Retirement Myth #5: And They Lived Happily Ever After In Retirement

BOSTON (CBS) – The reality is that’s a line from a fairy tale! Too many darn things can go wrong with your planning. You need to plan for the soft side of retirement as well as the financial side.

People fantasize about leaving their jobs and having the good life, a better life in retirement than what they have now!

I have heard from many listeners who have flunked retirement not only because they ran out of money but because the good life was not so good and stuff happened.

We want this time in our life to be perfect. But we will have retirement 24/7. That is like living a month of Saturdays.

Think about this, you and your spouse are both working, saving and getting ready for retirement. You see each other for dinner and weekends. Your kids are grown and you find you talk about work or your kids.

Now you retire! You both have expectations as to what this stage of your life will be like, but you forgot to talk about it together. You talked about traveling in general but never specifically. You both want to explore the west and the national parks. So far so good! But what about the specifics?

You want to buy an RV and camp with the wild animals, but she wants to stay in the parks’ lodge and look at the stuffed animals. She wants to eat dinner by candle light in the lodge and you want her to cook dinner by candle light in the RV. She wants to nestle in front of the lodge’s fireplace with a glass of wine and you want to sit by a campfire and make s’mores.

Communication is key to surviving retirement with a spouse. And you will probably need to compromise. You need to plan how you are going to spend your days in retirement? Long before retiring, five to ten years out, start talking about what you really would like to do.

One more thing: How do you want to spend your time and where do you want to spend your time in retirement? Get a calendar and fill in the days with what you want to do and can afford to do. How much money you have saved greatly impacts what you can and cannot do as a retiree.

Build a social network outside of work. When you work you have a reason to get up. Find a new reason to get up every morning. What do you want to do with the rest of your life? Volunteer? School? Travel? Play? Garden?

If you are coupled look to do things independent of each other, pursue different interests. Dinner conversations will be oh so much better.

And if you are coupled what happens when one of you dies? Your income may drop. Possibly the loss of a pension or at least a reduction and you will lose the smaller of the two Social Security checks as well.

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