Here’s some sage advice for retirement.
Make sure you have something to do. Your marriage may depend on it.
Sure, it’s really important to have a financial retirement plan to figure out what your income will be once you stop work.
But, just as importantly, when you leave your job, what exactly will you do every day? That’s the part financial planners say many people forget to consider. Believe me, after a few months, even an avid golfer will get sick and tired of the sport — if that’s your plan. And if the plan was to sit back in that comfortable chair in the family room and watch TV — you may be surprised to find out how bad daytime TV is these days, even with all those cable channels.
So, you’ll find yourself spending all that extra time with your spouse, assuming he or she is also home. That may not be a good thing.
“People think of retirement as Christmas,” says Andrew Ferraro, wealth adviser with Strategic Wealth Partners in Columbus, Ohio. “It’s the day you’re hanging around the house, and the family is still there. It is a big event. But nobody thinks about the day after Christmas.”
That might be one reason why the divorce rate is so high among baby boomers. After all those years of spending eight to 10 hours a day away from home, a couple are suddenly thrust into spending real time together.
Ferraro remembers, shortly after the market turmoil and credit crunch in 2008, a client’s retirement added so much pressure to the relationship that his wife demanded a divorce.
“He was around the house,” Ferraro says. “They were getting on each other’s nerves. He was doing every home project imaginable. There were holes in the walls everywhere. His wife wanted a divorce. He brought his wife in and said [to Ferraro]: ‘Tell her we can’t afford a divorce.’ ”
The truth was they couldn’t afford a divorce because their portfolio had taken such a hit.
Herb White, the founder and president of Life Certain Wealth Strategies, in a Denver suburb, had as clients a couple who had planned their retirement for “years and years.”
“They finally retired,” he says. “She retired first and within a year he retired. Then they were home together for all this time during the day. The wife got frustrated and wanted the husband to go back to work or do something.”
“In working years, you spend eight hours a day,” White says. “Then you are together all this time. That has caused problems for a couple of my clients.” Several of those clients ended up divorcing after 30 years together.
Reid Abedeen, president of Safeguard Investment Advisory Group in Corona, Calif., had a client who figured it out before the relationship got to the breaking point. His client had retired after a successful career in real estate. “He and his wife had a good relationship, but they needed distance,” he says.
His solution: Every Monday through Thursday he would kiss his wife goodbye and go back to his office in downtown Detroit, where he would get together with his former colleagues. “They would play cards, chitchat and have lunch,” he says. “At 2:30, he would go home and kiss his wife hello.”
So here’s the key. Make sure you have a plan. Even if you’re five years away from retirement, it’s not too soon.
For some, it may be that hobby they have always wanted. It could be going back to school, learning a language. For others, it’s taking that hobby and making it into a dream job. Just stay busy, even if it means taking a job that they are way overqualified for. It could be just about anything. Just stay busy.
“I like to have a good conversation with [couples],” White says. “Visualize, once you retire. What will it look like? What will you do? Don’t answer now, but give it some thought.”
It’s easy to take for granted that your closest friends may have been your colleagues at work for the past 20 or 30 years, and that support group is no longer there.
“You lose a piece of your identity,” Ferraro says. “People spend the next 20 or 30 years looking for it.
He says part of the problem rests with financial advisers, who have an incentive to make people retire.
“It’s not as simple as, ‘Do you have enough money?’ ” he says. “You will have a lot of unhappy clients who will try to fill their day.”
George Fraser, 70, a nationally recognized author and speaker, is already five years beyond the traditional retirement age, but he is not about to stop. He has a speaking and travel schedule that would drive even some millennials crazy. He says his wife has asked him when he is going to retire. “I say people retire to do what I am doing. I write books, and I speak.
“My wife has been retired for five or six years,” he says. “I do not want to retire and spend 24 hours a day under my wife’s apron. There would be so many ‘honey do’ projects that would be important to Nora Jean but would have my eyes rolling in the back of my head.”
Fraser, for one, says he has no intention of stopping.