So you've just entered the "land of unstructured time," as some retirees call it. Is it everything you've always dreamed it would be? Not hardly. Here are seven things about retirement that may be overrated:
1. Sleeping in can actually make your normal sleeping patterns worse.
Sure it's great to stop being a slave to the old alarm clock. And now that you've retired, you can even nap in the afternoon whenever you like without judgement. But here's the bad news: As you age, getting a restful night of sleep becomes more difficult and sleeping away the morning is just going to add to the challenge. WebMD even suggests that retirement itself may contribute to your nighttime sleeping woes. "You might have a lot more downtime and be less active during the day. That can throw off your sleep-wake schedule," says the site.
2. Traveling whenever you want is a myth.
While it's nice to no longer be constricted to a measly two-week vacation slot or have to coordinate your time off with the rest of your work team, the truth is that traveling has gotten mighty pricey. Unless you have a nest egg that the rest of us can only imagine, you really can't travel whenever you want. You will be traveling off-peak season when prices are lower. That said, Paris in the rain is still Paris.
3. Doing nothing all day gets old fast.
Sure, doing nothing feels good for awhile. Heck you've slaved away for the man for decades and this is your time, right? But many people report becoming bored after the initial retirement euphoria wears off. In other words, you only think you want to fish or play golf every day. Most people find it's a jarring adjustment to go from having a hectic daily occupation to a completely unstructured day. Senior Living reports that for many working people, a job fills the largest percentage of their waking time. Once the job goes away, there is a sense of displacement. Most experts counsel that retirement planning include not just the financial aspects of leaving the workforce, but also include some daily structure. Answer the question: What will I do all day?
4. Your money supply disappears faster than you think.
Baby boomers are going to live a lot longer in retirement than they might have thought. And the traditional sources of retirement income don't look especially robust: the average Social Security check for someone retired is $1,293 a month and pensions are things our parents had. Many boomers saw their home values plunge and their stock portfolios cremated in the Great Recession. As a result, they expect to need to work well past retirement age -- assuming that there are employers that will have them. In a 2013 survey by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), 43 percent of people 55 and older said they have saved less than $25,000 toward their retirement; 36 percent had saved less than $10,000.
5. You can still enjoy senior discounts as a working person.
Most discounts for older people are age-based and you're entitled to them whether you are working or retired. And take a closer look at what they are before you get too excited. Many restaurants offer discounts to help fill tables in their slower hours, so if you don't mind eating dinner at 4:30 p.m., there's a discounted meal waiting for you somewhere. Ditto for movies -- the late morning matinees are cheaper for everybody, not just "seniors." AARP membership comes with discounts, but so does AAA, which has the added benefit of coming to jump start your car when the battery dies.
6. You've still got a lot to offer.
No longer tied down by the tedious 9-to-5 grind, many older people say they feel energized and more creative than ever before after they retire. Why let that go to waste? Staying active and pursuing work you enjoy prevents brain atrophy. But not only do your further contributions benefit you psychologically, it's also nice to keep the money flowing. In short, feeling needed never grows old.
7. Being in an office helps you maintain friendships.
Once you step outside the work environment, you have less in common with your former colleagues than you think. When you aren't involved in the day-to-day shenanigans of the job, you quickly lose interest in them. And those co-workers? You've stepped off the treadmill and they are still racing. Lunches are fast events, not gabfests.