Insight 3 — Personal Time… Doing Your Own Thing

This post is a continuation of the discernment period I recently spent on thought of where I go from here. I retired from the corporate world fifteen years ago and from my own business nine years ago. Since then I have struggled with my retirement years.  Part of that struggle is due to the very different approaches to life between myself and my spouse. I love her dearly but we are two very different people. She is content with living a simple life of computer games, puzzles, TV, and naps. It is all she needs to have a fulfilled life. I on the other hand seek at least as some level new experiences, travel, and the unknown and to live a purpose beyond myself.  How to reconcile those differences between us has been a major portion of my distress.

When I read the following quote from Ernie Zilinski helped it gave me some insight into his problem:

2014-12-21_13-47-42Contrary to popular belief, by no means do all retired couples enjoy their time together more than they did when they were working. The fact is, even two people who have enjoyed a successful marriage for three decades can end up driving each other crazy when one or both retire….

A post-retirement lifestyle shouldn’t be limited to the retiree spending most of his or her time with their spouse. It’s essential that each partner have his/ her own interests….

It’s also important that couples give each other the freedom to pursue individual interests. Without the workplace to provide them with something to do, some retired individuals end up being lost souls, following their spouse wherever they go. Not giving their spouse the space and freedom to pursue their own interests can backfire and leave these retirees with even less company and less to do….

The key is to organize your life so that you have time with your spouse and plenty of time to do your own thing. Zelinski, Ernie (2013-11-16). How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free: Retirement Wisdom That You Won’t Get from Your Financial Advisor (Kindle Locations 972-980). Visions International Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Almost all of the retirement books I have read, and I have read several of them, don’t address the issue of when spouses have very different ideas of what a happy retirement is. They say the divorce rate among people over sixty is increasing dramatically in recent years and I image this discontinuity between spouses is one of the primary reasons. Most of the blogs and such I read about retirement are accounts of how the spouses  agree on lifestyles and approaches to their retired lives. They spend their time doing what makes both happy, wild and free as Ernie puts it.  It just seemed like everyone always enjoys what the other does. Many seem to have an “Ozzie and Harriet” retirement life that I have never  really known.

While I occasionally get my wife to leave her nest, doing my own thing will now take on an added importance in my life. I simply can’t live the sedentary lifestyle of my spouse. Learning to do my own thing and getting my wife to accept that fact is going to be an important part of my future happiness.

 <<<This is part 4 of my year-end discovery period. Go to the home page and then scroll down to see earlier posts>>>

Insight 1 — Waiting For Fate…

One thing that helped me during my recent discernment period was a book by Ernie Zelinski entitled: How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free. Ernie has written several very popular books about retirement. I don’t really know what drew me to this one but it was worth the effort as it addressed many of my concerns that other books on retirement have not. It seemed this book was mainly a collection of clichés but that was ok. It was what I needed.  Let’s talk about a quote from that book:

2014-12-21_13-47-42Regardless of how talented you are and how successful you are in the workplace, there is some danger that you will not be as happy and satisfied as you hope to be in retirement. This may be the case even if you end up having friends to spend time with, living the lifestyle you want to live, residing where you want to live, and having many interesting things to do. What may be missing is a sense of purpose and some meaning to your life. Put another way, you will want to keep growing as an individual instead of remaining stagnant….

Most people have at least a vague sense that they should set aside some surplus cash now for retirement so they don’t have to rely on meager government pensions sometime in the future. But when it comes to how they will spend their time, the majority of individuals are waiting for fate to show them the way. The more that these people expect from retirement without any effort on their part, the more likely that their retirement will be filled with boredom — even depression.

In my business life I had little time to sit back and contemplate my purpose. It was always to get the job done and to keep paying the bills. I put off any serious thoughts of life but when I retired that changed dramatically. For a good while just couldn’t find my “new” place in life. Much of this indecision was put off as I went from retirement from corporate world to six years of owning my own cabinet/furniture making business. But after those six years my “purpose” in life hit me head-on.  What do I do now??

I, like so many others just let life happen. I had always been a planner so this coping strategy was very foreign to me. Foreign but easy!! I initially spent most of my time in front of a television waiting for fate to show me what I was meant to do. As stated in the quote above that decision lead to some periods pretty deep depression and boredom that sometimes took weeks shake off.

I have come to the conclusion that the main reason I become bored is because I am letting my life happen instead of making things happen. Will I ever completely extinguish the feeling of boredom in my life?  Given my personality I am certain the answer to that is “no” but it is a matter of degrees not absolutes. Basically when I don’t challenge myself enough I fall into boredom. It seems as simple as that to me now.

Lets finish off this post with another quote from the book–

As would be expected, some retirees were bored, some were physically active, a few were expanding their minds, and a lot were waiting for destiny to show them the way.  

 

 <<<This is part 2 of my year-end discovery period. Go to the home page and then scroll down to see earlier posts>>>

Want to Retire Early? Ditch the Middle-Class Mindset…

MansionMeet the Johnsons, a family of five recently profiled by The Washington Post. The Johnsons live in Culpepper, Va., and bring in $90,000 per year — a full 55% above the median household income for the town. Based on this alone, you might think mom and dad are prime candidates to retire early.

Then again, the family has to pay the bills. All three daughters have a computer in their room, the family shares a laptop and three iPads, satellite TV is available on three flat-screens throughout the house, and all family members except the youngest have a cellphone.

Their savings for college: $0. Their retirement savings: “meager.” When asked what more they’d need to feel financially secure, Mrs. Johnson says: $150,000 a year. If we had an extra $60,000 a year, we’d have some breathing room. I’d like to have some extra things. Not just look at them and drool.

SOURCE:  Want to Retire Early? Ditch the Middle-Class Mindset.

I’m afraid the above mentality is more prevalent in this country than many want to admit. I am also sure that many in that mode will sometime in the future go the way of others in losing their middle class status to “right-sizing” and they will be totally unprepared for that happening. For the most part we are being true to the capitalistic mentality of spending more and more as each year progresses. Where a 1500 square foot home was enough in the past, now we need at least 3,000 square feet. And we need it sooner rather than later.  We simply can’t spend frugally now in order to save up enough for a 20% down payment. We want now what our parents and grand-parents took years of savings to acquire. It seems if you are in your middle to late twenties you think you must have the house of your dreams.

The mentality of “wanting it now” will eventually be our downfall if it is not corrected. We expect to buy everything at the lowest possible costs. To do that companies must seek the lowest expenses and that certainly includes building our factories  and as many other facilities as they can in third world countries. We demand our government to give us the services we expect with little or even preferable none of our tax dollars. To live within this framework means dismantling our safety nets that protect us. It also mandates that we watch our infrastructure crumble away for lack of funding to maintain it.

Wants vs. Needs that is the difference between living simply and living lavishly. Too many of us like the folks above are in the “here and now” lavish mentality and therefore not thinking or saving for tomorrow. It doesn’t seem to matter if like the Johnsons we make 55% more than most we think we need more and more in order to “not just look at them and drool”.

We seem to be a country that wants it all but is not willing to pay the price for our wants. If we can get it on credit now instead of saving for it that is the way to go…

A Dangerous Game…

RetirementCongressional leaders are playing a dangerous game with their constituents’ money, their livelihoods and their retirement savings. On Wednesday, all Congress did was flip over the hourglass on a game of chicken that cost our economy $24 billion and left America’s future up in the air — and, by doing so, may cause some of our hard-earned retirement savings to disappear into it.

via Your Retirement: A Victim of the Debt Ceiling Deal – ABC News.

Discover Your Passion: Know Who You Are

 

Under construction. Maintenance area.I had to discover a passion for retirement because I had worked all my life at something that I was not passionate about. I understood that in order to discover a passion I had to understand who I am. Figuring out who I am was not complicated, but it required time and effort. It took a lot of mental work, the hardest kind of work. It took a lot of experimenting and trial and error, the scariest kind of work. But almost anyone can do it. You don’t have to be a monk, priest, philosopher or psychologist. You don’t have to have a college degree.

source:  Satisfying Retirement: Discover Your Passion: Know Who You Are.

The above quote comes from a fellow blogger Bob Lowery over at Satisfying Retirement a few days ago.  It was a guest quote from Boyd Lemon. I was very surprised that it didn’t get the usual number of comments for that site. Several things in the post struck me as almost profound in their wisdom. Particularly the quote above.  Sometimes I write a post that I think has at least at some level a profound message only to see that it gets a minimum of views. I don’t understand why?

As I have faced lately, I have finally come to admit that I was probably in the wrong profession throughout my corporate years.  I blame the indecision to admit that early on and do something about it at least in part to a lack of guidance counseling in my high school years. I went to a very small high school in the 1960s so I understand the lack of guidance. I hope that is not the case today but I fear that it is.

One of the most profound responsibilities that a parent has is to help their child learn their ingrained passions and talents early in life. If appropriate counseling is not available in the school system then it should be sought elsewhere. When a person is passionate about what they are doing they are much more likely to make a difference in this world and isn’t that what most of us end up wanting? To make a difference.

But of course I realize that most teenagers think they know it all and would probably resist this type of guidance. Forming young minds is probably the most noble of all professions and guiding them to listen and learn about their compassion is one of the most critical things that you can do for a person.

It is not that I didn’t have a fulfilling life in the occupation I ended up in but instead it is more of a road not taken type of thing. I will always wonder if I had recognized earlier on what I felt strongly about if it would have been even more fulfilling?

Thanks Bob for doing the guest post that got me to thinking about this….

Take a lifestyle cut in retirement — Please…..

Source:  Don’t take a lifestyle cut in retirement — Fidelity Investments.

I know the source article says basically the opposite of what the title is. That is because I think the article is, at its foundation, wrong.  It wouldn’t hurt almost any of us to take a lifestyle cut now or even in retirement. I know that my wife and I are now living on a little over half of what we spent but prior to my retirement. We moved from the “high cost” State of New Jersey back to my roots in Indiana.  We quit buying much of the things we bought before and to tell you the truth we are living a much more happy life in the process. I have fallen thoroughly into the mantra of “Simplify, simplify, simplify….”

The U.S. being a capitalist society teaches us that if we want our country to prosper we must continue to spend and consume more as each year passes.  If we don’t our businesses will die on the vine or so they say. The problem with that is that for most of us working folks we make little if anything more in income than we did twenty to twenty-five years ago.  So in order to consume more we have to buy it on credit. Being good little citizens many of us now have $10,000 or more in credit card debt and often times a second or even a third mortgage on our houses to pay for our ever spiraling spending.

I think it is time for us to get out of the “spend more this year than we did last year”. That is especially true for those of us who are now living in our retirement years. We should have learned it much earlier in life but we should at least now know that having more and more stuff does not insure a happier life. In fact I have found the exact opposite to be true.

So even though I trust my friends at Fidelity Investments to manage my retirement saving I did indeed take a lifestyle cut in retirement and am having a ball.  If only I had learned this secret much earlier in life. My country is going to have to somehow figure out how to prosper without my increased spending…..