You’ve Saved Enough to Comfortably Retire. Now What?
A blog by Rich Rausser, CPC, QPA, QKA, Senior Vice President, Pentegra Retirement Services – January 12, 2016
A column that appeared in Forbes a few weeks ago caught my eye. The topic was a little out of the ordinary for that publication, and likewise is a bit unusual for us here at Pentegra … but is, I believe, worthy of consideration.
The Forbes headline – “Your Retirement Plan May Be Inside Out” – suggests that its subject is about how your retirement investment strategy might not be sound: You are not saving enough money, or putting your savings in the right investment vehicle, etc. However, what the article actually focuses on is what you will ultimately do with your life once you have entered your golden years.
It is something of a “can’t see the forest for the trees” scenario. By definition, retirement planning professionals are primarily concentrating on how to help their clients, and those clients’ employees, to develop a prudent savings strategy in order to achieve a comfortable retirement. We see people constantly striving to “hit their number,” searching for ideas on how to save that makes sense now as well as for the future.
But what happens afterward? Too often, it seems, there is too little focus on what that retirement experience will actually be like.
The general concept of “retiring” follows the basic dictionary definitions: to retreat from office, business, or active life; to withdraw from circulation. Sitting in the living room with your feet up, catching up with friends, finally tackling War and Peace; that has long been a popular perception of “retirement,” and it is certainly a valid option for many people. Others may elect to travel around the country and/or abroad, take up a hobby they have always wanted to try, perfect their golf swing, and so on.
Many others, however, need a mission in life – something to do to provide them with a sense of fulfillment that, minus their longtime occupation, is now missing. We have all heard stories about how a newly retired person is driving their spouse “crazy” by being home all the time. Not all of our silver-haired retirees work to supplement their income; many are simply looking to keep busy.
I urge everyone to think about what they expect their lives to look like once they have retired. Seeing, as they say, is believing. Do you plan to relocate to a warmer or colder climate? Do you want to downsize to a smaller home, move to an over-55 community, or maintain your current domicile as part of what you will leave for your heirs?
As for the day-to-day routine in retirement: Have you thought about teaching a class, or writing a book about your working life that can inspire others? Might you consider tutoring younger people? If you are good at sales, would a part-time retail job at a local store keep your interest? If you have long been interested in volunteer work but never had the time, what skills do you possess that can be favorably utilized in a pro bono capacity?
Boredom should never be an option – especially during retirement. “The two enemies of human happiness,” said the German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer, “are pain and boredom.”
By all means, let us all continue to carefully plan financially for retirement. But let us also plan mentally and emotionally. In that way, our golden years can truly be golden.
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