Having a plan to maintain our financial independence while creating interdependent relationships is key to a successful solo retirement.
I recently gave myself permission to retire solo. I had been spending a lot of time thinking about what the future would look like for me as a single woman and a solo entrepreneur. I knew that the quality of my life, both now and in the future, will depend solely on my efforts, and the quality of my retirement – whatever shape it takes – will be entirely up to me.
That future could be nearly 40 years long if even one of the three online life expectancy tests I took proves to be right so I decided to create a plan to make the coming years the best decades of my life.
I am already single and strong, thanks to my life experiences. Over the years, I have acquired the life skills that I will need to succeed in a solo retirement. Most likely, you have too. During the time we spend on our own, we typically learn how to live, dine and travel on our own, go to the movies or theater alone, enjoy parties without a plus one, and celebrate the holidays among couples and groups. And if we haven’t, we should. Life does not require a partner to participate. The sooner you embrace that in life, the happier you’ll be.
My new book, Retiring Solo, outlines how to plan for a happy, healthy, independent future that includes good health, friends and community. Single people have always had to work harder to be able to put away money for retirement, primarily because they must live off one income — their own — while covering 100 percent of their housing costs and other living expenses. All of this can make it very difficult to save for retirement or build an emergency fund for unexpected expenses.
Independence and self-reliance are essential life skills for living solo, but it is equally important to create positive connections with others. Even the most introverted among us needs to have people in our life. A strong social network also relieves stress, helps us recover from illness faster and can lead to a longer, happier life. People who have meaningful connections in their lives also tend to be active and healthier.
There is strength in numbers when it comes to living solo. Finding and nurturing a sense of community is essential. If you’re living on your own, that sense of community and the support system which often comes with it is as likely to come from friends, co-workers, activity partners or housemates as it is from a spouse or significant other. The good news? Community building is one area where single people often excel.
Retirement may seem more challenging without a life partner, but there are also benefits. Solos enjoy greater flexibility and freedom than their coupled counterparts when it comes to planning. They can make plans based on their needs and preferences. Their retirement strategies are more likely to reflect where and how they want to live and how they want to save and spend their money. This can be very empowering – and satisfying.
We begin our lives alone and we typically also end them that way. Even if you are married or otherwise in a committed relationship right now, the reality is that you will likely become solo again at some time in the future. Statistically, 80 to 90 percent of all women will be solely responsible for their personal and financial health as they grow older, if they aren’t already.
You wouldn’t want to find yourself on your own without a financial plan, a housing strategy and a support system in place as you get older. No one does. If you are already solo, you know this, you’ve thought about it and you’ve hopefully starting creating a plan. If you’re not solo, you need to start thinking about the very real possibility that you will be solo again at some point in the future and then begin planning for that time.
Give yourself permission to create security and confidence in the future — your future — by developing a plan to retire solo and strong. You’ll be in good company if you plan ahead!
Copyright © Lori Martinek/2017 Singular Communications, LLC.
Lori Martinek is a successful solo entrepreneur, author and mentor to new and aspiring business owners. She is the owner of EDc Partners and Encore Business Advisors, and the founder of @MindingHerBiz, a pro bono project which helps women embrace business ownership. Her latest book, Retiring Solo (2016) is available on Amazon. You can connect with Lori @lorimartinek on Twitter and @RetiringSolo on Facebook.
Are you single and living solo? Join the crowd!
Whether you find yourself solo by choice or by chance, you’re certainly not alone. The reality is that most Americans will spend more time solo than in a married or committed relationship over the course of their lifetimes, and especially as they grow older.
Solos outnumber married folks in 27 of the 50 states. The number of adults who live alone has grown by more than 20 percent over the past decade alone. About 34 million people (28 percent of the U.S. population) live alone — up from 17 percent in 1970. More Americans are living alone and liking it. Solo dwellers report that they enjoy the independence, freedom and privacy of living on their own.
It’s clear that solo is no longer just ‘a stop’ on the way to ‘a happy ending’. For many, it has become a lifestyle choice and, often, the destination. For some, it’s an unexpected development or the unavoidable result of growing older. Regardless of how it happens, a solo future is something that we should all be planning for.