Don’t Rush to Retirement

I loved this article by Robert Laura as it reflects what I continue to see in my financial planning practice.  The idea of retirement can seem very enticing.  We long for an unstructured day with plenty of time for hobbies,  relaxation, and travel.   But many of us take for granted the social and intellectual stimulation we gain from being employed.  As Mr. Laura states in the article:

“Too often, retirement is portrayed as the ultimate goal and sign of freedom, but when people get there, it can feel very empty or hollow. In some cases, it causes people to feel isolated or unimportant because they are being sold on only part of retirement’s true meaning and needs.”

So many of us derive our “relevance” from our career achievements and work environment.  When people retire and lose that “connectedness” and sense of being, they often fall prey to depression, substance abuse, and marital discord.   Mr. Laura tells the story of a friend who retired and feels a loss of purpose:

I said to my buddy, “It must be great being retired … to have the time, money, and freedom to come and help your son like this.”  He paused for a moment, looked me square in the eye, and said, “Bob, don’t ever retire, because the minute you do, you won’t mean anything to anyone anymore.” Those were his exact words, “You won’t mean anything to anyone anymore!”

Furthermore, a decision to retire, especially if it is early, can create other financial planning issues.  In this article from Fox News, 50 is the new 30, the author discusses how how longevity is complicating retirement planning.   To account for the fact that people are living longer they will need to assume that their money needs to last longer, perhaps 10 years longer than they anticipated, and also plan for long term care.  According to the article, statistics show that, “Only a lucky 30 percent of the population is estimated not to need long-term care after age 65”.

Focusing on these long term qualitative and quantitative issues is the essence of successful retirement planning.

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