I'm 61 and my husband is 63, so we have begun the process of deciding what to do about retirement.
Should be buy an annuity that provides $1,000 per month for the rest of either of our lives? Should we take charge of our own destiny as far as our investments go? Should we take a little more risk on the chance of getting a little more return? Should we take our Social Security or should we wait til it's higher?
We started saving toward retirement later than we should have. When you are young and you think you have lots of time in front of you, the kids need things; that's an easy trap to spring. I'm pretty optimistic. I think that we'll be okay regardless of what choices we make on the questions I posed. My husband is more pragmatic, and maybe that comes from being the primary bread winner in our family (the only breadwinner when the kids were young).
I look at the people I know who are retired and they all seem to be doing okay. Some are in better financial shape than others. Some have more discretionary income than others. But all of them seem to be fairly satisfied with what they've got. I don't see any sign of them wishing things were other than they are. All of them seem to be enjoying their lives whether they are free to travel or content themselves with the occasional movie and pizza.
I've pointed out that even after we retire, we still have options of change - we could sell the house in the Seattle area where we've lived the past 15-20 years and probably buy a house back in the midwest for half of what we'd make on the sale. So that would give us some more cash assets. If we bought a duplex instead of a house, we'd have potential income from the rent from the other unit.
Not knowing what lies ahead is food for fear. And the only thing that combats fear is hope. So I hope.