Ten Misconceptions about Retirement

31st March 2017

Transitioning to retirement is not just about ensuring we have enough money to last, understanding the emotions we’ll experience and being prepared with the right mindset and behaviours are arguably just as important.  For many, their jobs and careers define who they are.  When they stop work what is left?  The stress of the unknown creeps in – who are they? what do they do?  do they add value to anyone anymore?  Check out these misconceptions and take action to being prepared

  1. Retirement is a destination rather than a transition. Many New Zealanders are clear about what they are retiring from, but not clear about what they are retiring to. They often feel that retirement is this new life phase that is an extended holiday or a 30-year-long weekend.
  2. Retirement could be the longest single phase of your life. People believe retirement is a new life, the Third Age. In fact, you will go through six to eight distinct phases in your retirement, driven by either your health or the health of those you care about (spouse or partner).  It is a multi-phase journey. Also, remember that time isn’t always your friend—getting older means doing as much as you can as quickly as you can. (Never put anything off!)
  3. Retirement happiness is directly tied to how much money you have. In fact, good health is probably the biggest key to a successful retirement. Happiness in retirement is a function of having a positive outlook, engagement in life, nurturing relationships, life meaning and a sense of accomplishment.
  4. Retirement spending will be the same throughout retirement . Some tend to spend like “drunken sailors” in the first few years of retirement before settling into a pattern. As time goes forward, spending tends to move more to family and health. Travel patterns tend to move toward less stressful travel and almost no travel in later years.
  5. Three hundred rounds of golf a year are always a good thing (if you like to golf). In retirement, as in all phases of life, too much of a good thing is often too much of a good thing.
  6. A life full of leisure must also be a good thing. We like our holidays and weekends when we are working, so imagine if that were now our lives. Consider the paradox of leisure: we like leisure because it is a break from work. If we had leisure seven days a week for 30 years, where is the break?
  7. Retirement is a ‘couples’ issue. In fact, it is more likely to be a single woman’s issue. The average age that a woman first becomes a widow in Canada, the US and Australia(if she is going to be a widow) is 59. Sixty per cent of Kiwi women over age 65 are single, widowed or divorced.
  8. The goal of financial planning for retirement is to “reach your number.” There are issues that you will have to deal with during retirement such as income, tax and estate. Financial planning doesn’t stop at retirement. Just because you have financial security doesn’t guarantee retirement success. You still have relationship problems, health issues, happiness and sadness.
  9. You can put things off in retirement. In fact, you want to do as much as you can as quickly as you can. You never put anything off in retirement. Do it now and hope that you can do it for 30-plus years!
  10. Retirement is a time to do new things. It is, but as we age we actually have increased difficulty doing new things. Remember that you are who you are and that generally if you didn’t do something before retirement, you will be less likely to do it after retirement. Since the retired “you” is no different than the working “you,” ask yourself whether you are comfortable doing new things now. If not, you will have to create the positive strategies to do new things rather than assuming that time is the only variable.

Source: Barry LaValley, Retirement Lifestyle Center