I was recently reading an article by Ashlea Elbing of Forbes.com about avoiding a depressing retirement. While the pairing of the words "depressing" and "retirement" might seem a strange juxtaposition, if it's a retirement that is financially insecure, I can certainly see how it would be or could be quite depressing.
This article got me thinking about the ways that my wife and I are planning for our retirement and how our preparations will hopefully act to leave us with a quite inspiring retirement, rather than a depressing one. Here are a few of the major aspects of our retirement planning that I'm hoping will help to keep us happy and healthy in our golden years.
Utilizing Extra Income
I would really like to avoid dipping into our savings in retirement except for emergencies or to splurge for a special occasion like a birthday treat, trip, or similar event or item. It would be preferable to me if we could instead utilize things our Social Security checks, interest from savings, and dividend or income fund checks from our retirement accounts to pay our regularly occurring bills -- items like utility bills, food expenses, clothing, health care, property taxes, home repairs, and similar items -- and leave the balance of our retirement savings in place as a sort of emergency fund/income generator. I'd also like to supplement our retirement with part-time work not only for the income and financial security aspects but because it would continue to add purpose and fulfillment to my retirement life.
Understanding What Retirement Really is
Thankfully, my wife and I both have a pretty good idea of what our eventual retirements will look like. Since she works in a school system and gets summers off, and I am self-employed and can kind of create my own schedule and work on my own time, we each have a lot of control over our lives, our schedules, and our time.
Unfortunately, I think a large portion of the working population that goes in to a regular 9-5 type job -- though no fault of their own -- doesn't have a real understanding of what retirement is or what having freedom over their time in retirement can entail. I realized after several months into my self-employment venture that having months of time on my hands to do with as I saw fit was somewhat different than I had envisioned. I realized too that without some real direction, I might find that time quite boring. Retirement to us means taking on some new challenges and trying new things, not just sitting around watching television all day. This is why having some vision as to how our retirement will proceed is important to avoiding a depressing retirement.
With some of my family members who are in a rush to retire, I wonder just what the hurry is. They have no real hobbies, and the things that they do enjoy simply absorb money that they may not have to lose.
I have visions of what my retirement will be since I hope it remains similar to the life I lead right now. I have a plan to continue working part-time in retirement, and I'd like to live in a location where I can work and live partially off the land and where I won't need a lot of money to sustain myself or my family. I might even like to try a low risk/low startup cost business venture of some sort and be able to do some traveling in retirement. And my wife would like to be involved in those adventures.
Being able to plan these visions now can help make it not only easier to mold our financial situation to accommodate such visions along the way, but add some clarity as to where we want to end up and what we need to do to get there.
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More From This Contributor:
Elbing, Ashlea. Forbes.com. "How to avoid a depressing retirement." October 16, 2012. http://money.msn.com/retirement/how-to-avoid-a-depressing-retirement. October 20, 2012.