How to Test Drive Your Retirement: Addressing Retirees’ 3 Biggest Fears

Are you a glass-half-full or glass-half-empty type of person? Whichever camp you belong to, it’s realistic to have concerns about your retirement life. The changes that retirement brings deserve serious thought, and more importantly, action. It’s even better if you can test drive your retirement to see if the plans you put forth really work for you.

The team at Heritage Capital has been helping people retire with confidence for more than 30 years. In that time, we’ve identified the 3 biggest fears that those on the cusp of retirement encounter. I want to discuss those fears with you and, more importantly, what you can do to tame all that anxiety.

Don’t let fear impact your Golden Years. Instead, make plans now that will support your lifestyle when you’re no longer on the clock.

Remember the age-old adage: People don’t plan to fail. They fail to plan.

Fear #1: Running Out of Money

When they say that 70 is the new 50, they’re not kidding. We’re living longer than our grandparents would ever have thought likely, so it’s no surprise that retirees’ number one fear is outliving their money. The majority of older workers live with that fear and a considerable number are worried that they won’t be able to meet their essential household needs.

Poverty in any age is terrifying, but it’s even worse during retirement. As you age, you’re less likely to return to work, your medical bills will likely rise and inflation will chip away at the value of your savings. The truth is that you’re likely to be living on a fixed income for one, two or three decades. The key to facing this challenge is to create a long-term plan.

Don’t Fear Running Out of Money – Budget and Plan for Your Retirement Years

We all have the ability to plan ahead; the trick is putting that ability to work. Start with a retirement budget that you can live on. That budget should incorporate all your expected income and benefits as well as the spending you’ll do to enjoy your retirement lifestyle.

Ask yourself some serious questions about the options available to you that will improve your income/expense balance. For example, do you own your home? Many retirees consider downsizing and even moving to a more affordable location in their later years. But that can be disruptive at a time when you’re looking for continuity. Talk to your financial advisor about tapping into your home equity. This can be one way to improve your budget outlook.

Another strategy is delaying the start of your Social Security benefits. Does the extra monthly income afforded by postponing your claim outweigh the benefit of accepting your Social Security checks now? Discuss the pros and cons to each option and test out different scenarios to see how they will actually work.

Similarly, play with numbers representing your healthcare costs, expenses, retirement account distributions, long-term care needs and the impact of inflation. When you steep yourself in the numbers, fear will give way to a realistic appreciation of the different strategies open to you.

Another tip: It can be helpful to live on your retirement budget before you actually retire to see if it’s something you really can live on. Test driving the financial aspects of your retirement can identify issues in your plan and give you time to fix any problems before you forgo a regular paycheck.


Start the conversation about your retirement and financial future. Contact Heritage Capital to see how we can help.


Fear #2: Losing Identity/Purpose in Retirement

When your job filled your life, you knew who you were and what purpose you served. The challenge for many retirees is replacing those external definitions with something far more organic – a purpose to life that springs from within.

If work took up most of your time, you must now decide how to spend that precious commodity in ways that express who you really are. Having a surplus of time can indeed be disorienting, but it’s also an opportunity to redevelop your enthusiasm for and curiosity about things new and old.

Plan How You’ll Fill Your Days

Don’t assume that you’ll have a lot to do in retirement. Make an actual plan.

Remember, planning your future activities doesn’t mean making iron-clad commitments. More than likely, your immediate retirement interests will evolve. Perhaps you’ll want to get more involved with your extended family in a supportive way. Young parents really do need help raising their kids, especially when both have full-time jobs. Then there are those long-postponed activities that you now have time for – hobbies, travel, reading, religious affiliation, even political activism. Let your mind wander freely and you might find you’ll have truly little “free time” in your retirement schedule.

Fear #3: Losing Community in Retirement

Isolation is a real problem as we age. It can be hard, especially for men, to make new friends in their 60s, 70s and beyond.

When you worked, your job may have been the centerpiece of your social community. After retirement, it’s natural to feel a little lonely and out of touch with your community. Fears of isolation are real, but it helps to plan beforehand who you’ll spend your time with.

Plan Your Community Involvement

Be realistic about the energy and courage you’ll need to start involving yourself in your post-employment community. Will you face challenges like transportation and mobility? Will you need help managing your health and wellness? Unfortunately, many seniors aren’t familiar with the various community resources available for the aging.

There’s no reason to leave your community involvement up for grabs. As it turns outs, there are many free and low-cost resources that can help you get beyond the isolation that often arises when you independently age in place. Some great places to research include:

  • National Council on Aging: Provides community services and is a top source for information about senior programs dealing with financial security and healthy aging.
  • AARP: Devoted to helping people over 50 improve the quality of their lives. When you become a member, you get access to its informative website and magazine that focus on healthy lifestyles, products, discounts and news for seniors.
  • PACE: Provides and coordinates help for seniors living at home who need nursing home care. Its services support social interaction, medical/personal care, transportation and so forth.
  • National Institute on Aging: Supplies vital information on health topics, including exercise and physical activity routines.

Of course, many seniors opt to live in communities specially designed for their social and wellness needs. They may include amenities like golf, tennis, dining, medical support, dances, theater and dozens of other features.

Whatever you plan to do, don’t assume that your family and friends will also have time and be available to visit on a regular basis. This is a common misconception for pre-retirees and can lead to loneliness and depression in retirement.

Why a Retirement Test Drive Can Be So Beneficial

In sum, fears about money, identity and community in our retirement years have a basis in reality. But we can seize and improve our realities with thoughtful planning, budgeting and research before entering into retirement. An actual test drive can help us experience this lifestyle before it becomes reality. When living like you’re retired, you can identify problems in your plan and have time to discuss your options with a financial advisor.

If you have fears about your retirement, contact the professionals at Heritage Capital. We use active investment management and comprehensive financial planning to help you control your risks, so you can have a successful retirement no matter what happens with the markets or your world.

Let your later years be your best years!



Paul Schatz, President, Heritage Capital