Gerontologist Ken Dychtwald says frequently that the challenge these days for those approaching retirement is striking a balance between the "Tao and the Dow." That is, finding a balance between work and play, spending and saving, now and tomorrow.
My husband and I struggle with this issue -- sort of. Actually, while stocks figure into our retirement planning, we've never been known to consider Eastern religions.
This has been a lousy summer for us. He turned 64 and at an age when most people are cutting back, anticipating retirement, he has worked longer and harder in the last few months than most people half his age. Last weekend, which was totally screwed up for the umpteenth week in a row by his work commitments, led us to make some retirement planning decisions that I discovered today are along the lines of what Dychtwald talks about in his recent book, "A New Purpose: Redefining Money, Family, Work, Retirement, and Success."
Here's what we concluded, and what Dychtwald says that is along the same lines:
Keep working. Nobody can afford a 25-year, or more, nonworking retirement. Continuing to work means letting go of the dream of steering our boat from one warm port to the other, but the truth is, as Dychtwald points out, constant leisure without the challenge and purpose of employment sounds pretty boring.
Cut back on the things that don't matter. For instance, there was a time in our lives when we never went out to dinner -- it was just too expensive. These days, the temptation is to dine out about every other night. Throwing burgers on the grill is really not that much trouble and would save us a substantial amount of money. We've vowed to do that and look for some other small changes that would help us to plump up our savings account. As Dychtwald says, "This new era of increasing longevity and economic restructuring calls for wiser long-term thinking and greater financial self-reliance among all of us."
Continue to help our grown children. We always thought that by the time our children were approaching age 30, they'd be self supporting, but that hasn't been the case. And we're apparently not alone. A recent study by the U.K. arm of the insurance firm Aviva, says that 18 percent of people approaching retirement plan to continue to provide support for their adult children, while 33 percent of the adult children say they are counting on parental help. We could say, "No more money for you," but neither of us want to. Making their lives better makes us happy. Or as Dychtwald says, "At the end of the day, it's not the things we own that nourish us, but rather the experiences and relationships we share."