When Riding Off Into the Retirement Sunset, Don’t Go Off The Cliff!

by TTMK on October 10, 2013 · 7 comments

sunsetWhat do you envision retirement to be like?  I mean, true retirement when you aren’t working actively or passively in order to make money.  In other words, you’re living and not working because you need to.

It’s going to be quite a long time in the future for me, as retirement isn’t around the corner.  However, I’ve liked that old saying about “riding off into the sunset” when leaving a particular endeavor or phase of life.  It kind of brings up this image of someone in an old Western, wearing a cowboy hat and riding a horse, galloping off in the distance as the sun sets.  Well, at least it does for me….work with me on this 🙂

This might apply to retirement as well, as people leave the workplace and their daily routines to do something completely different.  The thing is, we don’t want that proverbial ride into the sunset to be a rocky one.  Even more important, we don’t want to go on a path that takes us off the cliff, so to speak.  In other words, let’s not find unexpected problems!

Along those lines, here are 3 retirement planning factors that we should take into account, to make sure that time period in the future turns out to be a good one:

Higher Than Expected Medical Expenses

As we get older, it seems like we very slowly start to have a few minor things happen with our health.  Maybe its simply minor weight gain, perhaps it’s dental work, or maybe muscle pulls.  Later in life, it could get much more serious.  The thing is, when younger, we often overlook these future possibilities since we’re in relatively good health and old age seems far away.

Well, time can move quicker than we realize.  Crazy, isn’t it?  So let’s factor into our savings goals the reality that we just may have bigger health care needs than we realize now.  A big help could be making decisions with nutrition, sleep, and exercise that will put us in position to keep good health for many years!  But even so, it’s realistic to say that we’ll have a few issues around retirement age that we won’t when younger.

Better to be realistic up front, and save accordingly!

Inability to Work Well Into Old Age

We’re most likely going to be working late into old age.  First of all, our health won’t be the same when older.  Second, we likely won’t have the same energy level then that we do when younger.  Third, there is – sadly – blatant ageism in the workforce and marketplace for talent.  None of this seems fair, but it is what it is.

Thus, if financial plans for the future include working into one’s 70’s or later, while making an income anything comparable to a younger person’s income, just rip up those plans now.  No rationalizations like “I will take good care of myself”, “I’m in great health now”, “My aunt worked until 77 so I’m sure I can too”, etc.  Stop right now.

Plan on not being able to work until older.  Besides, will you want to work when older?  For those that say “Oh, I’ll always want to be busy”, are you sure you’ll feel that way?  I would think it would be better to keep active and maybe work only if you want to.


There are articles written out there, I’m sure, about making sure you don’t outlive your money.  It’s always seemed like a nice problem to have: living longer than expected!

Well, I’ll take it if it happens! Life is amazing.  The thing is, it’s finally made sense to me that what many of these people are really referring to is living longer than expected while having a diminished quality of life. Let’s say a person lives until 95.  Just how many years of savings will someone really need to have in order to live that long?  It’s not like a social security check will cover expenses to live – particularly when mobility and health decline.

Unless you want your kids to be your backup retirement plan for very old age, it’s good to consider that we will need to cover expenses in our golden years.

Bottom line – I know, this isn’t a fun or exciting thing to think about or plan for.  But sometimes we need to get real and keep in mind that we want to live comfortably with minimal worries when older.  The good thing is that it’s something we can take care of if we get started on this well in advance!

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Michael October 13, 2013 at 8:14 pm

If only I had a crystal ball… It would make this whole retirement planning thing a whole lot easier. 😉


TTMK October 14, 2013 at 8:59 pm

Wouldn’t that be great? 🙂


thepotatohead October 14, 2013 at 2:26 pm

I hope to not have to work if i don’t want to in my old age. I’m trying to do the prudent thing and save as much as i can reasonably put away for retirement while I’m young so it can build up into a nice nest egg for me.


TTMK October 14, 2013 at 8:59 pm

I see it that way too!


suzie October 21, 2013 at 8:56 pm

Very good article. You hit on three very huge factors, speaking from experience. We have run into all three of these with my father. He is now 93 (almost 94 years old). Another thing to take into consideration is that some (and maybe even all) of things can happen very quickly and much sooner than anticipated. In the space of less than two years my father lost his eyesight and was diagnosed with alzheimer’s. In the last 3 months he has been hospitalized twice, we were forced to admit him to a nursing home since the hospital refused to release him to home care. As a result we have had to sell as many of his belongs as we could and put his house up for sale. Of course, my oldest sister fighting us every step of the way hasn’t helped the situation.


TTMK October 24, 2013 at 10:29 am

Thank you, I appreciate the nice words on the article. As for your father, I’m sorry to read about the health issues. They really do hit hard and quickly the older people get, as it seems. It’s a time to stick together as family. I wish you all the best.


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