Scared To Retire

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Ah, retirement.  The time when you can kick back, give back or get back to something you’ve been missing all these working years.  We save for it, plan for it, yearn for it, wait for it.  And yet, when it gets close, retirement gets just a little scary.  It’s a big change, after all.  Change is scary.  I’ve been starting to get the willies over some changes retirement will bring in a few short months.  And I’ll admit, I’m a little bit scared to retire.

The whole money thing

Face it–most of what we are supposed to plan for retirement is to get together enough money to last at least as long as we do.  Quite a trick, given that I for one have no earthly idea how long that will be.  Or how much I’ll need if I’m 87 years old.   How am I supposed to know that?

Let’s get real a moment.  None of us knows anything about the future, or what kind of a future we can expect.  Nobody really knows that our dollars will be worth anything in 20 years.  We’re taking a lot on faith here.  So to feel like we’re the captains of our souls, we dutifully save what we can for the Big R.  And constantly hear it won’t be enough.

What to do?  Yeah, I’m scared of running out of money.  Being out of money is no fun.  I’ve even done it before, so I know what it’s like.  It’s an out-of-control feeling. That’s why I budget, and have plans for what to do in this case and that.  It takes the edge off the fear.

So have a contingency plan or two.  Every few years, review them because conditions change and so do you.  You might come up with better ones as you go.

Thirty years ago I thought that we’d be broke in five years and have to sell this place we live in.  We’re still here.  Conditions changed.  Now I figure we can get by for ten years before we have to cash out of this place.  Maybe the yard work will be too hard in five years, and I’ll have to think again.  So be it.

Scared to leave work

Well, now, that’s just ridiculous.  The whole point of retirement is to leave the workforce!  Why get scared to retire?

In my line of work, people need our help.  We’re constantly aware of it.   It’s sometimes aggravating but on balance it’s nice to be needed.  What if I’m not needed at home?  After all, I’m hardly there now.  What will I do to feel needed if I don’t have my job?  I’m thinking of getting a kitten.

And then, if people need me, and I retire, what will happen to everybody?  Will my coworkers pick up my load and struggle?  Will the care of my clients not be the same?   This one will eat at me some.

More about retirement guilt here.

Jobs give us identity.  “What do you do?” is a standard social question.  How does “I’m retired” sound?  It’s not a big fear for me socially, but it’s going to be an adjustment anyway.

More about identity quandaries here.

Changing income sources

Not to mention I’ve been the main provider for nearly 30 years now.  What about that?  How will I adjust to not being a provider?  Of all the job-related fears, this one’s the worst one that makes me scared to retire.

After all, I’ve been laid off before, and that made me feel worthless till I got another main activity that provided an identity.  I’ve left jobs before and did not leave smoking holes and disasters behind.  Nobody died of it.

But losing the main provider part, and the steady income, and having to live off savings, now that’s SCARY to the max.  After all, I only lived on savings before while looking for another job.  And it’s not fun to watch them shrink.  It’s the path to being broke and eating half a sandwich a day, not knowing where you’re going to live, stuff like that.

That’s where rebudgeting comes in–making sure to live within our means and adjusting to the new reality.  Done it before, too, and will do it again.

Scared to try new things

I have things to do lined up for retirement.  Trouble is, most of them are new, or have next steps that are new.  New things are scary.  When you don’t know much about business, do you really want to go into it?  Things like that.

My hobbies of the last 10 years or so have developed such that I will be able to start selling products.  More specifically, yarn.  I made a lot of yarn and can’t use it fast enough.  The sensible thing to do is to sell off some of it.  And since I am not business-savvy, or big, I figure an Etsy shop might do.

My husband can help with photography because he’s a whiz with cameras.  Etsy will have supports for little me to sell things.  I just have to put it all together.

What scares me most is that people may not like my yarn!  I have sold to friends and at a couple of craft fairs, but never online.  Things are different when you sell over the internet using pictures.  The customer can’t know for sure about texture, weight, or even color, since everyone’s computer reads differently.

But being basically clueless about business, a close second fear is that I will find a way to screw up and have expensive trouble as a result.  I have to figure out what to do about that before jumping in.

Social fears

I’m scared of having to move closer to people someday, probably an apartment.  Apartments, because of the noise and proximity to other people, drive me crazy.  People away from home are enough trouble.  At home, I don’t need more contact.

Having joined a club of mostly retired women a couple of years ago, I figure that will provide some social outlet and some manageable challenges.  Friends in the area get together periodically and I join them gladly to catch up.  That seems to be plenty for me.

Maybe in a few years, when moving to a smaller, cheaper place becomes necessary, I will find someplace where I can live normally for me, despite the higher density.

Medical stuff

Who wants to be dependent on others for basic daily needs?  Such a scenario gives me the willies.  Imagine not being able to get to the bathroom unaided.  Never mind affording it, just the very idea of needing that help 24/7 is galling.  My way of coping with that fear is to keep moving so I don’t develop that kind of dependency.  Use it or lose it!

Medicare Part D scares me.  I take medication for cancer and depression, and they aren’t cheap, even as generics.  My husband gets by well because he takes blood pressure pills that cost basically nothing.  But I am terrified that the cost-sharing will take half my Social Security check.  Some serious shopping will be in order.  Finding a tolerable plan will be a good project for May.

What scares you about retirement?



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