Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Retirement Delusion


If in a few years we become theoretical immortal (the idea that beyond 2015 medical advances would increase life expectancy every year by one year), then what would be the social impact?  Well, I can tell you for sure, the impact would be staggering – for one: never ending Canada Pension payments? J Yeah, keep on dreaming.
Already today we find that not many Baby Boomers seem to like to spend the next 30 years of their life idling around (that would be nearly as long as their money making years). That idea is too horrifying to contemplate for many who at 50 are healthier than most of our ancestors at 30. It is a matter of life energy. Yes, most Baby Boomers would not attack life with the same innocent enthusiasm of a 25 year old just coming out of school. Neither would they consider life over at fifty and avoid any new life changing endeavor. Nor have they peaked in their career and/or profession.
So, a career of having breakfast on the balcony of their empty nester apartment and filling empty days watching soap operas on tv is not appealing. Neither is the idea, as designed by ‘financial planners’, that the Baby Boomer is running out of money at the actuarially projected age of 83 and has to spend the rest of his or her real life eating out of garbage cans.
So, really the old idea of ‘Retirement at 65’ is dead. Long live ‘Financial Adulthood’!  Financial Adulthood is just another stage in life after our early childhood years; after we have our years in school, after we work for a boss and take care of our family while saving for Financial Adulthood. Financial adults –  achieved by some at age 42, by others at 55 or even later in life. Our financial adult life starts the moment we have enough assets and income derived from those assets so that we no longer depend on our career to pay for the costs of living.
We can design a new stage of our life that if truly never ending would encompass numerous stages of its own. E.g. empty nesting; termination of first or second marriage; a life filled with friends and various life companions; grand parenthood; great grand parenthood; great-great grand parenthood; great-great-great grand parenthood… well you get the drift J.  Maybe we’ll have multiple careers.
For example, I foresee for me a long career well into my 70s as a geologist. But how would it be to report to a 50 year-old vice president, or a 30 year-old when you’re 67?  And vice versa! Maybe I’ll be too experienced to be employed in a company. What would be the corporate impact of having such experienced people engaged? Would this truly become the age of Peter Drucker’s knowledge worker?
Of course, you may have multiple careers – for me, I may want to become a landlord in Calgary with the goal of providing nice-but-affordable rental housing. I may become rich just from writing blogs on financial adulthood. Who knows! But we better start to think about our life on a truly long term basis rather than drifting along an aimless path of life never knowing where you’re going and what you want to do in life (apart from winning the lotto and never having to work again).
A friend of mine recently ‘retired’ in Spain. Who wants to retire in cold and miserable Holland when you can live in Spanish lifestyle heaven? After building with his wife a beautiful retirement home in the village where she grew up he now starts… a business. A dream business for many; he wants to organize vacations in Spain for biking enthusiasts. I kid you not – here is a link to his website: www.iberiancyclingtours.com. Now THAT is financial adulthood.
One day, I may start a coffee shop for investors where I can talk all day long with customers about stock markets and real estate! Who knows – but my clientele better be able to afford $5.00 cups of coffee because I ain’t cheap J
You get the idea. Financial adulthood is a lot of fun, because you have the freedom to do what you want: long vacations; a meaningful (to you) occupation or business(es). Your life is so long that nothing will last forever and your main concern will be to keep up your life energy; your willingness to do new things because your main enemy in life will be boredom. Bored people are terrible for themselves as well as for those around them – thus better start cracking and plan for the rest of your eternity or at least for the next 150 years!

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