By Cass Grange, Senior Advisor Associate and Director of Business Development

The world is full of advice for the young about love and money.  But, what about love and money in retirement?2CassValentine's (Feb)

We help clients plan for their retirement, by carefully and thoughtfully generating income.  But, retirement isn’t just about monthly checks and a diversified portfolio.   A successful retirement is also about connection, meaning and love.   These things also take thoughtful planning.  Don’t think that just because you and your partner have been together 30 or 40 years that retirement won’t be a big adjustment.  It’s huge.  It is especially jarring for people who go from working 50 hours a week to zero.  That brings me to my first tip to consider when you are planning your life after work:

Tip # 1: Try to scale back working from full time to part time.  Take more vacations, and take longer times off.  This allows you to practice leisure time, which is harder than it sounds.

Tip # 2: Get a hobby.  Rather than waiting until retirement, start a hobby now or jumpstart an old interest.  I think taking a class is a great idea.  Because I take art classes, I am exposed to new ideas.  It forces me to stretch my thinking and my skills.  Plus, classes are a great way to meet other people.

Tip #3:  Make new friends.  My 88 year old dad advises you to make younger friends.  A friendship between different generations is so positive.  If you are helpful to the young people who live next door to you, later in life, they may be able to help you.  Plus, being around young people keeps your perspective young. Often when we are working, our social life and friendships revolve around work colleagues, but when we retire, it is hard to keep those relationships going.  We need to connect to other people, not just coworkers and relatives.

Tip #4:  If you are married, try to form an interest together.  This is harder than it sounds.  My husband and I play golf as a couple.  I don’t really love golf, nor am I any good at it.  But, my husband loves golf.  I focus on being outside and connecting with him.  He compromises by not insisting we play 18 holes, which would be his preference.  We usually play about eight holes, and never keep score.  And, we go out to eat afterwards! This is our way of compromising.

Tip #5:  If you are married, spend time with your spouse before you retire.  This sounds obvious but while working you only spend a few hours a day together.  One of the things that many of my retired clients have said is that is such an adjustment to get used to spending very close time together. Practice spending more time together.  And, value your time spent apart.  You each bring new material to discuss when you come home from work, so find new topics to discuss and explore.

Tip #6:  Build in some structure.  But wait!  Shouldn’t retirement be no deadlines and no commitments?  Studies show this isn’t good.  Structure gets you up in the morning and gets you out of the house.  If you volunteer for three mornings a week, that makes the other days more fun.  I have found that my friends and clients who don’t have structure in their lives have it filled with doctors appointments and babysitting for family members.  Be proactive and build a schedule of activities.

Tip #7:  Look for opportunities:  Don’t underestimate your skills and abilities.  I have a client who retired from a long career.  When a crisis occurred at City Hall in his town, he stepped in as city manager for six months and was paid for all his help and expertise.

Tip #8:  Volunteer!  This is a great way to add structure and to make new friends.  It also keeps you exercising your unique talents and gifts.   This past year I volunteered at Family Eldercare.  I have to admit, I didn’t enjoy it all that much at first.  It takes some time to get to know the non-profit, or the student you’ve been assigned to tutor, or the other board members.  But, it is a way to build meaning and connection in your life and the lives of others.  You have plenty to offer.  My dad, who bills himself as “the world’s oldest tutor,” volunteers for the Literacy Council, and connects with the people he helps and it goes both ways.  “I am the luckiest man alive to be able to do this, and have these wonderful new friends I’ve met through tutoring.”

So, start planning early.  Talk to your spouse.  Meet with your advisor.  Our advisors realize that success in retirement is about much more than your investments.  By starting early, and by asking thoughtful questions, we can help you discuss and think about the many components of your life after work.