Work-Life Balance represented by image of a small seaside town on the southern coast of France

Re-thinking Retirement: A Work-Life Balance Alternative to Traditional Retirement

As a financial planner, I often engage my clients in discussions about what truly matters to them, especially when it comes to finding the balance between work and life at various stages of their lives and embracing the dynamic tension between the two.

Historically, people typically dedicated themselves to their careers until their mid-60s, then transitioned into full-time retirement, often relying on social security and a pension. However, with longer life expectancies and evolving work patterns over the last few decades, many have decided to semi-retire or work part-time instead of entirely stopping. This is smart financially and helps maintain purpose and connection with others.

Take Advantage of Remote Work Opportunities

My spin on this involves working full-time (which I truly love and need to do financially) but doing so remotely, in a location I adore, for an extended stay. This immerses me in its culture, lifestyle, and environment. Not only is life precious and fragile, but at 62, my time is NOW while I have energy, health, and mobility. It’s hard to believe that I will be better positioned to explore and travel as I get older. This approach may cause me to work longer to finance these trips, but that is a tradeoff I am willing to take, especially since I love my career and want to maintain a sense of meaning and keep my brain engaged as I age.

Work-life balance represented by image of a fancy French dinner

For me, that special place is the Mediterranean, particularly the seaside region of Southern France, which has immense beauty with crystal clear blue seas to swim and coastal mountains to hike. The local food and wine are delicious and healthy, with the Mediterranean diet often considered the best way to eat. The history and culture are inspiring with ancient, charming architecture and world-class art museums.

What’s appealing about this approach is the recognition that living abroad, and traveling can offer a refreshing perspective and changed attitude. While at home, typical days revolve around productivity and accomplishments, which are rewarding. However, living in a foreign country makes you more aware, curious, and contemplative. With today’s technology of laptops, Wi-Fi, and mobile phones, you can continue to work and collaborate without missing a beat, although time zone differences can be challenging. Fortunately, coffee and an early evening swim can help revive you.

For the past few years, my wife and I have been doing this, and after recently returning from Cassis, France, we are  genuinely committed to this philosophy and approach. Our trip planning is something we share and enjoy together. We often look for our next Airbnb on our return flight home.

The balance of working and living remotely in another country for a few months per year embodies this shift in mindset. It acknowledges that while productivity remains essential, the moments of reflection, cultural exploration, and learning during travel are vital and nourishing. It’s about blending work and life in a cherished place, where you get things done and savor the richness of life’s experiences and personal growth. It requires focus and shifting back and forth from exploring to working.

I welcome you to explore this fresh perspective on the evolving relationship between work and life. It’s a philosophy that resonates with those seeking to balance their financial needs with their personal passions. It encourages curiosity and embraces new experiences, providing fulfillment in the journey as we navigate the changing landscape of our professional lives. If this is a lifestyle that appeals to you, I would be happy to discuss your situation and how you can make this happen.

Lee Strongwater, Senior Financial Advisor
Senior Financial Advisor

An entrepreneur and world traveler, Colorado Capital Management vice president and co-owner Lee Strongwater brings a global perspective to investments and life planning.

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Jason Black, Financial Advisor (CFP)

Jason Black, CFP ®

With a drive to live purposefully and passionately, Jason focuses on helping clients to live in abundance.

Jason is a partner and senior advisor at Colorado Capital Management.  He brings more than 15 years of varied experience working in the financial services industry. He joined CCM after a long search to find the perfect firm that aligned well with his values and mission. Jason is passionate about helping individuals and families live abundant and intentional lives. He is proud to be part of a Certified B Corporation, doing meaningful financial and investment planning for clients, while also focusing on socially responsible business practices and making a positive impact. As a Chartered SRI CounselorSM, Jason has a strong background and keen interest in sustainable investing and enjoys helping clients understand the merits of this approach. Jason is also a Certified Financial Planner™ and has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Colorado. 

Before joining CCM, Jason worked with Jackson National as a consultant for financial advisors. He helped create meaningful connections with families, creative asset allocation strategies, and tax-advantaged retirement-income solutions. During his tenure there he worked with over four thousand financial advisors across the country, was recognized multiple times as consultant of the year, and also managed a team of twenty-five individuals. 

Jason is happily married to his wife, Bridget, of thirteen years, who he met while in college at CU. Together they have a son and daughter, and a Frenchie named Coco Disco. They live in the Whisper Creek neighborhood of Arvada. When Jason is not at work, he and his  family can often be found making turns in Summit County, wakesurfing in Glendo, WY, cooking, dancing and traveling.

Erica Loughrey, Associate Financial Advisor

Erica Loughrey

Erica is passionate about providing purposeful advice to help clients enjoy a meaningful life.

Erica is an advisor at CCM. She joined the firm in 2021, fulfilling her desire to work for a values-based company with a deep commitment to making an impact. She moved from her hometown of Anchorage, Alaska and quickly fell in love with the sunny and beautiful state of Colorado. She brought with her prior experience as a para-planner and is delighted to be engaged in a profession that empowers individuals to flourish financially. She believes strongly in exceptional client service and creating lifelong generational relationships.

In 2022, she accomplished two of her major career goals, finishing her master’s degree in financial planning (MSFP) and earning her Certified Financial Planner™ designation.

Erica enjoys spending time outdoors and traveling to exotic locales. In her free time, you can find her out skiing, hiking, scuba diving, practicing yoga or jetting off to new places to explore. She has a never-ending list of travel plans, having already visited over 20 countries, and feels lucky to have so many wonderful opportunities and adventures.

Lee Strongwater, Senior Financial Advisor

Lee Strongwater, WMS

An entrepreneur and world traveler, Colorado Capital Management vice president and co-owner Lee Strongwater brings a global perspective to investments and life planning.

For more than 15 years, Lee has passionately assisted clients with their financial planning and portfolio management needs. He especially enjoys helping them live more meaningful lives and invest in ways that are aligned with their values. Lee holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Colorado and a master’s degree in international affairs from Columbia University. He also holds the Wealth Management Specialist (WMS) certification.

Before joining Colorado Capital Management, Lee was a managing partner at Strongwater-Schott, a fee-only investment management and financial planning firm in Denver. Prior to that, he was an entrepreneur who helped start and manage several small firms, including a children’s product company that went public in 2007.

Lee is an active volunteer for several organizations. He is a past President and current member of the Board of Directors for the Boulder Jewish Community Center, an organization that is highly respected on both a local and national level. Lee is also on the Investment Committee of Girl Rising-Global Education, a venture philanthropy fund that invests in social entrepreneurs with culturally-relevant ideas. The fund’s investments promote gender equality and improve educational outcomes for girls and boys living in poverty in Kenya and India.

Lee is married and has two daughters. He enjoys hiking, skiing, traveling—mostly to Mediterranean countries—and trying out new recipes from his journeys. When he’s not on the go you can find him engrossed in a book.

Steve Ellis, Senior Financial Advisor

Steven Ellis, CFA

Steve Ellis has spent his career making an impact, so it’s not surprising that Colorado Capital Management’s founder and president launched the firm’s entry into impact investing.

He brings over 30 years of experience as a financial advisor to high net worth clients. His early work included teaching college courses in accounting and finance, consulting for a major accounting firm, and researching and acquiring investments as the chief due diligence officer of a leading national financial planning firm. Since 1989, he has advised individual and institutional investors on the management of their wealth. Steve is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), holds a business degree from the University of Colorado, magna cum laude, and a master’s degree from Cornell University.

Steve launched the firm’s entry into impact investing in 2012 and is committed to helping build the field. Steve is a passionate speaker on the topic. He has taught about impact investing at various conferences and classes around the country, including as a past faculty member at Middlebury Institute of International Studies. He is listed in the Who’s Who in Impact Investing.

Steve is married, with two daughters, enjoys hiking, biking, skiing, tennis and bridge, and is actively involved in the community. He has served on numerous boards and committees for a wide array of nonprofit organizations, including the Boulder JCC, Rose Community Foundation, Jewish Family Service, and Friendship Bridge. His passion for impact and community service helped lead Colorado Capital Management to become a Certified B Corporation and to build a strong culture of volunteerism and philanthropy.