“There’s often a combination of excitement and anxiety as people approach retirement. The excitement comes from having more free time, but the anxiety comes from figuring out how much can I afford to spend? And, what will I do with all that time?” (Chris Geczy, Wharton School of UPENN)
We’re revisiting retirement/next stage/new career/time to play/whatever you want to call this time because as the months pass, more people face it, whether happily or with a strong dose of trepidation. And, the traffic of baby boomers readying themselves for the runway shows no sign of ending, with nearly 10 more years of boomers in the approach.
A boomer retiring from full-time work at the age of 65 today will likely live another 20 to 30 years, says Kevin Reardon, of Shakespeare Wealth Management. That’s a lot of years, a lot of life! And, as we approach that time, it’s important we plan for this next part of our life. For many boomers, the best time to think about what we want to do next is while we are still working. Whether that works for you, as with any changes in life, thinking ahead equals a head start.
How would I like to spend the 40 plus hours per week I now spend working? What do I like about my job? Is there another career I may find interesting? Are there volunteer opportunities I’ve considered but haven’t had time for? Are there hobbies I’ve shelved? How will I stay engaged and productive? If I want to spend more time with my family, what will that look like?
Almost all the high school friends we talked with in the previous post had planned for their eventual retirement. Twists and turns may have affected outcomes but still, they realized the need to consider how to traverse the next part of their life before it arrived.
Can you imagine the next stage of your life? Are you actively researching your options?
Would you consider a phased retirement, which may help you plan your transition to your next act? Would contract work appeal to you? Is a gap year part of your planning?
Lots of us feel we lose our identity and social interactions when we leave work. What is that replacement plan?
So many questions. But important ones.
Plan. Plan. Plan.
(You’ll find a variety of helpful assessment resources at the end of this post).
But there’s more.
How do we determine whether we have enough money to do what we want? Or enough to live as we want?
According to the latest Retirement Confidence Survey from the Employee Research Institute, Americans’ faith in their ability to retire comfortably is quite low: nearly a quarter say they are not at all confident they will have enough (money) to be comfortable.
In fact, many of us have deep-seated worries about having enough money to maintain our lifestyle in retirement. The latest household survey conducted by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve found that slightly over 30% of us have no retirement savings or pension at all.
An encore career, a job that blends continued income, personal meaning and often involves some element of social impact, is an option many boomers consider. (Research conducted on behalf of Encore.org and the MetLife Foundation suggests as many as nine million boomers are engaged in post-retirement careers and another 31 million anticipate beginning an encore career).
We have options. Let’s make ourselves aware of them.
Here are a few updates from more of my high school friends who’ve retired:
Art planned for his retirement for a long time. But what drove his decision to “hang it up” were: 1) his wife’s health, and 2) he was “burned out.” A self-professed workaholic, Art now enjoys spending time at home with his wife (who is doing well) and their two dogs; he enjoys playing golf; he is a licensed private pilot and also enjoys flying radio-controlled aircraft. He has consulted on several projects.
Mimi says “retirement is fantastic! We travel a lot to see our kids and friends. We don’t make a lot of plans as it seems we’re always busy.” Mimi adds “We worked hard and saved our money; we feel very fortunate to have had the opportunities we’ve had. We are pretty content!”
John serves on several public service agency boards, including mental health and developmental disabilities. He practices Zen Buddhism, runs a local cemetery, plays as much golf as he can, volunteers, reads, and enjoys spending time with his family. Learning all he could about pension and retirement options helps John live a comfortable retirement.
Janice intends to enjoy this time of life, knowing she has to stay actively engaged in her health to do that. With their pensions, 401ks, savings, etc., Janice’s husband golfs and she has a horse she does low level show jumping with; they do projects around their home, and love to travel. “Life’s good!”
Sandy enjoys her family, friends, and life! She and her husband’s plans for retirement included building a new home. Sandy was ready to retire! Among their plans was travel, which they love!
Rusty and his wife planned to retire early. He says they traveled so much with work they missed their now 13-year-old granddaughter growing up. “When we got new ones we decided the time was right.” He says it does cost more per month than one might think when factoring in insurance, taxes, maintenance, and groceries. At the time of our conversation, Rusty was at the Las Vegas airport and noted: “luckily winning here was not in our retirement plan.”
Barb hadn’t planned to retire. Having worked for smaller businesses, benefits were rare, 401ks non-existent, and she admits to not being a “forward thinking money manager.” When she was let go from a recent job, much conversation between Barb and her husband led her to retirement. “I think it’s most important to know how to spend your time with hobbies, interests and volunteering. I’m in the process of figuring that out.”
Mike tried a year of retirement, found he missed the action too much, and returned to work. He is doing what he retired from. Mike says it was a struggle to use up his vacation and personal holidays each year, and he couldn’t imagine what he would do with 365 days. He travels a fair amount and his wife often accompanies him on business trips “I love my lifestyle and if my health holds out I may never retire!”
Dennis said he’d go back to work if it was something he was passionate about. His recent Facebook post, with a smiling photo taken in a broadcast studio, shared the comment: “Here I am at my new part-time job as a promotions assistant!” Dennis was retired for a little over a year from his IT job at the Department of Corrections. he finished some long overdue projects and traveled. Dennis had previously worked in broadcasting and says “it’s so interesting and really great to be working in broadcasting again after 17 years!”
Whether you are uncertain about how you will spend your time, or whether you’ll have enough money, or whether you’re ready to try something new like several of my classmates, there are many online and other resources to help you shape your thinking and your future.
We have options.
Whenever. Whatever. We. Choose.
Here are several retirement assessment and other related resources you may find helpful in your planning:
ICMA>documents>your-retirement (retirement readiness assessment)
Social Security Administration
(Please leave your comments or questions!)