My wife and I were recently able to join the ranks of the retired. We’re both in our early 50’s, so when we made our announcement to family and friends, most folks were surprised, but very happy for us. However, there was one other reaction I found curious. Almost unanimously, each person we shared our news with expressed doubt that they themselves could retire anytime soon, if at all.
This really bothered me. How is it that so many of our friends and family members find retirement beyond their reach? Have they not been planning for retirement all those years they’ve been working? Were they just being modest about their financial situation? Were they overestimating how much money they’d need to retire comfortably? What was really going on here?
Like I said, this really bothered me; so much so that I’ve decided to dedicate my contributions to the blog to sharing “the secret sauce” we used to find our way to retirement. The first topic I’d like to discuss is the importance of being equally yoked.
By “equally yoked”, I’m not referring to religion. I’m talking about having a shared destination and working together to devise an agreed-upon path on how to get there.
What exactly is a “shared destination”? I define shared destination as working to arrive at a place in life that is conducive to allowing two parties to get what they each want out of life.
Here are some questions my wife and I asked and answered for ourselves before we decided to retire:
How much money will we need in order to live the lifestyle we both want in retirement?
Like Carolyn and I did, you and your significant other need to add up each expense you’ll have during retirement. Then you’ll need to add up the money you’ll be expecting to receive each month to cover those expenses. Does it all add up, or is a little belt tightening in order?
Where do we want to live in retirement?
Some folks like the beach, others like the mountains. Some enjoy experiencing all four seasons, while others prefer the consistency of a year-round tropical climate. What’s more important to you, the conveniences of urban living, or the breathing room of the countryside? Find out what your mate prefers. If you can’t find one location that offers what you both want, maybe there’s some sort of compromise you can come to. Maybe half the time in one location and half the time in another. Whatever works for you both.
Do we both want to be fully retired, or does one of us want to be semi-retired and work part time?
Maybe one of you is ready to kick back full time, but the other still feels the need to participate, at least part time, in the workplace. What accommodations need to be made in order for you to both do what you want?
What activities do we want to participate in individually and as a couple?
Once you’re no longer working, you’ll be spending every waking moment with the love of your life. It will be a great time to do the things you both love to do together, like hiking, biking, horseback riding, or whatever. While for most of us this will be pure bliss, for others…well, let’s just say, a little ‘me’ time will also be in order. Retirement will also provide the perfect opportunity for you to indulge in those solitary endeavors like finishing that novel you’ve been putting off, or fly fishing.
Do we want to be homeowners or renters in retirement?
Which is more important to you and your partner, the security of having a permanent home base, or the freedom to move about whenever and where ever the spirit moves you?
These are all vitally important questions you as a couple need to answer and agree on to make sure you’re equally yoked before entering into retirement. Taking the time to do so will go a long way towards ensuring you both have a successful and enjoyable retirement experience.
There’s another aspect to being “equally yoked” for retirement. This involves being equally yoked financially. We’ll discuss that topic in another post.