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Retirement planning includes the kind of life you want

One of the keys to successful financial planning is dealing with both the financial and emotional aspects of the situation. Creating a retirement plan should include taking care of the financial picture and the life style change that comes along with it. It is very easy for me to query, analyze, assess and prepare detailed numeric plans; a very black and white approach. Calculating estimated returns, measuring risk and tracking the economic environment are some of the things I enjoy about my job. But there is another side to the story. One goal is to have enough assets to retire; it is another thing to really enjoy your life in retirement. It is not about how much money you have, it is about lifestyle. When you retire, are you going to sit around and watch your retirement account on a daily basis?

I recently read an article that caught my attention. Retirement was invented years ago; retirement at age 62 was due to the fact that you felt and physically were old. Prolonged physical strain from labor intensive jobs and less effective health care took a toll on your body. Today, many of us use our heads rather than our hands and are quite likely to be in our prime at age 62. Just last weekend I watched an 80-year-old former President Bush do tandem jumps from an airplane. You didn’t see that 30 years ago. As Schweitzer fills up the lifts with 65-year-old skiers the question arises, how old, then, is old? A recent survey by the AARP revealed that most seniors feel that the marker for old is now closer to 78 years.

The next question then becomes, what does retirement really mean? How will I fill my time? According to modern research, a life of total ease is one stop away from a life of disease. One of my favorite sayings is that I work hard and I play hard, I love life. But if I suddenly retired, what would my weekly schedule look like? Well I could go fishing every day from 6:00 am until noon and the afternoon could be filled with golf. But what happens on the days the fish aren’t biting or I get a triple bogey on the first hole? My whole day would be ruined.

While fishing and golf may be great pastimes, they could make a poor full time occupation. This could go on for 25 or 30 years. Although my husband probably would not admit this today, he might become bored with all the fishing or, worse yet, turn into one of those “grumpy old men.” In another scenario, stay-at-home wives may not be totally prepared to have their husbands hanging around the house all day. Possibly a pre-retirement agreement needs to be worked out. She might have married you for better or worse, but not for lunch.

Many of us find meaning and purpose in our work and put a tremendous amount of energy into our professional lives. Leisure time can recharge your battery. Sometimes it can be difficult to enjoy the one without the other; almost a necessary paradox in our lives. This is the reason that over one-third of male retirees go back to some form of work within one year of retirement, and over two-thirds of them take full-time jobs. They would die if they didn’t. There is a way to a balanced approach to retirement planning that can provide both fun and fulfillment.

The age-worn and outdated model of life is based on excess. We binge on education in the first phase of life until many of us are so tired of “learning” that we replace it with entertainment. We work too much in the second phase of life until we never want to work again. The final phase of life is trying to fill the void that is left with retirement and a life of leisure; some find  unlimited leisure leaves them wanting.

A more enlightened approach to life seeks to integrate a balance of learning, work, and leisure into our everyday living instead of trading one binge for another. Retirement planning shouldn’t begin and end with the kind of paycheck you want, but with the kind of life you want.

Nancy Hadley is an investment representative with DA Davidson in downtown Sandpoint. She is currently accepting new clients. Reach her at 208-263-0210.

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Nancy Hadley

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