Are We There Yet?

Dennis Friedman

PREPARING FOR retirement is like running a marathon. It requires dedication, discipline and endurance.

But there’s also a crucial difference.

When you cross the finish line in a marathon, you know the race is over. But when you quit the workforce, it’s much harder to figure out whether you’ve successfully reached retirement. Why? A happy and prosperous retirement is about money, but it’s also about so much more than money. Here are 15 signs that a wonderful retirement likely lies ahead:

  1. You don’t need an online calculator to tell you that you have enough money, because it’s so obvious you can do the math yourself.
  2. Your Social Security benefit will cover your fixed living expenses—and you can afford to wait until age 70, so you get a larger check.
  3. Your Social Security and required minimum distributions from retirement accounts will together cover all your expenses, discretionary and nondiscretionary.
  4. You don’t pay attention to the stock market’s daily movements, because you’re confident you have enough, pretty much no matter what happens.
  5. You decide to get a part-time job not because you have to, but because you want to.
  6. You have a spouse or significant other who does little things, like straighten your shirt or hold your hand, to let you know that he or she will be there for you to the very end.
  7. Your adult children visit you not to borrow money or drop off the grandkids, but to say “hello” and ask how you’re doing and if you need anything.
  8. You wake up in the morning thinking it’s Thursday and you need to rush to meet Diane and Stan for breakfast. But a few seconds later, you realize it’s only Wednesday and you have a lunch engagement with Cindy and Steve.
  9. You turn 65 and enroll in a Medicare prescription drug plan. You opt for the lower tier, less expensive plan, because you don’t take medication on a daily basis.
  10. Your medical costs primarily consist of the Medicare and supplemental insurance premiums you pay each month.
  11. You’re aware of how long-term care can adversely affect your life and your financial future. But you feel confident about your physical health, because you eat your salad and your grilled fish after another energetic workout at the gym.
  12. You say to yourself: “I can’t believe I’m xx years old. I don’t feel it.”
  13. With more time on your hands, you discover new things about yourself—like a new talent you didn’t know you had.
  14. You stop and look at the sunrise and sunset, because you now have time to notice such things—and you want to enjoy them to the fullest.
  15. You have a reason to get up in the morning and a feeling of contentment when you lie down at night.

Dennis Friedman retired from Boeing Satellite Systems after a 30-year career in manufacturing. Born in Ohio, Dennis is a California transplant with a bachelor’s degree in history and an MBA. A self-described “humble investor,” he likes reading historical novels and about personal finance. His previous articles include Healthy and WealthyAfter You and Improving With Age. Follow Dennis on Twitter @DMFrie.

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