Retiring Gay, Part One: Introduction

by Ric Reilly

South Florida Gay News

Sunday March 27, 2016

Retiring from gainful employment is a distant dream for many. Those lucky enough to reach retirement age with resources and health are in a dwindling group. This phenomena isn't actually new, living a long life after work is new to our culture. People born in the early 1900's and before didn't generally retire as we know it.

The next generation was the first broadly endowed with pensions, primarily as a result of unions and government influences surrounding the labor movements of the 1920's. By the time the Baby Boomers began retiring pensions have become a thing of the past as companies and governments faced up to the real liabilities attendant to pension funding. Few outside of governments, and fewer and fewer within governments, have access to defined benefit plans as pensions are commonly known.

In today's world workers are back to being responsible for funding their own retirement with the primary vehicle being a 401K, or similar plan. Some lucky workers get company or government contribution to their retirement plans while more and more simply have access to a plan to which they are the sole funder.

Early in your consideration of retirement is the time to get control of your debt. Getting control is simply the first step as the goal remains elimination of all debt prior to retirement. Credit cards, car loans, home mortgage are all best eliminated. Even if you intend to retire with an income, such as a pension that income will go significantly farther when it is not consumed servicing debt.

Preparing financially can be the easier part. Beginning with eliminating debt, living costs have to be brought under control. Insurance, a big cost for many, has to be understood and eliminated where possible. Changes in your health insurance coverage will likely occur. Saving will be a critical step to achieving financial stability in retirement and as you save learning to invest those savings is important to creating the retirement nest egg.

Managing your retirement savings, including understanding the costs and fees to do so will lead you to sound retirement funding. Understanding your pension, and the soundness of that pension allows the opportunity to create a broader financial base in the event your pension is tenuous or at risk. Social Security is a large part of many retirees funding.

Though this series will primarily consider the financial steps required for successful retirement, know that preparing emotionally for retirement is as important to a happy, fulfilling and successful retirement. Prior to actually leaving the work-a-day world seek out post work interests and activities.

Retirement is also a huge step away from everything normal and routine. Stepping away from everything you know, people you work with and a regular income can be a daunting prospect. Retirement is a new stage of life driven by personal desire.

That personal desire, your non working interests, can be the most difficult part of a successful retirement. Knowing how you want to spend time when you are no longer required at work is a significant challenge for many. Letting go of day to day responsibilities attendant to others and focusing on you is very often a new and unknown adventure.

Deciding where to live in retirement is contingent with post work interests, family or simply wanting to live in a new environment. Moving after retirement serves also to sort through the accumulation of a lifetime and discard things that are no longer useful and simply become weight to haul around.

Retirement is the time to reconsider most decisions of day to day living. Insurance, investments, spending, savings, socializing, residence and many other considerations change. Reaching retirement with a well executed plan makes your transition and post work life easier and more fulfilling.

Ric Reily is the author of two books, "Money Is The Root Of All - Skip The Debt Habit," and "Gregory's Hero." You can reach him at [email protected]

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