Single, female and hoping to retire soon? AARP’s new book “The Single Woman’s Guide to Retirement” goes beyond the money issues retirement poses to women.
Retirement expert Jan Cullinane offers a comprehensive look at all the factors women need to consider before they retire.
AARP: How did you get the idea for this book?
JC: I give retirement talks to a wide variety of audiences, and after almost every talk, women would come up to me and say things like:
- “I’m happily single, and ready to retire and relocate, but all the advertising seems geared to couples. Where should I move?”
- ”I’m recently divorced after 30 years of marriage. I need and want to return to work, and I’m thinking about dating. Help!”
- ”My spouse died, and I never handled the money, and I’m overwhelmed. Any advice?”
After realizing that there are more than 25 million single women over the age of 45 in the United States, and that even though you might be happily married now, there’s an 80 to 90 percent chance that if you’re a woman, you’ll be single, too, and responsible for all decisions, I decided I had to write this book.
AARP: Many retirement books are mostly money-focused. Why did you decide to include parts about travel, health and work?
JC: I felt the book needed to address the entire person. It’s not just about the money, although of course not outliving your money is important. Social support, working, travel, volunteering, relocating, health, caregiving, boomerang kids, death, divorce, deepening connections — these are all important facets of retirement that needed to be included. I solicited input from many single women about all these issues: I’m a believer in the collective wisdom of women. The book blends stories, statistics, lots of examples and details. I like specificity, and I like a holistic approach.
AARP: What single piece of advice do you want women to take away from the book?
JC: Recognize that retirement can be exhilarating and scary; stressful and liberating; a time of positive change and a time of uncertainty. Single women can adapt, embrace, learn and thrive. A social psychologist, Jonathon Brown, shared this analogy with me. It’s a philosophy I embrace, and it’s plain good advice:
“It’s like the difference between a dog and a duck. A duck goes in the water and doesn’t get wet. That’s a gift ducks get early in life. A dog goes in the water and it has to shake itself dry. Maybe you’re never going to be a duck, but you can learn to be a better dog. You can learn to handle life better.”