What is Your Biggest Retirement Rant? by Robin Trimingham
Just about every time you encounter the word “retirement” in the media these days there are images of tropical beaches, tranquil park benches, and golden sunsets. No one in this exclusive paradise ever seems to gets sick, lose their hair, need dentures, or suffer from irregularity. Life is one unending family gathering interspersed with glossy white yachts and cruises around the world.
All you need to do is hire a shrewd investment advisor, save, save, save and this breezy nirvana can be yours – provided you save at least a million or so that is.
Does anyone out there actually know someone who really is living this mythical existence?
I believe that everyone should have dreams and goals, and strive to experience as much of life as they can, but I wonder whether the preponderance of these retirement myths doesn’t do more harm than good.
By setting the golden retirement bar so high that only a few rare individuals can grasp it, it seems that a significant number of people are discouraged from bothering to plan for, and more importantly, save for retirement. This is particularly true among Generation X who lost their next eggs when the market collapsed, and Millennials who largely live for today because they hold a deep seeded fear of “missing out” on life experiences by saving money for a future that many not come.
When challenged on the wisdom of this “live for today” strategy, they refer vaguely to a colleague or relative who passed away before the age of seventy and stress what a waste it is that this person never got to go to Europe, or wear Armani, or skydive while they still had their health.
Well, perhaps they have a point because no one should live so narrowly that they reach the end of their life with nothing but regrets, but not saving for the future is like moving to a foreign country without a dime in your pocket. Yes, it can be done, but you are going to experience a great deal of upheaval when you first arrive and you are going to have to work forever.
The secret to a long and happy retirement life is to learn to do things in moderation, but all play and no saving is just as bad for you as all saving and no play, and there is no escaping this universal truth.
Equally, money does not buy happiness, or an agreeable disposition, or a positive outlook on life. You must take the time to get to know what you like and then make choices that sustain your personal happiness and a positive outlook.
Taken from this perspective, the wisest course of action would be to visualize the sort of retirement life you really do want and then save accordingly. If your dream is to live off-grid in a yurt, or retire to Thailand then even a small pension will be adequate. If you aspire to a Pied-a-terre in Knightsbridge, or a private island in the Bahamas you have your work cut out for you.
And if you are already retired, be constantly on the lookout for ways to simultaneously enrich your life AND save money. Your income may be fixed, but this is no reason to miss out on great experiences; you just need to figure out how to balance your cash flow to make them happen without overspending.
By Robin Trimingham