8 Headaches to Avoid When Preparing for a Happy Retirement

8 Ways to Reduce Potential Woes of Life in Retirement

prepare for the worst in retirement

Ah, retirement! It’s a wonderful time. Except when it isn’t.

As with most everything in life, there is a downside to retirement — challenges and irritations that can really take the shine off this phase of life. The good news: You can reduce or eliminate most of these potential woes with a bit of early awareness and proper planning.

Here are 8 things you should start thinking about.

  1. What if it starts early? You may be planning to work until you are 65 or 70. But what if something interferes with that plan? A layoff at age 59? A partially debilitating illness at 61? Are you prepared for an early retirement both financially and mentally? If not, adjust your retirement savings strategy and mindset accordingly. Even if you hope to work until 70, set your sights on an earlier retirement age. Worst case: You have a bigger nest egg when you leave work at 70.
  1. It can be boring. Think how much time you spend on work and child raising. What would you do with all that time if they were suddenly all yours? That’s the challenge of retirement. Some of these were life-long pursuits; others were picked up in retirement. I’m also a big believer in taking a part-time job in retirement. Working a few hours a week in a field you enjoy keeps you engaged and helps stretch your nest egg, too.
  2. Your parents might need you. We’re all living longer, which increases the chance that 65-year-old might find himself spending significant time and/or money caring for a parent in their late 80s. In fact, you might have to retire early to handle such responsibilities. Have you had this conversation with your parents? If not, suck it up, and talk to them. Find out what arrangements they have made for their own care, and what they expect from you. It’s a toughie, for sure, but it will help you all plan for all eventualities.
  1. Money could be scarce. Most Americans haven’t saved near enough for retirement. In fact, only 26% of us have set aside $100,000 or more for that purpose. Pensions and retiree health coverage are pretty much things of the past, making things even tougher. There’s a simple way to avoid this pitfall. Start truly prioritizing your retirement savings — today.
  1. Old age can sneak up on you. The changes we experience while aging can happen almost as fast as what happens in puberty. In this youth-obsessed culture, too many of us are unprepared for the physical and mental challenges of old age. It pays to do some research and thinking to better understand how to make the most of the opportunities and limits of this phase of life.
  2. Your spouse might be a drag. Too many retired couples discover that they’ve grown apart over the decades and, frankly, don’t love being together 24/7. This is a very common problem when the husband was a high-achiever focused intently on his job. Optimally, you and your significant other will do the work necessary to stay bonded over the years. But if you have trouble being together in retirement, there is nothing wrong with each of you spending time following your own pursuits and passions. You may also find that volunteering or otherwise doing some sort of meaningful work as a couple can renew your relationship.
  3. Your money could expire before you. Don’t under-estimate your longevity. We’re all in denial on this one. Just 25% of retirees think they will outlive their savings, according to one study. Only one-third have even bothered to calculate how long their nest egg will last.
  1. You might have a burning sensation. Thanks to better health, new attitudes, and Viagra, we’re staying sexually active well into our 70’s and 80’s. That’s awesome — except for the rising rates of sexually transmitted disease among seniors. If you’re gonna play the game, make sure you’re wearing protective gear, if you know what I mean…

These are all serious but manageable concerns about retirement. More proof that preparing for a great retirement takes more than saving money. It requires lots research, thought, and planning about things that don’t carry a dollar sign.