In 2019, my wife, Tina, retired from a career as an elementary teacher. She taught in the classroom for almost 30 years. Tina had mixed feelings because she was excited about retiring, however, she was also ambivalent about leaving a profession she loved. For years she was dedicated to making a difference in the lives of the students that she worked with as well as learning and applying new skills as an educator. She also enjoyed all of the friendships she made with co-workers over the years.
For Tina, she made the transition into retirement by making a plan. She knew she liked helping people and working with technology. As a result, she joined our team as Marketing Coordinator as well as the Community Outreach Director for our non-profit organization, the Foundation For Financial Education. For her, this plan would satisfy her goals and still allow time for hobbies and travel. Tina also enjoys volunteering with our therapy dog, Hazel, at schools and libraries to encourage reading with young children. Maintaining her involvement in educational settings helped Tina transition to retirement and feel confident with the choice she made. Furthermore, making a financial plan to create a “worry free” retirement made it an “educated” decision! Based on this example, we believe it is important to mentally prepare for retirement as well as financially.
Here are a few tips to prepare mentally and financially for retirement:
- A successful retirement is not merely measured in financial terms. Even those who retire with small fortunes can face boredom or depression and the fear of drawing down their savings too fast. How can new retirees try to calm these worries? Two factors may help: a gradual retirement transition and some guidance from a financial professional.
- An abrupt break from the workplace may be unsettling. As a hypothetical example, imagine a well-paid finance manager at an auto dealership whose personal identity is closely tied to his job. His best friends are all at the dealership. He retires, and suddenly his friends and sense of purpose are absent. He finds that he has no compelling reason to leave the house, nothing to look forward to when he gets up in the morning. Guess what? He hates being retired. On the other hand, if he prepares for retirement years in advance of his farewell party by exploring an encore career, engaging in varieties of self-employment, or volunteering, he can retire with something promising ahead of him. If he broadens the scope of his social life, so that he can see friends and family regularly and interact with both older and younger people in different settings, his retirement may also become more enjoyable. The interests and needs of a retiree can change with age or as he or she disengages from the working world. Retired households may need to adjust their lifestyles in response to this evolution.
- Practically all retirees have some financial anxiety. It relates to the fact of no longer earning a conventional paycheck. You see it in couples who have $60,000 saved for retirement; you see it in couples who have $6 million saved for retirement. Their retirement strategies are about to be tested, in real time. All that careful preparation is ready to come to fruition, but there are always unknowns.
- Some retirees are afraid to spend. They fear spending too much too soon. With help from a financial professional, they can create a strategy.
- Retirement challenges people in two ways. The obvious challenge is financial; the less obvious challenge is mental. Both tests may be met with sufficient foresight and dedication.
If you need assistance with preparing for retirement, we can help you set goals and make a plan!