Biggest surprises in retirement

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Last year Glenn Ruffenach retired from the Wall Street Journal after 33 years as a writer and editor. Now he has chronicled his post-career experiences in a blog posting for Marketwatch.com.  Like most Americans, Glenn had certain expectations in retirement, but was surprised to learn a number of things that he did not expect. Here are some of them:

Expenses: Glenn writes that it is very important to write out a retirement budget, and even though he and his wife did so, they were still hit with a number of bills that they did not anticipate.  For example:  An unexpected emergency-room visit for  $1,000. Helping their granddaughter with expenses when she moved to a new town (another $1,000). And then there were the  two plumbing emergencies that popped up suddenly last spring that cost $700.  That’s nearly $3,000 in unexpected bills that came up out of nowhere, but had to be paid from somewhere.  Glenn’s advice: Build more wiggle room into your retirement budget than you think will be necessary.

Pace: It seems that many people who retire want to immediately start traveling around the world.  Sounds like a lot of fun, and it was for Glenn and his wife.  The traveled to France, New York, Washington, Arizona, the Caribbean, Virginia, New England and the beach (several times), all in the first 12 months. Glenn writes that looking back it was too much, too quickly. They needed to do a better job of pacing themselves both physically and financially.

Work:  Glenn’s plan after retiring was simple:  Take a year off, travel and spend more time volunteering. After that, maybe start working again.  But for Glenn he started writing (working) almost immediately, and that’s when he realized that he missed writing and sharing insights with readers.  So his advice:  understand that being “retired” doesn’t necessarily mean “giving up” on something you love doing.Staying active in retirement, from both a physical and mental perspective is important to remaining healthy well into ones golden years. However it’s as equally as important to know that your retirement nest-egg will be there for the rest of your life. After all, it’s not just important that you make it TO retirement; you also want to make it THROUGH retirement.

Glenn Ruffenach still writes for the “Ask Encore” column for The Wall Street Journal. The column examines financial issues for those thinking about, planning and living their retirement.

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