Remembering Christmas—planning retirement

Stack of cookies a glass of milk and letter for Santa with evergreen decoration in background.

Image: tab62/

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. And there’s a reason for that. It’s almost here and you can’t avoid reminders at any shopping centre.

How do you remember your Christmases as a child?

At our house, Christmas morning was a major highlight. We children were up extra early to check out the Christmas tree to see if Santa had been. We looked for two types of evidence. The first was parcels under the tree, of course. The secondary evidence was in the empty bottle and crumbs from the drink and biscuits left out for Santa.

Sometimes there was a half-eaten carrot that one of the reindeer hadn’t been able to finish before rushing to the next house. So how come Santa had time for a drink and a biscuit, but a reindeer couldn’t even eat a carrot? Not that I thought about that back then.

There was excitement and anticipation before Christmas morning. By mid-afternoon a lot of the excitement had gone, replaced by very tired kids and the complications that can bring.

How do you think of your retirement? Are you excited by the possibilities? If there’s excitement it will be quite different to those Christmas mornings of yore. Hopefully, there’s an anticipation of this new stage of life whenever it comes in your future.

Here are three retirement questions to consider during the holiday season.

1. What are you looking forward to?

I often tell people that retirement is a gift of time you’re giving yourself. And you get to choose how you will use it. There’s no boss telling you what to do. (If you’re married there will be discussion. There should be discussion.)

So think about what you’re looking forward to in retirement. What would make it an ideal retirement for you? What variety do you want in your life? Anything else come to mind?

2. What are your biggest fears?

Running out of money before running out of life is a common fear. But there can be others. Some are not sure what they will do. Others think they’re planning to do too much and won’t complete their bucket list.

One first step in addressing fears is to identify them—to name them. That’s when you can begin to address them properly. Of course, there can be fears you can’t do much about, but you may be able to prepare yourself for them if they happen.

3. What can you do now for your retirement?

If there was one thing that would help for your retirement, what would it be? I can imagine some saying, ‘I need to get in shape.’ Health should be a priority. And as noted in a recent post, there are some who sacrifice their wellbeing for financial gain. That’s a poor trade off.

It could be developing a hobby further. Or perhaps it’s negotiating working part-time for a transition into retirement.

Some things could be New Year’s resolutions. Ones you follow through on to make them happen.

It’s asking the question about what you can do now to prepare for then. To help make your retirement the best it can be and something to look forward to—a bit like Christmas in the old days.

Like I said, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. That’s because Christmas is almost here as I write this. I wish you and your family a great Christmas—hopefully together.

This is the last post for 2016 and for a couple of weeks into January. I look forward to catching up in 2017.

Bruce Manners: the author of Retirement Ready?, Refusing to Retire, and founder of

Category: Lifestyle, Planning
Tags: christmas

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