What are the retirement planning strategies that an internationally recognized retirement expert successfully has used to plan her own retirement? There’s plenty you can learn from Anna Rappaport, a researcher, consultant, author, and speaker on a variety of retirement planning topics.
Rappaport is also a past-president of the Society of Actuaries and the current chair of its Aging and Retirement Research Initiative Steering Committee. In that role, she puts a special focus on women’s retirement security, which differs in some key ways from retirement security in general.
Recently, Rappaport shared her personal perspectives on and experience with retirement in a guest post written for Nerd’s Eye View, the influential blog from Michael Kitces for financial advisors. Her post, titled “Reboot, Rewire or Retire? Personal Experiences With Phased Retirement and Managing A Life Portfolio,” focuses on the non-financial aspects of retirement. She believes these goals are just as important as creating financial security in retirement.
Rappaport believes that the key to retirement well-being is to develop a diversified, four-part “life portfolio” consisting of:
- People (family, friends, professional contacts)
- Pursuits (work, volunteering, hobbies, community activities, travel)
- Places (home and community)
Much of current retirement literature and advertising focuses on the “vacation” aspects of retirement, with dreamy pictures of couples walking on the beach at sunset, hand in hand, or holding rum drinks with miniature umbrellas. But Rappaport appropriately points out that a vacation is a break from what we normally do. “People who retire with the idea of an endless vacation are likely to be disappointed or bored within a year or two, if not sooner,” she says.
Rappaport’s post details the various ways that people can continue working, earning, and remaining engaged in their retirement years. She provides interesting insights for people who’ve held senior positions or visible roles during their careers. She advocates making a conscious choice between being known as “me, today” vs. “me, former vice president/director/partner/important title.” She has chosen to be known as “me, today” but describes her extensive former roles in her bio.
Rappaport also advocates planning with the rest of your life in mind. Too often, people approaching their retirement years plan for the “go-go” period of retirement and overlook the inevitable “slow-go” and “no-go” periods of their lives. Sooner or later, spouses, family, and friends will need support and care, and it’s important to be there when they need help. And eventually, you might need help, too, from the social network that you’ve carefully nurtured.
The last lines of Rappaport’s post are compelling: “Some things require a lot of vitality. Do them now while you can. You never know when limitations are coming.”
Some people use these type of thoughts to justify spending lots of money on that cruise to Tahiti they’ve always wanted to take. While that might be fun, don’t blow your savings and end up jeopardizing your financial security in your remaining years.
Better yet, consider Rappaport’s final advice as motivation to work on any unfinished business in your life. This might range from reconnecting with family and friends you haven’t seen in a while to taking up a cause or interest that you’re passionate about or even working on your “bucket list.” It can be one way to lead a fulfilling life without spending a lot of money.
Rappaport’s wisdom can help older workers and retirees better prepare for an enjoyable and fulfilling retirement. While this post just skimmed some key and unique highlights of her post, it contains many more insights and details, and would be a great read for anyone approaching their retirement years.