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Social Butterfly

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:


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)

Regular Contributor


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Regular Contributor

I worked 2 jobs most of my career or always had a side business going. It kept me busy and provided for a comfortable family life.


A few years before a planned retirement from my regular job, I started looking for something I could continue after retirement.  I found my niche - teaching online for Universities. By using my years of executive management and business experience, along with background degrees - I was able to secure jobs with a couple of Universities. It's a perfect solution for me - I can work from anywhere, anytime and it keeps me sharp keeping up with inquisitive students! I will continue to teach until the schools don't need my services.


Regrets are few - I think maybe travel is one. We traveled the U.S. but never got overseas. The other is hobbies. Working 2 jobs, I never played golf, fished or developed a passion for a hobby.

Honored Social Butterfly

"...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....".


That's because the large percentage of remarks made have to do with failure to plan over the decades and once you're in your 60's and 'discover' you have no ability to retire, it's too late. There is no point in sugar-coating the reality that if you did not save money, and you're now facing retirement trying to live on a small pension and/or SS, life is going to be difficult. 

   I was able to retire at 56, without a pension or healthcare, and fund everything, because I started planning in my 20's. DW and I lived below our means, spend thousands of hours over the decades reading, listening, talking to people, reading investment info at the library, planning with ourselves, about saving/investing/retiring. We have a country, it would appear a majority, of people who can't balance a checkbook, don't understand compound interest, can't set up a budget, don't know the difference between a stock and a bond (much less understand markets at all), and worse, don't really care until they are in their 50's and suddenly wake up to reality. We boomers lived through the great economic expansion in history and you only needed to be informed to take advantage.

  The only advice I can give is to young people. Start saving and investing, as much as you can, right now.

   Example: You can use online calculators to see what you can save. For example, if you saved $100 a month for 40 years, at 5% return, in 40 years you would have $153,000+.

"...Why is everyone a victim? Take personal responsibility for your life..."

When I was in my 30's, I often had a similar discussion with my boss who was 15 years older than me. Should you deny yourself during your early working years to save for retirement or should you experience life to the fullest when you are physically able and let tomorrow take care of itself. This was an interesting discussion because both of us had married women who took the latter approach for different reasons (e.g. his wife had lost her mother and two sisters to breast cancer and none of the women in her family had lived past 55). 


In the end, you have to strike a balance between saving for retirement (or a rainy day) and living a full life. This isn't always easy to do, particularly if you have children. There is no substitute for both short term and long term planning.

Regular Contributor

I must say that is all fine and dandy but you are lucky that you could afford to save up for retirement.


As a single mom with a disabled son it's impossible without a college education to not live paycheck to paycheck.  Even having a college education doesn't guarantee you won't live paycheck to paycheck now days.  Thank goodness I went to technical school in my 30's.


Unfortunately my father told me over and over that the boys go to college and women stay home and have kids.  I was so young at the time I believed him.  One thing I know for sure, never depend upon a man to take care of his family.  You must do it yourself.  You never know what can happen, medical bills can destroy your financial well being.


Yes, of course I wish I had money to invest when I was younger but my children needed to eat and my son needed medical care.   My 401K really is not close to what a person needs now days for a person to retire.  


Luckily I love being a mom and I love my job.  I am semi retired. I work 

part time and I will have to for the rest of my life.  I have always felt I had everything I needed.  It's been worth it.  No regrets.  I have 4 grown children.  They have college educations, successful jobs and My daughter is a doctor.  Now I just have to pray my health holds out.....









Super Contributor

We must have the same Father. My Mom was no better either. My Sister and I decided we would educate ourselves and did. It was a good thing. Both our first marriages ended and there were children. I went to school, got a R.E. Brokers license and started a career. My dear Son has a disabled wife and Son and I intend to be there for them. He is such a hard worker, but it is so much harder for them.

Well done. Way to take charge of your life

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Social Butterfly

Thank you RetiredTraveler for your comments and insight.


I suppose what I'm looking for has been influenced by popular culture and literature. Both of which ignore the reality of day-to-day living and the struggle to pay bills and survive.


Like you, I've never depended on others and I ended my career being in a pretty comfortable position. Analysis of personal finances has long been a sort of hobby of mine and continues to be so.


Thus my own regrets have little to do with finances. Yes, perhaps I frittered away too much money in my early 20's. Yes, perhaps I should have started saving for retirement sooner than I did (although I did start with my first job post-university...I went back to school late and graduated when I was 30). But on the whole I never "over bought" on cars and houses and things. Actually, going to university taught me the joys of delayed gratification and took me to a different level of consumer interests (one probably less demanding of dollars).


So my own regrets now consist of:


almost. almost. but not quite. think I should have gone into the military when I was young. Perhaps my life would have turned out happier, although perhaps that road would have led to a post-military career that wouldn't have been as good as my reality. But I remind myself that the "me" of then probably would have been one of those guys who fragged their officer in Viet Nam. Or been fragged myself.


I wish I had done more traveling when I was younger (from 20's through retirement day). When I was single (married at 45) I traveled minimally in the US. This was due to (a) perceived issues due to a health condition, (2) not having anyone to travel with...thinking that this had to be so, and (3) perceived unaffordability.


I suppose it's that last one (traveling) that nags at me most. Since I've been married we've done a lot of traveling including to exotic foreign lands. But the far bulk of the travelling involved "family visits" with my wife's family, not quite the adventure lifestyle that I think of. Of course, being a working person limited to 2 weeks per year, then 3 weeks, then ending my career at 4 weeks (if I'd worked another year it should have been 5...or maybe it was 5 at the end, I don't recall) any case, being so limited in time off really restricts ones ability to visit family as well as to see the far flung world. (again, that reality thing creeps in)


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