The 3 Biggest Surprises of Retirement

by | Aug 17, 2020

Retirement presents many unknowns for those planning to enter their “golden years.” As it goes, more uncertainty tends to result in more anxiety. However, some components of retirement aren’t quite what they seem. Here are three of some of the biggest surprises of retirement.

1. Many Become More Engaged During Retirement

Recent retirees have often said, “I’m busier now than when I was working.” It makes sense. The beginning of your retirement years are likely to be filled with pent-up demand for travel, hobbies, and all those interesting things you were unable to do while you were working. You might even be surprised at how busy you are. But, even if this is the case, proceed with caution.

While life can be busier for a time, you’ll want to be sure you have a long-term plan for your retirement years, including how you plan to spend your days. It’s possible that the desire for travel and hobbies can wain after a few years, causing a void to appear in your lifestyle.

To prevent this, it’s important to stay involved in something that brings you fulfillment. This could include volunteering, spending time with grandkids, or even working part-time (see more about this below).

2. How Affordable Medicare Can Be

Health insurance can be expensive at almost any age leading to retirement. This is especially true for those that retire prior to age 65, since they have to secure individual coverage through state-run healthcare exchanges.

However, when Medicare coverage begins at 65, many retirees are surprised to find how affordable their coverage is. Medicare Part B premiums are $144.60/person (in 2020), while Part A is usually free.1In addition to Medicare Part A and Part B, most will also purchase a Medicare Supplement. Those that are 65 years of age pay approximately $105 to $120/month for a Plan G Medigap policy.2 Plan G is the most comprehensive Medigap policy offered, requiring only a $198 Part B annual deductible (as of 2020). After this deductible is met, there are no co-pays or additional deductibles for all Medicare-approved care.3

But, these costs don’t remain low forever. As you get older, Medicare supplement (Medigap) premiums will increase. An alternative to rising premiums could be a Medicare Advantage plan, which tend to offer stable premiums regardless of age.

3. How Impactful Part-Time Income Can Be

As mentioned above, it’s vitally important to stay mentally engaged during retirement. Working part-time is one way to do that. While there are physical and psychological benefits to semi-retirement income, there are also surprisingly significant financial gains to be had.

First and foremost, every dollar that is made through part-time or side jobs in retirement is one less dollar you must withdraw from your investment portfolio. That means your portfolio can (hopefully) continue to grow during this time.

Having semi-retirement income could also allow you to delay your Social Security retirement benefits, providing a 6-8% increase each year you delay4. This increase would help improve your income every year for the rest of your life, and perhaps the life of your spouse as well.

Contrary to what many might think, even a modest amount of semi-retirement income can make a substantial difference. If you make $10,000/year for 5 years after your initial retirement, that is $50,000 that stayed in your portfolio to compound and grow over time. Some retirees even consider their semi-retirement income the “icing on the cake.” If it’s there, perhaps it means taking an extra vacation or doing additional home repairs.

Bottom Line

The uncertainties of retirement are very real, and retirement does require much planning. However, retirement also offers a few pleasant surprises.

Many retirees find that they finally have time to devote their energy to long-overdue passions, making them more engaged during retirement than they were during their working years. Others are pleasantly surprised at how comprehensive and affordable their healthcare coverage can be. Lastly, some retirees find out their side jobs and part-time income can not only have a positive psychological impact, but a substantial financial benefit as well.

Of course, every major life change is bound to come with its own set of surprises. This is yet another reason why retirees must be able to adapt to a new phase of life, and the challenges that could arise. However, as with most things, preparation and planning is a key to retirement success.




2. Medicare Allies;


4. Social Security Administration;

Joe Allaria, CFP®, MBA

Joe Allaria, CFP®, MBA

As featured in The Wall Street Journal,,,, and Yahoo Finance.

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