There is a lot of retirement advice - really a lot. Key that phrase - retirement advice - into Google and you get 350 million returns. That's the exact number – 350,000,000 - meaning there is whole lot more but Dr. Google probably reached her retrieval limit.
And every word of that advice is about money. Just money. From big companies who want some of your money to, if you scroll through enough Google pages, individual money entrepreneurs who want some of your money. They all want your money.
Every one of them, too, will tell you exactly how much money you need to have to retire in comfort and happiness and for most people that number is almost always more than, or damned close to, what they earned in their entire working life.
Nevertheless, each of them promises you can still somehow have the million or two million or other astronomical figure they warn you must have if you just pay them a whole lot of money to give you the secret.
This all came to mind a few days ago when a review of yet another book about what you need to retire happily (the answer, always, is money) was reviewed in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The author is (what else?) a financial planner who says that
”...happy retirees have a liquid net worth of at least $500,000; they have about three activities, hobbies or interests they love to pursue and they have a home value of at least $300,000. They also have an annual retirement income at or near $82,770. Unhappy retirees average about $53,370.”
Oh dear. My net worth and home value are well below this man's happiness quotient for those items and my retirement income is so much lower than his unhappiness average that I guess I might as well shoot myself now.
I wonder if it would surprise this guy to know that as small as my income is (by his standards), I am not unhappy and further, I know plenty of other retired people who live on less than I do and they're not unhappy either.
Generally, day to day, I am satisfied. I am grateful for my continued good health. I enjoy the work that goes into this blog and into helping develop Three Rivers Village in my community.
I take pleasure in good books (and some trashy ones, too), in some movies, music and in following politics and a few other topics that have always engaged me.
Although I did not intend to retire ten years ago when I was forced out of the workplace and would be employed, out of choice, still had that not happened, I enjoy the freedom to order my days differently now, to live on my schedule and experiment with my time.
After four years now in my new home state, I have made some friends but I also treasure my time alone, my solitude – I have always needed lots of that.
Would I like to have more money than I do? Yes. I lost more than a third of my savings in the 2008 crash and am nowhere near getting it back.
Would I like a deeper cushion for any future disasters? Of course. But a whole lot in life, a whole lot of living is uncertain, unpredictable, even precarious for most people. Why should I be any different.
What this guy and all the other 35 million retirement advisers don't get is that barring abject poverty (which they have no interest in helping anyway), happiness has little to do with money.
How's your retirement going?
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Wendl Kornfeld: Everybody Has a Story