By Dr. Ken Matto


The hoary head is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness. (Proverbs 16:31)


Many people look forward to retirement because it is called “The Golden Years.”  It is a time when you depart from the mainstream job market and retreat to your own private life.  Many see it as emancipation as they do not have to take orders from a boss anymore, especially one that is half their age.  Some regret retirement since all they have to look forward to is an empty apartment because the only social interaction they may have is their job.  Some see it as a time to catch up on their golf game.  Some see it as a time to do some traveling.  No matter how you view retirement, it is something that happens to the majority of people.  Never curse your age because there are many who are not given the opportunity to reach retirement.  Recently, a good friend and brother in the Lord went home to be with the Lord at the age of 53, so he never even reached retirement age.


Retirement can be a traumatic experience for some because they go from being useful to a company or group one day and the next day they are getting out of bed with no job or career to go to and then reality sets in that they are now officially out to pasture.  It can be psychologically devastating to a person who has worked for 40, 50 or even 60 years to suddenly wake up without a destination.  There are two types of planning that a person should make before they retire.  The first one is they need to plan financially because even if they stop working, the bills do not stop.  So it is important for a person to start planning financially as early as you possibly can. I have a friend who is a great financial planner and he told me that the earlier you start planning for retirement, the better it is.  If you start early, then you do not have to save as much because what you will be saving will begin to accrue with compound interest.  As you continue to add, it continues to grow plus you can invest in long term investments.  If you wait till you are older, you will have to set aside more for retirement which means more coming out of your income.  The downside is that you might try to make up for lost time and invest in something like junk bonds or income funds which deal in junk bonds and if they default, then you will lose everything.   You must also avoid all multi-level marketing schemes because they will do nothing but bankrupt you.  If you decide to open a home-based business like selling Shaklee vitamins, that is fine because Shaklee is well-known and their products are good quality but make sure there is no other Shaklee distributor close around or you may not be able to sell if they own the market around you.  You must be very discerning if you choose to start a home-based business because there are many scams out there such as envelope stuffing and retirees are targets for scam artists.  Here is a good ministry which deals in financial planning in case you do not have one close at hand.


Money Wise -


A good financial planner could always help you do that or you can buy books which focus on financial planning so you can decide if an annuity suits you or a straight up 401K.  Keep in mind that if you start putting money aside for your retirement, it still remains yours and if an emergency arises you will have access to those funds, so you lose nothing by having a good financial plan.  Relying on Social Security alone will be a problem for you and don’t think you are going to hit the lottery and live like a king.  Early financial planning is very important and essential.


The second type of planning which is always absent from a person’s future planning is to plan on what you will do after retirement.  Now I am not speaking about catching up on golf or traveling.  These things will only last a short while because you can only play so much golf or travel because of expenses.  What I am speaking about is what will you do to occupy the time the Lord has given you before your home going.  The reason why so many are bored after retirement is because they never planned to utilize the time they have left in a constructive manner after they do their initial projects whether it would be around the house or something else.


There is one thing that I must mention and that is retired married men versus retired single men.  Now I am only mentioning the men because it basically only applies to them.  When a married man retires normally their wife is still continuing the daily schedule or routine around the house.  Just because the man has retired does not mean the wife has retired and that means she is still involved about doing things around the house.  Now enter the single retired man.  He still has to do all his own housework like laundry, shopping, etc. because he has no helper to help him.  When retired married men have nothing to do, they tend to do it on their single friends phone or they visit while the person has to finish his work.  This is why it is imperative that retiring married men must determine before they retire what they are going to do to occupy the time instead of doing nothing and then making single men stop what they are doing which means their workday is extended.  Now I am not saying that there is no time for fellowship but it must be done outside the home work schedule. 


There is one thing I have noticed about many retired people and this is not a slur but is a reality.  When some people retire, they also retire their brains and ambitions and as a result it seems all they do is exist and not live.  I have personally found it difficult to have an intellectual conversation with many of them since they have relegated their thinking process to others.  When you speak with some seniors, you get that deer in the headlights stare.  Just because a person is 65 or even 75 years old does not mean they have to stop living or thinking.  This is why so many seniors live in abstract fear because they have tossed away the vigilance they had when they worked.  At this point I want to give three traps that retired people fall into simply because they have never planned their time usage after retirement.


Retire to the Refrigerator

This particular trap I saw my father fall into.  When he retired he could not wait to stop working so he retired at 62 and as a result he retired to his refrigerator.  He ate massive amounts of cookies, ice cream, cakes, and drank soda until one day he could not quench his thirst so he went to his doctor because he had developed type 2 diabetes.  So instead of planning his time to do things and remain active, his main activity was going to the refrigerator many times a day.  Before we retired, if we had a good diet then we need to stay with it.  Just because you retire does not mean your body automatically changes to accept a sloppy diet, in fact, just the opposite you need to be more careful about what you put into your body.  I am 68 years old and have taken to eating organic foods and as a result, I have lost 53 pounds at this writing.  Do I have an occasional donut?  Yes I do but it is the exception not the rule.


Retire to the Remote

Many people upon retiring will pick up the remote to their TV and keep it on all day.  Many have relegated their existence to daytime TV including news shows.  This too is not a life but a poor existence.  Now I like shows like Jeopardy or Wheel of Fortune where you can try to guess the answers to the clues or to figure out the puzzle ahead of the contestants.  Shows like that keep your mind active but excessive TV watching numbs your mind and actually affects your ability to think.  If you have time, especially in winter when you can’t go out, include in your daily routine the reading of books because they strengthen your mind.  I like to read between two and five books per month depending on the size of the books and with that I have an electronic dictionary I use to look up unfamiliar words.  You are never too old to keep learning.


Sedentary Lifestyle

This is nothing but a life of laziness which is forbidden by the Scriptures.  When you worked you got up early in the morning and was ready to go out to work in an hour.  Now that you have retired, you get up 11:00 or later and then your day is taken up with doing nothing.  Even making your breakfast has become an unwelcome chore. Sitting on a park bench every day for hours is also a sedentary life.  Your body was meant to rest after you have worked or did a task not to rest from resting which can also lead to physical problems.  Unless you are disabled, you need to be active.  You need to be involved with your own life.


Now I have given three of the major traps which retired people adopt as their new lifestyle after work.  Instead of retirement being a do-nothing lifestyle, let it be a re-focusing of your life with new goals.  Just as you had goals when you worked, have goals in your new life as a retiree.  Now it is obvious that you will not be able to do the things you did when you were 20 but that does not mean you are totally useless.  Now you focus on what you can do and not what you cannot do.  Utilize all those skills and all the education you have amassed in your years of learning and put them to good use after you retire.  Don’t box up your skills and put them on the rafters in your garage.  You can volunteer time at a local ministry or even your home church.  Remember, we don’t know if there is going to be a next generation but that is God’s business and therefore we need to get busy training the younger Christians.   Social activities can actually build you up.  Maybe you have been involved in finances all your life, don’t throw it away but do a class at your church on how to handle money.  You may have been involved in computers all your life, you can help teach others how to use them and how to do simple repairs on them.  You may have been a tractor trailer driver for many years, you can start a class on how to handle road conditions and to sharpen driving skills.


So there are so many things that you can do when you retire instead of retiring to the refrigerator or remote.  Have you ever heard of the Service Core of Retired Executives? I attended one of their seminars on how to start a business back in the 70’s.  These are retired executives from many walks of life who choose not to retire to the back of a cave, instead they are imparting what they have learned from literally hundreds of years of experience.  So your retirement need not be a boring time just waiting for the grim reaper.  My father had 27 years of retirement.  So you never know how much time you will have to make an impact upon others plus you can get people of like mind involved with you.  Let’s face it, the school systems have failed.  Maybe a few good classes outside the schools will help a person more than you know it.  So consider your retirement before you retire not only financially but substantively and you will look forward to retirement instead of dreading it.