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Finding Peace in Choosing Her Financial Path

After a lifetime of carrying worries about finances, Pastor Debra Engquist found Portico’s retirement planning resources empowered her to step into retirement without fear.




Pastor Debra Engquist
Lafayette, Colorado
May 2018

For the past four years, my husband and I have been slowly easing into retirement. For me, the transition began in 2014, when I left my full-time settled call to serve as an interim pastor. I stepped down from interim ministry in January. My husband, who’s a pilot, will retire fully at the end of July. Taking a Portico Pre-Retirement Seminar about a decade ago helped us realize we needed to radically increase our contributions during our remaining working years. But when it came to thinking about what we might actually need when we were no longer getting paychecks — that was a source of some anxiety. How would we know what we could spend? What if something unexpected came up? Early in our marriage, my husband and I went through a period of extreme poverty. We didn’t have any extra money and spent a lot of time worrying about how we were going to pay our bills. That led us to be pretty frugal — which is a good thing — but it also instilled an underlying fear — even now — that we won’t have enough.

I’m a fairly analytical person; I like data and facts. That’s one reason we used Portico’s Retirement Planning Tool to get a much better sense of our overall financial picture. I appreciated the way the tool allowed us to adjust different variables in our plan, particularly our estimated monthly spending and how confident we felt about the projected result. Seeing the range of outcomes made me realize we could make decisions that would help us feel at peace.

What was even more helpful was the ability to dig deeper into the tool’s results with a Portico Financial Planner. We ran some simulations together, and our planner explained the ramifications of choosing one option over another. It was very empowering. I used that information to start tracking our monthly spending and lay out anticipated expenditures — like remodeling our home — that we’ll have in the years to come. Because we know our financial picture will change, we plan to check in with our Portico Financial Planner at least once a year. We’ll use the Retirement Planning Tool to update our plan, based on where we are at that point. After a year of being retired, we’ll have a much better sense of where we are with spending and life plans.

Having these facts — and the perspective from our Portico planner — helped ease my fear. It was exactly what we needed to feel confident about taking the next step into retirement.

This submission describes a personal perspective on an aspect of the ELCA benefit program that may or may not reflect the experience of others.

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