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Friday, April 6, 2012

The many stages of retirement.

I've been retired for almost ten years. The time has practically flown by. Our lives have changed dramatically. I learned that I had no idea about retirement. Today, I'm sharing what I learned in the years I've been retired.

First stage is feverish anticipation. It starts a few years before you quit work. You begin to identify the symptoms of restlessness, wishing, day-dreaming, sometimes for years before you are quite ready to take the jump, talking and ruminating, and planning, and occupying your leisure hours with factoring how and when and where you can retire.

Our main concern was money; how to save enough; how to budget with what we had; how to have a lifestyle that would be pleasant and doable within our budget.  We had just built a new house, and had not planned on selling and relocating.  But, when we crunched the numbers, staying in place would cost us so much more and we could not retire early as we ended up doing. We began to see how our lives would be like if we moved somewhere else. So, we began to research.

Second stage feels panicky, unreal. Yesterday you were working. Today, you are on the phone making sure everything you put in place is working fine. You will spend hours on the phone or by email double-checking that your bills, your mail, your doctors, your insurances, your investments are all accounted for. Then, even if you try to relax, you can't. You feel as though you committed a crime-of-sorts. You should't be home playing hooky from work. You feel useless, purposeless, empty.This stage can last a couple of months or more.

Third stage is a feeling that everyday is a holiday, everyday should be spent just the way you want to spend it. You begin to feel that your vacation time should actually be a vacation. You should be shopping, visiting, traveling.  You'll spend way more than you had anticipated in traveling, visiting your children, seeing the world. This stage may last as long as your money is there to finance it.

Fourth Stage is a come-down to reality.  You begin to be serious about connecting with the community, using your time in important activities.  Hubby and I began to volunteer and join different groups. Some things were easy, such as coaching, or running the local food pantry. Some, a bit more complicated, like running for school board, or teaching at the local college.  We still travel, but not with the same frequency. We keep active by participating and taking classes, entertaining friends and family. We live as though this is what we will be doing the rest of our lives here. 

Fifth Stage. This is anticipatory. You don't know how and when your health will deteriorate and you will need more care than you can get where you are. This may happen suddenly or slowly.  We talk about, and take small steps to put things in place, both financially, and with our life-style. We have talked about wills, legacy, end of life directives. Most importantly, we have arranged our lives so we can age in place comfortably.  As we  remodeled our house, we kept in mind how the changes might fit our future needs. We can shower in a wheelchair, for instance.  As we anticipate purchasing a  new car we will track down one where we don't have to bend down or climb up to sit in. It needs to fit us in this new stage.




24 comments:

Roberta said...

Great post. Very helpful to those of us still in the first stages. I am retired now for about a year (well laid off retired). But not planning on returning to work at this point now. Trying to hold off on social security as long as possible.

Plus my husband is still working.

Brian Miller said...

nice...i def like the connection to community phase...that will be nice...of course i may never retire so...smiles.

The Broad said...

This is an excellent synopsis of the things to consider when you retire. Very good advice here.

Maggie May said...

We're definitely into stage 5! I think you just about hit the nail on the head!
Maggie X

Nuts in May

Food, Fun and Life in the Charente said...

This sounds quite familiar to me but with a younger husband it makes life a little different. Nigel only officially retires in November this year, but walked away fed up in October last year. Financially this year we have been on a very tight budget! Diane

She Writes Here Now said...

I am years and years from retirement, but I do know time has a way of catching up faster than we expect. At this point, I hope to work forever :). I am guessing that will pass!

becky said...

Right on, Rosaria! I can identify with quite a bit of this...I never thought I'd stop working but, I have, thanks to a changing publishing business...at least in the official sense of the word...I still find things to "work" at.

We did a lot of pre-retirement planning so we're still in the holiday stage. Every morning, I get up, wondering what day it is. Then we make it a special day with an outing of some sort while still getting day-to-day stuff accomplished. This winter, I learned what making a 911 call meant when my husband came home from outpatient surgery with an infection that caused him to go into some kind of paralyzing seizure and horrific shaking. Scared and shocked, I was! So grateful the fire station ambulance is but 10 minutes away and someone could come quickly to help with the terrible situation.

Grandmother said...

Great and thoughtful post, Rosaria. I think we're in stage 3 but have done some of the tasks of 4 and 5 and discussed them with our daughter- not to be morbid, just to be prepared and taking care of business. Thanks for this.

Linda Myers said...

I think you've got it exactly right. We're starting to look at phase 5 now. Really want to stay in our house but it's got stairs, so we'll have to see.

Rob-bear said...

My retirement started at stage four. And seems to be hanging in quite nicely at that point. We have enough money, but don't holiday much. (I find travel too hard on my body.) Emphasis on enough.

We sold our home and moved to an apartment — age in place shift. Funerals, wills, etc. — all in place ages ago.

Biggest problem? I can never remember what day it is. They all seem so similar.

Great post, Rosaria.

dianefaith said...

I like Rob-bear's comment about never remembering what day it is. My husband and I have that problem :-)
I like your thoughtful post, too. Our situation has been a little different. When my husband retired at age 62, I went back to work! I thought I could help our insurance coverage that way, and I worked for the next 9 years. When I finally retired, I was so tired (juggling work and Mom's care), that all I wanted to do was sit somewhere quiet and rest for a while.
About stage 5: I saw my Mother and other relatives wait too long before making decisions for this critical phase. At some point, she got beyond deciding what was best for her and trapped herself and her family for 7 years. I keep telling my husband that we shouldn't wait until a decision is imperative to decide about reasonable living conditions as we get older.

yaya said...

Thanks for the wonderful information. I hope to have stage 5 in place before stage one. I've experienced what happens when things are not in order. I think I'm in the "I'll never be able to retire" stage! I'm really hoping that the new health care changes won't shut down my hospital end my working sooner than I want!

erin said...

i'm in a different school but i suppose the world would not run very well with the school i am in, work until i die. this is necessity. i understand this. this might shorten my life. i understand this too. there is nothing else, i think, that i understand.

i'm glad you have had this net which grants ease. i think it's important for everyone to note the net, but also to note the holes. there are many and this is life. it is full of surprises. (as you know))))

my best to you and yours, rosaria, this holiday weekend.

xo
erin

the walking man said...

12.5 years ago, one day I was at work and the next I was forced to disability retirement. Seriously that quick.

The changes were a bit abrupt to say the least, I still am not comfortable physically not working. I liked fixing police cars and trucks, the whole getting greasy and grimy thing, arguing with foremen who only were foremen because they broke more than they fixed when on the shop floor.

But you do adapt, conform to the changes and limitations and at least with me, don't worry what the day will bring. *shrug* I'll deal with each moment as it arises.

ellen abbott said...

I don't think I will ever retire, meaning stopping what I do for a living because my vocation has always been my avocation. being an artist also means I can't retire until I am physically unable to do the work. but because of the nature of being an artist I have times when I am semi-retired because I don't have any work.

Shannon Lawrence said...

This is great information, thanks! It sounds like you guys have been wise in going about retirement. I worry about my parents; my dad will be 60 this year. I don't know when they will be able to retire, as they've still got two in college. I really want them to have that opportunity to just enjoy themselves, travel, relax, enjoy each other without kids again.

Shannon at The Warrior Muse, co-host of the 2012 #atozchallenge! Twitter: @AprilA2Z

Bagman and Butler said...

Thanks for the post...after a year, I'm slowing moving into the fourth stage already. Well, I completely skipped stage two having walked away and never looking back. I once heard that "the windshield is larger than the rear view mirror for a reason."

Donna said...

I'm just hoping to be in ANY stage of retirement! Right now the health care field unlike the education field does not watch out well for it's own. They wear them out but do not provide a good pension so that one can retire. Social security is hard to live on so that leaves you to save in an IRA in this bad economy. bah humbug.

Pat transplanted to MN said...

A good summary of the stages...I wonder how many younger people will ever reture as we have been able to do. I no longer wonder how to spend my time and there are more things to do than time to do them. I hope your Easter was glorious.

Sightings said...

I second the opinion that this is an excellent summary of retirement as our generation may know it -- but not necessarily what our kids will experience. I wonder what's in store for them ...

Anyway, I'm somewhere between stage 3 and 4, and enjoying life just fine. May we all have an extended stage 4, and put off stage 5 for as long as possible.

fiftyodd said...

It's just so great to find advice from those both in front and behind. We have two years to go to retire - the finance thing is our biggest worry.

rosaria williams said...

I second Sightings's wish to put off Stage 5 to the last year of our temporal life, somewhere around 100.

Just treat yourself well!
Thanks, everyone, for your visit and your generous comments.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

I am not in a position to retire, though I feel I need to. I envy you for being able to plan. Happy Easter Monday, Rosaria.

Neil Fiorenza said...

You raised great points on the things you need to consider when retiring! There are lots of people who are not able to live a happy life after retirement because they failed to plan what they want to do during their retirement. It's great that you realized and shared these things to fellow bloggers. I hope you're doing well and strong as of now. Kudos! :)