5 Retirement Myths

Many people are so fixated on saving for retirement that they forget to plan what they’ll do during that time. If you cut out your days of work, you now have 40-60 extra hours in your life. What will you do with that time? After all, there’s only so much golf you can play.

The New York Times urges us all to think through the issue in depth prior to retirement and suggests considering not only what you’ll do with your free time, but how you’ll feel about it. Furthermore, the Times lists five retirement myths to demonstrate that retirement is often not what we expect. These myths include:

  • If retirement isn’t here yet, you don’t need to think about it.
  • Retirement is simple: you just need to stop working.
  • Retirement will be a perpetual vacation.
  • If you have enough money to retire, you will be fine.
  • You are going to love spending all that extra time with your spouse.
  • The last thing anyone wants to do is spend their twilight years wandering about aimlessly. Have you considered what you’ll do when you retire?

    When Retirement Collides With Reality [NY Times]
    (Photo: saramarie)



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    1. Megladon says:

      Does playing video games and being fat dumb and happy count as a good retirement? I’m 20 years away from a 50 year old retirement and i cant wait to not work anymore, not that my current job is at all hard or that much of a pain, but the thought of getting up and going out to do whatever i want, all day every day just like summer break as a kid… good times.

    2. Posthaus says:

      That reminds me- it struck me just how amusing that in “Blade Runner” the killing of replicants was shamelessly refered to as “retirement.” There is a rather sly double-meaning in that.

    3. quail says:

      For my parent’s group of friends and family, retirement meant marital problems. When the married couple finally had to spend time together they discovered they couldn’t stand each other.

    4. MDSasquatch says:

      I retired about a year ago, after 9 months, I had to get a job

    5. pepe prawn says:

      when i retire, i am going to have more free time to read consumerist. also, i plan on drinking a lot of beer. and watch cartoons.

    6. Tracy Ham and Eggs says:

      @quail: That was my friends folks after the last kid graduated. (including my folks, who get along better since the divorce)

      My uncle was retired for about two weeks. After that he was so bored he went looking for a job in sales. Works part-time at a local car dealer, so he gets out and gets to talk to people a couple hours a day. Ive never seen him happier, and the few extra bucks help with vacations.

    7. Snakeophelia says:

      My parents are in their 70’s and are “retired”. My stepfather works 20-30 hours a week as a paid consultant for his state government. He also does Meals on Wheels and is on a lot of his church committees, and does the sound and lighting for all church musical productions. A couple of years back he went to Costa Rica twice to help build a new church there. My mom works for the church 20 hours a week as an unpaid bookkeeper and also volunteers for the church thrift store, as well as babysitting for all the kids on her block.

      I think the moral is, once a workaholic, always a workaholic. If my parents did not have these activities lined up, they’d be miserable. To them, retirement means the freedom to work their tushies off for free. I’ll probably be the same way.

    8. loganmo says:


      My parents actually started getting along the best in decades after me, the last of the three kids, went off to college and then later they both retired….my dad does have a nice pension from having beeing an executive for the government of Milwaukee…now they take lots of vacations and spoils their grandkids! I have never seen them happier.

    9. selianth says:

      My dad retired, promptly created himself a new office out of my sister’s old bedroom (across the house from the office he and my mom shared when we were growing up) and started volunteering for the local historical society. He does about 20 hours a week but it’s all stuff he’s intensely interested in. Between that, my mom’s continuing involvement in local politics, and their travel abroad every 3 months, they keep themselves busy. I couldn’t imagine them any other way.

    10. MeOhMy says:

      After all, there’s only so much golf you can play.

      This is why God invented Scotland and Scotland invented curling to go along with golf. This is also why Florida – a place that never gets cold enough to forcibly put an end to golf season (and thus start curling season) – is an evil place. All golf and no curling makes Jack a lunatic.

      My parents retired last year. They relax and travel and hang out with their other retired friends. I suppose if they get bored enough they’ll look for jobs that where they can actually do something they really love regardless of how well it pays. My dad has already tried one…it didn’t pay enough. Ha.

    11. Amy Alkon says:

      A little old lady I’m friends with from a coffee place I go to volunteers helping inner city learning disabled kids improve their reading. She just lights up every time she comes from working with them, although it’s hard and sad to a great degree. The kids just love her from the sound of it, and she’s really helping them. I think this sort of thing keeps you alive/maybe a bit younger.

    12. char says:

      My dad retired this month, after a month off he’s going back to work for 3 months in February.

      Of course, he’s going back to work on Grand Cayman.

      Not totally sure what he’ll be doing after that ends though, he’s an incredibly hard worker, and giving him another 50 – 80 hours of free time will probably result in him hunting around the lawn looking for insidious little weeds.

    13. rbb says:

      I first retired after 22 years thanks to one of the nice benefits given in exchange for granting the government the right to tell you to die for your country if needed. Now, I’m working on a second retirement. That will keep me busy for a while…

    14. Anitra says:

      This has been a “problem” for 50 years. My parents still tell the story of when my great-grandfather was pensioned off (in the days when that was still normal). The morning of the second day of his retirement, his wife told him “Go out there and don’t come back home until you get a job!”

      I’m not even 30 yet, I’m not thinking about retirement, since I don’t know exactly what I want to be doing five years from now. Forty years in the future, I have no idea what my life will be like.

      Most people I know that are currently in their 60s are “semi-retired”, either working part-time or doing a lot of volunteer work. My dad is 65 and working full-time at the new job he got about a year after taking “early retirement” from his old job. He told me he plans to work for a couple more years before cutting back.

    15. annelise13 says:

      This is excellent advice. I’m a long way from retiring, but watching the older folks in my family has taught me that you have to keep active both physically and mentally or you crash and burn. My dad is going to retire soon, and he’s already making jokes about getting a greeter job at Wal-mart because he knows he won’t be able to just hang out around the house!

    16. ElizabethD says:

      I honestly worry a lot about this. We won’t have enough money to travel all the time, although I hope we can travel a few times. I intend to do some part-time volunteer work and to catch up on all the reading I haven’t had time to do while working and raising a family. But… my most nagging worry is about being w/ my hubby 24/7. I just don’t think that will work well for me! I’ve always worked, always had “me time”. Clearly we need to discuss our expectations for retirement beforehand so there aren’t any misunderstandings. I do not want a shadow, although I look forward to doing things with my husband. Just not … EVERYTHING. 8-O

    17. rustyni says:

      My mother’s father recently retired and hauled his wife, two step-sons, and one grand-daughter all the way to Kentucky from California to live out his days! He spends his time mowing the lawn on a lawn-mower that has an engine that can put most cars to shame, along with watching his youngest grand-daughter grow up. Oh, and he enjoys slipping money into my purse when I’m not looking. U.U

      Can’t wait to retire. I’m still a good 40 years away.

    18. Alexander says:

      I’m 30, I have started to plan for my retirement (401k, IRA and all) but truthfully, what worries me most is what will happen when my parents retire. They are divorced and neither one has any plans whatsoever for their retirement. No plans, no savings, no pension, no 401k, nothing. Being hispanic, most parents retirement plan is “the kids”.

    19. GreatCaesarsGhost says:

      I don’t think anyone really enjoys doing nothing. Retirement is nice because you can decide what you want to do pretty much all the time. Some people will want to work because that’s what they’re used to.

      My girl and I worked together for about 2.5 years. We woke up at the same time, drove to the office together, sat in adjacent cubes, went to lunch everyday, drove home, had dinner, went to bed. We were with each other 24 hours a day. We never fought or tried to get away from each other. I think we can handle retirement together.

    20. My dad’s been putting off retirement for at least 6 years now, but he works 2 jobs (professor & freelance architectural renderings), meaning whichever he stops doing, he’ll just keep doing the other.

      His brother worked in 5 unrelated fields over the course of his life and retired 8 years ago, now just bums around thinking about fishing all the time (but never actually doing it).

      They both seem to have done a good job of it, but then again, if Dad retired and moved in with his girlfriend, he’d go nuts in 2 weeks.

    21. BlondeGrlz says:

      @rbb: My husband plans to “retire” at age 39 with those same bennefits. Then his “real” career can get started.

      My lovely grandparents bought a little tiny RV and have been to every state and province from Mexico on up. They also volunteer for Habitat for Humanity, take art classes, foster dogs and play lots of golf. I just hope my retirement is as nice.

    22. m4ximusprim3 says:

      Agree with the “do or die” philosophy. One of my grandfathers was lazy as sin and retired at 65 to become a habitual couch potato. He checked out at 68 from a heart failure.

      My other grandpa worked part time well into his 80s. Nothing strenuous, but at least it got him out of the house.

      I plan on playing a buttload of golf (like I currently do anyway) and working part time at a small book store (if they still exist in ~2050).

    23. csdiego says:

      I’m in my thirties and I have to say the problem of what to do with my retirement is low on my list. If I can afford to retire, I anticipate having no trouble finding volunteer opportunities, and I look forward to having time to do all the hiking, yoga (provided I’m still fit enough), reading and knitting I have trouble fitting in now.

      Really, for all I know, by the time I reach retirement age the kids who are growing up now with reality TV and first-person-shooter games will be grinding my generation up into Soylent Green.

    24. samurailynn says:

      My husband and I have spent a lot of time together since we used to work together (carpooled and everything). We’ve dealt with needing time apart, so I’m not too worried about that aspect.

      What is difficult for me is that both of my parents are retired. (I’m only 26, but they were older when they had me.) My mom is obviously bored out of her mind and wants to me to come over and visit just about every other day. I really hate just going and sitting at someone else’s house, so I invite her over to our house more often. At least I can continue getting things done when she comes over (unlike when I go to her house). She just doesn’t seem to understand that I have a lot of things going on in my life and there are other people that I would like to spend time with too. I hope that if I have children I’m not as dependent on them as she wants to be on us.

    25. jamesdenver says:

      Should I make it to 60 will I actually be interested in golf and sitting at a pool all day?

      I come across blogs of seniors who are traveling the world (on a budget,) and know seniors in my neighborhood who volunteer, run community gardens, are do ski trips throughout the winter.

      I sure as hell hope I’m one of those seniors…

    26. Instigator says:

      A few generations ago, when people retired they typically only lived about another 10 years. Now lifespan has increased, so a person who retires today at age 65 will probably live an additional 20 years. Living in Florida, I’ve observed that many people ease into “Retiree Time,” that is, they fall out of sync with the working world, its schedules and pace. That’s why they so often tend to think that the hours between noon and 2 p.m. are ideal for going to the bank and conducting complex transactions while also trying to engage the teller in conversation.

    27. Slothrob says:

      In my family, it is a loooong tradition: when you retire, building wooden model ships (occasionally in a bottle) becomes your “job”. I am disturbed by the fact that I am actually looking forward to this.

    28. “What will you do with that time?”

      Drive your wife crazy. :D

      It’s at retirement that the gap in even egalitarian marriages becomes so clear, when the wife is still doing a few hours of chores every day and the husband is just moping around the house with “nothing to do” … they’re both continuing what they did pre-retirement at home, but it usually turns out she did a lot more housework.

      My grandparents traveled and volunteered their butts off, in addition to golf and reading, to keep busy in retirement. My parents are actively preparing to spend children-free time together for the first time in 30 years. They seem a little nervous about what they’ll do with all that free time … let alone retirement free time!

    29. consumerd says:

      My mother is getting to the retirement age. Being a cop for all of our lives (me, amy, and cale) I think she is still going to work for the force but just be behind a desk or a detective. She already works on child crime cases (abuse/neglect) already.

      I can see her retiring, yet not retiring.

      My dad said one day

      “Ya know what, I realize that most of the men who build the wooden ships inside bottles (least here in the midwest) were gynocology doctors!”

      I quickly hollered DAD!

      I am not sure if I am looking forward to his retirement.

    30. ahwannabe says:

      I’ve wandered around aimlessly all my life, and see no reason to stop once I’m retired.

    31. ceejeemcbeegee is not here says:

      Myth #6: You can pay your insurance premiums all you life and when you turn 65 they won’t kick you off and force you into the Medicare/Medical system.

    32. traezer says:

      Its funny, but my grandpa retired before I was even born, (Im 24), and at 94, he still keeps active chasing the ladies and eating out with friends.

    33. drrictus says:

      “What is this ‘retirement’ you’re planning on?”

    34. drrictus says:

      @drrictus: Ooops, my last post dropped the “pseudo-HTML” tags that would have made it funny. Now it just looks silly. Ignore!

    35. rjhiggins says:

      Between golf, hiking, volunteering (there’s no shortage of interesting work), travel, museums, reading, movies and family (hopefully grandchildren by then) I don’t think I’ll be yearning to go back to a 9-to-5 job.

    36. swalve says:

      @Instigator: You’ve described my grandfather to a T. He calls at 5am on a Tuesday inviting you to lunch at noon, and gets sad when you can’t go because you have to work.

    37. theblackdog says:

      My dad “retired” about 12 years ago and used the time to get myself and my brothers out of the house and off to college. Now that the last brother has just left for college, I’ll be curious to see what he will do with his time, because there’s only so much he can do around the house while my mom is at work.

      I’m thinking there will be school or something in the future.

      As for me, I’m just saving every penny I possibly can so I can be active as well when I retire in about 30 years.

    38. csdiego says:

      @Instigator: Yeah. I made the mistake of agreeing to drive my 80-something-year-old neighbor lady to the grocery store (5 minutes away) when I had to be back 30-45 minutes later. Little did I realize that Saturday morning grocery shopping was a major social event for her and that she’d be having a long chat with every single deli clerk and cashier at not just the store nearest us, but the one a couple of blocks further down the road. Oof. Never again, bless her.

    39. chiieddy says:

      My hope is to have enough to purchase a place in a major city and utilize the features therein when I retire. There’s so much I could do during the day in the city if I had the time! I also plan on doing more volunteer work than I currently do. Living in the city would provide me those opportunities without requiring me to drive.

      Since this is 30 – 40 years in the future, it’s honestly hard to tell for sure if this will work out, but that’s thee current plan.

      Of course, this wouldn’t work for everyone. There are tons of people who can’t abide living in heavily populated areas.

    40. Imhotep says:

      Volunteer! Helping others really IS fulfilling, provided people appreciate all your mad skillz.

    41. bdslack says:

      My parents sold everything – got a small boat and have been sailing around the world for the past 5 years.

      They got out at 50 with a ton of planning and saving.

      Their website.