Retirement can be a scary thing for people. It’s a total lifestyle change and people are hard-wired to resist change.
(Maybe that’s why it took so long to get this improved blog going!)
You’ve been in your career so long it seems like the center of your life. Leaving it behind is sort of like leaving your family.
That’s territory that naturally comes with fears.
In my annual listener survey on The Retirement Answer Man podcast, I asked my listeners about their biggest fears for retirement. In this blog, I want to call out those fears and make them a little less…freaky.
I’m also going to get a little personal and let you in on my top three fears of retirement. Yes, even the Retirement Answer Man has to admit he’s a little scared of retirement.
Let’s get started.
Top 3 national retirement fears
The Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies recently found that the top three fears of retirement in the U.S. are:
- Outliving your money
- Social Security problems (elimination or reductions)
- Long-term care requirements
My listeners voiced many of the same concerns, but seemed to me to be a little different on the whole.
Top 3 retirement fears of my listeners
Take it for what it’s worth, but the listeners of the Retirement Answer Man voiced slightly different retirement fears than the nation in general.
Not one person who responded mentioned Social Security fears, for instance. However, quite a few of you seem excited to start receiving Social Security.
On the other hand, quite a few of you had social fears that didn’t make the national top three.
Here are the top three retirement fears my listeners have and how to beat them back:
1. Outliving savings
Looks like you guys are on par with the top national concern. Everyone is a little bit scared of running out of money before they die. That’s understandable.
There are a few things you can do to make this worry go away.
- Work longer. I know, if you’re thinking about retirement this might be a bit of a downer. But it doesn’t even have to be a full-time job. If you’re in your 60s or 70s, maybe you take the thing you love most about your work right now and see if you can do that as a consultant part-time. Create your own business that you’ll be excited to work for every day. Do whatever it takes to reignite your passion for work if the passion has somehow faded.
- Budget your expenses. On what is probably a pretty good income right now, you’ve probably gotten used to living, um, pretty good. If you plan on a fixed-income retirement, especially, you need to budget accordingly and not just play it by ear like you probably have in the past.
- Talk with a financial planner now. If you’re clueless about what to expect in retirement and it’s super scary, you probably need to talk to a financial planner. A good financial planner can tap into your story to figure out where you stand, create a plan, and manage your portfolio. That will knock off a lot of those retirement fears right there. If you’re serious about talking to a financial planner, I know a guy.
2. Health care costs
Health care seems to be a bigger concern for my listeners than the general populace. It’s a valid concern.
One study suggests a nest egg for a healthy 65-year-old retiree be at least $260,000. Or $400,000 if you want full coverage.
The best thing you can do to reduce your health care expenses is to live healthy.
The old adage states that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and that’s most true when it comes to health.
Healthy living won’t guarantee you avoid long-term care and 430 prescriptions, but it’s bound to help.
And that will make the future a little less freaky. Guaranteed.
Quick shot: Is that burger, fries, and soda on your lunch break really worth endangering your retirement?
3. Social isolation
My grandmother died last year in her mid-90s. In the last part of her life, she was lonely.
She outlived two husbands and two daughters. The rest of us were so busy doing our own thing we hardly even perceived her loneliness.
A guy I know who delivers Meals on Wheels says that he’s the only person many of his clients ever see.
In a few words, isolation is frightening.
Here’s the cure: cultivate friendships outside your age bracket. I’ve watched a friend of mine in his late 60s do this to great effect. When your friends are younger than you are by 30 years, chances are they’ll outlive you and you’ll have friends to populate your retirement.
Confessions of the Retirement Answer Man: My top 3 retirement fears
I’m like you. Even the Retirement Answer Man has some fears about retirement.
So – here are my confessions…
Like many of you, I’m scared that I won’t be healthy enough to do many of the things I crave in retirement. I’ve run marathons and raced in adventure races, but a minor knee surgery recently showed me I probably won’t be running my way through retirement.
So, I’m right on board with the health warning I gave to you in the health care costs above. But the costs I worry about are experience costs more than financial costs.
2. Mental health
If you listen to my podcast, you probably worry about my mental health sometimes already. Losing the physical edge of youth has me scared, but it might be even scarier to go soft mentally.
My mind and creativity have been what carried me through life and my career. To lose that would be one of the most frightening things I can think of.
I’m sure you can relate.
You know how kids can touch their toes and do back bends and crazy stuff like that? They’re flexible.
Well, that flexibility extends into their minds. They know they don’t know everything and are happy to chase down more knowledge.
If I ever start talking about the good ol’ days, I’ll have to kick myself. The future is something to get excited about.
After all, you’re not cheating on the past by getting excited for the future.
When you lose the adaptability, thirst, and flexibility of youth, that’s when you really start to die.
Be a prepper
You may not identify with all these retirement fears, but I hope you’ve come to see them as a little less scary than you did before. If you prepare right for your retirement, setting social, monetary, and health blocks in place now, your future in retirement is something to look forward to.