Friday, May 16, 2008

(Early) Retirement - The Final Frontier

Since retiring in my forties in 2007, I've come to realize that retirement is more than finances and leisure. In fact, retirement is the beginning of a new life phase, with its own set of rewards and challenges. In addition, each person's situation can be unique, with little guidance to be had from friends or the literature, which makes retirement, especially early retirement, a new frontier for many people. For reference, my definition of retirement is when one can depend primarily on savings, social security and/or a pension for income. Here are the questions I believe make retirement a new frontier:

  • Will we outlive our nest egg? The Wall Street Journal Encore Quiz shared an interesting statistic on time spent in retirement. For retirees at age 65, the average time spent in retirement is about 22% of one's life, assuming the average life expectancy of 83.7. I retired in my forties in 2007 and life expectancy tables show that people of my age would be expected to spend 38% of their life in retirement, which would be more than the time I spent working. If my health continues to be good, I hope to spend 50% or more of my life in retirement:-)

    Although the calculated probability is excellent, it isn't certain that our savings can completely cover us for another 1/2 of our lives. For example, inflation could become much higher, the stock market could crash and not recover for years, or the U.S. could experience a severe recession.

  • What meaningful contributions do we want to make in retirement? For many new retirees, retirement won't be about rest and leisure, but about shifting to more meaningful and fulfilling interests as described in "Retirement': The new dirty wordand Get your dream job ... at 55 A similar question is, "How do we want to be remembered?"

    For now, our focus is on raising our three year old daughter. After that, I think we will give some consideration to trying our dream jobs.

  • How will we maintain control of our lives as we get older? I've noticed it is more difficult or takes more time, than when we were younger, to do many of our tasks and activities. Although our overall capabilities are still excellent, I expect that they will decline as we get older.

    We have already started outsourcing some of our activities such as cutting the grass. We are working to identify good companies to provide services for other routine maintenance. Hopefully, services for retirees will continue to expand, to the point of including convenient public transportation that we experienced when we lived in Japan.
  • Early retirement used to be all about the finances. Can You Afford To Retire By 55? is an example of the types of articles covering the financial aspects. Today, I think getting the finances right is only the beginning, with many more challenges and adventures to follow.

    For more on Reaping the Rewards, check back every Friday for a new segment.

    This is not financial or retirement advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

    Copyright © 2008 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

    1 comment:

    Teen Money Central said...

    I agree. I am very young and far from retirement, but I hope to retire early. I want to spend that time on hobbies and interests I don't have time for now, traveling, and helping others. In fact, it might take me a little while considering my projected expenses after retirement with all these activities I want to do. ;)