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Tuesday, May 26, 2020
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Setting a Date for Retirement

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Is it time to take the road to retirement?
  By Jene Hedden and Paula Moore Hurtt


     As Boomers, if we have not already planned and prepared for retirement, we are going to struggle. But even if we have planned, prepared and saved, there is still the burning question:  When?

     When is the right time? Should I take early retirement? Should I retire at the traditional age of 65? Or should I continue working? How do I set a date?

          Sixty-five is the traditional age of retirement in the U.S. for two reasons. It is when Social Security kicks in, and it is the age of retirement of most of our parents. However, according to a Gallup poll, 76% of people now say they are going to work past the traditional retirement age of 65 because either they haven’t saved enough money or they just want to work longer.

          The fact is, this decision involves much more than just financial considerations. Boomers should answer the following questions when making the decision:

          *Am I financially healthy enough for retirement?

          *Is my marriage healthy enough for retirement?
          *Am I personally healthy enough for retirement?
          *Am I spiritually healthy enough for retirement?

  Financial Health

           Are you financially healthy enough to retire? What age is the right age for you? The answer is different for everyone, but financial experts like Dave Ramsey use the following as a benchmark:

          You are ready to retire when you can live comfortably on the income provided by your retirement savings WITHOUT a monthly Social Security check. (The maximum monthly payout in 2013 was $2,533 and the minimum was $1,270).

          AARP has a handy retirement calculator to help you jump-start the decision-making process. You can access it at http://www.aarp.org/work/retirement-planning/retirement_calculator/

          Of course, we are only talking about having enough money to live on here. Other considerations to add to this equation include what kind of retirement you want.   Do you plan to down-size? Do you plan to travel? Are you willing to give up costly hobbies, vacations or purchases? If you haven’t had this conversation with your spouse and/or family, it is vital that you do so before you retire. You may find that your expectations do not match those of your spouse and/or family, and that can make retirement a rocky road.   

           In the meantime, have a dialogue with your spouse and family about expectations and discuss the following questions:

          *Are your children expecting you to be their go-to free baby-sitters while you plan to be snow-birds? You need to have that discussion. You may be surprised to discover that your children’s expectations and yours are very different. Or you may discover that your spouse prefers to be your grand-kids’ full-time babysitter rather than traveling or re-locating.

          *Is your life-style going to change in small or large ways after retirement? Have you thought about what you will have to give up as a couple and individually with a reduced income or fixed income? You and your spouse need to have that discussion before either of you retires.

          *Have you created a budget based on what your retirement income will be? Creating a budget will give you and your spouse the opportunity to talk about priorities, money management and expectations before they become sources of conflict.

 Relationship Health

          The National Center of Health Statistics reports that during 1981 to 1991, there was a 16 percent increase in the divorce rate among couples who have been married 30 or more years.

          That’s a pretty scary statistic. Some other studies indicate that though the over-all divorce rate may be peaking or even declining, the divorce rate for couples entering their retirement years is bucking that trend. So what’s going on?

          Couples reaching retirement age are dealing with multiple issues. They may have become empty-nesters and perhaps grandparents. Or they may have grown children moving back home with them with money problems. They find themselves re-defining their roles in the marriage as they move away from careers. They may find themselves dealing with health issues or new health care costs.

          Before you set a date for retirement, it is imperative to get a relationship “check-up” by making an appointment with each other to discuss the following issues:

          *What are our goals as a couple and as individuals? Are we going to retire or re-boot? Are we happy? Do we know each others’ dreams? Do we honor them? What’s missing?

          *What are we willing to sacrifice as a couple and individually? (dinners out, travel, personal spending money, etc.) Are we harboring any resentments in regards to personal sacrifice?
          *How will we make decisions about spending? How important is individual financial independence to each of us?
          *What our wants versus needs as a couple and individually?
          *Can we be alone in the house together all day every day? Do we have anything to talk about? Do we enjoy each others’ company?
          *How is our relationship in regards to intimacy? Have we ignored that aspect of our marriage and will that change? Are our needs being met?
          *What about community and church involvement? How much is too much? Will our obligations get in the way of our spouse’s needs or wants?
          *Who will be responsible for what tasks in the home and how will things change in regards to household chores?
          *What is our role as grandparents? How much involvement is too much? How do we measure our relationship with each other in regards to our relationships with our children and grandchildren? Do we put our marriage first?
          *How much together time is too much? What are our expectations regarding privacy, alone time and personal interests away from each other?

           The fact is, many couples spend their whole married lives focused outward toward careers, family, home care, hobbies and community and church activities. Then, when they find themselves alone together, they don’t know how to relate to each other anymore or even why they married in the first place. They are strangers to one another. This is a perilous time for a marriage.

          If your pre-retirement check-up becomes more a source of conflict than resolution, couples counseling is a great first step toward avoiding post-retirement marital problems.

 Personal Health


          We all know the old sayings about the best-laid plans of mice and men (which can change in a heart-beat or a heart attack). We make plans, and God chuckles. That’s why setting the date for retirement must include considerations of health and medical care.

          It is obvious that the landscape of health care in our country is changing. Long-held assumptions regarding health care in our senior years may no longer be valid. Some of us may be facing changing health care plans or the loss of a long-trusted physician. These are all major points of stress to individuals and marriages, so the more we plan ahead, the more we can avoid the schisms that stress can cause.

          Here’s a shocking fact. On average, men who retire without a plan or goals for their retirement years have a life expectancy of about six months. Six months! If nothing else kick starts our resolve to plan for retirement, that fact should!

          We all need a Plan B…and C…and D because things happen. We are living longer and healthier than our parents’ generation, but that often comes at a price…sometimes an astronomical price. Pace-makers, artificial knees, hips and shoulders, extended care, cancer treatments, Alzeimers care, end-of-life care…we don’t want to think about these things. But, to set a date for retirement without taking these issues into consideration is irresponsible. 

           Here are some facts to chew on:

          *Nursing home care averages $50,000 to $75,000 a year.

          *The average cost of in-home care is $13 to $30 dollars an hour.

          *And get this. According to the National Business Group on Health, the average cost of a severe heart attack including direct and indirect costs (loss of earning power, etc.) can easily top $1,000,000 dollars. The average cost of a less severe heart attack is $760,000. Amortized over 20 years, that’s $38,000 per year. ( http://www.cbsnews.com/news/how-much-would-a-heart-attack-cost-you/)

           So here are some discussion points for you:

*Do you and your spouse have end-of-life directives? If not, now is the time.
*Do your children know what your wishes are concerning independence, hospitalization and end-of-life care are? If not, have that discussion and be sure to put it on paper and file it with your attorney.
*Do you expect your spouse to nurse you through a serious illness, dementia or other incapacitation? Does your spouse have the same expectations? To avoid disappointment and heart-break in the future, have this discussion now.
*Are you taking responsibility for your health? Are you doing all you can to stay healthy? Are you following your doctor’s recommendations? Are you eating your vegetables and going out to play like your mother always told you? She was right, you know.
*Should you be responsible for each other’s good health habits? If you are not taking care of yourself, do you expect your spouse to take the consequences of your poor lifestyle decisions? 
*Have you talked about what will happen when one of you dies?
Will all your assets have to be liquidated to provide end-of-life care? Will the remaining spouse have enough money to live on? Will he or she be able to pay the final bills? 

           Most of us have friends or know of couples who were not prepared. Serious illness and end-of-life issues and costs left the remaining husband or wife lost, bereft, broke and dependent on their grown children. Being prepared for death is part of life. So, face these questions together before setting the date for retirement.
Spiritual Health

          What does the Bible say about retirement? You may be surprised to discover that it says quite a lot! God intended for us to step back from work as we grow older…partly as reward for our labors and partly to make room for the younger generation to assume their role as adults.

 God expects us to be good stewards of our resources and plan ahead.

For which of you, desire to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it.” Luke 14:28.
          God expects our roles to change from wage earner to advisor and minister.

And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “This applies to the Levites: from twenty-five years old and upward they shall come to do duty in the service of the tent of meeting. And from the age of fifty years they shall withdraw from the duty of the service and serve no more. They minister to their brothers in the tent of meeting by keeping guard, but they shall do no service. Thus shall you do to the Levites in assigning their duties.” Numbers 8:23-26

But, He still expects us to be productive in some way…

The righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon. They are planted in the house of the Lord; they flourish in the courts of our God. They still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green.” Psalm 92:12-14

…as we make way for the next generation.

And when his time of service ended, he went home.” Luke 1:23

Following is a list of resources for starting your conversation on setting the date for retirement. 

 (Please note: These resources are suggested only as a starting point. ShelbyBoomer.com, its owner and associates make no claims as to the accuracy or feasibility of any money management or health care recommendations made by these websites or any links therein.)

National Institute on Aging (for end of life planning)

Material for this article was gathered from: