As a retired working mom who empathizes with all other moms out there, retirement is not as easy as it sounds. Let me share some things people don’t know about entering retirement.
Retirement can be expensive.
The common assumption that health care expenses will be fully taken care of once a person turns 65, is, unfortunately incorrect. Unless you save for health care, you will have to cash out for Medicare premiums. And that does not yet include Medigap, prescription medicine coverage, dental and hearing accessories, and other relative items excluded from insurance. An average Jane or Joe will have to cash out $240,000 for health care costs in retirement alone. Paying this overwhelming amount can be prevented simply by saving for health care early on. This long-term payment for health care insurance will break down this hefty amount into smaller installments.
Retiring to states with no- or low-income taxes is not always a good idea.
However enticing a no-income-tax state may appear, retirees beware. There’s most probably an ulterior motive and a hidden catch behind it. These states usually find shrewd ways to make up for the tax difference. More often than not, they have soaring sales and property taxes. Before you pack your bags, make sure to evaluate the cost of living in that area. Otherwise, your hard-earned, decades-old retirement money may get depleted in two years’ time without your knowing it. But worry not, thanks to free cost-of-living calculators online, you can compare prices of gas and groceries. These things, after all, need to be bought and paid for, retiree or not.
Retirement does not mean financial freedom.
One common mistake of excited retirees is overspending. It’s only common to let loose and go on a spending spree after decades of tightening your financial belt. However, this irresponsible spending will gradually exhaust your retirement funds way before your time is up. Control your excitement and spend wisely. Even if you’re retired, you may still have to follow a budget. The safest withdrawal rate is three to four percent.
Retirement does not necessarily mean unlimited rest, vacations and freedom from stress.
“Life is like a box of chocolates; you’ll never know what you’re going to get.” But this unpredictability is what makes an otherwise monotonous and predestined life more colorful and exciting. You don’t actually know what will happen next, no matter how much planning and scheduling you do.
As a working mom, I have ample experience on these planning and scheduling gone wrong. There have been multiple times when I feel caught in the middle of home life and office life. Should I go to the meeting with a potentially huge client or to my daughter’s very first dance recital? Difficult decisions like these are what bombard working moms like me on a daily basis. And the sacrifices that come along with motherhood are endless. Even now that I have finally entered retirement and thought it would be so much easier, life’s unpredictability hit me again unexpectedly.
I thought retirement would be a walk in the park, but it’s really not. The emptiness and purposelessness creeps in every now and then. Keeping myself busy and occupied with all sorts of travel and leisure activities does help. But at the end of the day, I find myself missing my daily work routine and I somehow feel less productive. I guess that’s what all aging people experience and feel. Plus, I can no longer do the extreme stuff on my wish list ten years ago. Physical limitations made sure of that.
So here’s what you should ultimately know about retirement: The best thing about it is the unlimited time to spend with family. You can enjoy their company for the remainder of your days.