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Rethinking Retirement

NYT article -
What has emerged from your research that retirees should think about?

The importance of interdependence alongside independence — we all would do better in our later years if we’re connected and not isolated. And how do I maximize my health span, not just my life span?

And there’s the serious issue of funding our longer lives. A third of the boomers have close to nothing saved for retirement and no pensions; that is a massive poverty phenomenon about to happen, unless millions of people work a bit longer, spend less, downsize or even share their homes with housemates or family.

What is the biggest mistake retirees make?

Far too many think far too small. I have asked thousands of people from all walks of life over the years who are nearing retirement what they hope to do in retirement. They tell me: ‘I want to get some rest, exercise some more, visit with my family, go on a great vacation, read some great books’ Then most stall. Few have taken the time or effort to study the countless possibilities that await them or imagine or explore all of the incredible ways they can spend the next period of their lives.


  • edited October 2020
    Maybe you have extended family that would love some help with the bills, and they live in the sun and the palms? Do they have a spare room? Give up some privacy, enjoy the family connection. That's exactly what we did.
  • edited October 2020
    Regarding rethinking retirement. I am reading a book by Bill Perkins titled Die With Zero. I thought it was going to merit a one star review but now not so sure. It has really made me think. The gist of the book is to use your money for life experiences before you get too old to enjoy such experiences. Most of us instead are into the senselessness of indefinitely delaying gratification. And then we suddenly wake up and have one health problem after another and there is no gratification to enjoy.

    In my case at 73 I am still hiking away with no health issues. But looking back to my sixties there are a lot of things I wish I had done then I don’t particularly feel like doing anymore. Such as cross country traveling to places like Colorado and my old stomping grounds in the Sierras for off the beaten path hiking adventures. My long time girlfriend who is 71 can no longer hike with me because of osteoporosis and that has really put a damper on things. So my advice to you youngsters in your 50s and 60s do whatever now, don’t wait. There are some things in life you don’t need a huge nest egg for. I have a friend who is 56 and a triathlete. He pretty much lives hand to mouth but every year finds a way to travel out west for a couple weeks of extensive hiking as well as participating in a couple triathlons in some exotic locations. Sometimes I envy him and his carefree attitude.

    I also have been so focused on accumulating and not spending I find myself with a nest egg of 70x living expenses. I can think of a couple environmental organizations in my will who will enjoy my eventual passing. Again, to you youngsters, enjoy the fruits of your labor when you are at peak health and don’t get so obsessed with accumulation.
  • COVID-19 has thrown a kink into many retirees’ plans. It’s difficult and risky now to do many things that people have saved all of their lives fo — like traveling, visiting family and friends, taking classes, etc. It has helped us by reducing our spending, allowing us to retain our retirement savings and delaying the need to draw on Social Security. I’m still glad that I retired, though, and would hate to be working right now.
  • Retirement pleasures put to the side, I would love now to be working, remotely, at any of the editing / writing jobs of my last decades, but would hate to be suddenly downsized and looking; been that and done there, for long anxious years, and now would be ever so much worse.
  • Yeah- he's for sure one of the good guys. I miss his regular posting here.
  • edited October 2020
    Great post @Junkster.

    Glad I’m not working. It was fun and enlightening most of the time - but a big imposition on time. I terribly miss travel. Always loved flying. I’m thinking I’ll work-out extra hard every day now, generally climbing up and down area sand dunes, until winter gets too harsh so my good health can be extended a few extra years in order to enjoy travel once the world returns to normal.

    Travel is tough now with most areas of the nation and world battling Covid. Many attractions, like Broadway, are closed. Love London where I’d planned to be in November. On their very modern “Underground” (subway) the cars are typically jam-packed with travelers. It’s not uncommon to be standing up and shoved against two or more other fellow travelers while riding. Folks accept that as quite normal. But imagine how Covid would spread in such an environment.

    Since we’re off the reservation a bit, I’ll connect to investing by saying I’ve a lot of extra $$ on hand. Not just from the loss of major travel. Just not spending as much. I’ll transfer the extra Ks into a (home) “infrastructure” fund - as house will soon need a new roof and other upgrades. While I’d normally have the ‘21 budget needs pulled from investments by this time (sitting in cash), I’m going to let it ride for now. Stay invested long as possible.
  • edited October 2020
    We love to travel and have done it since the early 80". We did 2 months in the US, then 2 months in the Far East. Immigrated to the US and traveled again to 48 states in the next 15 years several weeks annually.
    Since 2007 we traveled to Europe for 3 weeks annually but couldn't do it this year because of COVID-19. So the only thing left is local hiking in GA. We decided a month ago to hike twice a week and treat it like a vacation.

    We are using a great site

    Example: we hiked the Raven cliff falls trail (link).
  • edited October 2020
    Great comments.

    Retirement continues to be good after 15 years. Actively putting attention into maintaining good health makes sense to me as does accepting the aging process as it inevitably occurs. Being close to relatives makes sense in our situation (in some situations it doesn't!). Financially, maintaining a balance between current enjoyment and set asides for the future continues to make sense to me. My simple minded approach for about a decade has been to release income (including some long term gains) from investment accounts to our household account each year. Remaining portfolio balances continue to be set aside for growth, for potential use in extreme emergencies, and for assisting relatives if needed. Any remaining balances will eventually be distributed to heirs and to non-profits.

    As my 70th birthday approached last year, I decided to somewhat increase the income being generated by the portfolio for release by beginning to move 25% of the OEF/ETF portfolio balance to a newly created high yield portfolio (an @Junkster thought process led to this decision). That process was recently completed. The new portfolio has been populated with higher yielding stocks (3%+ yields at time of purchase), cefs, bdcs, reits, and commercial mreits. Time will tell if this exercise has been helpful or not!

    Income released to the household is used for a variety of general purposes. What remains is mostly used for travel. Unfortunately, an early March return from Hawaii heralded the end to this year's travel. Summer travel plans got cancelled or mothballed. Also, the month in Hawaii scheduled for this coming winter will probably get cancelled soon.

    Trips since the pandemic hit have centered around getaways most weeks to our nearby beach cabin (having that has proved to be a real blessing this year). My hope is that a relatively effective vaccine will be fairly widely distributed by next summer. Once that happens, I am hopeful travel risk will be reduced enough that somewhat more normal travel can resume. I am not getting any younger!

    After thought: Alway remember life is short! Don't take any day for granted! My wife recently mentioned she could count 19 friends, co-volunteers of hers at the American Legion, and relatives who have passed away during the past year. (We just visited a friend at the coast yesterday who lost his wife to liver cancer during the past month. She was about our age and appeared to be in good health when we last visited them during the winter. The problem was only recently discovered.)
  • My advice to youngsters is to save as much as they can because they will be facing the perils of lay-offs after 50. If not before. We never went into long-term debt for anything but a house.

    We certainly intend to spend down our retirement savings. That's what they're for. We do hope to pass on the principal of some small family inheritances even if we need to take income from them.

    Not sure when we'll get to travel under the current circumstances. We logged thousands of miles all over the West before we started having kids. Most of the time we were sleeping under the stars.

    I have never been out of North America. But my wife traveled extensively in her career. I'ld like to rent a country place for a while, and visit the farmer's markets, and local establishments. Wife likes my cooking, so she agrees.

    Never felt the need to read a book about what to do with my retirement time.
  • Great advices posted here for those who are approaching retirement and in retirement. Maintaining good health is the key so one can enjoy doing all the activities they want during retirement. Another approach is to enjoy life (hiking, traveling or being active) while you are your young because some of these activities may not be physically possible at older ages. Through my college days, I learned car camping and hike as much as possible due to my limited budget. Out west there are ample outdoor opportunities in the local parks and on the coastline. I enjoyed week long backpacking trips on the Pacific Crest trail but today I do more long day hikes while camping with the family. Wildfire and COVID situation now limited our outdoor activities to long hikes on beaches. Traveling abroad provides wonderful experience and appreciation of other culture, and we have our fair share of doing that. When we get through this COVID-19 with effective vaccines, we would like to visit Australia and New Zealand.

    Speaking of saving for retirement, one needs to learn to be good investors (from savers) early in the career so the asset will compound until for the next several decades. Each bear market is a learning lesson. Hopefully one gained experience and become better investors. In private industry, lay-offs are inevitable as ones will change jobs several times throughout their careers. None of which is easy and I certainly have experienced that.
  • @FD1000 you indicated you Immigrated to the US, what was your country of origin perhaps Canada?
  • We are almost home after a month long car trip across the country. No itinerary, no agenda...we planned the next day from the hotel the night before. We will definitely be doing this again...especially if COVID prohibits overseas travel.
  • @little5bee- We haven't done that in many years, but it sure was a lot of fun! When we did it there was no internet and they hadn't invented cellphones yet, so just heading somewhere with no idea what might be available for lodging was sometimes quite exciting. Things are different when you're young. :)
  • @little4bee, How do you manage to be safe while staying in hotel? Dinning certainly changed considerably.
  • Hi, Sven! We brought along a lot of our own food and a Yeti cooler. Tried to stay at places with refrigerator in room. Most rooms were disinfected and sealed, but I brought wipes and spray anyways. Used paper towels while pumping gas, touching doorknobs, etc. Only felt vulnerable once while in a packed restaurant in Moab, UT. Although hand sanitizer is EVERYWHERE, we did notice that safety protocols varied vastly from state to state.
  • @little5bee, You must having a blast (the travel experience) while taking all health precaution steps possible. Crowded places and events, especially indoor ones, are those we avoid. It is good that you are sticking to your safety protocols.

    Certainly the fun aspect of dinning in new restaurants no longer exist. We do day trips to the coast and bring our own food instead take outs from restaurants we typically go to. Been to Moab, UT several times - nice places to hike and camp and the scenery is breathtaking.
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