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Planning For The Next Phase Of Life

January 18, 2011 · 146 comments

in Life

I am the youngest child in our family.  I don’t have any cousins, and nephews didn’t enter the picture until I was 24 years old.  I think that kind of gave me a ‘younger’ mindset.  I will always be the youngest, no matter what, in my own mind at least.

The thing is, I am 43 years old now, and I am not so ‘younger’ anymore.  I am old enough to need certain tests done every year, my metabolism isn’t as lightning quick as it used to be, my body aches a bit more when I play racquetball now.  I have to face it, I am staring ‘middle age’ right in the face.

This is quite an eye-opener for me.  I am not depressed or anything, I just realized out of the blue that I really need to start thinking about some things now that I am getting older, such as:

  1. Retirement. We are now closer to the end of our careers than the beginning.  When I first started working, I could pick a higher risk saving portfolio because I wasn’t going to be touching that money in FOREVER. Guess what?  Forever isn’t that far off anymore.  We don’t have a definite retirement date in mind, but it will most likely be within 12 years or so, if all goes well.   That means a thorough evaluation of our retirement portfolio is in order.
  2. Health. I am pretty healthy fortunately (knocking insanely on wood right now).  However, I want to be in great shape.  I want to be able to do whatever I want in our elder years.  I know weight packs on easier as you get older, so I want to be as fit as I can be.   I have stopped drinking pop, and now I need to step up the exercise routine.  I also plan to get a physical annually so I can keep an eye on my cholesterol and such.
  3. Me. The last 16 years have revolved around my 3 kids, and I think I may have gotten a little lost in the shuffle. In just 5 years, my nest will be empty; although it will probably feel empty sooner because I am sure my youngest will not just be hanging around the house in his high-school years.  I have started to take more time for myself, but I really need to think about what I want for myself, and come up with a plan to attain it.   I know those years will be great, they will just be different.
  4. Travel. What are the things in the world that I really want to see (realistically)?  Besides traveling to Canada and crossing the Mexico into Tijuana for an afternoon, I have never left this country.  There are locales I see on ‘House Hunters International’ that look fascinating to me, but I really am not worldly at all.  I would like to learn more about some other cultures and countries and see where I would really like to visit.  I don’t mean for a week, but maybe for a couple of months.  (I plan on being unusually well-off in retirement.  🙂 .)  I have often thought about owning a second home somewhere warm, but I think I would prefer a different experience each year, as long as I am still healthy and mobile.
  5. Volunteer. As my kids become less and less time consuming, I would love to spend more time volunteering.  I want to find something that really clicks for me so I do not burn out.

I really suggest that everyone take a step back and look at what their next phase in life is.  I think it is much easier to transition into these ‘new’ phases if you are somewhat prepared.  I know several people that retired fairly young, and it wasn’t nearly the dream they thought it would be.   Some of it is psychological.  I am sure it is difficult to go from being a respected executive at a company to being at home and feeling not needed anymore.  When you are working 60 hour weeks, the ability to sleep in may seem like it would be the best thing in the world.  However, suddenly being retired without any deadlines can be a hard thing to deal with if you are not prepared.   I think it would be ideal to ‘slowly’ retire.  Maybe consult for a while part-time or something instead of going from one extreme to another. Regardless, try to think ahead wherever you are in life.  Live for the present, but be prepared for the future.

So, do you have a plan for your next phase?

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{ 45 comments… read them below or add one }

Money Reasons January 18, 2011 at 6:48 am

I decided to make big changes this year! My retirement is on autopilot (sort of), but my health I really need to focus on, my career needs a closer look. It’s a busy time, that’s for sure.


Kris January 18, 2011 at 3:37 pm

MR- No better time that the present! I don’t have career goals (well, with my blog I do), but I do have health and money goals and I am working hard on both.

We can do it!


101 Centavos January 18, 2011 at 7:10 am

The closer we get to midpoint in life (I’m 48), I think one change that comes about is a different perception of time. Gradually, we don’t have all the time in the world. We can look back 10 or 15 years in adulthood, and project 10 or 15 years forward. Gradually, entertainment or leisure activities that were important a few years ago now may get judged in terms of time spent. And gradually, making investments with a deferred return (like planting young fruit trees), take on a new urgency – gotta do it now (!) this spring, because next spring will be one year later.


Kris January 18, 2011 at 3:38 pm

101 – This is so true, and that is what hit me! Retirement isn’t even ’20 years out’ anymore, it could be as little if 10 (with a lot of luck!). I am not saying I am old, but my stage of life is much different than it was 10 years ago, and I must plan accordingly.

Plant those trees Andrew!


101 Centavos January 18, 2011 at 7:05 pm

Having said all that, I very much like the age I’m at. I get along better with people, don’t get as emotionally wound up, and are much more relaxed about things in general.


Nicole January 18, 2011 at 7:42 am

We have a few post-tenure plans… but we also might end up making a c-change (sea change?) depending on what happens with DH. Whatever we do, retirement is a long way away.


Kris January 18, 2011 at 3:52 pm

Nicole, retirement is a long way away for you, but it time does sneak past awfully quick!


Roshawn @ Watson Inc January 18, 2011 at 8:24 am

Things are rapidly changing for us as well. Currently, we are navigating career changes. Staying healthy and hitting some additional financial goals are big focuses for us.


Kris January 18, 2011 at 3:53 pm

Shawn – is this good career change? I hope all is going ok!


Roshawn @ Watson Inc January 19, 2011 at 9:08 pm

Kris, everything is going fine. This would be great career changes…advancement (all somewhat related but different) 🙂


First Gen American January 18, 2011 at 8:30 am

Wow..our posts are similar today…we must be operating on the same wavelength or something.

I do get the sense that I’m being consumed by the care of my children sometimes. It takes a lot more effort to do even the simplest tasks like taking a hike in the woods, but I’ve gotta make the time to do those things more often. I sometimes feel like I’m losing my identity a bit by serving others so much. This summer when we were on vacation and we took the kids bouldering. It was the first time in a while where I was like “wow, this is what I imagined my life to be like with children”. I definitely want more of that.

I’m still a bit idealistic and I think anything is possible, even with limited resources. It just means that if you want to take a big vacation, you may have to save up for 2 or 3 years instead of 1 or go the backpacker route. There are options, it just depends on how badly you want to pursue that dream. We used to take 1 big vacation a year, but now that we have to buy 4 plane tickets, it’s more like some domestic travel and something international every 3-4 years.


Kris January 18, 2011 at 3:56 pm

Sandy, it is finding that balance that is hard. The one thing I am willing to spend money on is experiences for the family. That is why I can’t wait 2-3 years for a big vacation. We do tend to drive to our destinations and stay at decent places, but that is way cheaper than Hawaii or Europe. (I am considering a trip to Europe as a graduation present for my son in 2012, we will see where we are financially.) We have had some fantastic vacations to Florida, Outer Banks, Boston, Bar Harbor Maine, California, etc. But it is just not feasible for me to go overseas for a couple months right now like I plan on doing in my future.

As your kids get older, it gets way easier to travel with them. You will get more of that, trust me.


Jacq January 18, 2011 at 9:43 am

I’m too loosy goosy with my plans these days. I’m making a plan now for what I’m going to do with myself when I’m off work in a couple of months. There has to be a balance between plans and spontaneity.


Kris January 18, 2011 at 3:56 pm

I love spontaneity. If only our schedules would allow it more! Summer is about the only time we have some free weeks where we can just pick up and go. But then there is driver’s training, basketball camp, blah blah blah….


Little House January 18, 2011 at 9:49 am

It’s funny that you’re wrapping up your child-rearing years in your early 40’s and yet as I’m approaching 40 I haven’t had kids yet (hear that? Yet!) so my next phase may include kids. Since I feel a long way off from retirement, I’m not quite thinking about what I’d like to do. But realistically, I can definitely see working part-time in my retirement years – partly due to needing to stay busy, but it may also end up being partly because I have to. Although, I’ve always liked to stay busy so I’m not complaining. And as a teacher, I do get a lot of time off already. 😉

I think it’s great that you may be looking at retirement before 60!


Kris January 18, 2011 at 3:59 pm

Little House – it is interesting how people can be the same age but at totally different stages of life. I know many people spent their mid 20s traveling and such. I spent mine being pregnant and raising little ones. That’s ok, my travel days will come in time.

You have a great balance with being a teacher. Having the summer off would be fantastic, along with the holiday breaks. I wish I would have pursued teaching in a lot of ways.


retirebyforty January 18, 2011 at 10:58 am

Wow, you’ll be an empty nester in 5 years? That’s awesome. We are just starting this year and have 18 years to look at. 🙂
Traveling would be great for you! I know a couple that went to live in Italy for 3 months and they had a time of their life. We would love to do that at some point. Japan is really great too, 3 months would be too short.
When I retire, I would spend a lot of time with the kid and continue to work on growing our net worth.


Kris January 18, 2011 at 4:01 pm

RB40 – I think our retirement plans may depend a lot on where the 3 kids settle. If they don’t come back to Michigan, I hope they all reside in beautiful climates and that they really want me to visit!

Yeah, I will be 48 when the last one leaves the nest (almost 49). The house should be paid off by then too, and our discretionary income should skyrocket. (Hopefully).

However, we will not be able to retire by 40! (I am already late!)


Aloysa January 18, 2011 at 12:47 pm

I always want to do more volunteering and travelling. So far I do a lot more travel than volunteering. You should go and see the world. It is one of my dreams. 🙂


Kris January 18, 2011 at 4:02 pm

Aloysa, the world will still be there when I have money and time to travel. We do take a couple nice trips a year, just not overseas. We drive to all our destinations, except when we go to California.

You have already seen much more of the world than I, but my time will come. Part of it is I really hate flying.


retirebyforty January 18, 2011 at 6:37 pm

The world will still be there, but we would be older. Young people (20s) have so much more fun when they travel. I think 30s and 40s are still really great for travel and adventures. When you’re 60s, I think it would be much more difficult to have fun on the cheap.


Kris January 19, 2011 at 3:25 pm

RB40- our plan is to travel in our mid 50s. Given our health may not be perfect. However, I think I also appreciate things more as I get older. I am much more able to sit back and enjoy what I am seeing instead of rushing from one thing to the next.


Squirrelers January 18, 2011 at 12:58 pm


I just hit the big 40, and these thoughts have been entering my mind too, as I try to come to grips with being 40. Time flies so fast it’s incredible.

I feel a sense of more value to my time now, after passing this milestone. So, your post certainly resonates with me! Applies to all of us, but it hits you as you stare middle age in the face, I agree. Lots of meaningful (and fun) things I want to do, and time is ticking!


Kris January 18, 2011 at 4:04 pm

Squirrel – I hate that time is ticking! I think that is kind of what slapped me in the face the other day. I don’t have an endless supply of days to do this or that. Not that I plan on falling apart tomorrow, but it is time to really start thinking about the future and what we want. Time does fly so fast, you are right, so it is good to think about what you want!


Squirrelers January 18, 2011 at 4:23 pm

Kris – yeah, good way to put it. It just slapped me in the face too. You know, 30 didn’t seem that long ago, though lots has happened in my life since then. Still, I vividly remember how I felt that day. Now 40. Soon 50! So yes, it’s good to plan for times that will be coming faster than we realize, because time has already flown by fast. Enjoy every day to the max.


retirebyforty January 18, 2011 at 6:38 pm

You guys are old. :p


101 Centavos January 18, 2011 at 7:03 pm

We may be old, but we’re more cunning…


Kris January 19, 2011 at 3:26 pm

Good one 101!!!


Deidre @ TransFormX January 18, 2011 at 12:59 pm

It’s so interesting to view the world from different perspectives. I had my kids young so by the time I turned 43 they were already on their own. My youngest is 21 this year in fact and has his life filled with full time working, college and room-mates. 🙂

I’m also self employed so even though I can sleep till noon, its not a good idea if I want to eat next month 😉

The good news for all of us during this timeframe is that there are more and more options available to create incomes later in life. Years ago people worked one job and then retired @ 50-60. Now, not so much. People I know don’t even think about retiring until they hit 70ish. Thats a span of 20 years! A whole lifetime really.

When I was younger (20ish) I didn’t think about it much at all. Now, for me anyway, its more about re-invention rather than retiring 🙂

I love your final thoughts…
“Regardless, try to think ahead wherever you are in life. Live for the present, but be prepared for the future.”

This is great advice for any age or situation!


Deidre @ TransFormX January 18, 2011 at 6:01 pm

oops! That should have read:

It’s so interesting to view the world from different AGE perspectives.



Kris January 19, 2011 at 3:29 pm

Wow, you were young when your kids flew out of the nest. You are already in your ‘next phase’ of life, and it sounds like you are quite content!

You are right, there are so many different opportunities thanks to the internet. I do relish the thought of taking my laptop to a cafe in Paris and just typing for my blog while making money hand over fist. (Let me have my dream, ok???)


krantcents January 18, 2011 at 1:15 pm

Very interesting questions you raised! I went through these question quite a few years ago. Time moves a lot faster than anyone realizes. Now (for you) is a good time to plan. You have more control over your life that way.


Kris January 19, 2011 at 3:31 pm

Krant- Are you referring to becoming a teacher? If so, I do imagine that must have been a big life change.

Planning for the future is fun if you have someone with common goals and some resources. It is much better than having to react to circumstances.


Lindy Mint January 18, 2011 at 3:17 pm

Being prepared psychologically for future plans is a great idea, whether it’s for retirement or for transitioning into being self employed, or any other big life change (that you can plan for). It just seems like a logical step to be one step ahead of the game.

I too plan on being well off in retirement. 🙂 But, I guess I have to plan for that as well.


Kris January 19, 2011 at 3:32 pm

Lindy – We will both be rich, and selfless, and a whole lot more! 🙂

One thing I have found from some people that retired is they thought they were psychologically prepared, but they really weren’t. There minds appeared ready, but they hadn’t come up with a plan of what to do. They just knew they were ready to stop working, but didn’t necessarily take the next step of figuring out how they would be spending all that free time.


MoneyCone January 18, 2011 at 3:56 pm

Traveling is something you should do even before retiring – gives a completely different perspective to life!

Travel further than Canada and Mexico! 🙂


Kris January 19, 2011 at 3:23 pm

Moneycone- I do travel, just not internationally. We have seen a lot of things in the US as a family. International travel is just too expensive for 5 people. There are plenty of things to see here though, and I don’t regret spending one penny on any of it. OK, I take that back. We spent some money a couple years ago at DisneyQuest that I wish I could get back. (But my sons and husband don’t feel that way. Just my daughter and I…)


Molly On Money January 18, 2011 at 7:50 pm

My mind flip flops on retirement everyday. I can see working as long as possible but I hope I’m working for myself. I’m 42 and have many of your feelings. When I hit my mid twenties I felt a huge transition. I’m going through some of the same feelings.
We are working towards a lifestyle that will have little overhead. My hope is it will leave us lots of flexibility to explore lots of possibilities.


Kris January 19, 2011 at 3:22 pm

Molly, my mind flips and flops too. We should have a much great amount of financial freedom than we do now all at once. College mostly done, house paid off, etc. I don’t want to wish my life away, but not having debt at all sure will feel nice.


The Biz of Life January 19, 2011 at 8:35 am

Next phase for us is getting the kids to be independent and self-sufficient so we can do some traveling and begin to enjoy life as a couple again. I think the financial crisis of 2008-2009 was a wake-up call to all investors that they shouldn’t swing for the fences with every dollar they have, and they need to manage risk in their portfolios. I’ve always done this (just because it is my nature) and while 2008-2009 was harrowing, I was able to weather the storm without panicking.


Kris January 19, 2011 at 3:19 pm

Biz, I am in a very similar boat to you. My husband and I are so busy keeping up with the kid’s sports that we don’t get nearly the time as a couple as we probably should. We do go for coffee periodically, go for walks and play racquetball, but I know we don’t spend enough time together.

I did not panic is 2008-2009 either and I am so glad I did not pull out of the market. However, had I been in my retirement years, I would have been totally scared. (I will have a less risky portfolio in my retirement years though too.) It is fun to use part of your portfolio to swing for home runs, but people shouldn’t depend on it to be a ‘get rich quick’ scheme.


Invest It Wisely February 2, 2011 at 11:24 am

I could swear I’ve seen this post before? 😉 No need for a second home, just go backpacking. You might need to build up some stamina beforehand so I would recommend lots of long walks to help with that.


Kris February 2, 2011 at 11:27 am

You saw a version of it in comment form my friend! (Which I believe you are alluding too…)


MARTHA November 20, 2011 at 3:23 pm

I am intrigued that at a young 43 you are seriously considering what to do next. Kudos. I am 71, having had an unwelcome diagnosis which derailed my career at 57. Actually, then everything changed. And ultimately, I saw that as a gift. And I’ve had 12 years to try to put into place the puzzle pieces for what I’ll do for my remaining however many years. I honor journeys, started to write about my own, and pay attention to those elders over 55 who are slowing down and still wanting to be useful, and how we navigate the many losses. I blog about some of this stuff as I watch and learn (www.taketimeforyou.net/blog) one of the sites which constitute my retirement playground as I reclaim my energies for what I do love. I’m wondering what is that population’s key concern as they face a life of no deadlines and uncertain demands and how they think about using their gifts as part time workers or volunteers, or even if the notion of “natural gifts” is an confusing concept.


Chris February 10, 2013 at 4:56 pm

I am 46 and currently at the life change position and did not realize how unprepared that I was. My kids both went off to college this year. I have been divorced for 16 yrs and am single. I own my own home and with our economy the way it is even though I have been in my home 12 yrs now I owe more that what it is now worth. I am an hour from work and have said for YEARS that as soon as my kids go to college I will either move very close to work OR get out of the corporate world which I badly want to do. There is more to life than pure greed which is how I view it. I am at a very spiritual point in my life am simply am at a standstill crossroads. Sigh. It’s been 6 months since the kids left and I am still commuting. Thankfully, on a daily basis I am determined to come up with my real plan and follow it. I just don’t know exactly what it is yet. I prod and probe and research and look and talk and find like minded folks to talk to about it. Knowing I am the only one that can make the decisions and actually jump ship, I am a scaredy cat. I am not financially ready either which is the biggest holdup. Heck, I would sell off anything, hop in my paid for car and head to the West Coast somewhere that has year round warm temps, the mountains, and ocean (I don’t think there is such a place) and just go with only the agenda of starting over and finding my way. This time, through doing things I enjoy doing. I am always willing to go back for more schooling but…more $$. I need to find a way to be of service to the community where I can get paid enough to first survive then thrive.


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