Retirement Advice I Would Give the Twenty Year Old Me

If I only knew then what I know now. Way back when I was 20 thoughts of retirement never crossed my mind. There were plenty other distractions. I could not even imagine being retirement age. But funny thing – here I am.

I have learned a thing or two over the years whether through my personal experience or those of friends and family. If I could share with the 20-year-old-Dave any words of wisdom to prepare for the road ahead, it would go something like this:

Prepare for the non-financial side of retirement

Everyone knows it is critical to save enough to subsidize the retirement lifestyle you hope to live. But too few consider the importance of preparing beyond finances. What will you do to find meaning in your day? Who will you become once you are no longer defined by the person you were on the job? How does your spouse envision retirement? It is too easy to waltz into retirement without preparing for the coming 10 or 20 or more years ahead. Without genuine preparation you risk boredom and dissatisfaction during a time of life that should be anything but.

Hands off retirement savings accounts

Over my 30 year career I moved from job to job quite a bit. One consequence was repeatedly facing the option to cash out 401k accounts. In most cases the temptation proved too great. Too often I withdrew the funds, paid the 10% additional tax fine and had money to do as I wanted. The only good thing is I did not use the money to splurge but rather to pay off bills that had accumulated. Still I sacrificed potential growth over multiple years that could have added to my ultimate retirement nest egg. “Leave it alone and let I grow” would be my suggestion to the younger me.

Don’t count on staying at the same company

In my career as a sales manager focused on start-up companies there was not much latitude when it came to hitting target goals. If quota was not achieved, no matter how unreasonable or inflated the number, your job was on the line. I had a pretty good batting average over all but there were times when missing a quarterly target cost my job.

Message to younger self: be prepared to work at many different companies over your working years. The days of spending an entire career at one place are gone.

Understand the financial realities of retirement

Retirement will not be cheap. According to Fidelity healthcare costs for the average couple retiring in 2016 will ring in at $260,000. Healthcare insurance rates are sky rocketing with double digit yearly increases becoming the accepted norm. Everything is getting more expensive while your income remains fixed.

No one knows what unplanned health event their future may hold. My parents experienced this recently when my dad had a stroke. Initial hospital charges were huge and the bills keep coming. Thankfully they have a Medigap plan which helps pay healthcare costs not covered by Medicare including co-payments and deductibles.

In retirement you want to do those things you have dreamed of. Realizing those dreams will generally not be cheap either. When budgeting don’t forget to account for those things you have been waiting all your life to do.

Note to 20-year-self: put those dollars aside now so you can do all you dream of when you finally have the time to do it.

Getting retirement right takes practice

Since this will be our first time at it, none of us has any real experience being retired. It is possible you may not get everything exactly right from the get go. Be prepared to be dynamic, to go with the flow. Make changes where necessary, try new things, and don’t be too hard on yourself. There is no deadline to get everything right. So long as you continue to learn as you go you are making progress.

Keep exercising

When I was around twenty I began a life-long commitment to good health setting aside time for regular exercise and attempting to eat a decent diet. I would remind the younger me that good habits now will continue to be good habits later in life. Exercise is an important part of any happy retirement. Keep weight training for muscle and bone strength. Continue yoga and stretching for balance and flexibility. Get some cardio to keep the heart healthy. And don’t neglect exercise for your brain one very important “muscle” to keep in shape. The retirement journey will be that much more enjoyable when you are healthy in mind and body.

It might have been helpful to hear these words of wisdom when I was younger. But I cannot complain. I am retired with my wonderful wife in a beautiful part of the world. We are healthy and happy. And I just started a part time job pouring wine at a wonderful little winery walking distance from where we live. All in all, retirement has turned out a-okay for us.

LoveBeingRetired.com

When Working In Retirement Is The Way To Go

Back when I was working full time I occasionally fantasized of that day in the not-to-distant future when I would no longer be chained to “the job”. It’s not that I hated what I was doing. Far from it – over my working years I met wonderful people, some who have become lifelong friends. I was fortunate enough to play an important part in the growth of numerous small companies where the camaraderie and esprit de corps were as important as making money, sometimes even more. I was inspired by talented bosses who took the time to guide my development. My memories of the working world are for the most part positive.

But never working again – that sounds pretty darn good.

Start your day when you want. Spend time doing what truly interests you. Live at a pace that fits your mood. Read…walk…nap…rinse and repeat. Having control over what you do when you do it is something I could get used to.

My plan was to retire somewhere close to 65, maybe 62 if I was lucky. At the moment that was more than a decade off but at least I could see light at the end of the tunnel. Then at the tender age of 53 I became what I call “technically retired”. The company I worked for was purchased, my role was no longer required, and despite scrambling madly for the next year I was unable to find a position anywhere. Welcome to retirement!

Fortunately my wonderful wife continued working which covered our medical insurance and paid the bills. At least we would not be destitute.

I believe retirement is something you need to create. Since you are free to do as you choose it’s ultimately up to you to make it happen. We all have different interests, passions and dreams. What works for your retirement may not be close to what I want. And that is a great thing – we have the ability to create our own retirement custom made to fit who we are.

When I first exited the working world I knew for a fact I would not go back to work – ever. My dues were paid now onward to bigger and better things. On the other hand I never faulted those who choose to include work as part of their happy retirement. If it makes you happy why not add it to the equation?

Who could be more surprised when one day after five years retired, old hardcore never-work-again-me found the perfect part time gig. Our favorite winery – Mercy Vineyards – needed some help in their tasting room. Two days a week sharing with happy visitors wonderful Pinot Noir and Chardonnays lovingly crafted from grapes sourced solely from unique local vineyards – not too shabby. My wife and I felt the owners were great people from the first day we met. Visitors to the tasting room are invariably happy and having a good time. And I can walk to the job site in about 15 minutes.

When the owners Mike and Mark proposed I join their team they did not have to ask twice! I have been at it a few weeks now and love it. The job adds variety to my days, I meet and socialize with fellow humans, plus I get out of the house and continue to learn more about a passion I have had for decades – wine.

If a part time gig in retirement sounds intriguing, here are a few considerations to help make it a good experience:

  • Do something you are interested in better yet passionate about
  • Work with people you like
  • Don’t do it if it stresses you out – you did enough of that before retiring
  • Remember part time is part time – don’t take work home with you (unless you really love it!)
  • Try to minimize your commute ideally traveling during non-rush hours
  • As long as you do not need the job remember you can call it quits if it does not work out

There are plenty of options out there when it comes to part time work. My wife signed on with a temp agency that finds her short term gigs at a variety of local companies. She gets to meet new people, learn new things, keep her mind engaged and leave the stress behind. Her biggest challenge is since she is so good at what she does companies quickly end up offering her full time employment which is not the plan.

I have come to believe there is no reason your retirement cannot include some sort of work. The trick is to enjoy what you are doing. It may take a bit of trial and error to find the right fit. But what is the hurry? After all you are retired.

And should you ever find yourself in the neighborhood, stop in for a taste of some truly wonderful wines. As our tasting glass so appropriately says “Have Mercy”. Cheers.

LoveBeingRetired.com

Keep Your Mind Active After Retirement

Written by Sally Perkins

If you are recently retired or are approaching your retirement you should be thinking about how you’ll keep your mind active outside of a work environment. Experts believe it really is a case of use it or lose it as far as brain power is concerned. So, if you don’t keep yours ticking over, could it be a blow for your cognitive powers?

Recent studies published in the Journals of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences suggest that the more you want to use your brain and the more you relish in doing so, the more likely you are to stay as sharp as a whistle as you get older.

So exactly how do we keep our minds active after retirement? Here are a few guidelines to follow:

  • Stay Active

Ever heard of the saying ‘a healthy body leads to a healthy mind?’ It’s true! If your body is healthy, your mind will also be healthy. Studies have shown that walking an average of 6 miles a week is a surefire way to keep your brain active and fight off dementia. If you have a dog, taking him for walks will be both enjoyable and of great benefit to the pair of you. Mild exercise releases endorphins, which are also known as ‘feel good’ hormones. If you engage in regular, moderate exercise you will be happier, healthier, more alert and have more energy.

  • Eat right

When you stick to a healthy diet full of ‘brain food’, your mind functions with better clarity. It will be easier for you to make clear, concise decisions and you won’t suffer from that dreadful ‘brain fog’. Remember to include foods that contain essential fatty acids such as fish, seeds, nuts and olive oil. It is also recommended that you invest in a good brain boosting supplement to compliment your daily food intake.

  • Learn something new

We are never too old to learn something new and by doing so your brain will retain its working mode. Retirement often provides us with that bit of extra time we never had before to pursue a new hobby. Take a cooking class, learn a new language or take up sewing.  Do something you have never done before whether it is pottery, painting, ballroom dancing or even gardening. This is a great opportunity to step out of your comfort zones and experience new and wonderful pastimes.

  • Indulge in cognitive activities

Solving puzzles and playing games are excellent cognitive activities for seniors. Activities such as these engage the brain keeping it alert and stimulated. The great thing about these activities is the variety – there truly is something for everyone. A few good examples of puzzles and games to keep our minds active are: word searches, crosswords, Sudoku puzzles, dominoes, card games and chess.

  • Become social

Research shows that the circuits in the adult brain are continuously modified by experience. Social interaction is one thing that keeps our brains from becoming stagnant. Getting out and meeting people must never feel like a chore. If you aren’t a natural social butterfly then consider joining a local club or do some volunteer work with children. Social skills can always be acquired regardless of one’s age and can start with a small step like talking to the cashier at your local store.

  • Explore the internet

Contrary to popular belief, the Internet is not just a mind-numbing evil. It is in actual fact a useful tool in helping us manage, search and retrieve our collective intellectual output. Becoming internet savvy could open up a whole new world to you. Open a Facebook account to reconnect with family and friends or read your favorite newspapers from around the world at your own leisure. The Internet is also home to an array of brain training games and exercises that will keep you busy and efficiently entertained.

Here are some of the most popular online brain-games available:

  • Lumosity is a group of scientifically developed games that test and develop your memory, speed, attention, flexibility and problem solving. You can play a trial version for free or pay a subscription fee for full access.
  • Happy Neuron lays claims to being able to stimulate all 5 main cognitive brain functions.
  • Fit Brains consists of games designed alongside neuroscientists that are both fun and valuable to your brain health.

 

  • Keep a journal

Get into the habit of jotting your day down on paper every night. What went right? What went awry? What are your plans for tomorrow? This will force you to think of solutions to any situation that is bothering you and will keep your creative juice flowing freely.

  • Listen to music

Studies have shown that listening to soft background music can actually improves one’s memory which is why it is so popular amongst students. Jazz and classical music is considered the best but you can choose any music you enjoy, although hard rock and heavy metal may not be a popular choice with your neighbors.

Regardless of how you choose to keep your brain active the most important thing to remember is to enjoy your retirement. You have spent the majority of your life at the grindstone and your new-found rest is well-deserved!