Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Debra - Retirement ?

No, not me. Not yet.

But let's talk retirement in general.

The economy has dealt some of us a setback in our retirement plans. For others the economy offered a chance (a push?) to retire early.

As everyone scrambles to re-evaluate the portfolio, we've been thinking of the day in that distant future when we could "retire."

How do you retire? Not the money part...that's a moving target. But the life part of retirement.

Yes, I know we have many writers who hang on this blog. And a fair passel of dedicated readers. But let's put books aside for a moment. Let's pretend you can't READ or WRITE in retirement. ::gasp::

I've always been a firm believer that you can't do just one thing. I think we need to keep our minds sharp. Learn new things. Tackle the scary.

This year we tackled tomatoes. (You can see 6 of our 18...ahem...plants in the picture. You can see 2 more if you squint really hard at the things labeled "hanging pots." When I sent the pic to a good friend, he sent me back links for 6 tomato recipe sites and told me we were going to need them.)

We can grow tomatoes, but I'm not sure if gardening goes on the lifestyle list for retirement. Did you know there was dirt involved ?

If we've got tomatoes covered, how are we going to spend our retirement? This lifestyle issue is also a moving target. We used to think we might travel but we've traveled so much for our work, that travel isn't as appealing. Although vacation/retirement travel IS different. I get that. But...been there. Done that.

Hubby plays and builds guitars. He's rebuilding a "numbers matching" '67 SS396 Chevelle (?) They were all excited when it came out of the garage recently. And yes, this is a picture of the car on that day only a few weeks ago. All the work is under the hood. Years of work. All original. (Excuse me while I laugh hysterically.) Weeks and months of running down parts. A zillion phone calls that started with "Well, if you're going to do X, you might as well do Y." Wheedling his way into the restorer's heart so that he's now a fixture at the shop. They're almost through with all the what-makes-it-run-good stuff. Next comes the body and interior, which is a whole new shop from what I understand. A whole new set of wheedling. And there's talk of the "next" car.

Hubby also plays golf.

He's covered for retirement, I think. 3 strong diverse interests, plus "honey do" work.

I'm evaluating. Am I covered? Will I be happy in retirement? Will I actually do the things I have planned or will I let time slip by and wake up one day realizing that I waited so long to get my retirement started that I didn't do the things I'd dreamed of having time to do.

How about you? Are your retirement activities planned? Do you know what you're going to do with the rest of your life when you don't HAVE to do anything with the rest of your life?


lois greiman said...

Retirement...I can't even imagine it. In fact, I'm always baffled when people suggest that they have an extra MINUTE on their hands. My mother is 90 and is still busy, taking care of her farm, her gardens, her yard, her needy kids. As for me, horses still consume me, despite the fairly regular heartaches involved with keeping them.

But let's remember...we CAN write during retirement.

Helen Brenna said...

You baffled me with the "let's pretend you can't read or write" part. What?!?!?!

And 18 tomato plants. Again, what!?!?!

I'm hoping to continue to sell my writing well past the typical retirement age, but at a much slower pace. That aside ...

No pressure on my kids, but I do hope I have grandkids to spoil.

Beyond that, I'm full of ideas.

I'd like to bike various parts of the country. I've seen vineyard routes that look fun.

There are all kinds of volunteer ops I never seem to have time for now.

Travel, travel, travel.

And I could get into plants, big time. A huge perennial garden has been one of my dreams.

Deb, you've gotten me to thinking why am I not doing some of this stuff NOW?

Michele Hauf said...

Retirement? I've always assumed it's just never going to happen with us. We'll be working or else living in a cardboard box. But there's an adventure for you. Box living. Hmm...

I'd love to be able to travel. Or start furnishing that cottage in France that I would love to buy. Sigh... Just dreams right now.

D Twomey said...

I don't have any dreams. How do I get some of those?

Don't get me wrong. I absolutely dream of a time when I can retire! But when I think about what I'll do... I have nothing....

How pitiful is that?

Keri Ford said...

Gardening has always been a huge appeal to me. I want to do a large fruit garden--that includes several trees. I also want to get into flowers and such.

Traveling would be wonderful (tho that would be hard with a garden). No telling what the technology will be like then. We might be in flying cars and seeing the world could be affordable.

I should be getting grandkids in 20-25 years *g*

Maybe then I can organize my pictures.

Kathleen Eagle said...

I don't see retirement on my horizon. We used to tell the kids that when we reached that point they should put us on an ice floe and wave goodbye, but now that the ice caps are melting...

Clyde "retired" from teaching a couple of years ago when his school was closing and the district was cutting back, so they offered an early option. Six months of that was plenty. (Besides, the early option didn't include health insurance.)

Number 1 granddaughter (age 7) asked me this morning if she could wear one of my dresses to the prom and how old I would be then. "Ageless," said I.

One day at a time, ladies.

Kylie said...

Good question, Deb. Since I never took time off to stay at home with the kids (because if I had there would have been no home to stay in!)I'll qualify for early retirement in three more years. I'd love to take it and write full time. See more of my grandkids. I have many and myriad interests and love to travel, so I've never worried about that portion of it. But I probably need to get the college loans paid off first. The nice thing is I still like going to work, I enjoy the kids, like my colleagues...so if I work past early retirement age I'm okay with that. (easy to say--it's summer and I just got back from a week long vacation, LOL)

But the hubby...I keep telling him he needs a hobby and it can't be one that includes me! He would love to help with your dh's car. With my very first royalty check we redid his '69 Chevelle. And he'd love to do a '63 some day. Then he and my son refurbished the inside of it about seven years ago. But he will be a tough one because he needs to stay busy and he has no real outside interests.

I do look forward to the day I can scale back to just one full time job (writing) and loads of travel. Unfortunately that takes money. But as I tell my kids, they shouldn't expect an inheritance because we're spending it all on them now!

Debra Dixon said...

Lois-- I've talked to people who have no interests. They just sit in their house and read. Or Watch TV. I don't now how you do that.

I can see you at 90 with the horses.

I can see me doing a lot of quilting. And I'm not seeing us closing the doors of the publishing company so one hopes I'll find interesting adventures there.

Maybe combine some work/vacation travel which we never do now.

ForestJane said...

Can't read or write? Does that mean that I can't write webpages too? Or blog? I can't see myself sitting and watching tv.

Container gardening, definitely, I like fooling around with my tomatoes, pepper, squash, and snow peas.

Quilting, definitely - I'd love to be able to spend more time on that.

Traveling, not so much - though I've always wanted to go to Sanibel/Captiva Islands and shell hunt.

If we can't read, does that mean we get to take away your kindle, Debra? Replace it with a ripe tomato? *g*

Debra Dixon said...

Helen-- Okay, you cheated and assumed you'd still write but you get a gold star because you have a whole bunch of things on your to-do list.

I think I'd like to volunteer. I've gotten a little involved in charity work lately but that's definitely something to explore.

Helen Brenna said...

Deb, honey, that's nothing. I've got a ton of things on my to do list I just didn't want to hog the comment box!! lol

Debra Dixon said...

Michelle-- Do you know how much it COSTS to furnish a cottage in France where all the big decorators go to buy the expensive furnishings to bring back HERE to their high dollar clients.

Wait...maybe if you moved to France first then you could beat the designers and decorators to the yard and estate sales. (g)

As for living in a box, I asked my husband how his "greeter" skills were when the market crashed and the economy continued(s) to tank. He said he didn't have to be a greeter. And then he said the loveliest words I've ever heard in my life. "Honey, I've been in this industry for 35 years. You don't think I could retire from corporate and go to work for any branch office in any city in America if I was willing to work for the comparable?" (Like when you match house costs but this is a salary cost.)

They'd all snap him up. SCORE! It never occurred to me to drill down within the same industry.

Which is generally going to be better insurance and salary (g)than WallyWorld!

Debra Dixon said...

D !! Okay, see...now you know. It's time to start looking around for dreams.

I know people who were just born full of dreams and some who acquired them.

I think you have to try things to find a passion in life. Maybe your retirement will be about "sampling." Some new activity every quarter until you find one you can't live without.

Debra Dixon said...

Keri-- Flying cars? Oh, I'm going to come kick your butt. Rubbing my nose in the fact that you are TWELVE. Geez. (g)

We have/had some fruit trees. But we were bad stewards of the land. I think the apple is the only one left. And the pecan trees. One of these days when I have a chunk of change to blow I want someone to come replant fairly big fruit trees.

I'd plant them myself but I always seem to miss the planting window.

I suck at gardening. I swear. I'm awful at it. Procrastination kills plants.

I think I'll be better at grandkids. Although my son has to stop being a workaholic and date more. (Unless he really does have a hankering for this one girl and he's waiting to see how it goes. One of those "will it ruin the friendship" sort of things. She just moved back to town about a year ago after a boyfriend break-up.)

Debra Dixon said...

Jane!! Oh, crap! I can't give up my Kindle. Okay. We can read in retirement but only 4-6 hours a day, which includes the internet.

You're already implementing your plans. You've got the container garden going. You work/play hard at your quilting.

Maybe one of the lessons we learn from today's blog is that we need to have the lives we MEAN to have. Retirement isn't the issue so much as filling our lives with those things we love and finding those things we love.

Debra Dixon said...

Kathy-- Yep. I'm "ageless." That's my story and I'm sticking to it!!

We have one son so grandkids will most likely be limited. I've pretty much adopted my niece's little boy. I'm more than great-aunt and less than grandmother. It's a nice balance. He was here yesterday.

I'd love the "no deadlines" approach to life so I no longer have to say, "We'll go to lunch in jussst a minute."

Even though I've been self-employed my entire adult life, it's just an allusion that you keep your own schedule. My life is more-flexible but not truly flexible.

Debra Dixon said...

Kylie-- You are a good wife if you contributed to the refurb of a '69.

Working was a difficult choice for most of us when our kids were young. I managed to take a "time out" from working for about a year after my son was born. But I've worked since then, and I know what you mean about wishing you had more time at home as a "mom" but also enjoying the community you have in your work environment.

As the internet grows, we have a chance for community without leaving home, but I think that could get isolating for most of us. So, I'm going to try and balance going out into the world and staying happily at home.

Anonymous said...

I've been a stay-at-home wife and mom for most of my three-decade marriage. I work in the yard, I do some volunteering, I have a grandchild I babysit a couple times a year. I love to read and write.

But my world is getting ready to turn upside down. Why? you ask. The big "D" word -- divorce. I don't really want a divorce but I don't want to stay married to a gay man who has redefined the word promiscuous.

I'll have to move to an apartment, I won't have a yard, and I'll most likely have to get at least a part-time job to fill in the gaps alimony won't cover. I can continue to read and write and babysit my grandbaby when possible. I can still do some volunteering and I've been looking at the Elderhostel program. They have some great trips and even have a grandparent-and-grandchild program.

I never figured my life would end up like this. But I can tell you now, my soon-to-be-ex-husband won't ever be able to retire because he dug himself into a financial hole when he insisted we move 4 years ago and took on a 30-year mortgage.

I know I'm going to come out of this a stronger and better woman. If he's lucky, he won't die of AIDS or get shot in a hotel room when he picks up the wrong guy.

Sorry to be the party pooper, but sometimes life just sucks. But I see people with far worse situations than I and count my blessings.

Cindy Gerard said...

Deb - My dh could retire but he won't. He's afraid he won't have enough to keep him busy - and yet, he's the busiest man I know even when he has time off.
I plan to travel and go to more movies, get together with friends more often and of course, play with the grandkids. I'm very good at holding down a chase lounge out in the sun and plan to do a lot of that some day :o)

Anonymous - I'm so sorry about your situation. I can't imagine how tough it must be for you. Cliches are cliches because they are true so I'll toss a couple at you. What doesn't kill us makes us stronger and change is good. I know you'll be struggling but I have hope that something very good will come to you because of this.
Hang in there.

Debra Dixon said...

Anonymous-- #1 I hope you find an interesting part-time job. Maybe this is a chance to get involved with an industry you love? Like the local movie distributor? Might be some freebie movie tickets for entertainment!

Don't worry about bring us "down."

You are just telling it like it is. Taking stock never hurt any of us and if sharing your story reminds us to be ready for the unexpected direction, that's a good thing.

Hugs! And hope this new chapter in your life is better than anticipated.

Debra Dixon said...

Cindy-- More movies! Of course. But movies at the theater.

And maybe I'll start a chapter of "ladies who lunch" but it will be "ladies who munch at the movies."

Kathleen Eagle said...

Anon, it's just not fair to reach this point in your life and have the rug pulled out from under you. But the way the economy is right now, you have lots of company. Different stories, lots of heartache. It's another reason to be grateful for the 'net. Little communities like this one can make the rough days just a little easier. Change is scary, and it's hard, but it's amazing how resilient we are. You'll find--here comes another cliche--the light at the end of this tunnel sooner than you think.

Estella said...

I am retired, and with the economy in the basement, it isn't really all it's cracked up to be.
Fixed income and higher prices on everything, means very little money for extras.
I have a garden and I sew , knit and cross stitch.
I'm sorry, but I have to rely on the used bookstores for my reading material.

Debra Dixon said...


With a printed copy, it will probably fall to pieces before 50 people read it. On the internet just one book of ours had 500 downloads. On one site.

So used books are a whole 'nother kettle of fish. Not even in the same league as internet file downloads.

I haven't cross-stitched in years but I used to love it. One of these days I may have to get back to it.

Betina Krahn said...

Deb this is a GREAT blog. This is something we need to think about waaaaay before we get to the age that we have to make decisions on it. There is a saying among people who work with older folks. . . you should never retire FROM something, you should only retire TO something.

You need to have a plan that involves much more than finances.

Your post reminds us to focuse on the "Good living" part of our aspirations. Staying busy isn't really the key-- it's doing what you love to do. And if you can't think of what you love-- make exploring lots of different options your mission! I started to volunteer at the local hospital a couple of years ago and it's been wonderful! And now that I have a part-time job, I'm really getting all kinds of things done that I never had "time" to do before. Now that I'm busy, I'm even enjoying writing more!

Christie Ridgway said...

Gosh, I think I could fill my days. I would still read, for sure, and keep very active. I have family members who are aging and who don't move around enough...and now can't move enough to do necessary physical therapy.

It would take a couple of years to clean and organize and declutter!

Surfer Guy is quite able to amuse himself. Right now, I'm just hoping he can get his back pain managed ASAP so that the near future and the far future is something to look forward to.