I know many of you are reading this at the office. Retirement sounds really good when you are stuck in a gray cubicle all day. But while it is great to avoid rush hour traffic, mindless meetings, jerky coworkers and stressful assignments, there are a few downsides to retirement. Not having to work anymore can be great, but you might be surprised by what you will miss about work:
Social interaction. We spend eight to 10 hours a day at work, so naturally we have many friends and colleagues at the office. Once you retire, you will lose touch with most of your co-workers. They will be busy with work while you're trying to find something fun to do. For new retirees who don't have many friends outside of their workplace, retirement can be a lonely transition unless they cultivate new relationships.
Structured days. Another good thing about work is that it provides a general structure for your days. You have a loose schedule to follow, and this makes life comfortable. People rely on you to be somewhere at a certain time. Many daily timelines are as follows:
--8 a.m. - arrive at work
--10 a.m. - coffee break
--Noon - lunch
--12:30 p.m. - back to work
--5 p.m. - time to drive home.
When you're retired, your whole day is unstructured. You need to figure out what to do with all that time. Many people get stuck watching TV or surfing the Internet and don't get much done when there are no time pressures.
Goals. Work also provides us with short-term and long-term goals. There are important assignments to accomplish, and they keep us busy. Deadlines can be stressful, but they also push us forward. Retirement drastically cuts down on the number of goals you need to deal with. There are the usual household chores and things to fix, but that's a big reduction from the expectations placed upon you at your job.
Health care benefits. Most of us have health insurance through our employer. Sure, we pay for it out of every paycheck, but many employers also help out quite a bit. If you retire before qualifying for Medicare, you will have to buy your own health insurance. The cost of health care is going up every year, and it will take a big bite out of your retirement fund.
Outsourcing household chores. Most of us pay for many types of services. Paying someone to mow your lawn is fine when you are earning money, but you might feel guilty about it when you're retired. Retirees have a lot of time, so they could potentially deal with day to day issues without calling a service person. Doing household chores yourself can be a lot of fun, but sometimes I miss being able to just call the plumber to fix a broken toilet.
Retirement isn't all about kicking back at the pool. There are downsides, and many retirees have trouble adjusting. One alternative is to transition into retirement gradually by working part time. That way you can take the time you might need to get used to retirement, and learn how to spend all that extra time. The extra time will come in handy for making friends outside of work, taking on do-it-yourself projects and getting your finances in order.
Joe Udo blogs at Retire By 40 where he writes about passive income, frugal living, retirement investing and the challenges of early retirement. He recently left his corporate job to be a stay at home dad and blogger and is having the time of his life.
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