Retirement Checklist Revisited

Back in 2010 when I wrote my first post for Retirement – Only the Beginning I did not realistically have much of an understanding of what it meant to be retired. I knew or at least hoped I would retire sometime down the road. As for what that retired life would look like I was pretty clueless. That ultimately became the motivation for my blog – figuring out what I could do to best prepare myself to live a fulfilling meaningful retirement. And as I have reiterated in past blogs the focus of my efforts was on those many important considerations other than financial. Although money is a key piece of the puzzle I was convinced there was much more to living happily retired than just a fat wallet. The trick was to figure exactly what those pieces were before rather than after retirement commenced.

As the years progressed I began to better comprehend the challenges as well as opportunities that awaited me. I started digging into what I thought would matter most in my second act. What would I do, what was important to me, what would challenge me and keep me engaged, and ultimately what would make me happy? I began to create a mental checklist – a work perpetually in progress. Over the years I have modified my checklist making an addition here and a deletion there.

Here are a few of what I have identified as most important considerations to foster a happy retirement. Let’s see how things are progressing as I enter year number three of retired bliss.

Take time to smell the roses

In other words learn to enjoy life. After 30 years living at a pace slightly slower than the speed of light it is not easy to take it down a notch. In the startup world the focus has always been on getting more and more done in less and less time. Rolling into retirement in this state of mind was not a good idea – at all. In the early days of retirement I felt guilty if I was not doing something “meaningful” with every free moment. I was unable to enjoy Welcome Flowerthe freedom I have since learned can be a most satisfying part of each day. But I am getting better. For example, in our new home we have a lot of roses – I’m talking about more than 80 bushes sprinkled around the property. My first instinct was to tear out the thirty-or-so in the front and replace them with saw grass, ornate lava rocks and a splash of low-maintenance color. I had a picture clearly in my mind and was planning the changes from the first day we moved in. Then I began to look more closely at the roses, to see them for the beauties they really were. Colors ran the gamut from yellow to blood red to peppermint. Wonderful aromas wafted up from each as I sniffed them in turn. Maybe it made sense to enjoy them a bit before taking any drastic action. Why not keep an eye and a nostril on them for a year or two and see if we like them as they are. What was the hurry? It sounds simple but coming from my do it now background this was monumental. This morning I cut a sample from four bushes to create a bouquet for the kitchen that reinforces my decision to take it easy, don’t be in a hurry, just smell the roses (literally). I have to say I am enjoying this healthier happier pace.

Be sure to sync up retirement plans with your spouse

As I have shared earlier my wife recently joined me in retirement. Until then she was hard at work while I endeavored to perfect the retired life we would live by getting started early. As she inched closer to her final months we began to discuss in more detail just what was ahead. There are views we hold in common and some where we differ. Nothing surprising here as that could describe any time in our relationship. But in retirement we are learning to pay closer attention. Since we are together 24/7 little annoyances might grow in significance if ignored. On the other hand by sharing openly we may discover shared interests we have ignored and now have time to explore. I think the retirement sync will be ongoing. What has helped us is a willingness to discuss and compromise. Another work in progress but we are making progress.

Try to be healthy in body and mind

It is not always easy to squeeze in time for exercise when you are working 60 hour weeks. And when you finally have a spare moment you are more likely to collapse than drop and give 50 pushups. Retirement is a whole different ball game. You are now in control of your time. What I love about this freedom is I don’t have to force a workout into a designated time slot. I can get my exercise when I feel most inspired to do so. Of course sometimes I have to push myself a little should the inspiration fail to materialize. Eating right is also less challenging once retired. Instead of scarfing a sandwich during a fleeting five minute window you can prepare a more balanced tasty repast. We have located the best French bakery in the area (think fresh baguette) along with the closest weekly farmers market (think fresh fruit and veggies and local fish) and a cheese shop to end all (fromage!). I look forward to meals as we creatively combine local goodies never sure exactly what we will end up with but always pleased. We all know how important it is for our health and wellbeing to get regular exercise and eat well. Retirement can provide the time and flexibility to take care of yourself like you should.

Unleash the creative you

Retirees have free time on their hands. How they choose to spend it is entirely up to them. I don’t think there is a right or wrong way to keep busy. If what you do is what you enjoy, keep doing it. I have found retirement a good time to revisit old passions as well as investigate new things. I like to write (blogging), I love music (back at the piano keys), I love nature (hiking nearby park or walking coastal paths), I have discovered a previously unknown love for Paris (taking history classes, learning the language, and visiting when I can), and I am trying my hand at cooking. Who knows what might be next. Doing what I want when I want makes retirement pretty special. I can’t wait for tomorrow!

Free eBook – Navigating the Retirement Jungle

Email for your free copy

While writing LoveBeingRetired, I have discovered and shared what I believe is some very useful information to be help us better navigate the jungle that is retirement planning.

To summarize the journey so far, I have put together a short book covering the most important lessons learned.

Your free eBook will help you better understand:

* How to evaluate when you can afford to retire

* What is the real cost of building that nest egg beyond what you need

* Guidelines to living a frugal yet enjoyable retirement

* How to identify and pursue what is really important as you approach retirement

* Pointers on staying healthy so you can enjoy your retirement life

* How to identify and pursue your passion

To receive a free copy of “Navigating the Retirement Jungle”:

Send an email to

In the subject line put Navigating the Retirement Jungle.

Let me know what you think – comments are encouraged.

It’s all about sharing what works to give us a little helpful guidance along the way and your input is greatly appreciated!

Enjoy the book and enjoy the journey.

Dave Bernard

Never Retire!

We hear every day about the impact our stumbling, bumbling economy has had on retirement nest eggs. Many have lost 30-40% of their savings at a time when then cannot afford a reduction of any kind. We retire to get away from the working world after scrimping and saving, to relax in the sun and the glory of no work. Isn’t that the way we are supposed to do it? That is what everyone from our employers to the government is telling us. So what is up with these senior citizens who say they do not want to stop working? Do they have a screw loose?

Barclay’s did a recent survey where they discovered that many wealthy workers have no intention of ever retiring. 60% of those surveyed in the U.K. plan to continue working, coining the phrase “nevertiree”. The survey was done for high net worth individuals so does it apply to the rest of us?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 18% of workers over 65 plan to continue working and this number is expected to increase to 22% by 2018. And this is not just triggered by recent financial problems. notes an upward trend in working longer prior to the financial collapse. So this thinking is across the board whether referencing the wealthy or otherwise.

Why work longer than you have to?

So how did we get to this point? Why would some find it attractive to keep working beyond retirement as compared to retiring as we are “supposed to”?

(1)  If you delay collecting Social Security benefits to age 70 instead of starting at your earliest possible age 62, your benefits will be 75% more.

(2)  Mental stimulation by remaining at work, facing challenges and meeting deadlines

(3)  Interaction with co-workers.

(4)  Making more money.

(5)  You are not responsible for planning out your day. You show up for work and away you go.

(6)  You like what you are doing and want to continue doing it.

And the trade-offs for continued work versus putting up a retired shingle?

(1)  You are still doing what someone tells you as opposed to what you really want to do. If you keep on doing the same thing, you may never have a chance to pursue what you are truly passionate about.

(2)  How much money do you really need to be happy? If you are struggling to make ends meet, work is the obvious option. But if not, do you really need an ostrich-sized retirement nest egg as opposed to a hen-sized one?

(3)  When will you ever get to those projects around the house, that stack of great books, those music lessons or that foreign language course that you have been looking forward to?

(4)  After working for 35-40 years, how about a change?

For me it comes down to a matter of personal preference. While I can understand having an interest in continuing to work for various reasons,retirement for me is my well-deserved time to do what I want to do. As long as I can afford to not work, that is what I will be doing. Before now was my working life. Moving forward is my retired life. And I plan on giving as much focus, effort and commitment to being retired as I did to working – maybe even a bit more.

Don’t forget to pick up a free copy of my Navigating the Retirement Jungle, available upon request by mailing to