Baby Boomers spent decades worth of daylight at work. Later, in the still darkness of their bedroom, they dreamed of that shining moment in the future. It would be the moment when they retire. Now, the day is here! There is a party, gifts, and friends and family wishing for happy days going forward! The retiree marches boldly into the future he/she has anticipated for a long time. Is there a happy ending to my story? Perhaps, but three months down the road our hero will have been surprised by any number of lifestyle and financial realities.
It is for times like this that the business arm of Gildshire’s Politics and Business magazine was born. In our hearts, we believe that knowing how to prepare will help anyone’s adjustment to life’s next phase. That was true on the first day at school, and the first day on the job. It’s no less true as Baby Boomers prepare for retirement.
Gildshire asked some soon-to-be retirees what they expected out of retirement. We will call them Group One. Then, we asked some already-retired folks (Group Two) what they wished they had known when they first embarked on life’s next journey. Here is what we learned.
Most members of Group One believed that healthcare would be their primary expense. But, Group Two reports that housing is still their highest budget item. As it turns out, taxes, upkeep, and maintenance go on forever. Group Two asked us to caution retirement newbies against buying a more-expensive home when they retire.
Surprisingly enough, 70% of Group Two continue to work. Some work because they actually need the extra money, but that doesn’t make up the majority. A desire to remain productive is the motivation for most. Many members of Group Two turned a favorite hobby into an at-home business.
Ninety percent of Group One say they intend to volunteer, but less than 25% of Group Two actually volunteer. Does that make Group One just a better grade of folks? Since we doubt that to be the case, let’s see why it works out that way? People who do volunteer work in their retirement are people who already volunteer. It isn’t something you pick up later in life.
Good health is always important, but never more than after we retire. Feel blessed if you’re healthy, but Group Two tell us that a health issue or two slows them down. Thirty-four percent of Group Two report being surprised by their various health issues and concerns. The expense to treat these problems (most of them minor in nature) is an issue, as well.
“You’re as young as you feel.” Some good news here, because that won’t change. Well over half of Group Two told us they feel ten years younger and have to remind themselves (sometimes via the bathroom mirror) that they aren’t.
Members of Group One expressed some trepidation because they didn’t start financial planning for retirement as soon as they should have started. It turns out that both groups had this in common. Does it all work out?
No one knows if they are financially ready to retire, because no one knows how long they will live. One Group One member told us she had enough cash on hand to last her the rest of her life…so long as a bus ran her down by next Tuesday. Few people started saving early enough, but, that’s over now.
Some members of Group One look toward retirement with some trepidation. Will they be happy? Group Two is clear on this subject. Go outside! It is said that idleness is the Devil’s playground, but it’s also the source of some of life’s loneliness and depression. We already discussed volunteering, and spending time with family and close friends is another way to be happy. If you can’t afford to travel as much as you like invite them to come to you.
Would you like to know the best news? You’re likely going to be happy in your retirement years. There’s a great survey recently published by the Pew Research Institute. The results reveal that 45 percent of retirees 75+ report that their post-career lives were better than anticipated. Just five percent say it turned out less enjoyable than they expected it to be.
Happy retirement, friend. More likely than not, it will be.