No surprise to us, but we hit the top of the readiness scale in a 20-question online retirement readiness quiz at www.yourretirementyourway.com.
Results range from not ready, time to start getting ready to ready, only fine-tuning necessary.
Now for some disclaimers: The Web site with the quiz is decidedly commercial, designed to promote the book “Your Retirement, Your Way.” Before you submit your answers, you are asked to give your name and e-mail address. We value our privacy and made ours up.
Despite our high scores, we are skeptical of reaching major conclusions based on quick answers to a few multiple-choice questions.
But we like this quiz and can recommend the book because of their focus on the all-important lifestyle issues that so many people neglect in their myopic obsession with finances.
The first question in the quiz, for example, asks you to choose which one of six statements is closest to your current vision of your retirement. Statements range from “I am dreading retirement, so I am giving it as little thought as possible” to “I have a clear idea of my retirement lifestyle, which will be a balance of a number of activities, and I could write it down right now if you asked me to.”
This last statement - the one that fits us and, as it turns out, the one that gives the highest score - reflects a major emphasis on planning for retirement beyond the money part.
“We all spend so much time and effort preparing for our careers, doesn’t it make sense to spend some quality time preparing for what comes after?” said book authors Alan Bernstein, a psychotherapist and career counselor in New York, and John Trauth, a management consultant in San Francisco who specializes in financial services.
To probe how much preparation we’ve done, the quiz asks us not only whether we are confident our money will last but also what we want to accomplish in retirement, how we want to spend our time day to day and how we are planning to replace the social and intellectually challenging activities associated with work.
These issues are explored in depth in the book, which carries the appropriate subtitle, “Why It Takes More Than Money to Live Your Dream.”
Through the use of a brief version of the so-called Birkman Method personality assessment tool used by many corporations and government agencies, the book helps readers explore (or discover) their interests and motivations, and prepare for a more fulfilling life in retirement.
Again, we don’t believe in drawing sweeping conclusions based on our choices among 24 pairs of sentences in the book such as “I would rather be a tax lawyer” or “I would rather be a newspaper editor,” especially considering many people would rather be neither.
But the book had Georgina and me pegged right, based on our answers. I like working with numbers and doing detailed work, so I enjoy writing about financial planning and playing and teaching chess. Georgina likes planning new activities and thinking of new approaches, traits she uses to plan our many trips and as a travel writer.
What if you are not happy in retirement? First, stop feeling sorry for yourself, Bernstein and Trauth say. Then find a new challenge or interest that will add purpose to your life.
Humberto and Georgina Cruz are a husband-and-wife writing team who work together in this column.