October 12, 2010

7 Things You Can Do When You are Retired

The topic of Monday's post about aging parents is not a feel good subject. It can't be ignored, but it can be depressing. So, I decided to lighten things up a bit today and write about something fun. It might even cause you to smile. Here's hoping. This is my list of seven things that you can do when you stop working full time (there are more than seven, but you're busy, right?).

You can sleep late if you want to.  Just because I can doesn't mean I do. My warped sense of productivity screams that I've wasted half the day if I'm still in bed by 7 AM. Even on Saturdays when I really could laze around all morning I am up and on with the day by 6:30. But, the freedom to sleep later is still, in theory, available to me.

Going out to dinner at 4:30 PM and getting the senior price. I used to joke about the retired folks having dinner at 4 in the afternoon to get the blue plate special. Now that I am one of them, my wife and I do eat much earlier than we used to. We consider 5:30 PM to be late dining. If going to a restaurant, 4:30 PM is actually a good idea to avoid the lines and long waits. And, we always check the back page of the menu for the "55 Club" or whatever name is given to the senior prices. Of course, the smaller price also means smaller portions, but that's good for my waistline anyway.

Forgetting what day of the week it is, and not having it matter.  Except for church on Sunday morning, what day it is becomes rather unimportant. Monday feels like Wednesday which feels like Friday. The only downside is time has definitely speeded up. Whole weeks and now even months seem to be gone in the blink of an eye. I want to believe this isn't a memory issue, but more a function of me being busy and happy.

Taking advantage of cheaper matinee movie prices. Who in their right mind would pay $11 for a movie when shows before 6 PM are $7? At the local AMC theater shows before noon are $5. I'll see something I don't even like for $5. Or, I'll stay home and watch Netflix.

You can stop wearing a watch. Cell phones can tell you the time if you need to know. The clock on the computer screen, cable box, and car dashboard are entirely sufficient. Not wearing a watch is a physical and symbolic statement of freedom from the tyranny of time. That is not true, of course, but it sounds good.

You don't have to shop on weekends with everyone else. A rule in the Lowry household: no Home Depot, Costco, Wal-Mart, or shopping malls on weekends. There is no reason to subject ourselves to the hoards of weekend warriors and teenagers. Monday through Friday contains 120 hours. If I can't get my shopping done in that amount of time, I am shopping much too much.

You can wait at home all day for the repairman. I don't know why it is, but if there is a 3 hour window for a repair person, I am always in the last 5 minutes of that window. Never am I first or even in the first half of that big window. I don't know why but I've learned to accept it. With the flexible schedule of a retiree it doesn't matter. If I don't wear a watch I don't even realize how late the fellow is and I stay calmer.

These are seven rather silly reasons to retire, but all true for me. How about you? What less-than-life-changing  things can you do, or not do, if you don't work full time anymore? Let's call this a mid-week lighten up and have some fun with your answers. Comments are strongly encouraged!

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  1. Ok, I do all those things except eat at 4:30. Unlike you, I do sleep in because also in retirement, you can stay up really late if you want to.

    I would add that I schedule a lot more events on weeknights, social engagements, etc. It used to be that I knew I would be too tired during the week to have too much going on, now I never worry about that.

  2. Restaurants in San Francisco probably don't open as early as 4:30 PM so you are safe.

    Going out on weeknights is another benefit, though one I don't take advantage of as often as I should. Good for you.

  3. I used to kid my parents about their rigid schedule of eating every day at 5 pm - now my husband and I are doing it too! Our kids all have families and eat very haphazardly, sometimes as late as 8 pm. They all know by now, mom and dad get grumpy if asked to eat late so they try to plan early if we're included.

    If we go out to eat anymore, we go early to avoid crowds. I'm always amazed at the number of people who go out to eat at 7 or 8 pm. To us, that's nearly bedtime-lol

    I agree about sleeping late. I'm a morning person and love getting up early to get the day moving.

  4. My wife and I got in the habit of eating early while raising our daughters. Now, it just seems like the right time. Like you I don't like crowds when I go out to eat and I like having the entire evening available, too.

    Bed at 10:30, up at 6:15. Isn't that everyone's schedule? I'm not sure where you live, Joan, but the time stamp on your comments is always quite early in the morning!

  5. I also do many of these, but we generally eat at seven or so-but then again, I couldn't tell ya the last time I woke up at six. I'm awake to midnight and up whenever the dog forces me out of bed. I especially appreciae the ability to go to the noon movie which is always five bucks or less.

  6. Your comment about the dog forcing you to get up reminded me to ask a question of any readers with feedback...does having a dog complicate some of the freedom of being retired? Does it hamper your ability to "get up and go?" We are dog-less now, although we've had several in the past. My wife would love to have one, but I worry about all the arrangements that must be made with an extra life to worry about.

    What do you think?

  7. Dave,

    Your original comment was inadvertently deleted. But, you saying you tend to avoid lines and crowds even though you live in a crowded part of the country (the Bay area) speaks to one of the real joys of this stage of life: we are much more in charge of our schedule.

    You also have left your watch on the kitchen table...good for you!

  8. The dog issue .... I'm still working, but in anticipation of cutting back and an empty nest I was not in favor of getting another dog after our 18 year old dog died. Well, my wife found another dog and I said ok, so long as we don't have to build a fence. Well .... for two years now we've had an awesome dog and a beautiful fence :--). Seriously, they are both fantastic. I love the dog and the new privacy from the fence. Reminds me of the benefits of embracing change and the great mystery of everything working out, albeit in ways we never imagined.

    We travel a fair amount, and the dog is never an issue. One of our nephews dog sits for us, and its win win as the dog gets great company and we get to provide our nephew some financial support and a fridge full of goodies.


  9. Very helpful,J. I wonder if another dog would add an extra ingredient to our life. I guess I'm moving in that direction. My youngest daughter loves dogs and she lives only 20 minutes away. She would probably love to take care of it on occasion.

    If I get one, there will be a post about it!

  10. One of the first things I changed when I retired four years ago was take off the watch. It is enjoyable for me to wake up at 7:00 without a plan for the day, just wing it. My brother, who retired eight years ago is completely the opposite. Since he retired he adheres to a regular daily schedule. It's hard to get him to change it. But that's the way we both like our days to go.

  11. As long as your system works for you and your brother prefers it another way and it works for him you are doing well.

    I don't wear a watch and almost never set the alarm clock but I still wake up around 6:00 !

    Thanks for joining the discussion, Glinka.

  12. The good thing about being retired is that I don’t have to rush when working on a project around the house. When I was employed, there was always the “return to work” deadline. The “good thing” is also a double edge sword, since there is no reason to rush, everything takes a lot longer. Don’t tell my wife, but I actually accomplished more when I was employed.

  13. Steve, your secret is safe with me (and a few hundred readers!)

    When the time pressure is off, the deadlines become a little more flexible. Absolutely true. My to-do list on the computer makes it much too easy to simply change the due date. But, if I'm enjoying whatever I am doing, then having it take a little longer is just fine.

  14. Add to these, taking vacations at times times that fit your schedule rather than that of your workplace. My husband is a teacher and when he came home retired this past May, we scheduled a cross country ski trip to Yellowstone in February. this is something we've talked about for years but his vacation times never worked. I can't wait! Chris

  15. Vacations on your own schedule..absolutely. Interestingly, my wife and I went to Yellowstone in late May and it snowed. I hope your weather in February will cooperate with your plans.

    Thanks for adding to the discussion, Chris.

  16. Yellowstone in February? Are you taking a snow cat into the park? We took snow mobiles in about ten years ago. It was amazing! Lots of cross country skiers snow catted to the lodge and then went for it.

  17. Good point, Janette. Several of the roads into Yellowstone don't even open until May. But, if Chris & her husband are planning a ski vacation, the snowier the better!

  18. Here's a new comment to your "old" post. Yes, yes and yes to most of your listed advantages to retirement. The only one that is different for me is that I do sleep in, taking my time to stretch out, get out of bed around 8 AM, make a good cup of coffee, have a relaxed breakfast while watching the news or checking my e-mail, and getting dressed after I've enjoyed my coffee. I think it's a reaction to having been a teacher for all these years, and having started my work day at 7:30 AM, faced with 20 adolescents who were as sleep-deprived as I was.
    Early-bird specials at restaurants have another advantage that I am now beginning to understand - seniors don't have to drive home in the dark. This is a big issue for my spouse, who has trouble driving at night.
    As for dining out, we like to have a late lunch (say at 1:30) and make that our main meal of the day. Lunchtime menus are often less expensive, with smaller portions than at night.

  19. H2BR,

    I've read several blogs recently that make me wonder if my mornings are too structured. I like your approach.

    Driving after dark and early bird specials - I hadn't thought of that connection but you are absolutely correct. My wife and I like to eat our lunch out because of smaller portions and smaller prices.

    Thanks for finding this "older" post and leaving your excellent thoughts.