Creating a Successful Retirement

Bruce Preston, MD, FAAFP

At last! You’ve done it. You made it to retirement age and now you finally have time to do all those things you’ve been wanting to do. However, your bad knee or bad back are going to prevent you from doing some of those things you’ve been looking forward to.

I think the best way to have a successful retirement is not to put off the things you really want to do. Do them now! Besides, if you really enjoy them you can always do them again later without as many time constraints.

I have found that most of our colleagues prefer to continue working in some medical capacity after retiring. As family physicians, we possess a wealth of knowledge and experience. This, combined with our versatility, makes us extremely valuable and in demand. We still have a lot to contribute and many of us feel an obligation and duty to continue sharing our gifts. Just remember to allow time for yourself. Make sure you have the ability to take at least 2 weeks at a time off for extended trips or activities.

It goes without saying to begin funding your retirement as early as possible, but I believe it is even more important to find a good financial advisor early on. The proper advisor will become an invaluable resource and friend as the years go by and life happens. Some good news recently, you are not required to take distributions from your IRA until age 72 instead of age 70. So if you are still working part time and not in need of cash, you can continue to contribute to your IRA and it will continue to grow.

As you approach retirement age it would help to know your monthly expenses so you can work out a budget to see when and how much you may need in distributions from your retirement accounts. At retirement many of your expenses will go down. Hopefully, the kids are out of the house and self-supporting so educational expenses should be gone. Any life insurance needs should be minimal. You have probably paid off your mortgage. You will no longer be making large pension fund/IRA contributions.

Some expenses will go up (mainly healthcare and medications) once a COVID-19 vaccine is available lots of vacation and entertainment. On the positive side, you may cash in life insurance policies you no longer need and you must start taking social security benefits by age 70 if you decide to defer them until then.Don’t forget those U.S. savings bonds you have been hoarding as they stop accumulating interest after 30 years.

Amazingly, even in retirement there never seems to be enough hours in the day. Be sure to allot plenty of time to do the things you want to do and the things you have to do, like allowing at least an hour each day for exercise- preferably one you enjoy.

Indeed, the greatest benefit of retirement is time. You no longer have to rush through things because of so many obligations. Take your time and enjoy all the little things. You will have more time to spend with your family. Enjoy those books you have always wanted to read but never found time to read once you waded through all the journals you felt you had to absorb! Learn a new instrument or language, do some genealogy,  or organize all those old pictures and movies to convert them to digital for all the family to enjoy. Organize that trip of a lifetime you have always wanted to take but never had the time. Your choices are endless!

Just remember to make the most out of the time you have now and do those bucket list items before you retire. Enjoy this precious gift of time that retirement will bestow upon you and spend it wisely because you have certainly earned it!

About the Author

By: Bruce Preston, MD, FAAFP

Bruce Preston, MD, FAAFP, was Missouri Academy of Family Physician’s 2017 Family Physician of the Year, and served in various MAFP leadership positions. Dr. Preston was born in Cape Girardeau where he earned his undergraduate degree at Southeast Missouri State University.  He received his medical degree from University of Missouri Columbia and completed his residency at Baptist Memorial Hospital in Kansas City. Dr. Preston has been a family physician in West Plains for the past 40 years and is now retired.