Will you need to work after you retire?

The majority of our lifetime is spent working for a living. 8 to 10 to 12 hours a day, 5 or more days a week, the only thing that we spend more time doing is sleeping. During those busy working years, we diligently do without today to prepare for retirement tomorrow, striving to save what we can in the midst of a never-ending stream of bills. Then one day, after a long journey, we reach retirement age. WOO HOO! Finally, time to do what we have always wanted to do, to smell the roses, enjoy the amazing world around us, to savor our freedom – the Golden Years of Retirement have arrived.

Go back to work? What on EARTH could cause us to even contemplate such a dire decision? And yet, as mentioned in “Do Boomers need to work to be fulfilled?” 72% of boomers plan to keep working in some capacity after retiring. Why would they plan that?

Reasons why we work after retiring

  1. We need the money – the recent economy has not been very good to us. Nest eggs meticulously built up over years have been severely impacted in many cases and there is just not enough time to make up for it before retiring. And so we are forced to find some way to add to the coffers. In some cases, rather than having an option to continue down the original career path, retirees must take what they can get and settle for far from glamorous roles.
  2. We like the job – for some fortunate seniors, the employment experience and workplace has been a positive aspect of their lives. Side by side working with good people, receiving recognition for a job well done, challenges to face utilizing your skills and intellect, really enjoying what you are doing. Per the Del Webb 2010 Baby Boomer Survey, when asked what aspects of retirement have been disappointing, number one was not being around people and co-workers. A lot of us identify with our jobs and achieve strong feelings of self-worth from work. And if you really enjoy what you are doing, why retire? If your company has a mandatory retirement policy, maybe you can still stay involved on a consulting basis of some kind. It’s all about doing what you WANT to do.
  3. We are bored and challenged with having to plan and schedule our own day and prefer someone else to do so for us – I don’t go for this one. I believe that if you plan and prepare ahead of retirement, you can have a good understanding and reasonable expectation of what your life will look like. Do your research. There are great books out there like “How to Retire Happy, Wild and Free” by Ernie Zelinski and “What do you want to do when you grow up?” by Dorothy Cantor. There are wonderful blogs where retired and soon-to-be-retired writers share their thoughts, real-life experiences, and insight (take a look at my Blogroll list for some of the best that I have found to date). You could be retired for 20-30 years. Doesn’t something that significant deserve preparation and research on the front end?
  4. Rather than continuing down the same career path, we find or create a “job” that is in pursuit of our passion – NOW we are talking! A job that we wake up each morning and look forward to getting under way. The internet is a wonderful vehicle to channel creative thoughts. While you were working, you did not have the time or energy to launch that website or to make those clever tee shirts to sell on Amazon or to write that great American novel.  I really enjoy my recently undertaken journey into blogging and for the first time in a long time – heck, maybe ever – I find myself waking up a bit early with an idea in my head and I cannot wait to get in front of the ‘ol keyboard.

I don’t want to get to the end of my life and find that I lived just the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well”. – Diane Ackerman

Maybe, our career and working world during the first half of our lives is what Dianne refers to as the length of life. It is an important piece that makes us who and what we are. Maybe the width of life refers to those ultimate moments, shining experiences, indelible memories that make us more than just who and what we are. The width of life may be more in line with why we are. With our working lives behind us, retirement is our best chance to experience this width. Are you prepared to do so?

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

How you can afford to travel in retirement – and why you can’t afford NOT to

Getting out of Dodge and experiencing new surroundings, new people and mouth-watering local cuisine is always refreshing, and I think even more so during retirement. New places keep us excited with the unknown possibilities around each corner. Planning a new travel adventure stimulates your mind and senses as you research historically significant sites to see, get familiar with the local language (at least the key phrases), and generally put yourself into the mindset of a local. And after dedicating the majority of our earlier years to building our retirement nest egg, few retired couple’s list of retirement to-dos overlooks travel. This is what we have been waiting for!

I want to with you share my fortunate current state of affairs. At this moment, I am sitting in a hotel on Boulevard de Sebastapol in downtown Paris, looking out my fourth floor window onto the café across the street as the sun shines into my room. This is my first time to Paris, a place I have always wanted to visit but have been a little intimidated by my lack of French (as in ANY) and some scattered rumors about possible rudeness targeting non-French-speaking-Americans (I am what I am). But it has been a wonderful time. We have seen the important sites and at a perfect pace that included spending half a day at the Luxembourg Park just reading in the sun (we really lucked out with the weather), listening to the brass band playing an unexpected concert, and sipping a café. We did a lot but not too much.

Travel is not cheap or always easy. But we love to travel and plan on doing a lot of it once fully retired. How can we afford to travel at a time when money is no longer flowing in yet we finally have the time to do so?

Affording travel

If you decide that travel is important in your retired life, you may need to make a few trade-offs. Is Paris more important than the new dining room furniture? Can the kitchen remodel be delayed or scaled down a bit to finance a Polynesian escape? Is the cruise through the Panama Canal worth cutting back somewhere else? You make up your mind on the big things, but here are a few other considerations:

Getting there and staying there – I pointed out a few good places to look for more reasonable flights and hotels in my senior citizens discount blog. We find staying at a well-known, reliable hotel works out fine and with fewer surprises. The Best Western is working out just fine for our Paris trip.

Affordable lifestyle once you land – eating out every meal will kill your budget. Instead: Once you get situated, find a nearby grocery store to stock up on basics like water, bread, salami, milk, cereal, apples – whatever are your basic needs.

o Pick up a few good bottles (or more) of wine for your happy hour. We try to find a $15 bottle of a local vintage and have had some decent success. And if it turns out to be really BAD, no tears are shed disposing of it. Life is too short to drink bad wine! Of course it is still fun to try a glass of something new when dining out but you will pay the price.

o Carry a snack with you while venturing out – a granola bar or a bag of nuts does wonders to curb your appetite and spare your wallet.

o Bring your grocery-store-bought bottle of water – much cheaper than what you will find on the road.

o Dining out – early bird deals are available at some local restaurants; ordering a selection of hors d’oeuvres with a glass of wine each is a good way to sample a variety of treats and generally fills you up; one that works for us is sharing one complete dinner and one salad. For lunch, in my opinion, nothing beats a French roll with some meat and cheese.

o Happy hour(s) – every place offers these and the drink selection is across the board but much more affordable.

o Public transportation – especially in Europe, this is the way to go. Trains and buses will get you to most places on the map. The Metro in Paris is $1.20 per destination and no dealing with crazed taxi drivers or brake-challenged Vespa fanatics.

o Purchase tickets in advance for local sites of interest – generally slightly cheaper and helps avoid long lines.

Retirement is your time to finally do what you have always wanted to do, those special things that kept you going when work and life sometimes became unbearable. If travel is a part of what you want to do, what you are passionate about, then you need to do it. You may ask can I afford it? With the right trade-offs and saving and planning, you can figure out a way. If travelling is your love and keeps you excited with each new adventure posted on your calendar and gives you a reason to get out there, the better question is can you afford NOT to do it?

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

3 ways to avoid retirement burnout

When you meet someone for the first time, how many minutes pass before someone asks “what do you do?” Many people for better or worse see their lives from the point of view of their job. Too often, you are your job. At work, we interact with co-workers, face and conquer challenges, get recognition for a job well done, are admired, in control, and have a genuine feeling of importance. All of these things can be deeply satisfying and become part of the person we are.

So when we decide to retire – either our choice or the company – we enter an unfamiliar place. As the rock group Seisonic so sagely says, “every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” Living retired, rather than having specific to-dos each day, we are free to choose what we want to do or even do nothing at all. Deadlines no longer fill our waking hours but neither that feeling of a job well done upon completion of an assignment. 10-12 hour days where we were so busy we hardly had time to get a cup of coffee are replaced with 16 hours of “free time” that needs to be filled, each day, every day. And there is no one to fill the schedule except for you.

Venturing into retirement without a plan risks poisoning a life where you finally have the freedom and time to do what you really want, to become the person you have always wanted to be. And yet that is what many senior citizens do. Retirement planning too often starts the day we retire.

Many retirees find the first six months of retirement to be just what they expected. Finally, some time to catch up on reading, complete those tasks around the house that have gone unaddressed for years, to do some traveling to those places you have always wanted not worrying about weekend travel since the whole week is yours to enjoy. Little things keep your attention occupied and you have the genuine feeling of being busy, sometimes VERY busy!

However after that initial retirement introduction, when the to-do list is done, now what? To successfully and happily retire, you need to have some retirement goals and purpose in your retired life that goes beyond just keeping busy.

Activity with a purpose

(1)  Identify meaningful endeavors that on a daily basis engage your skills and mind. I am not talking about something that is completed in a week or month but something ongoing. Short term projects keep you busy as they are intended – for the short-term. What you want to find is ongoing purposeful activity – something that you are excited about, something you are passionate about, so you will look forward to getting each day under way. This grand purpose could be writing a book, it could be volunteering on a continuing basis, you might want to learn how to work with textiles and create personalized pieces of art for gifts or even sale, learning a new language and then traveling to the country where you can immerse yourself and really learn the culture, playing the piano has always intrigued you and between lessons and practice, you can expect to keep busy for years to come, or even blogging about something that you are an expert in or are passionate about. Find something that will not start today and be done tomorrow but instead has a long-term horizon.

(2) Continuing lifelong learning – learning is for a lifetime. It engages our imagination and broadens our horizons, making us much more interesting people to be with. And don’t let the fact that you are retired scare you. Finally you have the time and now even the freedom to study what you WANT not what you need to earn a degree. Remember how much fun you had as a kid memorizing the names of all those dinosaurs? Or the burning interest you felt when learning about various painters and their unique styles of artistic expression? Retired life is the perfect opportunity to follow those passions. Local junior colleges offer a myriad of courses. Some universities allow retirees to audit courses for a nominal fee. Keep on learning.

(3) Stay connected – the internet offers tons of ways to connect with others with similar interests. The fastest growing users of social networks are those over 50. According to the Pew Internet and American Life Report, 47 percent of internet users age 50-64 and 26 percent 65 and older use social networking. Having someone as passionate as you about dogs or travel or collecting plates or growing roses keeps it interesting and you always have something to talk about. And should you feel the urge to dig deeper to learn more about anything – ANYTHING – information is just a Google or a Wikipedia away.  Multimedia adds a whole new experience as you can view videos and recordings along with descriptive text. There is some truly amazing stuff out there.

In retirement living, it is not too challenging to stay busy for the short-term. The challenge is keeping busy and engaged and challenged and excited for the long-term. Once you leave the working world, the responsibility is yours to find meaningful, purposeful activities that stimulate your mind and body. If you succeed, you will steal all of the positive elements from the working world while leaving behind everything that gave you sleepless nights.

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