Unanticipated Challenges Complicate the Retirement Transition

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

Slap In The Face Award


The “Slap in the Face” Award this week comes compliments of The Wall Street Journal’s recently completed survey of retirees.

It found a couple things that are surprising and, in some cases, funny…

The first is a topic I talk about all the time: how much you’ll need to pay your bills after you leave the work world.

This one is a stunner. Respondents reported that the expectation that you’ll spend 80% of your preretirement income in retirement is a bunch of hogwash!

The reality is we’re spending just as much in retirement as we did when we were working – it’s just on different things.

We take two or more trips each year, not just one.

We spend more on medical costs because we have more time to think about all our aches and pains.

But now we also have the time to sit around doctors’ offices waiting to be seen.

We attend more social and family events – ones we used to get out of because we were too busy with work, or so we said – which is another new expense.

And it seems like we spend more on vehicle maintenance to fix things we used to ignore. We have a lot more time to think about our cars and to wait for them while they’re being fixed.

Medical coverage isn’t as good as what we had when we were working. And often, it involves new costs.

And some folks are just splurging in their first few years of freedom. You’ve got to watch that one!

On a more serious note, leaving the work world behind is a shock to our systems. I have talked about this many times. Our sense of worth is tied to our jobs, and losing them is a big deal.

Our calendars are suddenly empty. No one is asking for us or about us. No one is expecting us either.

I don’t know of anything to make this transition any easier. Aside from the two problem areas – overspending and the identity shock – folks report having a lot of fun and really enjoying their newfound freedom.

That is, if they can adjust to the loss of their old selves and don’t spend themselves out of their new lives.

Good investing,