4 Ways to Reward Yourself in Retirement

The path to retirement is rarely easy. While navigating your journey expect to encounter numerous potholes, unexpected twists and turns, and even the occasional dead end. Saving and preparing for your second act requires devotion and constant vigilance lest you stumble and as a consequence delay your arrival. The best laid plans often require modification, adjustment or sometimes even a start over. But with perseverance, determination, a good dose of prayer and a little luck we eventually hope to count ourselves amongst the retired.

Few of us entering retired life have a clear picture of exactly what may be in store for the next 20 or 30 years but as a whole we are plenty glad to be here. This should be our time to do what we want, what excites us and brings us joy. We have earned our time in the sun. So where do we start? How do we learn to be good to ourselves first after so many decades spent putting our personal desires on the back burner?

Is there any “thing” that would add to your joy in retirement?

All of us learn to do without on the way to retirement. If we hope to have sufficient resources down the road we have to watch ourselves along the way. That little red corvette, those amazing Italian shoes, upgrades to the home that are not 100 percent necessary, everything must be prioritized as we strive to keep that ultimate prize in sight. Once retired we still have to watch our expenditures – in some cases more than ever. But with some expenses no more – kids, college, commute expenditures, dry cleaning – perhaps you can afford a little splurge. Is there something that you have always wished for but just could not justify the expense? Think hard or maybe you don’t have to. Perhaps you can manage the books a bit and find what you need to go for it. It needn’t be Bakerysomething extravagant or over the top, just something you want. It doesn’t even have to be something you necessarily need. If you can swing it why not give yourself a well-deserved reward.

And if you really want to get the retirement off to a good start, find out if your partner has any secret wishes. Sometimes giving can truly be better than receiving.

Spend time with people you like

The realities of the working world occasionally require us to interact with people we would rather not. Putting on that happy face when you so do not feel like smiling can be stressful not only to the mind but to the face. How much better is it to spend your moments with people you love and enjoy? Is there someone at the top of your like list who you have not had time to be with? Retirement can be your chance to fix that. Now retired, I am able to reach out to old friends on a more frequent basis. I am free to arrange my calendar to make time for visits by the kids and the parents. I can join my sister for a lunch in the middle of the day and stretch the experience for hours if I want. What a welcomed change from a career peppered with meetings and conventions and business diners where I was often forced to talk nothing but business when it was the farthest thing from my mind. Reward yourself by spending time with those you choose.                                                      

Consider a furry four legged addition to the family

Not everyone is enamored with the thought of caring for a pet in retirement. The house if finally free of responsibility, so why not enjoy. With a pet, instead of being spontaneous you have to make arrangements for your four legged friend first and foremost. As many relate having a pet is like having another child. And nothing is cheap. But for those who like the idea of a loveable perpetually giving only-here-for-you companion a pet might be the ticket. You won’t be alone. Many places are dog friendly these days. In CV it is not uncommon to find yourself seated next to someone’s pooch while dining at the local bistro. Stores maintain full bowls of fresh water outside their doors just waiting to slake the thirst of visiting canines. Services available for pets include everything from walking to boarding to personality improvement. And what can be better than a warm body nestled at your side happily yipping and twitching as they dream their doggie dreams gloriously content with the occasional belly rub and simple pat on the head.

Use your good fortune to reward someone else

If life has been good you may want to give to those less fortunate. Retirees who spend time volunteering typically find the experience incredibly rewarding. Caregivers are in big demand in many communities and taking care of the aged is a good karma thing considering you too will someday be there. Small businesses can benefit from your counsel while at the same time you keep engaged and active. If you have a hobby or interest, share your passion by teaching others. “Memories of our lives, of our works and our deeds will continue in others,” said Rosa Parks. Find a worthy cause and pitch in. What have you got to lose? And the good you do may reward you in ways you could never imagine.

What’s Really Important

Last weekend we shared a nice afternoon with my sister and the folks enjoying their new bocce ball court and a bottle or two of Octoberfest appropriate beer. As is usually the case it was great to catch up on everything from the kids to current jobs (for those of us still working) to vacation plans. As we were sitting down for dinner we heard on the news of a fire rapidly blazing its way through hundreds of acres down Monterey way. Since we now reside in that area we were concerned, even more so when we learned the flames were a mere ten miles from our home. We continued monitoring the news worrying through the evening and headed out early the next day.

As we neared the turnoff to our home we had to skirt the lines of a second fire that lined both sides of the road and was supposedly 80 percent contained. Firemen and trucks were scattered everywhere with blackened hills filling the landscape that 24 hours earlier had been brown. Fortunately these hard working public servants fought the good fight and were on top of the situation allowing us to make it safely home. Once there we tuned into the local news for the latest on what was being called the Tassajara fire. We were a bit frustrated to find no updates to the situation since many hours ago. Although we could not see smoke we could smell it.

Beatrice and I decided we would put together a few boxes of our most important records and possessions in case we might have to make a run for it should the fire spread to our doorstep. We found a few plastic containers left over from our recent move and began wandering the house in search of those most important and irreplaceable possessions.

What were we going to include in these precious few boxes? With a limit to what we could pack into the cars, which items did we consider to be most irreplaceable, sentimental and significant? Looking back now it was an interesting exercise. At the time, not so much.

We agreed there were certain documents we needed to save – deed to the house, pink slips, receipts from the sale of the house, birth certificates, tax records for the past years, and insurance information.

Next we focused on a few valuable pieces of art we have and figured we could get them into the car relatively easily – just a few paintings and one Peter Lik photo that we bought on our honeymoon.

Even with these minimal selections we were running out of available space. What else was most important to save? When it came down to it the material side of things was surprisingly unimportant. Neither of us was concerned over electronics or furniture that although good quality could be replaced. The real loss for us would be the beautiful spot where we were planning to spend the rest of our lives. This perfect location would not be so perfect should we have to rebuild amidst blackened ruins. For me it came down to a short list: photos of the family collected over the years – there are no negatives and these could not be replaced; my laptop; and one particularly unique vase with a chameleon climbing the side that although not valuable is pretty cool.

In the end we collected everything in three plastic bins and were ready to grab the three pictures off the walls to make our dash to safety. Thankfully the fire was contained and our immediate neighborhood is no worse for the wear.

Since the threat of the fire we have scanned all of our important documents onto a hard drive and thumb drive. We have opened a safety deposit box where we store these along with some irreplaceable pictures and family heirlooms. We now keep an empty plastic container next to the safe to throw the contents into short order should the need arise. Most importantly we appreciate even more what we have and how fortunate we are to be where we are. We witnessed in those poor people who lost their homes just how fragile and uncertain the future can be. Taking life for granted is a mistake. You are only as safe as your next disaster. We feel prepared to make a hasty retreat should we have to. But in the meantime we are enjoying the moment and making the best of each day together.