How One Couple Prepares to Retire Together

As my wife and I grow ever nearer retirement, we are excited about our future together. It has been a long road but we are just about there. Here’s the current situation – my wife works for a start up managing all aspects of the office along with doing her best to assure the various employees play well together. She is wonderful at her job and although not always a cake walk, enjoys the interaction with co-workers and energy that a small business perpetuates. Prior to the last two years, I also worked in the technology start up arena managing various sales teams. Never a dull moment as we drove hard to achieve our goals and then reset at the beginning of each new month.

These last two years I have been “free” from work as the next gig has not materialized and in all honesty is not likely to. I am 55 which is about a century too old for the typical start up where average ages are lower than my children (ouch). But rather than bitch and moan, I am looking ever forward. I know that in the next few years – be that one or five or somewhere in between – my wife and I will retire. We look forward to spending quality time together doing what we want with our days free from stress and just plain happy to be alive.

As big believers in planning ahead, my wife and I have been discussing how we will retire together and not drive each other crazy.

Sharing our individual visions of retirement

Since we are unique people it makes sense that we do not have exactly the same view of our retirement-to-be. So we talk about it. We have identified some of our shared visions as well as areas in which we differ. Here is where I believe we are on the right track – although we have some differing views of retirement, we are not trying to reshape or change one another (probably a good thing since at our age we are pretty set in our ways). Instead we do our best to support and encourage each other to pursue the retirement that is most desired. And having uncovered no real clashes in our visions, the road ahead looks relatively smooth (he said optimistically).

My wife is the more social of us and enjoys spending time with others at dinners and events. She is also most happy when she keeps busy. It is possible that her fulfilling retirement may include a part time job to occupy perhaps half of the day. In this role she can interact with co-workers as well as stay engaged and active. Although I like people just fine, I have no problem pursuing activities alone or with just her as opposed to getting out and about (and after 30 years in the Bay Area, I HATE traffic and crowds with a passion). With the past two years of “practice retirement” under my belt, I have created an enjoyable routine that occupies me until about 4:00 each afternoon. The good news is I still have one hour to add something new before cocktails!

Doing things together as well as apart

My wife and I love to do things together. We travel whenever we can, hike every hill in our vicinity, happily wander the countryside in search of that perfect loaf of bread or Pinot Noir, share a quiet moment reading side by side, and typically end the day perched in the best spot to watch the sunset. We are blessed in that we do not have to be doing something every moment. Even if we are doing different things being near each other works just fine. And although we share many common interests, we also support the pursuit of our individual hobbies. We agree it is healthy to have time apart just as much as time together. While she puzzles – either jigsaw or Sudoku or crossword – I write my next blog. When she reads a book while catching a bit of sun in the backyard, I fiddle around in the garden to make it just so. We do things together and we do things apart and the mix works for us

Talking about what lies ahead

The reality is we are getting older. How that will roll out for us over the coming years remains to be seen. But we see our friends and family moving up in years and witness the impact first hand. We are optimistic but also realistic. Already the little aches and pains are making their presence known. Those knees we took for granted as we ran those many miles in our youth will have their say. Hikes we aggressively undertook up steep hills need to be tempered a bit as stamina is not what it used to be. The volume on the TV is a bit louder and the heat in the house a bit higher. It isn’t easy but trying to ignore reality is a losing proposition. We are trying to accept aging gracefully, making the best of it and adjusting our lifestyle accordingly. And we are far from done as we plan on doing all we can along the way to make the best of our second act together.

How Prepared Are You to Retire?

Although not yet 65 I feel in my bones I am ready to retire – now. Why should I put off living that promising second act any longer than I have to? How wonderful would it be to awake each morning excited with the promise of a new day? Instead of dreading my return to the stressful stultifying corporate environment I have survived (at least to this point), I envision my retired day filled with doing what I actually want to do. And I am ready to get to it.

For the past almost four years, I have been doing my best to figure out what retirement is all about and how I can best prepare. I have focused on the non-financial side since there is no lack of helpful if sometimes conflicting advice on how to invest, save and build that all-important retirement nest egg. What financial preparedness ultimately comes down to is saving enough so when you are no longer generating an income you have more left at the end of each month than you spend. Not always an easy thing but pretty straight forward.

What intrigues me and has been the focus of my blogs and book writing efforts is the ongoing search to identify what I can do now to prepare myself for the retirement lifestyle I want. And what exactly will that lifestyle look like? Upon careful consideration and baring any unexpected roadblocks, I am optimistic that I have most of my ducks in a row when it comes to making the move to retirement.

I believe my relationship with my wife is ready for retirement. We talk about our future plans on a regular basis. Both of us realize it would be a mistake to retire prematurely. We recognize our need to stay busy and active so are always looking for interesting activities to replace the hours in the day normally occupied by a job. In addition to things we do together – travel, hiking, exploring new restaurants, backgammon, working out, gardening, watching obscure movies – we have our own individual interests. And we support each other in pursuit of these interests. While she works on a 3000 piece jigsaw of colorful villas along the Mediterranean, I explore my writing. Time spent alone is good for the relationship just so long as we also spend time together!

We realize that neither is responsible for entertaining the other. My wife’s happy routine could be rudely interrupted by a husband who tags along behind her not exactly sure what he should or could be doing. The best of intentions could be misconstrued should a recommendation be made to improve something that has been working just fine all along. As long as we are happy and engaged – either together or on our own – we do not fear becoming bored or discontent.

I believe I have enough to engage and entertain me for the next 20 plus years. I departed the working world back in early 2012 for what I initially expected to be a short term reprieve and recharge. Two years later I occupy the same position or more accurately lack thereof. Although I have been keeping my feelers out for possible jobs I have also been taking advantage of the time to test the retirement waters a bit. If I am never rehired full time, could I keep busy and find my life fulfilling? What would I do to stay engaged and involved so that my mind and body do not slow down prematurely? These two years have allowed me to experience the promise as well as challenge of keeping active and engaged with no job to fill the hours. A pleasant routine has evolved that keeps me occupied until about 4:00 each day. Now I just need to figure out what to do with that last 60 minute segment before 5:00 happy hour rolls around.

I am not averse to returning to the working world in some capacity. But as long as we can financially sustain ourselves, I do not think full time is what I want. My ideal would be to find a gig that occupies about four hours a day – preferably in the morning as that is when I am most energetic – doing something that matters, makes me think, and kicks in a few dollars to the retirement coffers.

I believe I have identified my retirement personality. I no longer feel the need to define myself based upon the job I do (or used to do). There are enough aspects of the life I plan to live that make me an interesting person I hope. I am just waiting for the next cocktail party when someone asks me “What do you do?” No longer a Director of Sales at a tech startup, the retired me is a blogging and authoring, world traveling, piano playing,  world-class-rose-growing, nature loving retiree and proud to be! Although it may be hard to fit my new “title” on a business card, I am satisfied that I am far more than the working person I once was.

I believe retirement will be a fulfilling experience. I am excited about what lies ahead. There are so many interests I want to pursue and new things to experiment with now that I will have the time to do so. I worry a little about how the effects of aging will play into our plans but we are doing our part to live a healthy fit lifestyle. My biggest challenge seems to be which of my many passions to pursue in what order. And after some serious thought, I believe I am well equipped and more than willing to handle that challenge!

Are You Living a Good Retirement?

After long years spent working for a living and carefully building a future, when retirement finally arrives you sure don’t want to waste it. Whether you are someone who plans to busily pursue each new adventure or find yourself happy to take retirement one day at a time enjoying what comes at a more relaxed pace, commencing your second act can be a time of great expectation and optimism. Imagine finally having time to pursue those interests you were forced to deny during your busy work career. It can be a struggle to keep a smile from your face when you think of all you can do with your new found freedom and spare time.

However it is not uncommon to feel somewhat guilty with your newfound luxury to live as you choose. Not so long ago you were working just like the rest of the world. Is it fair for you to relax while others are still at it? Are you wasting time if at the end of the day you have nothing “productive” to show?

How do you know you are living a good retirement? Here are a few helpful ingredients:

First, you have sufficient interests, hobbies and passions to engage you on a regular basis so you do not find yourself bored. The day begins and you want to get out of bed to get to it. Sure you may move a bit more slowly but as long as you feel that drive to partake in what the day has to offer, you are headed in the right direction. Some find it important to pursue worthwhile endeavors, spending their time in meaningful ways that benefit themselves and those around them. They are forever in search of that next cause or situation where they may lend their knowhow and experience. Others are happy to commence at a more leisurely pace doing what they enjoy and want to do. The key is to find what is right for you and do it. Time moves quickly for those who always have something on their calendar. A busy engaged person is less likely to become bored with life and better able to make the most of retired living.

Second, your worries are for the most part a thing of the past. You have survived those stressful days spent struggling to raise a family, meeting financial obligations, climbing the career ladder, and worrying about the future. The future is now as you enter your retirement years. Take a moment to congratulate yourself on a job well done. Then prepare to get on with the next stage of your life. Of course the thought that your second act will be entirely worry free is a fantasy. There will always be something to worry about! But realizing you have endured so much to get to this point should provide some peace of mind.

Thirdly, you are being good to yourself. No one knows better the importance of living a healthy lifestyle than those who are getting along in years. Those bad habits and indulgences we easily tolerated while younger take a greater toll as we age. A happy retirement includes a lifestyle that supports healthy activities and practices. You need not be an obsessive gym rat but regular workouts that help maintain strength and balanced will pay off in the long run. We all love a good meal but can enjoy fantastic cuisine that will not clog our arteries or drive heart rates into the stratosphere. And a slower pace may be just the ticket as we travel those trips we have looked forward to. The better we are to ourselves the better equipped we will be to enjoy each undertaking.

The fourth sign you are living a good retirement is when you are engaging in life rather than watching from the sidelines. With increasing aches and pains and the challenges to do basic things, it may feel easy and safer to just stay home. After all, you know the environment, there are few unexpected surprises, and you probably have your favorite seat in front of the TV. But sitcoms and reality TV are poor substitutes for interaction with real people. Travel shows fall far short of the experience of wandering among real people and societies, smelling the food and feeling the atmosphere that makes each place unique in its own way. Becoming an active part of the world around can provide that satisfaction that few virtual experiences can come close to.

Finally, when you look at yourself in the mirror, are you the type of person that others like to be around? Are you the type of person that YOU would like to be around? We are for the most part social animals. We find satisfaction in spending time with others, family and friends, neighbors and co-workers. We want to share our life experience. Think about those you enjoy being around. What is it about them that draws you near? Why is it that when they crack a joke, even a feeble one, you cannot help yourself from joining in the laugh? If you are one of those people that others want to be around, it is likely your retirement will be filled with many moments that give you pleasure. Isn’t that what a good retirement is all about?

From my blog for RetireUSA.net