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…

5 Ways to Finalize Your Retirement Plan

When your last day on the job arrives and you begin your journey into retired life, it would be nice to have some idea how the next 20 years will play out. Knowing potential pitfalls to avoid as well as what you will do to stay entertained promises a certain security and peace of mind most of us would appreciate. But too few people take the time or make the effort to prepare for their second act. It is easier to just get there and then try to figure it out as you go.

If we don’t take an active role in shaping our path, we cannot know for sure where we will end up. Here are some suggestions to help make your retirement work for you:

Know what is important. Having a clear picture of accomplishments you wish to achieve can help keep you on track. In retirement you will have more time to focus on family and build relationships with friends. Maintaining good health helps you to best enjoy your second act. Personal passions can be explored as long as you know what they are. If you are able to identify what is most important to your retirement happiness you can better focus your efforts on these priorities.

Accept there will be on days and off days. As with all other aspects of life, not every day in retirement will be perfect. The world around you may throw an unexpected curve, you may not feel physically on the top of your game or you may just have a temporary down-in-the-dumps moment. If you can learn to accept the ups along with the downs you will be better equipped to ride out momentary rough waters. They used to tell me in sales that every “no” gets you that much closer to your next “yes”. Maybe we can view retirement days in a similar way. Every down day gets you that much closer to your next up.

Identify your retirement lifestyle. Retirement is an opportunity to passionately explore the world free from the time constraints imposed by your career. With your newfound freedom you can be as busy and engaged as you choose. Or retirement can be a chance to slow down and enjoy a more predictable lifestyle savoring peaceful mornings and easy meandering days. Whether you are the type of person who must be busy all the time or if you find yourself happily enjoying downtime, it is in your best interest to prepare for a retirement that reflects your particular lifestyle.

Be selective with your time. When you first retire it is easy to find yourself looking for ways to fill in the empty calendar you have inherited. Keeping busy and finding worthwhile ways to use your time is important. But don’t make the mistake of over-committing your time before you have a chance to feel out the new situation. It can be easy to find worthwhile places to volunteer, courses to sign up for and projects to undertake. Suddenly you may find yourself overwhelmed and stressed out just trying to keep up. A better course of action is to gradually undertake activities to fill your day while allowing for downtime along the way.

Do what makes you happy. When it comes to making retirement work for you, I think the bottom line is to spend your time doing what you enjoy. Since there is no one to tell you what to do, there is nothing to keep you from doing what makes you happy. I have developed a simple routine to start my day. Once I have had a bowl of cereal and read through a few emails, I make a cup of freshly ground coffee. I pick up three of the books I am currently reading – one spiritual, one historical and one along the lines of Stephen King – and head to the backyard. Taking my place on a comfortable lounge chair I prop up my feet, appreciating the current flowers in bloom while keeping an eye out for the pair of hawks that hang out on a nearby radio tower. My two cats find their way out to join me and stealthily intertwine around my feet. Then I choose whichever book sounds most interesting for the moment. When I have read enough, I take out my iPhone and run through an interactive French lesson knowing I will revisit and practice the new session throughout the rest of my day. A little sunshine, some quiet reflective moments, happy cats at my feet, a boost to my French capabilities and a good 30-minute read is just the right way for me to start my day.

From my blog for US News & World