"To be too certain of anything is the beginning of bigotry." -- Novelist Abdulrazak Gurnah

Saturday, August 11, 2018

The Ten Commandments of Retirement

     Most of us are familiar with the Ten Commandments, even if we don’t remember them all, or follow them all. But they are universal truths, going back as far as the ancient Mesopotamians around 1000 BCE, who had laws incorporating the same sentiments as those later found in the Bible.

     The Ten Commandments may be a good place to start in advising us about any aspect of our lives, even retirement, although they have to be adapted to make sense in 21st century America. So here are the Ten Commandments for retirement, as inspired by our philosopher ancestors.

     1. Save for retirement. Most of us have Social Security, and some of us have a pension. But benefits can be changed, and besides, nobody ever promised that Social Security would provide anything more than a safety net. If you want a comfortable retirement, start saving early in life, presumably with an employer program or an individual IRA, and resist the temptation to rob your retirement fund to buy a new car or new boat.

     2. Invest your money. Experts recommend you have up to ten times your annual salary socked away by the time you retire. That’s almost impossible to do by saving alone. But if you invest early and consistently, you can grow your nestegg 5 to 10 percent a year, which is a realistic way to achieve financial security. If you're in your 60s or 70s, keep on investing, because you may have to finance another 20+ years of living expenses.

     3. Do not retire too early. Social Security offers a siren call when we first become eligible for benefits at age 62. In Greek mythology the Sirens were beautiful creatures who lured sailors with their enchanting music to wreck their ships on the rocky coast. Similarly, if you start taking Social Security early, you receive a smaller monthly income for the rest of your life, leaving you exposed to a shipwreck on the rocks of unexpected expenses.

     4. Downsize. You no longer need a big house to shelter your family. You may no longer need two or three cars to ferry the kids to school or soccer practice. So consider downsizing your home and your possessions -- especially if you broke any of those first three commandments.

     5. Eat right. When you’re retired you have more time to take care of yourself. So make the effort to buy and prepare healthful foods, and make sure to get the nutrition you may have neglected when you were too busy working and raising a family.

     6. Get some exercise. A reasonable amount of light-to-moderate exercise will extend your longevity, so you’ll be around long enough to collect on the Social Security you’ve been paying for your entire working life. Exercise also makes you feel better by improving digestion, soothing aching joints, and increasing energy levels.

     7. Hold your family close. Your kids are out of the house, but that doesn’t mean they should be out of your life. Loneliness is one hazard of retirement, so make an effort to stay close to family -- especially your grandchildren.

     8. Make new friends. Old friends will die or move away – or perhaps you will move away. Wherever you find yourself, try making new friends, for a strong social network supports both physical and mental health as you get older.

     9. Do something you like to do. Loneliness is one threat in retirement; boredom is another. So after you retire, recommit to your long-time hobby, or find a new one. Become active in your community; find a part-time job; volunteer to help those in need. Do something to make you want to get out of bed in the morning and take part in the bright new day.

     10. Make sure to . . . Wait a second. Look who I'm talking to here ... a lot of people who have more retirement experience than I do. What's your favorite retirement commandment?


Anonymous said...

It is nice to have a job that one can save money from but many just have a job that barely pays for anything..a home forggetabout it here and relatives well that is a big term..My MIL died at nearly 87 she was something else, loved her sons that were in my opinion criminals and alcoholics and just plain full of crap..We paid for the whole shebang a cremation and the lady was a real b---h...but we paid I got a new visa card I never had and it is 18 years almost and I can remember a full table of kids sitting there offering nothing..she had 9 kids only 8 survived one was 30 to 35 years older than most of the young siblings, two different marriages..I felt the whole thing was a big bunch of crap..my hubs is the oldest so of course he was expected to do anything she wished, NOT...I got an unlisted phone number and I knew when she would call, I knew how to say no politely to her..well it has been almost 18 years and I have decided to make sure my only child a nd only husband of 44 nearly 45 years doesn't experience what we went thru..I say enjoy ones self now and be nice and kind not mean and angry it is a short ride for many..

Anonymous said...

1. Buy a house you can live in for a very long time no later than 35 years old. Never borrow the equity out. Do the repairs and maintainence as much yourself. At 65 you'll have a paid off house that you can either live rent free in forever or sell for cash and do whatever you want.
2. Do most of your traveling while you are young and employed. Never wait to see Europe or Asia after you retire. You WILL be too old to do extensive travel and your body WILL fail you. Save cruises or moderate vacations for retirement. Haven't met anyone yet over 60 who doesn't have a medical concern (i.e reduced salt intake? can't get anything like that in Italy!)
3. Figure out what your guaranteed retirement income will be: social security, pensions, guaranteed interest) and then downsize to that income reduction.
4. Try not to pay for your kids college education. Let them take out low cost student loans and pay it off themselves. Ditto for their weddings, graduation parties, cars etc. etc. As you grow older you will be astounded as to how your kids will treat you. Sorry but they're married now, have spouses and children and their own rent payments to contend with. You are NOT on their radar.
5. Exercise, exercise, exercise. Get a dog and walk, walk, walk.
6. Personally, I prefer animals over people. A dog, cat or a horse will never let you down, talk about you behind your back or think less of you as you age.
7. Always continue throughout your lifetime with your hobbies. Don't let any parent tell you to put away your toys!
8. Retire at 62. The government has already figured out whether you take your SS at 62 or your MDA at 66. You're going to live till your 85 and will have collected the same amount of money. Think you can beat the government? Good luck with that.
9. If you have a toxic family or ungrateful children and rotten grandchildren, show them the door and get over it. The sun doesn't rise and set on family. Go choose better friends. or better yet, adopt another dog.
10. Invest your money in guaranteed FDIC investments. Never mind inflation. When the stock market crashes, as it always done, you'll be pleasantly sleeping each and every night. You don't want to retire a billionaire. You just want to retire with 'enough'.
Good luck.

Juhli said...

May favorite retirement commandment is to adopt my Dad's attitude of waking up each day glad to be alive and looking forward to seeing what would happen. That was true even when he was frail and in pain.

So I would say - think about and talk about the good things in your life and the world. Ask to hear about what is making others happy. Focus on the present while planning for the future.

DJan said...

I have followed every one of your commandments and am now ten years into the best time of my life. Not rich by any means, but able to do anything we wish, after having lowered our expectations of what retirement would look like. Good post, Tom. You have made me realize that we made all the right decisions. :-)

Tabor said...

If allowed get a pet. Keep up your hobbies or actually venture out into totally new areas of creative expression. Be kind. Find something where you can work with children or young people as a volunteer. Be kind to yourself and realize your regrets do not make you who you are.

Donna said...

I agree with your commandments. I would add when you wake up everyday be grateful for the gift of another day. Not everybody is lucky enough to be able to retire. I always say thank you for the gift of this day. May I use it well.

Jeanette said...

I would add a commandment -- adopt a positive attitude toward life. Stay optimistic and hopeful.

retirementreflections said...

And don't forget to be grateful that you are alive and retired. Not everyone has this luxury!

Olga said...

-Keeping learning new things.
-Stay active in mind, body and spirit
-Give back where you can
-Spend tome with people of all ages. It helps with perspective.
-Express gratitude

Rian said...

I think all the commandments are good... but agree that being grateful that you now own your own time is uppermost... and Olga's list is good too.

Tom said...

I agree, grateful, positive attitude, be creative. Thanks for the suggestions ... seems like there are more than ten commandments for a good retirement.

gigihawaii said...

I prefer to invest in CDs and money market accounts. Safer, less risky.

Meryl Baer said...

Great list. I would add make sure to...try something new on a regular basis. Keeps life interesting. Don't get stuck in a boring rut.

Kathy @ SMART Living 365.com said...

Hi Tom! Great post with lots of SMART advice (from you and everyone's comments.) I'm not there yet (retired!) but I agree with all of them....although you KNOW I prefer the idea of rightsizing rather than downsizing! Now the trick is to make sure to follow your advice!.... ~Kathy

Wisewebwoman said...

Great advice but older single women are the most disadvantaged financially and often end up homeless. Often taking years out to raise children, often abandoned by their husbands and forced to enter a job market ill equipped with skills and no means of acquiring them. I know too many like that.

Be that as it may, I would add: view the world as full of possibilities no matter how old you are. AND: always have something to look forward to.


Still the Lucky Few said...

#9 speaks loudest to me. Finding something creative to do has made an enormous difference in my retirement. I was retired for 12 years before I finally decided to realize a long-held desire to write, which I did, through my blog. It wasn't an easy solution—I avoided it for a long time, thinking I didn't have what it takes. Great post, Tom. I like the link to the Commandments!

Rebecca Olkowski said...

Well, I screwed up on 1 and 2 so I'm sort of winging it now. Working on staying healthy and having a good time. I guess I should start playing the lottery. LOL

Debbie-Dabble Blog and A Debbie-Dabble Christmas said...

I pretty much agree with your 10 commandments except for the retiring early. My husband retired at 62 years old age as a letter carrier which is a physically strenuous job. Because of his severe osteoporosis and susceptibility of sustaining a hip or vertebrae fracture should he fall on ice, we decided it was safer for him to take early retirement with Social security. We had been working with a financial planner and had planned for it. Because I am the major bread winner and make much more than my husband, I will actually be receiving more in my Social security pay check than he will. I also invested a rather large amount into my 401 K which is now re-invested into an IRA and Annuity. I too will be retiring at 62 years of age. I hope I can make it until then as I am in need of a knee replacement and have a bad back among other health issues. I am an RN in a hospital and nursing has taken a physical toll of me over the years. My husband is working at a part time job that he loves, receives a pension along with his social security and also receives money from his 401K investments. In 10 years, we plan on selling our home and moving into an apartment so that we will not have to worry about any maintainence. It is important to paln early for retirement.....
Thanks for posting!

Paul Francis said...

Retirement can be stressful but also sooo liberating. Be prepared to stretch yourself outside of your comfort zone. It will pay big dividends. I have finally just begun a blog on my retirement experiences and I would love to have you join me. Best!

Linda Myers said...

Find a passion and pursue it!

Janette said...

Be kind! is now my #1.
I cannot think of anything else that you have not covered.
I was in DC with the grands yesterday and now
it is time to go for a river ride on our tiny new crabbing boat.
Yes, retirement is wonderful!

Barbara said...

Yes Olga's list is good. Learning to accept yourself and feel gratitude will keep your days on an even keel.

Anonymous said...

I used to think #3 was a commandant but not anymore. I have watched too many friends, family, and co-workers die young (60s, 70s). I think you need to always prioritize your life and then make that financial decision on when to take Social Security. I have always taken care of myself and everyone thinks I am very healthy especially since I try to exercise at least 4 times a week. But in spite of it all, I had to fight cancer; had a knee operation; etc. Now we are moving into that phase of having to take care of parents. All things considered, I decided to start Social Security at 64 and start some overseas travel before our health prevents us…or family obligations prevent us….from doing so. Uncle Sam’s finances are a mess so I was also concerned that the fools in Congress will change the Social Security “rules”. As they continue to spend the USA into oblivion, I think they will have no choice but to make significant cuts in Social Security and Medicare and/or increase taxes. They probably have to do both. For those of us commenting on this blog, it probably won’t matter because we should be grandfathered in.….but you never know. Congress bears close watching.

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Unknown said...

Such a great share on top 10 commandments of retirement. I liked reading through this and believe that foremost thing is to be financially secured. To counter uncertain financial hurdles in future I need a good saving plan. Was just having a thought on hiring best certified financial planner for that.

Andrew Cliff said...

These 10 commandments will definitely gonna help youngsters for saving some money for their retirement investment. Thank you for sharing this informative post with us.

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