On paper, I should really now be maybe 20 years from retirement—or possibly less if possible. But can I really think about retirement…ever?
Before having kids, I often mentioned that my greatest aspiration in life was being a parent. Since becoming one, I’ve often suggested my greatest aspiration is being a “snowbird”-- one of those folks who spend half the year in the north and half in a warm state such as Florida. My grandmother did this for twenty years, splitting her time between Fairfield, Connecticut and Boca Raton. Considering how wonderful it is being in Florida when it's 18 degrees here in Connecticut, that sounds great. Does this have a prayer of happening? I’ve thought of five considerations that I (or really anyone) must think about when it comes to retirement planning.
1. Slow and Steady wins the race.
I am a turtle when it comes to saving for retirement. I only save a little bit from each paycheck, and retirement experts will be the first to say I’m not saving enough. However, I haven’t dipped into this savings and am not far off from where I should be. I will have about a decade to actively save more when the kids are older. Considering 1 in 3 Americans have saved nothing for retirement and 26% of baby boomers have under $50,000 saved, I’m not doing that poorly by comparison—though that isn’t the goal.
2. Working in Retirement? How long do I want to work?
I have long said that I have no desire to retire completely. I’m not saying I want to be working 40 hours weeks when I’m 70. But I would like to work on my terms. Getting some money in on top of 401k withdrawals, an old pension and (yes) Social Security might be a good mix.
3. Do I really want to be a snowbird?
I don’t like humidity that much, and my wife hates Florida, so perhaps not. This kind of brings up the question of what aspirations I have for my elder days. Really, my nice view of retirement is a combination of teaching college, writing those novels I’ve put off, and hopefully spending time with grandchildren that don’t exist yet. I’m a boring traveler and wouldn’t do anything elaborate. I guess what I am saying is I don’t know what I want, but I am more likely to be the old man in the cottage than the old man in the race car and financially - that is a good thing.
4. When do I trigger? When do I want to pull back from the grind I was talking about in #2? My mother worked into her late 60’s and my dad is still taking business when he can get it and he’s over 70. I don’t like being bored and greatly fear being one of those seniors that congregates at the local diner and complains about everything.
5. The White Elephant in the room.
I don’t expect to live to 100, and if I do and run out of money, I think I would find that funny. Let’s face it, you can’t take it with you, and you may end up too sick to enjoy it. Unfortunately, I saw this with my mom. You save for retirement and it all goes to a home health aides, hospitals, or even the funeral home. Of course, no one can predict the future. You can always hope you are one of the lucky ones who live a long and healthy life.
My advice, continue to save for retirement, but at the same time remember to enjoy your life today.
Another year is coming to an end soon.