YOUR INVESTMENTS: Start thinking about retirement

DO YOURSELF A FAVOR and start thinking about how you plan on retiring a few years before you actually stop working.

WILL YOU play golf when you retire? (photo credit: REUTERS)
WILL YOU play golf when you retire?
(photo credit: REUTERS)
'I wanted to have more time to play and reflect, but I find retirement more stressful than having a nice, steady job because I have to make decisions about where I want to be,” Walter Cronkite.
Certain readers have mentioned to me that they have noticed an underlying theme in my recent columns. They point out that reference to my weakening eyesight and graying hair show that I have started to take notice of myself getting older. In fact I have caught myself using the words “how quickly time flies” multiple times over the past few weeks. The last few days have really put the whole “age” thing front and center for me. My father turned 89 recently, I had a 90 year old client preach to me about what’s it’s like to be retired, another couple both in their late 50’s told me that the most frequent conversation they have with their friends is about retirement, and I celebrated my wife’s 29th birthday with a surprise party organized by my almost 18-year-old!
For many, retirement is the culmination of decades of hard work, and a new beginning of a life of leisure. Though as a financial advisor my main job is to help individuals fund their retirement, I have found that more and more the job entails getting them to start planning and thinking about how they want to spend their time when they no longer need to work. You better think long and hard before you retire, on how you plan to fill up 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, for what could easily be 20-30 years!
Earlier this week my 7-year-old wasn’t feeling well, and it was my turn to stay up with her. At around 3 a.m. there was a show on TV about a retired couple from somewhere in the UK, who were looking to buy a vacation property on some sunny island. They were going on and on about how they just want to relax in the sun during their retirement. My blood pressure started to rise and I told my 7-year-old that I bet they go crazy after about 3 months, and that their dream of retiring in the sun might turn out to be somewhat of a nightmare. She wondered why I was getting so upset and talking to myself out loud, because it was clear that she had no idea what I was talking about!
I can’t tell you how often I meet with soon -to-be retirees and when I ask them how they plan on spending their retirement – their unilateral answer is that they want to travel. Then I ask for how long they plan on doing so, and I usually get an answer of a couple of trips a year for maybe 2-3 weeks at a time. That takes up 1-2 months, I then ask what they plan on doing the rest of the time and I am usually met with a bewildered look.
DO YOURSELF A FAVOR and start thinking about how you plan on retiring a few years before you actually stop working. From experience, those who have thought about retirement feel more fulfilled than those who try and wing it. Outside of travel, the most common activities that I hear are to spend more time with grandchildren and to volunteer.
For those o who have worked your whole life and haven’t thought about how to spend your retirement years, look out. By far the most intriguing answers that I got about retirement plans are given by those who never thought about how they will spend their time post-career. They told me that they are going crazy! They were so used to having a set schedule while they were working, now that they have so much free time they just don’t know what to do with themselves. I know that personally, while not a workaholic, when I take a day off, I go absolutely crazy. For those of you like me who struggle to fill one vacation day, multiply that feeling by 7,000! That’s about 20 years of what your retirement is going to be like. Yikes!
Speak to other retirees to understand how they made the transition from working to this new chapter in their life. Those who succeed in this transition look at retirement not as the beginning of the end, but rather as a new chapter in their life. This attitudinal approach is crucial in creating an optimism which helps give meaning and purpose to this stage of life.
The information contained in this article reflects the opinion of the author and is not necessarily the opinion of Portfolio Resources Group, Inc. or its affiliates.
Aaron Katsman is author of the book Retirement GPS: How to Navigate Your Way to A Secure Financial Future with Global Investing (McGraw-Hill), and is a licensed financial professional both in the US and Israel, and helps people who open investment accounts in the US. Securities are offered through Portfolio Resources Group, Inc. ( Member FINRA, SIPC, MSRB, FSI. For more information, call (02) 624-0995 visit or email [email protected]