Sixty and 6,000 Days – What Are You Looking To Do?

Results from the NPR/Kaiser Family Foundation/Harvard School of Public Health 7.01.08 survey unfortunately still hold true today. The survey highlights common concerns for too many current and future retirees:

* Paying for gas and food

* Getting a good – paying job or raise in pay

* Paying for health care and health insurance

* Buying or selling a home, or home losing value

* Paying for college or other education costs

* Losing a job

* Credit card debt or other personal debt

* Paying rent or mortgage

* Losing money in the stock market

* Getting/paying for care for an elderly or disabled relation who needs long – term help

The Detroit News reports “lofty expectations just a few years ago for the inheritances that boomers were coming into have been deflated, from economists’ predictions of as much as $136 trillion nationwide to a more humble $8.4 trillion today. Longer lifespans for aged parents, ballooning medical costs and two recessions are among the factors. Still, the average inheritance of $64,000, while not life-changing, can provide a welcome boost, particularly in employment-challenged times.” The Detroit News (7/18/11)

According to a recent AARP poll, 68 percent of Baby Boomers 50+ has trouble limiting their spending today. Today many future retirees are wondering how they will live in older age in an economic world difficult to predict.

Most retirees will be successful by saving money (lots of it) and working as long as they can, hanging on to health insurance, and then living comfortably on pensions, social security and or rental property income. Their accumulated savings are such that they will comfortably weather any potential erosion of their buying power over time; perhaps leaving less to their heirs than previously expected. Other retirees are concerned they will outlive their money.

So What Now What?

The good news is these economic concerns have heightened awareness of the importance of proactive planning for retirement which includes emotionalas well as financial preparation. The happiness quotient has once again reared its smiling head. Published in AARP’s “THE MAGAZINE” November 2011 issue “The American Psychological Association recently published an analysis of multiple studies. Researchers from Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand analyzed questionnaires from 420,000 people in 63 countries. “Having the freedom to change careers or pursue our passions makes us happier than does a hefty bank account.” “So while wealth can provide you with more choices; it is really having the ability to realize your dreams that leads to greater happiness,” says study coauthor Ronald Fischer, Ph.D.” Many readers may wonder what the exact nature is of the connection between emotional well being, and performing creative work for compensation or not all throughout one’s retirement.

Lifestyle Is Main Influence

More good news! A recent study in the U.K. suggests “The way in which a person’s mind ages, is largely down to lifestyle factors, not genetics. Researchers found genetic factors only account for 24% of changes in intelligence, suggesting environmental factors have the biggest influence on whether a person’s mind remains sharp in old age.

The study, conducted by research teams in the UK and Australia, combined DNA analysis with data from around 2,000 participants who were asked to take intelligence tests at age 11, and again aged 65 to 79. The study, funded by the charity Age UK, is published in the journal, Nature.”

We are a nation of work. A creative retirement recognizes the importance of performing creative work for compensation or not. Discovering one’s muse and making it one’s life’s work allthroughout retirement is personally meaningful; sometimes profound? Everyone has something that speaks to them. Everyone has at least one passion they can pursue. Something they love that they can get lost in.

Creative work also serves as an insurance policy for those who may find they want or need informal income in retirement. When feasible performing creative work as a second job grows a bigger nest egg and ensures healthier streams of informal income more quickly in retirement. Due to rapidly changing economic paradigms and or health related issues too many workers may be forced to leave the work force sooner than expected. Effective transition to creative work helps ensure individuals will outlive their money.

Many retirees performing creative work for compensation may opt to delay their enrollment in their pensions and or Social Security to maximize the size of their monthly check. For example Social Security taken later rather than sooner results in a significantly larger monthly check. Retirees in reasonably good health may decide to take their Social Security benefits at age 66 or even 70.

This strategy enables retirees to earn money without reducing their benefit. Due to the fact Social Security reduces a retiree’s benefit one dollar for every two earned over 14,160 in 2011 for example; a retiree earning $50,000 annually would wipe out their entire benefit. This issue is eliminated for those who begin taking benefits at age 66. Taking benefits at age 66 – 70 also provides one with higher cost of living increases. Some couples may opt to have their spouse collect at age 66. Using this approach they can claim 50% of their own benefit which allows their benefit to grow 8% a year until age 70. Bottom line, these strategies significantly increase one’s retirement income.

The following is another strategy worthy of consideration for retirees who continue to work in their traditional careers while in their 60’s. They may opt to stop their 401k, 301B or SEP nest egg contributions in their 60’s. This assumes their reasonably appropriate sized nest egg is growing at 4-5% annually at that time. One’s final contributions make little impact on one’s nest egg and are perhaps better invested in one’s bucket list adventures. This money can also be used to help one’s transition into creative work. Individuals attacking their bucket list while working full time find it can be a great way to make one’s sixties both exciting and fulfilling.

Retirees performing creative work recognize their lives are changing and they are committed to growing once again. They’ve found or reconnected with their muse or passion. Likely they were forced to ignore their passion (muse) when they were younger in favor of something more practical. Perhaps their muse is simply something fun they enjoy doing; involves meeting new people, traveling, helping others, performing, or they utilize their unique creative abilities while earning extra money. They all capitalize on their creativity!

“When we engage in what we are naturally suited to do, our work takes on the quality of play and it is play that stimulates creativity.” Linda Naiman

Creative retirees understand growing old is not always an easy road. This is precisely why they are keeping mentally active, vibrant, and genuinely excited to see who they will become! Retirees have proven successful with creative lifestyles, creative jobs, creative businesses, creative artistic expression, creative hobbies, creative personal expression, arts and crafts, and more. This is due in part to the fact they finally have or can create the time needed to devote to their passion. They also possess a lifetime of experience, growth, and wisdom. As more future retirees anticipate and actually wrap up their years of service in their careers, moving into retirement, they get tofind their passion again. Most have plenty of energy left for something that is meaningful and satisfying.

Some would argue retirement is meaningless if they are just going to keep working anyway. I assert that retirement has exceptional meaning if you plan purposefully for it.

I believe performing creative work for compensation or not is key to one’s happiness and contentment in older age. The following work transition strategy is recommended:

* Make yourself indispensible at your current job/career – get involved in new company Initiatives, volunteer for the  things others won’t, do whatever you can to become part of your companies future

* Get to really know your competition, get contacts info, their roles & responsibilities

* Network within your industry and identify future remote work prospects

* Find Your Passion and make it your life’s work allthroughout retirement

The speed of which these stages of work unfold is best determined by your aversion to risk. In the event you are risk adverse then you benefit staying in your job/career as long as humanly possible, then going to work for the competition for a year or two maybe longer, then performing remote work for a year or two maybe longer, and then begin performing creative work for compensation or not. Please try to be realistic regarding your shelf life in each stage of your work.

In the event you are more prone to taking risks then you might well speed up this transition to eventually performing creative work. Either way I assert that there is no real significant difference in compensation with traditional work vs. creative work. The day you stop working remotely you will experience a pay cut. After that the income you receive will be similar from traditional or creative work.

One significant difference is that creative work will not be demeaning or boring. Creative work will enable you to fully develop yourself. Creative work is the secret to maintaining mental flexibility. Mental stagnation or rigidness (old dogs can’t learn new tricks) is the Kryptonite of older age. Creative work also helps you to stay healthy, maintain a routine, make new friends, and develop new interests.

Some folk’s motivation to perform creative work is primarily economic. Unfortunately, too many have lost too much of their savings in recent years. Starting over is not a realistic option and yet neither is retiring comfortably without working part-time. These folks performing creative work are not bored with their work and find peace of mind in knowing they will not outlive their money. When feasible performing creative work as a second job grows a bigger nest egg and ensures healthier streams of informal income quicker in retirement.

Emotional preparedness for retirement can be critical to one’s life – long happiness. What is your passion? Sixty and 6,000 days! What are you looking to do?


About Roger O'Keefe

My background is in education and finance. I'm a published author and photographer, former radio talk show host, and creative retirement planning expert. My work is a love of labor, I do not sell any products of any kind. I've appeared as a guest on more than 50 national and local television and radio shows. With a Masters in education, I'm a licensed educator and author of the “Future Bright Program” and the California State Department of Education “Teacher Appreciation Program.” I'm a member of the American Association of Retired Persons and the National Care Planning Council NCPC. I'm currently writing my second book and reside in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. My mission is to reshape retirement planning one person at a time. Please visit my website and take advantage of the many complimentary online seminars, resources, and retirement planning tools.
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