The idea of retirement and the ability of many to reach their golden years successfully has been getting a lot of press lately. According to a recent U.S. New & World Report article, "Nearly 3 in 4 boomers say they've been forced to rethink their retirement date. Of these, nearly 80 percent (or more than half of all middle-income boomers) said they would delay retirement -- by an average of five years -- and 14 percent said they feel they can never retire. Retirement used to be linked with a person's age. "Today, more than ever, a new number has emerged in its place -- the amount of one's personal savings," the study said. "On the new road to retirement, Americans can now retire only when they feel they can afford to do so."
Personally, I haven't given up on the idea of retirement just yet, but I think the idea might have to be somewhat retooled.
Adapting the idea of retirement
In my opinion, the idea of retirement doesn't have to be an all or nothing proposition, although it may have been for many years up to this point. Retirement doesn't necessarily have to be a working retirement or an independent retirement where a retiree only spends investment dividends and interest, or a drawdown retirement in which they gradually suck dry the wells of their retirement accounts, or a dependant retirement in which a retiree depends upon Social Security, a pension, or family members for support.
Why can't it be some sort of hybrid in which a variety of aspects from multiple types of retirements are incorporated? This is what my plan involves. A combination of a variety of retirement types could include some work, some dependence upon investment returns, some reliance upon fixed incomes like Social Security and pensions, and possibly drawing down slightly upon retirement assets.
Building flexibility into retirement
Beyond using multiple forms of retirement plans to develop my retirement future, there is other flexibility that I hope to build into our senior years. We're looking to do this in several ways.
First off, we've worked hard at becoming mortgage-free, and we hope to stay that way until retirement, allowing us to enter our golden years with a lesser debt load and associated expenses. We're also looking to broaden our asset and investment diversification outside just stocks, including things like real estate (our home), bonds, cash, possibly land, and other tangible assets. And finally, in retirement we'd like to remain willing to consider various living situations (renting, owning, assisted living) and locations (urban, rural, geographic) based upon factors such as family, infrastructure, health needs, and cost of living.
The idea of retirement needs to keep pace with the rest of the world
In my opinion, with all the technological advancement society can adapt these days, it just seems that we're too slow to change when it comes to what our idea of retirement is. 30 years ago, we weren't (as a society I mean) spending hundreds or even thousands of dollars on smart phones and all the apps that go along with them. We didn't have GPS or the Internet. We didn't have online banking and bill pay. And we didn't have all those other things that supposedly make our lives easier nowadays. Yet with all these conveniences, are we not willing to work a little harder at or in retirement?
Maybe if we adapt our idea of retirement so that it includes a little work to make up for all the conveniences we have now, we might not find planning for it such a struggle. Building in a part-time job (even just a few hours a week), cutting expenses, and making a few other minor sacrifices in our golden years might help us make up for all the technological advancements we use -- and pay for -- now.
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The author is not a licensed financial professional. The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute advice of any kind. Any action taken by the reader due to the information provided in this article is solely at the reader's discretion.
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