Sep 9, 2010

Retirement: Can you afford to hang up your headset? Do you want to?

Not everyone who can afford to retire, wants to. Retirement is not just a financial decision, after all. It's a deeply personal one, too.

Take Penn State football coach Joe Paterno. (It is football season, after all!) At 83, Paterno is entering his 45th year of coaching, and won't consider taking off for the sidelines. He says he has no hobbies outside of football and family, so what would he do if he retired? Besides, he says, he's keenly aware that his once-rival, Alabama coach Bear Bryant, died just four weeks after retiring. Coincidence? Paterno isn't sure, but why take chances?

Then there's Bobby Bowden. After transforming Florida State University into a football powerhouse, he was effectively forced into retirement in 2009, at age 80. A year after hanging up his headset, Bowden reports he's doing more or less OK.  Years of awakening in the wee hours have made him unable to sleep late; if he stays in bed until 4:30 a.m., he considers it "sleeping in." He still lives in Florida and spends time improving his golf game. He's learned to use a computer. And since he's not a wealthy man, he manages his real estate investments carefully.

Of course, some are retirement cheerleaders. They chafe at the bit to retire and once they do, enjoy every minute of it. One client of mine contentedly plays golf seven days a week. For him, these really are the Golden Years. Even those who have initial anxiety about retiring can happily adapt. My late uncle, for example, worked  a 60- hour-plus week most of his life. When he was forced to retire, he -- and the rest of the family, -- were concerned about how he'd fare without his job.  But, after just a few weeks of being able to ignore the alarm clock and discovering the joy of leisure for the first time in his life, he decided that retirement was, after all, a darned good idea.

How about you? What are your plans for retirement? Do you expect you can afford to retire? Do you want to?  Share your views with our blog readers. 

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