How to Get an “A” in Retirement

Healthy for Life Program

Who aspires to have an average or below average retirement after working for decades? We have optimistic expectations for the last chapters of our lives. Too often, though, our planning falls far short of our dreams and goals for retirement. “Hope for the best” is not a retirement plan.

This course is for those who don’t want an average retirement. It is for those who want to shape their retirement years to be the big finish. Enrolling in this course suggests that you are ready to learn what to do to get that “A” in retirement.

The course is scheduled to take eight weeks to complete, with a new lesson added each week. You will have access to all previous lessons as well as the current lesson until the course closes, usually 30 days after the last week. We know that “life happens” so there is a three month window to work on the 8-week course.

The classes listed below are specifically for University of Missouri employees.

If you are not a UM employee, there are classes available for you as well! Find more information on the How to Get an “A” in Retirement website.

Class info and registration

Group Start date End of 8 weeks Course closes Registration link
January 2019 January 8 February 26 March 31 Course full - please enroll in a later group
February 2019 February 5 March 26 April 30 Course full - please enroll in a later group
March 2019 March 5 April 23 May 31 Course full - please enroll in a later group
April 2019 April 2 May 28 June 30 Course is full and it is unlikely this course be offered again for the 2019 wellness incentive year.

How to earn 100 points for the 2019 Healthy for Life wellness incentive

To earn 100 points for the 2019 Healthy for Life wellness incentive, simply respond to two activities in each lesson (options include assessments, VoiceThread, discussion posts and journaling) and complete the final evaluation for the course. The primary incentive is that the lesson content and videos will provide valuable information that can make a huge, positive difference in your retirement years.

Is there a charge for the course?

Yes, but if you complete the class and the Healthy for Life wellness incentive you can double your money. The fee is $50 and is payable when you register. Completing the class gets you 100 points towards earning your wellness incentive dollars. That’s how you can double your money. Every person who completed the course in the pilot year indicated the course was well worth their time, effort and the cost. This course is for people ready to put their time, energy and resources into building well-being for retirement. This course is a commitment, but it has significant payoffs, too.

No specific class times or meetings to attend

Since it is all online, you can choose when and where you work on the class. As long as you have an Internet connection, you’re set to learn. You will determine how much time and effort you put into the class. But keep in mind that the more you put in, the higher the probability your retirement can meet or exceed your goals and dreams for that part of your life.

Bottom line – this class is about understanding the new normal for retirement, building on opportunities, solving problems and making informed decisions. Many decisions made during our working years have significant implications for our retirement years. It is never too early or too late to consider ways to address retirement goals and resource needs, even decades before retiring. In fact, the earlier you begin planning for retirement during your working years, the more the time value of money can work for you.

Lesson content

Module Financial well-being Well-being is more than money
1 Moving from Plan P to Plan I. The new normal for retirement. Positive psychology’s contribution
2 Your financial stats Positive emotions
3 Social security Engagement
4 Your pension plan
Taxing matters
5 Saving and investing Meaning
6 Estate planning Accomplishment
7 Insurance Forgiveness
8 The big finish
  • Sudden wealth
  • Suddenly single
  • Moving
  • Once a couch potato always a couch potato
  • Cognitive decline
  • And more!

Frequently asked questions

How often do I have to show up for class and where are classes held?
All eight lessons will be presented online, one lesson added each week, so you can choose when and where you work on the class (as long as you have an Internet connection). This is one of the benefits of the class design. Each lesson will take about two hours to read and study and to complete the two activities.

In order to get an “A” in retirement, it requires taking action beyond just reading and studying the information. There are valuable exercises and worksheets with most lessons that will help you make great progress with your retirement plans. The time needed to complete these optional (and important) information-gathering experiences will vary, depending on how well-informed you are about your financial life and your goals going into this course.

Why is this retirement planning class unique?
First, it is custom-tailored to University of Missouri faculty and staff on all four campuses and at the system level. It isn’t a one-size-fits-everyone class, but it is specifically for UM faculty and staff so that’s why we can be very specific about the various retirement plans.

Second, it is all about presenting you with unbiased, research- and evidence-based education about your retirement. There are no sales pitches here – and too often that’s what you get when someone offers retirement planning. You are safe to learn the principles and make your own decisions about what is right for you.

Third, it is a mistake to think that retirement planning is only about money. This class draws heavily from personal financial planning and from positive psychology to meld the research and present critical ideas about well-being in retirement and in the years leading to retirement. The course is groundbreaking in its approach to bringing together the two disciplines to boost well-being as you prepare for and embark on retirement.

Fourth, it is contemporary, cutting edge, up-to-date information. This class was written in 2017. It quickly moves past generalities to action solutions you can apply immediately for greater well-being.

We could go on and on…

So is it for people retiring in five years or less?
People near retirement will be the most motivated to register for a class on this topic, and we welcome them! There are strategies for late savers and great practices to make well-informed decisions about when and how to retire. However, faculty and staff who are early- and mid-career will actually get the most benefit from this class. Those who are planning early have the benefit of time for retirement resources to grow.

Just to clarify, even younger employees like myself (age 26) who are far away from retirement are welcome to come and learn right?
Not only are you welcome, but you can get the most out of it by beginning in your 20’s to plan. The best day to start planning for retirement is the first day of your first full-time job. You have the advantage of the time value of money to grow your retirement funds that people close to retirement won’t have. Yes, this class is for you!

Am I entirely on my own to work through the eight lessons?
No, you’ll have an instructor with 35 years of success in family financial education, IT support and your classmates to share ideas with and pose questions to. Your instructor reads every word of your posts and serves as a mentor with feedback for each module. The class is designed to be both high tech and high touch.

I’m totally NOT a fan of online classes so before I commit to this, how LONG is each of the lessons? What is the homework and the reading?
You’re right, online classes have both disadvantages and advantages. Too many are like laboriously reading a textbook online.

600 participants in 2017 and 2018 tell us that How to Get an “A” in Retirement is surprisingly engaging. Of course, each participant will form his or her own opinion and they may vary. Online classes are preferred by some busy professionals, but not all.

The lessons take, on average, about an hour to read and to view the videos and presentations. The time varies depending on the background the participant has in personal financial management. Time to post twice per lesson and to do the activities is beyond the hour. I would suggest planning on 2-3 hours to get the full benefit of each lesson.

What specifically can this class do for me and my retirement planning?
It depends on you, your circumstances, your goals and your motivation level but, matching positive actions with the content in this course, you can experience many of these outcomes:

  • Replace worry with action solutions that positively impact your finances in retirement and the years leading up to retirement.
  • Have clearer, more specific written goals for retirement. In addition to knowing what you are retiring from, you will know what you desire to retire to.
  • A larger net-worth available to fund retirement because you have saved more, saved longer and carefully invested your resources.
  • Mobilized catch-up strategies if you are a late saver.
  • Knowledge about the order in which you access retirement funds and the tax implications of income sources in retirement.
  • Knowledge about the key decision points for retirement and how to make informed decisions on such matters as whether to delay or accelerate retirement.
  • Stronger subjective measures of well-being including positive emotions, engagement, relationships, meaning and achievement.
  • Stronger objective measures of well-being including credit reports, net worth statements, income and spending figures.
  • Skills to take control of the variables in your retirement planning that you can control. You will also accept that there are variables you can’t control, but all aspects must be monitored and taken into consideration when planning.
  • Begin to give retirement planning the time and attention it merits.
  • Broaden and build on positive emotions.
  • Do more of what you do well and accept the fact you don’t have to lament not being able to do everything well.
  • Consider the meaning associated with different activities and focus on those activities that yield the most meaningful processes and outcomes.
  • Plan for and experience accomplishments throughout the lifecycle.
  • Understand why those earning an “A” in retirement will tend to work longer, save more and expect less.
  • Learn how/why to never stop learning about financial and psychological well-being.

Need more motivation to register? Check out the impressive stats from the 2018 Impact Report for this program.

Benefit-eligible faculty and staff completing this course between November 1, 2018 and September 30, 2019 will be awarded 100 wellness incentive points for the Healthy for Life wellness incentive program.

Still have questions? Contact the course developer:
Cynthia E. Crawford, Ed.S., Ph.D.
Extension Professor
Personal Financial Planning
Retirement Planning Education Project
Kellogg International Leadership Fellow