Are you emotionally ready for retirement?
When I became a financial planner, no one informed me that I would need to play psychologist as well. However, it is a helpful skill for anyone who works with people and their money. After all, one of our tasks is to take the emotion out of financial decision making. But this doesn’t mean financial decisions don’t carry an emotional toll because they do and we financial professionals will better serve our clients if we keep this in mind. Not addressing the emotional aspects of retirement is a mistake many planners make, and it is certainly one which I have made in the past.
Clearly as a financial professional, our firm’s focus is on the financial aspects of clients’ lives. We advise clients on everything from maintaining appropriate spending levels, amount of necessary savings, investment advice, retirement income, relocation, downsizing and more, all of which is to be expected. But what about emotionally adjusting to retirement?
When a person has been working for the last 30 or 40 years their work becomes a pervasive part of their lives and therefore a large part of their purpose. This may not be intentional, but it is a natural occurrence over time. Also, realize that I am not negating the spiritual aspect of purpose because I know many devotedly religious people who have the same struggle. It doesn’t matter if you have been a blue- or white-collar worker throughout your career, all are susceptible. Once you no longer are required to get up, suit up and show up to your job, your life has changed dramatically whether you realize it or not.
This may also be a struggle for a homemaker who has been running the household for the last 30 or 40 years. Now a spouse who used to go to work and get out of the way, is now interfering with daily routines. My mother in-law had to teach her husband how to load the dishwasher properly. Something they can both laugh at now but 20 years ago, not so much.
There are steps one can take to prepare for emotional adjustment and purpose once retirement begins. The first is talk about what retirement looks like between you and your spouse. Figure out who may take lead in certain areas, for instance who will do the shopping, pay the bills, walk the dog (hopefully together) and yes, even how to load a dishwasher. Of course, there are much larger issues to discuss such as: where you will spend your retirement if relocation is being considered, what happens if one spouse becomes disabled, consider aging in place and so many more issues.
Next consider hobbies and interests which you can take part in. This may be the standard golf and tennis of many mature adults, soon to be replaced with pickle ball (so I hear). Think about charities and volunteering in areas of interest to you. For many this is when they want to travel more. Some people will be good with an arm chair, a favorite beverage and a TV remote. It is a free country so click away if that is your choice.
Obviously, you should speak with your financial planner and for that matter, your entire team of professionals possibly including an actual psychologist. Transitioning into retirement can be very emotional and should be given due attention. Until we talk again, be well.
Dale Immekus is the owner of Dedicated Financial Services and an accredited wealth management advisor. If you have any questions for our panel of financial experts, email News-Sentinel Editor Scott Howell at email@example.com or call 209-369-7035.