheltered from the rain (which you’ll hear in the audio), I took the above picture of Ed.

Then I hit “Record”:

Ed’s Answer To “The Question”

Reading down here again?  Come on, you know how this works.

Hit “Play”.  It’s only 3 mins long.  I’ll wait…


Ed and I have spent hours talking about financial planning, so I wasn’t surprised with the first part of his answer.  He threw me for a twist, though, when he finessed the second response into his “One Answer” (I told you he was good).

Stay Invested In Stocks, And Get A Hobby. My Friend, Ed. Age 82 Click To Tweet
My Dad – The Final Victim. Age 84

My Third Conversation:  My Dad!

My Dad lives in Michigan, so I’m not able to visit him as often as I’d like. He recently moved into Assisted Living (My Dad Just Moved Into Assisted Living), and he’s enjoyed a Great Retirement.  In spite of the distance, we maintain a very close father-son relationship via weekly phone calls (My Dad’s also a regular reader of this blog, and he’s reading these words today for the first time along with the rest of you.  I love our weekly calls, Dad, and want to take this chance to say, publically, “Thank You” for everything you’ve done for me over the past 55 years!  I love you in the way that only a Son can love his Father).

I wrote 18 Lessons I Learned From My Dad:  A Tribute to honor the man I respect and love so much.

As it happens, I was scheduled to call my Dad shortly after my lunch with Ed.  Coincidence?  Perhaps not.

I got yet another idea (yeah, I’ve kinda been on a roll with this One Question thing…)

I decided to include my Dad in this One Retirement Question Project. Click To Tweet

We had our typical weekly call, and then I told him about my “One Retirement Question Project”.  He agreed to “Answer The Question”, so I put the landline phone (necessary here in the mountains, where cell coverage is spotty at best) on “speaker” mode, and held my iphone up by the speaker.

Then I Hit “Record”.  

My Dad’s Answer To “The Question”

I hope I don’t have to tell you to listen to the recording again, right?  Come on, HE’S MY DAD!

Besides, he only talks for 4 minutes. And, come on, y’all.   He’s My Dad. Show some respect.

Click “Play” already.

While it wasn’t as “natural” answering “The Question” via phone, it worked.  I’m pleased beyond words to have an audio recording of my Dad.  A recording that will live forever in the world of the internet.

How cool is that?

Have Long-Term Goals, and have short term goals every day that keeps you going physically and mentally. Have a moral guideline. Be a Doer. My Dad. Click To Tweet

I can’t tell you how much my weekly phone calls to my Dad mean to me.  They mean the same to him.  I hope you get a small sense of our relationship through the short 3 minute audio.

He’s Special To Me.

And I’m glad to share just a bit of his intelligence with you today.

Be A Doer.

Think About Other People And What You Can Do For Them.

Have Something To Do In Your Retirement.

Smart man, my Dad.  I’m happy to share a bit of his intelligence with you today.  We’d all do well to listen to his wise advice.


Learn from those who have gone before.  Folks in their 80’s have some REAL knowledge to share with those of us who are just approaching our retirements.

Learn From Them.

Take the time to connect with the people who have walked the path ahead of you.  Ask them a question.

Listen to their response.

Never Stop Learning.

For the comments:  You’re thoughts on “The One Question”?  How would you answer it, and what have you learned from those who have gone before?

If you’re 80+. I encourage you to ask “The One Question” in the comments.

“If you could give ONE piece of advice to someone who is 30 days away from retirement, what would it be?”


  1. This can be an awesome series Fritz, folks in their 70’s-80’s have so much to teach us. My Mom just turned 89 on Saturday and even though she was a stay at home Mom and “retired” from her jobs way back in the 1960’s, she still drops wisdom-bombs routinely.

    I think the answers regarding purpose, passion, and things to do are spot-on. Your Dad’s answer honed in on this a lot. I’m only in semi-retirement but with the additional time I now have I’m finding that I have to purposefully manage it to make the best of it or I’ll be all over the place.

  2. Thanks for taking the time to do this and for sharing it with all of us. The wisdom that comes with age and experience is priceless. I look forward to to getting to their age and having a life full of positive lessons, no regrets and abundant happiness for me and those who cross my path.

  3. I heard the first round on ChooseFI on Friday! Glad to see you are finding more victims

    Love the advice of taking time to help other people – we have big plans for that when pull the plug (someday)

  4. My grandmother retired early in her 50s and taught me a very interesting piece of advice to me.

    She said that you can spend money how you want, but you always have to remember that you can’t spend that same money on something else. In other words, if you have a 50K salary, you can spend 1K on a computer, but that means you can’t spend that 1K on a vacation.

  5. I’m really enjoying these interviews and I’m sharing them with my 53 year old husband who just retired April 20th. I’m still working, but I’m close to at least semi retiring so I’m learning from these retirees wisdom as well. Great idea Fritz!

  6. I’ve been a stay-at-home mom & homemaker for over 30 years. The advice to set goals—long & short term—and do something every day has been important to me during all that time. I think anyone who controls their own time (ex: people who work from home) has to master this to be happy. I think you need to be sure to include activities that are intellectually, emotionally, & physically stimulating. In my case, I homeschooled my kids (Kindergarten until they went to college) had a couple of small work-from-home jobs, and have always done lots of volunteer work. All of those things gave me connection with other adults, which research (& my own experience!) shows is vital to emotional well-being.

  7. Like. Father. Like. Son. Both wonderful, wise, men who have embraced life with outstretched loving arms.

  8. This is awesome, Fritz! I particularly like the idea of trying to accomplish one goal every day. That’s something that I think everyone should be doing even before retiring. I aim for that almost every day – both at work at at home. But I can see how retirement could become “blah” if you’re just sitting back and not doing anything once you actually do retire. Great advice!

    — Jim

  9. I really enjoyed this, you could ask another 50 people and I’d listen to them all.

    Joe, 20 days from retirement.

  10. I think my best advice actually comes from you, Fritz! I was thinking about it on Sunday when we were canoeing down a fast river and our boat capsized. The advice: do something outside of your “Comfort Zone”. Yeah. After 7, almost 8, years of retirement, daring to do things that make you ask yourself what on earth you are doing, and doing it anyway. Like you swimming in cold water. That went through my mind as we rushed down river trying to hang onto the canoe and finally, finally found a place to come ashore. Wow!

  11. Very cool idea Fritz. Enjoyed the comments! BTW – you mentioned talking to Ed about options trading. Would love for you to do a post about your options strategies. I am an intermediate regarding options and am always looking to learn more….

  12. My older and retired neighbor’s wisdom:
    You only need three things to be happy in retirement:

    1. Someone to love.
    2. Something to get up for.
    3. Something to look forward to.

    I thought these statements were pretty concise and said it all.

  13. Omigosh, I always felt that way about stocks vs. bonds. I plan to keep as much in stocks as possible for as long as possible. I’m 58 and don’t have any bonds. BTW, I worked for 8 years on the Chicago Board Options Exchange, so I understand options too! That was a rough job.

  14. It’s really great you turned this into a blog post! And your dad sounds like a great man, I can see where you get it from! =)

    My advice is similar to what the others said: Do something every day that is meaningful and you know is making a difference. Put time, energy and money into figuring out that is! It’s not as simple as it seems. Just because it might be hard to figure out doesn’t mean you stop looking. Chase it down until you find it and say, “THIS! This is what I should be doing!”

    And for those 40 days out…don’t over commit out of fear or uncertainly. Take your time to test and try things.

  15. Fritz,

    Another interesting article – ask the ones that have gone before you for their advice on retirement…

    Reminded me of a retirement book I read… “Get a Life” by Ralph Warner, where he has interviews of retired people that give their advice to future retires. A good read that focuses on the Non-financial aspects of retirement.


  16. Thanks to all for your great comments! I’m traveling internationally this week (my last international business trip, ever!), so afraid I’m unable to reply to the individual comments. I read every one, and appreciate your kind words on The One Retirement Question. It was a fun post, and I’m pleased to see the great response!

  17. These are great nuggets of wisdom! Your Dad is a pretty wise man, the fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree.
    Thanks for sharing!

  18. I absolutely love this! I heard you on ChooseFI the other day and thought it was just great. I’m digging that you got your dad to do it as well. Not sure I have any advice since I haven’t retired yet, but love hearing from those who have. BTW, that the truck photo and license plate are awesome.

  19. I’m with Mrs Smith – Have a purpose, and try and achieve one thing every day.

    Simple, straightforward advice

    Thanks Mrs Smith

  20. Great post Fritz. Please keep it going. This could be a great on-going series.
    Thanks for sharing it with us!

  21. Great question and wonderful responses. I really haven’t had anyone suggest thinking short and long term goals in retirement but it makes perfect sense. We have them before retirement so why not after? I hope you’ll continue asking this question and posting the answers.

  22. I think the answers regarding purpose, passion, and things to do are spot-on. Your Dad’s answer honed in on this a lot. I’m only in semi-retirement but with the additional time I now have I’m finding that I have to purposefully manage it to make the best of it or I’ll be all over the place.

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