Retiring to vs. Retiring from

cheerful1_gwOctober 29, 2009

My DH and I are struggling with upcoming retirement. He works for the Federal government, and is eligible. I work in a private company and could leave whenever I want.

The two big obstacles are

(1) Money - will his pension and our savings be enough to retire on (I can't draw from my 401K for another 5 years). We've run the numbers from here to Sunday, and it looks do-able on paper.

(2) We know what we're retiring from (stressful jobs), but don't know what we'll be retiring to.

Has anyone been in this situation, and how have you handled it?

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These days, I'd feel more comfortable running my numbers by a trusted advisor before jumping into the deep end, but that's probably just me. I ended up retiring inadvertently in 2006, and my DH joins me in a few months. Like your DH, he has a defined benefit pension from a government agency so it's very secure.

I think you do need some idea of what your new goals in life are going to be, and this is important for the two of you to agree upon. Many people have some vague idea that their retirement lives are going to be footloose and carefree forever. Either they end up bored and looking for something to do, or hopefully find some new interest to become passionate about...or get derailed by a financial/personal emergency they failed to see coming and properly plan for.

You will still have goals: short-, mid-, and long-term goals, to plan for. If you can't envision what you're going to be filling your days with, short-term goals are important. It'll be time to try a lot of different things to see what activities/interests you want to pursue.

Let's face it, there are very few inexpensive hobbies! And I've found time goes by pretty fast in retirement; because one doesn't have to rush to keep to a schedule, you seldom accomplish as much as you planned to. For instance, we try to avoid driving in rush hours, so certain stuff like errands get clustered into midday instead of on weekends as before.

Retirement is best viewed in phases. You are young enough, hopefully healthy enough, and have the $$ and time to travel and enjoy life. Here the difficulty is that your friends may not yet be retired, and so you really don't see them any more often than before because they remain as busy as ever.

Once health difficulties appear, it causes a need to reassess your situation. Can you still stay in your home, or is it time to remodel for universal design, or even consider selling? What if you can't drive any longer, what are the options where you live? What kind of family difficulties might start to show up at this point, and will they affect you in any way?

Thinking about the 'what if's' is a way to be prepared for whatever life is going to throw at you in the coming decades. Good luck and good health to you and your DH!

    Bookmark   October 29, 2009 at 6:52PM
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I think you need to figure what your expenses will be versus your income. The money people we talked to took a dollar bill and started tearing it up, one strip was medical expenses, one insurance and kept going until he was down to almost nothing left and told us this was what we would have left. Scared us for a bit until I did the math myself. One thing he did tell that was very important. He said there are 2 ways you can lose your money in a hurry, one is medical expenses so you need good health care coverage. Another way was being sued and he explained what umbrella policies were. I had never heard of it. It covers you up to a million dollars and you don't have to pay the lawyers. I still keep that and it is only $130. a year. The more cars, boats, RVs, etc., the more it costs.

It was easy for us to retire because we were saving so much money when he was working and quit saving when he retired. We didn't have a big loss in income. He had pension and soc sec and I had 8 more years before I could draw SS.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2009 at 9:54PM
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Forgot to mention the non financial problem you may have, many of my friends had this problem. Being bored and getting on each others nerves. One of the men we know went back to work, couldn't stand being home with his wife. still don't know why. LOL

    Bookmark   October 29, 2009 at 9:57PM
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Thanks for your input.

We will keep the health insurance DH has through the government (good coverage). We also have an umbrella policy.

We are fortunate because we have two houses that are mortgage free, and we have no debt to speak of.

The boredom issue is a biggie as well.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2009 at 7:26AM
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Good luck. It's important to have a reason to get up in the morning, a hobby, travel or something that excites you. I am building a library, something I have always wanted. I buy like new hardback books at thrift stores. I am single and no longer cook except on the week ends and I am treating myself to small luxuries like have a couple come in and clean my floors. Now if I could only discourage the man from making advances it would be perfect. LOL

    Bookmark   October 30, 2009 at 11:10AM
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Hi, Cheerful1

I am facing the same "question." My wonderful boss got fed up with the politics and transferred to a job in a different agency. Now I am stuck with an idiot who is also a micro-manager (maybe because he doesn't understand what we do?)

I can afford to retire, but DH has to work until 2020 (he is younger). So I have to figure out what the heck I would do when I retire. Have lots of hobbies but don't want to stay home all day.

A friend of mine who retired in July is studying to become a Master Gardener. That is her passion and she enjoys it. She also has a niece and nephew who need some of her attention and parents who can't drive any more, so she keeps very busy.

I have no children and my nieces are grown. My situation is quite different. Have scoliosis so the doctor would frown on the little bit of gardening that I do now.

Figure out what you would like to do and then decide if you can afford it. Maybe you can work part time?

Good luck, whatever you do. Enjoy!

    Bookmark   October 31, 2009 at 9:38AM
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I have been retired for over two years now. I have 2 dogs and 2 cats to keep me busy. I recently started volunteering at the hospital just a few blocks away. I also am a sub for Meals on Wheels and enjoy doing that when they call me. It only takes about 30 minutes of my time to deliver 3 or 4 meals on the route they assign me. I am the back up babysitter for my hairdresser's little baby. I have so many options of things to keep me busy that I am never bored.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2009 at 8:32PM
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I've talked to many retirees over the years, most of whom where financially ok (govt employers again)...

The BIG surprise to many -- what to do 24/7?

You lose your work identity, have all the freedom in the world, but what will you do with it?

So many, despite looking forward to retirement, fell into depressions (and many do go through a grieving process when they first retire - not everyone, but many do!)...

My two cents, just think ahead on what the two of you will do daily.. yes, you want time off, at first, but after that first few months -- what will you do all day, every day?

Best Wishes! Wendy

    Bookmark   December 1, 2009 at 10:23PM
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Since I am recently retired fed myself there are a couple of questions/thoughts that I would look at. Is your husband covered under the old pension plan, offset plan, or FERS plan. The old pension plan pays 2% x years of service x high 3 of salary but no social security. The offset plan is for people who are eligible for social security but is very complicated to figure. FERS which is what I retired with is 1% x years of service x high three salary. 1.1% after age 62 but you do receive social security. Hopefully you both have been putting as much as posible into your 401s. Most Fed retirees except for those that have been the equivalent of a grade 12 GS for at least 3 years will find that SS is their main source of income. With 40 years of service you will receive 44% of current salary. Sounds like a lot but out of that you will have health insurance and taxes plus any life insurance you decide to keep. Personally I kept the minimum so I would be eligible for the $25,000 max for family insurance as my husband has too many health problems to pass a physical.

Do not believe the governments estimates. I did and without hubby's retirement I would have been in a deep dark hole.

As a Fed retiree you are eligible for original Medicare when the two of you reach that age. Advantage you are eligible for health insurance until you die at the monthly employee and family rate. Disadvantage is that some of the other medicare suppliment plans offer things like health club memberships, especially YMCA if in area, but by signing up for a plan other than the Fed plans you have no guarantee that you can keep your insurance since once you are out of the government system you can not return.

As far as life after work some sleep for the first several months and do nothing, me, others start traveling and doing things they have always wanted to do. A caution for anyone's retirement is to have several months living expenses on hand when you retire. I retired Oct 1 but did not receive any money until March because of the timing that my agency sent paperwork to OPM. I do not fault OPM because they received paperwork last week of December but their pay schedule set the next payment the third week of March. My payroll office told me it would be two months after OPM received the paperwork and it was. Things happen I can just caution anyone retiring to have extra money on hand just incase.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2009 at 12:41AM
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Maifleur - He's covered under the old CSRS plan. He's a GS15, Step 10. I have a 401K at work, and a Rollover IRA from a prior plan. We have some money in the bank for emergencies.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2010 at 8:55AM
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Sounds good. High enough grade that income should be good with your retirement. I would not make any moving plans if you are thinking of changing climates until at least a year after retirement. I personally think it is better to stagger retirements with one retiring first then the other. Sounds sad but it will give each of you some time for yourself. When the second one retires the first should have set up a routine so they will be busy doing their own thing while the other makes decisions on what activities they wish to do. Do not make the mistake that just because you are a couple you must do everything together. If you can afford to take small separate vacations perhaps with friends or a group/club do so. Too much being in the same house at the same time can make tempers flare.

When I retired I told hubby not to make any plans for me for the first 6 months because I was going to sleep and catch up on my reading. He did try to get me to go to his activities for a short while but finally gave up.

If you find you are bored or miss being with people there are many places to volunteer or either of you could work at something you never thought you would do.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2010 at 11:11PM
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I am losing my memory, sorry but one point I did not mention and it applys to everyone that is married and retiring. If your spouse passes away what amount if any can you draw from what they have available? Be aware that this amount can change.

When hubby retired he signed up for me to get 100% of his retirement. Now all that is allowed is 50%. Part of all paperwork allows for changes in the plan as long as there is a notification. That notification was in his yearly retirement report.

    Bookmark   January 6, 2010 at 11:39PM
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Prior to hubs' retirement ... you figure that the house is mainly yours.

After he retires ... you find that it isn't nearly as much yours as you thought that it was.

Some like to follow wifie around, suggesting ways that regular chores could be done in a more efficient, easier, etc. manner.

The response to such suggestions might be, "Would you show me how it could be done that way, dear?".

And then it gets to be his job, from then on??

Folks need to plan ahead as to things that they'd like to do. We need several strings on our violin: just one gets awfully monotonous: boring.

I have three pensions, that don't provide a huge amount of income, but I've lived frugally for years and don't resent it: find it sort of an interesting and rather a fun-filled game! I spend less than my pensions.

One advantage of this is that, though at age 80 I hold about 80% of my assets in equities, when the market went down and the value of my stocks went down something over 25% recently, I was surprised at how little anxiety it caused me. The main reason was that I do not need those assets to live on: they're "play money", you might say.

Learning how money - and taxes - work is an interesting hobby - and it pays well. Did you hear that" "it ... pays ... well!".

Retirement is one of life's major adventures ... and it will be part of one's life for an extended period, one hopes. Such major new experiences and activities in one's life deserve some study and preparation, beginning well before the year in which one expects it to take place.

And in these uncertain times, especially for workers in the downward side of middle age, many have found that it is just such people who get faced with involuntary retirement ... earlier than they'd planned on.

ole joyful

    Bookmark   January 20, 2010 at 7:47AM
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OJ, we are much in the same situation as you. DH's 401/457 accounts (company substitute for Social Security; his employer withdrew from SS about 25 years ago) is probably not going to be needed by us unless there's a huge emergency (and I mean really big, like six-figure drama). But I call it "Monopoly Money" instead!

It really helped me keep the market drop in perspective. And I'm sure the subsequent "bounce-up" in the markets has been as helpful to you as it's been to us, softening that drop quite a bit.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2010 at 8:10PM
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Husband retired last year; I'm still working. We adopted a dog, and there were things around the house that needed to be done, so that took up some time.

Now things have calmed down and I feel like he's becoming depressed because he's not doing much at the moment. He's happy about not answering to anyone; he had a couple of prospects that fell through due to the economy and his not wanting to answer to anyone. He doesn't have any outside interests.

I hope this is just a phase.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 12:08PM
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That's why my husband will never retire. He likes his work, thankfully, but he has no outside interests that would take up more than a few hours each weekend.

Are you happy that you are still working? ;-)

What about volunteer work? Drive for Meals on Wheels?

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 12:13PM
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I'm doing it more for the money than anything else. My husband says it's my decision as to when I retire, but he seems so unhappy that I feel like I should retire soon. Also, I don't know if my retiring will make him feel any better.

I bring up volunteer work, but he doesn't want to answer to anyone anymore. That severely limits his options.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 3:06PM
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Right now I'd like to retire after our tax season finishes in October 2013. By then I would have earned all the vacation and overtime I could for the year. I'm trying to get the most bang out of the company buck. I'll have 10 weeks vacation this year and I'd use every last day of it.

It will give us a little more in the bank. I'd have a 3 1/2 year wait until I can collect Social Security.

I think it could work.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2013 at 6:56AM
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Though we've gotten used to low inflation recently, sometimes it gets bad.

For example, in the early 80s I began selling mutual funds (for a year), and several, often seniors, told me happily of their good fortune in getting about 19% on their bonds, GICs, etc.

When I asked them how they liked actually getting about $2, - 3,000.00 on $100,000.00 investment, they claimed that they were getting far more than that!

Interest income, along with employment and pension income, is charged at top rate of income tax, so if they were in 25% income tax rate, their pre-tax interest income of 19% became about 14.5% after the tax was paid.

And did they know what level of inflation was operating in our country at that time? Most didn't have any idea - that it was about 12%.

When our investments are in guaranteed dollars ... current income must cover both taxes and inflation.

Good wishes for increased wisdom as the months and years go by in terms of managing your own money: "No one cares about your money as much as you", I used to say.

But in recent years have added, " ... except someone who'd like to move some of it from your pocket into his/(hers)".

Don't forget, most financial planners are actually sales people, usually for insurance or mutual funds. And in many situations, their income depends entirely on how much of their product that they are able to sell.

Not many sell no financial products, so need to charge their clients for their time - but their total loyalty is to their client's best interest. As they have no conflict of interest, their clients don't need to watch them to see whether they're talking out of the side of their mouth that deals with what's good for the client ... or what's mainly good for them.

ole joyful

    Bookmark   July 25, 2013 at 7:31PM
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My husband knows what my game plan is, and always said it was my decision when to retire (he's already retired). He gave me input as to how to tell my boss, and things of that nature.

But he never says anything like "can you do it sooner, I miss having you home".

His stepmother asked me on Saturday, why am I waiting (DH misses you). When I asked him about it later, he still wouldn't say it (it's my decision). Don't know what her motivation was for saying what she said.

This morning he asked me why I didn't retire earlier in the summer; why am I waiting until October?

Now I'm really torn.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2013 at 10:28AM
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Cherrful1, you husband sounds a little bit stubborn. Surely he can find some kind of volunteer work or hobby where he doesn't have to "answer" to anyone. I would tell him you will not retire until you see that he is happy with retirement, and keeping busy. Let him know that you don't want him to depend on your keeping him busy or entertained. I apologize what I said sounds harsh, but my wish for you is that you can retire on your schedule. A few more months will not hurt.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2013 at 3:14PM
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jim_1 Zone 5B Illinois

I am 67 and loved the job that I was doing. However, I discovered a 28-day cruise to Hawaii and French Polynesia. Did I want to return to the job I loved after a love cruise like that? Nope! Too much stuff will have happened that I could not control. That helped me decide to retire.

My wife told me that she would quit working about the same time. So we both retired within 2 weeks of each other. Good parties!

Now we are into our new routine. I enjoy what I do, which is spending hours and hours in the gardens (veggie and flowers). AND I also volunteer at the county-owned nursing home, as does my wife. She has organized a twice-a-month yarn craft activity. She knits and loves to spend time with the elders. I volunteer by maintaining the flower gardens at the nursing home. We are not bored.

Next cruise is the end of October, we'll need to come home to relax again.

Fortunately, we began our retirement financial planning several years ago and both my accountant and financial adviser have said that we are in good shape. We were worried about that situation about 15 years ago and worked hard to set aside enough for whatever. We don't spoil the grandkids and we enjoy being with each other.

For us, retirement is cool (although it is supposed to be in the 90s again late this week).


    Bookmark   August 20, 2013 at 12:39PM
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I gave notice to my boss(on Friday the 13th no less), that my last day will be October 31.

I am going through a roller coaster of emotion. While I'm glad to be leaving, my stomach is in knots, between the office transition (I did a lot of things over 32 years), and worrying about the future, and so many things in between.

I haven't had a good night's sleep in a long time. I'm tense and depressed at the same time.

When I see my doctor in November, I'm going to see if she can give me something.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2013 at 9:13AM
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Cheerful1, I don't know your reasons, but I am tense and depressed also. It is a big change! My last day is November 1, so I will be right behind you.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2013 at 1:05PM
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Just an update, as I see my last post was way up there on Oct 2009!

Spouse did retire Dec 31, 2009. Woohoo! We've had a very happy 3-1/2 yrs together in retirement. The first year (2010) we did a lot of West Coast travel, including a 5-1/2 week trip through the Pacific NW that was simply fabulous.

We don't have a lot of money but do have a secure retirement with DH's state pension and health bennies. Fortunately we like to travel around our local area which is gorgeous (although expensive). We go out to eat a lot and don't need to count costs - just celebrated DH's 60th birthday by taking a dozen family and friends out to a good local restaurant. Everyone had a great time and we did too.

Both of us were anxious to retire, and we have found it very fulfilling. Maybe someday we'll get into volunteer work, but for now it just doesn't fit into our daily lives. As DH says, "There's not enough time to do all the fun stuff we want to do every day!"

After he suffered a stroke at age 50 and was lucky enough to recover 95% of the way back, he worked another 7 yrs to earn a good pension amount. He had wanted to work 15 yrs but I convinced him to retire early. He now says he's glad I convinced him to make the move, and that retirement has been everything we hoped.

I figure you never know what's going to happen. I had rather he retired early and we make do with a little less money, instead of risking his potential death or disability (having one stroke greatly increases your risk of death from a second, or from cardiac failure). I didn't want to do a bunch of fun things in my retirement and think, "Wow, DH would have so much enjoyed this if he were still here."

This past year we have done less traveling, as we are dealing with issues regarding my dementia-afflicted MIL, who currently lives with us. Those who are also on the Caregivers forum have seen my postings there. In November we will move her into a senior care facility about 15 minutes away from our home. She gets so anxious about being alone in the house but has so few friends any longer, it's been almost impossible for us to get away.

Not having MIL in the house to share expenses will crimp our budget a little, but we can manage. Good financial plnng really has helped us, both to retire early and be able to weather the "bumps".

Because we couldn't leave MIL at home by herself, we've only made four short local trips in the last 12 months. But they were a good break, emotionally and physically. Went to Monterey, Sonoma and Napa counties, and Mendocino county -- gorgeous scenery, fabulous food. We are fortunate to live in such a beautiful location, the San Francisco Bay Area.

Fortunately, DH and I have a lot of "solo" hobbies that can keep us occupied around the home: he's a rabid wargamer (Warhammer 40,000, for anyone who's into that stuff) while I garden, cook, and handle pretty much all the details of daily life, including the financial matters and driving. We are also rabid readers, keeping Amazon and Barnes & Noble in business almost single-handedly, LOL.

Are there still things we want to do? Of course there are. Could one of us die tomorrow without regret, knowing we gave each other a rewarding, rich life together that was full of good times, good friends, and shared laughter? You betcha!

I feel so blessed we've had this time together, uninterrupted by work stress, office politics, and commute horrors. DH and I would rather spend time with one another than anybody else, even though we love our family/friends and get together with them regularly.

Our advice would be: Life is short. Make the most of it in whatever way fulfills you. A life lived with regret is the most wasted of all.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2013 at 12:19PM
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I like your advice. I don't understand people who get so wrapped up in saving their money that they won't do anything. I am sure when they were younger they were looking forward to a life like you have had.

I have had such a good life in the last 17 years, doing what I did was something I never even dreamed in my wildest dreams. Travel mostly, Africa twice (Kenya and Botswana), camping in the African bush for 5 nights. Hot air balloon ride over the Masai Mara, helicopter over Victoria Falls, flew in a small Cessna over the African plain. Peruvian rain forest twice, Cusco, Machu Picchu and a riverboat cruise on the Amazon and it's tributaries. Cruises to the Panama Canal, Alaska and bus tours in the US. My 3 sisters are all going to die with their money in the bank and I know there are things they want to do. Their kids will not save it that is for sure.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2013 at 1:00AM
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Can't believe I've been retired for two weeks already! Enjoying the freedom of going to bed and waking up on my own schedule. The work transition was extremely stressful; my boss wanted me to come back after retiring so they could take me out to lunch. November was already getting booked up, so they gave me a party in the office, which is what I wanted all along. They gave me a watch, the concept of which I don't understand. It got to a point where I could not wait to get out of there.

Now onto the next chapter of my life.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2013 at 4:39PM
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Good wishes for a happy, prosperous, busy at stuff you like and fulfilled retirement, Cheerful ONE

Your major expenses will likely be in the first years, doing travelling that you've wanted to do for a long time and going out to do things, while you have the health capabilities and energy to do them.

The other time of heavy expenses will likely be near the end of life, when there'll be heavy medical costs.


ole joyfuelled

    Bookmark   November 21, 2013 at 1:24PM
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Hey, cheery one ...

... come back to tell us what you've been doing ...

... or are you too busy???

Whatever ... enjoy life ... while you're still young!

ole joyful ... 84 ... and counting (but not too much)

    Bookmark   December 7, 2013 at 3:11PM
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It's now been a year since I've retired.

The pros:
Sleeping later
No commute
Knowing I left on my terms (my former company has downsized and subsequently laid off 3 employees - including the co-worker that took over my job, and was there for 21 years).
Not having to deal with the daily grind.

The cons:
The lack of energy and desire to get things done has surprised me.
I thought I'd read more (haven't picked up a book in a year).
I've done some gardening and cooking; I thought I'd do more.
If it wasn't for our dog needing his walks, I probably wouldn't exercise.
I eat too much of the wrong things because it's easy.
Having a balancing act between wanting to splurge, and concerns about if we'll have enough money for the "golden years".

I feel like I'm comparing myself to the "average" retiree, and come up lacking.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2014 at 5:23PM
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Hi cheery one,

I'm pleased that you're happy with the "pro"s of your retirement.

And somewhat sad that you're feeling that you're not keeping up to the mark of what you'd hoped/planned to do. If you feel the need to beat yourself over the back about that - make sure it's with a wet noodle ... and only five strokes, O.K?

As for the "average" retiree, I don't feel that I have too much of a handle on that ... and wonder what level of expertise you may claim in that department?

I think that it's important to do things that we can be pleased with ourselves for having done, at the end of the day ... week ... month ... year.

Something that I note to have been scarcely mentioned in this thread so far is the need that all of us retirees have to concern ourselves about (as well as people in the workforce) is the erosion of the value of our income (and, for us retirees, our assets) due to inflation, every year for about the last 80.

There hasn't been much increase in incomes in recent years, except for the wealthy few ... but the prices keep going up ... and for most of us, those prices of much of the goods and services that we buy have been and are going up faster than the official rate of inflation.

When we put money in the bank, or buy bonds, etc. which pay us the same number of dollars after several years that we gave them in the first place, apart from the "rent" on the money, it isn't only taxes and living expenses that much come out of the earnings ("rent on the money"), but an allowance for inflation, as well, in order to keep the purchasing power of those assets equal in ten years to what it is now.

Good wishes to you for dealing well with the days ahead: may they be as many as please you, with good health, friends, enough bucks to meet your needs, things to do and a few challenges, here and there.

ole joyfuelled

    Bookmark   March 25, 2015 at 2:28PM
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joyful, I'm not sure where you get the "information" you describe.

Social Security and many (most?) pensions have annual cost of living (inflation) adjustments. Inflation isn't an issue for many retirees. Other than those living in economically stagnant areas, the best inflation protection is home ownership. Those living in economically dead areas likely have bigger problems to deal with than inflation.

As for income growth, it averaged 4.0 percent across the US last year. It was much higher in many states. It was 1.8 percent the year before. I suspect the median increase was rather higher than the mean.

Personal Income Growth 2014

There has also been a lot of job growth in many areas and decreased unemployment in recent years.

    Bookmark   last Thursday at 8:16PM
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