What Will I Do with All That Free Time in Retirement?

Hi Billy and Akaisha,

Thanks for your article on ‘Are You Afraid of Retirement?‘ and would love to see more articles dealing with the psychological aspects of retirement.

It is a timely article as well as it’s something I am dealing with right now. As you mention, fear can come up and rear its ugly head and as I get older, fear of the unknown is uncomfortable.

I feel as though I have been ‘institutionalized’ by working for almost 40 years and the freedom that appears to be there for me creates fear as well- what will I be doing with all that free time? Traveling around the world isn’t my cup of tea as after about 3 weeks I am ready to go home no matter how exotic the location.

I guess there are different types of retirees and I just gotta figure out what type I am…

Best Regards,
Robert

Do not let Fear make your decisions for you. Risk has a price and so does security.

Hi Robert,

Nice to hear from you again and happy to learn that you enjoyed our “Afraid of Retirement” piece.

Sometimes the anxiety we feel can actually be excitement but we don’t recognize it as such. Then again, it is probably a very good idea that you make a list of the things that you are interested in, things you might want to learn or even teach, and places you might want to go. Empty days have a way of filling up anyway, and if you can direct some of that energy into what you want to do, you will have more joy about it.

You could always join a club (gardening, chess, photography, hiking, tennis, etc.) or become a mentor (little brothers and little sisters, volunteer,) or take a class at your community college or city park or even at UDEMY or an online university (painting, accounting, computer class, woodworking, learn about world history, art) — there really is so much to do to fill up one’s days.

Take a look at our Preferred Links Pages for some ideas.

But the best thing is to know who you are and what you want. What do you want to do? Start there.

Thanks again for writing, and good luck. Once you get started I think it will be easier for you and you will have some excitement about your retirement future.

Best,
Akaisha

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The DIY Will: Do You Really Need an Attorney?

DIYWill1If you have assets — particularly if you have a spouse and children — you need to have a will. Your will saves your heirs from the hassles of state intestacy laws, and it ensures that everything you leave behind goes to the right people.

Many websites offer do-it-yourself wills, which let you fill in certain information and then generate complete and legally binding wills. You make your will, print the form, get witness signatures, and let people know where to find it. So do you really need an attorney to create a will? The question depends on the complexity of your financial situation. Let’s examine whether you can get by with a DIY will or whether you should consult an estate lawyer.

Who’s Getting Your Stuff?

If you want your assets to go to your spouse or another relative or friend, then a DIY will provides all that you’ll need. However, if you want some assets to go to your minor children and bypass your spouse, or if you’re divorced and don’t want to leave your estate to the mother or father of your children, you might need an attorney to set up a trust. Also, if you’re leaving your assets to a child with special needs, a trust is essential.

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With a trust, you can hold your money or assets until your child reaches a certain age. You can make access to the trust contingent on attending college, or you can hold the funds until your child earns a certain level of income on their own. Setting up a trust isn’t cheap, and the more complicated it is — if you add requirements for college attendance, for example — the more it will cost you. However, if you want to bypass a spouse or ex-spouse, setting up a trust is a good idea.

DIYWill2How Much Do You Have?

Estates over a certain size are subject to estate taxes. For federal taxes, your estate would have to be valued at over $5.43 million before you’d pay an estate tax to the IRS. States have their own individual tax floors, and they often apply to estates worth less than $1 million. In New Jersey, for example, the state takes estate taxes if your estate is worth just $675,000. With a trust, you can bypass some estate taxes. If you have a high-net-worth estate, consider talking to an attorney.

What About Your Kids?

For people with young children, it’s crucial to decide who will have guardianship of the children if something happens to you. Most DIY will kits let you specify what would happen to your kids if you pass away, and they allow you to name a property guardian for your children’s inheritance. If you leave assets to your children without naming a property guardian for those assets, the probate court will choose a property guardian for you.

Also, if you have life insurance, and you want to name a property guardian to manage the funds for you, then you can express your wishes in a DIY will. However, if you want to set up a trust for the money, you should probably talk to an attorney.

Additional Paperwork

When people create wills, they often create other important documents, including power of attorney documents and advance directives, or living wills:

DIYWill3Power of attorney. A financial power of attorney takes charge of your finances if you’re incapacitated and can’t make decisions for yourself. A health care power of attorney makes health care decisions when you can’t make them on your own.

Living will. Your living will explains whether or not you’d like doctors to take measures to prolong your life. Many hospitals have generic forms that you can use, or you can use the forms that come with your DIY will.

Funeral instructions. Along with your will and living will, provide a letter letting your family know exactly what funeral arrangements you’d prefer. Let them know if you’ve prepaid your funeral and where, and spell out what you want for your memorial service.

Create Your Own Will

Unless your finances and relationships are complex, most DIY wills will work fine for your situation. Have the wills signed by witnesses and notarized, if your state requires it, and make sure someone knows where your will is kept.

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Would You Retire in Today’s Financial Market?

Hi, I’ve emailed you a couple of times in the past on other issues, but just read your latest article on “fear” of retirement.

This question is for both of you, but I know Billy handles a lot of the investment ideas etc. Our fear being under 50 years old, but with enough invested to handle the traditional idea of 4% withdrawals, is that the investment climate is so different than when you guys retired in the early 90’s.

We have markets at new highs and bonds at all time low yields and CD’s and money market instruments basically pay nothing. I’m wondering if you could imagine yourselves making that decision now based on today’s investment horizon, would you have saved more to account for what might be a much smaller SWR like 2-3% instead of 4%, or anything else different you might have done?

Thanks so much.

Darin

Do not let Fear make your decisions for you. Risk has a price and so does security.

Hi Darin,

Thanks for taking the time to write. We appreciate it.

The fact is that in January of 1991 we had no idea of what the market was going to return in the future. All we could do was base our best guess on past returns. And honestly I cannot tell you what it’s going to do from here. However we have faith in ourselves and a strong will to succeed.

The S&P 500 has had a compound annual growth rate of better than 10% over the last 70 years. So pulling out 4% leaves you 6% for inflation and growth. Sure, if you can get your withdrawal rate lower than 4% all the better. There have been years when we went above it, however on average we have stayed below.

Flexibility is key, tracking your expenses and knowing what percentage of your net worth you are spending at any point in time is valuable.

If you are concerned for the next few years you could also have a larger than normal cash position.

At some point you have to have faith in yourselves and know that you can manage accordingly.

Would we do it again? Heck yes!

Regards,
Billy

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Compliments on Your Website

Billy and Akaisha,

Just wanted to drop you a line and share how much I enjoy reading Retire Early Lifestyle articles. I cannot recall precisely how or when I first found your page, but I know it was somewhere around 2008, so I’ve been following your adventures for about 6-7 years.

I always find your observations about the world to be very detailed, to-the-point, and also warm and caring. Your site offers a depth of understanding to the world that I don’t have the luxury to enjoy…yet. But I’m on the path, and it’s enjoyable to see someone who is already there and encouraging others.

I just turned 39-years-old this past year, and after realizing that you two retired a year younger than that has pushed me to focus more intently on my goals so that my family can enjoy more of my time once I’m past the point of needing the 9-5 (or in my case 7-4). I have three kids, one of which is age 4 presently, so I probably won’t be traveling the world full time just yet. But my wife and I have plans to exit the “daily grind” within the decade. I have you to thank for the motivation to pursue this audacious–and very exciting–goal.

Thanks again for all you do!

Sid

Want to retire? Not sure you can? Your Retirement Dream IS Possible! For more information, click here

Hi Sid!

Wow… thank you for such a heartwarming and detailed email letting us know how you enjoy our website and articles. This is fabulous!

What is even better is that you are at such a young age to have full awareness of how important it is to save for the lifestyle of your choosing. If you keep focused and keep your dreams alive, you will surely accomplish this goal. We are happy that you and your wife are on the same page. Some couples are not and it makes it harder to move forward into this lifestyle of financial freedom. So we would like to congratulate you both on that achievement!

Just in case you might be interested, we know of several families who travel with their children — one family has 5 children and she just gave birth to her sixth child while traveling on the road, and another has a child of about 3. So if that is a lifestyle you might choose, realize that others are doing it successfully and joyfully.

Please feel free to write any time.

Wishing you all the best on your road to financial freedom, and thanks again for taking the time to write.

Akaisha

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I Want to Leave the Rat Race

Hi,

My name is Peter and I purchased a copy of your “Adventurer’s Guide to Early Retirement” about 3 years back. While I haven’t corresponded before I did enjoy your book and have been a consistent reader of your website and I must say I admire your “get up ‘n go”.

From reading your website and other sites on the subject of early retirement and world travel there seems to be a consistent theme of some life changing event, often a negative one such as marriage breakup, family tragedy etc. While understandable that people see these events as catalysts for change my question is are there any people who just do this, travel the world with a back pack or some such, just because they are footloose or simply want to view things/be out of the rat race.

The reason I am asking is that I frequently feel a need to break free from the rat race. I am an Australian, semi-retired making my living from option trading, happily married, 2 grown up children, 2 delightful grandchildren, nice house, nice area, 2 cars, dog, money in the bank etc., etc. Oh and I am 61. What I struggle with (apart from talking my wife into cutting loose also) is why I have this urge. Have no financial need to live in a lower cost country, have a good life where I am so why a desire to cut loose. Have traveled extensively over the years (ex-Australian military and lived in both Malaysia and England while in the military) and regularly wander up to Malaysia for a couple of weeks at a time each year.

Are there others out there you are aware of similar to me, would love to correspond with someone of a similar ilk.

Regards
Peter

Life is an adventure. Follow your dreams.

Hi Peter,

Thanks for taking the time to write, we appreciate it. And thank you for your interest in our books and website!

In terms of meeting others who like to travel, it’s best to meet them while on the road. It’s not as easy to meet them in one’s regular routine — as these people are out traveling!

We see the urge to travel the world as a “normal” thing — but it is true — not everyone is a traveler and some can’t imagine leaving their lifestyles, gardens and pets. And of course, we are not pushing them to do so, everyone is different. But opening one’s self up to other cultures, other foods, other ways of living, other geographical configurations — it’s a fascinating life and one filled with reward.

If you want to “cut loose” but are a bit timid or can’t get your wife on the same page, you might try house sitting as a way to get to other locations and still live in comfort – also you will be able to keep your own home during this time — just have a house sitter sit your home as you sit someone else’s – or do a house exchange. Take a look at our Travel Housing Options page for ideas.

Or you could go traveling on your own or in a small group – our Single Travelers page might give you some insights.

We think having a sense of adventure is an exciting trait and makes for an interesting person. But again, not everyone is the same. If you are interested in a certain location and would like to meet some locals there – you might try joining some of the forums listed on our Relocation page. Forums are free and it’s a good way to find out what a place is like right from the people who are living there.

If you really want to break free from the rat race, then you could downsize your home and cut back on the number of vehicles you own and maintain. Track your spending for the life you are living now, and see where you could make changes. What would it cost you if your housing and transport categories were modified? When your monthly number is one you can maintain without working or without financial stress to you, then you are able to break free from the prescribed manner of living and choose a life of your own creation.

If your wife is not on board for these changes and you are still interested in making them, then you need to make the “new life” interesting to her. What would she gain if you downsized or changed your manner of living? Is there anything that she would be attracted to? Maybe she is comfortable in the home you have now and with the ability to see the kids and grandkids regularly. It would be a large change for her but perhaps doing some “snowbird” combination like travel for so many months and then being home for so many months might work.

We discuss different options for disagreeing couples in our book, Your Retirement Dream IS Possible which you might find useful.

I hope that I have answered your question, and if you have more questions, please feel free to write back to us any time.

Wishing you great success in creating the life that you want,

Akaisha

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Sell My Car? And What About a Spreadsheet?

Hi Akaisha,

I just heard your interview with Mad Fientist, it was great.

I’m seriously considering selling my car, and that interview helped. You referred to your spreadsheets to track your daily/annual spending-do you show those anywhere? If so, please let me know. I checked in your retirement book that I bought and I could not find it-I’m interested in how you set it up and how you track them, I do not need to see your actual expenses, that’s not my business.

Thank you for your help.

Mark

Do not let Fear make your decisions for you. Risk has a price and so does security.

Hi Mark,

Good to hear from you. Thanks for your kind words about the Mad Fientist interview. It was a fun interview to do. If you are thinking of selling your car, you might also take a look at our Car Free piece.

We give a downloadable spread sheet and explain how we set it up in our book, Your Retirement Dream is Possible. It’s the only place this spreadsheet is located.

In terms of our expenses you might want to take a look at our video, Adventures in Financial Independence, where we give our average spending for over two decades.

Let me know if you have other questions. Always happy to answer them.

Best,
Akaisha

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When Skipping Retirement Is a Better Option

By Jane Brown

I know it sounds crazy. But it is among all things possible that retirement is not for everyone. For most people, retirement is the reward they look forward to after as few years of hard labor as possible. The 401-K exists solely for the purpose of financing retirement. It is accepted as a basic stage of life, an assumption we embrace without question. But it would be turning a blind eye to reality not to acknowledge the undeniable fact that for some people, retirement is the worst possible thing in the world. Here are a few situations when retirement may not be the best option:

When a Person Would Revert to Self-Destructive Behavior

For some people, retirement is the opportunity that frees them up to do all the things they ever dreamed of doing. For others, it gives them the time and opportunity to indulge in all the self-destructive behaviors that responsibility kept them from doing. Obviously, if the only thing that kept a person from becoming an all-out alcoholic, they are much better off continuing to work.

Simplify, simplify, simplify

Hoarding is another one of those self-destructive behaviors that is even more enabled by retirement. Futures of Palm Beach says of hoarders:

It might seem reasonable to believe that hoarders know that their homes are dangerous. Some of them do, and they struggle with feelings of worthlessness and despair as a result. However, it’s not uncommon for people who hoard to have low levels of insight into their dysfunction. Instead of seeing their homes as dangerously cluttered with worthless junk, they may believe that their houses need a little tidying up, and all will be well if they can just pull together the time to deep clean. Instead of seeing catastrophe, they just see a problem that could be solved in a few hours, if they chose to do so.

They also note that, “the National Fire Protection Association suggest that about 3 to 5 percent of the adult population compulsively hoards.” The good news is, like with any other addiction, there is help and hope for compulsive hoarders. Also, as with other addictions, retirement may not be the best option.

When a Person is Defined by their Work

Famous actors and actresses almost never retire. They live for their next role. The only way they know themselves is as entertainers. If they stopped being entertainers, they would lose their own self-identity.

If you want to go biblical, there was no retirement party for Moses, Joshua, David, Solomon, or any of the prophets. This pattern seems to continue for notable religious leaders throughout verifiable history.

Depression is very common among retirees who derived their sense of worth and self-esteem from the work they used to do. This may account for the fact that so many people who retire for the first time, go back to work in some capacity soon after. For them, retirement was the wrong path.

People Who Are Already Doing What They Love

There is a certain hubris in assuming that everyone wants to spend their latter years the way you imagine yours should be. Not everyone desires a life of flying on cramped planes, and whiling away hours at a time on foreign beaches. That said, for the professional traveler, how would retirement look any different?

That same question could be asked of anyone who is already living their dream. Retirement assumes that you are doing a job that you either do not love, or that you can only do when young. But barring health issues, why would a writer ever retire? Why would a pianist ever stop playing? Why would a painter ever stop painting, or an architect ever stop designing? By definition, they would stop doing what they love, for the sake of something they love a bit less.

For many, retiring to a life of leisure is the ultimate goal: heaven on earth. For others, retirement diminishes the life they already have. Follow the path that is best for you. And enjoy every step of the journey.

Resources: http://www.futuresofpalmbeach.com/co-occurring-disorders-overview/hoarding/

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See the World on 10k Annual Income?

Hi Bill and Akaisha,

I enjoy reading your articles. But when you keep talking about portfolios, it seems it doesn’t reflect for the very poor. How can I have medical coverage and see the world, with an income of 10k yearly. I’m 53, and keep dreaming of these wonderful places, also, I’m single. Thanks so much for your time and dedication.

Asha

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Hi Asha,

Thanks for taking the time to write, we appreciate it.

That is a challenge to be able to “see the world” on $10,000 a year income. We know people who are living overseas on that amount but they do not do that much travel, or if they do travel it’s with local transport and not all that often.

The largest expenses that you would have to concern yourself with is housing, transport and food. If you can find a decent place to rent for about $200-$300 a month (which is doable in Thailand, Mexico, Guatemala etc.) that leaves about $500-$600 for other things. Food is generally cheap in the aforementioned countries so you could find yourself with several hundred a month to put towards travel — so long as you don’t find yourself spending this “extra” money on dental care or other medical needs.

To have adequate access to medical, you would probably have to live overseas and pay out of pocket. This would probably work until or unless you had contracted some chronic health condition which would require medications or frequent and regular visits to the doctor.

Medical care is generally more affordable overseas with doctor’s visits and medications at lower cost. Even paying for help around the house or with shopping and cleaning is affordable, but you would be wise to set aside some money for an emergency fund should you need it.

And don’t forget the expense of renewing your visa. This will often entail traveling outside the country to get stamped out and then get stamped back in every so many months. You might try applying for a retirement visa or a permanent visa, but often there will be financial requirements that you might not meet. In this case, you will need to continue to renew your tourist visa.

We know a man who does some “slow travel” and he lives on $12k a year and seems to be able to manage that fairly well. It’s definitely doable and not impossible. If you are self-disciplined, then it is probable that you will be able to manage some travel on your $10k a year.

Take a look at our Relocation Page and find some Expat forums where you will be able to find out what the local expenses are in any location.

We wish you the best of luck. Do your research and you are apt to find some doors opening to you.

All the best,

Akaisha

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Travel Destinations for Seniors

Guest post by Felicity Dryer

Travel1Traveling is always an invigorating experience. Whether you’re visiting somewhere new in the U.S. or abroad, exploring new cities exposes you to new sights, cultures, and unique cuisine. Who could ask for more?

For seniors, new experiences often correlate with careful planning, financial investment, and mobility strategies. The Golden Years should be just that–a time for fun and embracing la joie de vivre! That’s why we’ve compiled a checklist to help you travel with ease! Even if you’re 92, you can still go around the world (maybe just not in 80 days)! Read our top tips below to help you find a destination that’s perfect for you!

What to Look for in a Travel Destination

Make sure hotels can be booked in advance. This will make you feel secure and give you an upfront idea of what your trip will cost. Plus, you can let friends and family know where you’ll be staying in the event they need to get in touch.

Make sure transportation fits your needs. If you have any trouble walking, ensure that your destinations allows for sightseeing and travel by boat, train, taxi, subway, or tour bus. Anticipate important factors and ask pertinent questions. For example, ask if there is shuttle transportation from the airport.

Travel2Make sure the activities fit your travel goals. Do you want to get away and relax? A jam-packed museum trip might not be for you. Are you most excited about sampling exotic cuisine? Make sure you research your destination’s culinary reputation before you depart. Be honest with yourself about your traveling style and what you desire out of your trip.

Fun for Everyone – If you’re going with a group, some compromises might need to be made. When planning your getaway, brainstorm together and make a list of your top three travel “must haves.” Then pick a place that satisfies at least one requirement from each list. Remember, happy companions equal lovely memories!

Consider Taking a Tour

So where in the world should you go? Backpacking might be out; however, there are many senior-friendly options that boast fantastic views and local flavor. Why not try a tour? This is a great option because the planned itinerary saves you time and guesswork, while the leadership of a tour guide alleviates traveling anxieties. It’s nice to sit back and let someone else be in control. Whether you’re roaming about with a spouse, son or daughter, or sightseeing with a dear friend, a tour can take the guesswork out of your plans and allow you to enjoy the ride.

Similarly, consider booking your flights, hotels, and other amenities through a travel agent. They’ll work with you to create a comprehensive game plan and be able to field important questions.

Great U.S. Locations

If you plan on staying inside the U.S., consider timeless destinations like Niagara Falls, Florida, or Las Vegas. You might also consider taking a cruise! (Find a list of best cruises for seniors here.)

Bon Voyage

There you have it; our tips for traveling in your advanced years. Safe travels!

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Q&A with a Reader: Working Overseas While Retired

Hello I am interested in going to one of your suggested retirement locations. I don’t have enough money to simply not work. I am interested in part time or seasonal work possibly in the hotel or concession business. I haven’t read any articles of places one would have a good chance of doing some part time work. How does Panama look as far as that is concerned?

Sincerely,

Tom

Not sure you can retire? Get answers here

Hi Tom,

Thank you for taking the time to write, we appreciate it.

We don’t know anything about Panama personally, as we have never been there. However, I can suggest that you go to our Relocation page and contact some of the Expat Forums listed there. People on the forums, who actually live in these locations, will respond to your questions and perhaps help you set up. There is a forum especially for living in Panama listed on this page.

Also, you might take a look at our Retirement Jobs Page and see if any of these job situations might work for you. There are part time, seasonal, dream jobs, adventure jobs, working from home jobs and more

Good luck to you. A little research on these pages should pay off for you.

Best,
Akaisha

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