Retirement - Planning and Preparing
My Personal View of Retirement - Planning and Execution
Retirement. Do you fear it or look forward to it? Are you preparing? Do you have a plan? How will you cope with a new period in your life? Will you be happy? How will you fill your time? Will you move, do the garden, go on holiday, take up a new sport or hobby, take a part time job, volunteer? Here's a few of my ideas.
The advice and tips in this hub are based largely on my own personal experience. I don't offer Financial Advice nor do I have any commercial interest apart from any small commissions I may earn from embedded advertisements. What you read here is just my opinion and what I have learned during the whole experience of planning for and living in retirement.
I'm sure I don't need to tell you, Retirement can be a massive step in life, like marriage, buying a home etc., but you may be surprised to learn how many people apparently approach the big day with little or no thought or preparation.
Updated 22nd September 2014
Retirement Looming? Two Basic Questions
As I approached the end of my working life I was invited by my employer to attend a seminar about Retirement Planning.
I had been working for a large organization for 10 years and had been thinking for some time about taking retirement early. I went along to this workshop hoping to pick up some useful information to add to my research. What I discovered was almost shocking.
There were about twenty employees in the room from various departments, and the seminar, which lasted all day was conducted by a pleasant young man, who didn't look anywhere near ready to retire himself.
After the usual introductions, the young facilitator asked us all two basic questions:-
1.) When are you going to retire? and
2.) What are you going to do?
I was rather taken aback by some of the answers!
When are You going to Retire?
The answers given by each person at the workshop varied considerably. Some people were a little vague and said, "Within the next couple of years". Others answered, "In the next few months". Some indicated retirement was only weeks away! One old chap announced that he was finishing work for good, "NEXT FRIDAY!!"
OMG! I sincerely hoped his answer to the next question was going to be thoroughly positive.
Retirement is just another fork in Life's Road
Only a few decades ago people were said to "work all their lives". This was because so many worked from the day they left school until the age of 65. They were then forced to retire.
Whilst at work they had been so busy and/or exhausted they had no time to develop hobbies or interests, or think how they would usefully spend their time once the job came to an end.
Consequently, many retirees found the change unbearable. Suddenly believing themselves to be without purpose and cut off from work colleagues, they wasted away and died within months or even weeks.
Nobody would deny that retirement can be very traumatic for some people, but it should be seen not as the end of the road, but a new beginning, and a chance to pick up on some of the wonderful opportunities that life has to offer once time is available to enjoy them.
How close are YOU to Retirement?
What are You going to Do in Retirement?
I have to say I was shocked by some of the answers to this one. Here are a few examples:-
"I might go on holidays."
"I might take up a sport."
"I might join a club."
"I might start a hobby."
Listening to these vague and rather negative ideas, I came to the conclusion that most people in the room had given almost no serious or constructive thought to what was soon to be a massive change to their lifestyle!
Build a Retirement Plan
I told the guy running our workshop that I had no fixed date for retirement, but that I was looking forward to it and had a PLAN!
He was quite intrigued by this and asked me to come out in front of the class and explain what I meant.
Of course the details of my own personal plan would have little relevance to anyone else, because a Retirement Plan can only be tailored to an individual's circumstances, interests, abilities, financial situation, fitness, strengths and weaknesses. But, the principle is that one should carefully examine all these attributes in order to create a plan that suits one's self.
I took over the flip chart and began to explain in general terms how to go about listing all the possibilities for life after retirement, using one of my favourite "think tank" tools, the BUBBLE CHART.
Use a Bubble Chart to start your Plan. - Think on paper. A great way to brain storm.
Start with a blank sheet of paper and write your main keyword in the centre with an oval (bubble) drawn round it.
Now, think of a word or very short phrase to describe each issue that the main word raises. Put each additional word in another bubble.
Some words will make you think of yet another related issue. Add another bubble.
You will find you jump about the chart adding new bubbles until you fill the sheet.
Don't let the chart become so fussy that it is unreadable. If one particular word starts to generate too many ideas, start another sub-chart with THAT word in the centre.
If you run out of ideas, don't worry, more will come later, move on to the next phase of writing your plan ... Considering the Issues Raised by Retirement.
Writing Your Retirement Plan - or, Considering Each of the Issues raised by Retirement and saying how you intend to deal with it.
There is nothing complicated about the Plan itself. It is just a list of things you want to do, what those things involve, the time they may take up, what they may cost, who else might be affected and to what degree.
List your skills and experience, your assets and abilities, anything you can make use of to increase your happiness or supplement your income.
List any hobbies, activities, sports or games that you currently pursue and add those you might like to try.
Don't be shy, but be realistic, be honest and above all be practical! Retirement for most people is not the time to take up boxing, or rugby. Nor does it generally make sense to start studying brain surgery or rocket science in order to get a part time job.
Your aim should be to live within your means, to occupy your time doing things you love doing, to feel fulfilled and that your life is worthwhile, and above all that you have achieved a level of HAPPINESS that will last you for the rest of your life.
When Should You Start a Retirement Plan?
It's (Almost) Never Too Early! Write an outline and add to it.
Of course you would not start thinking about retirement the day you leave education and start work. You have a lifetime before you. You will spend your time building a career, relationships, experiences. You feel immortal, life will go on as it is for ever, retirement is something to do with "old people", not you!
I have to say, however, the one thing you should consider as soon as practical, is putting money into a pension fund. A small amount each month may not make a big dent in your salary, but it could build into a substantial sum over many years. This is an easy thing to put off and may seem like a waste of cash you could use now, but trust me you will not regret it later as your working life nears its end.
I took advice at various times during my career and paid into a number of investment policies. Only small amounts, but I'm glad now that I did and my one regret is that I didn't make it more!
I was in my fifties before I started thinking about retirement. I'd been working hard for nigh on forty years and felt the time was coming to begin taking it easy. Not to put my feet up and do nothing, but to spend more time doing just what I wanted to do, to feel free and in control of my own destiny not at someone else's beck and call.
That's when I started to make plans. My Retirement Plan.
Don't Grow Old Before Your Time, But ... - ... At what age should you start planning?
Another lensmaster commented on here "how many young people plan for retirement?" Not many, I thought, but when do working people start to think how they will spend their days once they retire? So here's the question ...
At what age should you, would you, did you, start planning for retirement?
A Retirement Plan doesn't Happen Overnight
... It evolves over a period of time.
In fact your plan is never finished; it goes on developing right up to the day you retire and beyond until you finally shuffle off this mortal coil!
Military thinking accepts that the best laid plans are subject to revision the moment an action starts. This is equally true of your retirement plan. As you formulate your plan in the lead up to your big day, your circumstances will inevitably change. The date of retirement may alter, your financial package may prove to be different to what you were expecting, other people close to you may change their own situation thereby affecting your position. Life before and after retirement is fluid. You have to be prepared to "go with the flow".
You can only plan around the status quo, but build in some flexibility and choice. For instance, if it is your intention to spend more time on your hobbies, make sure you have a variety of interests. You can't surely spend 24 hours a day, seven days a week, looking at your stamp collection!
Make a list. List the hobbies you do now, add anything you once did which you'd like to revisit, new hobbies you might try, long term things like learning to play a musical instrument and one-offs like cataloging your record collection. List things from the general, like "gardening", to the specific, like "developing a new kind of rose".
A BIG tip! Make your list impossibly long! Give yourself a mountain to climb. You know it doesn't matter if you never achieve half of it. You will never be bored. You will always have a reason to get up in the morning, and you will never be short of something to do even if you choose not to do it!!
Start Acting on your Plan Straight Away.
Don't just write it - Live it!
As soon as I began seriously thinking about retirement, I not only started to write my plan, I also started talking about it. I made sure my employer, my colleagues and my family all knew I was considering giving up full time work. This enabled them also to prepare for the inevitable. We were all on the same wavelength. They may not have been happy about it. It may have been inconvenient for them, but at least they knew what was on my mind.
This strategy is also a kind of self-fulfilling prophesy. The more you think and talk about it, the more you convince yourself it is not only the right thing to do, but that it will all be OK. Talking it over with those around you helps you come to terms with the forthcoming changes, problems can be solved in advance, friends may raise issues or ideas you hadn't thought of, giving you a chance to consider every angle.
Then there is the preparation. Believe me, it does not make sense to finally leave work on a Friday and present yourself at a golf club on Monday morning and ask to join and learn how to play the game! If you fancy taking up some kind of sport, get into it long before you retire. Join a club or group, get to know the people, practice the sport or activity, get fit for the level you intend to play at, learn the rules and etiquette. You may have difficulty finding time for all this while you are still working, but it is much better to ease yourself in to some new activity well in advance, so that in retirement you simply carry on, but have time to do more of it.
Also by this time you will have decided whether this activity is right for you, and your new found friends will welcome you with open arms.
Read Books about Retirement from Amazon - Don't take my word for it - Do some Research!
Would you buy a house without trying to find out what you might be letting yourself in for? Would you enter a business partnership or a marriage without checking what you would be committing to or getting in return? I hope not. Read books. Ask questions. "Try Before You Buy," you might say! Retirement is a serious business.
Financial Planning - Where's the money coming from?
You can plan how you will spend your time in retirement a couple of years before the event or maybe even just a few months, but financial planning is a different kettle of fish.
I said before, I don't give Financial Planning advice. I'm simply not qualified. If you haven't spent a considerable part of your working life preparing for retirement, paying in to a pension fund or accumulating substantial savings, there is only one thing for it; you are going to have to live according to your means.
It's not as bad as it sounds! Nobody in the UK starves to death in the gutter. We are part of a Welfare State. There is always help available. It is, of course, limited, and you have to "cut your coat according to your cloth".
In a way it is an interesting challenge. Finding ways of saving money when cash is in short supply, can be quite fulfilling. Before the day dawns when your work salary finally dries up, do a bit of simple planning. Work out what your income amounts to now and what it will be when you start drawing a pension. Calculate the difference between the two. Take away the cost of actually going to work; train fares, lunches, clothes, etc. You should be left with the amount you need to save each week/month from what you were spending when you were at work.
Now for the challenge. You may have to cut down on holidays, eating out, entertaining, expensive subscriptions, some of the little treats you have taken for granted so long. You just have to live more simply. Learn to take pleasure in things that are cheap to do or, better still free!
Fill your time with things you enjoy doing that cost little or nothing, such as walking, reading, helping others. Be happy and enjoy your new-found freedom. Find a purpose in life. Your life is what you make it. Do something useful that makes you feel needed. Use the skills you spent a life time acquiring. Try volunteering, to help those less fortunate than yourself.
Take satisfaction in the knowledge that you are happily coping with a reduced standard of living, still making a contribution to those around you, and not being a burden on anyone else.
Do you feel good or bad about retirement? Good, I hope! Share your story.