Let’s start by setting the scene. How did your retirement come about?
I had been planning for my retirement and right before I planned to leave, a new hire was introduced to my team as a security specialist. My wife and I were living in New England at the time, so when my wife lost her job, I approached the managing partners at my firm and asked if I could work remotely for a while. We packed up, sold our house, and moved to the property that we owned in Florida. Once we got down here, I worked for about three months before I was out and that new hire transitioned into my job. I was 67.
What does retirement look like for you these days? Is it different from what you might have expected?
Every day is Saturday, which is nice. I’ve surprised myself that now I’m not hustling anymore. I’m so good with that. I love it. Other than the expenses, there’s no grief. I love doing absolutely nothing. I exercise, go on bike rides, do yard maintenance. I bought a PlayStation. The biggest thing I do miss from not working is the paycheck. That’s a different kind of stress now that I’m retired.
How did you prepare to cover your expenses in retirement?
I have a 401(k) and was involved with profit sharing from my firm, but I wasn’t diligent enough with saving. Luckily, I’ve always been an economical fellow — some people might call that cheap — but I’ve always been good at watching the dollars. My only regret is that I didn’t watch them closely enough or invest them properly. We made a couple smart moves before retirement, though. We paid off our vehicles. And we downsized, so we were able to save some money that way. Plus, my wife is still working — she’s younger than I am — so that was a smart move on my part! She’ll retire in about a year and a half when she’s eligible for Medicare.
What has surprised you most about retirement, whether money-related or otherwise?
I didn’t see the whole Covid, inflation thing coming, and that continues to blow me out of the water. I just never in my wildest dreams would have guessed that things could cost as much as they do. We just had the AC system replaced and it was incredibly expensive.
What would you have told your younger self about life in retirement?
Save as much as you can. Let’s face it, without proper funding it’s hard to really do much of anything. I thought I’d get to retire, get Social Security, and then my wife would retire. But then you look at expenses like healthcare and prescription drug coverage and all of that. If someone had talked to me about those expenses, I wasn’t listening. There’s a lot more expenses in everyday life than you realize.
What advice would you give others who are currently preparing for retirement?
The No. 1 thing I would say is to save every penny you can, whether in savings, a 401(k), a Roth. That’s huge. If I was independently wealthy, I’d feel a lot better about my situation than I do now. I’d also say to watch your health. If I knew what I know now, I would have done a lot of things differently from a healthcare standpoint.
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