August 31, 2016

Forge A New Path

"The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experiences" – Eleanor Roosevelt

Daryl and Mary are a couple that spend their winters in the Phoenix area. Betty and I have lunch with them a few times each season and enjoy their company. We swap RV stories and have a good time together. The last time we shared a meal, Daryl suggested I write a post using the title you see above. The idea has been on a back burner for several months, so I am past due in following up on his idea. After running across Eleanor Roosevelt's quote, I decided now is the time.

Regular readers know I am preparing to leave on a 2 month RV trip in a few days. We will be heading east to see family and add at least seven or eight states to our RV map. There will be an additional benefit: we will miss September, the last month of 100 degree Phoenix weather. When we return it should be in the 70's and perfect for the next 5 months.

The Forge a New Path thought was spurred by several conversations Betty and I have had about the future of our RVing. With over 133,000 miles on the speedometer and being 10 years old, our current rig is starting to show its age. Within the next two years we will have to spend at least $1,200 on six new tires. The refrigerator is probably nearing the end of its life. The water heater, water pump, and furnace aren't really designed to last much more than a decade. And, we spend almost  $2,000 a year to store, register, and insure the motor home. 

The interior wall paper is bland, the cabinets looking worn, the linoleum flooring should be replaced, the shower needs repairs,  the drapes are seriously short our beloved rolling home is a lot like its owners: aging. So, the question we have been kicking around is do we buy a new RV, commit to an overhaul and redecoration of what we have, or close out the RV chapter of our life.

A newer RV would come with several benefits. The things listed above would not be problems. A slideout or two would give us much more interior room so we don't feel quite so cramped night after night. Some RV parks will not let rigs older than 10 years use their facilities - a stupid rule but a rule nevertheless.

Of course, that comes with a significant outlay. Brand new, the cost would be somewhere between $80-110,000. Gently used, maybe $45-60,000. No matter how we look at those numbers or justify the benefits, both of us question our sanity.

What about fixing, modifying, redecorating, and restoring the Class C we have now? If we did everything on our wish list, the cost would be a more reasonable $6-$7,000 and could be spread over a few years.  I have been told the Ford V-10 engine should easily survive 200,000 miles if I perform the regular maintenance. 

So, what does this have to do with forging a new path? Well, that has been at the center of our conversations: do we want to shake up and redesign the next several years of our life? What do we want to do with our time and money that will make memories based on shared experiences?

Spending much of our summers away from 110 degrees tops the list. Hawaii would probably be our first choice, but with a dog we love, that is not feasible (see the post about moving to Hawaii)  San Diego would be great, but being in a city with all the traffic and expenses seems counterproductive. That leaves us with the Pacific Northwest or maybe northern Michigan or even New England.  

Of course, an RV is not a requirement, though flying won't work because we won't submit Bailey to the cargo hold of an airplane. But, a car, motels, and a long term condo rental at our destination is an obvious alternative. The overall expenses would be higher than using an RV, but not so significantly to nix the idea completely. 

I guess the decision comes down to how committed we are to the RV lifestyle and for how many more years. Buying a new one would make a statement that this is our one and only vacation option for several years. Trips overseas would not be doable. Fixing up our current RV would still allow sufficient room in our budget for a trip back to Europe and Hawaii and a cruise or two.

Then, there is the option of selling the RV and moving in a different direction for vacations and getaways. The past 4 years have been a lot of fun. The experiences with our rolling home have been wonderful. We have brought back memories (and photos) galore. It is a very convenient way to travel with a dog.

There is no overlooking the fact, though, that an RV vacation is really a working vacation. There are meals to cook and clean up after, food shopping, laundry, sweeping, draining our own black and gray water, finding a gas station that is big enough to handle our rig, hooking and unhooking the car we tow behind us......there is work involved. If you have ever been camping you know.

So, we are likely to spend the upcoming trip as a time to reflect on the pros and cons of the RV choice and what we envision for the next 4-6 years. 

Forging a new path.....a great thought...with several choices of the path we want to forge.

RV travel

August 28, 2016

Ageism in the Work Place: A Problem ?

The interest in having a happy retirement is pretty much universal. While the bulk of my readership comes from America, Australia supplies a healthy percentage of Satisfying Retirement readers. Maybe that is why I was contacted not long ago by a fellow from that country who wanted to share some interesting survey results with me.

David Schneider pointed me to the results of an ageism research project that shows real and pervasive discrimination against Baby Boomers trying to reenter the work place. While I have no comparable study for the U.S. or other countries, I assume there is a similar problem in any developed country.

A few of the results of the study include these sobering findings:

* More than one in three people over-50 (35%) have no choice but to apply for new work or embark upon a career change later in life – half of them because they need the money. So, factoring in what we know about Western culture and its tendency to marginalise those who are no longer in the rosy-cheeked flush of youth, this statistic is all the more of a concern. Why? Because, even at a glance, the results of our survey over whether ageism is a factor in attempting to re-enter the workplace are quite disheartening.

* Perceived or otherwise, nearly half of all Baby Boomers surveyed (47%) feel age discrimination is behind why they may have been rejected for employment. Not only that, but over a third (36%) talked themselves out of even applying for certain roles because they believed they wouldn’t even be in the running. 

* 60% of those surveyed admitted re-employment required overcoming certain obstacles – and in fact, over a quarter (27%) described those barriers as “significant”. 

* Even once Baby Boomers do score that elusive gig, the ageism doesn’t necessarily end there. Nearly a third (30%) report experiencing discrimination over their age while at work. The reasons most cited for this age discrimination is that Baby Boomers are seen as either overqualified (45%), they somehow lack the right “company fit” (30%) or that they aren’t tech-savvy enough (24%). 

The full summary report is located here:Ageism in the Workplace

And, here is an excellent graphic representation of the problem older folks face when trying to re-enter the work force:

Why give you this information? Because there a lot of us who are considering going back to work. Others don't leave in the first place because of the fear of being unable to reenter the job market for the reasons cited in this report.

If you are about to start your satisfying retirement journey, go into things with your eyes wide open. If you believe you can always go back to work if your financial situation weakens, realize that may more difficult than you anticipate.

I am a major advocate of retirement. But, I do caution everyone to be comfortable with where you are financially. If part of your planning includes a simple step back into the full time employment world, that may be wishful thinking.

My thanks to David, and the company Webprofits for this report. Satisfying Retirement has received no compensation from any of the sources of this post.

August 25, 2016

Seven Reasons I Love RV Travel

A Satisfying Retirement is built on a solid foundation of financial, relational, and emotional support. Without enough income, family or friends, and ways to use free time productively, what could be the best time of your life may fall short.

I will add one more element that is often overlooked: vacations. Does that seem odd? After all, isn't retirement one, long, vacation? Well, no, it is not. The responsibilities and hassles of everyday life don't stop when your paycheck does. The need to shake things up a bit, get a fresh perspective, and collect new experiences is just as important after you leave the full time employment world. 

My wife and I enjoy RV travel. While we are on the road only a few months each year, there is a satisfaction and stimulation from motorhome travel that is hard to match. If you are considering the RV lifestyle, let's see if these seven reasons convince you to take the plunge:

1. The freedom of traveling with your home is addictive. Unpack once, bring your pillow, favorite photos, books, and movies. Eat when you are hungry, sleep when you are tired. You are home wherever you are.

2. Pets are welcome on the road. Does putting your pet in a kennel or dropping her off at a friend's bother you? Is your dog part of your family? RV travel is even better with your best friend.

3. Don't fly over the country, rather be immersed in daily, local life. Buy your produce at a farmer's market. Explore a local nature preserve. meet the town characters at the diner. Experience your country in a very personal, interactive way.

4. Being in a small space encourages relationship-building. You learn the art of compromise quickly in 200 sq. feet. 

5. After the initial purchase, vacations are much less expensive. With proper care an RV can last a decade or more. Think of all those motel rooms you are not renting and the restaurant meals you are not buying.

6. Life long friends can be found on the road. RV parks are full of friendly folks who want to share and connect. Several of our dearest friends were first met while traveling.

7. You come home with a new sense of satisfaction. Where you live seems fresh, welcoming, and very comforting. There is no place like home, especially after being gone for awhile.

RV travel is not for everyone. But, for us, it satisfies like no other type of vacation. These seven reasons might convince you to give it a try.

August 22, 2016

5 Things That Successful Retirees Do Well

Successful Retirement

I have never met a retiree who is trying to "fail" at having a satisfying retirement. By fail, I mean spending time worrying instead of enjoying, stagnating instead of experiencing, and second-guessing major decisions. We expect retirement to be the payoff for years of working, commuting, saving, and delayed gratification. Does it always work that way? For too many of us the answer is, "No." 

I believe there are five definite traits and decisions that separate the truly "successful" retirees from the rest of us. While things would run more smoothly if we exhibited these attributes well before the end of our full time working life,   the good news is that any of us can improve the quality of our retirement journey by adopting them now.

1) See retirement as a beginning not an ending.

For many of us, what we do for a living defines us. Our job or career controls how we think of and describe ourselves. "What do you do" is the first question virtually anyone asks of a stranger. A successful retirement requires that we celebrate our working life, are proud of what we contributed, but see the future as a new and exciting stage of life. Retirement is the beginning of what can be the most creative, productive, and fulfilling part of life. It is not the end of our relevancy.

2) Believe retirement can be the best stage of life.

I will quickly qualify this sentence, with my belief that a happy life means we think of each stage of life as the best. Each holds joys and experiences that are usually unique to that time in our lives. It should not be the case that we simply exist until retirement. But, retirement brings with it a freedom to experiment, to adjust, to focus on what makes us happy and satisfied. Those with this attitude will prosper.

3) Prepare financially and emotionally but don't over-think or second -guess decisions.

Think of it like skydiving. Once you leave the plane it is a little late to worry if you rolled the chute correctly. As you fall at 120 miles per hour, wondering if your training was really complete isn't likely to cross your mind. Retirement isn't that dramatic, but the point is a valid one. Once you leave the working world behind, the preparation you completed beforehand should be sufficient. Adjust with change, yes. Second-guess everything you did to get where you are today, no. 

4) Believe attitude makes all the difference.

 "Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference." I agree with Winston Churchill. Our attitude determines how happy or unhappy we are either for a moment, or a lifetime. It is completely under our control. Even under the most trying of times, how we react to that stress determines its power over us. Abe Lincoln said something about how we either see the thorns on the rose bush, or the blooms. A satisfying retirement tends to recognize the thorns but keeps its focus on the blooms.

5) Want to leave a legacy that empowers others.

When all is said and done, we want to leave something behind. While a legacy might mean money for your family, I tend to think of it as warm memories, an example of a life well-lived, compassion for others, and a faith that nourishes and supports us and those we love. My parents left me and my two brothers a financial cushion that has smoothed out any rough spots in our future, and for that we are eternally grateful. But, even more important was the example of a 63 year marriage, concern for others, and a desire to do no harm. One of the important choices we can make during our retirement journey is the legacy we are leaving behind.