Major life transitions are difficult, and retirement is no exception.
For insight into some of the challenges and opportunities during retirement, I reached out to Mark Fischer, who will shortly celebrate his 79th birthday.
Fischer was a long-time financial planner in the Twin Cities. He retired from the profession he loved in December 2019. Before long, he launched a new career as a retirement coach.
I wanted to know what he had learned about retirement from clients. We settled on highlighting three issues.
His first observation involves our changing relationship with money.
Once you retire and you're no longer bringing in an income, a scarcity mindset often takes hold. Do you have enough for the retirement years? Establishing a budget before retiring and maintaining it afterward helps monitor your financial health.
However, the real advantage of a budget is it lets you know where your money is going. When Mark and his wife look at their budget, he said they find themselves asking, "Is this the best use of our money? Should there be some things we should cut back on, and others we should increase?"
Second, retiring is more than losing a paycheck.
Your time is no longer structured by work. You lose relationships with colleagues and others, while leaving behind the sense of accomplishment that comes from solving problems at work. You're no longer part of a larger group.
There are any number of things you can do in retirement, including part-time work, volunteering, and pursuing hobbies. It takes a concerted effort to reimagine and structure your time to be doing activities that are fulfilling and purposeful.
"There is freedom and flexibility that you get when you don't have to spend all your time on work. There's no question about it. That's a real plus," he says. "But without replacing the other parts of the work, it can become very challenging."
The third issue is avoiding the trap of the "organ recital."
As we get older, it's easy for conversations to revolve around a litany of ailments. Try not to dwell on health troubles.
"The retirement years are opportunities for personal growth and experience," he says. "Focus in conversations and in activities on positive things, on making a contribution to others, on living life, on being your best."
Good advice for any stage of life.
Chris Farrell is senior economics contributor to American Public Media's "Marketplace" and a commentator for Minnesota Public Radio.