Since you’re reading this, I’m guessing you’re financially astute. Responsible, even, and working your way down the path of Financial Independence, whatever that looks like to you.
So….what do you worry about when you think of retirement?
kinda sorta have your money under control or will have by the time you retire. If you are retired, you’re probably comfortable with your financial situation. So, what are your biggest worries about retirement BESIDES money, since you’re not “normal” in today’s Society. You’re part of a minority of folks who manage their money well. You Are Them. You pay attention to stuff, and you continue to learn. How do I know? Because you read this blog, and (I suspect) several others like it. That’s all the evidence I need.
Wouldn’t it be interesting if you could ask folks just like yourself that question? Folks from the minority that manage their money well? Turns out someone did, and that’s the subject of today’s post.
My friend Ted Carr over at Retirement Journeys recently conducted a survey among his audience about “What worries you the most about retirement”. You may remember Ted, he had me on his podcast a while back and we had a nice chat about retirement planning (listen to that episode here). The results of his survey are interesting, and I’ve decided to share them with you today (thanks, Ted, for your permission to share your data!).The 4 Biggest Worries About Retirement among folks who are financially savvy. Click To Tweet
Your 4 Biggest Worries About Retirement
To save you the work of analyzing the detail of the survey, I’ve pulled out what I consider to be the most interesting findings and discuss them below. I’ve also shared some of the steps I’m taking in my final countdown toward retirement to address these areas of concern (yes, seems I have the same concerns as you).
Health care has gotten a lot of press lately, including my post “Obamacare Is Falling Apart”. What I found surprising is that folks “like us” (folks who are paying attention, and doing serious planning for retirement) are more worried about Health Care than they are about Finances. Only 32% of respondents were “Very Confident” in their preparation for Health Care vs. 43% for finances. There are many unknowns with health care, and most employers have discontinued health care coverage for retirees. We’re on our own, and we’re not sure how it’s going to work out. It’s a huge risk and a valid worry.
What I’m Doing: I’m reading as much as I can on the subject and tracking what other early retirees have chosen to do for their insurance (I even have a spreadsheet with links to all of their articles, I may have to share that on a future post). We’re leaning toward paying for COBRA coverage from my employer for the first 18 months, with the hopes that the dust settles in the insurance market during that timeframe. Once COBRA expires, we’ll make our final decision. If I were to choose today, I’d be inclined toward faith based health cost sharing programs.
Having Enough To Do
Interestingly, concerns about “having enough to do” is an area where pre-retirees feel even less prepared than they are on the health care issue. Starting at Age 5, our lives are pretty structured:
- Go to school: Ages 5 – 18
- Go to college: Ages 18 – 22+
- Get a job: Ages 22 – ?
For the first time in our lives, retirees no longer have a pre-ordained structure to their day. That reality is both an excitement and a concern. WE are responsible, for the first time, to determine what we’re going to do, and how we’re going to fill our time. Only 13% of “us” have a very high confidence level that we’re prepared in the area of “having enough to do”.
What I’m Doing: My wife came up with an innovative idea, and we’re implementing it in this final year of my working career. Every week, each of us put a note (or two) in a jar we keep for the purpose. On the note is an activity that we’d like to do. It’s typically a low-cost idea, and it can be close to home. For example, she may put in “Kayak down the Toccoa River“, and I may put in “Hike on the Appalachian trail“. Neither of us knows what the other is putting in. After we retire, we’ll pull one note per week from the jar, and do that activity in the next 7 days. This will give us 2+ years of weekly activities, with an even mix of things “He Wants” and “She Wants” to do.Fill a jar with ideas of things to do, then pull out 1 per week and Do It! Click To Tweet
In addition to this, I’m still working on my (Not) 50 By 50 Bucket List. I need to write an update to that bucket list post, we’re generating some really great ideas for our retirement “dreams”, and enjoying the process of thinking about what we want our retirement to be. Spend time dreaming. Think about what you want to DO.
Scoring even lower than both of the above (health care and activities) is social interaction, with only 6% of folks having a very high confidence level in their preparedness for this element in retirement.
A lot of folks get the majority of their social interaction through work, and many aren’t confident that they’ve prepared well for social interaction post-retirement. This one takes work, and it’s not easy. Friendships are a treasure. They take work (and time) to develop, and they fade if you don’t keep them watered. Plant some seeds, and water some roots.
What I’m Doing: My wife and I decided to move to our retirement town two years before we retired. We downsized from our house in the City and became Debt Free in the process. The “early move to retirement town” is giving us an opportunity to develop connections in our “new” small mountain community before we retire. We volunteer every Saturday at a local dog rescue, and we’re keeping watch for ways to get engaged throughout the community. I recently gave a Personal Finance presentation to a local Rotary group, which I’ll likely join post-retirement. (Thanks, Ed, for the invitation to speak – I appreciate our friendship). We’re also attending a local church, getting to know people, and looking for ways to get engaged. Be intentional, and start working on social interaction before you retire, with folks outside of work and near where you live.
The #1 Worry! In response to the question “Please rate your level of concern for each of these post-retirement issues” the issue titled “A change in your health that affects the quality of life” scored the highest response. 82% of “us” rate this a High or Medium level of concern, higher than any other post-retirement issue.
You’ve worked your whole life to achieve the freedom that retirement affords. The biggest worry for those who are financially secure is having the physical health to enjoy the golden years you’ve worked so hard to achieve. Do what you can to optimize your health, it’s an important requirement for a Great Retirement.
What I’m Doing: If this is an area you worry about, I encourage you to do what I did and read Younger Next Year (or, you can cheat and read my review here). That book has done more to motivate me to be consistent in physical activity than anything else I’ve read in my 54-year lifetime. It’s even led me to create an online fitness diary to hold myself accountable. I’m doing everything within my power to be as healthy and active in my 70’s as I am in my 50’s, and this book tells you what works. It’s not magic, but it does require a commitment. Try it, and put this worry to rest.
What do folks (like you!) who have their finances under control worry about for their post-retirement years? Seems a lot of us have the same concerns, summarized below:
- Health Care
- Having Enough To Do
- Social Interaction
- Being Healthy
If you find yourself worrying, I encourage you to try a different approach. The next time you find yourself worrying about an issue, try to redirect your thinking into developing some tactics you can use to address your area of concern. Develop a list of things you can do to address the specific area that worries you the most. Be intentional in developing a plan, and then try to implement a few things. Be creative, and embrace a trial and error mindset.
If you’re doing something that others could benefit from trying, please leave a comment with your suggestion. Let’s try to minimize the amount of worry we have in our lives, so we can focus on:
Helping Others Achieve A Great Retirement (my byline).