What are the top 3 things for a Great Retirement? I started writing a post about the Top 10 Things About Retirement, then it became 5 things, then I realised so many of the things needed several of the others, that the list boiled down to just 3 things.
I started my retirement journey in October 2011. For me, it was a journey into the unknown. I left work ahead of many of my peers. I was tired of chasing. Working in IT may pay well, but for me it was pretty stressful. I was always at the end of a phone, taking calls and answering emails at all hours of the day and night. Not to mention on a plane every week for more years than I care to work out. I was my own worst enemy, I couldn’t say no. My friends all told me that I would be back at work within a few months. I would miss it. I was a workaholic.
They were wrong. I have been happily retired for nearly 6 years now. I didn’t miss work. I declined the odd work opportunity that came my way (one extremely well paid!). It has been an amazing time. I feel so lucky to have been able to enjoy it. Even if something bad were to happen tomorrow, I still have that time to look back on. What an experience so far.
So here is the list –
The Top 3 Things For a Great Retirement.
They are not in any particular order because they each build and rely on the other.
1. Plans on How To Spend Your Free Time
While pretty self evident, all the free time you get once you retire is the greatest thing. No more being at the beck and call of someone else at all hours of the day and night. No work mobile, no work emails, no deadlines, no staff management issues. No more delayed holidays or rejected requests for time off to go to a school function, family event. You now have time to do all the things you couldn’t do because you were working. Even if you don’t have items 2 or 3, this alone is fantastic, whatever your job was.
If however you have no concept of how you are going to spend your time in retirement, then you had better start thinking. There is some suggestion that if you don’t have some goals in retirement, you are more likely to die early. My husband worked for an engineering firm, many of the workforce died within a year or two of retirement. It was as though they felt once they had stopped work, that was it. These were people with no history of ill-health, mainly, but not all manual workers. Daytime TV is definitely not the answer.
2. Robust Finances
It really is worth spending some time, many years in advance, putting some plans in place on how you are going to fund what could well be a third of your life or even more if you achieve FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early). Without having your finances sorted out, you might end up sitting at home, unable to afford to put the heating on, and living on rice and beans! It doesn’t have to be millions, just as long as it covers your desired spending requirements.
Charles Dickens said it very well in David Copperfield –Mr Micawber’s famous, and oft-quoted, recipe for happiness:
“Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen [pounds] nineteen [shillings] and six [pence], result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.”
To everyone who has not started thinking about how you are going to afford to live when you stop working, it is time to consider it now. Even if you’re only 18. In fact 18 is a great time to think about it. Time is on your side. You’ve just got some cash for your 18th birthday. Don’t spend it on the latest gadget. Invest it, and then add to it slowly and steadily. Do you know if you invest £500 on your 18th birthday, and then add £10 a month to it, every month for the next 50 years, at a standard 5% interest, you will have invested £8,660 but you will have £32,000! Just about quadruple what you have put in. So instead of taking out a car loan for a nice shiny new car, buy an older one and invest the loan money…. Make it even better, by putting more away regularly. I can really recommend reading The Automatic Millionaire by David Bach, where he explores the concept of Pay Yourself First. I only read it about 10 years ago. I wish I had read it earlier. Save money – get it out of the library!
3. Good Health
This is probably the most critical of the three items. It’s all very well having time and money, but if you don’t have the health to enjoy it, it isn’t going to do you much good. Let’s face it, Steve Jobs had lots of money, but it didn’t help him.
I must have been blessed with good genes, because I have not been as good at looking after myself as I should have been. I weigh a bit too much, haven’t always taken enough exercise and I enjoy a glass or two of wine. However, I virtually never need to go to the doctor, although I do all my regular health checks. Even my blood pressure is pretty good!
Many of my friends and ex-colleagues have not been so lucky. Between heart problems, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, cancer etc, many of my friends haven’t even been able to make it to the retirement gate, and some of those who have made it, are not well enough to enjoy their retirement.
So that’s it, that’s the list. If you get these three things right, the rest follow along. They are at the core of a Great Retirement. I’m certainly making the most of mine.
- This year we spent a month in New Zealand We have 5 weeks in Madrid booked for September. Last year, our 6 weeks in Barcelona worked really well. I’ve really been focusing on my Spanish over the last couple of weeks
- I’ve kick-started my diet again, so here’s hoping I show an improvement soon
- I’m back to walking every day (except when it is really wet and horrible)
- I’m off out to lunch with friends on Wednesday
- I keep an eye on my spend and my investments. My half year report looked pretty good.
Even if you are living on very little and your health isn’t great, as some friends of mine are, retirement is still pretty amazing, but the steps above give it a welcome boost.
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