Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Retirement Planning – Warnings and Contraindications

We’re all familiar with the warnings and contraindications that come with various prescription drugs. They’re required disclosures in TV ads. Some of them are so horrendous-sounding that it makes you wonder who would even consider taking the medications. What disease could be so bad that you’d sign on for bloating and diarrhea to treat it?

I think retirement should come with similar disclosures. It might cause us to think twice before doing it. After paying careful attention to TV ads for meds, I’ve developed a list of proposed language to accompany retirement proposals.

Warning: the loss of regular, sustainable income may lead to hostility and changes in mood. No longer having a place to go to work each day may cause depression and agitation and may lead to unprovoked arguments with anyone who is foolish enough to co-habit with you.

After dramatic change in your daily routine, you may have trouble sleeping and may have unusual dreams. You may also experience bizarre changes in your daytime behavior, such as exercising to Jane Fonda’s workout video while still wearing your pajamas, watching court TV and taking notes, and regularly emailing the co-hosts of The View.

Do not operate heavy machinery if you are angry over the fact that your IRA investments have gone straight down the toilet. Heavy machinery includes automobiles, vacuum cleaners, laundry equipment and coffee makers. In other words, don’t even bother getting out of bed until you calm down.

Concerns over the stability of Social Security may lead to shortness of breath, difficulty thinking, the inability to focus and can inhibit your basic ability to function as a productive member of society. These side effects are usually, but not always, temporary.

Do not retire if you have ever experienced nausea or had even a slight alcohol-induced buzz, if you cannot hold your breath for at least six months, or if you have ever wondered how you were going to pay your long-term-care insurance premium.

If you are considering starting to collect Social Security, tell your doctor if you are taking any medications such as blood thinners, anti-depressants, mood enhancers, multi-vitamins that contain minerals, precious metals or coal tar, supplements such as St. John’s Wort or ginkgo biloba, or if you regularly drink green tea, pomegranate juice or Ovaltine.

Seek immediate medical attention if your retirement presents with any combination of the following symptoms: in-grown toenails, flared nostrils, itchy palms, creaky knees, hot flashes or cold feet.

We can be certain that if retirement came with warnings and contraindications such as these, everyone would give it much more careful thought before jumping in with both feet. And then we’d probably do it anyway. After all, scary disclosures don’t stop us from taking those drugs. At most, they drive us to drink. Come to think of it, that’s not all bad.

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