Retire Fit, Fit and Fit: Interview with Author Howard Pell

When I was researching the topic I came across many posts talking about “how to retire in your 20s or how to retire before being 50”, and it’s all about being wealthy and having enough money at a certain age so you don’t need to work, as if we only work to make money. The way you defined retirement, and I like, is about not being obsessed by financial gains, yet you work because you love to do so.

Absolutely and I think of course the financial aspect is important, but for me what’s more important is that I’m financially fit enough to do the things I want to do. If I told you how much money I have and how many years I think I’m going to live and then you do the arithmetic and you may say ‘boy that’s nowhere near enough money for you’, other people would say ‘ Wow! That’s incredible wealth’. A huge factor depends on what you want to do and your desired lifestyle. For me and my wife – because this is a partnership – we have to make sure we both are in this together and this is something I do address in the book, you have to have that conversation if you’re married or you have a partner.

My wife and I decided that when I turn 60 years old and it just so happens to coincide that we said ‘ok. we do have enough money now for our retirement, for our lifestyle, for the things that we want to do’.  I’m not going to go and buy a yacht, I’m not going to make big purchases, like buy a brand new car every year or anything like that, but to live a modest lifestyle, and then yes, we have enough money.  As I said, some people will find that to be a huge amount of money, other people would say that’s nowhere near enough for me lifestyle.

Howard Pell: Retirement is not one big phase.
Howard Pell: Retirement is not one big phase.
Before I read the book, I thought that retirement is one big phase between having a career and working and earning money on one hand and dying on the other hand. I thought it’s long or short chunk of time and it’s just one phase. I will wake up one day and I am no longer in need to go to work. But in your book, you highlighted three phases of retirement.

Yes. You could probably slice it into smaller phases or more phases if you wanted to, but I thought three was a nice number. The first phase when you retire is that you’re fit and I mean fit, fit, fit: financially fit, physically fit and mentally fit or emotionally fit to retire. You’re excited about your retirement … you’re excited about the things that you want to do. You still have your physical health and your mental and emotional health … and you’re ready to go and with good fortune and perseverance, that period of your life could be quite lengthy. It could span 10 years or 20 years, we would hope as long as you possibly can maintain that pace.

Eventually, you will reach what I call the “contentment phase” and that is that you’ve had your fling … you’ve done all the great stuff you have done … some travels, you have made films or written books or whatever your retirement goals were … then, you’re starting to slow down a little bit and you’re very happy to stay at home, to spend time with your grandchildren perhaps or maybe even your great grandchildren, you’re happier perhaps to read books and to write books. So you’re content now you’re very happy just to be.

And the last phase, and I don’t mean this in a bad way, but I call it the ‘geezer phase’, I was trying to be a little humorous with that, that you know now perhaps your health is failing, you’re not as physically fit anymore. Perhaps you’re in a walker or wheelchair, you need special medicine, whatever it might be. I think in looking at all three phases we will really live a very long fit phase… a much shorter contented phase …. and a very, very short geezer phase. And I think the ideal is that geezer phase just happen very, very short and then it’s finished.

When we talk about retirement we have to think of death as a fact of life. So when it comes to death, we have to talk openly about it, especially when we are planning our financially, when we are finding our financial fitness plan and retiring I think charities, inheritance for example. How to have this type of difficult conversations?

This is such a difficult topic. I think if you have been involved in any family death or involved in the inheritance, you might see how families can be torn apart by one person getting upset because they weren’t given the family heirlooms, or they felt that they should be given a larger share of the estate or anything like that. Number one you must have a will, you absolutely must have a will and an executor; someone who’s going to ensure that your will is carried out. Number two, if you’re the executor for someone’s else, will, your parents or uncle or whoever it might be, then you need to see their will, you need to know exactly what they want, not only for what’s going to happen to their estate but also what will happen to their body, will they be cremated, do they want to be buried, where do they want to be buried, do they want monument. All of these things have to be decided and this is tough, tough decisions and tough conversations to have, especially with people that you love. And it has to be, it has to be addressed. The same thing too is what some people call ‘a living will’, where  I’m still alive but if I’m unable to tell the doctors or anybody my wishes then perhaps you know your loved one who ever that your appoint is going to have to direct the doctors of what to do … do you want resuscitation support or would you prefer to just die quickly and without too much pain and not drag it on for what could be weeks or months, so again such conversations are very difficult to have but important.

Originally posted 2017-06-21 17:07:16.

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