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When The Time Comes to Retire Will You Be Ready?

(Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

For many people that’s a very tough question. Many people I talk to on Facebook or LinkedIn say they will never be able to survive without a job. There is no question that the prospect of retirement is both exciting and scary.

Retirement is More Than Money

Money will certainly make retirement easier but not necessarily better. What most people want is a type of lifestyle. That doesn’t always mean yachts, big cars or mansions.

I retired in 2009. Five years before that, my wife and I sat down to do some financial planning. We were looking at about $40,000 of debt. So we decided that we would do some cost cutting and created a budget. We didn’t exactly take a vow of poverty but at times it seemed pretty close.

No cable TV, no newspaper, smaller meals and more leftovers, no movies or entertainment, no meals out, turn the thermostat down, consolidate automobile trips, and systematic savings were just a few of the changes we made. Every spare nickel went towards retiring debt.

By the fourth year of our five-year plan we were debt free. No house payment, car payment, medical bills or credit cards. Our only bills were utilities, food and taxes. Now only telemarketers were calling instead of bill collectors.

“Use It or Lose It”

For most of my life I’d heard about people who retired and were dead a short time after. For some it was a feeling of no longer having a purpose in their life or no long feeling useful. Just sitting and slowly withering away.

As for me I’m finding myself busier in retirement than I ever was working. I think the reason is that now my efforts are things I enjoy doing and not things I was assigned to do. And that makes a big difference.

Keeping your mind active and alert is a big part of beating the aging process. We’ve all seen people that we’ve described as, “young at heart.” They seem to be enjoying life more than some of their peers. They treat every day as a gift.

Stay Healthy

Alzheimer’s, Diabetes, Obesity, Arthritis are rampant in the senior community. So it’s important in your senior years to take care of yourself. Eat a balanced diet, get some daily exercise, and plenty of sleep. If you have bad knees like I do, you can do upper body exercises, swimming, or an exercise bike that doesn’t put weight on your joints is very helpful in controlling pain.

Some Final Thoughts

No matter where you are in life, think about where you will be in ten years — or twenty. I plan to still be here enjoying life. Ten years will come and so will twenty. So why not plan now to make your life more enjoyable as you get older.

Volunteering is a great way to give back and stay active even if mobility is a problem. Blogging about your experiences on the Internet is another way of keeping your mind active and record life experiences for others. Life doesn’t have to end just because you are in your mid-sixties. Sixty is the new 30. Enjoy it.

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