His name was Michael. He was one of my clients, and he told me a story I will never forget.

Michael got a call from his favorite aunt who needed him to cut her grass. He was more than willing to help; she had always been special to him. She was one of those people who dedicated her life to helping others.

He got up early on Saturday and loaded up his mower into his truck. His aunt was going to attend a function at church, and after they chatted for a while, her ride came and she was on her way. Michael went to work on the yard.

A couple of hours into the job, Michael decided to stop and eat. However, he had been in a rush that morning, and he had forgotten to pack his lunch. So, sweaty and hungry, he thought he’d just go find something to eat in his aunt’s kitchen. No big deal, right?

Michael opened the fridge, but all he saw was some out-of-date milk and a bottle of ketchup. He moved over to the cabinets but only found the dishes and cups. Finally, he checked the cupboard. That’s when his heart sank. The cupboard was completely empty—except for seven cans of dog food.

Michael paused. He looked me square in my eyes and his voice began to shake. He said the words I will never forget:

“Chris, my aunt doesn’t own a dog.”

The air left the room. Tears filled our eyes. Michael saw something that he could not “unsee.” I had just heard something that I could never “unhear.” I would never be able to erase it from my memory. This amazing woman, who had spent so many decades taking care of other people, was eating dog food. It was the most nutritious “food” she could afford.

That story has stuck with me all these years. It drives me to help people, and when I think of it I want to scream, “THAT’S NOT OKAY!”

I want you to remember this story because I don’t want you to end up there. It is not okay for anyone to end up there. But, I want you to do far more than that. I want you to aspire to a great retirement. I want you to live your dream.

In order to get down to the business of dreaming, we must begin to look at retirement in a different way. I want you to replace those old, tired, and depressing ideas attached to the word retirement with the truth: retirement is a new chapter, not the end of the book! It is some of your best years, it brings new opportunities, and it is about your legacy. It should mean wealth, peace, fun, satisfaction, security, and freedom! Retirement shouldn’t be defined any longer as an “old person thing.” You don’t want to wait until the last few paragraphs of your life story to live out your dreams. Retirement should be viewed as a “smart person thing.” Retirement is a “focused person thing.” It is the result of having a plan and making sacrifices to get there. And you can have that dream retirement—if you’re willing to work for it beginning today!

Listen to the Retire Inspired podcast to help you stay motivated!


  • Susan Bowman

    Heard you today at Newspring and wanted to tell you how encouraging your message was. My husband and I are at retirement age and are inspired to see the next chapter of our lives! Thanks for sharing.

  • Michael Hohler

    I love your POD cast. Your style and humor has made it so much easier for my wife and I to start having conversations about budgeting and saving for retirement.

  • Joseph Lavoie

    That story both brought me to tears and woke me up like a double expresso awake on my situation. So many rely on the Government but since when has the government been the answer.

  • ChrisT

    Agree with J Lavoie – this story is heartbreaking. It is not unique – my MIL is one step away from living on Social Security (other income is older, ailing ex-spouse’s pension; no savings), and she rents. It’s a really hard conversation in our household (my spouse and I): trying to plan for the worst, when we probably will not be able to help “enough” to fix the situation. Bottom line: it is not a good situation for anyone. We’re saving like crazy to be more secure ourselves.

  • Homemade Ginger

    This story isn’t like Aesop’s fable about the ants and the grasshopper, this is real life and horribly sad. The book Retire Inspired by Chris Hogan was a brilliant read to follow up Financial Peace University and the Total Money Makeover. I love the “Coach Hogan” mentality and the compassion and heart of a teacher that he has to want everybody to win! I’m living like nobody else but luckily I am a Texan and rice and beans are always on the menu anyway 😉 Thank you for your inspiration Mr. Hogan and your encouragement to reach my retirement dreams!

  • Stevef68

    I saw Chris tell this story live at a Smart Conference. You can see the emotion on Chris’ face and almost see the tears in his eyes to this day. Chris Hogan is SERIOUS about this retirement stuff! He is amazing to see in person. If you have the chance to see him live, DO IT!

  • Mary Panzer

    Chris, thank you so much for you passion and your ability to communicate. With all us baby boomers hitting retirement, this is certainly a wakeup call. Also, the suicide rate of our same demographic (especially Caucasians) speaks to this as well. And, we are also the first retirees to be still shouldering college debt, either for ourselves or others. It is much worse that just “living on SS” we are in debt up to our eyeballs and don’t see a way out.

    • Lucy Meowman

      ?????? what are you talking about?

  • Hello, I received an invitation to join Hogan’s Retirement Challenge, I sent a request but it seems like my request didn’t go through and I was blocked, because it’s saying now that “The link you followed may have expired, or the page may only be visible to an audience you’re not in.”

    My facebook account is empty and I use it only for groups and pages

  • Pingback: Retire Inspired | Jason Tesch()

  • Garrison

    i have seen a video of chris talking about this story but i can’t find it anywhere can anyone help me find it i want to show it to some of my family

  • Joan

    I wish I had found out about David Ramsey and you when I was in my 20s. Instead of being a “Financial Peace Baby”, I am a “Financial Peace Mother”. My hubby and me are both 55. We have done everything EXCEPT save for retirement. We are debt free except the house and have a plan to pay that off in the next 18 months. We have a fully funded emergency fund and then some. We go on vacations every year, paid cash for a low-mileage lender BMW, and the children who wanted to go to college went. Only one of them has Student Loans – it was her and her husband how introduced us to DR and the team. Looking forward to what is ahead!

    • Mary Janke

      I agree with you Joan! The 31 year old me is just now getting serious about retirement funds, and that only started because of my husband. Wish I would have found Dave and Chris sooner, but so happy my husband got me on board and I know about them now.

  • Adena Delaney

    I’m excited to keep motivation towards healthy choices. We always tried to live out of debt, but the world makes it so easy when you have a need, like a normal trip to the dentist ends up in two children need braces! Now, through sacrifice and commitment, we are debt free except for our house, kids college paid in full (with their help because they need buy in), retirement going, and we are looking ahead to retirement.

    My question today is : How do you create a budget for retirement? We are both about 45 and we are trying to figure out what a monthly budget, with yearly expenses, would actually be? Health care costs after you are no longer employed is a HUGE question mark for us. What advice do you have for us to figure out a probable budget? Pretend we are living in the home we are living in now with those expenses? Add “?” for health care? Thanks for any advice! 🙂

  • Kathy W

    Please talk to specifically to baby boomers in one of your podcasts, (60+) – we could use some motivational tips as we work hard to catch up in the last stretch! Love your enthursiasm, thanks Chris!