This is a follow on blog to the one I posted yesterday, The Aging of America. I hope in this post to answer some of the questions I posed about how to pay for everything we will need in our advancing years.
As we all live so much longer than our grandparents did, what should we do to improve this wonderful miracle? Throughout history, explorers were searching for the “fountain of youth.” We have found it, to some degree, as we improve our health, better our environment, implement safety procedures and create a better living standard than has been had at any other time in history.
But again, I have to ask, “who is going to pay for all this?”
It is sad not to educate our elderly population about general financial literacy because as they age, there will be problems with paying for health care and retirement needs. To overcome this, we need to get back to basics and learn about time-proven, eternal principles of financial management that can make a big difference now in what will happen to us later. We need to manage our expenses so that what we spend is less than what we bring in. And, especially for those who are aging, we need to plan finances so that we have some surplus with which to have fun, to gain additional education, to have the luxury of spending time with family, to improve our lives, even in our later years. To have enough to take care of our needs AND create a bit of a cash surplus, we must live by a Spending Plan and track our money according to this plan. If you will do this, you will find an average of $300 you are wasting each month.
What would you do with this surplus in retirement? Some may need it to help pay down debt, but hopefully it can be used to better your life. I heard Doctor Ken Dychtwald speak about what he thinks anyone over the age of 65 should do to keep adding excitement to their life and this is what he suggests:
- Create a new purpose in maturity.
- Foster healthy aging on all fronts.
- Encourage lifelong learning and re-careering.
- Assume responsibility for a lifetime of fiscal fitness.
- Reset the obsolete markers of aging.
I really like what he says. These ideas should become a new way of thinking and planning and taking action during our retirement years. In other words, it is not wrong to re-invent yourself and learn a new skill after age 60. Remember Colonel Sanders and KFC “A Retirement Miscalculation Story…“?
Dr. Dychtwald notes that his studies show the average retiree watches 49 hours of television a week. Do you know what someone could have accomplished with 49 hours a week focused on something educational, or giving much needed service? He referred to an old African saying, “When an old one dies, it’s like a library burning down.” There are millions of libraries burning down every day in the nation. Redefining what it means to retire is the first place to start rebuilding these libraries. For instance, it can be rewarding, at any age, to take educational classes to improve your skill in helping other people. An example is my friend Donald, who volunteers as a driver for shut-ins, providing help in getting them food and groceries. Over the last 10 years, Donald has delivered and visited with thousands of homebound folks who love the food and the personal visit.
Now is the time to completely rethink retirement and how we are going to fund it. Think about all the time and energy you put into your college education and career choices. The same amount of energy should be invested in what to do with the last third of your life. When we retire, we should not go and watch a movie and think we will like our life. I can’t imagine watching five movies each week or 49 hours of TV and feel like that is fun. I think we need to manage our money, so we can stretch our thinking, expand our travel, lift other people in need, and in general do something that will out last ourself. This will help us all feel more valuable as we ride off into the sunset!