By Elizabeth Estelle
My husband retired last year on July 1, 2017. He had worked for 31 years for our local school system, and he was ready to end his longtime career and to work on his own projects.
Once you’ve set your actual retirement date, you enter a stage I call “Meetings.” And since he and I agree with the saying: two heads are better than one, my husband and I attended these meetings together. In preparation for these meetings, we had to have some good heart-to-heart talks. Our meetings included:
Meetings between just the two of us: We met at our kitchen table. As a couple, we discussed the following questions that involved how we would spend our money:
- Would we need one car now or still two?
- We didn’t need to buy work clothes anymore so how would our wardrobes be changing?
- We wanted to travel, but did we still want to camp or were we now at the hotel stage of life?
Work meetings: We had a meeting with the school’s Human Resources department. There we filled out forms for direct deposit for pension payments. We also made decisions about which health care plan we would need and had to fill out forms to have that money deducted automatically from a checking account.
Financial meetings: We met with an investment advisor. Most people do not retire at the same income level as when they were working. Budgeting and financial obligations have to be addressed seriously and realistically. We have decided that cable TV is not as important as visiting our children. In fact, a lot of our purchasing decisions now are answered by asking ourselves, “Will this save us money so we can buy another plane ticket?”
We found our financial advisor by searching for a Dave Ramsey recommended provider and have been very pleased. Our investment advisor gave us good information on how to best use the money we had saved.
Pension meetings: We met with pension representatives. They explained the 16 different options we had to choose from. For example, we could choose a lump sum pension payout and invest the money ourselves, maximum monthly payouts that would end upon my husband’s death, or a payout that would remain constant no matter which spouse died first. It was uncomfortable to think about our deaths but that also is part of the retirement process.
We thought the reps would also advise us on which option best suited our retirement plans, but their job was only to explain the choices. After a specified number of days, that choice would be irrevocable. That’s where our financial advisor proved to be a big help with which option would work best for our situation.
Maybe you have heard that retirement is all fun–but as a housing counselor, I witnessed many retired people who were definitely nothaving fun. Because of poor planning, poor asset management, and other factors, such as unexpected or unplanned for medical expenses, they were buried in debt. It is essential that you know your income and your expenses–that information is crucial in making wise financial decisions at this time of life.
The next stage of retirement could be called Time Management. How are you going to spend your time now that you are in charge of your schedule?
My husband and I agree that you need to make sure you are taking good care of your best friend–your spouse. It saddens us to hear about post-retirement divorces. In each stage of life, there are struggles, but with the help and support of your spouse, you can make it through together.
Husbands and wives, make sure you are helping each other as one—or maybe both—of you transitions into retirement. It is a big change for each of you! Don’t get frustrated! Keep talking through problems and circumstances as they occur. In addition, plan for how you will spend your time, as a couple and individually.
Volunteering: Once you are retired, there may be people who think you can now do all the work at your volunteer organization or church. While you might want to spend some extra time helping, how are you going to manage how much time you spend volunteering? You and your spouse won’t be the only ones who have expectations of how you might spend your time.
Hobbies: We know of one man who retired with the expectation of finally being able to play golf whenever he wanted to. What he discovered was that after three months, he was tired of playing golf! The more meaningful you view your hobbies and activities, the more enjoyment you will get out of them. A contractor we know enjoys helping his elderly neighbors with house maintenance. He said, “I’m taking the hands-on stuff that I’ve done for years, and I’m using those skills to help people.”
Social:Since both my husband and I are home now, we are intentional in planning our social calendar. We want to get out of the house and visit friends and family more often. However, we had different ideas about what our social interactions would look like, so we have had to work through that. For instance, my husband doesn’t necessarily like going to lunch with my former co-workers, but he does because it makes me happy. I don’t necessarily like going to cut trees and move brush, but I do to help him lighten the workload. We keep doing things together because we like to be together.
Over the past year, we have traveled thousands of miles during the course of nine trips. Our travels have taken us to Canada, Colorado, and Connecticut. We have visited the Creation Museum and Ark in Kentucky; accompanied our daughter to college in South Carolina; driven to Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming; flown to San Francisco three times; seen the Living Gallery presentation at Bob Jones University (phenomenal); and visited Sea World and Key Largo, Florida.
We won’t always be able to travel so much, but for now, visiting our family and friends all over the country and in Canada brings us joy in our retirement. (In between our travels, there is plenty of lawn to mow and gardens to weed!) We are having fun as we figure out what new adventure is on the horizon.
How about you? If you are new to retirement life, how are you filling up your time? I would love to hear about it in the comments.
The following post first appeared on My Side of 50,” June 26, 2018.
Elizabeth Estelle has transitioned from art teacher to homeschool mom to support staff for her husband. She enjoys encouraging people in whatever stage of life they are in. She blogs about home, homeschool, travel, and getting dinner on the table. If you type YES to firstname.lastname@example.org, she will be glad to send you her. She blogs at Goal Accomplished and has written the Thirty Day Encouragement Journal. You can follow her at: