Retiring Well: Looking Beyond Finances

Retirement brings freedom and options. With that comes many choices that retirees must make. Obviously having our finances in order is a key to retiring well but that alone is no guarantee. There are two questions I always ask myself as a guide for keeping me on my retirement well-being track. Two questions that I believe can help anyone avoid doing something that will mess with successfully retiring well.

Having enough money available to live the retirement lifestyle you want and can enjoy is primary to retiring well. There are many online retiring well financially geared articles and plenty here on this Leisure Freak site.

Of course there should always first be financial analysis. Deciding whether we can afford to do something or how our spending, portfolio strategy, budget, saving, etc. will impact our long-term retirement funding. After that is settled comes the two questions to make sure we truly retire well.

Retiring well means retiring without regret or unnecessary backtracking to repair a bad decision.

Believe me, retirement and its freedom brings a lot of options and decisions to make. Retiring well means living life on your terms and doing so purposely. Retiring well means retiring to something, not just from something. Nobody plans on retiring into a void. That isn’t retiring well. Neither is retiring and taking on bad projects, strangling obligations, putting up with difficult people, being unnecessarily idle, or accepting a unfulfilling retirement job.

Retiring WellRetirement is much more than our finances that support it. There is the living part of retirement that must be addressed so that we can retire well.

Retiring well must include our avoiding making any bad move that strays from what it is we really want in our retired life. We get to call our own shots and everyone makes mistakes. But I use these two questions to make sure I am truly on track to a no retirement regret decision.

Two Questions To Ask Yourself To Help Ensure Retiring Well

Question #1- If money was removed from my decision, would I still do this?

By answering this question we force ourselves to focus on the importance of the decision. Its importance as it relates to what we truly value in our retirement.

I definitely used this question in my decision to retire early the first time.

It was the end of 2009 during the recession. My portfolio was significantly down but the retirement calculator numbers still came up with favorable but tight results. When asking myself this question the answer was YES. A financial only mindset would have probably caused more retirement delay even though I was truly ready to move on to my freedom. Answering this question gave me the push to clear all the economic uncertainty. There will always be less than perfect financial conditions.

I have also used this question when presented with a paid opportunity.

I focus on skills and experiences of interest and passion when it comes to working in retirement. Sometimes the salary can have me momentarily stray from my planned path. In those cases the answer to this question is NO. But for one stepped down lower paying gig the answer came up as YES. It checked off all of my interest and passion boxes and I enjoyed every minute of it.

This question was also prominent in our retirement decision to not move to a less expensive and snow-less location. Although our financial analysis showed we could improve our finances by making the move. It also showed we could stay put without negative financial issues. But by answering this question we were able to focus on what we really valued. That is, being close to our children and grandchildren. So the answer was NO.

There have been times when our financial analysis showed that we best decide against something.

But by asking this question we gauge the importance to what we value in our retirement. In some cases we really did want to move forward and answered YES. We then made necessary budgetary and income adjustments to counter the financial negatives.

Question #2- If I knew I only had 10 years left to live, would I still do this?

This question is the ultimate ego tamer when it comes to work, activities, and relationships. It forces us to remember an undeniable truth that we are finite and puts our mortality into the equation. It has us prioritize what is most important to us.

When it comes to work opportunities it counters heavy financial justifications and our ego.

In the case of relationships it has the power to force us to focus on where we are and where we really want to be.

How we want to really handle a bad relationship, what to do about grudges we may have, or close the distance between friends and loved ones that we want in our lives.

It has us look differently at social activities that we may not feel like participating in.

It does so by adding, do I really want to miss this opportunity to be with those I care about? Answering this question can change our focus because there is no guaranty of tomorrow.

This question comes up for me with work opportunities.

They checked off all of my interests and passion boxes after passing the first question that removes money from the decision. But I have answered NO for this question because the commitment was too long. Other times the project looked and sounded perfect but I had no respect for the company or its leadership and policies. One in particular opportunity had very tight deadlines covering many months. It would have made taking time-off for family trips or vacations too difficult to fit in.

Sometimes I need this question to silence my ego when it pushes me to investigate or do things that are not aligned with my retirement values.

It allows me to stop wasting my time on things I do not value. There can be many reasons why I wouldn’t want to waste any of my finite time. I then answer NO to this question.

This question has me prioritize relationships that I truly value so I can strengthen them.

I also use the question in how I view and limit relationships with people I really don’t care for but still have because of business or other connections.

In Closing

Retiring well does need having our finances in order. But there is the living part of retirement that counts just as much. The freedom that retirement provides also brings many options and decisions to make. But decisions dictated by a singular financial mindset may cause a retirement of regrets.

I use the above two questions to enhance my retiring well decision process. I am sure there are many others that can be used to keep us on the path to enrich our retirement with what we truly value. For instance questions about our health which is also important to retiring well.

Hopefully these two questions has you thinking about questions that go beyond finances that you can use as guidance toward your retiring well.


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8 thoughts on “Retiring Well: Looking Beyond Finances

  1. Great points you mention and a reminder that retiring well is more than just finances. Now in my later 40’s, I’ve become much more selective of work, friends, family etc. I’ve limited or cut out many poor situations and relationships that are a source of unnecessary stress or conflict. As you get older, you realize time becomes more important than money. Spending long days/ weeks at work plus commute time isnt as worth it as it used to be when you dont need the money. Especially when its for a job or company that isnt treating you right or you dont care about all that much. Its your life. You need to start living it your way, and not having everyone else running you around and telling you what to do all the time.

    1. Thanks for the comment Arrgo. Not only putting our foot down to others attempting to run us around causing us to stray from our life’s values. But also to fight our decades of societal, corporate, political, you name it, conditioning toward obligation, productivity, competition,etc., within our own minds. It takes a certain mindfulness to stay the course toward our core values and OUR defined well earned lifestyle on our terms.
      I really appreciate your comment…
      Tommy

  2. At least you got work opportunities. Employers I talk with act as though anyone that hasn’t worked recently had their brains fall out to become a blithering idiot. Or caught some sort of unemployment cooties that made them go: eww! Not to mention the ever present age discrimination (especially in tech).

    1. Thanks for the comment Steve. I do see that the longer I am out of tech the less I get in recruiter contacts. It will be 2 years this coming weekend. When they come in I generally refer them to someone else I know who is still in the game and always looking for their next gig. I suppose now 2 years out that if I was serious about reentering tech I may find age and gap employment bias now. That said, I haven’t been updating or keeping my tech skills active. I am just done with that line of work. So many other things in this world and life to pursue. I imagine if H-1B visas get harder to fill there may be an uptick in tech opportunities if one wishes to pursue them. My encore career as a Systems Analyst at a large Cable Company was 75% H-1B staffed.
      Tommy

  3. Hi Tommy. Thankyou so much for sharing your insights! I will be taking early retirement 12 months from now, so am doing as much research as I can. I know I will be okay financially (not wealthy, but able to meet my modest needs) but I’m aware there will be some emotional adjustment to make. Your site is really valuable. I wish you all the best!
    Valerie

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