Retirement realities: What's in, and what's out

Remember when retirement meant doing a whole lot of nothing other than maybe spending time with family and friends? If not, that’s not surprising.

“For today’s retirees, being busy means self-actualizing, not merely ‘winding down’ or relying on their others for fulfillment,” says Christine Russell, senior manager of retirement and annuities at TD Ameritrade.

What else has changed when it comes to retirement today? Here is what is in, and what is out.

Out: Aging in place

In: Living in place

Much more active than previous generations, today’s retirees are not sitting back and aging in place, says Russell. Rather, they’re living in place.

For some, that means at their home that they’ve renovated or upgraded to suit their changing needs. Think: curbless showers, higher toilets and other enhancements and safety products that are as aesthetically pleasing as they are functional. Or in a designated retirement community, “they’re involved in a variety of activities - for their mental and physical well-being,” says Russell.

Out: Full retirement

In: Gigs

It’s no secret that many of today’s retirees are taking on gigs. In fact, more than 400,000 seniors are now doing gig work online, according to a study from JPMorgan Chase Institute. What you may not know, however, is that it’s not necessarily about the money.

“Many seniors are participating in the gig economy for the social component, to stay engaged, and to keep their brains sharp,” says personal finance expert Lynnette Khalfani-Cox, founder of

Out: Being mortgage free

In: Having manageable debts

Afraid you will still owe money on a mortgage when you retire? Join the club.

“Being mortgage free in retirement is pretty much out the window as a reality,” says Keith Gumbinger, vice president of, a mortgage information website. “It’s just not attainable for many, so more retirees are ‘recasting debt’ to make it more manageable.”

How so?

“They’re using equity in their homes to pay off debt, they’re taking out reverse mortgages, or they’re refinancing,” says Gumbinger.


And it’s an excellent time to do this, he says. With the average rate on a 30-year fixed loan now hovering around 4 percent, nearly 5 million borrowers could likely qualify for a refinance, reducing their interest rate by at least three-quarters of a percentage point.

Out: Retirement as isolation

In: Retirement as freedom and purpose

For many new and soon-to-be retirees, life is just beginning ... again.

“Americans know that combatting disconnection can be as easy as moving outside your comfort zone by going to new places and trying new experiences,” says Russell.

Vera Gibbons is the founder of which produces “NoPo” - a free daily newsletter that covers and curates non-political news only within Consumer/Personal Finance; Health & Wellness; Fashion/Beauty; Fitness/Diet.