January 9, 2013

Retirement Calculator

Do a simple Google search for the phrase, satisfying retirement, and you will find 6 million references. That seems like a lot. But, wait. Try "retirement calculator" and the results soar to 12.4 million links. That actually doesn't surprise me since the financial aspects of retirement are top of mind to most.

Such a calculator allows the user to put in the amount of various investments, savings, pensions, Social Security, and the like and predict how much will be available upon retirement age. Or, it is possible to input your age and lifestyle information and determine how much money you will have to save to be able to retire.

But, I'd like to take the retirement calculator phrase and give it a different meaning. I'd like to input the things that tend to make up a satisfying retirement and predict what my life will be like. Instead of 401(k) or IRA numbers, investment and savings amounts, inheritances, and home equity I'd like to be able to input:


...My passion index would be a measure of my ability to truly enjoy the time and opportunity retirement gives me. Would I wake up each morning ready to fill my day (and night) with activities and events that light my fire?

...My relationship status. How healthy are my primary relationships? How about friends...do I have any? Like too many men, did I leave all my male relationships back at work? Do I have a mentor, someone I can learn from?

...My health and physical status. In addition to a BMI number, height weight, and overall heart health, am I following a path that will give me as many healthy years as my body is programmed to give me? Will my desire to eat well and relax cost me years of active, productive life?

...My attitudes and demeanor. Will I become like the stereotypical crabby old man...the one who gripes at everything and everyone, the one who believes the world has gone to hell in a hand basket? Will I approach change as a possible good thing?

...My spirituality and belief in a higher power. How can I calculate my place in the universe if I don't believe in something greater than me? What affect will my faith have in my future happiness? How will I handle adversity..as a personal affront or simply a way for me to test my faith and belief system?

...My risk-taking profile. Do I think change is good, or will I fight it? Will I be content to say "I wish I had..." or will I say "I'm glad I...." Will I shy away from challenge because I might fail, or will I embrace it as a true measure of my aliveness?


No such retirement calculator is for sale. Converting emotions, knowledge, attitudes, spirituality, and relationship health cannot be quantified. I'm afraid we all have to do these calculations the hard way...by hand, one-at a time, for the rest of our lives.




If only this were real


22 comments:

  1. Bob,

    I wish we could create the calculator that you describe because you have clearly defined what is important for a satisfying retirement.

    I'm one of those guys that got most of my socialization from work. I'm trying to replace that now with other relationships, but it is difficult. Maybe you could write a post about your experiences?

    To the "...My attitudes and demeanor" section, I would add "Am I willing to be open to new things, places, and people."

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    1. The issue of people, men especially, replacing important relationships after work is a tough one. Guys are hard-wired to keep personal stuff personal, yet that is the very side of us that needs close friends.

      I have found men friends through a hobby group, church, and my volunteer work. A few are what I would consider very close. The rest are fun to be around and we enjoy each others company but I'd not be comfortable taking a really important problem to them.

      It is a good post topic.

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  2. I have found volunteering to be a great way to meet new people and also to be of service in my community. rjack, that might be a great place to start! Also, community classes in your town.. I took one related to how to get the most out of my digital camera and met some interesting folks who knew a LOT about photography and loved to share it. Just some thoughts..

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  3. I like this! As I've been pondering how to stay useful as I age I find it's so important to keep learning. Frustrating, as it may be, when we stop learning and trying to stay on top of technology we fall behind...that's when the crabbiness starts!
    Great post!
    b

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    1. Several readers suggested I get a copy of "The Wisdom Paradox" which is all about keeping your mind fresh while it ages. I just picked it up at the library yesterday and am anxious to see if it has helpful hints to avoid the old man grouchies!

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    2. Let us know...I was very interested in this book.

      b+

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  4. Excellent perspective. Would that there were such a calculator for sale ... I could use it!

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    1. If I could invent one, I could really retire!

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  5. At home, I had to find a way to be useful. Here in Tucson, wintering for the first time, I'm having to find a way to try new things. It feels like risk-taking behavior to me. But if all I do is walk in the sun for my time here, I expect I'll be bored. I'm grateful to recognize the facets of my life that need tempering in this new environment. I've never stayed longer than 3 weeks in a place I'm visiting, so this settling-in thing is new.

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  6. You and Art have managed to come during one of the coldest streaks I can remember in 28 years of living in Arizona. The good news is within a 7-10 days we'll be back to normal...68-72 degrees every day and plenty of sunshine.

    Suggestion: explore the Tucson area. The Desert Sonoran Museum, Saguaro National Monument, Old Tucson Studios, The Dove of the Desert Mission, the artist town of Tubac and mission at Tumacacori will keep you very busy. All of this is so different from the Pacific Northwest you should soak it all in.

    The history of Tucson and southern Arizona is fascinating to spend some time studying.

    Betty and I will make plans to come to Tucson in February to meet you guys for lunch and maybe get together with blogger buddy Barbara Torris and her husband who also winter at an RV resort in Tucson.

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  7. I think you should add coming out west to the Happy Traveler RV Park in Palm Springs next January to your list of things that make up a satisfying retirement! It is so much fun out here right now what with the weather, the friendly snowbirds, and the Film Festival going on nearby from Jan 3 - 14. There are tons of things to do within walking distance, and we are leaving more things undone this trip than we've had time to do. We're booking for 10 days next year . . . 7 wasn't even close to being enough!

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    1. I just looked at the web site for the Park...reasonable rates for peak season and nicely laid out...Yes, it sounds like a plan for next January.

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  8. Ha--loved Tom's comment and your response. By your calculations, I think I have a very satisfying retirement.

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    1. From where I sit I'd say you have calculated correctly.

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  9. Amazing...don't you love the wonderful attitude that come from taking money out of every thought. Thank you for the new "retirement calculator".

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    1. You are so welcome. Like Galen, you and Earl have punched in the correct figures to produce a retirement others can aspire to.

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  10. Your notion of the 'new' retirement calculator is not available but your described input parameters are really all you need to invent one yourself.
    Thanks for mentioning the book. Books keep me going; my Kindle is one of my prized retirement tools.

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    1. Thanks, Bill. If we'd just pretend that calculator existed and "input" the important stuff we'd all be having a satisfying retirement!

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  11. Bob, you nailed it! This is the BEST retirement calculator I have seen, as is your blog. I left my career two years ago, needed to work 2 more years for low money (and way less stress) and did that part time, and in Sept. was able to leave that behind. I am a type A, and a ball of fire but also have tons of interests so have plenty to do. Now I am not sure if I want to fully retire or not, so I am feeling my way forward. It seems that leaving the workforce is sometimes like entering it was. It is a bit unplanned and full of surprises. Good ones. I encountered a woman in a business where I was a customer today and she was soooo miserable but gotta give it to her she was polite. I just thought, wow, I don't need to do that anymore, been there done that! Thanks for a great blog, truly the best one I have encountered on this subject.

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    1. Very nice, Ellen. Thank you for the compliments.

      If you don't think you are ready to retire fully then you probably aren't. Sliding into the next phase of your life is smart. If part time work fills a need for you than go for it.

      The other thing to remember about retirement is most things are reversible. A decision made today may not be best for you in 6 months, or 6 years. Change things as your needs and interests change. Heavens, I've been doing that for almost 12 years!

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  12. Am I the only one who finds the thought of waking up each morning filled with passion that spills over into the night to be rather stressful? I've always been the "social director" for the two of us. That will be a challenge.



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    1. Remember the definition of many terms is unique to each of us. Your "passion" now may be to wake up slowly, ease into the day, putter around the house, have a cup of tea while reading a good book, walk around the neighborhood, take a long nap and let someone else make plans!

      You are allowed.

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