Retirement Talk

WHAT to do with the rest of your life?


567 What Do I Want?

This is Retirement Talk. I'm Del Lowery.

If you are following these podcasts you know that I am going back to the beginning and rethinking, rewriting and rerecording. This episode ties itself closely with 566 concerning the question: When Should I Retire?

Here is my own story considering our personal thinking when retirement became a real possibility. It is here not as a guide but only to stimulate thinking. Quitting work, or retiring, usually means loosing income. That is one of the first considerations. How can we live on less? That scares us.

For me the financial fears were conquered when I rearranged my thinking about what is important. How much money did I need to bring about what I wanted in life. I present this only as one example. We did not consult an expert.

I have no expertise in financial or investment issues. But I think I am an expert in knowing how I view money and my own life. I know that financial matters are of great importance when we first consider the question of retirement. That is common to all of us.

I had to rid my thinking from considering the sum total of my income and how much it would be reduced. Rather than looking at the reduction I had to start at the other end. I had to look at how much money I needed – and I should be saying, “we” because this decision involved my wife and myself. We had to consider how much money we really needed to live in a style that we wanted. And then we had to compare that figure to the amount we would continually receive in retirement. It wasn't real difficult. Was there going to be enough cash at the beginning of each month?

The pencil came out to estimate just exactly how much money we would need for food, clothing, and shelter; necessities. Then I think we doubled the figure just to account for inflation. After that we could affix an amount for, “other things” that were optional: car, or cars, new or used. Clothing, travel, taxes, upkeep on our house, Etc.

Our list was surprisingly short. In this world of consumption, advertisers continually tell us we need more stuff. But, of course, we don’t – not really. What is most important to you? A new car, a new television, a boat, a cruise, or something else; like a chance to do whatever you choose with your life on a daily basis.

Of course we could not predict for unexpected expenses or inflation but we could make an educated guess based on our personal history and the countries stability. Predicting future economic change is dangerous business. We just took the pencil and began to figure to the best of our reckoning.

It became crystal clear that if we continued to work it would be for some reason other than financial. Did we really love our work that much? Did our work continue to allow us to grow and create as we wished?

The world is filled with possibilities and our time is limited. After careful consideration we realized that our material desires really were limited. We wanted to use our time as best we could for what we really wanted out of life. We bailed; walked away. My wife was 41 years old and I was 44 – and we were free. What an amazing feeling. We were retired – and we were not looking for another job.

More than thirty years have passed since we made that calculation and rode with it. We have not sought out employment with one very brief exception so that I could fulfill the minimum requirements for social security and thus medicare. (Very part time work for less than a year). We were not aware of the importance of medicare in regards to our medical insurance policy from the State of Alaska.

The little method described above worked very well for us. We have enjoyed a life that is even better than we could have envisioned when we took the step.

We all have different desires. It might help to sit down and do some serious thinking about what it is you really want before it is to late. Of course you may be way ahead of where we were. You may have access to financial expertise or enjoy exploring the retirement sections in book stores. There is no shortage of advise on retirement and money. You won't get much more from me. We did our own thinking and it seems to have worked well. I intend for these podcasts to focus on other matters.

This is retirement talk.

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