Category: Retirement Life

Don’t Worry, You Are Going to Get Happier. Ha!

downloadAs we age, things start to go downhill: bad knees, high blood pressure, not being as needed by the world we more recently inhabited, and slowly tallying the friends and acquaintances who have passed from our lives. From that you would assume as we age our happiness decreases. But for most of us that is not true!

Most of us wonder about how to be happy, and also what life will look like as we age? Our cycle of life is such that, for most people, are pretty happy when we are young, for lots of reasons. But then we slog and grind our way through our 30s to our 50s, dealing with unrealized goals and avoiding uncomfortable truths about ourselves. But as we approach 60 all indications are that we get happier, become more satisfied. I am 63, and have dealt with life’s realities, like everyone. Oh, and I accept them. Ha! Maybe that is what they mean when they say “we get wiser as we age”. Giving up control over things we cannot control, came to me late in life. But, I now find that comforting and have more peace.

imagesIt turns out that at that time in our lives, we start to shed a lot of our illusions and disappointments and start appreciating what we have and where we want to make a difference — literally forgetting about the Joneses or the regrets of a musical, or artistic career never pursued. Instead we turn our eyes to those most important to us, like family, friends, and others in our circle of loved ones.

It’s really easy to get caught up in our here and now, and divert our eyes from the distant horizon. Let’s face it, we’re all pretty busy doing what we are doing. It’s also easy to wonder what life is all about, and maybe feel like we kinda missed out on what we thought, at the time, would make us happy. What I think we really have done is not see what is most important, and not focused on those things. And that just takes time. But the nice part? As you age, you will probably be happier and more content.

That crossover in life expectations reminds me of what we experience in the financial markets all the time. The former high-flying stock markets bottoms out as earnings expectations eventually catch up with reality… or some off the ‘thing’ like Hawaii is notified of an incoming ballistic missile (on a day the market is open).  Many of the disappointed retirees sell out, and those remaining are satisfied just keeping up with inflation, many without even realizing it.

Our lives are not investments. But expectations matter. The evidence on the midlife valley in life satisfaction is overwhelming. If it doesn’t hit you smack-dab between the eyes, consider yourself lucky. We spend so much time planning our financial lives: saving, working, spending. We do little to plan for life’s inevitable shocks, whether they be in middle age or in retirement. Just knowing about this little talked about reality of life will remind you that you are not unique, and there is a reason for optimism as you emerge from the valley of disappointments of the 40’s and 50’s into the sunshine of the 60’s.

So what all this means it that you can literally plan on being happier as you age, with the understanding that your 30s to your mid-50s may be disappointing in many ways. But you probably won’t care about that once you are through it. You’ve got good things ahead. As I always say, “bolder not older”.

Retirement Lifestyle… Have You Thought About…

Have you thought about whether you want to  r  e  l  a  x  or you want to ‘adventure’? There is a myriad of things you can choose to do in retirement. Here are some lifestyles worth thinking about.

romantic holidays… The Beach? Yes, it is nice for vacation, but what about waking up every day to the ocean? Too expensive, you say. There are numerous ex-pat communities in a dozen countries where you can live next to the ocean for less than a bad neighborhood in some cities of the United States, like LA where I live.

1… A Golf Community? If one or both of you enjoy golf, it can be less expensive to live in one of the many golf communities, especially those created for retirees than to pay for golf everyday. These retirement oriented communities also have a lot of things to do, even if one of you do not want to golf.

Man using laptop computer in classroom… The Joys of a College Town? They give great access to libraries, sporting events, speakers, concerts, theater and all at a lower cost for seniors. Also many schools have special course offerings for those seniors that want to keep their brain active by learning.

Staying Put? There is no rule that says you must do anything, make any big changes. Do not be coerced into a lifestyle you ‘think’ you need to live because of all the glitzy marketing. It can be wonderful and numerous retirees enjoy the slower, ‘do what I want when I want’ while remaining right where they have been comfortable for many years.

shutterstock_257430472… Volunteering? The opportunities to find satisfaction volunteering are almost limitless. What are you interested in? What are you passionate about? What causes would you like to see forwarded and supported? The socialization that is inherent with volunteering cannot be overlooked either.


… Another Career?
Whether full-time or part-time, you now have the flexibility to ‘work’ at something you will enjoy. It does not need to be all about the amount of money you earn either. Many people find additional security too, by earning some ‘more’ money after retiring from their working career. What about consulting?

… Being an Entrepreneur? Did you know that more than five million 55 and uppers are business owners and self-employed. Retirement can be a chance to be your own boss, doing something you are motivated to do. According to the SBA, 55-64 year olds are the fastest growing group of self-employed.

… Pinching Your Pennies? I have several clients that make it a hobby, they have fun seeing how much they can save. They do it by doing things for themselves that they used to pay to have done. You can find DIY videos on almost everything. Example: I own a’95 Ford Bronco. The heater core started leaking. Two estimates were $700-$800 for the repair. I looked online and found the repair fairly simple. By following the video instructions, I saved $650. The video said it would take 30 minutes but it took me an hour. But when retired we have more time. Coupon cutting, discount shopping and being frugal can be a hobby too. A side benefit is that it is a way to decrease the effects of inflation too!

… Making the Dream Come True. Many have thought about writing, painting, drawing, crafting, carpentering, playing a musical instrument. You get the idea. The things we have collectively thought ‘may’ be fun, interesting and rewarding to do are limitless. Try some of them!

AW-Lifestyle… Gardening and keeping animals? Gardening, whether ornamental, for healthy eating or both can be very satisfying. Two side benefits are fresh produce and it requires exercise. You need to keep moving. This is a good way to do it. Animals whether livestock, pets or both can add motivation and joy to daily retirement live. Hey, studies show we live longer when we have a reason to do so.

There are so, so very many things, you can do in retirement, many of which you have likely never thought about. Think about it! Google. Research. Get excited! Get motivated!

 

Clear Up, Cut Down, Set Up, and Get Down… It’s not a dance lesson. Ha!

ff.pngMost 55 and uppers bought their home 25 years ago, or longer when retirement was something our parents were getting ready to do. Back then we chose our home based on price, location, neighborhood, proximity to work and schools for raising a family. We did not at all think about how suitable it would be when we retire.

When we are finished with the working years, we see things differently around the house. The reasons we wanted it a long time ago no longer apply. How functional is it for our day-to-day lives at 65, 70, 75? You get the idea. It is no longer dropping the kids here and there, no longer the commute to work. It’s the trips up and down stairs, the cleaning and maintenance, it’s the weather, proximity to family, grandchildren, etcetera that are the focus. This shift in focus means many retirees consider moving to a home that better suits them. For whatever reason, rethinking where they call home makes sense as they embrace their new retirement lifestyle.

We are fortunate to live in a climate that offers nice weather year-round. This makes moving out of the area difficult to consider for many. That said one must weigh the motivations for thinking about a move. Maybe downsizing is an option for convenience and comfort but if the gran children are on the east coast that does not help. Do you have neighbors you appreciate? Can new relationships be established if you move? Is that even important?

Lots to think about so that you can make the very most of your home and location in your retirement years. If you want to stay in the area as 9 out of 10 people I talk to here in Southern California do, then here are some suggestions to make the place you live in now ‘more’ livable.

Little by little you can focus on this 4 Step approach; Clear Up, Cut Down, Set Up, and Get Down. Ha! Say that fast three times. 🙂

Clear Up

hhMake it a regular focus to clear up and simplifying our day-to-day lives. The goal being to minimize the things we don’t want to do so we can spend more time doing things we do want to do. This includes simplification of our financial life, simplification of our yard care, and reducing the commitments on our time. For example, if you do not like shopping for groceries and preparing meals, figure out a simpler way to have nutritious meals. Think outside the traditional box. Delivery of great meals (ready to prepare) is getting better and less expensive. Ordering groceries online and having them delivered might work. If you use to enjoy yard work and gardening but no longer do, install low maintenance and drought resistant plants. Just a couple of things. There are many to consider. Bedrooms can become hobby or multi-use rooms. You get the idea.

Cut Down

Most of us have too much stuff. ‘Stuff’ we have accumulated over the years. Some of it is important and useful, but much of the stuff is not… at least not anymore to us. Give it to someone that it would be useful to. New and open space in your home can create new and open space in your head. Fill it with something of interest! Take your time. It is not a race. The sense of a small accomplishment will spur you on to the next. Start in the areas you spend the most time, eventually working your way to the garage. One day you will be surprised to be parking the second car in the garage.

Set Up

Set up for simplicity and time maximization. Fortunately, modern technology has made getting and staying organized easier. Between machines that scan and digitize receipts and Google, it is hardly necessary saving anything in file folders anymore. Get rid of all those old files. Scan your family photos, they will last longer. De-clutter the paperwork, manuals, receipts. You can find them easier too. That is, if you need them… ever again. One thing we are running short on in retirement is time. Make time for the things you enjoy and appreciate.

Break it Down

We are not talking about dance here. Breaking it down making our homes turnkey means it is fully functional and ready for occupation… with ease. By simplifying and automating, our home functions better and requires less effort for its day-to-day upkeep. This also helps when we travel for extended periods since we like to have house sitters for the peace-of-mind they provide. Maybe when you travel you are keen on having people you know stay in your home, but give other ideas a thought. What about the idea of house-swapping? Whether you are home, or it is temporarily occupied by friends or even complete strangers, a turnkey home means having fewer things to worry about.

Rather than downsizing as the first ‘go to’ idea, consider adjusting things so that your current home ‘fits’ your ‘new’ and retired lifestyle. If it works, great! If not you can do something more drastic, like moving.

Retirement is in many ways about peace of mind. Low stress. Ease. AHhhhhhhhhh. Enjoy.

Purpose Adds Life to Retirement

Let’s be real, we tend to ‘want’ to live more when we have a purpose to do so. You need reasons to want to wake up when you retire, reasons to get out of bed.  Researchers from Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario, and the University of Rochester in New York, tracked the physical and mental health of more than 7,000 American adults ages 20 to 75 for 14 years, and found that those who felt they had a purpose or direction in life outlived those who did not. Being grateful for life will keep you living longer, healthier and happier. E. Christine Moll, PhD, a professor in the department of counseling and human services at Canisius College in Buffalo, New York, and member of the American Counseling Association says having an attitude of gratitude is key, “Be grateful for what you’ve done and where you’ve been, and look forward to more of the same.

saDon’t stagnate! There are so many things to do. I will give you 10 to get you thinking. A no brainer is Join a gym. A survey by Norwegian researchers published in 2011 in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise found that exercising at any level is associated with better physical and mental health, especially for older men and women. “If you’re confined to a wheelchair, you can still move your arms or even your eyebrows — that’s like doing exercise,” Moll says. Meet people who have similar interests. You can make dates with your gym buddies and have something ‘new’ to look forward to.

What did you enjoy before you retired? Your hobbies? Do more of what interests you. There’s no reason to stop now, Moll says. You may need to alter your hobbies to fit your physical abilities, but you can and should still do the things you enjoy most. “Adapt what you love to fit what you’re able to do today,” she says. Find new interests too. Retirement doesn’t mean you retire from life, says Elizabeth Lombardo, PhD, a Chicago area psychologist and author of Better Than Perfect: 7 Strategies to Crush Your Inner Critic and Create a Life You Love. “This is an opportunity to try something new — maybe learn a new language or travel somewhere you’ve never been,” she says. Redirect your purpose once you retire to redefine how you spend your time.

There are so, so many. Become Politically Active. You have time to attend city council meetings and share their wisdom and their experience. Consider working on the campaigns of candidates whose views you admire. If you’re unable to go to campaign headquarters, you can volunteer to make phone calls from home. A number of colleges and universities, including Ivy League schools, allow seniors to audit courses at no charge. Learn something you have always wanted to know or know more about. If you’re homebound, you can take courses online. Opportunities to give back and volunteer are almost limitless. The local food pantry or library could likely use your help, and so could area hospitals and nursing homes. Volunteering will get you out and with people of all generations, Kennedy says, and having to be somewhere to do something regularly will keep you feeling needed.

yy.pngEnjoy your local culture. Keeping active intellectually is as important as keeping active physically, Kennedy says. Plan trips to local art galleries, museums, and science centers to learn new things and see what you can recall. Play games. Play whatever you find fun. Find others, neighbors or members of your church or senior center who are interested in what you are interested in. Meet regularly to play. Can’t get together? Play chess or other games online. Play basketball, if you want. Never say never. Ha! Offer your professional skills. Become an emeritus. If you were an accountant before retirement, you might volunteer your services at tax time to help other seniors. If you were a teacher, consider reading to, or recording books for, the visually impaired. You get the idea. Do you enjoy children? You can babysit and help local families with childcare needs. It might even bring in a little extra cash.

Don’t be discouraged if it takes a while. Remember, like anything new, retirement can take a while to hit your stride, find your ‘thing(s)’. As I said, the ideas are many! ENJOY your retirement. After all… it is for the rest of your life.

 

Retirement Advice For the Young(er) People In Your Life… and YOU.

As they say, with age comes wisdom. Don’t get me wrong, there are moments when I would give up some of the massive amount of wisdom I have gained in exchange for some of the age I have lost. Ha-ha! That said, if I only knew what I know now back when I was 20 or even 30. Back then we think we will live forever. Retirement thoughts rarely crossed my mind. There were plenty other distractions. I could not even imagine being at retirement age. But the funny thing, here I am… 63. Who is that in the mirror looking back at me?

If you know any younger people that will listen, here are some things worth talking about. It’s not all about the money. Yes, we all know subsidizing retirement lifestyle requires savings. But too few consider the importance of preparing beyond finances. What will you do that motivates you to wake up everyday? Who will you be once you are no longer defined by the ‘working/earning’ person you were? How does your spouse see retirement? Are you on the same page? If not, how do you make that work? Without real preparation you risk boredom and dissatisfaction during what should be the best time of your life.

eeOver my 30+ year financial career I have too often see people facing and deciding to cash out 401(k) accounts. With Social Security in question, especially for younger people, the importance of sacrificing a bit today for security later is even more important. Einstein said, “compounding is the eighth wonder of the world”. Look at Investing for beginners to learn more. That means dollars growing moderately over longer periods of time are much more effective than later dollars saved with little time to compound.  “Leave it alone and let it grow” should be your advice to your youngers.

Times have changed significantly, to say the least. Most young people will have multiple jobs over their lifetime. They should be prepared to work at many different companies over their working years. The days of spending an entire career at one place are gone. Understanding the financial realities of retirement are tantamount to providing the motivation to get started NOW! Retirement will not be cheap. Per Fidelity, healthcare costs for the average couple retiring in 2016 will ring in at $260,000 for supplemental insurance. MediCare is not free! Think again.

In retirement you want to do those things you have dreamed of. Realizing those dreams will generally not be cheap either. When budgeting don’t forget to account for those things you have been waiting all your life to do. This is what retirement should be about. Rewarding yourself for the discipline you exercised. Note to your youngers: put those dollars aside now so you can do all you dream of when you finally have the time to do it.

You have one chance to get it right. And since this will be our first time at it, none of us has any real experience being retired. It is possible you may not get everything exactly right but that is OK. Get the big things right and be prepared to be dynamic, to go with the flow. Make changes where necessary, try new things, and don’t be too hard on yourself. There is no deadline to get everything right. So long as you continue to learn as you go you are making progress. Remember there are two sides to a successful retirement; having some money saved and adjusting to a ‘happy’ lifestyle you can afford. Don’t get hung up on, “I don’t have enough”. There is much in life that costs very little. Important and amazing ‘stuff’, helping, loving, walking in a beautiful place, a lovely meal and nice glass of wine… that you prepared. You get the idea.

When I was in my twenties I began a life-long commitment to setting aside time for regular exercise and attempting to eat a decent diet. Tell all the young people you know that good habits now will continue to be good habits later in life. “Use it or lose it,” as they say. Weight training for muscle and bone strength is important. Yoga and stretching for balance and flexibility is huge. Cardio for heart health too! Keeping your brain active may be the most important! The retirement journey will be so much more enjoyable if you are healthy in mind and body.

Make retirement count. It is what we have left. I say, “Bolder not older”!

GET BUSY… but only If you want too.

sdsHello Readers. One of the top goals for every 55 and upper that I work with is contentment. Of course, contentment is something different for each of us. When working, we are so busy that it can be unsettling when we retire. Though I enjoy and I am not yet thinking about retirement, I am working on and getting better with having and enjoying unstructured time. It is a work in progress. I am practicing for retirement.

One of the ways I go about it is to create mini structures or smaller projects that can be done in bites and I can still feel like I accomplished something. This helps to keep anxiety down. My soon to be released book is a good example. I stressed a lot about it until I broke in down into doable, bites. Now it is almost ready to publish.

That said, I am just back from a too short and overdue visit with my family in Ohio. Most of it was spent in Amish country, Quaker City where one of my brothers recently purchased a thirty-acre farm. Sooooo many projects, sheeeesh. Two of my other brothers came down with their families as well as a couple of friends.

kjljHow wonderful and enjoyable it was to spend time with everyone, to have good meals, bonfires, ride horses, go on rural country road drives, fish in the creek, and listen to the waterfalling outside the house at night. That said even with all of that we had some mini projects that we could all pitch in and do that my brother could not do alone. We used the 4X4 to help dredge some of the pond (as we swam too), we formed a work line and loaded 3 cords of cut wood into the wood shed for the winter (while we laughed and reminisced) and we cleaned out barn stalls in preparation for animals (made plans for horseback riding in the future). There was comfort and joy in accomplishing these things.

This is just a reminder that retirement is about contentment, whatever that means to you. Having things to get up for, makes us want to get up!!!! That is why I end every financial course or workshop by saying, “If we are able to think when we are on our deathbed, we will not be wishing we had more money. We will likely be thinking about more time. Therefore, retire as soon as you can and make the most out of what can be the best part of your life, retirement”.

Fourth of July- Retired Veterans Burn the Flag… and you should too!

asdaOn of this 4th of July 2017, I want to say THANK YOU to all our retired military veterans, for their part in maintaining the (remaining) freedoms we still enjoy. Thank you for your respect of America, for what America is about. Thank you for your respect of our flag. Many people do not dispose of flags in an honorable way.

When an American flag becomes worn, faded, torn or soiled, it should be retired and replaced with a new flag. There are several ways to respectfully dispose of the American flag without showing disgrace. The most common method is burning the torn or tattered flag in a special ceremony. Here are the steps you should follow.

123123The Veterans Department of Affairs suggests starting by folding the flag in a customary triangle manner. Then prepare a large enough fire space to sufficiently burn the flag completely. Next place the flag in the fire and while it burns, individuals at the ceremony should salute or recite the Pledge of Allegiance. Finally, end the ceremony with a moment of silence and bury the ashes once the flag is completely consumed.

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I am the proud father of a US Airman. Thank you, son. Further, I want to thank all our military forces and families for all they do and all they give. Thank you, Mr. President for your patriotism, for your hope for America. Thank you for honoring our veterans in a way that has not been done for a while at the Celebrate Freedom Rally.

When it comes to retiring, your psychological assets need as much consideration as your financial assets

Webp.net-resizeimageWe all ask “How much money will I need?” and “Do I have enough saved?” But while financial security is certainly critical, people need to amass more than money for a successful retirement. They need to stockpile their emotional reserves, as well; courage, flexibility, acceptance, motivation, curiosity, etc. Too few people consider the psychological adjustments that accompany this life stage, which can include coping with the loss of your career identity, replacing support and friendship networks you had through work, spending more time than ever before with your spouse and finding new and engaging ways to stay active.

Webp.net-resizeimage (1)Some retirees ease smoothly into retirement, spending more time with hobbies or family and friends. But others, research finds, experience anxiety, depression and debilitating feelings of loss, says Robert Delamontagne, PhD, author of the 2011 book “The Retiring Mind: How to Make the Psychological Transition to Retirement.”   “People can go through hell when they retire and they will never say a word about it, often because they are embarrassed,” Delamontagne says. “The cultural norm for retirement is that you are living the good life.”

Psychological research has found that working or volunteering during retirement can help stave off depression, as well as dementia and hypertension. But activities aren’t always the answer, or the key to everyone’s well-being. Psychologist Jacquelyn B. James, PhD, of the Sloan Center on Aging and Work at Boston College, has found that only those people who are truly engaged in their post-retirement activities reap the psychological benefits.

That’s why people need to be doing social or psychological portfolio planning as much, if not more than financial planning. This needs to be done before they retire, to figure out what makes them happy. Jumping off a diving board into retirement is not advised. It’s a process and it takes time. Learn to swim first. Test the waters early and often.

Be on the lookout for the next installation of Psychological Asset Planning.

Age is but a number!

L blog 1Don’t let yourself be brainwashed about aging. Old ideas, Hollywood movies, media’s portrayal, flawed research studies geared to selling medications, mandatory retirement ages, doctors over-prescribing unnecessary medicines, over the hill jokes, advertisers, commercials and more have all negatively affected the way we age. DON’T BELIEVE IT!

The truth about what’s possible is mind-blowing. There are many things we can do when we retire that we have always wanted to do. Once retired, you can do them! We are being brainwashed by our friends, co-workers, families, and more importantly… even ourselves.

There is a reason they say, “aging is not for the weak of heart”. Not one of us looks forward to the diminishing of any of our capacities but we can be brave, be bold. No, we cannot hold back the clock, of course not. But what we choose to do with the minutes are up to us. I subscribe to aging actively. Active ageing allows people to stay in control of their lives, to maintain their independence and dignity. It allows us to realize our full potential for physical, social, and mental well-being throughout the life course.

L Blog 1.2The word “active” refers to continuing participation in life at levels that motivate and sustain us. It is about not just ‘staying’ healthy or ‘staying’ active, it is about improving on those things. We have all heard, “use it or lose it,” well that is never more true than in retirement. It encompasses not just the ability to be physically, mentally active, and/or to participate in the labor force, in includes staying involved in social, economic, cultural, spiritual, and civic affairs. Even with the inevitable ills and disabilities, with the right attitude, we can remain active contributors to our families, peers, communities and even our country. Active ageing aims to extend healthy life expectancy and maximize the quality of life for all people as they age, with and without infirmaries.

“Health” refers to physical, mental and social well being as expressed in the World Health Organization definition of health. Maintaining autonomy and independence for older people is a key goal in the policy framework for active ageing.

Ageing takes place within the context of friends, work associates, neighbors and family members. Therefore, interdependence as well as inter-generational solidarity are important tenets of active ageing.