Why is the Retirement Glass Half Empty?

Glass of Red Wine

Image courtesy of BrianHolm / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Retirement is going to be a disaster for most people, right? That is certainly the message that is out there in the media. I see articles all the time that you need millions to retire, and even that will not be enough! Let’s take a look at the “glass half empty” side of retirement.

We aren’t saving enough

We hear this all the time and in many cases I’m sure it is true. It is certainly true that the earlier you start saving in life, and the more you save the easier it is to build your retirement next egg. It is also probably true that if you are behind where you want to be it pays to save as much as you can to catch up. However the reality is that life gets in the way of the best of plans, and maybe you find yourself in a position where you aren’t where you want to be. There are millions of people out there where long term careers came to an abrupt end as a result of the financial crisis and they are still recovering for example. So don’t beat yourself up!  Deal with things as they are, not as you wish they were.

The Financial Industry

Many in the financial industry have good intentions when they sound the alarm that we aren’t saving enough. I fear sometimes the scare techniques may cause people to just give up. If the industry says know your retirement number (how much in retirement assets you need,) and you know that multimillion dollar number is something you will never reach, it is easy to give up. That is a real danger. Some saving and planning is always better than no saving and planning. Don’t forget too that the financial industry makes fees on most every dollar you save!

The role of debt

The financial industry on average says you need about 80% of your pre retirement income in retirement. I’m not a financial advisor and won’t argue the numbers but I think the amount of debt going into retirement makes a big difference. There is a big difference between a person entering retirement with no debt than one with a big mortgage, home equity loan, car payments and a wallet full of credit card debt!

Big ticket must haves

Maybe the big retirement numbers assume some big ticket retirement must haves. For example not everyone needs to travel the world in luxury. There is nothing wrong with that goal if you can afford it but some may be just as happy with lots of more affordable domestic trips. And not everyone needs a 70 foot sailboat to be happy in retirement.

Healthcare and long term Care

This one probably scares me the most. Probably the best we can do is do whatever we can do to stay healthy, and elect leaders that are brave enough to address the healthcare concerns of retired people. I know this is easier said than done. Here in the US we all know people who have had their life savings wiped out by a major illness, or taken by a nursing home in their last few months of life. It just isn’t right.

Retirement definition is wrong

This one you have heard before if you a regular reader of this blog. The point is that everyone’s definition of retirement is different. Some plan to work part time and some plan to never stop working. Retirement for them just means doing things a little differently.

Maybe I am a little too optimistic in thinking that planning and work can make many retirement situations work out. And I sure don’t want to diminish the real financial and healthcare challenges that many retirement people face. I have come to believe however that worrying too much gets in the way of life.

What do you think?

Until next time…

10 Retirement Business Ideas

Image courtesy of digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It is becoming more and more common for retired people to start their own businesses. The purpose can be anywhere from just making a few extra dollars to finally having the time to test out that business idea you have had for years.

Just to get you thinking here are some ideas to get you started:


Why not put all those years of experience to work for you. Some form of consulting is probably the most common form of small business in retirement. The nice thing about a consulting business is that it can be as big or as small as you want. You can do it part time, and sometimes seasonally. For many people their first consulting customer is their previous employer, who likes the idea of still having your skills available on an as needed basis.

Life Coach

A Life coach is similar to a consultant except the goals may be different. The field is growing rapidly and there are many variations of work. There are online training courses and certifications available if you want.

Bed and Breakfast Owner

When I think of a bread and breakfast I think of a beautiful Victorian home with incredible breakfast croissants and impeccable service. That certainly is a possibility, but another might be something much simpler. Do you have a spare room you could rent out for a few days a month and make some extra cash. If you live anywhere near a tourist area that may be a possibility.

Home Inspector

Do you have a background in building or construction? A Home Inspector business may be just right for you. Regulations and requirements may vary depending on your location so you need to do your research first. Then a little marketing to local realtors could get you started.

Online Business

There are many forms of online businesses being started today and many can be perfect for retirement. Some allow you to work from anywhere, which is perfect if you want to travel.

Freelance Writer

Did you always want to write? There is a need for all kinds of writers, from novels to all kinds of web content. New forms of publishing even allow you to publish your own books on Kindle and similar devices.

Senior Care

With all of us aging baby boomers there will be a need for all kinds of senior services. Just use your imagination and look at what are the needs.


Those crafts that you never had enough time for can become your retirement business. Check out sites like Etsy.


If you are a retired teacher, or simply like to work with students you may want to start a tutoring business. Again do your research and check any applicable regulations.

Pet Sitting

We all love our pets and many people do not want to put their pets trough the stress of boarding at a kennel. Pet sitting can take different forms. Some sitters stay in the house of the owner. Others go over a few times a day to let out the pet and spend some time playing with them. The nice part about this business is that once owners get to know and trust you the business just keeps coming back, year after year.

House Sitting

This is another business where once customers get to know you the business just keeps coming back. It also can give you the opportunity to visit new places.

What are your business ideas?

The ideas above just scratch the surface. What will be your retirement business?

Until next time…

You will work in retirement

No more sitting in a rocking chair.  You will work in retirement.  If you didn’t think that, it is time to get your mind set straight.  Whether you are living off Social Security alone or sitting on a billion dollars in assets you will work in retirement.

Many people will want some kind of side income to supplement other retirement income sources.  If you are fortunate enough to have a large retirement portfolio your work might be managing that portfolio responsibly so that it takes care of you and the causes you care about.  Some people will work very hard at a volunteer job where you make no pay but do great good and receive great satisfaction. Most will do a combination of things.

Now for the good news.  There are studies that show that the longer you work the longer you live, and the longer you stay healthy.  It’s that simple.  There is a direct link between work and quality of life.  I’m sure many of you know examples.  One I know personally is a friend of my wife.  This lady has had a business making custom doll clothes for as long as I can remember.  She also has had some health problems that probably would have ended the life of a less active person since she was about 70.  She is now in her mid 80s and still going strong, and still running her part time doll clothes business!

Let’s look at some kinds of work:

  • Part Time Job / Flexible hours
  • Encore Career
  • A Business – Full or Part Time
  • Volunteering

Part Time Job

This is probably the most common kind of work for retired people.  It can take many forms.  It could mean continuing your before-retirement career, but on a part time or more flexible basis.  It could simply be a basic part time job where you make a little side income.  Something like the millions of part time retail jobs comes to mind.  Another possibility is temporary work where you work for a few months to make some extra money for a trip or special project.

Encore Career

It is becoming more and more common for retired people to take on whole new careers.  Maybe you did the same kind of job for all of your life and you always wanted to try something different.  Sometimes you want to do something for passion, rather than money.  Or maybe your old career went away because of changes in the economy and you want to use the opportunity to try something different, while at the same time earning some much needed income.

Starting a new career in your fifties, sixties, or later is not really any different than when you were younger.  You still need to do your research and maybe get some training.  Maybe you even need to go back to school.  The trick may be simply not to think too much about your age.

A Business – Full or Part Time

It is also becoming more and more common for people to start a new business in retirement.  This may be the time when you have the time, energy, and passion to make that happen.  Again starting a business at this time is not much different than at any other time in life.  You need to do your research, find a product or service that is needed and people will pay for, assess risk, and all the myriad of tasks associated with starting a business.  It may pay to start slow or part time, and it probably doesn’t make sense to risk more than you can afford to lose from your financial assets.


There are many good causes out there that desperately need people.  They need your time and possibly your life experience.  If you can’t find a cause that fits then maybe you should start your own.  Don’t forget the simple things like helping the elderly lady down the street with errands or giving a single Mom a break by watching her kids for a couple hours.

What will you do for work?

So what will you do for work?  Maybe start by making a list of possibilities, letting it rest for a few days, and then make some revisions.  As is often the case the topics I have touched on above need to explored in much greater depth, and we will in future articles.

Until next time…