Have you ever noticed how anti-climactic birthdays can be? The slow build-up all year long, only to eventually turn the subsequent age and then — boom — it’s over. One day of celebration. Then it’s on to the next thing. It’s not that birthdays are bad — and I know that some celebrate their birthdays for weeks or all month long (because that’s normal?) — and thus this analogy falls flat for them. But for an accused “poor celebrator of his own birthday” it’s difficult to get wrapped up in the 24-hour euphoria. (By the way, I earned that title the honest way asking that my wife not spend our money on me and that “I’m a big boy who can buy his own stuff.” I had no clue this was offensive until just recently.) In any case, I bring this up because I feel like people look at their future retirement in a very similar fashion; that our retirement planning focuses on the “stopping of work” as opposed to what we’re really going to do in our post-retirement lives.
Planning for retirement is more than just stopping your day job
After all, retirement is indeed going to relieve you of your day job. You’ll get to do what you want to do… when you want to do it. We look forward to it for a long time. Then it happens — and after all is said and done — arrives the big question: now what?
Don’t get me wrong, I understand the excitement of retirement. Unlike a birthday, it’s not a single point destination. Rather, it’s a new segment of a continuous journey. It’s a new era of life.
But how often do we really think about what we’ll do in the 30 or so years after we cross the threshold? Not just from saving enough to live your desired lifestyle (which, as a financial advisor, I can help with!) but truly looking at the opportunities to bring value to the communities around us, and how we’ll accomplish that. In fact — if we did — I believe we’d all look at retirement savings and planning in a very different way.
Redefining work in post-retirement
It is my personal view that we were created to work and bring value. So, why after 40+ years of grinding and hopefully bringing value to a work environment, would we assume that our souls would be fine to just stop there?
In a modern age that continues to bring the world closer to our fingertips, the opportunities to stay relevant are boundless. I have had many clients over the years that have served in many ways through their retirement years, and I love and respect that. The question is: how much more effective could we be if we planned our post-retirement working goals alongside our financial plans?
Ways we can plan for post-retirement “work”
One of the looser rules in my house is that you cannot make an unclear criticism without providing a recommendation for a fix. In keeping with that rule, here’s some of my suggestions to be mindful of financial planning for what we’ll do after retirement:
- Build into your retirement plan the cost of mentoring younger people within your community. The cost will probably be equivalent to a meal once a week. I can tell you firmly that great work has been done in my life by several men who went before me and cared enough to teach me over a meal they paid for.
- Apprentice the next generation in your career and continue to walk alongside them. You can also make yourself available as a resource.
- Invest time in a new job or career or invest time and money into continuing education. You can then pursue work that is meaningful and rewarding for you. Perhaps something you would have been unable to do in your younger years. This creates value for you and others without becoming “the daily grind.”
- Take advantage of the opportunity to care for young parents by watching their children. As a parent of young children, it’s vital that my wife and I get away for a couple of hours for our sanity. All parents need a break, and not all live close to grandparents or family.
So, will you plan your retirement to include the “next phase” of work? I would love to hear how you take this suggestion and plan to apply it. Remember, if I can ever be a service to you or your family, please reach out!