Worried About Retirement? 8 Ways to Change Your Perspective

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Editor's Note: This story originally appeared on NewRetirement.

Flipping your perspective enables you to see things in a new and different way. This fresh approach can change your attitude and help spark creative ways of approaching a problem — even a problem like wondering how to retire or feeling worried about retirement.

Your attitude toward anything in life is all based on perspective. If you are worried about retirement, maybe you just need to change your approach. Looking at it from a different vantage point can change and dramatically improve your feelings about and even how you prepare for your future.

Keep reading for eight ways to flip your perspective on retirement:

1. Time, Not Money

Retiree with money and a clock.
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The currency our society values most is money. In a paper published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, researchers found that 64% of the 4,415 people surveyed valued money more than time.

However, the researchers found that the people who chose time were — on average — statistically happier and more satisfied with life than the people who chose money, even controlling for existing levels of available time and money.

Another study found that people who were extremely worried about retirement finances found themselves to be much happier once they retired — largely because they had greater control over their time. In fact, the ability to control your own time is how many people are now defining retirement.

You may be less worried about retirement if you focus a little less on money and more on how to spend your time. Is this the reason a gold watch is the symbol of retirement?

2. Should 75 or Even 85 Be the ‘New 65’?


If you were a contestant on the television game show, “The Family Feud” and the question was, “At what age are you supposed to retire?” the vast majority of survey respondents would say: 65 — or younger.

However, retiring in your 60s is a relatively new phenomenon. For most of our history, people either worked until they died or until they physically could not labor any longer. And, nowadays, people live very long lives — well into their 80s and beyond. Never mind the fact that age 65 today is a healthier and more robust age than it was just 10 or 20 years ago. Lifespans are expanding and older people are doing more than ever before — just look at some of these amazing accomplishments by people in their 80s and 90s.

Maybe 75 or even 85 should be the “new 65”!

3. Maybe You Should Have Retired in Your 40s or Before

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On the flip side of the “85 is the new 65” flipped perspective, there are lots of people practicing something called “extreme retirement” or Financial Independence, Retire Early (FIRE). They are retiring in their 30s or 40s.

These people decide that they value financial freedom more than they want to spend money. While working — often in two jobs — they live extremely frugally and save as much money as possible. When they retire, they continue to watch their pennies, but they are free from work at a very young age. Many continue to earn money doing things they enjoy, but they don’t feel the stress of having to earn money today to pay for things tomorrow.

Other people enjoy a few years of a retired lifestyle in the prime of their youth — before they even start working. Think of all the kids who took a gap year or signed up for the Peace Corps.

Are you past all that? In mid-life, people often take sabbaticals — essentially a mini temporary retirement.

4. Is Your Current Lifestyle Right for Retirement?

Retired couple downsizing to a smaller home
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Most financial advisers make the assumption that we need to maintain our lifelong spending habits when we retire. While this IS true for most of us, many people redefine themselves in retirement and can dramatically reduce spending.

We don’t need to keep the status quo when we retire.

What you need to spend to be comfortable while working and raising children might be very different from what you need to spend when you are retired. And, if you retire somewhere less expensive than where you live now, then how much you need to have saved could be a very different number.

5. Retirement Is Not the End, It Is a New Beginning

Senior couple eating a meal at home
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Baby boomers are embracing the idea that retirement is a new start — a time to try new things and live the life they want.

Second careers are exploding in popularity, and retirees today are adopting new hobbies, seeking volunteer opportunities, and much more.

In fact, you may actually have many new beginnings in retirement.

Retirement is not just one phase. Most of us will actually have quite a few different transitions after we stop working.

6. Don’t Set a Date — Transition Into Retirement

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Once upon a time, long long ago … we set a date and planned a big party for retirement. You went to work one day and then never again.

These days more and more of us have a different perspective on our retirement date. Retirees today transition into retirement either by going part-time for a few years or we find a retirement job.

7. Spend Money, Don’t Save It

senior woman lots of money happy retirement
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You have spent your whole life working and saving money — paying down your mortgage and putting some away for retirement.

Retirement IS the time to spend it. This is a HUGE perspective shift and something that people find problematic.

The research firm Hearts & Wallets found that 28% of people 65 and older with at least $100,000 in savings withdrew less than 1% from their accounts in 2014 — well below the 4% withdrawal rate that many financial planners consider to be safe.

Many people are worried that if they spend their money, they risk running out of money. If this is you, then you might benefit from one of these strategies:

Bucket Your Savings:

You can allocate your savings into different buckets. You might have accounts for:

  • Your needs — money used to make ends meet — invested conservatively.
  • Wants — money to spend on fun and leisure — also invested with less risk.
  • Money for your future needs, emergencies, and more — invested for longer-term growth.

Create a Detailed Budget for All Future Spending

NewRetirement’s PlannerPlus enables you to create a detailed budget for all future spending in 75 different categories — and you can add your own. You can set what you need to spend as well as what you would like to spend. And, the system enables you to vary your spending over different time periods, set tax treatment, and more.

By getting detailed about your spending, you can gain the confidence you need that you can afford to spend money.

Lifetime Annuities

Studies show that people are less worried about retirement if they have adequate guaranteed lifetime income. You can turn some of your savings into lifetime income with an annuity.

When you buy an annuity you are exchanging a lump sum of money for guaranteed lifetime income — income that lasts as long as you do — no matter how long that turns out to be.

8. Plan!

An older couple uses a tablet computer
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Sure, all of us should have had a detailed financial plan our whole lives. However, most of us got by living month to month or year to year, and that was fine while we were working and earning money.

In retirement, we must learn to get by for a very long period of time with lots of unknowns on a relatively fixed set of resources. This is why having a new perspective on financial planning is so critically important. A personalized and comprehensive retirement plan is necessary at this stage of your life.

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