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Henry Jennings | Marcus Today
I have been overseas in September. Missed all that negativity, but I had my own brush with ‘Debbie Downer’ as I encountered a new phenomenon. Well new to me anyway. The question that I had not had before from family and friends. A killer blow. Are you still working? It came as a bolt out of the blue. Do I really look so old that the question arises. Many of my friends have stopped working and are retired, including my brother. A director at Merrill Lynch with a good retirement package will do that. The question arose a lot. I thought the bags under my eyes had gone. At least Ryanair missed these at check-in. They don’t miss much.
Now we all think of ourselves as a youthful whatever. 25 forever. They even make moves about it, but the reality is that 60, is the new 50. Or is it? My father would have been retiring at 65 to die at 70. He had no SMSF to manage his retirement. This is a new thing. He would have had the state pension and whatever else he had in private arrangements. His life after retirement would have been relatively brief. The prospect now, is that we will spend a third of our lives retired. That is a crazy thought and a demographic nightmare for governments. Logan’s Run (1976) springs to mind.
We spend so much time planning for the financial side of retirement but failing to plan for the emotional side of things. Some years ago, I 'retired', post-MacBank, I had a long sabbatical. You could call it ‘retirement’. I called it a break. Family time. I was way too young to retire. Way too young, but it gave me a taste of the issues. I went from an important divisional director at one of the country’s most successful investment banks to a nobody overnight.
I always thought the lunch and drinks invitations were based solely on my sparkling wit and charm. Seemed not so. Seemed all the invitations that come with being so important dried up. Yesterday’s Man. It came as a shock and caused me to reassess things. It was hard to adjust to being a ‘nobody’. We base so much of our identity on what we do and take that away, together with work and social networks, and it can be a tough time. It was.
Now I am significantly older, and the prospect of retirement beckons. The question is asked. "Are you still working?"
Well, yes, I am. And you know what, I like working. I like routine, and I like where I am. Watching recently retired Europeans shuffling aimlessly from one café to another or driving a van from one site to another and sitting outside under the awning is fine for some. But I am not ready for it just yet. No Victor Meldrew moment for me. Grey-haired Germans on big bikes zooming around mountain roads on a beautiful hamster wheel holds no appeal. Watching friends wake with no plan, no purpose and no routine every morning. It has given me an insight into my own plan.
I have canvassed this with a few close friends. One pointed me to a great TED talk on retirement planning from Dr Riley Moyles. 2.2m views. Here is the link.
Retirement is not only about the money, but the emotions. Far harder to plan for sometimes. The executive summary, from the good doctor, is that there are four stages of retirement.
There is a fifth involving dribbling and forgetting who you are, but let's not dwell on that yet.
Having watched a whole Spanish town look like it had become the backdrop for a German version of Cocoon II, I decided that I needed a plan. You do too.
It is just as important to plan mentally and emotionally for retirement as it is to plan financially. It is a third of your life, after all. That deserves planning. In the TEDTalk, the Dr says that every day 10,000 Americans retire.
Here are some further fun facts for US retirees, most of whom seem to go to Italy straight away.
I would imagine a similar thing happens here, but that overseas trip is now much more expensive given the AUD fall. I've checked, and the number is 700 a day retire, according to Challenger.
Some more Australian stats.
The upshot is that a plan is imperative. We can help with the financial, but the emotional bit may prove more difficult for some. Many people I talk to say they are looking forward to retirement. I ask what they are going to do? Retire, they say. But what are you going to do with the last third of your life? Retire. Do what I want to do. What is that? Sometimes silence ensues. Too many times. Golf? Getting my handicap down.
So yes, I am still working. Many in retirement devote their time to managing their money and the stock market. Some get addicted to it, and it becomes a job and replaces a previous work life. Nothing wrong with that at all. It’s a good thing, and if I stopped working, I would do the same. After being in financial markets here and in London, since I was 17, it would be a hard habit to break. And if I am thinking about markets constantly, then it's not a big leap to be writing about it and sharing my thoughts with others. Maybe in retirement, I could start my own TikTok channel or become a ‘Finfluencer’. Seems not a million miles from my current role, so I might as well continue to do that until I lose the passion.
My retirement plans are a work in progress. Have you got an emotional plan in place? A financial plan is a must but don’t forget your mental health.
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