How to Retire - Our Guide to Getting it Right!
By David Smyth
Many client families can walk into our office and can tell us precisely at what age they want to retire, and how much money they’re going to need to do so. Many people are confident about those two factors. However, when those statements end, that’s when the questions begin! These folks might know when and how much, but when pressed about what they’ll actually do in retirement, well, that’s when things start to fall apart.
For those of you wondering what’s appropriate for a retiree to do, we’ve created this convenient self-help Guide to a Proper Retirement.
First, you’ll need to determine your marital status. Are you married, single, widowed? Married folks will want to plan an initial celebratory retirement trip. Single retirees will want to look into ways to meet other single retirees.
Then, you’ll need to return to your primary residence, and either further nest into your home with a big remodel, or put it on the market in preparation for buying your retirement home.
The next step to proper retirement is determining whether you have children and grandchildren. If yes, visit them, because they really do want you to visit all the time. If no, visit your siblings. They don’t have anything going on either. If you have grandchildren, learn their names, buy them sugary treats and send loud gifts, such as drum kits.
Now it’s time to criss-cross the country repeating the above steps and keeping your answers up-to-date.
By this point in your retirement, enough time has passed that it’s time for a second celebratory retirement trip, this time planned and coordinated with other retirees so you can be introduced to the herd! Your children at this point have returned to their lives, your grandchildren are back at school and your friends are working. Return home long enough to meet with your financial advisor, transfer more money into your checking account, and plan for a house renovation or move. Make plans to see old friends.
Next comes the step where you host a lot of dinner parties for your friends who are still working, to show them how happy you are now that you’re retired and have it All Figured Out. They’ll secretly hate you because they have to go to work on Monday.
At this point, if your children live close to you, you’ll suddenly be expected to keep your young grandchildren at a moment’s notice and indefinitely (even if you love it), because it’s assumed you have nothing better to do.
By now, some of you have determined that this is the perfect situation and you’ll never want anything to change. Others of you are frantically searching for a part-time job, as you and your spouse have come to the realization that the secret to your marriage was that you never spent this much time together. You might even enjoy that part-time job, but let’s be honest – you really just wanted to get out of the house. No matter what, DO NOT respond to any ads searching for medical test subjects or drug trial participants, despite all of the symptoms you never noticed before you retired.
Somewhere about six months to a year from your initial retirement, you’ll find that either A: everything in your life is in perfect order, and you’re free to enjoy all of your new hobbies such as books and cups of Earl Gray tea, biking, gardening, going to the pool or more strenuous activities like golf and fishing; or B: you’re now a consultant.
I’m of course speaking tongue-in-cheek here, and we know there’s no one right or correct way to retire, but we hope our Guide to a Proper Retirement brought a smile to your face and made you chuckle.
The reality is that during the first six to 12 months of retirement, many questions are up in the air and many decisions need to be made. At this point we see lots of clients putting tremendous pressure on themselves to “get it right.” It’s our job to make sure each retiree we work with approaches retirement in a slightly different way. There is no one-size-fits-all flowchart to doing retirement right.
Our advice during those first six months is to avoid making any major decisions, and to try to let life happen naturally as you are reprogramming your internal clock and adjusting to your new way of life. It does take some time. And if you find yourself getting nervous about making mistakes or not getting it right, see question number one above – or better yet, pick up the phone and call us. We’re here to help.