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4 Issues You Should Address Before You Retire

Updated: May 24, 2021

Never relocate without them

Retirement is a popular concept. It would be difficult to turn on your television without being battered by some insurance company or investment firm, scaring you into buying their products to protect yourself from the poverty that may come with an inadequate retirement fund.

Of course, most people are too busy trying to survive to worry about putting enough money away to lay on a beach one day. Nevertheless, if you do happen to think there is a possibility of turning your fantasy into a comfortable reality, there are four issues that you should address before making the transition:

When to Retire: It is optimal if both partners agree to retire at the same time or within a short lag-time of one another, but this is not always possible. Therefore, choosing when to retire should be a joint decision. If not, the retired partner could end up feeling abandoned or placed second behind a career, and the working partner could feel burdened by carrying the load. Even something as simple as planning a vacation could pose problems.

Where to Retire: Remember the hit television show, Green Acres ? The wife, played by Eva Gabor, favored living in New York; she enjoyed the sophistication of a big city. Her husband, played by Eddie Albert, preferred the country; he loved the idea of living on a farm—a more rugged lifestyle.

This conflict was also recently depicted in the movie Marriage Story . Adam Driver played a man who loved New York; he could not envision why anyone would want to live anywhere else. But his wife, played by Scarlett Johansson, preferred Los Angeles in part because of the “space.” Her family also lived there, and L.A. brought the best opportunity for her to resume her career as an actress. The couple ended up divorced.

Look at each of your interests and then negotiate a place you can both be happy. Some hobbies and interests require certain geographical locations. For example, if two skiers agree to live in Utah…great! If you like to surf, moving near a beach would help; if you hunt, you will need a forest, and if you adore museums, perhaps retiring in a big city would work. If partners do not share interests, they should negotiate a location that suits each one’s interests.

You’ve heard this before: “Location, location, location.” This applies to retirement as well. Moving to a nice, safe place that might appreciate sounds like a smart idea. But if there are parents in need or grandchildren, moving too far away could pose a problem, especially if only one of you feels obligated or close.

One couple moved from the East Coast to the West Coast primarily because the husband had bullied his wife into doing so. In less than a year, she was homesick. She missed her grandchildren so much that she threatened divorce if her husband didn’t return home.

Bullying won’t work in the end. Each partner should make an independent decision as to where they want to live in retirement and bring this decision to the negotiation table.

How to Retire: This is where the money manager plays a role. Couples should agree on a standard of living and decide whether they can afford to support it. Too many couples retire early and end up needing to work in their 70s and 80s, assuming they can even find a job. One man retired prematurely and ended up returning to the family business he passed onto his son. The result: a struggle for control over the business.

Remember, it is not only how much money you have saved, but your monthly income as well. Any expert will tell you that the last thing you want to do is to consistently raid your savings to support your lifestyle. Look at the numbers.

What to Retire to: Some studies have found that premature retirement may lead to an early death. This is true even when previous health problems are controlled for. Make no mistake about it, a retirement is a stressful event, even for the wealthy. With retirement, we absorb loss: the loss of identity, friends, and colleagues, and for some, a reason to get up every morning.

Preparing oneself for retirement is just as important as it is for a professional athlete to prepare for life after the glitter is gone. If you have a hobby you enjoy, such as painting, continue it—even try to master it. Volunteering may help as well, especially if you choose a cause that has personal meaning for you. Also, some people take stress-free, part-time jobs, while others convince their bosses to allow them to stay on in some lesser capacity.

Set new objectives and goals—give yourself something to live and strive for—something to look forward to. In his play As You Like It , Shakespeare wrote: “And this, our life, exempt from public haunt, finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in everything.”

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