SUZE ORMAN WON’T LIKE THIS BLOG!
“You’re retired? How old are you? How much money did you sock away?” People ask.
“Old enough and not enough” is our reply.
After watching our parents go through the so-called “golden years”, and dealing with some health issues of our own, it became obvious to us that if there was any chance that we were going to be able to actually relax, de-stress and do a few things that we’ve always wanted to do, the time to act was NOW.
There are essentially three types of retirement-age people in this great country of ours. (1) The type who claim that they love their job and intend to work at it until they either die or are no longer able to perform the job physically or mentally. (2) The type who work because they need to support themselves and their families and would love to quit if they felt they could provide for themselves and their family without having to work…. And (3) The type who would love to work, either because they need the money or because they have enjoyed their career, but have found it difficult because of barriers having to do with age or poor health.
In our case, there is a blend of all three. We enjoyed a wonderful 40-year career in the baseball business and still remain very interested and mildly involved in professional baseball (#1). However, after leaving our positions with the Fort Worth ballclub in 2009, we realized that those doors to other opportunities which had always seemed to open for us in the past were now closed. Teams weren’t in the market for 60 year-old executives (#3). Looking around the table at one of our last league meetings, we realized that every single person in the room was younger than us and most of them were younger than our children! But we did not have a giant retirement nest-egg (#2).
Back to that thing about seeing our parents grow old. Seeing the reality of the “golden years” unfold in our parents’ lives gave us a much clearer picture of what was important in our lives.
Although we had worked very hard for a very long time, we had not saved nor invested what Suze Orman would consider an ample amount for retirement. It was clear that, while we had very little debt, we also had very few assets. We did not even own a home. Although we had owned three homes over the years, we had sold our last home several years ago and really just washed out on a break even basis. We knew that we would be counting on social security and Medicare to provide a substantial portion of our income and secure our future, however long that may be.
But, here is where we really fall into Suze’s bad graces. We retired anyway.
We cashed in a portion of our retirement account and purchased a “manufactured home” in a retirement community in Arizona. It is no palace. But we own it outright and it is our little patch of heaven. Our community is a friendly place and many of our neighbors are in very similar situations to ours. Some are, of course, very well-heeled and others are living strictly on their government benefits and barely getting by. But, as difficult as this may be to believe, everyone gets along pretty well and there is a genuine neighborly feel to the whole place. Yes, there are some folks who are “grumpy old fogeys”, and some who don’t keep their “little patch of heaven” as nicely as others, but there is a genuine concern for our fellow man and old-fashioned neighborhood feeling here at The Meadows.
Our decision to retire was based not on money, but on a desire to focus on each other in a happy and contented environment. We have worked side-by-side as a husband-wife team for our entire adult lives, but we’ve usually been focused on our own children, our staff, and our customers. Now, with all of the kids over 30 and ourselves over 60, it was time for us to focus on one-another and reflect on all that has happened in our lives while we still had the ability to enjoy and remember!
When we saw how quickly the “golden years” passed for our parents and how quickly our 40 years in the workplace had passed, we realized the very real fact that time is, indeed, more valuable than money.
So, we’ll drive the old Ford Taurus and my 1988 Mustang convertible hopefully for a few more years (actually we only drive an average of 50 miles per week anyway). We’ll enjoy our beautiful porch (Lois keeps the flowers blooming and the atmosphere is marvelous) with our dog Millie (recently voted WORLD’S BEST DOG by a unanimous vote of 2-0). We’ll laugh at ourselves and our foibles with our friends and neighbors. We’ll enjoy our facebook friends, our tablet reader, and finally sorting through all of the photographs and other memorabilia from our career. And we top it off most evenings with a Manhattan (no bitters and a raspberry instead of a cherry – much healthier) and Cosmopolitan (twist of lemon, no lime or lime juice) out on the patio with our neighbors.
If working until you “level out”, as one of our friends refers to it, is your dream. Go for it. But if you have found enough satisfaction from your career to last the rest of your life, remember that like money, time should also be spent wisely. Time is NOT our friend and, unlike money, it cannot be banked, gained or earned.
Certainly our worldly needs dictate that we count our money, but we’ve found that it is an equally good investment to take time to count our blessings.