Savings Isn’t Only Pillar of Successful Retirement

Ray’s Take I’m always emphasizing the importance of saving for retirement. However, you need more than a savings plan if you want to improve your odds for a more fulfilling “third act” of life. You also need to have a plan for what you actually want to do with your time.

After all, that list of home projects isn’t endless, and there’s only so much golf one can play. Religious, civic and charity interests can be fulfilling, but can become consuming if not set within the boundaries of a plan. It’s not uncommon for retirees to find that retirement isn’t nearly what they had hoped for.

It’s not enough to say you will “enjoy doing nothing” or “find plenty to do.” Studies show that people who plan on taking up new interests after 65 often don’t follow through. The chance of finding fulfillment in new activities and interests in retirement depends on developing those interests earlier in life. Otherwise you could wind up bored and depressed.

It’s important that your retirement plans also include a strong social component. Start building new social networks before retirement to replace those at work. Volunteer programs offer ideal opportunities for this in almost every field of interest.

This phase of life is nothing short of a new identity, and those don’t happen overnight. Actually, we prefer not to call it retirement. We call it financial independence. At that point you can even still work, but no longer because you have to!

If it turns out you don’t really enjoy doing what you planned, make a change! Try something else. You’ll still have time to find the activities and friendships that will enrich your retirement and make for a very fulfilling life.

Dana’s Take There’s an old saying about retirement: Twice the husband but half the money. There’s no doubt that retirement causes major identity and role shifts. It’s even been said that the first two years of retirement are like the first two years of marriage. It’s a time of change, compromise, and forging new relationships.

While the majority of retired couples work things out – 60 percent of couples claim their relationship ultimately improved – don’t count on things taking care of themselves automatically.

Talk about your retirement hopes and dreams now, and about the role each partner is expected to play. Keep in mind that the upcoming generations of retirees don’t have many role models on how to make this work. Boomers represent the first generation where many women gained a lot of their identity and self esteem from their careers, just like their husbands.

If the transition to post-work roles is rockier than expected, consult a Certified Marriage and Family Therapist to help you find a new balance that works for both of you.

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