Saturday, September 22, 2012

Too Late for Early Retirement

First of all, let me admit that I'm envious of Syd at Retirement: A Fulltime Job. That's not just because she sends a lot of readers my way, though she does.

Let's face it, I'd be jealous of anyone who gets to retire in their forties with enough resources to travel, a cute & loving partner to travel with, and their health intact.

A young friend of mine, an auto mechanic who is in his late thirties, is busy buying up rental real estate, desperate to leave the work world behind by age 50. He doesn't want to spend the rest of his life under cars, nor does he want to retrain for some other career. If he has to work, he tells me, then fixing autos is the way to go. But he believes that fixing up and maintaining rentals will suit him better and leave him with more time to pursue the hiking and rock climbing that he also loves.

I sort of envy him as well (except for the repairing rentals, hiking and rock climbing part!).

But would I have retired in my forties, even if it had been financially feasible? And assuming I hadn't been busy adding children to my family during that time?

Somehow, I suspect not.

The decision to retire, when not dictated by job loss or health concerns, is so very personal.

It seems to me that some people, like Syd and my mechanic friend, do leisure well. I don't count myself in that number. Left to my own devices, I tend to hole up with my books, the remote control and a full supply of Ben & Jerry's. I don't even bother to answer the phone much of the time when I'm home alone.

Work provides structure and social interaction, whether we need it or want it. People like me need both. In fact, as I plan for my eventual retirement, part of my plans involve thinking of ways to maintain structure and interaction (while still managing to sleep in on weekdays, travel, read, and hit movie matinees).

When I retire, I want to RETIRE--all caps! I don't want to change careers--I love the one I have; I don't want to become an entrepreneur--contrary to the Dave Ramsay mantra, not everyone is cut out for self-employment. I know I'm not.

But I also don't want to vegetate into a hermit. I want to volunteer; I want to travel; I want to have way more time for myself.

And of course, I want to be in a financial position to do all of the above.


Retired Syd said...

Well I have to admit I have some hermit-like tendencies too. It helps having an extroverted husband--he guilts me out the door, which is good for me. But yes, you are right, I'm pretty good at leisure!

Debt-Free said...

Thanks for this great perspective. My Dad is semi-retired and has been for many years. It works great for him because he DOES so much with his time and is busier than the rest of the family. My mom is like me (and you) and likes to disconnect and hibernate when she isn't at work. We have been trying to tell her that she can't watch TV for decades in retirement! She's finally started to say that she wants a break from work, but after that she wants to work because she's not sure what else she would do.

Florence said...

Dear Grace, I had planned to work until age 66 but due to health issues I retired 18 months ago at 64. I had always worried that I would be bored or lonely if I didn't have the work that I really enjoyed so much. I spent the first months recovering my health and just going slowly. But as time has gone by, I am finding that I love being retired. I can do so many of the things that I wanted to but never had enough time for--my quilting, reading, roses, cooking. The best part of retirement for me has been in not having to hurry.
When to retire is a very personal individual decision. My father's retirement was not nearly as happy as mine has been because he had continuing health problems and had really no outside interests. Other people find that their finances severely constrain their lives in retirement. I think that you will know when you are ready and only you can decide that.

Barb said...

Grace, I love your persective. That said, I think you can have a life of leisure and still be structureed in a sense. I suspect thats what I would call what Tamara does. She schedules her days and weeks to include a variety of activies-all leisure. I think that when you retire you will find you have plenty of things to do,

Petunia 100 said...

Although I have never retired, I did at one point make the decision to be a SAHM. I worried a lot about how I would structure my time as I had worked from the time I was 16 until I was 28.

There is an adjustment period when your life changes in a big way. It does take some time.

Grace. said...


As a single parent, I had no choice but to work. Still, I used to joke that if I had to stay home 24/7, there would be blood on the floor!

senior living scottsdale said...

Retirement seems to get pushed back further and further and it seems only the very old get to relax. Retirement should be a goal that is accomplished early enough of to travel and do everything you wanted to do while you were working.

Unknown said...

It’s a seductive facade that’s supposed to be about freedom and success, but I think it shows it’s usually an avoidance mechanism that cleverly hides a more important issue. It’s self-deception at a deep level.