We often hear of retirement as an economic event – how much do I need to pay the bills and how long will it last. Do we ever talk about what your life will look like in retirement? What will you do to fill the days? What are the things you’ve always wanted to do but never had the chance to do? Who are the people you want to surround yourself with now that your work friends are not part of your everyday life? What activities will replace the 9-5 chores?
If you think of retirement as another age or stage of your life you realize you can create it to be as full and as rewarding as the full-time working stage of your life. Yet most people devote as much time to that next stage as they do to picking a restaurant for dinner.
Consider that you have 24 hour days, 7 days a week to fill. That’s a lot of time.
And you can expect that your retirement will probably end up being sub-divided into three other stages: the initial stage when you have your health, your desire to travel, your interest in physical activities and the finances to do it all with. Assuming normal retirement at 65, you might be in that first stage for over 10 years or so. Then your interests in leaving your home turf, your desire to be physically active, and your wanderlust might be curbed by declining health. Or not. But clearly, the final stage of your retirement, whenever that might happen, would require more money to be spent on your physical health and maintaining your lifestyle.
We plan for retirement as though it is a straight line. The commercials ask us to figure out how much you will need but the assumption is the monthly need is always the same, save for an inflationary increase. Life doesn’t happen like that.
So take a good hard look at what your life in retirement will be. Just how would you like to spend it and plan accordingly.