How to Get an "A" In Retirement - May 2019

  • Date: April 30, 2019 - Aug. 1, 2019
  • Format: online

"Eye-opening" is the most frequent comment we get from nearly 1,000 participants that have enrolled in How to get an "A" in retirement. Participants describe it as "wildly beneficial" and "surprising engaging." It is written specifically for people that aren’t sure they are financially and psychologically for retirement and don’t want to read a college textbook, but rather feel like they are visiting with a trusted mentor over coffee. It is delivered all online with no specific dates and times to meet so it can fit in your busy schedule. The course is ground-breaking in the way it combines both personal financial planning and positive psychology research and best practices. There are 8 modules, released one per week, with a month of catch-up time (if needed) after the last module. This course is for people that don’t want an average retirement, but instead, want one that is a match for their goals and dreams.

Wellness incentives

A special welcome to City of Columbia and City of Kansas City employees. You are in the right place to register for your wellness incentive program. Please be sure to use the registration code provided by your employer.

If you are a University of Missouri employee, it is possible to enroll for tier 2 wellness incentive points through this course. Please make arrangements early in the course with course author Cynthia Crawford to be eligible for points.


How to Get an "A" in  Retirement


Course Description

The online course How to get an "A" in retirement is for people that do not want an average retirement and know they need to actively get started on a retirement plan or fine-tune one they have started.  The prospect of retiring, whether it is 30 years away or just months away, is exciting to consider.  Hope for the best is not a retirement plan.  This series of modules will help participants build a retirement plan by determining what they are retiring to, when retirement may be feasible, how to diversify funding for retirement, and how to build well-being in retirement by increasing well-being now.

It is all about taking action

This course is for people who are ready to replace wondering and worrying about retirement with action solutions.  If that describes you, it is time to get started on How to get an “A” in retirement.  This course doesn't stop with learning - it takes quality, unbiased knowledge a step further by helping participants put plans in place.

This award-winning course is ground-breaking in the way it combines both research and best practices from personal financial planning and positive psychology.  It has already helped hundreds of participants take a quantum leap from worrying about being ready for retirement to taking positive actions that will increase well-being in retirement (and also for the remainder of their working years.)

University Extension's role is providing unbiased, research-based education that has a track record of success.  Participants are safe to learn - there are no sales pitches here.  Participants are not asked to reveal personal financial information to the instructor. However, they are encouraged to organize and evaluate their financial life so they can make better-informed decisions today and be more prepared for the last chapters of their lives.  The course doesn't stop there, though.  Well-being is more than money, and the course draws from positive psychology to help participants build positive emotions, engagement, relationships, meaning and accomplishments into retirement plans.

Course Outcomes

As a result of work in "How to get an "A" in retirement, participants build on strengths and implement actions solutions to reach retirement goals that address both financial and positive psychological well-being in retirement, and the years leading to retirement.  Course evaluations show that participants successfully:

  • Reduce worry by implementing course action solutions that positively impact finances
  • Have clearer and more specific written goals for retirement. 
  • Take action to have more resources available to support retirement.
  • Strategically analyze the timing of retirement based on more informed decision making.
  • Self-assess their current levels of well-being. 
  • Mobilize to positively influence retirement planning details within their control.
  • Monitor and consider retirement planning variables beyond their control.
  • Allocate more time and attention to preparing for retirement
  • Have a more open mindset to scenarios thinking for retirement planning.
  • Broaden and build on positive emotions, engagement, relationships, meaning, accomplishments, forgiveness, and gratitude.
  • Understand why many people need to work longer, save more and expect less as part of retirement planning.

Course Organization

This course recognizes participants are busy people

That is one reason it is designed to be a "one-stop shop" for retirement planning education.  The eight modules will be released on Tuesdays, one per week for eight weeks.  Since the course is online, participants have access 24 hours a day, seven days a week during the course.  There are no specific times or dates participants have to be online for class - participants determine your learning schedule.  On average, people spend about an hour reading each module and then one or two additional hours applying the content to their situation.

It is possible to complete the course in eight weeks.  There is a month of catch-up time, if "life happens" after the last module is released.   The course will close about three months after the start date, and participants will not have access to the content after that date.  We know it is important that course participation times be flexible for working adults.

On the other hand, this course also recognizes if participants wait until they have plenty of time, plenty of money and it is convenient to do retirement planning, it won't happen.  This course will work to motivate to move participants forward and avoid procrastinating. Participants need to expect a number of friendly nudges to take action on a number of positive planning steps even before completing the course.

Specifically, what is covered in this course?

There are many facets to retirement planning - some are topics participants anticipate, others may be a surprise.


Financial well-being

Well-being is more than money

Week 1

Moving from Plan P to Plan I. 

The new normal for retirement

Positive psychology’s

Week 2

Your financial stats

Positive emotions

Week 3

Social Security


Week 4

Your pension plan. Taxing matters


Week 5

Saving and investing


Week 6

Estate planning


Week 7



Week 8

The big finish

    • Sudden Wealth
    • Suddenly Single
    • Moving?
    • Once a couch potato always a couch potato?
    • Cognitive decline
    • Digital assets
    • And more!



Your Instructor

Meet the course author and instructor


Dr. Cynthia Crawford
Course author and instructor
Extension Professor

Preferred contact is email at
Office telephone 660-815-2124.  Office hours - generally 8-4:30 on academic business days.
Scheduled confidential Zoom sessions are also possible

Dr. Crawford's goal is to respond to the participant's communications within 1 business day.  Occasionally this isn't possible because of other work demands or travel.  100% of people that have already taken the course indicate she is attentive and encouraging.

Once enrolled, course messaging or journal posts are also effective means of communication

Instructor Background

Dr. Cynthia Crawford is a University of Missouri Extension professor and state specialist bringing leadership to a retirement planning education project that reaches out to 30,000 University of Missouri faculty and staff on four campuses as well as adults beyond campus.

She has reached over 300 million people via the radio with financial management education and has presented 3500 face-to-face workshops and classes on financial education, leadership, management and donor education to over 200,000 individuals. 

In more than 30 years of educational efforts, she has driven 500,000 miles, traveled all across the United States and around the world as a W.K. Kellogg International Leadership Fellow.    She loves to travel and claims she can be packed and ready to start a trip in 30 minutes. 

Degrees include an undergraduate education degree from Truman State – Kirksville.  Also, a master’s, educational specialist and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Missouri – Columbia.  She models life-long learning and is currently studying positive psychology.

Cynthia and her husband Robert, a retired attorney, have been married over 40 years and have a daughter that is a money laundering detection expert and a son that is a nuclear medicine technologist. They love having a grandchild.

She is a University of Missouri Extension professor, a scholar, an entrepreneur and business owner, radio personality, researcher and problem solver, Mizzou sports fan, international traveler, cattle rancher, and tree farmer.  


There are weekly announcements sent by your instructor, multiple posts each module from your classmates and feedback each module from your instructor/mentor.

Textbook and Reading Materials

No textbook or supplement reading materials are required for this course.  All content for How to get an "A" in Retirement is provided within the course and via links to carefully selected online information.  

Assessments and Grading

What about assignments, quizzes, and tests?

There aren't any that you will turn in.  There are no grades assigned by the instructor, either. 

The course is all about participants reaching their goals for enrolling.  Fortunately 100% of people that have completed How to get an "A" in retirement report they reached their goals and more.  One-hundred percent also recommend this course to you.

Participants are encouraged to do all the recommended activities and self-assessments in every module, however, ultimately it is up to the participant what information they focus on and what activities are important to them to tackle.  How to get an "A" in retirement is about applying the course knowledge to the participant's retirement planning process.  

Course Completion

As adult learners in a non-credit course, participants can choose their level of participation and focus.  Most participants choose to do all the posts and activities, realizing that those who do the most learn the most.

The instructor considers a module successfully completed if there are two or more completion checks in the module.  Most modules have between three and five posts and activities.

A certification of completion is available for participants to print at the successful conclusion of the course.

Additional Course Resources

Within the course content, there are links to supplemental materials for the highly motivated learner and also options for additional programs of study.


If you anticipate barriers related to the format or requirements of this course, or if disability-related accommodations are necessary (for example, materials in an alternate format), please contact Customer Support


Your instructor and all participants need to foster a safe online learning environment that reflects the values of the University of Missouri. University key values are:

1.  Respect.  In this course, respect is demonstrated by a commitment to act ethically, to welcome difference, and to engage in an open exchange about both ideas and decisions.

2. Responsibility.  Being responsible imposes the duty on each of us to make decisions by acknowledging the context and considering consequences, both intended and unintended, of any course of action.

3. Discovery.  Learning requires trust in the process of discovery.  This course works to support participants in a lifelong learning process that is both challenging and rewarding.

4.  Excellence.  Excellence in How to get an "A" in retirement is approached through diligent effort.  Excellence takes sacrifice, risks, and responsibility.  

Our differences, some of which are outlined in the University of Missouri's nondiscrimination statement, will add richness to this learning experience. Please consider that sarcasm and humor can be misconstrued in online interactions and generate unintended disruptions. Working as a community of learners, we can build a polite and respectful course atmosphere. The instructor reserves the right to delete any forum posts or blog entries deemed to be inappropriate for the course.

(Adapted from Online Teaching Foundations)

 Collaborative Acknowledgments 

Under the auspices of Associate Dean of Human Environmental Sciences Extension Dr. Jo Britt-Rankin, Instructional Designer Briana Johnson and Course Author Cynthia Crawford collaborated for the better part of a year to write and format research and best practices from personal financial planning and positive psychology to create How to get an "A" in retirement.

The administrative vision and leadership for this project started with Dr. Tom Henderson and Dr. Jo Britt-Rankin.  Their investment, direction, and encouragement were critical to the success of this work.

  • Dr. Deanna Sharpe, Mizzou Personal Financial Planning professor, volunteered to edit the entire series of lessons and to serve as a peer reviewer.  Her service to this project is deeply appreciated.

  • Corey Elfrink, Mizzou Positive Psychology faculty,  was instrumental in peer reviewing and providing significant feedback in all of the topics related to positive psychology. Particularly since the link between personal financial planning and positive psychology is just beginning to be explored, his insights were critical.

These external reviewers made important contributions:

    • Kathy Connett, journalist 
    • Beth Hanes, executive assistant
    • Pat McGinnis, executive assistant
    • Dr. Barbara O'Neill, Rutgers Cooperative Extension
    • Lea Satterfield, financial industry, Los Angeles  
    • Joel Schumacher, Montana State University Extension

Content consultants from the University of Missouri include colleagues:

  • Marsha Alexander-Selecting and rehabbing housing for retirement
  • Dr. Vivian Anderson-Suddenly single and sudden wealth
  • Dr. Carole Bozworth-Making Money Count curriculum
  • Kelli Hathman-Healthy for Life program
  • Renetta Gallup-University pension plans and University insurance
  • Suzanne Gellman-Making Money Count curriculum
  • Janet LaFon-Insurance, estate planning, and the Making Money Count curriculum
  • Dr. Graham McCaulley-Affordable Care Act
  • Jennifer Oetting-Healthy for Life program
  • Marco Pantoja-Financial forms
  • Brenda Procter-Affordable Care Act
  • Tamra Robbins-Federal pension plans
  • Dedra Thomas-Social Security
  • Andrew Zumwalt-Tax, health savings accounts, funding and access order for investments
  • Jessica Gordon-MU Extension Canvas Curriculum and Project Support Team Coordinator 


Copyright 2019 by Cynthia Crawford and the collective works by the Curators of the University of Missouri.  All rights reserved.  No part of this online course may be reproduced or distributed in any form or by any means, including, but not limited to, the process of screenshots and printing without prior written permission from the University of Missouri and the course developer Cynthia Crawford.  Certainly, class enrollees are encouraged to use all class materials for their personal use and their own learning process.

Technical Requirements

Participants that have never taken an online course before tend to be concerned

Over half of people enrolling are experiencing their first online course, and they are successful.  If a person can navigate the online registration process, has access to computer equipment with reasonably up-to-date software that navigates the internet, and they routinely send and receive emails, then the person can be successful.

Don't suffer in silence with technology issues.  Support is available throughout the course by emailing:

For the best user experience, we recommend using Google Chrome as your browser.  It is available for free download.

You can find more information on the technical requirements on the Canvas website.

For technical questions or issues, please contact  Customer Support.

Use Tab key to loop through the section bellow. Press Enter or Space to enter content for each tab button. Press Esc key to exit and to go to the next section at any time.

Related resources