Each day, approximately ten thousand baby boomers celebrate their 65th Birthday. The age of 65 is most commonly recognized as “the age of retirement”; however, boomers are taking a different approach. While retirement used to mean the end of one’s working years, we now see a growing number of Americans working beyond the age of 65 and retirees continuing to work on a part-time schedule.
One of the fundamental reasons for this shift in working behavior among baby boomers is the desire to retire happy. How can you determine if you are ready to not only retire, but have a fulfilling retirement?
I am 67 years old, have been working in the school system for over 40 years. I am retiring happy; you can too!
1. Ensure you are ready to retire (emotionally & financially).
Financially – A growing number of eligible retirees are remaining active in the work force for financial reasons. Many depend on their income to maintain a certain standard of living that would be difficult to maintain in retirement. To determine whether you are financially ready to retire, compare your monthly living expenses with expected income from pensions, Social Security, 401Ks and IRAs. Do the expenses outweigh the income?
In addition, the loss of health insurance benefits provided by an employer can dissuade many from pursuing the path to retirement.
Emotionally – Retirement is also emotional. It signals a new phase of life that, for some, is hard to accept.
As boomers reach the age of eligible retirement it is important to be both financially and emotionally ready to leave the workforce.
40 years of built up retirement savings; but will it be enough? Thankfully, I had the opportunity to attend a financial literacy seminar at my local credit union specific to retirement in the education industry. The member service team went through a thorough presentation and scheduled times to meet with potential retirees, like myself, one on one to go over the retirement process and their advice on money management. After my consultation, I felt confident that I would be able to retire and provide for my family.
There was a mourning process in leaving a job that I had for the past 40 years. Of course, I will not miss the alarm clock ringing at 5am, the sometimes abrupt calls from student’s parents, late night Board of Ed. Meetings or lunch duty. I will miss the comradery I had developed with my coworkers. To my surprise, I even miss the bustling sound of energized middle-schoolers walking through the halls.
2. Have a plan for retirement.
What activities provide you with the most joy? It is important for a retiree to align his or her interests, talents and values with activities, groups, and volunteer opportunities.
Sure, many dread the idea of aging and entering a new chapter in life, but who says that chapter won’t be the best one yet? How will you take advantage of the time you have? Whether you would travel, spend more time with family, work on your golf swing, or volunteer your time, the opportunities for retirees have little boundary. Remaining active not only increases levels of happiness but also feelings of self-worth
Having a plan for spending time has always been somewhat of a joke in my family. “Dad, you can’t retire . . . all you will do is watch Law & Order reruns & play Candy Crush on your recliner!” A concern commonly expressed by my daughter. Although we would laugh, there was a big element of truth to this. My work has been my life for so long; I have not been able to explore what I love to do! So it’s time to start planning! I will pick up some extra rounds on the golf course, my application is in to join the local Italian American Club, I will spend the nicest of days hiking up some of my favorite trails and perhaps learn to paddleboard. I will meet the new me!
3. Be prepared for anything.
Having a strong support system is an essential part of retirement planning. Of course retirement in the warm Florida air may seem like a dream; however, consider your proximity to your family or support system.
Friends who have retired before me have had wonderful adventures – one even retired in St. Thomas, spent her morning watching the turtles, dolphins and cruise ships on the water and days working at a shell shop. It was the right fit for her; however, my family is a much of a support to me as I am to them. I have come to accept the inevitable in life, and though it pains me to think about, I want to make sure that my wife or I will have the physical and emotional support of family when the other is no longer here.
Are you ready to retire happy?
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Written by Amanda Keefe; excerpts from interview with current retiree.