May 19, 2014

Retired and Not Satisfied

If you are a regular reader of Satisfying Retirement you know that I am pleased with how my retirement journey is progressing. After a few rough years of figuring out how to make the most of my freedom and opportunities,  the time since then has been some of the most productive, creative, and satisfying of my life.


If I judge the quality of retirement based on the majority of comments left after each post, I have to assume many readers of this blog are having a similar experience. Rough patches and challenges sure, but the overall experience has been a positive one.


However, to assume that condition is universal would be a mistake. Surely, there are readers of this blog who are not having a satisfying retirement. There are struggles with financial, health, relational, or time management problems. Not going to work leaves a void that has yet to be filled. Trying to fill the day with something more than TV and naps can be a struggle.


As we start the summer season, often we have extra time to slow down a bit and take a closer look at how our life is unfolding. I thought it would be helpful for all of us, no matter how our retirement is going, to solicit comments from folks who are not having a particularly satisfying retirement.


While each of us constructs a unique journey through this stage of life, some of the most helpful post of the last (almost) four years have been those that asked you for your feedback on what is going well.


This time, I'd like to hear from those who have some struggles after leaving work. If you are having a less than satisfying retirement remember you are not alone. In fact, by sharing those things that bother you, other comments and replays should help you feel better about your journey.


If you would prefer to leave your comment anonymously instead of adding your name, please do so. The goal of this post is simple: allow those who are not having a satisfactory retirement to tell us all why, and to allow others to support and encourage all of us.





28 comments:

  1. Bob, as a rule, I don't like to dwell on the negatives, but since you asked, one of the challenges my husband and I have faced is the financial hit we took when one of our kids had a bona fide financial emergency. It can happen to anyone--illness hits, and insurance doesn't always cover certain medical services. We had worked hard, saved more than enough, but one can never really know exactly how much money we will need for the future. We still consider ourselves to be incredibly blessed...after all, our family and faith mean the world to us, and we know they will help sustain us in the future. Unfortunately, I'm afraid we will continue to see disparity between the haves and have nots in the field of medicine. Heartbreaking but true.

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    1. You are so right:life's emergencies can knock all of our plans into the dust bin. A retirement journey can suddenly take on a whole new route that isn't of your choosing. All too often in today's world that type of problem is triggered by something medical.

      I am glad you mentioned how your faith helps keep you grounded and feeling things will work out. I believe that is so important to keeping perspective on life's ups and downs.

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  2. Our retirement journey is pretty new, just 4 months in.We are satisfied overall, but we have had to remain open to the fact that a lot of what we had "planned" simply had to be revised, changed, or ditched!

    Health Care: We had thought we may be eligilble for an "Obamacare" (ACA) subsidy this year, but we have to wait till 2015.Not a big deal, but a budget change.

    Housing: We decided we really WERE tired of the suburbs, so we incurred moving expenses when our mountain house came available right away.. we had been thinking we'd wait a year or two to move,but the opportunity was one we had to grab or lose..( STAY OPEN TO CHANGE!!)

    Part Time Work: I had thought Ii'd really want to work part time in real estate, but once I got off the hook of work, I find I have no desire to continue in the rat race. Hanging out with my husband is waaaay too precious right now and I am loving my freedom.

    Some days one or both of us have a minor melt down due to worrying about our money lasting.Luckily it doesn't happen to both on the same day and we simply review our plans, our finances, and remind one another we're fine, more than fine.It is a TRANSITION to start living off savings, IRA's,rental income, as we await Social Security!!

    Focusing on how good we feel overall, enjoying the extra time we have to exercise and prepare healthy meals,sleeping in a little, and enjoying nature ,all balance out our occasional worries.I believe a satisfying retirement is more likely when we stay open to serendipity and change, and when we realize that we are in charge of this experience! Being creative and flexible are a real plus.. cultivating those qualities is helpful.

    Reading blogs like yours is a immense help,too!

    I hope your readers who are having some difficulties find ways to solve their issues and enjoy this time of life!!





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    1. The bumps in your retirement trail during the first four months are shared by almost everyone. If we didn't have those worries after such a major life change we wouldn't be human!

      I have my first official "welcome to Medicare" doctor visit this morning: several free tests and screenings. With Medicare and SS I really feel quite comfortable about the future.

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  3. I think the age descrimination one faces (or at least, I have) upon turning 60 is what has infuriated me the most. It started at my gyn/oby office. My long time doctor refused to give me my annual pap smear because he said I was 60 now, in a long term (32 year) monogamus relationship. He also refused to see me annually and would only see me every 3 years. I may have been faithful in my marriage, but who the heck knows what men do? I went to another doctor, paid for my own pap smear and it turned out I had the HPV virus and had to be checked every 6 months. I paid for all the pap smears. (the ACA may say you can get a free annual checkup but everything changes when you are in yours 60's) I now need to get a colposcopy to see if I have cervical cancer from the HPV virus and again my doctor refuses to do this test due to my age. He also stated that my last pap smear came back negative (good news) and I need to have 2 consecutive positive pap smears before my insurance will cover the procedure. I will wind up paying for this procedure myself. I'm fortunate I have the savings to do this, but what about other older , retired ladies who do not?
    I'm 64 years old and my mortgage is paid off and I was merrily riding along in my so-called retirement till the state condemned my property. They want me to comply to a more conducive EPA standard. They told me I could get a low cost federal loan (after I paid an engineer $5,000 to devise a new system). WRONG. No one will loan a 64 yr old a 15-30 year mortgage or give out an equity line of credit because my sole income is Social Security. Doesn't matter I have enough savings, which by the way I don't want to withdraw to pay for the new EPA compliance ($30,000).
    What I had to do, in order to qualify for a loan was move out of my home and rent it! The rent is now my qualifying income and lucky me, I got a 30 year loan to comply to the new EPA standards. At the age of 64, who wants to go into long term debt? (PS: I can't sell the house till it complies to the new EPA standard. Catch-22)

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  4. (I had to do this in two parts)

    Lots of things happen to you after you turn 60+ that nobody can foresee or predict. The best laid plans can turn to dust despite all your planning and preparing. People who 'retire' in their 50's have no idea what they are talking about when they boast about their early retirement days. I don't know what it is but something happens when you turn 60. At least for me, that is my experience. People started treating me differently and yet, inside, I still felt like me and that nothing had changed. WRONG again.

    I'm sorry to say, but lately I was wishing I were dead. I can see why, now, at my age, death is a better choice. Once I'm dead I wouldn't have to deal with all these earthly problems. I long for the peace and tranquility death would give me. Don't concern yourself, I'm not serious. Instead, I have replaced that thought with 'I wish I were drunk' or 'I wish I were stoned'. At least in that state of mine, I'm not feeling any pain. As a fading baby boomer, I am enthused that pot has been legalized. I've hooked up with some of my old college buddies and we've smoked a few joints. It helped me put everything into a new perspective.

    I stopped listening or reading the news. I've completely turned off to the outside world. I've never heard so many lies come out of politicians mouths. I am completely disgusted with the degradation of human existence. Please don't tell me it was worse in 'the good old days' because I don't find justification in that explanation.

    I will say, that my Christian beliefs have not failed me! God has not failed me! God has been real good to me and has shown me a way to find a little sliver of happiness. He has settled me into new surroundings that bring me joy. And that peace and tranquility I longed for is now mine now that I have separated myself from the outside world.

    General Patton once said "Old soldiers never die. They just fade away."

    This old 'soldier' wants to fade away. And enjoy the rest of the time God will allot me on this earth.

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    1. While I am very sorry you are having the struggles you are, I deeply appreciate your taking the time to share your concerns. It is important for all of us to see all sides of an issue; you have presented the side of retirement that too often is brushed aside or ignored.

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    2. Can I also ask that you talk with someone about your hurt and anger? Does your church have a pastor who you can talk with, or a Christian counseling service? Do you have a friend you can confide in?

      Staying away from things that upset you, like the news, is a good idea. Focus on what you can control and what makes you feel better. Can I add that 64 is much too young to "fade away." You are a unique personality with strengths and insight that can benefit yourself and others. Please seek help and believe you are a valuable individual.

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    3. I wholeheartedly agree with Bob. It seems you are overwhelmed, but please don't give up. I hope you will seek counsel.

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    4. FYI....I'm feeling much better now. I took a step back (actually, I hid under the covers for a while) took a good look, a deep breath and started all over again. Being able to vent on your blog helped an awful lot. Thanks.

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  5. I have a fair amount of dissatisfaction and it's all related to how to fill my time. In retrospect, while I voluntarily retired from my long term career, I was recruited to a consulting position that failed to materialize. Hence I really wasn't prepared for the sudden lack of structure. However. you couldn't get me to return to a "job" with a gun to my head. I'm glad that's done. I'm amazed I lasted as long as I did looking back. I guess I rationalize my position in that I certainly didn't want to work forever, and better to do it while we're healthy.

    Ours is a bit complicated and in flux. We have cared for MIL for 8 years in our home, but after 3 hospitalizing falls since Christmas we put her in assisted living, which put us on her list. All the years of care are ignored. But, we now have our freedom (well, we do still have two dogs and her cat to care for but that's manageable!). Travel had always been a retirement goal, but her care nixed much of it. Our two kids live overseas (London and Tanzania) along with 4 grandchildren (London) and 5th on the way (TZ).

    We're very lucky that money is not an issue as we always lived way below our means and saved as though I would not stay long enough to get a retirement (I did) and SS wouldn't be there by this time (it is). So my inherited/learned habits from depression era father have paid off.

    Our health is great at 63. Neither of us take prescriptions for anything. She runs/walks, and I do both as well as mountain bike (there WAS that broken collarbone last October). We have a great relationship after almost 44 years, and get along great with kids. Be traveling next month to see them all.

    So what could be wrong with this retirement? Granted, we now can travel, but I'm simply....I'll say it....bored a lot. I read, we go out, day trip now and then, never watch day TV, and I like to cook. But after 35 years of fairly high level responsibility (water utility director) it's not very fulfilling. Done as much woodwork and yard work as I care to do for a while, remodeled a lot, but I'm tired of that.

    We need to socialize more, that's something that's missing. We're very happy together, and reaching out to others for socializing is really tough for us. But we are doing it more.

    So there it is: confession that despite pretty much having all you could want (well, grandchildren stateside would be nice) degree of satisfaction for me has yet to materialize. It's hard to admit because a) a lot of people predict such and b) compared to many folks, we're very fortunate in our resources. But I'll keep on searching. In middle of reading "The Retirement Maze" and if the stats they quote are to be believed, there are more out here like me than you, Bob. But I'll continue to search and try new things, can't get somewhere without trying.

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    1. Figuring out how to fill one's time is an ongoing process. I spent the first three years of my retirement without a clue. I finally stumbled into some activities and passions that kept me fired up for a time, but all faded after awhile. My point is, there is never an end line in this area. Each interest I had that gave me structure for my day ended back into the same search for something meaningful and productive.

      So, I can really relate to your situation. Recently, my wife and I have made an extra effort to meet new people and expand our circle of friends. I have found on-line courses to be stimulating. And, for now, RV planning and travel is a new passion. But, I am pretty I will get bored and feel like I am in a rut at some point. Then, I will muddle around for a bit until something catches my eye.

      The one positive I can find out of this constant search for fulfillment and time use is that retirement gives us the freedom to find the answers. The limitations imposed by work are gone. Sure, there are other ones, but we are much more in control of how things evolve.

      Good travels, Allan to see your world-wide family! And be careful of that mountain biking.

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  6. Bob, this is a very powerful post, with some very thoughtful responses.

    I have personally found it helpful when faced with challenges, to talk about them out loud. Out loud being the operative word. Not always with someone, although that can be very helpful if you choose a good listener and one with skills in helping you process your feelings and thoughts. I have found that ruminating about what is bothering me is not helpful. It tends to deepen the negative feelings. It may sound silly, but even talking out loud to yourself is a different process than just thinking about something. I can't quite explain it, but I have found that my brain processes things differently, by speaking out loud as opposed to just thinking about it.

    The last thing we need when faced with life difficulties is someone responding to us with platitudes, or advice to just cheer up, or even negating what we are feeling! So choose wisely when seeking out someone to share your thoughts. A dear friend, spiritual advisor, or a professional can be a good sounding board, as we try to make sense of what has come our way. Everyone has a need to feel understood. Meeting this need can go a long way towards helping us cope with life's troubles that come our way.

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    1. Thank you, Carole. The idea about talking out loud to yourself is interesting. I can certainly see how that things may be perceived completely differently than just thinking.

      Reflective listening is a form of feedback that summarizes what the other person is saying. It helps communication and proves that each person is really "hearing'" what the other person is saying. It is a skill that each of us should practice.

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  7. I retired almost 10 years go at 62+. At that time I was married 30 years. I had 3 children post college and a 14 year old. When I went to the SocSec office I had a great surprise. SS would provide me/us with a generous check each month until said 14 year old was 18. Helped tremendously, and most went to her college fund.

    My wife is 10 years younger than I am. She is a public school teacher. Our savings were not spectacular but it was a goodly amount. I am not brilliant by any stretch but I knew to my bones that something was wrong in the economy when idiots with no income could by a similar home like mine ($350,000). So we put ALL our available funds in money market funds, where they still are, and basically slept thru the crash.
    The reason I am writing is this. While I love being retired it is only because I work 20 hours a week. I work 4 mornings a week, M-Th, for Manheim Automobile Auction. You have several in Phoenix, I believe. BTW Manheim only hires p/t employees and only above 65.

    I work with men in their late 80's believe it! This little job has saved my life, my marriage, my family, and mostly my sanity--- and I have a PhD and am a past professor and university administrator!
    Us old geezers who work there all feel the same way. We NEED to work. It is NOT for the money, it is for the activity, the stories, the need to do something and be accountable. Rain, snow, heat, cold all show up to put in time and DO IT. Not for the money I repeat, but to stay active!

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    1. Excellent comment. You speak for many folks who feel exactly the same way you do about the positive aspects of working that have little or nothing to do with money. Staying relevant, needed, and socially involved are definitely good for one's health, both mental and physical.

      Interesting that the company you mention hires seniors. Good for them.

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    2. I was the "old lady" in the young IT Department at Manheim Corporate. I knew that they hired seniors at their auctions but I was pleasantly surprised when I got ready to retire. They let me phase out, work 3 days a week on a flexible schedule for as long as I wanted. Wish more companies were like that.

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  8. Steve in Los AngelesMon May 19, 11:10:00 PM MST

    Hi, Bob. It has been quite a while since I wrote to you. I retired in March 2007 at the age of 51. I became semi-retired, with part-time work, in August 2009 and still continue to work. I generally do like my work. Life has been demanding. However, I do not mind the demands, because the best part of my life gradually is getting closer. I am highly disciplined. That fact puts a smile on my face.

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    1. Welcome back to the comments page, Steve. You have found a nice balance of part time work and anticipation of what is to come. That sounds pretty satisfying.

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  9. Never saw it coming, but three months ago, our daughter moved back home three months ago. Her marriage crumbled and she needed to rebuild her life. At first, it was bumpy (especially her emotional pain due to divorce), but once she found a job and we figured out a good division of duties and expenses, things have actually been good. We don't have a clue how long our girl will be with us, and there are times we miss the peace and quiet of just us two, but life is uncertain...and those uncertainties will always be part of life. You can't plan for them, but you can choose to keep your chin up and face obstacles with a positive attitude.

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    1. I can relate. One of our daughters had to move back a few times due to unemployment. It changes your "empty nest" life but family always comes first and the changes are often good. We enjoyed her while she was here, and now enjoy her being in her own place with her job situation solid and our nest again empty.

      As you note, a positive attitude is the best approach to any of life's problems. Being angry or upset doesn't make the problem go away, it just leaves you feeling bad.

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  10. I am interested in a lot of things, but I find it difficult to set goals that are satisfying, productive, realistic and measurable. And the realistic part gets to be more of a problem as I get older. I manage to fill my time but I sort of jump from one thing to another. Definitely something missing here. I am often bored even while busy.

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    1. Bored while busy certainly indicates you haven't found something that excites you, as you note. I'm afraid I have no instant solution for you, except to keep trying new activities or options until something clicks.

      My wife has a problem with finishing a project or activity, too. She has a million ideas but gets bored halfway through the execution and wants to move onto something else. She is aware of the problem but hasn't found an adequate solution. What she is trying to do is focus on just a few things at a time and force herself to complete what she started, or abandon it if it turns out not to please her, rather than leave it half finished.

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  11. I am one year from retirement. All of these comments/responses are extremely helpful to me in my planning for life after work. I have a special needs adult son and a 9-year-old granddaughter who live with me, so I don't know how much free time I'll experience. I'm looking forward to less stress. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Thank you, Pam. I am pleased you are finding some value here. Less stress is usually one of the most pleasant benefits of retirement, something to help carry you through the next year.

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  12. Hi I'm from the UK, aged 49 (and single) and in the process of being dismissed from my job due to ill health after a stroke last November and open heart surgery for a genetic condition 8 years ago. They have said they'll allow me to take my pension early and this is also in the process of being arranged. I'm hoping it will be enough to live on! So I am in the very early stages of retirement.

    Obviously I never expected to have such poor health at such a young age but I have been finding it so hard to come to terms with the idea of not working again. I actually find that I'm not as bored as I thought I would be after leading a very busy working life but I do spend a lot of time asleep though at the moment as I am still recovering from the stroke. I am trying to think of enjoyable things to do with my time as it does seem like a lot of time to fill. I'm planning to get more walking done than I had time for when I was working. Once the money side of things is sorted I'll know where I stand, but until then I'm just worrying about the future. Finding your blog has been an absolute godsend. Ruth :)

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    1. Thank you, Ruth, for your story (and compliment!). Finding yourself with such major health issues at such a young age must be frustrating and upsetting. But, your comment makes it seem as though you are a rather strong person who has come to grips with what is, and will figure out how to make it work.

      The first several months, if not a year or two, is the period of transition for anyone who has moved from full time work to retirement. Missing what was and wondering what will be are very natural reactions. I can tell you I felt exactly the same way, unsure and worried. It took me almost three years to find my rhythm and feel I would be OK.

      If you have been reading past posts you probably know that I consider the last 10 years of my retirement to be the best decade of my life. I stumbled into some passions and interests that have fulfilled me - none of which I would have ever thought I'd become involved in. My relationships have deepened and my faith strengthened.

      You are absolutely "allowed" to worry about the future....until you no longer need to. Trust me, that time will come and you will wonder how you ever found the time to work or worry.

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