I’m Taking My Own Advice for Once

Steve McDonald By Steve McDonald, Bond Strategist, The Oxford Club

Two-Minute Retirement Solution

Most people over the age of 55 obsess over their retirement: funds, health and healthcare, wills and estates, emergency funding, and ways of handling unexpected big-ticket items.

But a question posed by a recent article in The Wall Street Journal added a whole new level to my retirement planning…

Take a moment and think about what your first day of retirement will look like. What will you do?

My initial reaction was… nothing! No emails, no texts, no phone, no deadlines. NOTHING!

Then, I read the rest of the question.

Now, think about days one through 9,000.

That’s right, if you make it to 65 in pretty good shape, research shows that most of us can expect to live a lot longer. In fact, spending 25 years in retirement – that’s 9,125 days – is not unrealistic for many boomers.

The number of days is shocking, but what really rattled me was that I hadn’t seriously thought about what any of my days in retirement would look like.

I have been working full time since June 20, 1971. And over the years, I’ve become a bit of a workaholic. My days are filled by my work. I don’t have much time for anything else.

And, like most, I worry about enough already… insurance, money, health and time.

I’ve talked to my better half about the paperwork and where everything – like passwords and account numbers – is.

But filling my days from 7:00 a.m. to lights out for 25 years? Nope! Never gave it a thought.

Despite all the lecturing I do about being ready, I didn’t know what a typical day in retirement would look like for me. And I realized I had better figure it out before I retire or end up on the short route to the family plot.

I’ve written about it here many times…


Stay active, have a social network and give back to your community. Otherwise, prepare yourself for a bad time after you leave work.

So as strange as those who know me will find this, I followed some of my own advice and did some things that will add value to my own retirement.

Exercise

After a 42-year hiatus, I’ve started playing tennis again. Yes, it has been a bit of a challenge. And, of course, I can’t move quite as fast or for as long as I once did.

The sport covers all the retirement bases.

  • There’s a big social component to the game. This is an essential element of a successful retirement.
  • It’s great exercise… if I hustle for the shots to the sidelines. (That’s another story.)
  • I’ve found I’m a lot more forgiving of my shortcomings now than when I threw my racket away in disgust in 1974.
  • And, the big one, it gets me out of the house.

Social Network

My morning breakfast place, The Seaside Grill, is my new morning hangout.

Lots of newly retired locals and some very young retirees frequent it and can be found catching up with owners Dan and Rose. It has turned into a gray-hair hangout and has helped me develop a new social network.

And, again, it gets me out of the house for a few hours almost every day.

Volunteering

I love dogs, cats and all animals, but I am deathly allergic to their hair and dander. Since I can’t own one, I volunteer by selling hats and T-shirts at our local dog park. The proceeds go to the local animal shelter.

I’ve met tons of new people – the best kind, dog lovers – and it’s because I get out of the house!

The problem now is fitting all these activities into my schedule – especially since I’m still working – but it ensures that I won’t be spending 9,000 days doing nothing when I retire.

I’m about seven years from full retirement, but not knowing what my retirement would look like was enough to scare me into action.

Don’t wait for boredom to take its toll. All the research tells us idleness leads to physical and mental decline.

Doing nothing every day is unhealthy. Get out there!

Good investing,

Steve