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The Ready.Set.Retire! Blog

Turning 50 & Entering the Retirement Red Zone

Wesley Del Col, CFP

 Ah, 50! You are now armed with the hard-earned wisdom of your years, and are eagerly anticipating what the next 50 years will bring! After the birthday candles have been blown out, and you have graciously accepted the “cute” presents from your friends and family (mugs and sweatshirts with silly slogans), you may find yourself wondering, “What next?” now that you've entered into the Retirement Red Zone

 Turning 50 and Entering the Retirement Red ZoneRather than viewing age 50 as a drawback, many people feel that reaching this milestone is an exciting chance to uncover new opportunities. If you are beginning to contemplate a life beyond “punching the clock,” you might want to begin by examining how central work has been to your lifestyle.


 Many people, either by necessity or choice, have made work the focal point of their lives. Indeed, in many cases, many of us may have found little time for anything but work. Even to those for whom work is not all consuming, the importance it plays in our sense of self-esteem is not to be underestimated. Now, however, you may feel that although your career was once the focal point of your life, multiple avenues of possibility do exist outside of work, and you are looking forward to exploring those opportunities.


Seize the Day

Turning 50 is the perfect chance to seize the day, and set new life goals. You may now have the ability to diversify your activities, and do things that may have seemed impossible in years past. You may enjoy the prospect of engaging in charitable work, or you may wish to pursue activities that relate to your interests and passions. You may want to plan to take some long desired trips—just for the pure fun of experiencing new places and new people.


With so many possibilities, now may be the perfect time to emphasize lifestyle. You may now find yourself in the position of being able to integrate work into your life, rather than trying to shape your life around work.


An evolving lifestyle based on this model might look like this: part-time work to help maintain the feeling of being a productive member of society needs; charitable work to satisfy an urge to “give back” to your community; taking a class to rekindle the joy of learning; and, engaging in sports and hobbies that are intrinsically fun and healthy.


Are these options really possible at age 50? The answer might depend on how well you have planned financially for a time when you can work less, and how easy it will be for you to psychologically de-emphasize work. If such changes are not yet feasible, there is still time to plan around a different timetable or age. If you are not yet 50, you might want to begin planning a strategy that will allow for some lifestyle changes when you do “come of age.”


So, why is 50 the “magic number” anyway? 50 is somewhat unique in that, for many of us, it is an age at which primary parental responsibilities may be behind us, and we can afford the luxury of thinking of ourselves, focusing on what interests us and what we would like to accomplish.


Self-assessment may be difficult, but it can also be enlightening. Your opportunities are limited only by your willingness to think in terms of possibilities. Shakespeare wrote of the “many stages of man,” and while turning age 50 may represent “just another number” to some, it may also be a number that opens a door on limitless possibilities to others.


The world can look different when viewed with an open mind, and a willingness to step through a new door!

Topics: Pre-Retirement, Saving For Retirement