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How I Overcame Being A Retirement Scaredy Cat

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Recession, political jackassery, market insanity, pandemic, inflation, supply chain, extreme weather, war, the list goes on. It seems there’s always an outside crisis beyond our control. Turning even rational and money wise people into a retirement scaredy cat with worries about the negative impacts to retirement success. 

After decades working and performing to earn income, fearful thoughts about retirement are natural. It doesn’t only come into play when making the decision to retire. It can creep in during retirement, causing us to pull back from well planned and wanted retirement experiences. Here’s what calms my inner retirement scaredy cat.

How I Overcame Being A Retirement Scaredy Cat

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Shooing Away The Retirement Scaredy Cat  

I was all set for an early retirement at age 50, but then the great recession set in. My numbers were diminished and barely worked out through the retirement calculator, causing hesitation in my pulling the retirement trigger.

It took me another year to finally jump. It was time that I needed to figure things out and find a way to overcome my retirement fears. As the years have passed since my sacred retirement day, I’ve come to rely on what gave me the courage to retire during a recession to shoo away the retirement scaredy cat whenever it sneaks in.

Developing and then believing in my good money habits.

People who are savvy about personal finance have an advantage. Good money habits are actually skills to navigate through volatile financial times. Realizing that I wasn’t just retiring to let life and my finances run on autopilot is one of my biggest fear erasing assets. I’ve already a proven track record of having a solid relationship with money to get to this point of retirement. Something that even when there is chaos beyond my control around me, I could rely on it to guide me successfully through it.  

Understanding what I was retiring to was far better than what I was retiring from.

I didn’t give up something I valued more than my retirement. Knowing that whatever unforeseen risks were involved, it is worth it. Some early retirement scaredy cat thoughts were centered on walking away from a long held career and paychecks that took decades to develop and hard work to achieve. 

I did have to give myself this pep talk many times before ditching the rat race. I found that this mental nag quickly decreased after retiring and actually experiencing how to live without a job title. The knowledge that I value my retirement also aids in my desire to remain retired on my terms and keeps me focused on everything it takes to have a successful retirement.   

Figuring out if things went to hell financially that my scorched earth minimum retirement budget wasn’t all that bad.

Setting and living within a well planned retirement budget includes covering essential costs, but also a lot of what makes retirement the reward we hope it to be. Setting cashflow threshold triggers for budgetary counter measures delivered anti retirement scaredy cat assurance. 

Budgets require monitoring and any hints of cash flow or earnings shortfalls means cutting back BEFORE things become critical. Setting and seeing the minimum survival budget during any serious downturn along with aligning the portfolio to support it can provide fear crushing retirement confidence. I always feel that even my worst day living on a restricted survival budget would be  better than my best day wasting my precious time working in a job I’d rather not be doing.

Realizing that the worst that can happen is unretiring and chasing dollars again with a job.

I had always planned on being open to taking on paid retirement opportunities if they checked off my want to learn and do boxes. So it wasn’t a big stretch to accept that the worst that could happen is my having to temporarily accept working again based on salary. 

What I didn’t know before I retired was that when you are in a retirement mindset, working can be enjoyable. My retirement gigs that focused on interests and passions have shown me that. Even taking on a part-time gig that brings in a small cash flow increase could plug any budget holes to likely solve a crisis caused retirement funding shortfall.

Having a phased financial plan for retirement: All on my own, Medicare, and later Social Security.

I used to write technical requirements as an engineer. It was easier to comprehend and understand when details were displayed in organized chunks. It made sense to do the same with my retirement funding plan. Breaking down the necessary financial requirements for the years being 100% on my own before I could receive my long earned Medicare and Social Security benefits. This chunking helped to easier visualize retirement funding success and tame retirement fears. 

The plan also included all of the likely activities and possible paid opportunities that I would be more likely to have in the earlier years than the later years. It recognizes that aging plays a role in retirement spending and activities of interest. This approach makes it easier to track funding success and make adjustments as time passes in retirement. 

There are many ways to calm the inner retirement scaredy cat. The one thing that always enters my mind when it silently creeps in is the reality of time. Spending our valuable time is unavoidable and we are only given so much of it. It’s of unknown quantity other than knowing that it decreases daily. Sometimes that is all we might need to tell the retirement scaredy cat to scat, this isn’t your home.

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