Retirement: figure out what it means to you

November 10, 2013

On my recent travels through upstate New York I came upon a local newspaper, The Altamont Enterprise, and a local column called The Old Men of the Mountain, written by John R. Williams. “On Tuesday, Oct. 22, the OMOTM met at the Hilltown Café in Rensselaerville, with another ride into the hills that form the Hudson and Mohawk valleys, and all the color of nature is spread like a quilt before the eyes of the traveler.”

John says relaxing is a frequent occurrence with OFs, but some say the rocking chair will do them in. They have to be doing something, and not just anything, but something with value.

Mary from Long Neck sent me an article headlined Many Americans don’t expect to ever retire, from the Oct. 24 issue of USA TODAY. “In a sign of just how bleak retirement prospects have gotten, more than a third of Americans say they will have to work until they literally can’t anymore. A new Wells Fargo study found that 37 percent of people don’t ever expect to retire, but instead will have to “work until I’m too sick or die.” How depressing!

Now that three and half years have passed, I have made a new life in Delaware. Like John, I have to be doing something of value. I have learned what the OMOTM know. Keep busy and enjoy being around people.

The USA TODAY article did offer some advice for retirement wannabes. Set a goal and start planning. People spend more time planning a vacation than they do a 25-year retirement. You can get a ballpark estimate at, run by the nonprofit Employee Benefit Research Institute.

Figure out what retirement means to you. “I’ve worked with thousands of clients,” says Joe Sicchitano, senior vice president and head of financial planning at SunTrust.

Other advice includes: Manage your debt. Hire a financial adviser to help you even if you are not wealthy. Be prepared for the unexpected. “There is a reason why we call things emergency funds,” says Lynnette Khalfani-Cox, a personal finance expert and radio and television personality . “Be prepared for unexpected challenges. These are predictable but unfortunate life events. You are more likely to be disabled than you are to die. People will get life insurance, but fail to get disability coverage or get long-term care.”

My thinking is this. I may run out of money. I might get sick and need long-term care, but I’d rather spend money on yoga classes, local farm produce and dining out than on insurance. When I think I need more clothes or home décor, I should take a walk instead, enjoy the fall foliage and spend time with my friends. And if I run out of money, I am going to find a small town and get a job pouring coffee. Maybe start a column, OWOTM.

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