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March 24, 2014


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I think that you are on the right track with this post. I have read ... or heard on NPR or something that it has been found that people who retire and just sit around and do not stay busy tend to die much faster than those who stay active.

So by saying that you need purpose and suggesting even that you stay somewhat employed sounds like great advice to me!


I concur with the first four attributes for a happy retirement, however on the 5th. I feel I'm giving plenty to the government but have no impact on how they disburse it.

1) Thanks to the once in a lifetime bubble our financial freedom is much greater than we anticipated.

2) We did a lot of travelling while we were working but after we retired in 1992 we ramped it up and did all of the long trips to the far off places on our bucket list until after our 2010 repeat river trip down the Rhine and Mosel rivers we decided to give up our overseas adventures, partly because of my wife's mobility.

3) Great health makes a great retirement even better but on our trips we ran into quite a few people whose health was a problem for them. You need to listen to your body and know when it starts having limitations.

4) We live near two of our children but the third one, after getting fed up with the Lake Tahoe snow and ice, decided to move to Maui a few years ago with their two adopted daughters. They both love it there and spend a lot of time in water sports. The husband was a builder back home but now he is kept busier than ever doing remodelling jobs. The daughter, thanks to the Internet, is still able to telecommute and handle all the billing for her attorney brother-in-law.

Thanks for sharing a blog post idea. Now that we live longer, we really should divide retirement into 2 parts. Part 1 is when you're active and can do more. When you get to your 70s, then you can just relax and hang out. For me giving back is the hard one. I need to work on that.


You could choose to have a lot of "impact on how they disburse it" if you were to give to a charitable organization of your choice and designate the cause. The bonus is that you'd be able to pay your least favorite uncle a little less. :^)

My wife is the opposite of me when it comes to giving so I counterbalance her generosity.

I've always thought you need something to retire to because it leads to a positive step forward versus a negative step away from something you don't like. Of the people I know who retired those with plans, even if those plans changed, most did well because their focus was often on what they could do moving forward. Those who's biggest goal was to just stop working often seemed to end up in trouble, financially or medically or both, and tended to dwell on the past.

I feel these points are all intertwined to some extent. Having a purpose and feeling like you are giving back helps get you energized and up in the morning when you otherwise have no specific need to be getting up. It also leads to helping you exercise and take care of yourself which usually helps with health.

So to be honest right now I have no clear vision of what I'll be doing once I stop the 9 to 5 (assuming I reach step one). I suspect at first I'll give myself some time to just enjoy sleeping in, taking some planned travel, and fixing up things around the house to my satisfaction. But I envision within a year I'll get bored and start searching for something more interesting. So one of my goals as I near retirement is to ensure I have a number of things planned to try out or get better at so I have something to retire to. I suspect I'll try my hand at a variety of things once all the kids are out of the house and see what I like pre-retirement and really dive in post.

This is a topic I have thought about often.

•Financial freedom- This one speaks for itself.....just look at the site we are on!

•Purpose- This is the tough one. Like many others, I think I will kick back for a while but then look for something more. The big question is what? I have always wanted to teach. Maybe I could help others with personal finance or volunteer at the SBA or teach at a community college.

•Good Health- I think this is key. Like FMF I exercise 3 times a week but I do not eat as healthy as I should either. Something will have to give.

•Close Relationships- Kids, grandkids, friends, family---all VERY important.

•Giving Back- We give plenty to the government ( as Old limey said). And like him I also get frustrated with the waste and inefficient administration. But that is not controllable--so I try not to fret too much. But Jeff is right, giving to a private charity is a wonderful thing. Even better is when you take part in the process by volunteering or sitting on the board. So we do as much of that as we can and I plan on ramping that up in retirement.

Since I took early retirement (i.e. a Golden Handshake that was offered at the age of 58) retirement has consisted of 5 very distinct phases. One's retirement can also be very dependent upon one's ongoing health. I have been very fortunate that at 79 I am still very active and very healthy whereas my wife has undergone two hip replacements and two major surgeries.

Phase 1
My wife waited a year before retiring so I used that first year to make a lot of improvements to our home and garden.

Phase 2
I made it a point to learn everything I could about investing. I was subscribing to Investor's Business Daily and the Wall Street Journal at the time and that's where I first became aware of a company whose software I have used ever since. In this phase I also worked very long hours (8am-12pm), 7 days/week writing my own software that has paid off greatly in many ways. I sold my last copy in 2004.

Phase 3
We put our emphasis on seeing the world with trips to China, Africa, Indonesia (5 times), Peru, Ecuador, Nepal (to climb a 23,000 ft peak), Thailand (3 times), Spain, Morocco, Austria, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Italy, Turkey, Russia, England, Ireland, Scotland & Wales, and last but not least, all over America and Hawaii. I also found time to do a 220 mile solo hike of the John Muir Trail in the Sierra Nevada.

Phase 4
As we got older we started taking European river trips before ending them in 2010 when my wife's mobility started to impact the enjoyment of all the travelling and sightseeing.

Phase 5
Now, I'm 79 and my wife will be 81 next month, we are pretty much homebodies except for a weekly 5 mile hike I go on with my daughter. We have got to like Netflix very much and usually watch a movie every afternoon. However in spite of aging, life is still immensely enjoyable.

@Old Limey

Thanks for sharing. Its inspiring.

I hope to have a similar successful retirement as well.

I agree with this article and with Getagrip's comments. I have an engineer friend who retired 8 years ago at age 58. He has the money part figured out, but he has been sort of aimless since retirement because he didn't focus on finding something meaningful. This was also a problem when he was working, but it was exacerbated when he retired.

As an engineer yourself you well know that there are large differences between engineers in the same pay grade, just as there are in other occupations. In my company we all had an annual performance review where we learned about our raise for the coming year, and we were also told where we were in the stacking chart in case of layoffs. Generally speaking if you're an aimless employee you aren't going to last long, you won't get good raises, won't get promotions, and will go in the first cutback in employment. I only worked in 3 companies after I left England but unless you were hard working and willing to go the extra mile when asked, you didn't last long. It doesn't surprise me at all that your aimless friend became even more aimless after he retired and became his own de facto boss.

Old Limey:

Since I'm not an engineer and I didn't work with him, I can't speak for the quality of his work. I suspect he was good at doing the actual job but he had problems with social skills (as a lot of people with the engineer personality type seem to have). Before retiring, he said to me "I'm a good engineer". My response was "You can be good at something else now.". He didn't have anything to say to that. I think he took a lot of pride in his work. His problem is he's kind of one dimensional and didn't/doesn't have much of an identity outside of being an engineer.

I have a similar personality type as he and the same tendency to be one dimensional, so I learned a lot about how not to be from him.

That is a good list. Good health in some ways is the biggest of all (and at times, the least one you have control on) in that if you do not have your health, none of the other things will matter because you won't really be able to enjoy them.

We are still a ways from retirement (mid 20s), but I hope that when we do retire it will involve a lot of travel (providing health), seeing a lot of family and friends (close relationships), and hopefully doing something we enjoy which will benefit others (hitting on both 2 and 5).

My income should be higher after I retire, than when I am working. Retire at 56, hope to do a bit of traveling in the USA, maybe via RV.

I too thought retiring was a ways away, but now it is becoming a reality. I am a bit worried I will get lazy, but after working 80+ hours for many years, I think I will be OK.

I will probably get a new dog, and train it up. That will keep me busy too.

Ive started to think about what life will look like in retirement. My youngest is 10 years away from leaving the nest but its never too early to start planning. Defining myself by my job has never been a priority but i think i would miss not having a form of meaningful contribution back to society. I have been actively involved in many local and national sustainability efforts. The local ones will probably end when the kids graduate because they are related to the schools. Sitting around reading online news all day holds no appeal when i cant use that information to drive change or give back to community. Everyone i talk to says to make health a priority when you are younger because it keeps you going longer when you are older. Being a "greenie" has meant that healthy eating has always been a priority. Working outside in the garden has kept me sprightly. Constantly hauling 50lb bags of soil, wood pellets or chicken feed keeps me strong.

After 58 years of marriage and 22 years of retirement I can look back and see in stark reality that the most important factor of all in an "Ideal Retirement for us" is to have a longtime soulmate that is on exactly the same page as yourself.

We have had three children, now 56, 53, and 50 and between them they have had 4 divorces. What I conclude is that in such a diverse culture as we have in America it's very difficult to have a really longterm marriage. On the other hand when we left England in 1956 neither of us knew of a single person that had been divorced. The cultural changes that have taken place since we came to the USA have been dramatic, and they seem to be accelerating. Terms such as Abortion, Gay, Lesbian, Transgender, Pre-marital sex, etc. were also unknown to us back in 1956. The family structure and lifestyle when my wife and I were growing up in the days before TV and Computers was also totally different from today, i.e. we now live in a totally different world. I feel more and more left behind from the young generation that I see staring into their smart phones almost constantly, and spending a great deal of their time interacting with social media. I imagine that the same thing will happen to the young people that read this blog. The census predictions also show dramatically how our population is changing which also produces many other changes.


==== =========== ===== ===== ======== =====
1940 132,000,000 89.8% 9.8%
1950 151,000,000 89.5% 10.0%
1960 179,000,000 88.6% 10.5%
2000 281,000,000 75.0% 12.3% 12.5%
2008 304,000,000 65.8% 12.2% 15.5% 4.3%
2050 439,000,000 46.2% 11.8% 30.3% 7.5% <-- CENSUS ESTIMATE (San Jose Mercury 8/14/08)

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