January 23, 2019 — We had so many wonderful suggestions (48 comments in all!) on the future direction of our Retirement 101 Course – thank you! They were so helpful that we felt it important to summarize them here.
We had proposed 17 different potential modules for the course. The idea was that people could take as many as they felt they needed for their retirement planning preparation. The comments contained solid endorsement and/or additional ideas on six of our seventeen. But even better, you suggested seven topics we hadn’t thought of, and all of them were interesting. Another way to look at these suggestions is that they are a great reflection of people’s concerns about retirement – the topics that keep people up at night!
The new topics that got the most interest were “retiring without a lot of money”, “being single in retirement”, “loneliness and social relationships in retirement”, and “the family bind/sandwich/family relationships”. Interesting that so many have to do with the social aspect of retirement, a topic that gets overlooked in retirement planning. We have selected some of the representative suggestions below (and as you will see, they were great!). Of course, we welcome more ideas for the series too!
Since retiring without a lot of money was the number one topic mentioned, that was the be the first new one we tackled (see Module 2: Retiring on Less Than $1 Million).
Retiring on a small budget. Clemmie:Financially I would love to see more about retiring without a million dollar portfolio or even half that saved. Is is possible to live and retire in let’s say Florida without a high income or savings. Jennifer: Also a module on single retirement with less that $400,000 (or less). Richpb: Many of the “retirement modules” discussed assume a level of preparedness pending retirees simply don’t have. For example, it’s easy to talk about where to move or whether or not to stay near family, but what if the only means for any change of location is walking or hitchhiking? If you want to “retire” with only whatever small Soc Sec or perhaps $10K or $30K and no assets, what are your options? Truly for those at least one option is “never retire”. Panhandling?
Jennifer: Singles.How about addressing ways to retire as a single person after divorce. So many seniors are divorcing , that the best retirement plans in the world don’t apply anymore. Life happens. Is retiring well only for couples who remain together for life?
Katie: Loneliness in retirement.I’d be interested in a module about loneliness in retirement. Whether single, divorced or through being widowed, this is something that many of us will face as we retire from our work lives. Many of us spent work lives with people at work and then spent any free time with spouses, children or other family. Friendships may have been with neighbors, our kids’ friends’ families, spouse’s work friends, etc. With retirement, children launched, parents deceased, and perhaps in a new retirement location, retirees can find themselves alone. Yes – we all know the tips about taking a class, volunteering, joining a church, etc. Some of us may have retired to 55+ communities where there are lots of clubs. Surely there are other good ideas and stories from people who have gone through this. Jean: It seems to me that loneliness can be a sign of depression or grief stemming from the loss of a spouse/friends/ loss of independence, loss of control of one’s life, fear of missing out, etc. A person who feels lonely even when around others might find benefit from discussing those feeling with a mental health professional. Therapy / medication are effective and for those who prefer a more natural approach, research has shown that regular outdoor activity (walks, gardening, etc.) and eating a lot more vegetables and fruit can improve depression.
Anne: Making New Friends. When we move, change status or lifestyles, we need to make new friends and become new friends. Its often hard to ‘break into’ the established groups. It helpful to participate in the activities we enjoy to meet people. A discussion and tips on how to initiate conversations and develop friends from acquaintances would be helpful.
LS: Downsizing – getting rid of the kid’s stuff and everything else that won’t fit the new house/apartment. Selling the house – what needs to be renovated and how to go about it
The Boomer bind – caring for elderly parents and unlaunched children when you want to relocate out of town. Being near children, grandkids, parents or living out your retirement in a dream location. Diane: The “Boomer bind” is huge. It’s the one that I’m stuck in. I have a mother who will soon turn 89. My brother who lives close to her is moving out of state to be close to his son and grandchildren. His wife has a mother in a 24/7 care facility who will be left behind with a sister to make final plans when their mom passes. She has no plans to return until the funeral. So yes, the “Boomer bind” is a topic that I’m personally interested in as well as others I’m sure
LS: Having the talk – how to reach agreement with a partner on what’s more important. Chris: As a person who was really planning for the future, part of the challenge is to be on the same page as a spouse.
Jennifer: Interpersonal. I would like to see a module on how interpersonal relationships within the generations affect those that retire and how close or far one chooses to be from family.
Edith: Buying vs. renting. Maybe some more considerations of buying vs. renting in retirement. We seem to know more about what we Don’t want in retirement than do. Housing is a big decision maker.
Richpb: “Sudden Retirement” would be helpful. As some have said, whether you were planning retirement or not, sometimes it is forced on you — and maybe not recognized right away.
NancyC: Money saving tips. I would add a module on money saving tips like coupons, dining out, movies and groceries. See comments to this article on Members’ “Suggestions for Saving Money” – (over 100 Comments!)
Vicki: Social Security and Medicare.I think I’ve planned well, but would like to become more knowledgeable on Social Security and Medicare. Modules on staying busy and avoiding scams sound like good subjects. I hope there can be a section on buying Medicare supplements, where you get them. And how it works to buy them in the middle part of the year, as I plan to retire in July.
ljtucson: Visiting active adult communities. Possibly add a systematic approach to reviewing/visiting active adult communities. 1. what to consider (size/location/costs/amenities/age/etc…) 2. what questions to ask – do your homework 3. what to expect as takeaways (financials/CC&Rs/rules/fees) 4. how to get “vibe” of community (how would I fit in) 5. how to find out more about the community.
David: Tax Planning . Under the Managing Your Money module, you may want to add an optional section on Tax Planning. When we are fully retired, many of us have choices on when to withdraw funds from our retirement accounts. Little things, like taking money out in January vs December can impact your tax situation. Rather than just paying taxes, there may be value in PLANNING your tax situation to help you have more money to spend in retirement. This could be very technical, and may not provide value to some people…that is why it should be an optional
Jean: Younger generation. I’d add a bonus module that can be sent to children, grands, nieces and nephews. The module would have 2 parts – first the importance for them to start saving and investing for retirement as early as possible (set up IRA or contribute to 401K as soon as they start their FIRST job and continue throughout their working lives and the second part would be how to help (or at least not hinder) their parents and grandparents retirements.For further reading
Retirement Planning 101-Introduction?
Affordable Places to Retire on the Waterfront
Most Tax-Friendly States for Retirement
Please add your comments and suggestions below!