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Thu, March 21

Column: Retirement marks new adventure for Boomers

How are your retirement plans shaping up? According to a national survey, Baby Boomers are retiring in record numbers. Unfortunately, more than 79 percent of all persons considering retirement fear that they won't have enough money to remain unemployed. Plus, the recent downturn in the economy has caused some soon-to-be-retirees to have 25 percent less "wealth" than they anticipated. Ouch. That means things like travel, golf games and shopping may be severely limited.

I guess retirement is weighing on my mind lately. My brother recently retired. He said after 30-plus years of "headaches" and running a public television station, he just "had enough." When I asked him what he would do with so much time on his hands, he answered dryly, "I love to cook."

Ha! Ask any woman who has been cooking her entire life what she plans to do in retirement and the answer won't be to happily spend more time in front of the oven. My brother's wife has already complained that she was "shocked' when she found a man loitering in her kitchen. I have heard that divorce rates are on the rise when men retire early. One woman from Prescott emailed me to say that once her husband of 30 years retired, it completely ruined their solid marriage. I didn't ask for details, but it sounds pretty scary to me.

My brother has been a Type A personality for as long as I've known him. Always busy, working long hours, driven to perfection, he is not the kind of guy that I can picture donning an apron and baking a cake. Evidently, a high percentage of retirees become so bored and depressed from "slowing down, " that a whopping 39 percent of retirees go back to work or start their own businesses.

Retirement marks the last phase in our lives. It is the chance to enjoy the fruits of our labor. The pursuit of hobbies, crafts, interests, art, travel, reading and just "goofing off" are high on the list of "what-to-do-when-I-retire." People can actually take personality tests to help prepare them for the ultimate enjoyment in their retirement. One psychologist in Phoenix claims that even if people are prepared financially for retirement, they are rarely prepared emotionally for it. An alarming number of retirees have "breakdowns" with too much time on their hands. Could it be that Americans really love to work?

We may work hard, but we also play hard. Many Baby Boomers aren't going to be happy sitting around playing shuffleboard. People over the age of 50 are taking flying lessons, buying new Harleys, skydiving, rock-climbing and scuba diving in record numbers. Golf? Too tame. Now that the age of 60 is considered the "new 40," old folks (oops, I meant to say older) are going to make retirement the "last adventure."

So what does the snapshot of retirement really look like? I guess it could be like one big cooking class. Add a few ingredients here, a little spice there, and hope that the whole concoction turns out pretty good. Plan now, Dear Readers, because the "next (and best) phase" might be lingering right around the corner.

Oh, and if you happen to get one of those letters from Social Security giving you the estimate of what you'll receive in benefits when you finally do retire, throw it out immediately. It will either frighten you or make you laugh hysterically. Either way, the good news is someday, if we live long enough, we'll have the chance to announce to the world those two blessed words, "I'm retiring." Hey, let the cooking classes begin!

Judy Bluhm is a writer and local Realtor. Have a comment or story? Email Judy at


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