Record-breaking Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps took retirement after he won his 18th gold medal in the 2012 London Olympics. Following a short-lived retirement spent playing a lot of golf, he's about to dive back into the competitive pool, beginning with next week's Arena Grand Prix in Mesa, Ariz.
Here are five retirement planning lessons all of us can take away from Phelps' quick return to work.
Don't quit too early. Enjoy the game, even if you are no longer at the top. Consider Denver Broncos' quarterback Peyton Manning, who at 38 is 10 years older than Phelps and still playing. Manning's arm is weaker than it once was, but he's got a big job and salary -- nearly $18 million in 2013. Phelps quit while he still had plenty to offer. He may never be an Olympic wunderkind again, but for those who can do it, being in the pool is a lot more exciting than observing from the stands or even the broadcast booth.
Stay connected. All the predictions about Phelps returning to competitive swimming include the observation that he has continued to surround himself with smart coaches and good friends who seem able to help him find the right path. Maintaining relationships of all sorts makes retirement much happier for almost every retiree.
Where you live matters. When Phelps retired to a condo in Baltimore, he not only got a great view, he also accepted a tax burden that would put a big dent in most people's retirement nest egg. He obviously travels a lot, and he could have selected a more retiree-friendly state as his principal residence -- maybe Florida, where there is no state income tax. Instead, Phelps chose Baltimore, where there is not only a 5.75 percent state income tax, but also a 3.2 percent city income tax. Ouch!
You can only play so much golf. Phelps took up the traditional retirement game, but judging from his performance at a number of charity pro-am tournaments, he's not going to medal in that sport.
Money isn't everything. Phelps has about $55 million, according to numerous sources. That's enough money so that he would never have to work again. But as with many retirees, for Phelps, it's apparently harder than it looks to dog paddle in the slow lane.