Billy and I were fortunate. At the age of 38, we left the conventional working world and launched an independent lifestyle of our own creation. It was an uncharted road, with few support systems like we have today (such as online banking, safe withdrawal rates, and email to help us keep in touch with family and friends). We wrote our script for living as we went along, and now, at age 60 and into our 23rd year of financial independence, we want to share with you five truths we have discovered about retirement life.
It's a lifestyle, not a vacation
Many people think that retirement is one party after another with every dream becoming fulfilled: days brimming with rounds of golf, mornings of tennis, afternoons sailing in the bay, cocktails in the evenings, exotic vacations, and meals at the latest restaurants. Wardrobes are refreshed with endless shopping, bolstered by designer coffees and desserts.
This hectic schedule is neither sustainable nor recommended. Living your newfound freedom as a lifestyle instead of in constant vacation mode will give you stamina and your wallet longevity.
The stress doesn't stop, it just changes form
After years of planning to leave a job they dislike, and with the idea of never having to get up early, pack a lunch, and drive to work, many people somehow believe that life in retirement will be completely without stress. This is not true! While you may no longer need to deal with an overbearing boss or a bothersome co-worker, life still goes on. There are family issues, bills to be paid, perhaps car or home maintenance, and the very important task of keeping yourself young and engaged with life.
The trash still needs to be taken out.
Keep things simple
Life has a way of becoming complicated. Even planning a picnic or a group dinner engagement can take on mammoth proportions if one doesn't focus on keeping things simple. Wanting to cram years' worth of fun and ideas into a few hours can make for stress you don't really need. It can also cost more than you might like to spend.
Retirement is a work in progress, and you're in charge.
While you may have done your homework on the retirement front, there's still the chance that your dream lifestyle might need some tweaking. If you find that this is the case, you are not a failure. You are the captain of your ship and can decide what to change if you think something else might fit better. Life is not static. Leave room for some serendipity.
Don't take life so seriously -- have fun! It's later than you think!
This last point is so very important. No matter where you are on the continuum of life, it's later than you think. We can't tell you how many friends we have lost in the last few years -- those who were only in their mid-60s, even 50s. All this planning and focus on the future and not a moment to enjoy the present is unfulfilling.
Today is the day to smile. Find a way to laugh heartily. Try something new. Refresh yourself. Have no regrets. Because it's truly later than you think.