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Too chicken to retire

By Jennie L. Phipps ·
Tuesday, April 9, 2013
Posted: 4 pm ET

Does the very idea of retirement terrify you? Do you worry that something catastrophic could happen and you'll find yourself living in a cardboard box?

Nearly half of all women  -- 49 percent -- fear becoming a "bag lady," according to a recent study of women and how they deal with money and power from Allianz Life Insurance Co.

I was thinking about this statistic Monday night when my husband and I were talking for the umpteenth time about when we're really going to retire. He's an accountant who works for an insurance company and spends all of his days looking at the cost of disaster. Believe me, it skews his outlook, and because I listen to him, it affects mine, as well.

After years together, neither of us is eager to take a whole lot of risk -- financial or otherwise. One of the results has been that whenever we look at his detailed budget and family financial plan, it never seems like it is enough for us to hang up our work boots and relax.

What will happen if the economy goes south and takes our investments with it? Will our adult children stumble and really need us to help out? Could the house that we built on the lake flood and be damaged beyond what flood insurance would cover? What would happen if one of us came down with a really debilitating illness?

Avoiding these kinds of exigencies is what retirement planning is all about, but even the most carefully laid plans can go awry.

Monday night, my husband lectured himself on being too cautious, and he set a date to stop going into the office. That's not exactly quitting work, but it's close. Maybe this time, it will really happen. I have my fingers crossed.

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