This episode is from the vault and was first released January 15, 2018.
This might be a hard question for some people, but let's face it, what does your retirement life look like?
Steve Cousins is one of our listeners. (Hi Steve!) After graduating from college Steve joined an oil company at a refinery in Arkansas where he worked as an engineer, manager and eventually as the VP and General Manager. He stayed with the same company for his entire career and remained at the same location.
Last year Steve retired upon turning 60 and immediately stepped into a retirement career designed to be part-time, low stress and lots of fun. After a year, the plan is working great! I wanted to discuss with him his choice in a “semi-retirement”.
“You Shouldn't run away from something, you have to run towards something.”
Steve always thought he would be working until he was 70 or later because he really enjoyed his job. The last few years, things changed he did not enjoy it very much, but he hung on because frankly, he was afraid of retirement. There were several reasons he was afraid of retirement and I think a lot of people can relate.
Steve thought if he was leaving work because he didn't enjoy it anymore that didn't necessarily mean he would enjoy retirement either.
He also looked at the compensation he was getting from work and it was painful for him to walk away from that after working so hard to get to that point in his career.
His job was his identity, and he didn't want to lose that
Working to feel useful and productive in your retirement life
Even before retiring from his job, Steve decided what he wanted his retirement life to look like. He wanted to feel useful and productive. He started his side gigs which are pretty cool!
Expert Witness Work
Trade Association representation
Side gigs or semi-retirement not for you? Steve says, focus on volunteer work. He has a ton of volunteer positions! (As we tend to hear a lot, he is just as busy if not even busier than when he was working) His volunteer work includes:
Chair the Board of Trustees for the local community college
Local Hospital Clinic that helps people who are uninsured or underinsured
State and local Chamber of Commerce
State University mentoring students
On the board of a local group called 50 for the future, where they solve problems in the city
It's not all work for Steve. He also spends time with his wife. They enjoy doing a lot of things together like running, hiking, off-road riding, discovering hidden waterfalls, and many more activities. Now that they are retired, they can spend a lot more time together but still spend time doing their own things.
Steve's advice from one listener of the show to another:
You should marry someone better than yourself and invest a lot of time in your relationship because if everything else went away and you still have each other, you will still be fine.
Widen your horizon's. Don't just do your job, volunteer to do other things. Reach outside of your comfort zone and practice public speaking because it helps boost your confidence. What great advice Steve!
Did you plan your retirement life? How did you do it? Leave a comment below and let us know!
I've been doing the Rock Your Retirement show since April 2016. I knew when I started the show that I wanted it to be about Retirement Lifestyle. I've been thinking about retirement myself and wanted to bring my listeners along my journey by interviewing people who have something to say that relates to this retirement lifestyle or Baby Boomer Lifestyle topic.
My husband is 20 years older than myself, so of course, we are in different stages of life. But I wanted to be able to spend more time sharing experiences now, while he's still able to enjoy them. I was scared.
What would I do with myself?
I'm only 52 as I write this, and I am used to the hustle and bustle of working. And honestly, I don't have to work. The thing is, I enjoy it. I've been self-employed for the majority of my life, and enjoy the structure of working. I don't enjoy a “boss” telling me what to do. In fact, a two year period I tried leaving my business and working for someone else. I failed miserably.
The good news is that I hadn't left my business completely, and when I came back it was there, along with my clients who hadn't left in my absence. Of course, I was never really 100% gone.
Now I'm busy because although I did semi-retire from that business, giving up my license to sell securities, I still have about 30 beloved clients that I work with. I don't know if I'll ever give that up. As long as those clients want to work with me, I'll continue holding their hands through their financial retirement.
But I wasn't satisfied with just helping those 30, although I didn't want to take on any more clients in that industry. So I started a new project.
That project was supposed to just keep me busy between October and December of every year, but it's really turned into more of a full-time job. I DO enjoy it. But I wish I could afford more help so that it didn't feel like a job to me. It doesn't pay as well as my old business because it's new.
So why do I do it?
That's a good question. We don't need the money. I've done plan after plan for my husband and I, and the numbers always work out the same. We are fine.
Even when the stock market drops… we are still fine.
I think the reason why I keep doing it is that it fills a need in me, so as long as it does this, I'll keep going. Occasionally I think about just saying, “That's it, I'm done!” and just put my business on autopilot and walk away. But it's usually after a particularly difficult situation that was brought on by the client. I don't get many of them because I seem to attract really great clients, but every now and then, someone enters my life that I'd rather not deal with. Often I refer them to work with someone else, but sometimes it takes a while for them to leave, and they cause stress for my staff and me.
So what is it?
I've been thinking of this over time. I think it's because there are six pillars of retirement lifestyle, baby boomer lifestyle really, and work for me is one of those pillars. Sometimes we have a “pillar” that might be out of whack, and for me, I think it's work. My work pillar has been taking up more space, and I'd like to work on the other five pillars.
What are the Six Pillars of Retirement Lifestyle?
Whether you consider yourself an atheist, a Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, or whatever, I believe that you have a spirit. A soul. Something that makes you different from the person sitting next to you.
There is an essence that is you. You are connected to others through this essence. I happen to believe in God and Jesus and every day I try to live in a way that is congruent to the way I believe.
When we act differently from what we say we believe, we run into trouble. My goal is not to convert you here, but to help you understand why you need to consider the spiritual side of you. For me, that means attending my church and working on my crap. I know that I'm not perfect, by anyone's standards, but I try to move towards that just a tiny bit each day. And it's the striving that brings me closer to God.
For you, it might mean meditating instead of praying. For you, it might mean reading your honored book and trying to understand it. For you, it might mean communing with nature. Clearing your mind of the stuff that clutters it.
But everyone has a spiritual side, and if you expand it, you will have a greater likelihood of thriving.
If you act differently from your beliefs, you will find that your stress level has gone up and I believe that stress can cause illness.
So yes, I believe that the spiritual side of you shouldn't be ignored in retirement.
I understand that not everyone is in a relationship. I happen to be married. Most, but not all, people I know would prefer to be in a 1:1 relationship with someone. We are designed, programmed, genetically to be in a relationship.
Being married (Waite 1995), having children (Denney 2010), and ties to religious organizations (Musick, House, and Williams 2004) have all been linked to positive health behaviors.
Being in a good marriage can also improve our health.
The quality of our relationships matters. For example, one studyfound that midlife women who were in highly satisfying marriagesand marital-type relationships had a lower risk forcardiovascular disease compared with those in less satisfyingmarriages.
Studies have also shown that being in a committed relationship can help you live longer.
Dan Buettner’s Blue Zones research calculates that committing to a life partner can add 3 years to life expectancy (Researchers Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler have found that men’s life expectancy benefits from marriage more than women’s do.)
So learning how to either keep that relationship strong or find a nurture a relationship if we don't have one is also an integral part of the retirement lifestyle.
If we are in a relationship, it might change after we retire. We have to understand that, and work toward being flexible and understanding of that, while also learning how to speak up for our needs that have changed, or aren't being met.
One Psychologist developed a model that shows whether you will divorce during the “empty nest” syndrome that so many of us enter when our kids leave for college.
John Gottman, a psychologist emeritus at the University of Washington, developed a model to predict which newlywed couples will remain married and which will divorce, a method that he claims is 90 percent accurate. He found that most divorces happen at critical points after a couple unites. The first period occurs after seven years, when pairs tend to feel the strain of their relationship (does the Seven Year Itch ring a bell?). After 20 years, couples may encounter “empty nest syndrome”—a lonely feeling that can take over when children leave home, causing a rift in the marital bond.
If we don't have a relationship and want one, we have to understand that finding a relationship when we are older isn't the same as finding one when we were in our 20s, 30s, or even 40s. It's different. WE are different.
Along the lines of Significant Other, it's also important to have friendships. When we are working, many times we form friendships that involve our work relationships. After all, we are with these people for the majority of our waking day. When we retire, often our work friends are still working, so they can't just take off time to have coffee or see a movie in the middle of the day.
And just like having a strong marriage can affect your health, so can having friendships.
One study, which examined data from morethan 309,000 people, found that lack of strong relationshipsincreased the risk of premature death from all causes by 50% — aneffect on mortality risk roughly comparable to smoking up to 15cigarettes a day, and greater than obesity and physicalinactivity.
Another study showed that we can handle stress a lot easier when we have strong relationships.
In a study of over 100 people, researchers found that people who completed a stressful task experienced a faster recovery when they were reminded of people with whom they had strong relationships.
We know that we need friends, but how do we go about getting them? When we were kids, we naturally formed friendships at school. We saw these kids for 6 hours a day, and maybe more if we had after-school activities. We found things in common.
In retirement, we probably aren't spending 6-9 hours with someone. The question is, how do we form friendships after we retire?
Especially if we move, which is often the case.
This is something that I'd like to address more on the Rock Your Retirement show. We each have opportunities to meet people, talk with them, and then follow up with a coffee or lunch to cement that relationship. But often we don't do it. We say, “Let's do Lunch!” and then never follow up. We mean to, but we don't do it for one reason or another.
The cool thing is that if you do increase your circle of friends, it can help your feeling of well-being more than increasing your cash!
A survey by the National Bureau of Economic Research of 5,000 people found that doubling your group of friends has the same effect on your wellbeing as a 50% increase in income!
In retirement, it's even more important to form these bonds and nurture them. We are going to need that support later on.
Just because you are thinking about, or already retired, doesn't mean that you can't be productive. Or maybe you do want to work for pay, but just not full time. Sometimes you can work, get paid, and have new experiences that help you have a great retirement lifestyle.
One example is working seasonal jobs to have experiences. For instance, becoming a host at a National Park is one of these options. You might stay in your RV, and help keep the park clean, or answer guests questions. You'll get to stay for free and have that experience that you might not have had otherwise.
Or work on a dude ranch. Get paid. Stay free. Eat free. And meet lots of wonderful people for a summer.
Or perhaps you have an expertise that no one else has. You could, like my husband, be an expert witness. These jobs pay really well by the hour, but come along occasionally so you don't have to feel like you are in a full-time job.
Many people don't want to work for pay, but would rather volunteer their time. We've had numerous episodes on volunteer work and how to figure out what yours might be.
The key is that you have options.
Your “work” passion might be a hobby. You might not want to go to the senior center 3 days a week because you are working on making quilts for all of your 17 grandchildren. That's OK too.
It might even mean creating a podcast on a topic you are passionate about!
The main thing is to have something to do that gives you a sense of purpose. We don't lose that wanting to have a purpose just because we retire.
If you are a regular listener to the Rock Your Retirement show you probably already know that Health is a big issue in my personal life. My husband has stage 4 cancer, and when we found out, he had to make a decision about whether or not to go forward with chemotherapy. (He did) Not only did he want to use modern medicine to give him a good shot at a longer life, but he also wanted to use non-traditional methods of staying healthy such as supplements and changing his diet. You can read about what he's done at http://LesHasCancer.com
It's not just disease we need to be concerned with though, it's our general health. I personally have a problem with not moving enough. Although my weight isn't critical, I could lose 10 pounds to be at a healthier weight. So I struggle with these issues too.
In addition to our own health, our parent's health might be on our mind as well. Although we can't control what our parents do, we can be aware of health issues and be prepared (as well as possible) for them. We will never really be prepared for our mom or dad getting dementia, but we can be prepared by at least knowing that a urinary tract infection could cause dementia-like symptoms. This was super surprising to me!
There are changes we can make each day that can slow the spread of disease and the degradation of our bodies. For example, parking further away from the grocery store is a step in that direction.
I added health as a pillar because frankly if you're sick, nothing else really matters, right?
I added this separately from significant other because a lot of us have issues with family that we don't have with our spouse or other loved ones.
In family, I include parents, siblings, children, and any other family members that aren't our spouses that you want to include.
Many of us have past hurts from family members that are difficult to let go. I'm not perfect here either. I have some relationships that need fixing. It doesn't matter that I don't think it was my fault!
It's easy to get involved in our own lives and not reach out to family members. Personally, I'm going to try to actually put it on my calendar to reach out weekly to my family to strengthen those bonds.
You might be fantastic in this area. If that's you, then great! You have one of the 6 pillars already handled.
Each of us will have different pillars of retirement lifestyle that we need to work on.
You might have the Significant Other or the Family pillar handled. But your weight might be out of control, or you might be struggling to give up smoking.
My goal for 2018 is to break the Rock Your Retirement episodes into these six pillars so that we can go on this journey together. Together we'll learn what we need to know, or just be inspired by someone else's story.
That's what I'm looking to do this year, and I hope you'll come along for the journey.
If you haven't already subscribed to the show, go ahead and do that now.
Jonathan Braddock is our guest for today and he is an entrepreneur, author, speaker, and the founder and CEO of My Life and Wishes, an education and digital planning platform with a mission to help at least one million families become “thoughtfully prepared” for the inevitable, their own death. Jon is the author of “Advisor or Vendor”, “Retire Erase”, the “My Life and Wishes Organization”, and, his most recent release, “Click Here When I Die”, is an Amazon Best Seller.
Why is planning for our death important?
Leaving your family via your death is already hard for them, planning your wake and burial will be much harder for them. Leaving them via your death with a Will help them know what you want. They will know if you want to be cremated, in-ground burial, etc. Helping them know what you want or have planned for them is a really big thing because it lessens the hardship that they will face after your death.
For Jon's family, it took them 10 months to finally finish all the paperwork left for his father-in-law. They found a bank account where the bank's name is not familiar to them. Imagine the stressful phone calls they had to make to locate the bank. It will be much easier if you prepare everything like your bank accounts, social media passwords, ATM passwords, your will, insurance policies, and many more. Jon shares a story about someone he knows where he's really guilty that he didn't have her mother cremated when that's what she really wants but he didn't know that because she didn't tell him.
What are the 5 stages of grief when there's a death?
Denial – this is the first of the five stages of grief. It helps us to survive the loss. In this stage, the world becomes meaningless and overwhelming. Life makes no sense. We are in a state of shock and denial. Denial and shock help us to cope and make survival possible. As you accept the reality of the loss and start to ask yourself questions, you are unknowingly beginning the healing process. You are becoming stronger, and the denial is beginning to fade.
Anger – a necessary stage of the healing process. Be willing to feel your anger, even though it may seem endless. The more you truly feel it, the more it will begin to dissipate and the more you will heal. There are many other emotions under the anger and you will get to them in time, but anger is the emotion we are most used to managing. The anger is just another indication of the intensity of your love.
Bargaining – Before a loss, it seems like you will do anything if only your loved one would be spared. “Please God, ” you bargain, “I will never be angry at my wife again if you’ll just let her live.” After a loss, bargaining may take the form of a temporary truce. “What if I devote the rest of my life to helping others. Then can I wake up and realize this has all been a bad dream?” We become lost in a maze of “If only…” or “What if…” statements.
Depression – After bargaining, our attention moves squarely into the present. Empty feelings present themselves, and grief enters our lives on a deeper level, deeper than we ever imagined. This depressive stage feels as though it will last forever. It’s important to understand that this depression is not a sign of mental illness. It is the appropriate response to a great loss. If grief is a process of healing, then depression is one of the many necessary steps along the way.
Acceptance – this is often confused with the notion of being “all right” or “OK” with what has happened. This is not the case. Most people don’t ever feel OK or all right about the loss of a loved one. This stage is about accepting the reality that our loved one is physically gone and recognizing that this new reality is the permanent reality. We begin to live again, but we cannot do so until we have given grief its time.
Lisa Woodruff was a previous guest and I brought her back for a second interview to talk about how different generation groups organize
Lisa is a professional organizer, productivity specialist, and author. She believes organization is not a skill you are born with. It is a skill that is developed over time and changes with each season of life. I am an avid listener and big fan of her podcast show at Organize365.com.
I gave Lisa an update on my personal progress and yes, I am making progress! We also talked about my ” Sunday Basket” and if you listen to Episode 88 which was my first interview with Lisa you can learn more about that.
What are the different Generation Groups? The dates can vary depending on where you look but here is a general idea:
The Silent Generation born between 1925 and 1945
Baby Boomer Generation born between 1946 and 1964
Generation X born between 1965 and 1980
Millenials born between 1980 and after
Lisa and I discuss how each generation deals with their “stuff” and what the differences are.
The Silent Generation was born and raised in the Great Depression. They had a lot available to them educationally but not a lot available to them materially. The Silent Generation typically did not have mortgages on their home and did not use credit cards. They were a hard-working and fairly frugal generation. There was not a lot of consumerism while they were growing up.
Baby Boomers were born and raised in the affluence of World War II. This is when consumerism and a lot of toys really came on the market. Barbies, GI Joe, TV's and commercials became prevalent and advertisers started targeting teenagers.
Gen Xer's had all of the toys. They had all of the toys the baby boomers had growing up and then some. The majority of Gen Xers grew up in the 80's which was the height of materialism. In the 80's is when things cost the most and people wanted to accumulate a lot of “stuff”.
Decluttering and downsizing
These items that are in our parents and grandparents homes and attics are things that were hard earned. Baby boomers sometimes have a difficult time getting rid of their things because they worked so hard to obtain them. Take the time to go through those things with your parents or grandparents. Let them tell the stories of how the stuff was obtained and the memories that come with them. Find ways of making memories using the stuff.
Lisa has a lot going on! Below is some information on her workshops, podcast, and books
In this episode, I talk with Veronica Mitchell about the sensitive topic of taking the keys away.
Veronica is a friend of mine who I have known for awhile. We have served on the same committees at the Caregiver Coalition of San Diego and also the San Diego County Council on Aging. Veronica is an advocate for seniors, women, and caregivers. She is a guest blogger and writes her own blog featured on her website. She is passionate about prevention of Elder Abuse and Scams, along with helping families take the keys from their senior loved ones.
You love your parent or spouse, yet you know that they can no longer safely drive. How do you know that it is time to take the keys away? How do you have that conversation with them in a loving and respectful way? Where do you begin? Families members are afraid to approach the subject. It is our last part of our freedom as we age, and it is very emotional subject.
My father's Parkinson's caused his eyes to shut and he was still driving! Obviously, I was panicked and in our family, we had to deal with the tough subject of taking the keys away. Sadly, my story is not uncommon.
Veronica and broke this down into 4 phases:
Have Conversations with your loved ones and start it as early as possible. Have a frank conversation and the most candid approach is best. Don't wait until it is a crisis.
Identify, Observe & Document Unsafe Driving. Follow them and observe their driving. Check out the car and see if there are more dents than usual. When you are driving them around ask them directions to get somewhere. Do they get flustered, angry or confused in traffic?
Create a Plan, Manage the Plan, and Vet All Participants. Coordinate with friends and family members about who is going to drive them to places. They still need to get to places such as doctors appointments or haircuts. They also need social engagement. Make sure there is a plan to get them to social activities so they don't become depressed feeling stuck in one place. Make sure to be flexible and have all family members help.
Laura Barish came on the show to talk with us about preventing financial elder abuse.
Laura is President and CEO of AltaGolden. She has a passion for working with older adults and loves her job. Laura is responsible for marketing, community outreach, corporate management, and she also sometimes works as a caregiver so that she understands what it takes to be a great caregiver. Laura is on the clinical affairs committee for the San Diego Dementia Consortium.
In our discussion, Laura and I talk about some of the scams that are out there including:
Email invoked abuse and Microsoft Outlook worms
Western Union Fraud: Someone calls and says, “Your grandson was taken to jail in Mexico. We need you to wire money for attorneys fees”. The scammers like to play on heartstrings.
IRS Scam is where someone will call telling you that you are in default on your taxes. The IRS will never call or email anyone. They will only send a letter.
YES Scam is when someone will call and pretend to have a bad connection saying “can you hear me now?” Their objective is to get you to say “YES” so they have your voice on recording and they can use your recorded voice to purchase things.
Anyone can order a mailing list. There is a lot of demographic information in these mailing lists. This includes; address information, age groups, and even reported income levels. Sometimes the phone scammers are not just randomly dialing people. They are targeting you for a specific reason.
We also talked about the recent Microsoft scams. This is where your computer gets locked up or you get a pop up on your screen indicating your drivers are not up to date. Scammers essentially hold your computer ransom until you pay money to get it unlocked.
Steps for preventing financial elder abuse
Don't go to websites you don't know
Don't open an attachment or links in an email from anyone you don't know.
If a scammer calls you, the easiest and safest thing is to hang up.
Educate your loved ones about the Scams that are out there so they are aware of them and they know what to look out for.
Make sure your computer virus software us up to date at all times
If you have a private caregiver, make sure they are aware of these scams as well. Laura also tells us that if you use a private caregiver don't give them the “keys to the kingdom”. Make sure you have systems in place to ensure the caregiver cannot take advantage of your loved one
If you have questions, ask! It is not a sign of weakness to ask for help or guidance.