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I am 59 years old and contemplating retirement, with dread. I just cannot imagine myself not going into work each day or being able to afford not working. What would I do with the time? I am alone at home and sometimes even on the weekends I get lonesome. My nest egg is comfortable but not luxurious. I wonder if it will last out my life, though. Guess I could live with my kids if necessary. Eeww! I often wake up at night thinking about my future and then cannot get back to sleep. Signed “Worried”

By Sharon Ann Hamilton

August 10, 2014 (San Diego's East County) - Dear Worried, You are right to be worried! And you are not alone. July 13, 2014 research by US Census Bureau, Saperston, and Bankrate shows us that 80% of people, even as young as 30, do not believe theywill have enough money for retirement. In fact 35% rely completely on Social Security. 76% of people polled cite worries about money as a leading cause of stress. As we all have heard, stress can kill you.

Your concern, however, is not just about the money. It is about your lifestyle once retired. What will you actually do each day? Your social interactions with colleagues will taper off and disappear. Living with your children will increase stress for all concerned, except perhaps the grandchildren who may love having a constant playmate. But will you love it?

A repeated theme that I hear from my clients newly retired is the importance of making your life fun and fulfilling before retiring so that you will already enjoying other interests. If you are stuck about what you might enjoy, then try a different activity every week. There are many groups that gather as strangers around a common focus: sailing, hiking, church, drum circles, yoga, photography and such. You will find them on the internet. If you do not know how, ask your friends or family. When your activities take your mind off work, and worries, then you allow yourself a time of renewal. When you retire, you become free do many different activities, as many as you want and can afford.

If you find out that you have inadequate savings and still want to work, you may have the option of continuing your present career for 5-10 years longer. This option will likely compensate you the most. Surprising statistics show that out of 100 people who start work at age of 25, by age 65:

1% will be considered wealthy

4% have adequate capital for retirement

3% will still be working

63% are dependent on Social Security, friends, relatives or charity

29% are dead

Hopefully, our children and our children’s children will take this lesson to heart and decide on purpose to live well below their means to be able to sock away for their futures.

Some ‘retirees’ have discovered that they want to make a difference in the world and volunteer. The Peace Corps is one of the foremost volunteer organizations in the world. A person could put their belongings into storage, rent out their home, and go off on a life changing adventure for several years. Imagine teaching English in the Kindgom of Tonga, or environmental strategies in the boonies of Ethiopia. You bring pocket money but the organization pays for you to live and to get there­ - you contribute your work. World Vision is another large organization that is a faith-based outreach helping people become more self sustaining with good animal husbandry and agricultural techniques.

If volunteering is not your thing, you might have a hobby that is marketable. People do make money using eBay or Amazon to resell items. I know a lady who loves to bead and makes and sells her wonderful art. There is an entire gray market world of selling at swap meets. Visit a few and see if you can figure out what is missing that you can offer. There are many solo businesses available from the tried and true Mary Kay to new avenues in internet marketing.

What I have noticed in more than two decades of helping people from retirement to well over age 90 is a key ingredient to the well-lived life is taking on the attitude of happiness. Those who accept what is, explore around to improve a situation and decide to be content with what they have are happiest. Those who discover their own personal mission, ‘what they are here for’ are happiest. And those who step out and make their own families, make their own tribe and honor the still, small voice within that some call intuition and others call God, are happiest.

As the renowned Zig Ziglar has spoken over seven decades – “Attitude is everything”. You can listen to one of his great stories recorded here:  

My own background as a financial and business advisor have taught me three keys to having a happy life:

  1. Make a plan [get help if you need to, read a book about it, create your own from scratch]
  2. Do the plan [or it is just hot air]
  3. Celebrate your milestones!
  4. When your goals are accomplished, do a new plan again, and then again. [people who do this have no time to be worried, they are too busy really living]

Worried about your future? Then DO something!

The Retirement Concierge  helps Baby Boomers and seniors to plan, make and manage life transitions including estate administration by guiding them through a systematic process of discovery and re-creation where they write their own rules, make their own plans and reinvent their own lives. (619-818-8757) SharonAnn Hamilton.

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Great information to use for both my Mother, who is retired, myself and family. I love the part about reinventing yourself by doing something you love for profit or working for a non-profit to use your time. Excellent article!

Great Guidance

I particularly liked it that you covered the various aspects of retirement - the concern for income, and the concern for active engagement in meaningful activities.

Well said

Great advice for everyone!