Don’t Retire – Rewire

The title of today’s blog is borrowed from a book of the same title written by Jeri Sedlar of the Conference Board.

When most people think about retirement, they only think about not working, they don’t really think about what they will do or how they will keep themselves busy.

Maybe you want to play golf, go fishing, cruise around the local lakes in your boat, or travel to some beautiful and exotic places in the world. But sooner or later, you will return home, then what are you going to do all day every day?

Talk with family and friends who have retired to hear what they did to prepare and what they struggled with the most after retiring. We always encourage people to seek godly counsel and this is one life event where you want to take time to seek advice from people who have been there.

One of the biggest impacts on your retirement plans is your budget because your financial situation may limit your ability to fulfill your retirement dreams. Some people may have enough money to do what they’d like, while many others are going to struggle to maintain their quality of life.

The challenge is that if you are not using a budget prior to retirement, you have no idea of how much you’ll spend during retirement. If you don’t have a budget and know exactly what you are spending now, you are only guessing at the amount of money you’ll need to live on in retirement.

Once you have a retirement budget, match your spending against the income stream available to you in retirement. When will you be eligible to take Social Security? Do you have a 401K or 403B and how much income will it provide? What about a pension plan or an IRA or other long term savings available to you?

Everyone understands the stock market rises and falls in cycles over the years. Yet when it comes time to plan for retirement, this basic fact can be very hard to deal with. If the market drops right after you retire, you could find yourself with a far smaller retirement nest egg than you anticipated. To mitigate the impact of a down market, it is important to reallocate your retirement savings and move to more conservative investments as you get closer and closer to retirement.

Ditch the debt to put yourself in the best possible position for retirement. Concentrate on paying off all credit card and consumer debt as quickly as possible so that you are not dragging your debt into retirement. In addition to consumer debt, work hard to get your home paid off before you retire.

When you are thinking about retirement, how do your plans tie into the plans your spouse has? Couples don’t always have the same ideas about anything, let alone retirement so it’s important to have open-ended discussions about what each of you expects in retirement. You need to take time to discuss and develop a plan that works for both of you.

Talk about everything, including your expectations for retirement, what your new schedule will look like, how you’re going to divvy up household tasks and how your identity is going to change. Compromise is created when each of you makes a list of expectations such as:

  • Downsizing, or moving to a new location to be near family
  • Places you would like to travel
  • Cultural or sporting events you want to attend
  • Exercise or sports activities you’d like to share
  • Volunteer work you will enjoy

Once you each develop this long list of possibilities for retirement go through it together noting what is the same on both lists and where the differences are. Have a give-and-take discussion where each of you compromises to some extent. You both need to have your own activities and you also need to spend time doing things together.

Leaving a job often leaves a void in a person’s life. If you’re like many would-be retirees, you’ll likely be retiring from something such as job or boss you hate, and not to something better.

Even if you are in a job you’ve come to dislike, work is a reason to get out of bed every day to feel useful and productive. Most people feel needed at work as they contribute to the purpose of the business where they work. So, when you stop working, what will compel you to get out of bed each morning?

Using your time in retirement wisely means figuring out your purpose during this season of life. Humans continue to thrive when they have a purpose and are contributing to something.

Retirement is a time when you can serve other people by making a worthwhile contribution to a greater good. Giving your time and talents to a worthy cause is one of the most fulfilling things you can do in life. There are an unlimited number of worthy causes that need volunteers to help achieve their mission. Explore something that you never had time to get involved in when you were working.

Retirement can be one-third of your adult life.  Having a purpose and being engaged is a sign of wellbeing. As you wind down your work, begin thinking about a cause that can become a passion. What talents and strengths do you have that will enable you to contribute in a meaningful way to a purpose that is close to your heart?

Retirement offers you the chance to do what you always wanted to do, and no longer focus on simply earning a living. Plan your retirement so you have a purpose for each and every day.

“Do nothing without deliberation; then once you have acted, have no regrets.” Sirach 32:19

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