12 Retirement Quesitons

What’s their RQ?

One of the steps in assessing whether a reverse mortgage might be right for a client is knowing how close they are to retirement (assuming they’re not already retired, obviously). Some people might be closer than you — or even they! — believe, while others may profess to want the leisure life, yet aren’t prepared emotionally, mentally or financially to make the transition.

Gene Cohen, M.D., Ph.D., author of The Mature Mind: The Positive Power of the Aging Brain, has developed a 12-point questionnaire to help people determine their Retirement Readiness Quotient. You may wish to share it with your reverse mortgage prospects. This tool could also be part of a presentation for senior centers, Rotary Clubs, and any place else you choose to speak to older adults about the reverse mortgage option.

12 Ouestions To Ask About Retirement

These questions require some serious consideration. Cohen states, “If you have not given much thought to any of these questions, or if you do not have many good answers for them, you are probably not well prepared for retirement.”

1) Why are you thinking about retirement now? (Give yourself 1 point for a clear answer, 0 points if your reasoning seems fuzzy or you are simply uncertain.)

2) Do you really want to retire? (1 point if yes, 0 if no). Significance: This seemingly simple question is an excellent predictor of success in the transition to retirement. It asks you to consider your deepest desires and motivations, not just what you “think” you ought to do or what other people expect you to do.

3) What do your family and friends say about you retiring? (1 point if they think you’re doing the right thing.)

4) Have you considered whether you want a complete or partial retirement? Have you considered part-time or temporary work, or even a less-than-fulltime small business venture (emphasis on “considered”)? (1 point if you’ve considered the options, even if you choose full retirement.)

5) Are your finances sufficient to carry you through your retirement years while continuing to enjoy your current lifestyle? (1 point if yes to both parts of question; 0 if no to either part.)

6) Have you attended a retirement preparation program or seminar focused on financial planning? (1 point if yes, 0 if no.)

7) What gives you a sense of meaning and purpose in life? (1 point if when you write it down and read it aloud you feel you’ve adequately identified what gives you a sense of meaning and purpose; 0 points if your reasoning seems fuzzy or you are simply uncertain.)

8) What specific types of activities and experiences are important and fulfilling for you? (1 point if your description of how your plans relate to what is important to you makes sense.) Significance: Your answers provide a window on how well you really know your mind and how well you have planned how to accomplish what is important to you.

9) Have you attended a retirement preparation program or seminar focused on social planning (e.g., community activities and interpersonal endeavors)? (1 point if yes, 0 if no.) Significance: Prospective retirees often fail to adequately plan how they will actually spend their time in retirement. Floundering in these areas can lead to frustration and a disappointing retirement life.

10) Have you developed outside interests, hobbies, volunteer activities, or areas of new learning? (1 point if yes, 0 if no.)

11) Have you planned new activities that would allow you to interact with people on a regular basis and that offer chances to form new friendships? (1 point if yes, 0 if no.) Significance: making new friends is often more difficult in retirement, and loneliness is associated with a host of mental and physical ills.

12) During retirement, will making only a modest contribution in volunteer activities be sufficient for you? (1 point if yes, 0 if no.) Significance: People who have had satisfying and personally meaningful careers can find the transition to retirement difficult if they do not plan for other ways to make a difference. Such people might consider a phased retirement so they can continue with fulfilling work while starting their retirement.


12 points: You’re in position for a great retirement!

10-11 points: Your retirement will likely be highly satisfying.

8-9 points: Your retirement could have problems that are likely fixable.

6-7 points: You could be challenged by ambivalent feelings about retirement, requiring a solid effort to bring your situation up a notch.

3-5 points You are potentially in the trouble zone where your retirement might not work well unless you make a major effort to get it on track.
0-2 points: You are in jeopardy of having an unfulfilling retirement, requiring an all-out effort to improve your retirement prospects.



Dick Diamond April 16, 2019 at 5:32 am

As people age in their current jobs, they may become an unwitting target for replacement by more technologically trained younger now more qualified individuals, and they may find themselves suddenly replaced and unemployed. If they are not ready yet to retire, they would be wise to prepare themselves for that inevitable possibility. That makes for a lot of options such as trying to remain in the field you were, work part time or get the training you need to find other types of work.

There is no question but that age discrimination is still a big factor in the workplace.

Boyd Uselton April 16, 2019 at 10:05 am

While the social aspects of these questions may be pertinent for perhaps 30% of the population, The vast majority 70% or so are encumbered with devastating financial circumstances that preclude social activity and/or any type of meaningful social activity at all. The retirement you seemingly think is universal does not exist in reality for most people. Retirement today for most people is not a time of passive enjoyment of ones old age. It is a time of survival of ones old age. An old age that constantly steals from both physical and mental skills that many have spent a life time acquiring.. What we have now is private programs to help the well off – remain well off. Government programs are still heavily weighted in favor of a fast diminishing myth called the middle class. The new poor and the retirement created poverty stricken are not thought of at all.

The_Cynic April 17, 2019 at 3:43 pm

As the old saying goes: Old age is both a curse and a gift. The gift is continued life and the curse is getting older.

Unfortunately, there are no new financial resources opened up for old age. One must earn or receive them. If they are received, then generally another individual has sacrificed.

For private case workers with moderately wealthy clientele, many of the ideas in this weekly post are helpful but for the majority of seniors, they are positive dreams with no ability to fulfill them, thus nothing more than another frustration of what retirement can be for others but not for themselves.

The Positive Realist April 18, 2019 at 3:10 pm

Boyd and The_Cynic,

How wealth is spread in the US is an important political, policy, and philosophical subject currently. The term “mass affluent” is a common term. But what does that term mean?

Mass affluent is generally defined as those with household income of at least $75,000 and liquid financial assets of between $500,000 and $1,500,000 upon retirement. Very few do not own a principal residence. Most spend between $4,000 and $10,000 per month in retirement.

It is estimated that about 26% of all US households meet the definition of mass affluent. The middle class is a category of a different basis of looking at the distribution of wealth in the US population and encompasses about 50% of the US population. The affluence categories are not tied to any percentage of the US population but rather attempts to describe the US population based on their demand for goods and services.

While an insignificant percentage of the wealthy and more affluent may get a proprietary reverse mortgage, a very slight percentage of the mass affluent have any interest in obtaining a HECM. It is clearly the less affluent and lower and lower middle class who obtain the vast majority of HECMs even today.

Despite the protests of many in the industry, very few clients of financial planners will become reverse mortgage borrowers. It is my conclusion that proprietary reverse mortgages will remain a niche product within a boutique industry for years to come; otherwise, such lenders would be bragging about their “fabulous” production. It is like the protests of those who fight over the potential in HECM for Purchase endorsements. After its first decade, H4P has not had 20,000 endorsements and clearly fits the category of a valuable niche product in a boutique (and still declining) industry.


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