Ask Chuck: Considering Retirement
My wife is urging me to retire. I am not ready yet and do not know if I ever will be. I enjoy working. However, what do you think are the best financial moves to be ready?
Prepping for Retirement
Dear Prepping for Retirement,
This year has caused many people to consider retirement. There are several factors to consider which I address below.
From the way you stated your question, I think it would be wise to discuss this and pray with your wife to be sure you are united about the issue of if and when you should retire. There is great strength in being united with your wife. She will have insights and intuition that will help clarify your decisions and plans.
Unless you are offered an exceptional retirement package, I suggest you ease into this new chapter by cutting back on your hours slowly. If you like your current employer, explore the possibility of consulting or work part-time. Crown’s CFO took this step by taking off every Friday as a transitional move.
The extra income, as well as staying mentally and socially active are benefits of this approach. Perhaps there is an opportunity for you to work somewhere completely different that can involve more time with your wife and family. I recently met a gentleman who retired from a successful career in the insurance business and opened a real estate office with his wife in an area where they wanted to live out their retirement. They are an incredible duo working wholeheartedly in their 70’s because they love serving people.
Working Longer is a Trend
In her article, Why Are People Working Longer? It’s Not What You Think, Kerry Hannon observes:
“Although the popular press and financial advisory firms would have us believe that fiscal insecurity is driving the trend, for those fortunate enough to have a choice and to be in good health it’s job satisfaction, having a sense of purpose, finding meaning in the work; using knowledge, skills, abilities and experience acquired over many years; helping others, making a difference; mentoring younger workers; enjoying their colleagues, clients, patients, or students. In short, they tell me that they love what they do. And, it’s older women even more than older men who are powering the extended work life, or EWL, phenomenon.”
- Create a retirement budget. Make sure you have an adequate emergency fund. If your overhead is too high then make some lifestyle cuts. Housing and cars are usually the main culprits.
- Lifestyle choices will dictate how much income you will need.
- Set a goal to pay off your home. It is often a great relief for retirees.
- Take care of major expenses while you are still working. Replace that leaky roof or dying HVAC.
- Declutter and simplify. Don’t spend money on renting a storage unit. Sell, give, donate, or trash unnecessary items. You will enjoy living with less and your beneficiaries will be grateful.
- Develop an exercise routine and a healthy meal plan. Stewarding your health impacts your finances.
- Understand Medicare costs and benefits. Know what your plan covers and what it does not.
- Have a plan for long term care.
- Determine the date you plan to begin drawing Social Security. Crunch the numbers on your options for early or delayed election.
- Update your will and provide passwords to important accounts.
Pick your Best Housing Option
Many retirees want a place free of snow and ice in the winter or extreme heat in the summer. Maybe they want a second home for some rental income or a place that will entice friends and family to come visit. Be cautious. Real estate is tricky. It can appreciate in value over time and potentially generate income through rentals, or it can be a money pit. Before buying a second home, consider taxes, insurance, HOA fees, maintenance, utilities, management fees if renting it out, and travel expenses. Know the tax ramifications of renting and selling. Consider it an asset, not an investment. I do not recommend timeshares.
The knowledge, experience, and wisdom elders accumulate over a lifetime can be shared with the younger generation. The Bible emphasizes helping the younger generation to grow in faith, to live godly lives, and to strengthen the family unit.
Think about getting involved in missions, discipling others, learning and sharing skills to help your children or grandchildren thrive in their businesses, or volunteering with an organization to help the poor in your community.
Leave a Legacy
Seek this next chapter of your to be your most fruitful for God’s kingdom. Paul said, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account.” (Philippians 1:21-24 ESV)
Write a brief autobiography for your family that includes your testimony, favorite Scripture passages, things that molded your character, and hopes for the readers. This could be a lasting blessing to generations that follow you. My grandfather left us only his journal which included many insights from his daily Bible reading. It has impacted far more than a financial inheritance would have.
Originally published by the Christian Post, October 2, 2020.