By the title of this article, you might jump to the conclusion that I am writing about entering retirement after my 25+-year career as an entrepreneur. Or, that I am a shy and introverted.
Okay, both and neither are true. I am 59 years old and I sold my business a couple of years ago. Many consider me to be retired. I do not have to report to a paying job, I am older now, and have had a successful career. If I am not working, doesn’t that mean I am retired?
Like many, I am stigmatized by the word retirement or retiring. It conjures up images that I am an official “senior” (quotation marks intentional). Images emerge that I will soon be playing bridge or golf to while away my afternoons (not that there is anything wrong with either of those things). Or, that my hobby of knitting solidifies visions of retired, old lady syndrome. Many say, “You and your husband can do more traveling, now.” We have already traveled many parts of the world – while we were employed, thank you very much.
What those of you who are not retired do not realize is that there is no such thing as complete retirement for those of us who have recently left active careers. Even my bridge and golf-playing friends are working. Whether working paid jobs, having time to go to the gym, or volunteering at non-profits, trust me – days are often busier than when we were reporting to work.
I have also been fortunate to take an active part in my company’s 401K-retirement program. In fact, I always put in the maximum amount allowed to ensure I would have a comfortable nest egg to fall back on. Unfortunately, that is not the case with too many women in business. There is low participation in these retirement plan programs, and many women suffer with financial issues post retirement.
“Women sometimes leave their finances to the back burner. I encourage women to educate themselves on this topic.”
-Vielka Burey-Jacas, certified financial planner, Women’s Financial Advisory Group
In a recent article from USA Today, seven financial tips are offered for women about to retire:
- Find a financial advisor – an adviser can help coordinate a lot that will have to happen administratively. They can also help educate you about investments and asset allocation.
- Do the numbers – What are your sources of income now and what will they be in retirement? What expenses do you have; which ones will stay and which will go away?
- Be involved in your family’s finances – women need to be involved in financial matters, especially since they are likely to outlive their husbands.
- Think about what retirement looks like – Do you see yourself staying at home? Maybe you want to volunteer or work part time. Maybe you want to pursue a hobby or travel. It’s more difficult for women to look into that crystal ball.
- Know your Social Security options – Financial planners say that it is important to do everything you can to maximize your benefits. That may mean waiting and not taking benefits at 62. The longer you wait, the higher the benefit.
- Figure out a way to stretch your retirement benefits – If you find that you are coming up a little short in your nest egg, consider working part time for a few years. It will improve cash flow, improve Social Security benefits, and perhaps improve your overall well-being as you transition into this new phase of your life.
- Account for health care costs – Women have higher health care costs then men. Health care costs for women run about $5,600 (annual). And men pay about $4,900.
Financial matters notwithstanding, there is a certain beauty about today’s retirement. We now fill our days with tasks that are more meaningful to us. We are finally doing those things that we had hoped one day to do. Some of us are fortunate to retire young – in our 50s and early 60s. Even for those of us who retire later, there seems to be more purpose and meaning to what we do in this next phase of our lives.
I am officially putting a new definition to the word retirement. Here’s the former one: the action of leaving one’s job and ceasing to work. Ceasing to work? I don’t know any of my retired friends who have ceased to work. I believe it is time for a new, official definition:
21st century definition of retirement: The action of leaving one’s job and finding fulfillment in the future work of their lives. The life they have always wished to live and now finally can.