The Big Day: Retirement

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Today was The Big Day. Today we submitted the paperwork to the State confirming Shujin’s retirement. It’s now official!

Okay, maybe it wasn’t as big as being born.

Or graduation.

Or getting married.

Or (yikes!) getting divorced (not that I’ve ever experienced that particular Big Day)…

Coincidentally, in two days we mark the 30th anniversary of when we first met. I guess that was another Big Day for us. It doesn’t seem like that long ago. Isn’t time funny that way?

We marked the occasion with a selfie taken in front of a huge Christmas tree at the State office:

retirement day

Afterwards, we stopped to look at travel trailers at a couple of RV dealers. I think we’ve decided to go on the road for awhile. We’ve talked about it for several months but haven’t really made any plans yet.

 Retiring is really restarting for us.

Our sons are both grown and ready to be on their own. We sold our house last year and are now leasing an apartment so that we have more flexibility about where we live. We have the option of going anywhere and doing just about anything we want.

The trouble has been trying to figure out what it is we want to do and where we want to go. There are so many things to think about!

Do we buy another house? If so, where? Can we (er…can I) handle living hundreds or thousands of miles away from my kids?

Do we travel? We both love going on long vacations and it always seems like we can’t get enough. In the last few years, the duration and frequency of our trips have increased. Is this the best time to go on the road for an extended period of time? If so, how? Do we take a car and use AirBnB around the country? Go international? Get an RV?

Will our relationship withstand spending every day together? Will our finances support it?

We’ve both been reading anything we can get our hands on about retirement.

But the first thing we found out about retirement advice is that it almost always discusses finances. We are fortunate enough to have adequate savings and a good pension to rely on, so finances are probably the least of our concerns. What about all the other issues? Like how to figure out where to live?

Our last house was fine for a family of four with two incomes, but too much for two people on a budget. I found a lot of advice on downsizing that helped a lot. It got us to the point where we moved into an apartment half the size of the house with a storage unit. I feel like we’re on the right track.

I finally found some advice that made some sense.

The first was a book about full time RVing. It focused on choosing and using an RV for the purpose of traveling during retirement – had advice about things like “slow down and enjoy the scenery”. It also had tips about how to save money while RVing.

We both liked the idea of being able to continue our traveling without dipping into our savings. It would give us time to think about what we want in our next house.

The second was about being happy in retirement. It offered what I think was probably the best advice of all. Summed up, it amounted to:

Retirement isn’t about having the time to do the things you never had time to do while you worked. Sooner or later, you do all those things, or you try them out and find out they weren’t something you really wanted to do anyway. Retirement is about having the time to spend with the people you love and giving your time to help others.

How many regrets are focused on not spending enough time with your kids? Or your sister, brother, parents, cousins, aunts and uncles, friends or extended family?

While I don’t want to discount doing the things there wasn’t time to do when I worked (like using the golf clubs that are gathering dust), those are short term activities. It wouldn’t be right to plan to live next to a golf course only to find out that I don’t really like golf. If I did, I probably would’ve found time to play it during my working career.

I think it would be wiser to plan for the long term with as much flexibility as possible. Which is what I think we’ll be doing. It just won’t happen overnight.

Good things come to those who wait…or so I’ve heard.

 

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