Taking the Leap – When Should You Retire?

It’s Saturday morning, the heat has broken and a lovely cool breeze is blowing.  Yesterday’s rain washed out the humidity and I’ve been out hanging my clothes on the line.  Children are laughing and playing in the park behind our house.  But it doesn’t matter that it is Saturday.  I could have hung these clothes out yesterday if I hadn’t been so busy looking at bicycles with my husband, attending a going away party for a staff member at a nature center where I volunteer, planning a trip to Yosemite, or working on a sweater I’m knitting. 

Finally, retirement!  Last December I took the leap.  And I’m returning to the blog to report on how it is going. 

If you spend any time reading about retirement, you know that the timing of retirement is not a simple decision.  Headlines run the spectrum:  “Baby Boomers Ill-Prepared to Retire” to “You Don’t Need as Much as You Think to Retire”.  I sometimes follow an early retirement forum and there is a lot of talk about the OMY (one more year) syndrome.  You think you have enough but then chose to wait one more year.  And then another, and then another…

Rather than rehash these discussions, let’s see how my first half year has gone.

Unexpected Health Issues:  Not for me, but for my husband.  In January Bill got a pacemaker and went on a range of drugs to regulate his heart rate.  His heart is healthy (other than the fact that it beats too fast without intervention) so we are fine but this put things back a bit.  On April Fool’s Day he had rather extensive surgery on his shoulder.  The surgery was to correct some long term damage that had gotten so bad as to prevent many activities that he enjoys and to allow him to sleep without pain.  We slipped a trip to Guatemala and Costa Rica in between the two surgeries.  He has turned in his resignation to the surgery of the month club!  One point for retiring sooner rather than later. 

Money:  We are spending a little more than I planned.  We replaced a car earlier than expected (needed one with automatic transmission for the bad shoulder), are doing more to the house than planned (when you have more time to arrange for workers to come in, you do more), and spending a bit more on travel than I budgeted.  Again, not a big deal, as my spending plan was very conservative in relationship to how much money we have.    I’d say this is a wash on the “should we have retired sooner or later” spectrum.  We have enough and can always cut back later if needed.  The health issues tell me to enjoy what we can while we can.  And making repairs to the house will matter if we stay or should we decide to sell.

Scheduling:  I’m struggling with this.   I feel like a kid trying to catch up on all of the things I didn’t have time to do.   Spanish classes on Fridays, volunteering on Tuesday, day trips with friends, plays to see, weaving classes, visits to children and grandchildren, getting into bicycling shape, expanding the flower beds, trips to Central America and Washington (the state).   It is fun to be spontaneous but we also fear that if we don’t plan, we find ourselves sitting around.  Someone told me recently that her parents were bored in retirement.  I can’t imagine.  This is definitely is one for retiring earlier.  So much to do!

Adjusting to each other:  We haven’t spent this much time together … ummm … ever.  Bill and I have always travelled well together so I’m a little surprised that we seem to be going through an adjustment period for the full time together routine.  How many baseball games can one person watch?  Your stuff lying around is clutter and mine are projects!  I’m happy to report that this is sorting itself out.   Not sure this relates to the decision as to when to retire – so neutral. 

Work Place Issues:  Workplaces change.  My work had grown tedious.  A relatively new administration was less willing to trust their staff.  Finding new work in your 60s is not easy.  My colleagues left behind report an even more toxic atmosphere.  I truly believe that everyone, even those who love their jobs and are great at them should prepare for financial independence.  Things change.  But even with all of that, a certain part of my identity related to my work.  If you’ve worked many years at something, you’ve developed a certain expertise that gives a sense of worth.  Still the balance in my case is definitely toward earlier rather than later retirement. 

Looks like it was time to take the plunge.  I’m going to bring the laundry in and head to the Irish Fest where my 88 year old German heritage mother is expected to be crowned a co-queen of the festival!  Talk to you later. 


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