Retirement Downsides and Happy Surprises

I came across an interesting article I found on Morningstar. I originally found the article “When Retirement Has Its Downsides” and poked around a little more and found the happy version, quite literally with “The Happiest Surprise of Retirement”. The basis of both articles started with a simple forum thread to take a look at the ups and downs of retirement. Since I plan to retire in less than 7 years, I thought I would take a look and see what I could learn.

Since it’s raining today in my neck of the woods, I decided to start with the Downsides. Now my first thought from the title was a bunch of 65 year old retirees complaining about how their children never come to visit, gas is too expensive, and my dentures keep falling out. I cleared out all those older generation stereotypes of what they would say and read on.

‘More Stressful Financially Than We Had Ever Contemplated’

The first item they mentioned was the financial stress they dealt with during the market of 2008-2009. Losing so much money with the bear market was a real shock for those especially if they retired so close to the market crashing. One retiree said we took our beating, another mentions that retirement has been more stressful than we had ever contemplated.

So there is a history lesson in all of that. When you get close to retirement, become diversified as possible in dividend paying stocks, bonds, CD’s, money market funds, real estate, small business, and rainy day money sitting there in case a huge storm hits. It should also be mentioned that holding on for dear life in your rain suit is also important. Some contributors mentioned staying put during the crisis because eventually everything has come back, also making sure you stop trying to outsmart the market, the person in the mirror can screw it up even more. This is one of the reasons my retirement investments are in low cost index funds, I put the money in and keep putting the money in, that’s it. I also plan to have rental income as part of my retirement diversification which is another stream of income.

‘I Never Dreamed That Money Market Funds Would Yield 0%’

I have only seen low interest rates in the time that I have had money, so I have never looked on the other side of the coin looking for 5-7% no risk money market accounts. So far this has benefited us with very low interest rates on mortgage debt and student loans.  I have no intentions to rely on my money market interest income now or in the future, I will only consider this as a dead money account and expect no return on my money.

Another topic that was combined in the money market discussion was the cost of health and health care. While it will be difficult to see my health 30 years down the road, I will look at some of the shorter time frame of years 7-30. I plan to start maxing out my H.S.A account in the upcoming year, then buy private health insurance/Obama Care after I retire from work, and when I turn 60 I will buy long-term care insurance. This is not going to be the answer to every health concern that arises, but it should cover a great deal. In my opinion more important than all of those things mentioned above is to eat right and be active, which I take seriously and will continue to do so.

‘A Less Stimulating Social Environment’ and ‘More Than A Little Bored’

I think I’m going to have to cross this bridge when I get there, but travel, family, and friends certainly jump out at me when I read this statement. I plan to be more involved in charities with a hands on approach plus I  am starting a great financial family right here on Even Steven Money, I can share with others about my own experiences and learn from others along the way. One thing that cannot be understated enough:  retirement is not sitting in a chair watching TV, if that is the definition of retirement,  I am not retiring rather I am maintaining financial independence to pursue interests and dreams without limitations.

Let’s get to the good stuff, “The Happiest Surprise of Retirement”.  Sing it Pharrell…


‘I Don’t Know Where I Would Find the Time to Go Back to Work’ and ‘Not Having to Set an Alarm Clock’

Many retirees are happy to stop the nose to the grind stone 9-5 work they have been doing for 30 or more years. An overall level of being content came over many of the retirees, maybe it’s because they don’t have to hear the 5:30, 5:45, and 6:00 am alarm to get up, shower, get dressed, and make their way to work. Some of these very people went through all 12,000 days till retirement, they are ready to relax.

‘I Have Gone from a Type A Person to About a B+ Person’

This one rings close to home for me and many out there with plans to retire early through financial independence. One of the contributors said that they can be active as they want with plenty of things to do, but they have the option to sit back and enjoy life. Staying busy with things you enjoy while interacting with people keeps you relaxed and develop a level of patience you may not have had before.

‘A Delightful Daily Treat’

The ability to spend more time with your spouse, friends and family was spoken on a regular basis. I think this is the opposite of ‘A Less Stimulating Social Environment’ and ‘More Than A Little Bored’ from above. I think this is what you make of it with social interaction, if you are stopping downtown for a lunch with old co-workers or your niece, you are probably pretty happy.

One thing that I loved reading which is pretty similar to my thoughts behind Even Steven Money is taking all the experience you have from your history of financial lessons and sharing them with others, many discussed financial forums on Morningstar and Bogleheads alike as a personal enjoyment.

‘I Am Going to Live a Lot Longer Now That I Am Taking Care of Myself’

I am happy people are starting to take care of themselves, if time is all they need to go running or for a bike ride this is the perfect time to incorporate exercising and eating right. Your health is equally important and should be taken just as seriously as punching numbers in your excel spreadsheet to create a budget. You can become rich and die early, but you can’t die early and then become rich.

‘Preparation Paid Off When the Time Came’

Many of the contributors were met with quite a good report card for their financial wellness. I think my favorite was one of the contributors mentioning how much they were able to save by not going to work with fuel costs, car maintenance, business attire, meals and so on. Just off the top of old noggin, if I stopped working today, I would easily stop spending $200-$300 per month and that’s on the already tight budget I use today.

So what can we all take from this? Retirement has some happy surprises and certainly some ugly downsides. The most important thing to do is learn from history and others mistakes and of course successes. Some of these people retired in one of the toughest economies in the last 50 years, but the successful ones weathered the storm and were prepared. Make sure we are properly funded if not over funded when we retire, enjoy being debt free, and prepare for medical costs by maintaining our fitness and health while also insuring properly for some of the larger medical costs. Are you prepared for the ups and downs?

What’s your biggest fear about retirement? Is there anything that you have been putting off?

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14 Responses to “Retirement Downsides and Happy Surprises

  • Great article Even Steven – I love hearing about views on retirement as inspiration on becoming financially independent, but great to balance this with potential downsides, to make sure you’re prepared.

    I have the opposite feeling today on the financial stress factor – it doesn’t seem like a huge issue to me, as I’d imagine once financially independent I’d possibly be earning money from other hobbies or sources, or just doing a little bit of work I actually enjoy, and could hopefully ride out any ‘crashes’ confidently. But that’s very easy to say when you haven’t been through the experience of having your retirement fund halved just as you’re planning on living off it forever.

    I think time to take care of yourself, and others, is a huge upside also. I’d probably worry a little about the lack of social interaction – but I’m sure there would be a few other early retirees out there to get to know better!
    Jason @ Islands of Investing recently posted…How NOT to react to market headlinesMy Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      4 years ago

      I think you hit the nail on the head as they say. We are working now to become not only debt free, but stress free through financial independence. Things are a lot easier when you are not cutting a check to the credit card company or mortgage lender every month.

      I’m sure we will see another crash or two during our investment lives, I’m going to put this in my things to read next time it happens!

  • I am not afraid of anything about retirement. I am really eager to retire soon and give myself a break through all the stressful work I have made. I also need to enjoy my life not by focusing only on work or money. Well, that’s my opinion. And I love your views on how individual become financially independent.

    • EvenStevenMoney
      4 years ago

      It’s great not to be afraid, as long as not being afraid means you are prepared.

  • I don’t worry at ALL about being bored in retirement. If finances were a non-factor (and I don’t mean an unlimited amount of funds, just having enough to live on) I could easily keep myself busy without a full-time job, and I doubt I would ever get bored.

    As far as what I DO worry about – finances. I want to make sure I have passive income and enough equity that will generate a high enough passive income to live off of. I’m not opposed to selling off assets to fund retirement, but I think having a big chunk of equity churning out passive income would be ideal.
    DC @ Young Adult Money recently posted…The Weekly Quick Hits RoundupMy Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      4 years ago

      I feel you on the not being worried about being bored in retirement, sorda like worrying about all that money if I won the lottery…..I’ll figure out.

    • I agree with you completely. I don’t think I’ll be bored at all and if everything goes according to plan I’ll have enough to live on.
      Aldo @ MDN recently posted…The Friday FiveMy Profile

  • I do not have any retirement fears, mostly because I imagine that I will never be fully retired, I will just feel less stress about working every day. My retirement goal is financial freedom so it changes up the definition in my mind.
    Shannon @ Financially Blonde recently posted…Weekly RoundupMy Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      4 years ago

      Less stress certainly can be a good thing, I’m with you.

  • My biggest concern is having enough money. Do I need $1m, $1.2m or $1.5m or more? I suppose at some point if you’re sick and tired of working you will say enough is enough and make whatever you have work. Like Shannon, I like the thought that I don’t have to work but I choose to work. Or I can afford the flexibility to work less, like say 3 or 4 days a week.
    debt debs recently posted…Debt DeliberationsMy Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      4 years ago

      Agreed. For me it’s about having a choice, if I want to work 3 days or not work at all, I want that option.

  • I think that the most stressful point for me would be the income aspect of it. Having to rely completely on your nest egg would be a dramatic change, right now I know that twice a month I get a reliable paycheck for a set amount. Whereas once I quit my job I have to make sure I’m pulling the proper amounts of money from the right accounts to make everything last as long as it should. Since I’m far enough away from retirement, and at this point I don’t know if I will have a dividend based portfolio, I may have to decide what assets to sell and when.

    I think that will be a happy problem to deal with though, but I can see how that could be stressful.
    Zee @ Work-To-Not-Work recently posted…Learning From Our Mistakes: How to Kill ZombiesMy Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      4 years ago

      Yeah Zee I think it certainly takes some extra planning and I think a test run should be done for the last year before you retire to get things down financially. I’ve seen most people either have real estate income, dividend income, use 4% rule of investments, and have a set amount of low fixed costs. As you I am further away than I would like but ramping up my efforts.

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