I seem to be getting to that age where I’ve begun thinking more and more about what it would take to quit work completely and live the life of the “traditional” retiree. There are so many different opinions about what retirement life is going to be like in the future, and how much money a person needs to live comfortably through their remaining years. I have yet to find clearcut answers to any questions or concerns I have. It’s all a big puzzle with a multitude of unknowns. So, I’ve come up with my own ideas based on those fractured thoughts that make their way blindly through the maze within my mind.
To begin with let’s get rid of the idea of a “traditional” or “normal” retirement. A “traditional” retirement leads to the idea that what once was will always be. A “normal” retirement makes a person think that what is good for one is good for all.
I’d like to share a bit of wisdom with you. I am quoting from an article by Edward Readicker-Henderson that was published in the National Geographic Traveler. He is quoting his traveling companion, Daz, when he writes,
“You’re thinking that how things used to be is normal. But they’re just how things used to be. What does that have to do with now?”
Oh, boy. What an idea. You see, your “normal” changes every minute, of every day that you’re alive. How things used to be can never be how things are. Enjoy the here and now. Forget about “normal.” Just make now work, regardless what then was.
Well, if you, like me, allow yourself to accept what Daz is saying, then there is no “normal.” “Traditional?” Nope. Remember, what once was can never be again. We are constantly establishing what we consider to be “traditional” and what is “normal.” So, what is “normal” and what is “traditional” should never be considered when it comes to your present and your future.
My retirement will never be your retirement. I may work part-time the rest of my life. You may not. You might spend hours watching old movies on tv. I might spend my time reading and taking long walks along the shoreline. You might live to be 100. I might live to be 70. So you see, one type of retirement cannot fit the needs of everyone. You should establish your own retirement life without thinking about others. Do your own thing.
So, how much money do you need to finance the life you desire during your retirement years? That depends on what you want to do or accomplish. Most of us will not reach that dollar figure we have set as a goal for ourselves in order to fund our lifestyle after we leave the workplace. The best answer I can give is that you do what you can, for as long as you can, with what you have.
All these so-called experts that spout forth knowledge about what the retirement future holds are doing nothing more than attempting to make a living, and establishing a name for themselves. They are not prognosticators of the future. Most of their work is based on what used to be and what “normal” is. We cannot base our future on a lifestyle that is 50+ years old, or on a “traditional” view of future events.
Each person must take an active interest in what they want out of life, and then go out and reach for it. We need to live within the means we have access to. For some it is an employer paid pension. For others it is the investments they have worked throughout their lives to establish. For many it is Social Security. And, for a fortunate, hard-working few there is a combination of all three, and more. They’ve established as many income streams as possible to make their lives easier down the road. They don’t hold any secrets. What they’ve done, you can do. Even if that extra income is only $10 a month it’s worth the effort. Five additional income streams like that leads to $600 a year or more. During those retirement years every little bit helps.
I know what I want out of my remaining years. How many will there be? I don’t know. Do I have the income to finance all those dreams? I don’t have time to think about all that. My time is spent living today without regard to the past or thinking of the future. Try it out. You might surprise yourself.