Myth #15: I’ll Retire at 65 (part 4)

Many people have the opportunity in their current careers to develop skills that they can utilize for consulting part time after they retire. With this in mind, you have all the more reason to find a fulfilling career you enjoy now.

One client, an accountant, did tax returns for businesses. When he retired, he began consulting for small businesses. He charges $100 an hour and works about twenty hours per week.

Another client worked in human resources for twenty years. She developed skills that allow her to consult part time for startup companies, setting up their human resources departments. Her “retirement” is anything but—she has no plans to quit working, because she’s having too much fun!

If you’re not in a career that you enjoy, start the process of finding one. When you are engaged in work that you love, retirement is no longer such a high priority. For many who follow this path, retirement is no longer their life-long goal. They find happiness is in their work.

On the other hand, if you truly want to opt out of your current line of work at age sixty-five, then do so. Be creative in finding ways to supplement your retirement income with something you enjoy. Be an espresso barista, make jewelry, teach sewing classes.

People put an enormous amount of unnecessary pressure on themselves because they fear they will not have enough money to retire at age sixty-five. I have experienced this forlorn look in my clients so many times. They come to me armed with their Money Magazine quick calculation on retirement, and saying, “Oh my God, I won’t have enough!”

How can you channel that negative energy and fear into something that works in your favor?

I suggest four things:

  • Save as much as you can for retirement—the sooner the better.
  • Plan to work past age sixty-five.
  • Look for ways to supplement your retirement income once you have retired.
  • Begin now to live a simpler, less expensive lifestyle.

Whatever your age, start now to visualize and plan your lifestyle after retirement. Embrace the idea that you will have a longer life expectancy, and that you may be working past age sixty-five. Do the necessary financial calculations (or get someone to do them for you) so that you will know what you can expect when you do retire. And start doing now what you enjoy doing.

Many couples that chose to start a family later in life, with all the associated expenses of children, are realizing that they’ll be working longer than imagined.

Sonya and Jack are such a couple. At first, the thought was a little depressing. They really hadn’t expected to work as hard as they have been for that many more years, but they did acknowledge that they enjoyed the stimulation and sense of accomplishment of working. They had to admit that they loved their work and would miss it if they were retired.

I asked, “What else would you do, once you retire and have more time, that you’re not currently doing?” Sonya immediately said she would volunteer at their daughter’s school. Jack wanted to lift weights twice per week.

But as things stood, they assured me there was no way it could happen. I asked, “What could you change that would free up time in your life right now?” They looked at each other, and said simultaneously, “not having to drive forty-five minutes each way to our daughter’s school.”

Since this discussion, they have moved to a house within walking distance of their daughter’s school. Sonya volunteers there every Thursday morning, and Jack now lifts weights on Tuesdays and Fridays. Creatively find time to do those things that will add to your life right now. You don’t have to wait until “retirement.”

“I’m too busy” has become almost a mantra for baby boomers. We work like mad to keep up with our financial responsibilities, and put off things we think we don’t have time for. Sometime in the future, we say, we’ll have the time for them—maybe after we retire.

You have time now—it’s a matter of priorities. Search for work that you enjoy and start doing it. Begin now to build into your life style those things that bring you pleasure and which you can do for the rest of your life. Then, working past age sixty-five won’t be as big a deal, because you will have built a richer and more fulfilling life—both personally and professionally—that will go on well past sixty-five.

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