How To Get A (Retirement) Life

life5_2Ralph Warner wrote a very interesting book back in 2004. It’s entitled: Get A Life. You Don’t Need A Million To Retire Well. Granted yes, the book was written before the 2008 crash BUT nonetheless Warner does impart terrific information that any retiree or future retiree would find valuable.

How ever you lived your life before retirement is pretty much how you will be living your life after retirement. If you’re a homebody with nary a hobby nor friend before retirement, odds are good you’re going to be the same way after you retire: bored and alone. But if your before retirement life had been active and adventurous, you will probably bring those same traits into your post retirement lifestyle.

Many people spend so much of their pre-retirement life wrapped up in accumulating wealth, shunning friendships, avoiding fine-tuning hobbies and family involvement that when they do retire they sadly find out that all the money in the world isn’t going to bring them retirement happiness. Oh, they might have fun in the beginning traveling to exotic places, playing golf four hours every day, buying themselves luxury items and high-speed sports cars but eventually these actions start to wear thin as time progresses. And that’s what you have in retirement: time. Lots and lots of time. Without a job to offset your new-found time, you may find yourself immersed in a very sad retirement indeed.

Get A Life shares with readers sensible ways to ensure a fulfilling retirement — ways that have little to do with accumulated wealth and everything to do with quality of life. Warner stresses the importance of:
— developing family relationships
— maintaining and creating friendships
— improving health
— keeping active
— developing a robust curiosity for the world                                                           
–conversations with a variety of active, older individuals who set a fine example

So, what’s a retiree or near-retiree to do? Saving money for your retirement years is very important BUT not at the sacrifice of your family, friends, career, lifestyle. Think about it. If you have put aside family time in place of earning more money, you are going to be in for a very rude awakening when the time comes for you to retire. You are going to spend at least 25 to 30 years in retirement. Do you want to spend those years alone and estranged from your spouse, children and grandchildren? If the answer is no, then start right now rekindling your relationship with your family. Make amends with your sister, brother, daughter, son, spouse, aunt, uncle, mother, father now before it is too late.

Other than sack away money do you have any other interests? If you like to travel and think you will travel after you retire, think again! Odds are very good that once you hit 65 years of age, your body won’t be as nimble as when you were in your twenties. You’re not going to climb The Great Wall at 70. If you have a hankering to climb, do it now! Within reason, of course. Join the Girl/Boy Scouts with your kids today. Start that photography interest ASAP. Join a Motor Club, Book Club, Small Train Club……anything you have the slightest bit of interest in. Don’t wait. Stay informed today and tomorrow. If you wait till you retire to pick up any of your interests you may find that the boat has sailed without you. Technology might have left you behind and you’re too old to catch up.

However I was before I retired at the age of fifty is still exactly the way I am now (sixteen years into retirement). I made enough money at age fifty, that I knew if I lived the rest of my life as frugally as possible, I’d be OK financially. The pursuit of money was never my bag. I knew I always wanted to live like a rich person without the blood, sweat and grime that went with it. I developed my frugal skills rather than my financial skills to make my early retirement dreams come true. I have been living on $35K a year equally as nice (if not better) than my peers who live on $100K a year.

I continue to travel as comfortably now as I did back then. If I see a travel bargain, I jump on it. But I don’t sit and plan and hoard and save just to see some far-off destination. I have a mental Bucket list of where I want to go and what I want to do. If it comes along and I can afford it, I go. I’ve been RVing since the 1980’s. There’s something about that open road and NOT paying exorbitant hotel bills that keeps me coming back to RVing.

I have the same (writing) and a few new (photography) hobbies to keep me occupied. My exercise routine today is about the same as when I was in my 30’s and 40’s: basic yoga stretching, hiking, biking, swimming and reading current events (exercising the mind). I love trends and keeping up with the modes of ‘today’.  I live in the present, very rarely think about the past and give a slight nudge to tomorrow. I have no guarantee I will be around another day. All I have is today, right now……..the present.

Since I had my heart event this past February or March (the doc doesn’t know exactly) I have re-categorized my priorities. Both DH and I have had stress related heart problems this past year. DH’s was brought on (we think) from the stress of selling our Rhode Island beach house last year. We never want to go through that maddening event ever again. That’s why we are hesitant to sell our primary residence right now. Instead, we’re taking our time getting it sales-ready and giving ourselves a five year time line. As long as we have cash savings in the bank and can pay our monthly bills out of our passive monthly income, there’s no hurry for anything.

My stress was brought on with my fighting with my two daughters. I now realize how preposterous all of that was and so not worth it. When I read Ralph Warner’s question about family relationships: “Do You Want To Go 25 years Estranged From Your Children?” I realized I didn’t! I picked up the phone, made whatever peace I had to with my two daughters, set up new boundaries we all can agree on and resolved the whole predicament right there and then. Life is too short to stunt it in preposterous family matters. Resolve your own family disputes today!!

DH and I have carved out a fine retirement lifestyle for ourselves. We winter and summer in two different, comfy locations. Our NY estate in the mountains is peaceful. Our Florida gulf-side condo is beach friendly and action packed. Now, we’ve tacked on a tiny trailer RV for the local traveling in the US of A we still have a desire for. DH finally has a barn (with electricity) he can tinker in and fix up jeeps for later resale. I have my writing and photography to keep my mind occupied and on point. My family life is back on track. DH and I have boosted up a healthier lifestyle (it’s just another thing we have in common).

In other words, DH and I have a very nice retirement and it’s NOT all about the money. Granted yes, money is important but should be put in it’s proper place. Retirement is all about getting a life. And you don’t need a million or so dollars to get it.

Live well and prosper, my friend. Live well and prosper.

PS: I got Warner’s book for free from the library. But if you want to purchase it from Amazon, click here.



8 thoughts on “How To Get A (Retirement) Life

    • Hi Betty. Isn’t it wonderful to find out we’re on the right path? Good for us! And isn’t it doubly delicious to know we don’t need a heap of money to make ourselves happy?
      Thanks for your compliment.


    • Sharon, I’m sitting down and reading every single word of this book! What wisdom! I heard about if at another blog site that specializes in retirement. he said it changed his life AND I believe him! The library has them. Don’t spend any money but def read this book!


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