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What Does MIT Think About Retirement?

Last updated 5/15/2024 • By Jason Siperstein, CFA, CFP®, RMA®

“Ready to Retire?”

If you are like most people, when you hear the word retirement you may immediately think of never-ending vacations, warm weather, complete freedom and flexibility, and delicious food (maybe the last one is just me). The reality is that retirement is not a vacation – it is your next chapter, which could span 3 + decades.

The AgeLab at MIT is an organization that is dedicated to studying all aspects of ageing. They have done research on what they call the “8,000 Days” of retirement. Certainly, life will look differently over those 8,000 days and the AgeLab breaks these days into four distinct phases.

If you are like most people, when you hear the word retirement you may immediately think of never-ending vacations, warm weather, complete freedom and flexibility, and delicious food (maybe the last one is just me). The reality is that retirement is not a vacation – it is your next chapter, which could span 3 + decades.

The AgeLab at MIT is an organization that is dedicated to studying all aspects of ageing. They have done research on what they call the “8,000 Days” of retirement. Certainly, life will look differently over those 8,000 days and the AgeLab breaks these days into four distinct phases.

“Retired: (adjective) young at heart, slightly older in other places.” – anonymous

Phase 1, the Honeymoon Phase, is the phase that we all picture. The other phases may be tougher to imagine. It pays dividends to brainstorm, have honest conversations, and plan for these phases.

So, spend some time exploring what your values are in life. What are the aspects of your life that bring you meaning? For some, this may be social connectedness, for others constant learning and intellectual growth. These values are unlikely to change as you move into retirement. Planning ahead for how to incorporate these values into the different stages of retirement will be essential. If you would like help identifying these values and understanding their potential impact on your financial plan, we are happy to chat.

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OUR TAKE: Find a Retirement Mentor. This can be a friend or family member who is thriving in retirement. Chances are that it took some time to make retirement successful. Have them share their story on what worked and what didn’t.

The AgeLab has identified three questions that can predict future quality of life in retirement. They include:

Who will change my light bulb?

How will I get an ice cream cone?

Who will I have lunch with?

The AgeLab has identified three questions that can predict future quality of life in retirement.

They include:

Who will change my light bulb?

How will I get an ice cream cone?

Who will I have lunch with?

These seeming light questions ask you to consider how you will continue living as you get older. Here are these questions again, showing what they are really asking:

How will you maintain your home as physical tasks become harder?

What will be your access to transportation?

Who will be your primary social support as you age?

These questions serve as important conversation starters as you age. I encourage you to reflect on your answers and start a dialogue with the important people in your lives (perhaps over your favorite flavor of ice cream).

By Jason Siperstein, CFA, CFP®, RMA®

Jason Siperstein is a fee-only financial planner that specializes in retirement planning. He is based in Rhode Island and serves clients locally and across the country. Jason is called on by local and national news to share his insights.

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