Ten (non-financial) Keys to
Much time has been spent talking
about retirement planning but most of it has to to with the
financial aspects of it. Financial planning however, is only
one part of planning for retirement - how you afford it. The
rest of retirement planning has more to how you run your life and
your relationships. The answers are not necessarily as easy as
you might think.
1) Why are you always here?
Letís face it, youíve spent the
last 20, 30, maybe even 40 years away from each other 9-10 hours per
day 5-6 days per week. Youíve lived together, but you havenít lived together all
day long. Youíve
developed habits, your way of doing things, and most of all, you
have acquired and learned to live in your space.
You eat lunch your way and your spouse eats it another way.
Discuss your ideas of retirement
with your mate, and maybe even consider some pre-retirement
used to being around each other could take months or a year.
You will learn to communicate in different ways.
This is a huge adjustment, so give it the consideration that
it requires. Most of
all, give each other some spaceÖ before you need it!
2) What do you mean you want to
What does retirement mean to you?
What does it mean to your spouse?
Have you discussed what retirement means to each other?
If not, you may both be operating with completely different
Chances are that each of you will
have different ideas. The
husband may have been looking forward to golfing every day while the
wife has been looking forward to spending much time together,
sleeping in, or traveling. The
day after the retirement party, both of you are going to run into
some surprises and disappointment.
Most of all, make room for each otherís ideas and learn to
compromise. In many
ways, you will find that the beginning of retirement is much like
the beginning of marriage was because you will be learning to live
together all over again.
3) Get exercise Ė join a gym
Youíve heard the phrase, Ďuse
it or lose ití. What they are probably talking about is your physical
fitness. When you were
20, you could have sat down for 3 months and then got up and
recovered quickly. Not
so now. Every day, your
body gives you one more chance.
If you pass on it, you may not get another one.
Keep moving, join a gym together or
at least find the local high school track or a jogging trail and
start walking. Not only
is it good for the heart, muscles, blood pressure, and bones, itís
also good for the brain and the libido.
4) Show me the money
If you donít have a financial
advisor, get one. Itís never too early to start to plan financially for
retirement. People are
living longer these days but yet still retire at the same age. If you are going to retire longer, you obviously need
to have more financial reserves and/or learn how to stretch it out
better. Take a look at
your life and health policies, update your will, and above all,
consider a living will. Itís
amazing how much peace of mind you will have at having all these
things updated and out of your worry box.
5) Know your boundaries
It is inevitable that people will
decide that since you are retired, you have extra time, and extra
resources. With this in
mind, understand that if you are willing to do whatever, someone
will let you. It goes
back to the old adage that your life will have an agendaÖ if not
yours, then someone elseís. Set
your own agenda and do so BEFORE you are asked.
Help out. If
what you want to do is watch the grandkids while your kids work,
thatís wonderful. You will help your kids, and both you and the grandkids will
build some incredible memories together.
But remember that this isnít your job unless you choose to
make it that.
Make sure that you are getting what
you need, and if you do watch the grandkids, make sure that the kids
have a backup plan so that you can get away or simply take time off.
A good way to do this for the timid is to set a time period,
ďI will watch the kids for you for the next 3 months to help you
save some money.Ē Then do take some time off.
It keeps the kids independent.
Above all, learn to say ďnoĒ,
and mean it. You CAN
learn to say it nicely and still get your point across.
Above all, donít come up with excuses to say no for you.
Excuses can be overcome, and it says that you simply arenít
resolute in your opinion. When
the excuse is gone, so is the reason you cannot participate.
Then you either get stuck with it or are left floundering for
another excuse. If you
arenít used to saying no, it may sound a bit harsh to others to
begin with. So be it.
They will get over it.
6) Get a hobby
This is probably one of the hardest
things for most retirees to get their arms around.
What to do next? As
a result, many watch television all day long, read every book they
can lay their hands on, increase the sleep to half the day, or
sometimes, just sit. Thereís
nothing wrong with any of these so long as it is moderation.
Taken to extreme, these can cause depression.
You need to be productive and find something you enjoy.
You might eventually end up with
several hobbies to avoid boredom, but start with one.
Learn about it, take classes, read books on it, research the
subject on the Internet, and then practice.
Become an expert. Whether you pick up a musical instrument, build wood
projects, create stained glass lamps, write, or build the biggest
garden in the neighborhood, enjoy!
7) Keep the juices flowing
Very few people who are working
actually end up with dementia or slip into Alzheimerís Disease.
Sure, age is a huge factor, but the biggest factor in keeping
away these life-stealers is the fact that they are keeping their
minds busy. Itís a
fact Ė even youngsters who vegetate will lose their ability to
creatively think, analyze information, and make well thought out
You are never too old to learn,
even if you donít learn as fast as you used to.
The amazing thing is that you can improve your ability to
learn once you start. Even
if you prefer to do nothing more, do at least one crossword puzzle a
day, keep up on your vitamins, and get a bit of exercise.
Doing just these basic things can help to eliminate confusion
and avoid being robbed of your mental acuity.
8) Get rid of old stuff
Believe it or not, that orange
polyester knit pants suit is NOT going to come back into style.
And if it did, it wouldnít have that oversized collar.
Get rid of it. And
get rid of all the other stuff that you have no need for.
Yes, you did pay good money for it
and no, there is no reason to throw good money away.
But itís old. If
in some odd order of things you found that 70ís vintage leisure
suits once again became the rage, you could afford to buy another
one without the slightly yellowed tinge to it and the 30-plus year
old styling gel residue on the collar.
Remember when everyone got together
and cleaned out grandmaís house and laughed at the stuff she kept?
Donít be that. Do
your kids a favor and toss out your own junk instead of leaving it
for them to do some day.
9) Volunteer your time
One of my favorite quotes is by
Horace Mann, founder of our countryís public education system.
He said, ďBe ashamed to die before you have won some
victory for humanity.Ē What
have you done lately?
Consider this Ė youíve spent 65
to 70 years collecting valuable information, life experience,
wisdom, education, and common sense. How wasteful is it to do absolutely nothing with it.
Ask your pastor/priest/rabbi what
needs to be done in your church or community.
I promise you will get a list.
Spend time with kids, be a mentor, teach childrenís church,
or volunteer for youth programs.
There are lots of kids that donít have grandparents or
donít have them nearby. More
or less adopt a few grandkids to make a huge difference in
Spending time with kids does more
than just benefit the kid. Your
wisdom and love will rub off on them, but you will get far more out
of it than you could imagine. Their
excitement, energy, joie de vive (love of life), will rub off on you
and you will find more enjoyment out of life than if youíd spent
that time hanging around the house or with your buddies.
10) Make friends
Sure, you probably have some
already. But make more.
Friends are a valuable resource in retirement because you
need to have people to be around.
Plan vacations together, develop new friendships around new
interests, and those who enjoy similar activities.
couple friends if you are married, but also make your own friends.
It may sound a bit morbid, but itís a reality that we are
faced with not quite fitting in with our married friendsí
lifestyles if something happens to your spouse first. Couplesí trips seldom include their widowed friends.
Single friends are good anyway.
They let both you and your spouse have time and space alone,
and let you do things that you want to do but your spouse does not.