Retirement"s Most Urgent Needs


Have you noticed how many web sites or blogs use some sort of sensational headline to grab your attention? Sort of like the one above? With somewhere around 450 million blogs (many not active or only sporadically used) sometimes word play is required to break through the clutter.

I will offer a calmer, somewhat counter-intuitive answer to the question posed by the headline: What are retirement's urgent needs? My answer is: none. That's right, there are no retirement urgent needs. 

That is the whole point of building a satisfying retirement. When you get to the point where retirement is a viable option there should be no urgent needs. Now, that obviously doesn't mean you won't encounter problems, needed adjustments to your goals or lifestyle. But, to claim there are five or seven or whatever number of things you must do or your retirement will crash and burn, is simply untrue.

Let me explain my rational. In order to consider retirement I am going to assume the following:

  • You have looked closely at your investments and sources of income, savings, and a projected budget. You have reduced any debts to the lowest amount you can. You have at least 6 months of emergency cash available if you should need it. You believe you can make it all work. 

  • You have done the best you can to plan for health care costs. That includes health insurance, long-term care plans, and some of the emergency fund money from above for a major medical expense. You are holding up your end of the equation with plenty of exercise and a healthy diet.

  • You have worked on the effect of your retirement on your key relationships. If married, you and your spouse have talked about the effect of you being home 24/7. If single, you have talked with your friends or other family members to advise them of your plans and enlist their (non- financial) help if needed.

  • You know what you are retiring to. That means you have some interest or passions (or several) that will keep you active and engaged. While it is almost guaranteed that those interests and passions will change over time, you are not entering retirement with no idea how you will fill your day with productive and interesting activities.

If you can check off these four areas, then your retirement has no urgent needs. As I have written many times before, retirement is simply the transition to the next stage of your life. Retirement isn't the end of anything. It is not a destination. It is just a step forward into something different, just a fascinating part of your journey.

If you have urgent needs, then you aren't ready for a satisfying retirement. If you have any choice in the matter, then don't retire when these needs are still in play.

Life is a collection of needs, wants, problems, solutions, adventures, disappointments, and successes. That doesn't stop when you retire, but there is no reason to add urgency to the list.