When we’re working with our clients at Keen Wealth, we stress the importance of planning for not just the financial side of retirement, but the lifestyle side as well. Even if your retirement is fully funded, the reality of day-to-day living when you don’t have to work can be far less fulfilling if you don’t plan ahead.
One way to see the importance of this planning is to take a look at retirees who, for various reasons, didn’t have the luxury of planning. We call them “sudden retirees.” These folks ended up in a retired state because of unexpected events such as the merger or sale of a business, downsizing, injury, sickness, or the need to care for a family member. Sudden retirees find themselves having to make many life decisions before they are ready, and as a result, they spend much of their retirement dealing with feelings of uselessness, fear, and even severe depression.
In order to avoid this downside of retirement, my Keen Wealth team works to determine not only our clients’ financial needs, but we also work to understand their psychological and emotional needs. We like to really get to know our clients so that we can plan together for a meaningful retirement in which financial security and an active, engaged, fulfilling lifestyle go hand-in-hand.
The importance of work
Doing some type of work (e.g., part-time job or volunteer work) is often part of that equation – it keeps you both interested and interesting. Working may also help you stay married. Divorce among retirees is surprisingly high; in couples over the age of 50, the rate has increased from 8 percent in 1990 to 25 percent! The lesson here is that couples need space for relationships to grow and prosper, especially during the transition into retirement.
Staying engaged and having outside pursuits – including work – is critical to both you and your partner’s health and well-being, In addition, keeping your individual identity through the retirement process leads to a better sense of self-worth. That’s why part-time jobs and volunteer positions are often popular options for retirees who are done with the 9-to-5 grind, but still want to put in a few productive hours on their own terms.
The importance of health
If you are concerned with health issues interfering with your work life expectations, pay attention to the factors that can impact your health. This includes the usual suspects such as excess body weight, tobacco use, high-risk activities or behaviors, chronic conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, back pain, anxiety or depression, and frequent alcohol consumption or substance abuse. Factors that decrease your health risks include pretty much the opposite of the previous list and we would add a healthy diet, proper sleep habits, and regular exercise.
The takeaway? Take care of yourself! As you’re preparing to transition to Medicare, talk to a health care professional about your options. And once you do sign up for Medicare, take advantage of the free preventative services the government offers new enrollees.
The importance of staying active
If you speak to retirees who did not plan ahead, you may hear, “First, you’re bored, then you’re boring.” Staying both physically and psychologically healthy prevents both.
Most of us recognize that the second half of life can mean a second wind – not just a breeze, but a gust to fill our sails. It is a time in life to contribute, learn, and try new things. But because many of us are living longer than our parents and grandparents, the bonus of extended middle age is still so new that we may have neglected to plan adequately.
Many of us walk into retirement with rose-colored glasses and naïveté regarding the impact on our emotional, social, intellectual, and spiritual beings. Instead, be sure to also look at the dangers, pitfalls, and traps that can swallow you whole. The key is this: make sure your retirement plan extends beyond the dollars and cents of your portfolio.
How do you avoid the downside of retirement?
Have a conversation with your friends and family about activities and pursuits that fulfill you, and the things that you are concerned about. Even if you’re forced into retirement sooner than you’d like, don’t ever quit on your intellectual, social, or spiritual advancements in life. Here are three ideas for improving your long-term retirement outlook:
- Continue to work or volunteer, even if it’s part-time.
- Continuously update your job skills so you stay current – and relevant.
- Be a lifelong learner – seek additional education and training.
Focus on what’s ahead of you, not on what’s behind. Keep your eyes off the rearview mirror of life and come talk to my team at Keen Wealth about making the flight ahead as fulfilling as possible.
Bill Keen is a CHARTERED RETIREMENT PLANNING COUNSELOR℠ and independent financial advisor with more than 25 years of industry experience. As the founder and CEO of Keen Wealth Advisors, a registered investment advisory firm, he specializes in providing personalized retirement planning designed to help people thrive before and during their retirement years. With a passion for educating others, Bill regularly blogs about retirement planning, hosts the podcast Keen on Retirement, and has contributed to U.S. News and World Report, Reuters, Wall Street Journal’s Market Watch, Yahoo Finance, and other publications. Based in Overland Park, Kansas, Bill and his team work with clients throughout the greater Kansas City area and across the nation. To learn more, connect with him on LinkedIn or visit www.keenwealthadvisors.com.
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