A few weeks ago, I had the wonderful privilege to see Anthony Dominick “Tony” Benedetto a.k.a. Tony Bennett perform in concert at the ripe young age of 88. On August 3rd, he turned 89. In fact, what made the performance even more amazing is that he sang duets with Lady Gaga who strutted the stage with at least six outfit changes. As I stood in amazement watching this legend belt away his famous tunes, it made me think about how people should be approaching this word we call retirement.
A friend of mine and fellow Wall Street Journal author Professor Olivia Mitchell from the Wharton School of Business recently pointed out in an article about how people are aging more vibrantly than they did in the past. On the left is the famous artist Albrecht Durer’s portrait of his 63-year-old mother in 1514. On the right is the lovely actress Helen Mirren at the same age more recently.
It’s going to become more common to see people in America live to be the age of 100. For people who were born in the early 1900’s, they faced a life expectancy of around 50 years old and living into your 70’s was extremely rare. They not only had pensions, but as social security materialized as another source of income nobody expected to collect on this fixed income source more than 5 to 10 years.
The reality today is that pensions from companies have all but vaporized into thin air. For those of you who have a pension, you should thank your lucky stars that this income will be part of your retirement plan. We also know that social security is slowly becoming bankrupt, and that some sweeping changes to the program looms for the future. Thus, the idea of “retiring” will sit squarely on the shoulders of how well you build your own nest egg.
From watching the remarkable performance by Tony Bennett the other evening, perhaps you may want to take a different slant on retirement. The consideration here would be to create enough baseline money to cover your overall fixed expenses in your budget. Then, wrap your arms around something you can become incredibly passionate about in life that will earn you enough income to cover those discretionary expenses as you age. If you plan to live to the (I guess not so ripe anymore) age of 100, having something to get excited about every day won’t only help you emotionally, it might just provide you that extra income so you can leave the job you hate today and start working on something you love. Just don’t leave your heart in San Francisco!