The average retirement today lasts about 8,000 days. That works out to around 22 years.
If you work back 22 years from your current age, you begin to get a feel for how long that is and how many things can change during that period of time.
This fell into perspective for me recently when a friend suggested we go to a concert by a person who hasn’t had a hit record since 1969.
When I balked at going, my friend questioned why I wasn’t interested. Here’s what I said…
The year 1969 was 50 years ago. Stop for a second and think about how much 50-year-old music we listened to when we were kids.
And most of these guys who are touring, whose music was popular or who had hits in the ’60s, look pretty beaten-up. It’s too painful for me to sit through a concert looking at people who look that bad. I remember them when…
But back to those 8,000 days.
Over those 22 years, retirement experts tell us we’re going to go through four phases of major changes in our lives—changes that will have as profound of an effect on us as getting married, entering the work world, and having children.
The early years of retirement are considered the “honeymoon phase”: the years of high spending and anxiety when the uncertainty of retirement settles in.
Next, is the “big decision phase.” This is where we get serious and start thinking about where we’re going to live, what we’re going to do with all our free time, and who we’re going to be in retirement.
The next period is the “longevity phase,” where things start to break down. Health, cognitive abilities, and mobility all start to degrade. Some of us will be better at this phase than others, but all of us will experience it.
The final period is the “solo phase.” This is when we lose our partners.
It’s amazing that 53% of Americans don’t plan for this. If you’ve already gone through it, you know how difficult it can be. If you haven’t, it’s time to start thinking about it.
Most of us have not lived alone in a very long time. Some of us never have. We need to plan for this, one of the most difficult phases in our life, just as we planned for the financial portion of our retirement.
Our years after leaving the work world can be a great time in our lives, but they do carry some difficult and painful transitions that are unavoidable. Putting those transitions in perspective and planning properly for them is the only way to make them bearable.
Make sure your retirement planning covers all four phases of your golden years.