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Silver Conversationalist

Retirees Biggest Regrets?

So, I read through this click-bait slide show the other day "10 Retirees Share Their Biggest Regrets". From US News, used to be a great news magazine in print. I was expecting (hoping) to find useful advice for me so that I don't end up on my death bed with a lot of regrets (hey, I'm sure I will anyway). Advice about love, family, friends, traveling, adventure, follow your dreams, etc. 

But instead pretty much all remarks were related to the present day lives of these 10 retirees, how they set up finances, etc. Not quite the well-font of humane advice I was expecting (hoping) for.

 

Article is here:

https://money.usnews.com/money/retirement/baby-boomers/slideshows/10-retirees-share-their-biggest-re...

 

How about y'all? Any words of advice for younger (newer) retirees? Regrets? Wisdom? Ideas on what you would have done differently in life? Things you can change now?

(hmmm, that is getting pretty deep, isn't it? I'll have to mull this over and post my own reply)

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Not so much "regrets" as "lessons learned" after 10+ years of retirement...

-- Before you retire, have some idea of how you want to spend your time.  Whether it's volunteering, traveling, working around the house or starting a new hobby really doesn't matter.  But have some idea what you may want to do or how you may want to spend your time.  The fellow-retirees I know who are the most miserable in retirement are the ones who walked away from work with no ideas and no plan; who now find themselves wondering how to spend their days and feeling sorry for themselves.

-- Realize what a wonderful opportunity your retirement is once it finally arrives,  For most of us, the early days, months and years of retirement represent,for the first time since childhood, a wonderful chance to start over.  No expectations from our employers; no "must-do's" or "have-to-do's" besides the ones we put onto ourselves.  At retirement, life can become a clean, empty white-board (or blackboard if you're old enough to rememeber those); one on which we can write as much or as little as we want about how we plan to spend the rest of our days.

-- Learn to say "No".  For many of us, as soon as other folks learn we're about to retire, the requests start coming in: "You''re retired. Will you serve on this committee at church?"; "Now that you're retired, will you help volunteer with this local non-profit?"; "Hey, you're retired. Come to the local service club luncheon with me and think about becoming a member."; and the list goes on-and-on. Unless you learn to say "No" (diplomatically and politely of courses), you'll quickly find yourself so busy pleasing others that you have no time left for yourself and all the things you wanted to do in retirement.

-- Adopt a new personal motto: "I will not 'should' on me today."  Give yourself permission to delay, postpone or even just never do things you don't find critical to your own life and happiness. Then don't regret not doing them.  A retirement full of "I should do" or "I should have done" means you're wasting valuable time that could be spent in more satisfying ways.  Decide whether to do something or not, but don't beat yourself up if you've decided not to do it -- after all, it's your retirement because you earned it!

-- If you want to do something, do it now (while you still can).  As we age (and that is one part of retirement common to us all), our health and financial situations can change dramatically and suddenly, sometimes when we least expect it.  Saying "I'll do that someday" is really just another way of saying "I may never get around to doing it (because I am no longer physically or financially able to do so)".  Far better to look back and say "Boy am I glad I did that when I did" than to have to say "I wish I'd done that when I had the chance."

Retired Mainer
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Regular Contributor

No regrets at all!  When I retired I took a vacation on my bucket list as a gift to myself.  I spent a couple of weeks enjoying my freedom after that.  When I got bored I volunteered at our local hospital.  We moved 6 years later to be near one of my children and keep busy with community activities, volunteering for a hospital and the USO.  I have time for my hobbies as well.  Whoever says retirement is boring is nuts!  My advice is don’t sit in the house.  Get out and do things and get involved.

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Contributor

Many of my friends, including myself, have made the misstake of injuring ourselves in the first 6 months of retirement.  Broken bones, twisted ankles and falls.  Not because we are old, but because we think we are younger than we are.  Ease into your next phase in life.  

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My only regret was not retiring sooner.  I waited until I was 66 and able to collect full SS.  My advice is to work out a budget and know in advance how much you need on a month to month basis to live comfortably.  I created a spreadsheet and kept track of all our spending for about 6 months.  Then I figured out our monthly income with SS and added in a monthly allowance from our investments.

That is what we live on, knowing that there are reserve funds to travel, buy things, etc.

 

The point I want to strongly make is that all of the reading and research I did on retirement, most of all the articles are focused on income.  Once I developed the budget and the spreadsheet I realized that portion of retirement was overplayed.  The key, for me, was finding something useful and meaningful to do with my time.  I mean for 50 years I speeded through my working career at 90 MPH and then suddenly hit a brick wall.  The first 6 months was adjusting to every day is Saturday. Once the errands run dry and the chores are done I needed something to do.  

 

I never thought throughout my working career that I would ever get into volunteering.  After all, the race was making as much money as possible.  Now that I know I have enough funds to carrying me for the rest of my life, I have found that volunteering brings a new joy to my life. Try a few different organizations and see if it fits.  I volunteer at the local hospital and have met many wonderful people  One is even a retired MD! Helping people who are scared and maybe even alone in life is fulfilling for me.   I tried other things but in somehow I felt I was enabling people to be helpless.  Whatever. I also volunteer at a science center and have joined a marine docent organization visiting schools and presenting talks about marine science.  The training was free.  I love it.

 

My advice is to find something that fills your time with meaning and is enjoyable. Take a part-time job only if you need the money.  I worked at Lowe's for 3 days!  Getting up to go to work on a Monday morning or Sunday was not my idea of retirement. As a volunteer, I come and go as I please. I set my own schedule and don't have to worry about taking time off to travel.  

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Periodic Contributor

Re: Volunteering...

It was thirty years ago in my early 50's, but I remember well.  It was easy to get involved.  Everything I liked... Joined the SBA, and ran a small business class for newbies.  This led to speaking engagements and one on one counseling, that was very enjoyable and satisfying.  

Also, having been involved with scouting for 30 years, a continuation as a senior leader, for camping trips.  And... a wonderful ten days of leading a church group of girl and boy teenagers on a canoe trip through the Canadian Boundary Waters.   

Many, many more things that were easy and enjoyable... all for my own enjoyment, and never a sense of "Having" to do it because it was my duty. 

Tom Young
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Newbie

Try to keep your self busy after you retire. My husband and I both retired together. We love golf and play through all the months we can. But when winter sets in, and golfing isn't possible, it gives an opening for cabin fever. We take advantage of our membership at the YMCA and grateful that it comes free with insurance coverage. Make sure you get out as frequently as you can. It's easy to pick spats with your spouse if you bored.

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That is one of the reasons I still work part time. Husband is retired, gets bored and wants to do $$ and it never works for long. Better to find meaningful ways to spend your time.
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Retirement has been great, YET you must have hobbies or a side job to keep you busy and your mind from turning into mush.

 

I play golf, fish, bowl and do yard work along with enjoying personal time with my wife of 36 years.

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Newbie

I wish I had understood the financial aspect of retirement and saved more  I was clueless because I never heard people talking about retirement when I was young.  Thankfully, they are talking about it now and I hope today's young people are listening.

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Regular Contributor

I see that a lot of the posts deal with financial concerns. 

If you have that part in good order, and a nice place to live.. then two big concerns are taken care of.

As for us, we are grateful that those topics are well addressed. We were able to sell a previous home on the high point of the real estate 'boom' where we lived and buy a much more modest home and stash away the balance with a very forward looking investment firm... HEnce... no money worries.

 

Here's my 'advice' to new retirees:

First, don't accept the label 'retired'!   That seems to have a stigma attached to it---the rocking chair on the porch--total inactivity--blah blah blah.   That is FAR from the reality!

Second, DO NOT do anything for the first few months--maybe up to three---Sleep in, watch the tv shows you've missed or have not seen, stay up late, sleep in late, have leisure breakfasts, eat when you are hungry, maybe even nap!

We've discovered we both are busier at least as much as we were when we were working, but NOW we are doing what we want, WHEN we want.  My wife has found great satisfaction in sort of returning to the educational world (She was a teacher), but now helps as a volunteer with a nearby ESL class for adults. She became a member of two boards--one a non-profit organization, the other a beloved family camp where she is now chairman of that board. 

As for me, I have discovered woodworking as a pleasant past time/diversion. Often building items for our daughters who design what they need.  My former profession (professional photographer), occasionally comes to use, but only for what I WANT to do.  

I also maintain as small amateur/ham radio setup--great for the colder winter months as a diversion.

I have discovered our city library has the largest genealogy department in the midwest, so I've been delving into family history--hoping to share with our children.  It's a big project but the folks at the library are terrific at helping!

We are fortunate that our library system is impresively extensive and one can even borrow books online (Dropping directly into my Kindle! for three weeks!)

The library also has a very up-to-date collection of dvds so we rarely miss any new movies!

 

Finally, in an effort to find another diversion, I joined the local chapter of Rotary INternational. I find the organization has high motives, and supports needy charities as well as giving out scholarships to kids in need. (Last year we gave out over $30k in scholarships!)  The Rotary group in our area meets weekly for lunch, has a speaker on some topic of general interest, and is very socially oriented, warm, friendly, and very interested in raising funds for needy causes. It is a group I feel has the motives and causes I can support.  There is no networking, no political or religious conversation--simply good fellowship and constructive conversation. I strongly suggest investigating if you are interested--and Rotary can be easily researched online.

 

Retirement is a better time than working!  Oh, and you can travel as the 'spirit' moves you--recently we've been to Paris, and Mexico (two times!)

It's time to spread your wings!

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None.  We planned finances reasonably and they've worked out.  Re boredom, if you were always busy you will always be busy.  Travel until you are forced to stop for, e.g., health reasons.  Then travel casually.  It's the best education around.  Move your home, stay 10-20 yrs and then move again.  Nothing says you have to stay put; and this keeps your clutter to a minimum.  Keep up with friends via letter or electronically, and visit them all for a day during your travels.  Keep your brain active, and exercise.  It's a good life, enjoy.

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Periodic Contributor

Regrets... yeah, some, but not many.

Now, am age 83, married 60 years,and retired for 30 years.... with not a whole lot of money.  I do post on a retirement website, and have a thread that started 7 years ago, covering our retirement years.  Instead of trying to recap what's on the thread, I'll give a link... While it goes to my thread, the webite is early-retirement.org.  Haven't looked lately, but the thread has over 100K reads. 

A wonderful life, and while we didn't expect to lif past age 75, are going strong now at 83.  Still ok with the money, and would recommend early retirement, for anyone willing to LBYM (live below your means). 

 

http://www.early-retirement.org/forums/f27/sharing-23-years-of-frugal-retirement-62251.html

Best wishes...

bob

Tom Young
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My regret is that I did not manage my finances. When you're young, you really don't give much thought to retiring. As I drew closer to retirement age; I became more aware of the possibilty to do so.

 

I worked long hours for overtime to save as much money as I could. I didn't retire with as much as I could have but; I was able to pay-off debts and retired at age 59 debt free!

 

I wanted to by a fancy sports car to celebrate but, I didn't retire to get back in debt. Stay debt free if you can...that's true freedom! 

 

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Honored Social Butterfly

To: @fffred

I am yet in the thick of things--working every day.  So I have not yet retired.  But I just wanted thank you for this is a great topic.  The answers are so diverse and informative.  Great topic and great feedback.  Thanks to all.

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Gold Conversationalist

You’ll discover that it is real easy and convenient to put things off until "tomorrow".  It’s wonderful!

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Trusted Contributor

If you thought you were busy prior to retirement, the best advice I can give any new retiree is to stay busy. Keep learning and don’t be afraid to try new things. I learned early on that retirement is NOT the time to put up your feet. You have complete control over how you spend your time, so don’t waste it. Throughout your life, you’ve used your skills, your strengths and inner resources to navigate the journey to this point, so keep moving, celebrate and be grateful for every new day.

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Regular Contributor

I retired at 68 after 44 years in the same industry. I traveled about 2 million air miles, hundreds of thousands of miles by car, visited all fifty states, and most countries in Western Europe, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand. Staying at home is a delight. I spend 4+ hours most days doing yard work and minor projects around the house. My wife and I were so busy raising five kids that we watched little TV so we are catching up on classic shows, reading lots of our favorite authors, taking care of the grandkids, and doing some volunteer work with the homeless. It’s easy to stay active and go with the flow when work is no longer a necessity. 

 

So my only major regret is that most of my siblings and their families live 2600 miles away and I haven’t spent enough time visiting them. I expected that being retired would give me more time with them. Distance and not wanting to get on an airplane again have worked against me. 

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Periodic Contributor

Having been Retired for 5 years.I say don't sit around get out there and do things you want to do.Travel,Health Club  what ever you want.Dont wait we did a little traveling.Then my Husband had a Stroke,Heart attack two years later. And never recover.Passed away. So I am now doing  the things we always talk about. Take life by the horns if you can and don't look back.

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Periodic Contributor

Thank you for your encouragement.  My wife agrees with you.  We have gone on trips to Florence, Siena, Amsterdam and will be going to Rome in May.  In the summer we go to Alumni College where I went to Law School, and stay for a week or two taking classes.  The professors teaching the classes usually go on the trips with us.  Every summer we look forward to returning and seeing our new friends.  I prefer going with a well organized tour group, fewer decisions to make and the comfort of being with subject experts.  The airports and time in the air are the only downsides.

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I am grateful for the many wonderful opportunities that exist.  Some of the opportunities we have taken advantage of are:

  • volunteering for the National Parks - we have volunteered making maps but there are probably hundreds of ways to volunteer.  You don’t need to be super-fit.  Some parks need people to help at the Visitors Center, others need gardeners.  Other parks need photographers or people who know about fishing.  Check our volunteer.gov.  
  • digging for dinosaurs and documenting petroglyphs with the US Forest Service.  Check out http://www.passportintime.com.  You might have to apply quite a few times before you are selected but keep trying.  Just looking at there opportunities might give you an idea of something you want to do closer to home.  Seeing an opportunity to work cleaning up dinosaur fossils might be the spark that encourages you to visit your local museum and ask do if they have a volunteer activity like this.
  • working as interns for a conservation group.  All of the pictures showed interns in their early 20s but when we asked, they said you just needed to be a student of life and didn’t need to be young.  We had great opportunities  surveying campsites and making maps with them.  We earned enough Americorp education grants to go back to get a community college associates degree.
  • going back to college.  This was a bit scary since most of our classmates were about 19 years old.  But it worked out great.  We all had different skills and backgrounds and could help each other.  We helped students with some of the math they needed for some of the classes.  We knew we were seen as OK when we got asked to go on a spring break trip with them.  Many colleges offer free or discounted tuition.  We took advantage of senior citizen scholarships and our Americorp education grants.  Most of our credits transferred over - although finding the course description for a class I took 40 years ago did take some digging.   Two classes short of graduating.  It might be worth checking with a local college.

-   working as seasonal for the government collecting natural resource data.  The pay more  than covered our costs.  We had fun outdoors and got to live in another part of the country.  Working 4 10 hour days gave us time to travel and explore.

 

There are a huge variety of opportunities available.   None of our opportunities have cost us much - maybe the cost of driving to a different state.  

 

We each have skills to share with others and contributions to make.  Some are volunteer - some pay - check out coolworks.com.

 

Sometimes it is a little scary trying something new and sometimes I hear “no, sorry we don’t have an opportunity for you”.  But we have found so many people that really need our help and are willing to teach us what we don’t know, we are encouraged to keep asking and then contributing.

 

Just one additional thought, we have found that by our taking advantage of these opportunities we have provided an example for others (young and old) that good opportunities are possible.   We have, inadvertently, left a legacy of people living a more fulfilling life.

 

Please share your opportunities below as a reply, in new posts and with other folks you know.  

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Periodic Contributor

Become a friend of the library is a great tip. It doesn't have to be only your library. I have attended some many free programs at neighboring libraries.

 

Also, volunteer at hospitals, arboretum, museums, schools, nature centers, your park district, garden center, etc.

 

Advce: If you are taking  spousal social security, I believe there is no advantage to delay past full retirement age. 

 

Also, I plan to work part time for as long as I can to supplement social security. I planned ahead and have some investments I can draw on. I will need all three sources of income to live on.

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Regular Contributor

No regrets and I retired at age 50. Partly due to health issues, PTSD and a company that was down-sizing its middle management.

I offer two bits of advice:

1. Start saving for retirement early and max out any employer matching contibution plans available.

2. Get your home paid for by when you plan to retire. Retirement money produces a more comfortable retirement w/o a house payment.

 

Enjoy!

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Retired at 62. No regrets! The things I like best: no alarm clock, sleeping in, no more packing lunches the night before, more time to peruse hobbies, hitting a good sale first thing in the morning, and an altogether leisurely pace.

I miss the daily social interaction at work, but that's about it.

We worked with a financial advisor the last 10 years, so we were comfortable in knowing when we could retire. 

 

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Trusted Contributor

There have been no regrets. My wife & I are in our 12th year of retirement now. I had planned for early retirement & we did it just before my 59th birthday. We both now can enjoy life and we volunteer at our own pace within the community. Our biggest benefit was moving to Mexico to retire, where cost of living is about half of what it is in US, and climate is great year-round. We actually feel safer and healthier here than we ever felt living in the United States. Gives our daughter and grandkids a wonderful place to visit too.

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Periodic Contributor

Do not fear having nothing to do!  For 35 years I worked in an exciting environment.  Exciting, but lots of pressure.  Our company had several major customers, I was assigned one of them as the primary business contact.  If our deliveries to the customer were late, they called me.  I thn had to find out internally  why were we late, what steps are we taking to fix the past due situation and get back on schedule, when can we make our first shipments.  I needed to interface with manufacturing, procurement, quality, engineering, assembly and test departments.  Then communicate with the customer on our recovery plan. 

 

I dreaded Monday mornings, even before email and the internet, I'd walk into my office and the message light would be blinking on my phone.  It is always the customer and never good news.  Here we go again.

 

Or the final customers that used our products in their fleets would be experiencing failures during the warranty period and far in excess of our realiability predictions and guarantees.  Now I have to get with the Engineering managers and ask them if we have a design weakness (which means we pay to retrofit the fleet) or if our parts are breaking because they are being used improperly by the fleets (which means they pay for the redesign and retrofit).  If our engineers could convince me it was the fault of the fleet, then I had to go the customer and tell them, not only did they buy stuff from us that filed prematurely, but it is their fault and they need to pay us again to redesign and retrofit their fleets!  This was always a long and protracted struggle and certainly not a relaxing process. 

 

So when I read the articles that said "Do not retire before you understand what hobbies and activities you will fill your time with, or you will likely be lonely and disappointed."  I was happy to accept that challenge.  While working I dreamed of retiring early and having Nothing to do!  By this I meant, no phone messages from unhappy customers, no text messages at all hours of the day and night from customers and internal departments, or cell phone calls or messages from customers.  I looked forward to getting rid of the stress and deadlines and meetings and program reviews and traveling through airports and flying in cramped commercial seats for hours at a time.

 

I was able to retire at 61.  It has been over three years now.  I am still incredibly happy!  I am relaxed and relatively stress free and Never Have Been Bored (in a bad way).  Tired, take a nap.  Want to stay up late, go ahead.  Want to sleep in, go ahead. 

 

Retirement is delightful!  I do not need activities or titles or responsibilities to provide me with an identity or a "purpose".  I have time to help my neighbors.  I can be flexible when scheduling health appointments.  I can go to the movies and shopping during the week and avoid the weekend crowds. 

 

If you are secure in yourself and who you are, do not fear "having nothing to do".  It can be the time of your life!

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Regular Contributor

Don’t feel guilty about doing nothing. You’ve earned the right to do just that. I wanted to be a stay-at-home all my life. I just didn’t know I’d have to wait to have grandkids and to do it. Took a long time to get here but it’s worth it. 

Become a friend of the library they have a lot of fun stuff to do and it’s all free.

i stay so busy I don’t know how I found time to work.

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I know I  took ’early retirement’ waaay too soon  (55).  Thought I  would have so much fun stuff to do.  Really was bored most of the time.  Needed to find a part time job to supplement my benefits after all.  Big mistake retiring too soon.  

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Super Contributor

I am still working part time at 66 because I too think I am too young to retire. I like the extra money and do not need to touch my retirement funds yet. That is important to me. Also I need a few more years to think about what I really want to do in retirement. I am active in my church and am looking into what our local senior center has to offer. They were a big help with Medicare and I know they have classes there.
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Regular Contributor

My biggest regret is that I could not do it sooner!

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