Saturday, February 19, 2011

Retirement Reality: What if Your Dreams Don't Come True!

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I keep telling people that I write about retirement in a place out here in the world where the "rubber meets the road."  I know about this because I have lived retirement life for almost 15 years.  Generally, I will tout all the positive things about retirement...both physically and emotionally.  But today I want to talk about retirement disappointment!

Most people that have lived to retirement age are very wise and have learned the hard way about dreams that don't come true.  I suppose that is a given.  But there are some dreams that seniors seem to have in common.  Those are the ones I want to talk about.  This is just a reality check of sorts:

Puerta Vallarta Nuevo, Jalisco, MX
  • The I'm going to TRAVEL DREAM:  My husband and I have done some world travel since we retired. It has been a lot of fun because we have children that live abroad.  Because they have access to wonderful places, know the ropes and are willing to share, doors were opened for us.  However, it was very expensive. Our children made part of the travel possible and we saved when we were working. You are NOT going to spend ALL of your retirement traveling unless you give up some very important things. One of those important things might be your home.  Think long and hard about in hotels or an RV is very confining and can test a marriage to the limits! You don't need to give this dream up but you need to be realistic!
  • The Move to a NEW LOCATION DREAM:  Living in the sun in the winter is wonderful. I have seen many people that want to move to a warmer climate after a short visit. Remember, never buy real estate on a balmy day if you are moving to say Arizona or Florida. On a balmy day it all seems perfect.  That dream can turn into a hot summer nightmare.  I have also seen people dream about selling their home in the north and moving to the south. We actually wanted to do this. It was dream. We did not even look at new homes because we are realistic.  Our home did not sell because of builder's faulty construction. We did not go into a deep funk...thank goodness. We have seen this happen over and over to other couples. My advice is to keep that dream in a reality realm until you can follow through.  
  • THE DO IT MY WAY DREAM:  I have seen one spouse decide to downsize in a small condo or park model. In our RV resort a spouse will arrive, buy a park model and get it ready so the husband/wife will be happy when they arrive. This is just so sad. If you are married, remember that your dreams need to be shared and validated with your spouse on some level. The dream will not come true unless both agree. If not, this can be a deal/marriage breaker. 
  • The IT"S ALL ABOUT ME DREAM:   This is a hard love to golf/fish/build dog houses. Your spouse does not share in your hobby or is not as proficient as you. You have planned to spend more time together but secretly what you wanted to do is just make your hobby your new job. Your spouse is shut out and hurt. It could be that both of you will be unhappy. Do you remember, your dream retirement, the one you both dreamed about all those years? Don't always make retirement all about YOU...this dream will not come true if you do that. You truly need to understand where the other is coming from. We are each individuals and that is very partner should not rain on the other's parade at the expense of all the other's big dreams. I have hear so many people say "I would love to travel to _________ or do ______ but my wife/husband won't go." I think that sometimes we need to make a personal dream come true for ourselves. Once in a while it can be all about YOU...just not always!  
  • The BUY A RV DREAM  Here might be the biggest reality check of all.  I know people that saved for that huge RV. RVs cost a fortune. Sellers will finance them fully...remember, you will never, never get your money back. In fact, if you finance for the amount they allow, you will be up a creek and it can cost you so much money your will never get over it when you sell. Don't buy a new motor home unless you  are willing to sell at a sacrifice in a few years. I have seen this happen over and over. This is a place where you need to take into account how you will make up the difference in the future...remember your age, how long you will use it and check to see if there is a less costly way to travel! 
All of these things are possible...but be prepared to be realistic and even disappointed. The rules don't change when we are growing old. Flexibility will make this part of your life easier. The dreams don't need to go away. They might just need some modification and revamping!

Note:  Be sure to read the Retirement blog by Rude Cactus below. You will see what I mean about retirement dreams when you read the comments!


  1. We are living the YOU dream right now. My husband is all about wood working. We bought a house that has a huge barn- for woodworking. I have nothing to do really. Miss the kids terribly and it is frustrating. Five more years and another decision will be made.... should be interesting.

  2. You know I know what you are saying...women/men that have busy involved partners who don't share their interests, face retirement in a different way. I personally had to learn how to make my own fun and treasure the time my husband and I spend together doing those few things we both enjoy.

    Thank you for your comment.


  3. When you get to retirement age, it would definitely be worth the wait for the dream you have been dreaming when you are still at work. Living on luxury, vacationing on hot travel destinations and doing all sorts of leisure stuff, really it is one of the best things I can say money can buy. But of course, things will go a lot better when your partner in life agrees on all of these. In seldom unfortunate cases, it is when they retire that difficulties in marriage arise leading to break ups and divorce settlements. It is such a disappointing point in life but if both parties agree to it, then nothing could go wrong, I guess. However, the couple must know the process of divorce and the financial aspects of it. They should know more info on divorce so they won't regret if ever they proceed and slice a significant chunk of savings just to push on their divorce plans.


Leave your thoughts...I am interested.

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