For the better part of 40 years, I spent a great deal of time helping thousands of workers prepare for retirement. We ran seminars for workers and spouses on topics like retirement income, insurance, lifestyle, relocation and more. I think it’s fair to say that, if someone took advantage of the programs offered, they would have been well prepared financially and emotionally for retirement.
Sadly, relatively few workers utilized all that was available to them—this despite the support and urging of the unions that represented them. I retired in 2010, suffering in part from banging-your-head-against-the-wall syndrome.
Since then, I’ve learned a great deal more about retirement, both from my own experience and from others. Here are my top 10 lessons:
1. No matter how well you’ve prepared and how generous your sources of retirement income, money is always on your mind. For some reason, I’ve found the financial “what ifs” still stare us in the face. Perhaps it’s because we know there are no do-overs and hence our financial resources are finite.
2. I am convinced that, once retired, the ability to rebuild savings remains essential. You cannot handle a significant, unexpected expense from your main retirement savings without jeopardizing your financial future. That means you need emergency money, outside of your regular retirement plan, and you need to replenish that fund if it’s used.
3. In the old days, we used to tell employees about the three-legged stool of retirement income: company pension, Social Security and personal savings. Today, the stool has different legs. For most Americans in the private sector, there