Changing Your Behavior in Retirement: Romper Room Redux

You always did what’s right.  You never did anything wrong.  You are proud to be a lifelong “do bee”.  Now, as you transition into retirement, one expert warns that good financial habits you acquired over the years could actually derail your retirement plan.   Oh no!  Is this the revenge of the Romper Room “don’t bees”?

In an April 24, 2017 article in The Wall Street Journal, Dr. Meir Statman cites behaviors which are deemed correct and proper during the working years but may need adjustment in retirement.  For example, if you are a conscientious saver who has worked hard, accumulated wealth, lived within your means and kept your extraneous consumption to a minimum, you have to re-orient your thinking in retirement and … spend!  There’s a fine line between being frugal and becoming a miser.

Dr. Statman also notes that many people have a tendency to put off spending for enjoyment, in part, because delaying a big purchase may lead to a more gratifying experience.  His advice to retirees:  Don’t wait.  Enjoy now!

As a Certified Financial Planner® I often encounter retirees who struggle with financial behaviors and need assurance that “it’s ok” to spend in retirement.  Granted, as trusted advisors, our job is to keep people on track for success in retirement.  Monitoring the spending plan in light of the client’s goals and being mindful of the mental obstacles that influence client behavior are effective ways to keep clients on track financially while also respecting their idiosyncrasies.

While Dr. Statman’s article highlights other spending issues retirees face I believe most people can find happiness by adjusting their behavior instead of abandoning good habits.  As we all learned from watching hours and hours of Romper Room back when we were kids, it’s better to be a “do bee” than a “don’t be.”

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