What I enjoy about this blog so much is the overall tone and quality of those who leave thoughts and reactions. Many blogs fight the problem of inappropriate, rude, or nasty remarks. Some bloggers spend a fair amount of time each day weeding out the hateful from the worthwhile. I don't have to do that, and for that I sincerely thank you. That is what this post is about: the power of your comments.
I could have picked any of dozens of comments as my focus. But, in the interest of keeping this to a readable length, I have selected two that do an excellent job of capturing the essence of a satisfying retirement.
This one, from a reader with the pen name, jazz angel, provides an excellent overview of a couple just beginning their journey to a satisfying retirement::
My husband and I both worked for decades as public school teachers. We lived within our means, in a comfortable but modest raised-ranch home that felt a little snug when we were raising our three kids, but it's quite roomy now, and it's paid for. We also managed to pay for all three children's undergraduate college education. We gave them each a car (used) upon graduation from college, and now they are each gainfully employed and we feel that it's our turn to enjoy what we've worked so hard to accomplish.
My husband retired two years ago, and I just retired this year. We both just turned 60. We do not have millions of dollars saved, but we've crunched the numbers and we have enough to live on. Our state teachers' retirement system, which we've paid into for many, many years, pays us each a modest pension, and allows us to have an affordable health care plan and dental insurance plan. We are lucky in that we are both in good health.
We are taking this first year to figure out how to balance family, friends, interests, and travel on a budget. We've put one together that allows us dinner out once in awhile, a couple of days away every few months, and paying for a family vacation rental property every summer in order to get all of our kids and grandkids together for a week.
One day a week, we provide childcare for our daughter's one-year-old son. This is a joy that we love to share together. Another one of our children has two boys, and a third baby is expected in November. We'll be able to help out by caring for the older boys while their mommy gets plenty of rest after the birth. I am also looking forward to spending more time with my mother, who at 86 is still active and enjoying life. I'll be able to go visit her much more frequently now that I'm retired.
I've continued to teach by doing some one-on-one tutoring of adults, and I love it. Plus, I now have more time to teach my Jazzercise classes. I've been an instructor since I was 53 years old, and I love the exhilaration of a workout. Memorizing routines exercises my brain as well.
My husband and I both enjoy golfing, theater, learning to cook different cuisines, and traveling (except for the hassles of flying), and we are planning our budget so that we can go someplace warm for a week or two each winter through a combination of renting and visiting friends.
I feel that we're off to a good start. Staying active in the winter will be our biggest challenge, because we live in a cold climate and we've never been into skiing. Maybe snowshoeing would be something we could try together.
Thank you, jazz angel. What a tremendous look at the life of two folks who have planned, sacrificed, provided for others, and are now reaping the rewards. I second her contention that they are off to a good start.
Another reader, Steve from Los Angeles, is also following a carefully thought out plan to get him where he wants to be:
I am living modestly yet comfortably. I have my own residence, which is a two-bedroom and two-bath condominium in a suburb of Los Angeles. Although I have a loan on my residence, I will have the loan paid off within the next 11 years and 10 months. (I am 14 months ahead of schedule with my loan payments.) In addition to making the regular monthly loan payments, monthly homeowners' association dues, and twice-a-year property tax payments, I also pay the insurance premiums on my condominium owner's insurance policy and earthquake insurance policy each year. I also am making additional principal-only payments on the loan.
I am in my latter 50's and currently living on a modest government pension (which I will get for the rest of my life) and on savings that my parents left for me after they passed away. Later on (between the ages of 65 and 70), I will be living on the distributions from two annuities with lifetime income riders and on Social Security. I also have a Roth IRA. Starting at age 65, I also will be covered by Medicare.
I started planning for retirement when I was in my 20's. I am set financially for the rest of my life. I have lived beneath my means for almost my entire adult life. I currently live within my means by doing the following: (1) I devote most of my financial resources toward housing expenses (including my loan). (2) I prepare almost all of my meals at home. (3) Even though I do have a paid-for automobile (which gets great gasoline mileage), I rarely drive my car. I drive no more than 1,000 miles per year. I usually walk, ride my bicycle, or use public transportation. Consequently, I keep my automobile maintenance, gasoline, and automobile insurance costs low. As I do a considerable amount of walking, I am in great physical shape. (4) I keep the utility costs (electricity and natural gas) for my home low. My homeowners' association pays for hot and cold water.
It is possible for people to have a comfortable retirement. However, people must be highly motivated to do so.
In addition to being full of helpful information, both comments are supportive and pleasant. They have been posted by the readers in an attempt to validate the idea that a satisfying retirement lifestyle is quite doable, even in the midst of a poor economy.
Please take two points away from this post: my readers are an incredible group of people, and you have the power to shape your life and your retirement.
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