This is a re-visit of a blog from over 2 years ago and updated in light of the current pandemic. Retirement, the Third Age, entering the 3rd Act or whatever you might call it has changed dramatically over the last few decades such that we can now expect to live far longer than those born a hundred years ago. That is if we survive the Covid-19 (CV-19) pandemic. Survival is going to depend on a lot of things but in the main if you are following the rules your risks are relatively low – keep distancing, washing your hands and wear a mask if you do have to go outside and you’ll be really unlucky to get the Corona Virus. However if you do there are a number of risk factors that will hamper your recovery. Some you can’t do anything about so older males with underlying conditions from the Indian Sub-Continent seem to be doing the worst. Here’s a factoid – for every 7 years older you are your risk will double! However obesity, underlying conditions such as diabetes, respiratory disease, heart disease, hypertension and possibly low vitamin D are all modifiable, that is we can likely reduce our risk by addressing these. Lose a bit of weight, stop smoking, get fit, monitor and treat your blood pressure if needs be and take Vitamin D. It may seem too late to change but my guess is CVB-19 will be around for a long time so it’s never too late to change! (Even if CV-19 were to disappear as quickly as it came, these interventions will likely improve your chances for a long health life!)
Among men, life expectancy at birth increased from 50 in 1910 to 80 or so a century later, so if we assume that the 1st Act – Birth and formal education has remained essentially the same and the 2nd Act of ‘the BIG job(s)’ ends traditionally in the sixth decade but possibly much, much earlier, we might well live with purpose for another score beyond the 3 score and ten! This 3rd Act/age and its duration are determined in part by luck but also having hopefully looked after ourselves in the previous decades. However,we, that is those beyond the mid-point of our life expectancy don’t have all the dilemmas posed by the ‘The 100 – year life’.
Retirement, the Third Age, entering the 3rd Act or whatever you might call it has changed dramatically over the last few decades such that we can now expect to live far longer than those born a hundred years ago. Among men, life expectancy at birth increased from 50 in 1910 to 80 or so a century later, so if we assume that the 1st Act – Birth and formal education has remained essentially the same and the 2nd Act of ‘the BIG job(s)’ ends traditionally in the sixth decade but possibly much, much earlier, we might well live with purpose for another score beyond the 3 score and ten! This 3rd Act/age and its duration are determined in part by luck but also having hopefully looked after ourselves in the previous decades. We, that is those beyond the mid-point of our life expectancy don’t have all the dilemmas posed by the ‘The 100 – year life’,
However, we likely have much more time than our parents and forebears. The modern world has many downsides, many of us work harder for longer to provide for ourselves, family and future and this can take its toll. However, the improvements in public health, medicine and technology have increased not only our life expectancy but the likelihood that we will live these bonus years in good health and maintain our mental and physical well-being for many years. The old retirement has been replaced by something new, I’m not sure it’s even been formally identified and certainly I can’t find the descriptive noun that adequately describes it. For now being positive – it’s the ‘TOYL’ – The Time Of You Life (… to have the time of your life!) Rather than the traditional gold watch token ending our working lives, by choice or otherwise and a life of inactive leisure that many were utterly unprepared for and lasted but a few years, many of us aspire to do and enjoy more of the things we had no time for, whilst avoiding the things that sapped our energy in our 2nd Act. This can include continuing to work in either a different role, part-time or doing something completely different, or not. Expanding an existing hobby, as opposed to finding one once transitioned is an excellent start, albeit that very few will actually want to play golf every day and will need a bank of pursuits even if it’s only for rainy days!
So how do I see this ‘age’ – Beyond ‘This is the time of your life to have the time of your life’ it is the transition to and beyond the 2nd Act, that of often full-time work however that is defined. When this starts can be by choice, circumstance or design. Some will retire early and enjoy a life of leisure, others may work well into their eighties for the pleasure, purpose and passion that their job/work gives them.
THe CV-19 pandemic will unfortunately make a lot of choices for us now and in the future. For many their job may no longer be there waiting for them and getting a new one when near ‘retirement age’ may well prove difficult. For some having worked from home will have given them a new outlook on their work-life and may businesses will likely want to save on estate costs and now that we have somewhat ‘proven’ the ‘working from home can be as productive as in the (expensive) office’ hypothesis, this may well become the ‘new normal’ and work-life will carry on albeit from home. Some of us will have used this time to reflect on ‘where we are’ and ask the question, “Do I want to carry on working” as well as “Do I need to carry on working” – That is maybe you’ll be FIREed-up to start the TOYL early and leave the TOIL behind.
FIRE – Financial Independence Retire Early has in the main up until now been an aspiration for some to work hard and save hard now and then live off the savings – this is proving more difficult if one is heavily invested in stocks that are losing value etc. However if you can’t or won’t go back to the old job you might want to look at what you have, what you need and decide if a more modest lifestyle without employ is something you can do if you so choose!!
I am aproaching (edit!) over sixty in a traditional profession and looking to discover what life will like be once I stop work. I am fortunate to be financially secure but have like many worked long and hard hours at the expense of building up hobbies and passions that I can look forward to expanding on when the time comes to stop work. In fact, I am lucky/hesitant enough to not ‘fall off the cliff’ but to have the opportunity to ease my way out by working part time and using some of this freed up time to explore my future life! Working in healthcare has meant that my job is safe and if anything more secure than before the pandemic.
However, I am interested in how others essentially take the same data set and come out with very different answers. The range is huge from those ‘downsizing’ in their 30s to a simpler but more fulfilled but sustainable life to those for whom there will seemingly never be a right time to stop or even slow down, never enough money, status or achievements to give them whatever it is that some of us recognise as ‘TOYL’ the Time Of Your Life and to do different.
There are no right and wrong paths and we all need to find our own way. The little that I have picked up so far suggests that there may well be some misconceptions that create barriers to making the transition to TOYL. Ask the majority of financial advisers how much money you will need and the answers will be in a range of up to 90% of one’s last annual income. I would suggest no more than half this is necessary and quite possibly half that. It will be very individual and dependant on the ‘lifestyle’ one expects to either maintain or transition to. Remember no more work-related costs, commuting fares etc. Offspring may now well be financially independent and hopefully the mortgage all (but) paid off. There will (hopefully) be a pension, possibly some realisable assets, property to sell and downsize from etc. The balance may be rather more modest for some than others but overall we would hope that we will at least manage. How businesses and government respond to the pandemic as we ease out the other side will be interesting and may throw up some opportunities. It would seem the young are most affected by job losses and education being shut down. There may be ‘incentives’ to retire early with redundancy or government schemes to help the younger generation – keep your eyes open!
On a financial point it may well be worth getting this down on paper and seeing where you are at now and where you’ll be when the salary check no longer gets paid in. How much money will there be at the end of the month or how much month at the end of the money! It’s a good idea to talk this through with an independent financial adviser but do challenge and make sure the predictions reflect your aspirations and realistic expectations – most are not going to drive off into the sunset in the new Ferrari on a European road trip taking in the best 5* hotels, Michelin star restaurants and finest wines – However if that’s your plan, it might need some more planning! (…and some more paid work!) Looking into your pension plan may also be a good idea to determine the penalties or benefits of taking this early.
This is me transitioning, my journey into a somewhat unknown third act, both exciting and filled with trepidation. I’ll share my insights and those of others here and would welcome your stories too. What worked for you and what didn’t – Can others learn from the experience of the hive? – Can we make the transition from Act 2 to 3 not be a final curtain call but really and truly The Time Of Your Life To Have The Time Of Your Life? – I truly hope so!
With CV-19 many of us will have had a practice run out with the the life of a retiree and this may spur us on to accelerate either a return to work, staing home and still doing the job or start an on-line business of our own or maybe help give a kick start to the TOYL.
However it works out, I’d love to hear your stories – whatever this is, it’s a moment in time that will go down in history with good and bad – let’s hope more of the latter!