Wednesday, May 13, 2015

What To Expect After You Retire

Recently, the checker at my local grocery store told me that she was old enough to retire now and that she had moved into a condo in the same retirement community where I live.  However, she confided that she was very nervous about giving up her job.  She said she didn't know what to expect.

This seems to be a common concern for many people who retire.  Although most of the people I know are happy that they gave up their jobs, I have also known several who returned to their old occupations or found a new one, within a year or two of retiring.

As a result, I thought it was time to write a post to let people know what they can expect after retirement.  The fewer surprises you have, the happier you are likely to be.

You Still Have to Pay Attention to Money After Retirement

Just because you have stopped working and stopped contributing to a retirement plan, it does not mean that you can stop thinking about your finances.  You will need to continue to pay attention to how you spend money and how your retirement funds are invested.  You also need to make sure that you have realistic expectations of your potential return on your investments and how much you can withdraw each year in order to make sure your money lasts the rest of your life.

Statistics show that widows, in particular, often (but not always) go through their assets faster than they should.  Everyone should consult with a financial adviser periodically to make sure they are still spending their money in a realistic manner and they remain on track for their assets to last the rest of their lives.

On the other hand, spending down your retirement savings can be emotionally and psychologically painful for some people.  After spending years, or possibly decades, putting together a nice nest egg, it can be hard to see it shrink as the years go by.  If you are on a reasonable disbursement plan, such as using 4% of your assets each year, you may still have to give yourself permission to spend your money down!

No matter how critical you were of the Social Security program prior to retirement, it is likely to be a significant source of income for you after you retire.   Approximately 86% of retirees will receive Social Security.  Social Security makes up about 90% of retirement income for roughly one-third of retirees.  It makes up at least 50% of the income of 65% of retires.   The average benefit at the end of 2014 was $1,282.

Another financial concern you will have is making sure you know how you will cover your medical expenses.  Basic Medicare does not cover routine eye exams, eyeglasses, contact lenses, dental care or hearing aids.  In addition, it only covers 100 days in a nursing home.  Retirees really need to investigate the best Medicare supplemental plans, Medicare Advantage plans and long-term insurance plans to make sure the money they have set aside to cover medical expenses will go as far as possible.  In addition, they may need to keep some liquid assets on hand to cover deductibles and co-pays each year.

Loneliness Is An Issue for Many Retirees

Retirement is not always the way it is depicted on television and in movies.  Many retirees will not spend their Golden Years surrounded by children and grandchildren, enjoying leisurely Sunday dinners with their extended family, as depicted on shows like "Blue Bloods."

About 44% of people over the age of 65 are living alone because they are widowed, divorced, separated or never married.   As they get older, the percentage of people living alone goes up.  As a result, the average senior over the age of 75 watches more than four hours of television a day.  Many seniors watch significantly more television than that or spend additional hours playing computer games or engaged in other solitary activities.

To counteract the loneliness, it is important that you find group activities you enjoy and get involved with them as soon as possible after you retire.  This could mean signing up for classes, joining clubs, attending church, scheduling regular lunch or dinner dates with friends, volunteering or getting a "fun" job.   You need to reach out to your friends and neighbors on a regular basis, especially if you live alone.

You Might Start Dating Again

Much to their surprise, single retirees often discover that they want to date.  It can be fun and exciting to be involved in a romantic relationship again, and it can do a lot to minimize any loneliness you may be experiencing.  Our community television station has even begun to broadcast our own local version of "The Dating Game."  One of the former writers for the original "Dating Game" lives in our community and, when he offered to organize a show for our community, his idea was enthusiastically embraced.  Over 250 people showed up the first time they held auditions to appear on the show ... and it is only open to the people who live in this community!

It is possible you will meet people you want to date through some of the classes or clubs you enjoy.  It has also become more common for seniors to meet someone through an online dating site, like SeniorMatch.com (see the ad in the sidebar) which is specifically designed for people over the age of 50.  On these sites, you should be honest about your age and use photos that show the "real" you.  You are more likely to end up in an healthy relationship.   

One warning:  Immediately drop any online relationships the minute the other person begins to mention that they need money ... no matter how worthy the cause.  Tens of thousands of elderly people have lost thousands of dollars to scammers who form relationships and then ask for money.  Other than that, just use your common sense ... go slow, meet in public places and take someone else with you until you feel comfortable. In addition, if you are computer savvy enough to engage in online dating, you should be computer savvy enough to do an online background check of any person you consider dating.

Many seniors have found a new chance at love when they open themselves up to dating again and it can be a lot of fun!

You Probably Will Not Move Very Far

While many seniors think they would like to move to a new, exotic location, the truth is that only 5.7% of Americans over the age of 65 moved between 2009 and 2013.  Most of those who did relocate, usually moved only a short distance.  Only about 1% of retirees moved to a new state.  Approximately 0.3% moved overseas.

Most senior citizens want to maintain their current support system ... continuing to belong to the same church and clubs, seeing the same doctors, shopping in the same stores, etc.  It is comforting to feel that you will not need to rebuild these relationships somewhere else.

Downsizing, finding a one-story home, moving into a retirement community or senior apartments can be a smart decision for many retirees.  As a result, it can be a good idea to start your search for a retirement home near the community where you currently live.  

Accept That Someday You Will Need Help

One of the most difficult realities that most people have to accept is that someday they will probably need help of some kind.  They may reach a point when they can no longer drive, grocery shop, cook, maintain their home, shovel snow, climb stairs or perform similar everyday activities.  They may even live long enough that they will need help performing basic personal tasks like dressing or bathing.

While paying for people to help you can be a financial concern, living long enough to reach this stage in your life can also cause depression and other emotional difficulties.  Many people postpone moving into an assisted living facility long past the time when it would have made their life much more comfortable.  It will make life easier for both you and your family when you accept that this is a natural stage of aging and it is OK to get help when you need it.

Despite Everything, Retirement Can Be FUN

Does it sound like retirement could be lonely and depressing?  The point of this post is that it does NOT have to be.  If you know what to expect and prepare yourself financially, emotionally and psychologically, you can have a lot of fun after you retire.

The key here is YOU.

It is up to you to make sure you have prepared financially, you have made appropriate adjustments to your lifestyle, you have chosen the right Medicare plan to meet your needs, and you have investigated ways to pay for long-term care when you need it.

In addition, you want to be sure that you have built up a network of doctors, friends, family members, and financial consultants whom you trust.

Join clubs, sign up for classes, build friendships, schedule social events and participate in activities that you enjoy.  Enjoy your free time.  Read a book, take a walk, eat leisurely meals, play with your grandkids. 

Take occasional trips, even if it is no more than a short commuter train ride to visit a relative for a few days.  The change of scenery will do you good.

When I look around at the people I know in my current retirement community, many of whom are well into their 90's, the ones who knew what to expect in retirement and took steps to make sure they were prepared, are still having a wonderful time, years after they stopped working.  It is up to you to make sure this is true for your retirement years, too!

If you are interested in getting more information to help you prepare for retirement, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of this article.  Those index articles will connect you to hundreds of other articles about retirement.

You are reading from the blog:  http://www.baby-boomer-retirement.com

Photo credit:  Photo taken by author, Deborah-Dian; all rights reserved.


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