The simple life can take many forms
Simplifying life in retirement can mean a lot of different things to different people, in the same way that living an extravagant lifestyle can have a variety of meanings. For me it has meant no longer being a road warrior, not having my daily agenda dictated by others (colleagues, clients, etc.), and embracing the prospect of not doing anything for extended periods.
Simplify by letting go of things
But what most consider the key to the simple life in retirement is letting go of things, and those are not necessarily exclusively material objects, but can be a large part of taking it down a notch. Many of us built up a war chest of toys during our career, or maybe just a lot of stuff. All of this can weigh you down if you desire a more frugal (also simple) lifestyle, or if you plan to travel a lot more.
Downsizing as a form of simplifying life
Does that mean downsizing – maybe? But not necessarily! Making life more manageable and free of clutter (also simple) in the current home might be enough. There is also the question of whether you would be happier in downsized accommodations. What if your new home or retirement location turns out to not be a good fit? Choosing the wrong place to retire could unravel a good retirement plan.
Our downsizing exercise was to free up the capital tied up in hard assets (real estate) and to consolidate that equity into readily convertible (or liquid) assets. We had a few real estate investments that we sold before my “relaunch” event and moved the proceeds into bond and equity markets. We also bought down the mortgage on the home we were living in to simplify the overhead we would manage.
Are you at peace with your retirement persona?
How about letting go of the work persona? Can you feel relevant in a retirement role that may have little to do with your accomplishments and fulfillment realized over decades in a work career. In my case, that was easy to do. My career had been satisfying beyond expectations and reinventing myself as a semi-retired individual was exhilarating. I have met (or read about) individuals that cannot fully accept that they are retired, but rather continue to identify with and define themselves by their previous profession.
Spending less in retirement
Does a simple life in retirement mean you will be spending less – again, maybe? But consider that you may not necessarily spend less if you no longer work or are working less. More free time means more time for travel and entertainment, so don’t expect your spending to dramatically decrease, which is another good reason for simplifying the overheads. Plan appropriately for this long before you retire. I monitored our spending for three years before my “relaunch” to understand where our money was going and rebuilt the budget several times.
Whatever simple life in retirement becomes for you, hopefully it is accompanied by fulfillment and enjoyment that you have earned!