One favorite thing to ask new retirees is, “What’s the one thing you wish someone would have told you before you retired?” As you can imagine, a number of things come up including these seven lessons many had to learn the hard way.
1) You may not be ready for retirement
Lots of people get to retirement and decide that they are not cut out for it. Retirement is not required. Nobody says you have to stop doing what you love and slowly deteriorate in a rocking chair on your front porch. Retirement rules continue to be re-written and include not retiring at all. Whether you stay in your preferred vocation, start a business of your own or simply put your skills and talents to work for others in need, you can decide what retirement means to you.
2) Proximity is important
How close a new retiree lives to family, friends and certain services are a few of the most overlooked factors associated with retirement. I realize it may be a dream to move to that cottage on the lake, but being two hours away from the grandkids and 45 minutes from a reputable hospital may mean a large part of your retirement is spent on the road. Having access to people and things to do is a crucial factor to feeling young, relevant and connected.
3) There is no point system to follow in retirement
While working or in school, there is a common and well-understood point system that people can use to gauge where they are at and how well they are doing. Attending class and turning in assignments or meeting sales goals and being a team player are just a few of the things we know we need to do in order to be successful in life. But roles and requirements change dramatically in retirement, leaving some new retirees confused and disoriented; unsure of how to win at retirement.
4) If you don’t fill your day, other things and people will
Without a plan to make the most of your daily life in retirement, it’s easy to fall into unproductive ruts, come up with excuses for not seeing and doing new things, or become a nanny instead of a grandparent. Surprisingly, over 80 percent of baby boomers don’t have a plan for what their everyday life will look or feel like in retirement. As a result, they position themselves to be slaves to the TV, shop out of boredom or become victims of the dark side of retirement, which can include addiction and depression, to name a few issues.
5) Lending is income based, not asset based
Countless new retirees are frustrated by the mortgage or car loan process because they don’t realize most lending is based on income – not assets. Therefore, someone with $1 million in an IRA may pay a higher interest rate or even be turned down for a mortgage since their Social Security and investment income doesn’t meet certain lending standards. So, if you are going to need to use other people’s money in retirement, take care of this stuff before you retire and avoid the headaches and learning curve.
6) You can’t have it all
Retirement’s greatest illusion is the idea that you will be able to retire with your health, family, friends and enough money saved to live the life you deserve. Despite our best efforts, there are just too many buckets to fill in order to feel fulfilled on both the outside and inside. Therefore, while one or two areas may be going great, we may be failing at others. Fortunately, once a retiree figures it out, they can focus on the most important things instead of everything.
7) Body parts and senses often retire too
The idea of walking off into the sunset and having all your body parts working and senses intact is harder than most people think. Whether it’s a rotator cuff, knee, hip, hearing or vision, some retirees have to change their goals and plans for retirement due to neglect or overuse in these areas. Obviously some issues are genetic, but plans to travel, garden or play music can be hampered by the normal aging process. Furthermore, retirement doesn’t mean you have 30 – 40 years to do whatever you want when you want. It can change quickly and without any notice. Therefore, do the things that are most important to you right away so you can create a no regrets retirement plan.
Hopefully, these seven insider tips can help you avoid making the same mistakes past retirees did and instead of learning things the hard way, get a jump of what it takes to make a successful transition.