Retirement: The Go-Go, Slo-Go, and No-Go Years

My efforts today are spent teaching others about the dynamics of retirement. I do this with an online effort, the goal of which is get them ready for retirement and enjoy the rest of their lives. With luck, they’ll experience all three.

Chances are, if your health is good, you’ll start with the Go-Go Years. You now have time on your hands with enough ready money available to start traveling, or doing whatever it is you wanted but had little time for. Maybe buy a sailboat and explore the Caribbean.

The Go-Go Years could very well be the best years of your life. Your children, assuming you had children, are now grown and hopefully taking care of themselves. You may even have grandchildren and the Go-Go years allows more opportunity to spend time with them. Life is good.

Along the way, assuming you haven’t died already, the Slo-Go Years will start. For couples, this sometimes represents a conflict in that if you have disparate ages or health circumstances, one of you may still be in your Go-Go Years while the other has transitioned to the Slo-Go years.

Whatever the case, the Slo-Go years might be a natural progression from too much fun, to having less fun because health issues have surfaced. Or it may be because you realized you were spending way too much money having fun.

Now comes a reckoning that one of you might live into your 90’s. Where is the money going to come from to pay the inevitable bills? So you slow down.

The Slo-Go Years tend to be less expensive than either the Go-Go Years or the No-Go Years. Travelling the world, buying newer cars, spending money on the grandchildren, upgrading the house, all those things that brought satisfaction and pleasure during the Go-Go years have served to drain your batteries or your bank accounts, or both.

With interest rates low these days, perhaps you’ve renegotiated your mortgage, assuming your home is not paid for. You cut back on eating out and buying new clothes all the time. If you’re like me, you got rid of your monthly cable TV service and switched to an internet streaming device. That saves a few bucks every month.

That might suggest I’m now in my Slo-Go years, and you’d be right. But I can tell you with certainty that I plan to stay in this Slo-Go phase for as long as possible. I’m not looking forward to my No-Go Years, assuming I’m still alive.

The No-Go years might appear for health reasons or for financial reasons. An associate of mine told me last year about a woman she had just met. This woman was 85 years old, working six days a week from 5 PM to 11 PM. She was driving around town delivering prepared food to apartments and houses for a delivery service.

I don’t know how she did it or why. But I assume she had OK health, but very little money. Just because you live to 85 doesn’t mean you no longer have bills to pay.

Regardless of the reason for finding yourself in the N0-Go Years, it can’t be a happy place to find yourself. For many people, it happens when you can no longer do what you’ve been able to do physically, or mentally, for your whole life to that point.

There are activities we all perform called Activities of Daily Living. Otherwise known as ADLs, they include things like being able to bathe yourself, prepare food, take your medications, get dressed in the morning, and more. All the things we’re taken for granted up to that point.

With an inability to perform even a few of those ADLs, it might be necessary to hire someone to help you get from one day to the next. Sure, family members will help if they live nearby but what if you live in Florida and your kids live in Texas or Oregon? Do you move out there? Do they have the time and energy and willingness to look after what is essentially an invalid. After all, family members have their own lives to lead.

My mother had Alzheimer’s and after my father passed, we created an addition to our house and she moved in. For a while it was OK, until it got to the point of no return. As it happened she still had some money, but that was soon gone and fortunately, Medicaid came to the rescue.

Here I need to remind you that President Trump appears to be on a mission to reduce if not eliminate both Medicare and Medicaid. For those folks in the No-Go Years of their life, what will happen to them? Are we now supposed to put those people out on the street and hope they die quickly?

I know that’s harsh, but it’s a reality voters will have to consider if politicians are to be believed. The fact remains that millions of us are living longer and longer and for some of us, we didn’t expect to. Roughly 1 in 5 senior Americans today live in poverty.

I’ll close with a plug for my online effort to teach people the dynamics of retirement long before they decide to retire. Go here and find what I’m talking about.

Tony Kendzior \ 6 FEB 2020