There were so many useful ideas presented at the Inside Retirement Conference in Dallas this year. I’ll be working some of these thoughts into future articles; but for today, I wanted to highlight the “top 3 tips” for successful retirement which I gained from the Conference. I feel that these insights can be valuable for anyone, no matter their age or current situation.
1. Longevity: according to data compiled by the Social Security Administration, the average life expectancy of a person who turns 65 this year is approximately 84 for men, and 86 for women. (And take note, that’s just the average, so many people are expected to live into their 90’s!) Clearly we are living longer, which is great news – so, how do we prepare for that??
It used to be that retirement planning assumed you spent 40 years earning and saving money, and then only 10-15 years of spending down that asset.The math, obviously, is changing.
“You can’t fund a 30-year retirement with a 40 year career” – John Shoven, Stanford economist
One element that is essential to success in this new reality is a realistic conversation about spending habits. That doesn’t have to be a conversation about scarcity or a lecture about what you can’t do. It’s about finding options. For example, if the money doesn’t support a European vacation every year, perhaps it could support a trip to Colorado each summer. Or, if the European vacation really what is desired, perhaps it requires a few more years in the workforce before retiring. It’s all about educating yourself in order to spend well – not denying yourself everything in order to spend nothing.
2. Lifestyle: one of the speakers noted that the impact of increasing one’s “social portfolio” is huge! When you retire, especially from a job you’ve held a long time, you face the possibility of losing your social network. Rather than focusing on the people you may be leaving behind, successful retirees look forward to spending more time pursuing other interests and/or forming new connections. In other words, ask yourself the question: WHO are you going to retire TO? Who will you see each day, and how will you interact? Will you be involved with your church? Your neighborhood association? What clubs do you, or might you, belong to? How will you spend time with your family/kids/grandkids? (Have you talked with them about this?) Beginning to plan for this will not only help to smooth the transition from a working lifestyle to a retirement lifestyle; it will also help you to increase your enjoyment when you cross the threshold.
3. Health: “Sitting is the new smoking,” one of the presenters asserted. Did you know that spending hours at a desk each day can lead to cancer, heart disease, and Type 2 diabetes, according to the American Heart Association? Even if you exercise regularly, prolonged sedentary time is detrimental to your heart and blood vessels. Thankfully, we are starting to use the power of technology to help ourselves out of this problem. Ever heard of a Fitbit, Jawbone, or Leaf? Have you ever tried using one? You might consider checking it out. We all have them at Shadowridge, and it’s not unusual for us to jump up just before the end of an hour and walk around the office building, just to earn that little checkmark that we’ve walked at least 250 steps per hour. It’s silly, but it works – before we had the Fitbit, hours would pass while we sat at our desks, unaware. If a Fitbit isn’t quite your style, have you ever looked to see if you have a
- pedometer app on your phone? You may be able to download one for free, and begin tracking your steps right away.
Another insightful observation was that a majority of people experience some sort of hearing loss as they get older. This often goes undetected, or simply “put up with” as one ages. However, the impact of this seemingly innocuous condition is larger than one may realize. If someone can’t hear well, they become isolated from others, which can lead to depression, withdrawal, and further health problems. (Think of what impact that has on your “social portfolio,” #2 above). Why not get to a hearing specialist when this condition begins, and find out what your options are?
I hope you have enjoyed these “Top 3 Tips” today. No matter where you are in your financial journey, you can benefit from just a little awareness and forethought. Watch for more on this topic in future newsletters!