I ran into an old friend who recently finished a long working career and asked him the obvious question -- how's retirement?
He looked at me and answered with a sobering statement. "Twice the time, half the money," he said with a laugh. "Get ready for it."
Truth is, most of us aren't.
I'm part of that glut of aging population in America known as the baby boomers, those of us born between World War II and The Beatles, 1946-64.
Census figures indicate there were about 78 million of us born during those halcyon years, which means about 10,000 a day are now reaching retirement age.
And while we were the generation of free love, we're about to find out there's no free lunch at the end of the line.
Those planning to live on Social Security benefits have been stunned in recent years to receive those statements in the mail and learn how little they will receive.
Sure, it's better than nothing. But for most middle-class Americans, that number falls way short of maintaining the lifestyle they're accustomed to. And they didn't count on having to pay for Medicare and other government benefits that are deducted from that monthly check.
Some are lucky enough to have pension plans. But that money also is taxed and usually comes up short of the number you had in mind.
Even those popular 401(k) plans, a tax-deferred pot of money from which you can draw after you reach retirement age, took quite a hit during the recession. And, once again, the tax man cometh.
In other words, what looked like the light at the end of the retirement tunnel can suddenly turn out to be the headlight of that train you didn't see coming.
But money is only half the problem. The other is time, and how you spend it.
A book titled "How To Retire Happy, Wild, and Free" by Ernie J. Zelinski has several headings that caught my eye.
Retirement should put a perpetual smile on your face.
Retiring too late means you don't get another chance to do it right.
Create a new identity because your old one won't do.
Two or three real friends are worth more than a hundred superficial ones.
Early to bed and early to rise make a person dull, boring and despised.
If you don't take care of your body, where do you intend to live?
You will overlook the silver lining if you are always expecting gold.
It's better to live rich than to die rich.
Be happy when you are alive because you are a long time dead.