Retirement Insights

News and information for current and future retirees.

5 Retirement Lessons
We Can All Learn
From Former NFL Players

Retirement planning is extremely challenging because we don’t know exactly when it is going to occur or how long we will be in retirement.

Most people only get one shot at planning and experiencing retirement—the latter often starting in our 60s. However, other areas of life can offer lessons about what makes a financially free and successful retirement.

For one, we can observe what retirement looked like an earlier age from professional athletes. I recently interviewed a number of former and retired NFL players to gain insight into what the NFL and their experiences taught them about retirement planning.

Marques Ogden: You’re Never Too Young to Retire

Let’s start with a good friend of mine and former NFL offensive tackle Marques Ogden. Marques played for six years in the NFL and was to this date the only offensive lineman drafted out of Howard University.

“The single biggest lesson I learned about retirement from the NFL is that you’re never too young to retire,” Ogden told me. “Your career in football can be over in a blink of an eye. Playing in the league I learned that for any player – no matter how good – the next play could be your last.”

This is true for everyone; you could be forced into retirement due to company cuts or your health.

Ogden noted that he learned about preparing for retirement from other players, like Hall of Fame player Ed Reed.

“I learned about being prepared and ready at all times for an early retirement. One guy I learned a lot from – other than my brother – was Ed Reed,” Ogden said. “Ed Reed was really great at living below his means, he wasn’t flashy or out partying – he was focused on living a quality life, being the best at his craft, and preparing for the future.”

This is a great lesson about being sure to save when you can, enjoying life, but also making sure we are setting aside funds for our future self in retirement. If we don’t do that, no one else is going to save for us.”

Mike Hollis: Think Ahead About a Post-Retirement Career

Mike Hollis, a nine-year NFL kicker, said he learned a lot about preparing for the future and overcoming adversity in the NFL.

“The average span of an NFL athlete’s career is only about three years,” Hollis said. “So being realistic with the statistics is important for anyone – including an NFL athlete who must think ahead about a post-retirement career.”

Hollis’ career was cut short because of an injury, and he was forced into retirement after nine years of playing.

“I was not prepared for mentally, because I loved the game,” Hollis said. “However, because I was realistic in my post-football career preparation, I was able to quickly get involved in industries I had thought about and planned for during my playing years. This is what ultimately led me to the opening of my own kicking instructional business after dabbling with other business opportunities during the first three years after officially retiring. Mike Hollis’ ProForm Kicking Academy is now on the doorstep of 18 successful years in business!”

Hollis was able to take his mindset and transform it into a post-NFL career and rewire the way he approached his career. Many Americans also need to find ways to continue to work in retirement to find both meaning in life and support their finances.

David Carter: Learn How to Make New Money While You Still Have Your NFL Money

Adjusting to life after retirement and change are never easy. But losing the thing that you love – that’s even harder. For David Carter, a former NFL lineman, the adjustment to life after the NFL wasn’t easy.

“I didn’t know what I didn’t know, and it was no one’s fault but mine,” Carter said. “Transitioning to a normal life after the league is hard – a normal job, making less money, rebuilding your confidence to start something new. Word to the wise – start learning how to make new money while you have your NFL money and the influence of the team around you…it’s easier.”

For many people, adjusting to retirement is challenging because the paychecks stop, and you need to reinvent your next phase – both financially and emotionally.

Carter found his passion in health and nutrition.

“While I was in the league, I was 320 pounds and plant based, so I earned the named the ‘300-pound Vegan,’” Carter said. “From there I produced a documentary on Netflix NFLX around my passion called ‘Game Changers’ and was also on the Netflix show ‘What the Health.’”

David Tyree: “Learn the Language of Money to Make Sound Decisions”

From Super Bowl hero to NFL retiree, David Tyree’s journey has been incredible. Tyree’s biggest adjustment to transitioning out of the NFL was about budgeting.

“Mentally, I was prepared for the adjustment. I refinanced my home to reduce payments, and trimmed all the fatty habits in spending,” Tyree said. “We had a loose budget that we worked to tighten up. But there was nothing that could prepare us for the 90% decrease in earnings – going from making over $1 million to $100,000.”

Tyree also noted that education is important to budgeting and the transition to fewer earnings.

“Money is a language similar to any other foreign language,” Tyree said. “We must learn the language of money to make sound decisions. Learning the language will enhance our relationship with money. Everything starts with a budget and determining healthy spending habits to ensure we can maximize the resources to increase wealth.”

Reggie Walker: Understand What You Want Out of Life First

Reggie Walker, a former NFL player of seven years reflected living a life by design and not default.

“The biggest lesson I learned was that I needed to understand what I wanted out of life first, and build a life around it,” Walker said. “Building a life around what other people want for me would always leave me unfulfilled. It seems simple to understand, but it’s not.”

He also noted that you have to align your money with your life and know what’s going on with it.

“You need to know what’s going on with your money,” Walker said. “If you don’t understand the terminology or the system itself, you need to find a way to become educated on the subject. YOU have to help you.”

Apply These Lessons to Your Life

While retirement is different for everyone, so many core tenants can apply to our situations and lives.

Start with defining what life you want to live. Next, set a budget and know what you are spending money on and where you can cut back if your income drops in retirement. Then, learn about money and retirement income planning, which is its own complex area that encompasses tax laws, investments and strategies.

You also have to find enjoyment and prepare mentally for retirement. As you leave the workforce, examine what else is going to fill in your time and provide meaning.

Lastly, remember that you need to prepare for the unknown. Perhaps it is a forced retirement or a longer than expected retirement. Life is uncertain, and in retirement planning, we need to plan for the certainty of today while keeping an eye out for the uncertainty of tomorrow.


The Ingredients For A Happy Retirement

What’s the difference between a happy retirement, and a not-so-happy retirement?


While good planning doesn’t guarantee a happy retirement, it might help you to feel more prepared for retirement. Planning ahead, both financially and emotionally for a big change in your life can help you to deal with the stress of the upcoming change, leading to an easier transition.


Retirees that seem the happiest are those retiring to something and not from something. If you’re retiring just to escape a work situation you don’t like, or because it feels like that is what you have to do, your retirement situation might be less than idea. If you’re retiring because you’re ready to put work aside and travel or spend more time with your family, you’re likely to have a better outcome in retirement and feel happier and more fulfilled. Having the right mindset and attitude is great first step in embracing retirement and ultimately, in feeling happier throughout your retirement years.

Surrounding Yourself With Loved Ones

Surrounding yourself with those that you love seems like an optimal way to have a happier retirement. Many retirees choose to spend more time with their families, but don’t discount the extra time that you might have to spend with your friends. You could also spend this time making new friends and broadening your social circle. Spending time with people you care about is one way to improve your mood, particularly during retirement when you have the extra time to devote to your social life.


Happy retirees balance out the fun things that they’re doing with additional rest and relaxation. After a long span of working, a bit of relaxation is natural, and finding out the rhythm that best fits your retirement lifestyle will result in your own happiness. Some retirees prefer to sleep in, or nap during the day, whereas another retiree may prefer to wake up early and use mindful meditate to relax. Whatever relaxation methods work best for you, incorporating additional rest and relaxation time into your retirement schedule may increase your happiness during these years.


Retirees and travel go hand in hand, and it can be a great way to spend your time during your retirement years. Seeing new places and experiencing new cultures can cause great happiness for some people, while others may prefer to stay home and travel within their own city or state. From weekend trips, to cruises, RV excursions or sailing, there’s plenty to experience in the world and exploring it with a renewed sense of adventure may bring you great happiness.

Prioritizing Health

Without prioritizing health, retirement may not last as long as you’d like. Putting your own health at the forefront, with exercise, healthy eating, and whatever stress reducing activities area meaningful to you, may not only improve your mood and happiness, but improve your life in general during retirement.

Giving Back

Giving back to others, either through volunteering, charity, or mentoring, can be an immensely positive experience that can bring great joy for retirees. Often, retirees may have wanted to spend time volunteering or mentoring during their career but haven’t had the time, and retirement is an ideal time to get started. Helping others can certainly improve your own level of happiness.

Do More Of What You Love

Retirement is all about you, and doing what you love. So naturally, now is the time to do more of it. If fishing is your thing, and that is what brings you happiness, then spend more time fishing. If you’re a gardener, spend more time in the garden. Lean into what brings you happiness, especially during retirement.


Why You Should Keep Working After Retirement

Working in retirement might sound like a contradiction in terms, but that’s not necessarily the case. Just because you have moved on from your primary career doesn’t mean a part of your week can’t or shouldn’t go to some moneymaking endeavor. 


“Working longer is going to be a really powerful lever to increase the money available in retirement, because you’re not drawing down your savings and it gives you more of an opportunity to save,” says Anqi Chen of the Boston College Center for Retirement Research. Don’t assume you have to pound the pavement, searching for a high-paying job, because earning just a portion of your previous salary can make a difference financially; a 2020 paper from the center found that for people 62 and older, even jobs that don’t offer health and retirement benefits can substantially improve retirement security. ​


The University of Michigan’s Health and Retirement Study (HRS), which has been tracking participants over age 50 for decades, “pretty strongly shows that continuing to work has benefits for cognition,” says Amanda Sonnega, associate research scientist at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research. (This isn’t just because people with better cognitive health are better able to work, she says.) You can get a particular kind of benefit by switching to a different type of job or role: Learning new things—psychologists call it “novelty processing”—may help slow cognitive decline.


The transition to partial employment or volunteer work unrelated to your prior career also appears to be associated with fewer physical declines and better mental health, Sonnega says. A University of Maryland study of more than 12,000 retirees involved in the HRS research found that having a post-career job was associated with fewer major diseases and functional limitations.


The Harvard Study of Adult Development has been tracking generations of families since 1938, and one of its major findings has been how much retirement well-being depends on having good-quality relationships, says Robert J. Waldinger, professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and the current director of the study. Participants who were happiest in retirement replaced their old work relationships with new relationships. Doing any regular work—whether full-time, part-time or as a volunteer—creates an environment for new interactions that can develop into those new relationships.


A job is one motivator to get up in the morning, and one of the major findings of the HRS research was the importance of finding a new sense of purpose after retirement. “That theme of meaning and purpose keeps popping up as a major driver of a healthy retirement,” says Nathan LeBrasseur, professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at the Mayo Clinic. And continuing to work in some capacity is a great way to achieve that. Research shows that people with a sense of purpose feel younger in retirement.


One of the great blessings of retirement, says Tim Maurer, a financial planner in Charleston, South Carolina, is that it gives you the opportunity to help others as well as yourself. “A great example could be someone who worked as a fashion designer teaching a class at a local vocational-technical high school or college, or a mechanical engineer working part-time at a home-improvement store as one of the friendly people who can help me find what I’m looking for.” One piece of evidence for the benefits of giving back: A 2021 study of retirees in England found that volunteer work in retirement was associated with less depression and higher satisfaction and quality of life. Improvements in volunteers’ well-being disappeared once they stopped volunteering.


20 Incredible Road Trips in the U.S.

Whether you’re looking for sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean or a multiday adventure through national parks, these road trips provide plenty of opportunities to explore the United States.

1. Bangor, Maine, to Seattle, Washington: The Great Northern on U.S. Route 2

Missing out on the vast diversity and expansiveness of U.S. 2 would be a shame. This drive runs the entire top border of the U.S. and showcases otherworldly natural wonders like the Columbia Plateau in the Pacific Northwest and the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in Wisconsin. You’ll also get to explore Glacier National Park (reservations required). Note that there is a Canadian portion of the drive, through Ontario into Quebec, though as of April 2022, fully vaccinated travelers may enter the country as long as they use ArriveCAN within 72 hours of arriving. Read on for the latest travel restrictions into Canada.

2. Chicago to Los Angeles: A Whiskey Road Trip on Route 66

It doesn’t get more American than a 2,000-mile road trip along the entirety of Route 66. And to take your cross-country road trip to the next level, we recommend exploring another American pastime—whiskey.

Starting in Chicago and ending in L.A., you’ll stop by some of the leading craft distilleries in the United States, like Few Spirits in Chicago, Still 630 in St. Louis, and Red Fork Distillery in Tulsa. Just remember to drink responsibly—this is a road trip after all.

3. Dana Point to San Francisco: Driving California’s Pacific Coast Highway

The seemingly endless views of the Pacific Ocean along Highway 1 are what road trip dreams are made of, and exactly what makes this California road trip so popular. However, with so many stops along the 655-mile stretch, we pulled together a list of the ones well worth pulling over to view. Don’t miss the perfect surfing waves at Pismo Beach, seasonal cuisine in Malibu, or a night in Big Sur as you drive between Dana Point (just south of Los Angeles) and San Francisco. 

4. Big Sur to Mono County: A Literary Road Trip Through Northern California

Yes, this itinerary requires you actually put down your book to drive, but seeing some of the pivotal places that shaped American authors will be so worth it. Follow in the footsteps of writers like Jack Kerouac, Maya Angelou, and Amy Tan on this road trip that takes you through literary landmarks in Northern California, such as Caffe Trieste, a meeting place for Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Alan Watts, and other bohemian writers and thinkers. This 12-stop itinerary is perfect if you live in the Bay Area because you’ll be able to stay relatively close to home.

5. Phoenix to the Grand Canyon: The Ideal Arizona Road Trip

This 240-mile Arizona road trip takes travelers along some of the state’s most iconic highlights, including its most famous one, the Grand Canyon. A great itinerary for first-time visitors and returning travelers alike, it offers plenty of opportunities for scenery, hiking, and biking—as well as tasty food along the way. Hike the 2,704-foot-tall Camelback Mountain in Scottsdale or take in the beautiful red rocks of Sedona on a hike to Cathedral Rock while exploring the Grand Canyon State.



Some large employers suspended matching contributions to retirement plans last year, but this was only temporary for many of them. Studying 260 such companies, consulting firm Towers Watson reports that 75% have already restored employer matches, with 74% matching at the same level they did before the arrival of the pandemic.*

Source: MarketWatch, December , 2020

Did you know?

Looking for the longest beach in America? Try over 70 miles long!

The longest beach in the U.S. is Cape Hatteras National Seashore in North Carolina stretching 70.4 miles in length. Cape Hatteras National Seashore protects parts of three barrier islands: Bodie Island, Hatteras Island, and Ocracoke Island. Beach and sound access ramps, campgrounds, nature trails, and lighthouses can be found and explored on all three islands.*

Source:, July 18, 2022

On the Bright Side

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