Finding Your Retirement Personality
Just as no two people are exactly alike, no two retirements are exactly alike. There are as many visions for retirement as there are people to envision it. Understanding your personality type can help you clarify your retirement vision and create a more secure retirement plan. This guide will help you determine your retirement personality type so you can hone in on your vision for a dream retirement.
Each of the elements highlighted below are key factors of your retirement personality and thus have a direct impact on your retirement plan.
If you have a significant other, make sure to compare your personality types to help you create a compatible retirement vision. This may require some compromise, but it’s better to address these sooner when adjustments to your plan can still be made rather than wait to discover them once you’re already retired.
We don’t often think about our feelings around money, but how you feel about money plays a major role in how you approach saving, spending, and investing. Money is a surprisingly emotionally charged aspect of our lives. Many of our own financial professionals within Linscomb & Williams are also, in fact, clients of the firm, paying for the team to review their own finances and advise them. This removes much of the emotion from the decision-making that is required. We’ve certainly learned in our 50 years of serving clients, that people can be just as prone to breaking budgets as they are to creating them and often go through emotional rollercoasters watching our investments fluctuate.
As emotionally charged as money is during your working years, it can become even more so in retirement when you no longer have the steady income of a job. If you’re an anxious spender, transitioning into retirement when you need to start spending those hard-earned savings can be stressful. Meanwhile, those who spend easily may have a hard time becoming more conscious about how much they spend in retirement now that their income stream isn’t so easily replenished by regular paychecks.
Knowing how you feel about money and where you fall on the saver-spender spectrum will help you begin to identify your retirement personality so you can prepare for any emotional money challenges that may lie ahead.
Often, it’s our concerns about money that establish our feelings about money. For instance, a struggle to spend money even on retirement dreams may stem from fears that you’ll run out of money. Meanwhile, a compulsive spender may be afraid there won’t be enough money in the future, and so splurges whenever possible.
Almost everyone feels some money concerns – whether you’re worried about running out of money in retirement or not having enough to do all the things you want to do after you retire. Some of the most common money concerns include insufficient savings, job insecurity, not being able to pay the bills, having bad credit, and not being able to afford health insurance.
The good news is that when you understand your money concerns, you can create a retirement plan that addresses them. If running out of money is your biggest concern, then you may want to use a retirement withdrawal strategy that incorporates more guaranteed income sources or uses a lower withdrawal rate. If you’re worried about health insurance, perhaps you’d rather wait to retire until you qualify for Medicare – and even then, you may want to look at the cost of expanded coverage such as through Medigap plans.
Your health has an obvious impact on your retirement: A healthier retiree is likely to be a more active retiree. So, while someone in good health may spend less on healthcare in retirement, that person may want to take more vacations or participate in more activities. Your health may play a key part in determining how you spend your time in retirement and, therefore, is a core component of your retirement personality.
While health impacts retirement, retirement can also impact your health depending on your personality type. Some retirees lose many of their social connections after they leave their job. This can cause increased feelings of loneliness and social isolation. Think about how you like to spend your time now: Are you often with other people? Even if you don’t consider yourself an overly social person, having to spend most of your time pre-retirement in a social setting could make it hard to adapt to the more isolated lifestyle of retirement. Put some thought into how you’ll stay connected once you retire in a way that compliments your personality type.
One of the best ways to avoid the retirement doldrums that can come from losing your social connections and career identity is to build a retirement plan around your goals and the things that make you happy in life. What do you want to DO in retirement? This can go beyond just how you want to spend your day; also think about the things you want to accomplish in life that you may not have had time to do during your career. For instance, did you have a childhood dream of building a car from scratch? Or maybe you always thought it’d be fun to go parasailing? Or tour South America by boat? Whatever your dreams, this is the time to put them down on paper to see what it would really take to actually achieve them.
Of course, your retirement goals needn’t be anything extravagant or extreme. Perhaps you dream of spending more time in your garden or with your grandchildren. Or maybe you want to finally get to the bottom of your never-ending to-read list. Whatever your dreams are, this is your chance to make them a priority. You may want to create a wish-list of retirement goals and rank them in order of preference. Then start looking at what it would cost to make them a reality.
Your family and relationships are an integral part of every stage of life, but perhaps never more than in retirement. Many near-retirees bemoan the fact that they couldn’t spend more time with their families during their working years. Retirement, they hope, will be their chance to rectify this, which may mean more traveling to visit distant relatives. Others may feel the opposite: Tired of raising children or caring for aging family members, they want to take some time for themselves for a change, in which case the question becomes how you’ll spend this time if not with family.
Regardless of if you want to spend more or less time with family in retirement, your family makeup can have a very tangible effect on your retirement. Families are becoming increasingly interdependent, which can lead to more chances of your being called on to help adult children or aging relatives. Retirement can easily become a family affair, so take a close look at your loved ones: What are the chances they may turn to you for financial, physical or emotional help later on? Do you want to build a buffer into your retirement plan that will enable you to provide this support, should the need arise?
Unsurprisingly, your plans for retirement are central to your retirement personality. If you like to be constantly on-the-go, you may want to plan a retirement full of activities and adventures. This may require both more financial resources, depending on your activities of choice, but also greater care of your health. To remain active as you age, you’ll need to prioritize a healthy lifestyle.
If you prefer a slower pace in retirement, you may want to take more time to think about how you’ll fill your days. It’s easy to say, “I’ll just relax and read by the pool,” but few of us are content to do that all day every day for 30-plus years. To prevent inadvertent boredom or feelings of purposelessness, have a few ideas of ways to fill your time in retirement. You don’t have to do them all, but having a list in your back pocket can go a long way to keeping yourself healthy both mentally and physically.
So much of our personality is determined by our experiences. Many scientific theories hold that our personalities and behavior depend on our development and past experiences. The influence of past experiences can become even more significant as we age and develop a larger pool of past experiences to draw from. Your experiences from earliest childhood through adulthood can influence your retirement personality.
For instance, someone who grew up in a tight-knit family may become a doting grandparent in retirement. If you were raised in a frugal household, you may find yourself struggling to spend money in retirement. As we draw from our experience in working with more than 2,000 families, we can think of many examples of those who are reluctant to spend money, even though all of our financial analysis confirms that “running out” is simply not a realistic issue.
Likewise, midlife experiences can also play a major role in how and when you approach retirement. One study, looking specifically at the impact of midlife experiences on retirement behavior, found that entering the labor market at an older age and obtaining additional training in midlife lead to less desire to retire early, while health problems during midlife lead people to increased desires to retire early. Similarly, men who had children after age 30 or divorced after age 45 were more likely to want to retire later than younger fathers or divorcees. People who had more challenging jobs were more likely to postpone retirement, while higher earners were more likely to retire early.
Last, but certainly not least, in determining your retirement personality, are your priorities. Like your plans and experiences, your priorities speak volumes about who you are and how your retirement will go.
Those who prioritize family will likely want to build a retirement plan that allows them to spend as much time with their families as possible. Maybe this means moving closer to help raise the grandchildren, or having extra savings to help adult children find their financial footing. Perhaps spending time with siblings or aging relatives is a priority.
If giving back is important to you, you may want to prioritize volunteering or philanthropy in retirement. If seeing the world calls to you, building a bigger retirement travel budget may be prudent. Whatever your priorities are, you can build a retirement plan around them – you just need to determine what they are, which starts by knowing who you are and what your retirement personality is.