The 8 Wants of Retirement
Every time I read an article about retirement a rush of anxiety comes over me. Reading about what I should have saved at my age, and knowing I’m no where close to that amount is terrifying. While there are people who love to work and want to work until they physically cant anymore, I’m not one of them. I’m looking forward to retirement and getting out of the rat race. I want to kick back with a few good books and read up on things I didn’t have the time to when I was in the 9-5 grind. I want to take classes, learn new things, and really enjoy a life without work.
I want to be a happy retiree, plain and simple. I asked myself what are the things I would want in my retirement to consider myself a happy retiree? Below is my list and an explanation of what I’m doing now to get the things on my wish list. Let me know what you think and let me know what’s on your retirement list and what you’re doing to get the things you want for retirement. So here is my list.
1. I Want Good Health: Without good health retirement wont be what any of us wants it to be. Retirement can be difficult with living on a fixed income, trying to occupy the abundance of free time, and dealing with family members and personalities for longer than you had to in the past. All of that becomes even harder when you add in a serious health concern and the medical bills that come with those concerns.
What Am I Doing? I’m trying to be as healthy as I can. I run and exercise often. I stopped eating meat in the 1990’s so that’s not a big concern, but I love sugar and salt. I’m actively trying to cut down my sugar and salt intake, which is hard because sugar and salt fixes just about every thing food related. I’m also trying to eat less pizza and more salad. Also I’m cutting back on the cigar smoking. I’m no cigar aficionado but I typically smoke about two cigars a month. For good health in my retirement years I’ll need to scale back or cut the cigar smoking out all together.
2. I Want My Pension: I was lucky enough to work for a good company that offered a pension (the company stopped offering a pension several months after I started). When I left the company I was fully vested. The company I worked for is a large company, run by very smart, conservative individuals. I hope their smarts and conservativeness last through my retirement and beyond.
What Am I Doing? The company tried to buy out my pension benefits for $5,000. That is what 11 years of my service is worth to the company. I said no to that, I actually said hell no to that. Outside of that I’m praying everyday that the company continues to grow and make money, and stay in business.
3. I Want My Child To Like Her Chosen Profession, Be Good At Her Chosen Profession, And Be Able To Make A Living In Her Chosen Profession: You may be thinking, I need my child to be well off so that she can help me out, but that’s the exact opposite. I hope she is well off so I don’t have to help her out. When living on a fixed income every dollar counts, I hope to not have someone else depending on my income when I am in my 70s and 80s. There will be a good amount of time between my child's college graduation and my retirement, and in that time she can live with me as long as she wants. I've been the parent that has always said follow your passion. I hope she finds that passion sooner than later. Now I also understand that life happens, and there is no telling when the next dotcom collapse or great recession will happen, forcing parents on their adult kids and adult kids back on their parents. While I wouldn’t prevent my child from moving back home if she needs to, I hope she never needs to. I hope when she leaves the nest she stays gone.
What Am I Doing? I’m passing on all the wisdom I’ve gathered from my years of working, trying to build a career, navigating life, and dealing with the economy. I’m trying to get involved in her big decisions, in an attempt to prevent her from making the same mistakes I’ve made. I’m trying to insert my two-cents whenever I can. Is it working? Not really, college kids know everything, so I’m praying on this one too.
4. I Want A Paid Off Home/Condo: I want to go into retirement fully owning the place where I live. I’ve come across too many people in my life who are still paying a mortgage on their primary residence in their 70’s. I want to avoid this at all cost. For the record I’m not against renting in retirement, I’m just against paying a mortgage. If you own a house you know it isn’t just paying the mortgage every month and relaxing. Its constant fixing and upgrades, and if you have an older home, as one thing gets fixed or replaced, another thing breaks. In my younger days, Googling something and making it a D.I.Y. project wasn’t a big deal. But I’m not going to want to cut pipes and replace radiators in my 70s. At 70, 80 years old, I’ll have to rely on a professional, which is going to cost a good amount of money. So when I think of owning a home in retirement that’s not paid off, I’ll have the mortgage, maintenance cost, and then the bills (electric, gas, oil, water, cable, internet, phone, and whatever else I will need in the next 30 years) to pay. That’s a lot of money going out. If I can take the mortgage out of that equation, retirement can be a little bit easier. Honestly I’d prefer a condo with no mortgage. Then I’ll only have to pay the maintenance fee (which sometimes includes water or cable) and then my monthly bills.
What Am I Doing? I haven’t settled on a place yet, but I’m getting serious. I know what I want, and now I need to find a value deal. I want to put myself in a position where I can pay the home off sooner than the terms of my mortgage, and pay it off before retirement.
4B. I Want A Home In A Place I Truly Want To Be: I hope I’m not forced out of where I want to be, which is the New York City area, NYC, Brooklyn, or Queens. I don’t want to be someone who has to move to North Carolina because I can’t afford to live in New York. No offense Tar Heels, I have nothing against North Carolina, I like it a lot, but I don’t want to live there in retirement. This is a real concern for me and many other people, especially people who live in a major city. Housing cost just keep rising, but employee wages don’t seem to be increasing at the same pace. And I do understand a lot can change between now and retirement. I may actually come to love North Carolina, or somewhere else, but I’ll have to deal with that if and when that time comes. Right now, I want to be in New York.
What Am I doing? Looking for value in the housing market in the areas where I want to live. This isn’t easy, any one from New York or familiar with the New York real estate market knows that value finds aren’t something you come across every day. I may have to buy a real fixer-upper and do some work on it myself while I can.
5. I Want Social Security To Still Be Available: I’ve paid into social security for all of these years, I would hope that it’s there when its my time to collect. I know social security isn’t going to be put me on easy street, nor do I need it to. But with savings, a 401K, and a pension, social security can go a long way towards feeling financially secure in my 70s, 80s, and maybe my 90s.