Why Financial Security Is Not Enough

Many are convinced the secret to a successful retirement is saving enough money to build a sufficient nest egg that can subsidize life as a happy retiree. Financial pundits, self-assured magazine writers and industry wise bloggers tout the importance of getting to that right number to make your retirement dreams come true. If you save enough it will come. Although we can agree that money is an important ingredient, I fear this tunnel vision obsession is a mistake. Rather than guarantee that perfect retirement, it fails to address an equally important piece of the puzzle.

It’s not always easy to get a handle on living the retired life that is a best fit for you. Since the lifestyle you choose and situation you live is unique to you there is no formula or one size fits all solution to assure effective planning. It is up to each of us to do our due diligence and work through the specifics in hopes of coming to the best possible scenario that corresponds to our unique interests, passions and requirements. Enough money addresses part of the equation – agreed. But how do you prepare for the rest? What can you do to better assure you live a fulfilling and interesting and meaningful second act?

A reader of my blogs shares the challenge he faces doing his best to get ready for his nearing retirement: The interesting thing I’ve uncovered in my research is over 90% of the material out these is related to the financial aspects of retirement. Almost none of it deals with the soft issues, your emotions, expectations, and happiness in retirement. I take every opportunity to chat with retired folks to see how they are doing and get their advice and opinions.

Money is not the final answer. It can be a mistake to assume that once you have enough in the old bank account your retirement preparation is complete. There is so much more toHundertwasser Houses consider. What will you do to bring meaning to your daily life? How will you cope with the challenges that come with aging? What will you do to take care of yourself physically? How can you keep mentally sharp and engaged with life? What are your plans to integrate your new 24/7 life with your partner? Do you have enough hobbies and interests and passions for the coming decades?

I believe it is possible that having what you believe is a sufficient amount of money to live your second life might even lull you into a false sense of security. Let’s say you have enough to pay the bills and do what you want – excellent! That is a good start. You have the money and you have the time and for the first year or so you will probably stay blissfully engaged. Attack that to-do list, visit those faraway places you have patiently collected information in your bulging travel folder, spend time with your neglected hobbies, and just chill in the backyard. But what comes next? After the honeymoon period comes to an end and you stare down the road at 20 or 30 more years to entertain yourself, what is the plan?

The sooner we start planning the non-financial side of retirement, the better our chance to realize the life we have hoped for. One reader of my blogs comments: I am starting my retirement adventure on January 1st. It is clear that although I have financially planned for my retirement, I have not accounted for what I want to do. That is the challenge I am facing now. I just started researching the subject today and started a list of all the things that I can think of. I am up to 32!

It is wonderful to realize the importance of finding those “what to do” activities. But it is a bit scary the search has not started much earlier. If you are going to spend 20 years in retired living, shouldn’t you put in a proportionate amount of preparation? It is a mistake to put more time and effort into preparing for a two week vacation than into a two decade retirement. Don’t just hope for the best take action to make it so. I have been retired for one year and need some guidance on how to put passion into my retirement life’s goals and dreams. I’m floundering and didn’t realize I needed to plan for my new acquired uncommitted time.

Having enough money does not guarantee the retirement we want and hope for. Too much focus on finances can be a big part of people’s unhappiness. Living a happy retirement requires a balance between money and those equally important non-financial aspects of daily life. Take care of the essentials, but realize there is so much more to living happy. Remember time is like a coin – you can spend it any way you want but you can only spend it once. Enjoy…

This entry was posted in Inspiration, Money Matters, Retirement, Senior Lifestyle and tagged by LoveBeingRetired. Bookmark the permalink.

About LoveBeingRetired

Dave Bernard is a California born and raised author and blogger with an extensive 30 year career in Silicon Valley. He has written more than 300 blogs for US News & World On Retirement and his personal blog Retirement – Only the Beginning. He has authored three books: "Are you just existing and calling it a life?"; "I want to retire! Essential Considerations for the Retiree to Be"; and " Navigating the Retirement Jungle". Dave was also a contributing writer for the books 65 Things to do when you Retire (“Positive Aging – Old is the New Young”) as well as 65 Things to do when you Retire – TRAVEL (“Travel to Discover your Family Heritage”). He lives in sunny California with his wife, his Boston Terrier "Frank" and a passion for the San Jose Sharks.

10 thoughts on “Why Financial Security Is Not Enough

  1. I have prepared for retirement for about 5 years now. I will retire October 31, 2015, and moving. I have spent time over the past 9 years at the town where I will be moving. I now have friends there at church – even tho’ I’m only there 3-4 times a year; and I have friends at a hobby shop that I frequent while there, and that I keep in touch with on Facebook. I’m looking forward to taking classes in my hobby, and I’ve found another hobby that interests me.

    I’m still deciding what my “mission” area at church will be, but I haven’t spent enough time with all their activities/committees to determine that. It will be something I will explore once I get moved.

    I’m very excited about retiring. The money issue is resolved; my financial advisor tells me (and shows me) how my money is distributed and how it will benefit me in retirement. I’m excited!

    • Congratulations Nancy – it sounds like you are in for a wonderful journey! Moving to a new place that you have staked out ahead of time adds to the excitement. And it sounds like you have a good collection of hobbies and interests to pursue. Good luck and enjoy!

  2. I am so enjoying these blogs/articles!! My husband and I are counting down to retirement life in 8 months. We’re headed to Florida, closed on our newly built dream home, in a gated community with amenities we are hoping to enjoy for years to come. I have a list of interests to resurrect that have gone to the wayside all these years I’ve been working and can’t wait to reconnect with those hobbies!! We’re looking forward to our own time, our own days and just relaxing! It will be interesting to see how our new journey evolves but we’re excited and enthusiastic!

    • Margie you should be excited! It will be fun to revisit those forgotten hobbies and potentially add some new ones along the way. Congratulations on the new digs and best wishes on your soon to begin retirement life. 🙂

  3. Hi Dave! This is an excellent article with great advise. I hope lots of people facing retirement find it and read it because as you say, “people often spend more time planning a 2 week vacation that they do a 2 decade long retirement!” Hopefully enough people begin to realize that retirement (just like life itself) is so much more than about the money. ~Kathy

    • Thanks Kathy – you and I have been on the same page regarding the importance of more than money in retirement. As in the rest of life, a little balance goes a long way.

  4. Please blog about those of us who are retired (the baby boomer generation) and full-time caretakers for a very elderly parent. I have found retirement to be more scheduled and stressful than when I worked 30+ years and raised a family. All well and good to say, “Take time for yourself.” but when one can’t leave a parent even in the capable care of another for a few hours without greatly upsetting that parent it becomes an unrealistic statement. Thank you so much.

    • Hi Nancy and thank you for your comment. The topic you mention is an important one which I have not addressed before. The all consuming challenge you describe is not an easy one and as you say, any discussion of taking time for yourself may be unrealistic. Let me see what I can come up.

  5. Hi Dave, Excellent advice! So many of us defined ourselves for many years by our professions–I am a teacher, I am a doctor, etc. After retiring, some of my friends feel adrift because they no longer identify with a specific role. My colleagues and I at BoomerTECH Adventures have started using the word “re-purposed” rather than retired. Every year of being re-purposed has brought new adventures and actually time to think and reflect about life and its surprises. Enjoy your posts! Thanks.

    • Thanks Jill. I like the re-purposed point of view. It looks like your company offers some very useful services to help with transitioning to a more meaningful retirement. Good luck and happy retirement!

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