My late grandfather used to say he would retire when he was dead. True to his word he worked until the day he passed away at 84. Like my grandfather before me I have no intention of stopping work and will probably die at my keyboard with emails from editors about missed deadlines piling up.
Retirement Myth 1 – Retirement is Like Vacation
The fact of the matter is retirement can be a lot more like work than vacation. Many people put a lot of effort into trying not to be bored. Sure sitting on a beautiful beach or fishing or whatever you like doing on vacation is a great while you’re on vacation but when it’s all you do every day, it can start to get tired.
Vacations are something we look forward to and have a choice about. Retirement has no such choices. One day rolls endlessly, mindlessly into the next. Don’t take my word for it. Think about your last great long vacation and how by the end of it you wanted to go back to work, to your life.
The Solution can be as simple as retiring from one job or career and starting a new one. One way to look at it is to think of your work-life before retirement as working for someone else and your work-life after retirement as working for you. Working at something you are passionate about is great way to slow the aging process and stay active. Because you’re “retired” you can do it on your own terms.
Retirement Myth 2 – No Money Problems
This retirement myth comes about from the misconception that life magically becomes less expensive when you retire. It doesn’t. Food, fuel, clothing all cost as much as before you retired and what you save on commuting you’re likely going to want to spend on keeping busy.
Retirement also means increased medical expenses not because retirement is physically taxing or otherwise hazardous to your health but because you are older and body parts start wearing out faster. Older bodies are like classic cars, in order to keep moving down the road they need a little more TLC.
The Solution starts with not counting on social security alone as your primary means of support. The older you are now, the more you should be putting aside for retirement every year. There are two retirement savings traps people fall into. The first is when they are young and believe retirement is too far in the future to concern themselves with right now so they save little to nothing.
The second retirement trap occurs when the kids are grown and finished with school and before retirement when you put off saving for later so you can start treating yourself now. Striking a balance in your 50s between enjoying your relative youth with increasing savings for the not so distant future is the key.
Retirement Myth 3 – Medicare!
This retirement myth is that starting Medicare will cut my health care costs dramatically. While Medicare is a wonderful program, it is not the be all and end all of personal health care coverage. You will need a Medicare supplement policy to help round out your protection and even with a good supplement you will still have out of pocket expenses.
I’m sure there is some direct mathematical corollary between our age in years and the number of prescription drugs we take. Even if there is no such thing as a fixed relationship, the amount and frequency of medications and their associated cost (deductibles and co-pays) does increase with age.
The Solution is to stay active and get plenty of exercise and eat and sleep well. We could all get away with staying out late and neglecting our bodies when we are in our twenties but we don’t retire in our twenties. The best way to control increased health care cost is to need less healthcare in the first place. That means taking better care of yourself now and as you get older.