Thursday, August 29, 2013

Practicing Retirement

There is a jar just like this one on my husband's chest of drawers.  I would say it is about 1/5 full.  Perhaps that could buy us 4 tomatoes, or maybe a half dozen rolls of toilet paper.  Either way, it's not getting us rapidly closer to our retirement dreams, but it's the thought of it, right?

Bob just completed forty years of working for the Chef Boyardee Foods industry earlier this month.  He dreams of retiring, every day these days.

He began his career there the summer he graduated from high school and has been there ever since.  Originally he worked on the assembly line, but over the years he learned things and accepted other jobs there having more and more responsibility and oversight.  I am grateful that he has been a hard worker and that he has had a job that has comfortably supported our family of six over all those years.

I, on the other hand, am retired.  For many years I was the homemaker, the household manager and engineer.  The chef, the laundress, the cleaning service, the professional shopper, the seamstress, the hairdresser, the homework supervisor, the coordinator, the chauffeur.  Above all else, the mom.

Then, after returning to the working world and teaching mathematics at a local college for nine years, I stopped.  There were family issues that needed tending to once again.  There were immediate family members dealing with cancer, surgery, and other trials.  I wanted to be there to help and love them through them.  The husband and I agreed that's where I should be.  So again, I left the working world, and when asked, I tell folks I think I'm retired.

Essentially I've been treading the waters and trying this business of "being retired."  It has been 2 1/2 years now, and I've got to say I like it pretty well so far.

How does a couple like us know when they are financially set ENOUGH to make that decision to retire?  It is all about finances and being responsible, the way I see it.  We're not retired, and so when an investment strategist asks us how much money we need to be retired, how do we really know?

I've watched many retired folks over the years, and there are some that show me a retired way of life I definitely do not want.  For example, the thought of waiting out my remaining days lounging at home and watching television until I die is a horrid scenario to me.

On the other hand, traveling the world over may not be feasible either, depending on available health and finances.  I must say, though, that my dreams do seem to point more in that direction.

I read many blogs these days of people that have become full time RV travelers.  People that have been living that lifestyle for years.  How did they know when they were financially secure enough to give up their careers and make that lifestyle change?  Many of them did not even wait until the traditional retirement age - that age when Social Security payments start coming.  Instead they started "living their dreams" way before that age.

I think it's quite telling that I have not heard or read one single comment from any of them indicating that they had regretted their decision.

So, we are saving.

We are dreaming, and we are planning.

We are simplifying in small ways.

We are making efforts to eat healthier diets and considering how to incorporate more exercise into our lifestyles.

We are making longterm major repairs to our homestead, so that those issues won't be as much of a concern should we be traveling and far from home.

And finally, on occasion, we are pretending - practicing retirement.  Our occasional vacation weeks are times when we let our retirement dreams truly flourish.

We are getting close, and ohhh, how sweet it is.

"Lord, help us to be wise and responsible, and know when it's the right time.

In the meantime, please help us to be patient."


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  2. I just happened on your blog and the word retirement just called me to read. My husband and I are in our mid to late 70's. We've been retired for quite a while. My only advice for you is to do the things you love to do early on...because you never know what's coming. Neither of us can travel any longer, so we are pretty much home. We have a pretty active social life, with Church events, family parties, eating out with other couples, drives to the lake to visit my daughter.. I can still do gardening, but my husband can't.We are never bored with our life...So, along with the money aspect...think about what you want to do and do it while you are still able..

  3. It is too late for me to do any planning. I am already retired and living on S.S.

  4. I agree with Balisha - don't wait too long because you want to be able to enjoy it. And you just never know what is around the corner. We full time and you're right - I wouldn't have it any other way. But Jim's cancer and other medical issues have slowed us down and that's okay also. We're still doing what we like just slower. We decided we would never have enough money so we just went for it. And like Dizzy-Dick we are now retired and living on what retirement we have.

  5. I agree that waiting for the perfect time may result in your being to late. I started retirement at 59 and never looked back!

  6. I retired at 55 and have never regretted it for one day even though I did love my job.