Redefining Retirement, Redux
As consecutive blizzards continue to weigh heavy on the Eastern seaboard, it can be tempting to dream of the days that you don’t care if another foot or two comes down … because you’re RETIRED. Throw on an extra sweater, hire the neighbor boy to shovel, and pour that second cup of coffee. Better yet, escape to where 55 degrees and overcast qualifies as inclement weather.
But before you surrender to the temptation of a traditional retirement – submitting that “I quit” memo, selling the family homestead and relocating to a balmy-breezed golf course condominium – remember one of the messages we’ve long featured on our SAGEbroadview home page:
Sage people know … It’s not about cliffs called ‘”work” and “retirement;” it’s about preparing, from this point forward, to move steadily toward wherever you want to go next.
Not long ago, we published a post, “Refreshing Your View on Retirement,” in which we shared additional insights on how to ensure that your real-life retirement plans are tailored, not necessarily according to staid fashion, but according to the unique way you and your partner would like to savor your interests and experiences. As we said then:
By rethinking the retirement paradigm …financial LIFE planning becomes vital. You and your advisor work as a team to prepare you for living within your means, today and throughout your life. The goal becomes confidently saving, investing and spending for the long haul, versus one grand push toward an arbitrary age.
We still believe these words hold true as a reasonable approach to retiring on your own terms. And we may be on to a larger movement. As the Baby Boomers have begun to shape their 60+ lifestyles (and their children and grandchildren pursue careers of their own), we’ve noticed ongoing media coverage on multifaceted attempts to redefine some of the status quo rules, potentially smoothing the abrupt transition between all-work and all-play.
Redefining the Rules at Work
As companies seek to retain valued employees and ease out others, creative arrangements abound. A 2013 U.S. News & World Report piece, “The Rise of Semi-Retirement,” cites a survey finding that “More than a third of working Americans say they would like to semi-retire, or cut back their hours, before retiring completely.” Many companies are offering programs to accommodate the preference. Flex time, encore careers, semi-retirement … call it what you will, but many employees and employers alike are adopting a more take-it-easy approach to taking it easy.
Redefining the Rules at Home
Similar shifts seem to be occurring closer to home. A January 2015 New York Times piece, “Easing Into Leisure, One Step at a Time,” describes retirees taking a more gradual, multi-step approach to moving from the lifelong family home to a more mobile lifestyle and/or down-sized living quarters.
The article cites an AARP survey that found a large majority of retirees preferred to remain in their familiar neighborhoods, even if they travel frequently or move several times within the area to suit their evolving lifestyle. The piece featured the Guttentags, who initially downsized from the suburbs to a smaller home in the Pennsylvania countryside, before moving again to a retirement facility with increased amenities, closer in to Philadelphia and “the things to do there.”
Redefining the Rules of Retirement
Ideally, we would all get to work for as long and as hard as we pleased until we no longer felt like working. But in reality, we know that not every retirement or every extended career is ideal or voluntary. Beyond our own life’s successes and let-downs, there are political and financial forces at play that can help or hinder our personal efforts.
MarketWatch’s “Goodbye, traditional retirement” offers a review of what may lie ahead for those in or nearing retirement, quoting Kevin Crain of Bank of America Merrill Lynch: “In 2015, Americans can expect to see continued regulatory activity related to retirement savings and possibly tax reform initiatives that may impact retirement savings.”
Is Crain correct and, if so, is the news good, bad or neutral? As with most broad predictions, we can’t know for sure what 2015 has in store for us. But, really, couldn’t he have said the same about potential political and financial initiatives in just about any given year?
That’s why, in 2015 and beyond, preparing for retirement on your own terms demands informed, ongoing planning, not only to accommodate your own evolving goals but to adeptly manage the ever-volatile markets and shifting political landscapes that impact one’s best-laid retirement funding plans. It’s why, in 2015 and beyond, our SAGEbroadview team remains ready to assist and advise.
Sage Serendipity: Have we already shared this YouTube spoof performance of “Memory”? We can’t remember.