Retire to What?

Personal Money Planning |


By Gary Silverman, CFP®

We talk about retirement planning a lot in this column. One thing we don’t cover much (at least I can’t remember when we have) is figuring out what you are retiring to.

“Huh? I’m retiring from work, to, well…non-work.”

Leaving something behind means you are on your way to something else. If you are married or otherwise cohabitating, one thing you will be retiring to will probably include a larger share of the domestic chores. If you think you get to replace forty-plus hours a week of work with play, while your partner continues to do the same amount of the cleaning, errands, cooking, etc., I’d love to be a fly on your wall when you explain that to them.

Already got that figured out? Then what else you got? Sure, you might start volunteering at a local charity, or learn to play that instrument you always wanted to learn, or take a wood-working class and start building birdhouses (which aren’t as easy as they look). Have you been volunteering up to now? Been practicing the oboe? Smelled sawdust in the last decade? If you really had a desire to help that charity, learn that instrument, or take up that hobby, I’m thinking you would have found time by now to dabble in it.

That’s not to discourage you from trying new things…just don’t plan on a new thing becoming a retirement-filling obsession if you have no contact with it now.

Then there are my golfers. They currently play a couple of games a month, but do indeed love it and think that this joy of theirs will fill their retirement. Golfing (or curling, or other sports) if done endlessly is not a fun hobby…it’s a new job. Yes, you will be able to golf more, but will that truly fill all your new-found time?

I have to think about this myself. Though my retirement isn’t happening for many more years, I take some moments to examine what I do now which gives me fulfillment or joy. For me, more casual reading is in the cards, as is time for more sustained Bible study. Some more exercise would be nice, and I will avail myself of more classes, both online and at the college. On top of that, there are several non-profits that I’d like to help out with my time and labor.

My wife and I enjoy traveling, which without a job is a lot easier to fit into our schedule. I’ll also get to help more around the cottage as well as having more time for conversation and just being together.

The key is that all of these activities are ones I do now to one extent or another. They are not unknowns. Which ones will occupy more of my time is hard to say. But they are a variety, they are knowns, I enjoy my limited opportunities in these activities, and they don’t require the stamina of my youth.

Take time to consider what you are retiring into, not just what you are retiring from. And if you have a partner in life (and want to keep them), make it a joint discussion.

Gary Silverman, CFP® is the founder of Personal Money Planning, LLC, a Wichita Falls retirement planning and investment management firm and author of Real World Investing