Why You Shouldn’t Delay Retirement

Do you really want to wait until you are 65 to enjoy the retirement life you have always wanted? Wouldn’t it be nice if you could leave behind the stressful working world and begin to live your second act earlier rather than later? Imagine getting up each day with nothing you have to do hanging over your head. Instead, you experience the luxury to choose what you will do or not do as the case may be. You could take a trip, write a book, enjoy a hobby you have always loved or do nothing as you revel in the peace and quiet of a life that you control. Why do we delay this magical time until age 65?

For most people, the big reason retirement cannot happen until later in life is strictly financial. If you decide you no longer want to work, you must have enough income generating investments and savings to subsidize your lifestyle. And with the economic volatility we have recently come to know, there is always risk. What may have been sufficient savings 10 years ago can change dramatically if we throw in a bit of political shenanigans, world conflict or another bursting financial bubble. It takes guts to exit the working world before society says you are supposed to.

Rules of thumb suggest that to live comfortably you will need 80 percent of your pre-retirement earnings or enough saved to allow you to comfortably withdraw 4 percent or less per year for the duration of your retirement years. But you might be able to get by on less. If the tradeoff is working more years at a job you dislike or reducing your standard of living a bit, some people choose to cut back their expenses. It’s easier to be frugal if it allows you to reach your target retirement date sooner.

I am 55, and the prospect of working another ten years until I am 65 seems like a long way down the road. I believe I have it in me to retire today and live a happy retired life from this day forward. I would like my retirement to include a mix of doing nothing with doing things that matter. I am learning to balance relaxation with an innate need to accomplish and achieve. I am coming to grips with the reality that I am no longer 20 and immortal. I am beginning to accept the realities of aging, although I plan to live an active second act. If my bank account was a bit more significant, I believe I could pull the trigger now. And I think I would like retirement just fine.

Am I ready to retire now before reaching age 65? I think I am. Do I have enough socked away to allow for the financial independence that is an important part of any fulfilling retirement? I don’t think I am there quite yet. Could I have done it differently along the way to have given myself a better chance at an earlier end date? That I will never know. But for those who still have time to make adjustments and save a bit more, the promise of beginning to live your second act before age 65 should serve as a worthy motivation.

From my blog on US News & World. Dave Bernard is the author of “I Want To Retire! Essential Considerations for the Retiree to Be“. Although not yet retired, he focuses on identifying and understanding the essential components of a fulfilling and meaningful retirement. He shares his discoveries and insights on his blog Retirement-Only The Beginning.

A Little Routine Fights Boredom in Retirement

Let’s figure that by the time you near retirement, you have been a member of the working masses for 30 plus years – a pretty reasonable assumption if you started at age 21 or thereabouts. During all those years hard at it chances are you developed a regular schedule for your days. Get up at the same time, go through your morning ritual of newspaper-breakfast-coffee, make the ever-so-enjoyable commute to your place of employment, work, return home, and roll into your evening routine. It is easier to fall into a routine that works for you than to try to figure out each day what to do next. And there is a certain comfort in predictability.

Now that you are retiring, a little routine can help in ways you may not have considered prior to your arrival.

As a retiree, how you choose to spend your time each day depends on you. You have earned the right to do what you want when you want for as long as you want. This freedom is one of the great rewards of retired living. But along with freedom can come challenges. What will you do now that you can do anything you want? There are a lot of hours that make up the many days ahead. If you retire at 65 you can hope for 20 or more years of retirement. And if you are like most of us, you want to make the most of each.

I find a little routine provides a nice framework for the day. Admittedly I am a pretty organized person. My wife may upgrade that description to obsessive but it works for me. As I live my “trial retirement” until the official move to 100 percent retired status, I have a handful of activities I do throughout my normal day. Without the requirements of a job, having a routine helps me stay engaged and active. I don’t hover in bed even though nothing specific needs to be done. Instead I make it a point to get up and around by 7:00. Getting up at a regular time each day allows me to take advantage of what is for me a high energy time of day. I have always been a morning person.

Here is a typical day. I begin with breakfast and the newspaper – I recently added doing the daily crossword puzzle to help get my mental juices flowing. Coffee in hand, I head to the computer to write/blog/create/see what is new in the world for a few hours. Next it is time for a workout alternating between weights, stationary bike or yoga. Then lunch followed by an hour walk in the neighborhood sometimes to the local store to gather provisions for dinner. Back home and a bit more computer. Then comes my “elective period” when I will spend some time in the garden or engage in various home projects or read or play the piano or watch the grass grow, whatever suits my fancy for that particular day. Time for a little TV where I watch an hour show recorded earlier (no time for commercials in my retired life!). Somewhere between 2:30-4:00 I typically grow a bit restless and feel the need to get out of the house one more time. The perfect opportunity for a quick trip to the store or neighborhood coffee spot. Upon my return a little preparation for the evening meal and suddenly it is time for the 5:00 news.

My routine works for me. Yours may be something entirely different. But having a set of regular activities to occupy your time may help to avoid that what-do-I do-now feeling sometimes experienced by seniors. There is nothing worse for a healthy retiree than to find herself bored. All of the promises of living the retirement dream amount to little if you are unhappy and unsatisfied with the life you live.

The good news is since you are master-of-the-schedule you are not forced you to stick to the plan. If you want to deviate a bit or depart entirely, you are free to do so. You can change the routine and change it back or not – you are in control. And you are always free to expand your horizons and try new things. Remember you write the rules in your retirement.

For me, that little framework for the day helps me feel that although retired, my day is far from empty and I better get to it. There are things that I should be doing, things that I enjoy doing. The good news is in retirement, I get to decide what those things are.

Time for my workout – enjoy your day and enjoy your retirement.

9 Important Ingredients for a Happy Retirement

Most of us would like to at least have the option to retire at some point. There are those who may choose to keep working in some capacity, but working by choice (rather than necessity) can be considered part of the desired retirement mix. Other people plan to get as far from the working world as possible. What our retirement will look like depends on our personal preferences and priorities. Here are some of the most important ingredients for retirement happiness:

Having something on the calendar. Once finished with the working world, whatever is on the calendar becomes our personal responsibility. Having something to look forward to – a trip, a dinner party or a concert – can help sustain an expectation of good things to be. An empty calendar does not bode well for the excitement and variety we look for in our second act.

Being healthy. The more challenged we are with our physical health, the less we are generally able to enjoy day to day living. We cannot stop the aging process, but we can try to do the right things along the way to encourage a healthier mind and body. Aim to appreciate the days when you enjoy good health.

Having enough money. If you do not have enough saved, the retirement you are hoping for is not going to happen. Have you done the math to figure out how much you actually need to be comfortable? If you calculate that you will be able to cover your bills and have enough left over to live a good life, you are on a reasonable path. But don’t make the mistake of working yourself to death in order to save for retirement. In our second act, time can become an even rarer commodity than money.

Someone to share it all with. A partner, spouse or close friend can help us to live a moment more fully by sharing an experience with someone we care for. A sunset is beautiful, but when shared with a loved one, isn’t it just a bit more special?

Finding a little fun. Think back on a time when you were happy, smiling and just plain glad to be alive. What was it that you were doing? What caused you to feel that way? Now with time to spend as you desire, aim to do that again. Even if you are not able or interested in doing the same thing, finding a little fun in your retirement days can bring on a welcome smile.

Expanding our horizons. Now that we have the time to do what we want, there are many possibilities. The time is right to try all the things we did not have time for while living the life of worker bees. Step outside of the comfort box and get a little crazy. Variety can help keep the day fresh and interesting.

Enough interests that engage us. No one wants to be bored in retirement. This is the chance to spend our time as we want, doing what we most enjoy. It is important to plan ahead for pending retirement and the free time we will have. Get a jump on identifying the interests and passions you hope to enjoy once retired.

Being patient. Getting older can try your patience and make it harder to get along day to day. Since we may not be as quick or energetic as we once were, a little patience when it comes to the realities of aging can improve the quality of your retirement experience.

Realistic challenges. Who does not enjoy the feeling of accomplishment that comes with successfully meeting a challenge? Whether climbing the nearest mountain, getting those persnickety roses to bloom or writing your first short story, achieving goals can make you feel better about yourself.

It takes more than a large nest egg to create a worthwhile retired life. There are a lot of ingredients that, when mixed together, just might be the recipe for your retirement happiness.

From my blog on US News & World. Dave Bernard is the author of “I Want To Retire! Essential Considerations for the Retiree to Be“. Although not yet retired, he focuses on identifying and understanding the essential components of a fulfilling and meaningful retirement. He shares his discoveries and insights on his blog Retirement-Only The Beginning.