Retired and Living the Dream

Jubilado y viviendo el sueño: Retired and living the dream. Our dream.

We’ve been in Spain for the past six weeks, not so much as tourists (although we have done some sightseeing) but more to see what it would be like to retire here. The more we travel, and the more retirees we meet, the more committed I am to the three fitnesses, and the happier I am that Rose and I took our own advice to get Fit, Fit and Fit.

Yes, we are Financially Fit for our retirement, we saved and invested carefully and so our money worries are not that great for what we’ve chosen to do. Our Emotional Fitness took a bit more work to gain. What were we going to do in our retirement? Neither of us watches TV so hours of jeopardy reruns or bingeing on seasons of House were definitely out. For us it is humanitarian service, writing, genealogy, videography, photography and extended travel. And finally, but perhaps most importantly is our Physical Fitness to do all these things. We realize that we need to continue to work on that Fitness, and that at some point it will become more challenging.  All the more reason to not delay those dreams that require high levels of Physical Fitness. We’re heading home tomorrow to a Canadian spring (snow in the forecast) and to pick up the first complete proof of my book. I’m truly excited about having completed the book and still a bit nervous about the launch. And don’t worry, I’ll let you know as soon as it is ready.

And yes, I could live here in Spain (my Spanish needs a lot of work, but I am improving) and while I love the weather here in the South (low to mid 20s every day) it might be a bit warm in the summer. Rose loves it here too, but would miss her friends, and I concur. You’d all just have to come and visit us.

“I’ll Never Retire.”

“I’ll Never Retire!” I hear that a lot.

We met a young retired couple (not an oxymoron at all) the other day who, like us, are living the dream. They’ve settled down in the Algarve for a few months and we met them at a coffee shop in Jerez, Spain. I won’t go into details about this kind and thoughtful couple right now except to say the four of us hit if off immediately and we are now keeping in touch electronically. What I want to talk about is their concern for her father who is still working. Yes, they are retired and her dad is still hard at work. And he’s not alone. I’ve heard this a lot since I started writing my book. In fact, there was an article in our local paper featuring a number of people in our community who were still working even though they were well past what some people think of as retirement age. Perhaps they are part of the fortunate ones who love their work and want to continue being stimulated by their profession.  But what about the others who keep working because they feel they have no choice? Why haven’t they retired yet? Let’s look at the three primary fitnesses I discuss in my book:

  1. Financial fitness – It is quite possible that these people are not financially fit enough to retire. Or perhaps they just think they aren’t. If they are emotionally and physically fit enough to retire but they must keep working to pay the bills, then I’d suggest they consult with a professional financial advisor. And if it is still what’s keeping them on the job; they might want to consider asking their kids (if they have children) for a bit of help. Or perhaps they could switch to part-time work so they can still pay the bills but at the same time, start to enjoy all those things they always wanted to do but didn’t because of the kids, mortgage, etc.
  2. Physical fitness – Perhaps they are financially fit enough to retire but they’re feeling that their body just isn’t capable of doing the things they want to do so they feel they might as well keep working. Perhaps they’d love to take up cycling or even tennis, but decades of desk work have left them overweight, out of breath and tired all the time. Believe it or not, you can get into shape to do some, if not all, those things you’ve dreamt about. Start slow, and you’ll be surprised. Join a gym and (this is the key part) hire a personal coach. Your coach will take the time to understand where you are today and will work with you to get you fit as quickly as possible; and without hurting yourself. If you don’t believe me, just try it for 6 months. You’ll be very happy you did.
  3. Emotional fitness – For many, this is the real stopper. You have been working hard all your life and at the end of each day you are so worn out, the best you can do to reward yourself is hang out in front of the TV for a few hours before bed. And it isn’t just physical exhaustion but emotional exhaustion as well. The most common statement I hear is “What would I do with myself for 8 hours a day if I retired?” which I translate into “Who would I be?” That is, for the past 20, 30 or 40 years you’ve been a manager, programmer, police officer, nurse, CEO, etc. But the day after you retire, you’re not that any more. This takes a lot of thought on your part, but you will need to decide who you’ll be once you retire. For some this is really easy; “I’m going to be a full-time grandmother.” Others need more thought; like how about being a cyclist, gardener, world traveller, or an amateur anything? The question seems to hinge on: what will be my purpose and how will I fill my days? Here is where a professional life coach can really help. The second emotional challenge is that many people have a fairly small circle of friends, and those tend to be the people they work with. They may think that once they retire they’ll never see their work-mates again. But they fail to recognize that as they develop new interests, they’ll make new friends, plus they can keep their old friends too.

If you’re thinking you’ll never retire, it’s time to honestly explore the reason(s) why. If you truly love what you are doing now and want to continue as long as you’re able then you are among the fortunate few! However, if you’re worried about one of the three Fitnesses, take some time to consider and plan what might be possible for you to become Fit for retirement.

It Sounded Like a Plan

It Sounded Like a Plan

In six weeks we celebrate the second anniversary of my retirement. The time has just flown, but we have not squandered it. We’ve travelled quite a bit, I’ve made a number of videos, spent some quality time with family and friends; and I’ve written a book on retirement. As I write this, we’re on a train from Sevilla to Cadiz in southern Spain on week two of a six-week tour of this beautiful area and Rose and I were doing a little check-in to see how we feel about our retirement plans.

We did a lot of planning before I retired and so far we’ve kept pretty close to those plans. We’re considering some minor changes as well as thinking about when Rose might retire, but generally we are on target. While we reviewed where we are in the plan, we also discussed the possibility of one of us deviating from our plan and how that might affect the other person. You can think of all sorts of possible scenarios. What if we had planned for lots of travel, but then I found out on our first trip that I really was more of a homebody? What if we had planned the opposite where we were going to retire to the country and raise chickens, but after a year my wife was bored to tears with rural life (Green Acres hmmm)?

Thankfully this hasn’t happened to us, but we talked about the possibility in the future, and of course, for other couples just retired. The only suggestion we came up with is for you to communicate with your partner. While we know that men are not the best communicators, retired couples with at least one man, really need a periodic check in to see where you both are. Be honest with yourself and each other. Are you both still committed to the plans you drew up one or two years ago? Do you want some minor changes? Do you want some major changes? How might these changes affect each other? You have a long retired life ahead and spending it together, doing the things you love is the main goal. So check in every now and again to ensure you’re both still on track, rather than avoiding the chat and having your retirement years pass by in a wave of frustration and regret.

Financially Fit: Educate Or Legislate?

As a retired adult educator I found two articles that crossed my desk last week to be rather troubling. The first one from The Economist – Anti-Choice suggests that Americans have poor, to very poor, financial literacy. This seems to be especially true for baby-boomers and those close on their heels. The article concludes with some despair that financial education doesn’t appear to work–they don’t mention how the knowledge was imparted to the students or any other pertinent information like age-range, sex, socio-economic, etc. But the gist of the article seems to reinforce the idea, that because of their inability or unwillingness to educate themselves, legislation is needed to “protect” people from their own ignorance.

The second article from the Canadian Payroll Reporter – Nearly one-third of millennials ‘not at all knowledgable’ about RRSP savings: Poll  restricts their poll demographics to Millennials; although, their sample size is very small–just 613 Millennials (18 – 33 years old) were polled. Another 1,502 older than 33 years old were also polled but those results were not mentioned in the article. In any case, they appear to have tested those polled on their knowledge of the rules and regulations surrounding RRSPs (Registered Retirement Savings Plans) — 401(k) for my American readers. The article points out the rather weak knowledge these young adults have about RRSPs. Can this lack of knowledge about RRSPs be used as an indicator of more general financial illiteracy, as discussed in the Anti-Choice article? I don’t know.

If you’re an adult and you feel you don’t know enough about managing your personal finances, you’re not alone; but this stuff is important! Important for you; for your spouse; for your children; for your working life and for your retirement. I admit, the math and the jargon can be intimidating, but so was other math and jargon you’ve learned–baseball, hockey, football–you know it all. The only difference is that sports jargon and stats have no bearing on you, your family or your retirement, so make the effort to learn this stuff. Get yourself FINANCIALLY FIT and it will only enhance your life.

Ask your family and friends, find out how they educated themselves and what you can learn from them. There are many free seminars given by financial advisors who are incredibly knowledgeable and want to share their knowledge with you. And consider hiring a financial advisor; a big part of their job is to educate you.

As a retired adult educator, I have to believe that education and not legislation is the solution. In my opinion, we already have far too much legislation designed to protect us from ourselves and we pay dearly for civil servants to manage and enforce it. So do yourself a favour and learn.

This is what it’s like to be retired?

This is what it’s like to be retired?

Did you see the following quote on Facebook? Someone was passing it around.

Them awkward days between Christmas and new year when you don’t know what day it is, or what you’re doing with your life.

Did it ring true with you over the holidays last month? Did you think that the Christmas break was too much? Christmas eve and day were fantastic! Family, friends, food, fun. Perhaps boxing day was also fun.

But then what happened?

Everyone went home, or you went home. You played with your new toys for a while, read the new book or magazine, watched a few movies, ate and ate and ate; then what? Many companies closed for the entire week and so you were off until January 4th and, you hate to admit it but, you were bored stiff. You couldn’t wait to get back to work, back to your buddies and eight hours a day that were already planned for you. After all, relaxing all day with nothing to do is tough!

If you think the days between Christmas and new year’s were awkward, consider what it will be like for you when you retire … Exactly the same, only much, much more. Days of it, weeks of it, months of it. Dare I even say YEARS of it.

Retirement won’t go away, so why not start planning for it now, so you WILL know what you’re doing with your life. I wrote Retire Fit, Fit, & Fit to help you get in financial, physical and emotional shape for what I hope will be years of fun for you.

At the printer!

Just sent my book Retire Fit, Fit & Fit  to the printer today and I’m excited that we’re on track to launch in late March or early April (stay tuned for the date of the launch party). There is only so much one can put into a book and eventually one must call a halt to the edits and send it to the printer. Meanwhile life goes on and with it, new thoughts and ideas come to me: through the media, from friends, and from you.

I welcome your comments on my posts and you can make comments by clicking on the title of each post.

Welcome To My Blog

Welcome!

I’m so happy to welcome you to my blog and my website. I hope you enjoy my posts and I hope you will comment when you want. This blog will be all about my new book Retire Fit, Fit & Fit.

I plan to post something new each week, so check back frequently and let me know your thoughts on what I’m posting. You can make comments by clicking on the title of each post.

Wishing you a happy, healthy and lengthy retirement.

Howard