Expanding Boundaries: Income & Assets Rethink

In modern society, the Third Chapter time of life — when you are over 55 and demands of family, career and community have lessened, leaving you with more time to explore new or forgotten directions — is longer than ever before. The Social Security Administration notes that currently, men are looking at more than 18 years in retirement, and women at more than 20 years. With so much time ahead, it’s important to sort out priorities.

To discover the Third Chapter Living you envision, determine what is most important to you: is it friends and family? Hobbies and other activities? Travel? Being close to family and long-time friends? Do you want to move to another state? Become an ex-pat and move to a different country? Don’t get stuck in the rut of thinking that your post-retirement income won’t allow you to pursue what you love. You have options!

Income Equation: What Do You Have and What Can You Get?

Many financial advisors recommend retirement income to be about 80 percent of what you earned during your career. Social security pays between 35 and 40 percent of what you earned while in your career. So the other 40-45 percent needs to come from other sources of income, either retirement savings plans you began pre-retirement, annuities, or other similar plans.

If saving for retirement wasn’t an option for you, there are still ways to live your best Third Chapter. Many older adults find they actually want to keep working in some capacity after retirement. Some use a portion of their Third Chapter to try a new line of work. Others, who enjoyed their career or job pre-retirement, negotiate an agreement to work part-time or as a contractor for a former employee. Working from home, while a necessity during the pandemic, has become a viable option for many older adults as they use work as a way to stay active and engaged, but also to supplement their retirement income.

Housing Liability vs. Housing Assets

Housing also is an important consideration in Third Chapter Living. Where do you want to live? Options like life plan communities, 55+ communities, and moving into a family member’s home — either to an unused room or to an addition to the home — exist for people who don’t mind moving.

If you want to age in place — as a majority of baby boomers do — be proactive in making modifications to your home, from walk-in tubs, bathroom hand rails, and wider doorways to kitchen remodels that increase accessibility, and consider whether you might have home health care needs. All of these options can become cost prohibitive when considering them by yourself.

One of the growing trends in senior housing is shared housing — when two or more people share a living space for mutual benefit. Think “The Golden Girls” but not necessarily in Florida with three other people! Shared housing includes deciding to rent a room in your home to someone, seeking roommates with similar interests to live in your home, or moving into a different home to share with others — e.g., a house, a 55+ stand-alone condominium, a regular condominium, or an apartment.

There are many reasons for shared housing, from wanting the companionship of housemates to easing the financial burden of maintaining a home. Also, there is no set model for shared housing — every situation in unique, and home share agreements are developed to meet the personal needs, preferences, and financial abilities of the people entering the agreement.

Try Mid-Course Corrections for Smoother Sailing

Before you dismiss the idea of house sharing as unworkable, intrusive or too risky, spend some time carefully considering

  • Money:  How do I reduce or contain my housing-related expenses, or use my home to increase my income?
  • Excess:  Are there activities, hobbies or other projects that you know you will not be doing in the future — think waterskis, radio repairs, retiling the kitchen backsplash or redoing bedrooms of adult children who have moved to another state?
  • Agreements:  What are your “must-haves” when thinking about your living space?  What are the deal breakers — privacy or comfort issues that have to be addressed before you move anywhere? 

Honest responses to these questions will begin to shape the type, terms and timing of that “forever home” where you live safely — and with joy — as you age. My short checklist may help you with this exercise.

In future blogs, I will delve deeper into some of the innovative responses, trends and opportunities in shared living today. So keep an open mind and do some list-making around money, excess and agreements.

With some preparation, the best is yet to come! 

Third Chapter Living celebrates, challenges, informs and promotes conversations about housing issues affecting the Baby Boomer Generation. Check out our website to learn more about our work. Our Facebook Group is a resource center with tips and recommendations on navigating those issues. Share experiences with others who are looking for Housing Downsizing Tools that allow them to successfully age in place. Become a part of the group.


  1. John Zeisel on July 5, 2022 at 7:05 am

    Great blog highlighting the importance of ceativity and meaning in our designing our own lives .

  2. David Biesemeyer on July 6, 2022 at 12:43 pm

    This is a great blog – with some common sense but useful things to think about, maybe even act upon, for those of us who find our families grown and our careers behind us. We still have a future and we need to plan for it. Thanks!

  3. Kathy Faircloth on July 8, 2022 at 4:26 pm

    I really look forward to the ideas offered each week. So far, my retirement choices have been spot on with no regrets. Life has a way of throwing in “curve balls “ to keep things interesting and challenging! Third Chapter Living brings to minds reflections of the past and plans for the future so you can be prepared for tomorrow and even 5 years from now. Keep your options open and prepare when you can, but LIVE in the present!
    Kathy Faircloth

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