Saturday, October 1, 2011

Making a Retirement Wish List

     I noticed a few of our blogging colleagues have recently gone to Hawaii. Wow! That sounds like a  retirement dream! I've never been anywhere near Hawaii, never been west of California.

     My gut reaction was jealousy -- man, I wish I was going to Hawaii, too. But after I thought about it for a while, I decided, you know, I don't really care all that much about Hawaii. Especially since I don't like to fly -- and there's really no other way to get there.

     But it made me wonder. What are my dreams for retirement? Is it the same as a Bucket List?

     The Bucket Lists I've seen mostly revolve around traveling or doing something really exciting. Going to see the Pyramids or visiting Australia. Or jumping out of an airplane in a parachute. I guess I wouldn't mind seeing the Pyramids. But there's no way you're getting me to take a parachute jump. I don't even like roller coasters!

     I have thought about taking a trip around the world. I think that would be really cool. I've wrestled with the idea of not liking to fly -- but I figure if I get to age 70 or so, what the heck, if I go down, I've still had a nice life. Besides, I do fly occasionally, and it doesn't bother me too much, once I've popped a few of those Lorazepam pills. Plus, an around the world trip would involve, maybe, eight or ten back-to-back airplane flights. Once you've done two or three, taking off gets to be old hat.

     One problem with that particular retirement dream:  I've mentioned the plan to B, my life partner, and she wasn't very keen on the idea. I don't know why not -- she doesn't mind flying. Maybe it's just  too ambitious for her, out of her comfort zone to travel so far away. Anyway, I wouldn't go without her. So it's not my my list.

     Because, you see, the very first item on my wish list for retirement is to travel on this journey into old age hand in hand with B, in a relationship that, hopefully, stays just as good as it is now. We've discussed a little bit what the aging process will do to us, and we're ready to take on the challenge together, one with another, she providing a crutch for me, and I providing a crutch for her. We will suffer the indignities of old age together, with love and no shame. If we do spend some time together as tourists, that's fine. If we don't, that's okay too.

     Item two on my retirement wish list is to keep my health as long as I can. To that end I have joined a health club and I'm trying to get more exercise, and I watch my diet. I'm a few pounds overweight; but not any more than that. I lost ten pounds last year and have managed to keep it off. It helps a little bit with my arthritic right ankle (old injury) and my arthritic left knee (old age). I've almost completely given up eating red meat. I eat lots of chicken and fish and pasta, and try to consume fruits and vegetables and salads. I do pack away too much ice cream. Haven't found a way or the will to cut back on ice cream.

     Number three would be financial security. I realize in this world, there is no total financial security. But we're working on it, and feel that we're doing okay ... so far. We live relatively modestly, a little bit below our means. I also know that I have no problem "doing without." I could cut my expenses and downsize my life without much suffering, if I had to. If we had to sell our house and move to a smaller place, it wouldn't bother me. When I was divorced and living on my own, I lived in a condo -- and I kind of liked it. If I had to drive a clunker, it wouldn't bother me. Actually, I kind of like the idea of not driving at all.

     My two kids are important to me. I want to see them happy and successful. Neither one is married; I don't have any grandchildren, or any on the horizon. There's plenty of time for that a little further down the road. I'm in no hurry. But yeah, I'd say grandchildren are on my wish list.

     I'd also like to have some friends in retirement, and this does worry me. My old friends are either recently retired, or will be retiring in the next few years. And I'm afraid we will drift apart. One already has a place in Florida, another bought a condo in South Carolina. They already have "one foot out the door." If my old group falls apart, where will I find new friends? And if B and I end up moving somewhere else in retirement -- a good possibility -- would I find any new like-minded people to become my friends? I wouldn't want to move someplace that's too settled, where everyone already knows everybody else and they aren't interested in welcoming a newcomer. I don't make friends all that easily. And I want some guys to hang out with, who will engage in interesting conversation, make jokes, play some golf and drink some beer (or maybe it'll be Metamucil by that time).

     I'd like to keep working in retirement. (Is that an oxymoron?) Right now I work about half time. And that suits me fine. I could see scaling back, maybe to a quarter time. But working gives me a sense of purpose, a feeling that I'm worth something to someone besides myself and my little family. It makes me feel good when the phone rings, or I get an email from one of my job contacts. Usually the assignments are interesting; they give me something to focus on for a week or two. And it's nice to get a check (or, more usually, an electronic credit into my bank account). It shores up my monthly budget, and makes it easier to pay those extra expenses like a big dental bill or car repair or request for money from one of my kids.

     Beyond all this, am I missing something? Should I be more ambitious? I do have plenty of books I want to read. I keep thinking I might take a class, but so far have not made the leap back to academia. I did volunteer to help older people do their taxes next year, but I don't know if they'll actually call on me.

     B and I plan to visit Arizona and Southern California this winter. Since I left work -- almost ten years ago -- I've managed to escape to someplace warm, usually Florida, for a couple of weeks in February or March. Who knows? Maybe one of these days I'll get as far as Hawaii!



Rubye Jack said...

My mind is pretty much with yours on this list. I refuse to fly nowadays, and honestly don't see that travel is all it is cracked up to be, and it costs a lot of money that could be better used on gadgets or going back to school for a class. Small towns are not conducive to making new friends--at all. Having just recently moved to a small town I believe I made a mistake and so am now looking at cities. Arizona is nice and SoCal okay if it is only for a warm winter. Take care.

June said...

No traveling for me, either, thanks. Unless it's to go and stay for a long while. To bop off somewhere for less than a month is just too much motion for me.
Should I get to retire someday, I believe I would like to do whatever it is I do on weekends, just more of it, time at my convenience. That would be reading, housekeeping (in a very desultory manner), walking around, being comfortable.

Mac n' Janet said...

We enjoy traveling, but we're glad we did the harder ones, Egypt, the Ruta Maya in Mexico, Turkey when we were younger, it's much too tiring now. No grandkitds, wish we had at least one but that's not going to happen, like your goals, stay with my husband, we've had 46 years together so far, stay healthy and keep learning new things. No work! Don't miss that at all, and we took early retirement in our 50's. Don't know what would be on by bucket list, have to think about it.

Sydney said...

It's funny, on our last trip (to Montreal) I decided I was sick of traveling. I was ready to give it up for awhile--too much hassle. We had already booked a trip to Australia though, and despite the 14 1/2 hour flight, I haven't minded the hassle at all--I love Australia. I guess it was because we were a bit underwhelmed by Montreal, so it didn't seem worth the hassle. So I guess it's not enough to travel, it has to be a place you lust for in order to get past the flights and hassle factor (and cost!)

Dr. Kathy McCoy said...

I like your retirement dreams/bucket list a lot, Tom! Your priorities are in the right place. Occasional travel is nice, especially if it is to see people who are important to you, but overall, it's a major hassle. My husband and I had a great time in Maui overall, but we just got back and the return flight was overnight and horrid (totally full plane, three across, a movie and t.v. reruns playing all night, screaming babies, etc.) and are still recovering. We don't plan to do this traveling thing a lot! And,you're right: it IS expensive, always more expensive than one imagines.

I can understand your concerns about friends retiring, moving and the like and wondering if you'll grow apart. That may happen with some friends, perhaps, but others will stay close even if far away. And, if you do end up moving, making new friends is certainly possible, especially if you move to a new community, like many of the over-55 active adult ones. My husband and I have been very pleasantly surprised by how many delightful friends we have here after only a year and a half. (They were emailing us in Hawaii and also played a really fun practical joke on us upon our return: the whole street of neighbors conspired to tie artificial citrus fruit to our notoriously non-productive trees to surprise us. We all had a good laugh.) If over-55 communities don't appeal, then finding friends through church, part-time work and local organizations may work just as well. I guess being open to all possibilities and then choosing the best for you is the key to making your retirement dreams reality.

Friko said...

I think you have your priorities just right.

The things on your list are all eminently sensible and achievable, and as you are very modest in your demands, I can see no problem for the future.

Friends are very important, not too many, but a few good ones. They are probably more important than travelling to Hawaii. (I should know, I don't have any), Keeping active is important too.

I wish you all the best for your retirement, you'll find there aren't enough hours in the day . . . . . .

Katie Gustafson Foster said...

I am right there with you on your bucket list . . a best friend to share the experience, health so you can enjoy it, enough finances to afford it, kids to pester, friends to play with, a little bit of work to keep the brain cells working . . BUT . . OMG . . NO TRAVEL?

We live and breathe to travel and take every opportunity. I think it is the #2 item health that makes this such an urgent need . . . I want to do and see all that I can until I just can't go any more (knees and back are getting pretty sore). So, since it appears that you and your followers don't want the hassle of traveling, live vicariously through my blog

Stories of our recent trip to Turkey should go up soon. An absolutely amazing place.

Linda Myers said...

I love to travel - we took 14 trips the year after I quit working. But it is more of a hassle as we get older, so we need to choose carefully.

Dick Klade said...

You head is on straight, for sure. The friends part is difficult: it seems the older we get the harder it is to find new ones. We find ourselves using puters a lot to stay in touch with those we left. It's not the same as personal contact, of course, but maintains some welcome contact with those we want to stay close to.

I think Dr. McCoy's comment that an adult retirement community would provide new friends probably is generally correct. However, you have to carefully choose. We lived in a small community (78 homes) where most were over 50, and creating new friendships was difficult there.

The Querulous Squirrel said...

I hate flying. I don't care where I live as long as I'm near my children who, so far, one in college and one just out, are nearby. I suffered my elder's four years of college in Chicago and am glad he's back here in Boston and loves it here. They both do.

fiftyodd said...

WE would love to travel more but its soooo expensive! Still, we're saving up for one more cruise! Then I want to write a book: I've found yet another box of letters from the sixties in my garage.... have to do some filing! Need to have my details authentic.

Renay Lattimore said...

It is good that you have a retirement wish list, as you already know what you would like when you retire. Some people are having trouble with the number three on your wish list when they retire, as they did not plan out well to become financially stable for their retirement. I think exploring any financial assistance like reverse mortgage can help in making retirement easy. Anyway, I do hope that you fulfill your retirement wish list and someday, maybe have the chance to go to Hawaii. :)

Anonymous said...

My first wish would be to travel Asia and Europe after I retire. I also hope I will have the savings that will help me get a condominium in ny retirement community. I love their amenities and it would be really satisfying if I can continue doing what I love, which is baking. These are my few simple, I think, wishes!