In past generations, retirement income was supposed to be taken care of by defined pensions and social security. However, employer defined pensions are a thing of the distant past and our congress will probably tinker with social security making its future uncertain. That puts the onus of retirement planning squarely on each of us.
Living longer and healthier lives has a significant effect on what the modern retirement looks like. Traditionally, retirement meant quitting work and adopting a lifestyle of relaxation. A retiree was not expected to continue working, except maybe in a garden. That’s not the case in the 21st century.
From my personal experience, I can say this has all changed. Retirement has become more satisfying, but a lot complicated. Especially for people who retire without a lot of savings or have had to use their retirement savings for catastrophic events. The great recession of 2008 and Covid-19 restrictions have done a great job of forcing a lot of people into an uneasy retirement.
I’m not an expert, but I’ve there and I know what my own experience has been. The traditional retirement has been replaced by more of a career shift and retiring has become nothing more than a change in careers. I used to tell people that retiring just meant you have to find something else to do. That’s never been more true than it is today.
What is Retirement?
There are as many answers as people you ask. Everyone has a different idea of what retirement should be and almost everyone will agree that good plan is necessary to live whatever their vision of the future is.
Any semblance of a traditional retirement has been replaced by periods of work, either part or full time, entrepreneurial pursuits as an independent contractor, consultant, volunteer or business owner. There will be some times when there is no work that could be called a “mini-retirement”. I’ve done all of these things and even taken some free online college courses during my mini-retirement times.
The number one concern for most baby-boomers and millennials is personal finances and how to pay for retirement. A huge part of that is the cost of healthcare and possible long term care. We have no idea what those may be and only about a quarter of retirees have budgeted for those expenses.
More will continue to work, some because they want to and some because they have to, but what to do and when is a personal decision. What to do and when are the questions. Everybody has an opinion and there’s a lot of advice, but the decisions have to be personal. A lot of decision making will be made based on how financially secure you are, what you did before and what you want for the future.