Regardless of the age you wish to retire, it is worth giving it some thought.
By Wen Lim
Ah, retirement. The day we no longer need to wake up to the 9-to-6 routine five days a week; the day we sit back and relax and do the things that we really like to do.
This is a perception that many hold until they reach retirement age, when it slowly dawns that the reality is rather different.
With at least 12 hours of free time a day, many retirees struggle with filling the gap with meaningful activities and relationships they likely missed when they are climbing the corporate ladder or trying to make ends meet.
Most would have accumulated a tidy sum for retirement, but do not know how to draw from it to sustain themselves for an indefinite number of years.
Some eventually realise that they do not look forward to a leisurely life and choose to continue working at a slower pace.
While adequate savings for retirement is the prerequisite for a sustainable retirement, it is often the non-financial aspects of retirement that will determine the quality of life after retirement.
In the late American pastor Harry Emerson Fosdick’s words, “Don’t simply retire from something; have something to retire to”.
So, regardless of the age you wish to retire, it is worth giving the following some thought.
The presence of adequate savings to draw from after retirement gives us peace of mind, but these savings can be easily depleted due to inflation, longer lifespans, and unexpected events. Therefore it is important to have a backup plan for life’s challenges including death, accidents, illness and medical bills.
One of the most common forms of protection is insurance. According to Allianz Malaysia chief executive officer Jens Reisch, a general rule of thumb is to have life insurance coverage of approximately six to 10 times your annual earnings.
However, protection also comes in the form of your emergency contact list, having trusted friends and family who check in on you regularly, and friendly neighbours you can count on when you need them.
Do you want to continue staying in your three-storey bungalow or move to a more manageable apartment unit? Will you be staying alone, with your spouse, or sharing a space with other family members?
These are issues that require mental, emotional and financial adjustments, which could be made with support from peers and communication with the people involved in the transition.
In Malaysia, there will soon be options for those who are interested to live in retirement villages – townships designed to cater for retirees and their needs.
“People should actually invest in health management,” says Health Deputy Director-General Datuk Dr Jeyaindran Tan Sri Sinnadurai when met at a recent conference launch.
While we are used to putting money aside for material possessions such as houses, cars, and that new curved TV, we should invest time and effort in our health before and after retirement.
This could be done by setting aside time every day to exercise and making effort to control our body weight, says Dr Jeyaindran.
#4: Friends and family
As an ancient Chinese saying goes, a faraway relative could not compare to a nearby neighbour.
This saying reminds us that although it is good to be able to count on family for support, we should also cultivate friendships within our community and maintain good relationships with our contacts before retirement.
While community work is not everyone’s cup of tea, it’s worth thinking about some of the activities you would enjoy and the likely people you could enjoy it with.
There is a budget for every lifestyle. It is more important to think about the type of lifestyle you want instead of the millions of dollars you were told you need after retirement.
If you have not saved enough, it is time to consider downsizing your life to match the amount that you have saved. If you have saved more than enough, it is also important to ensure that it can last as long as you need it to.
#6 Meaning and Fulfillment
In an article by Australian financial services firm Wealth Leadership Services Pty Limited on TheBull.com.au, retirement coach Peter Black suggests that retirees should consider how they are going to replace the following aspects work provides them: financial rewards, time management, purpose, status, and socialisation.
Without solid replacements, retirees often return to work a few months after retirement due to “boredom” or a loss of identity or purpose.
To transition smoothly, you can consider opting for semi-retirement instead of retiring fully within a short period of time to avoid the sudden lifestyle shock. Those who do not have this option can adjust emotionally by reviewing career expectations and goals.
#7: Stuff, aka belongings
Throughout our working lives, we accumulate documents, books, clothes, accessories and stuff we may not need during our retirement.
Donating or giving away some of these things may be good for your available floor space and your soul too.
At retirement age, not many are willing to think or talk about the last leg of life. However, death planning is as important as life planning as both are only different sides of the same coin.
Some of the basic preparations for end of life planning include a written will as well as discussions with close ones about personal preferences on end of life care, funeral services and issues like organ donation and the treatment of personal belongings.
This would not only help your loved ones in carrying out your wishes in illness and death; you will also be assured that your final days will be remembered in a meaningful and dignified way.