Thoughts of a new retiree (not me, but thinking akin to blog of 12/31/13 and others, enjoy life and living.)
Should I be worried? I’m retiring on May 30, and along with 10,000 Baby Boomers retiring every day, I am being bombarded by the press with reasons for angst. “Do you have enough money to retire? $1 million may not be enough!” “Will your marriage survive retirement? Here are some tips!” “Best places to retire? Costa Rica! Ecuador!” So, am I worried? No, I’m not, and here’s why.
First, I’m not moving to Ecuador. My family and friends, who are my life, aren’t likely to drop into Ecuador from New York for a barbecue on a Saturday night.
Second, my wife and I have been steady savers, putting money away every month for 38 years and letting professionals manage it. (We intervened with moves of our own only three times that I remember. Fortunately, all three paid off.) The sacrifices we made in order to save were not onerous: We enjoyed less expensive cars, less expensive homes, less expensive vacations, and less expensive dinners out than most of our friends at comparable income levels. Still, we had a home, cars, vacations, and dinners out, and also plenty of fun. Our restraint has paid off big time: We have enough savings to last us through retirement and leave something for the kids when we’re gone.
Third, I believe that America is as strong as ever. Democracy and capitalism are incredibly flexible and creative. Many problems that arise seem insurmountable at first because we can’t imagine how the system will adapt–and yet, adapt it does. In my not-so-short lifetime, I’ve lived through World War II, the Korean War, the Cold War, and the Vietnam War, as well as through numerous recessions, bubbles, and inflations. And yet, the economy grew and stock indexes climbed more than they retreated. I see nothing that would upset that as long as we remain true to our values of freedom and tolerance for all people.
Finally, Kathy’s and my greatest pleasures have little to do with money. So, whatever our financial means turn out to be in retirement, we’re in good shape. If we have to tighten our belts, we can do it without much pain because nothing sustains our joy more than love and learning. Great times with family and friends can be as simple as a hike to a favorite mountaintop or a new recipe on the grill. And pastimes that require us to learn keep life interesting. Kathy is a tireless volunteer for children and neighborhood causes. I’ve become a native gardener, painter, and online author. Filling our garden with native plants of my country boyhood–sumac, asters, dogwood, and more–is bringing wildlife to our home. I’ll continue to write (there’s a novel in the works) and paint for local shows. Climbing corporate and professional ladders was never this rewarding
Editor, Wells Fargo Advantage