It’s not about the house on the hill or the three new cars parked in the driveway. It’s not about a large house filled with the finest of furniture or art. It has nothing to do with a library filled with our favorite books. It’s certainly not about flying to exotic locations to spend time and money away from home. It’s not about any of these things.
It’s no longer about a life filled with the stress of getting up on the alarm clocks warning, shit, shave and shower and run of to drive for 45 minutes through crazy traffic to arrive at a stress filled workday only to get in the car once again and drive 45 minutes through grueling traffic to get home.
Preparing for retirement is the time to reflect on the way we have lived our lives for the past 45 years and finally come to grips with all of the things we thought at the time were so damn important.
We think about those times in our lives that were so filled with joy that it brought tears to our eyes. Times when babies are born, birthday parties and family get togethers. The wedding day and vacations away.
We also think about all of the mistakes we made and the cost associated with those mistakes. This includes financial decisions, but also words we may have said to others that caused distress in relationships.
These reflections, I believe should set the stage to create a new life in retirement. All of the lessons I have learned bring me to a place where the only thing that matters are opportunities to spend as much quality time with loved ones. We pull the memories of the good stuff and leave the rest behind. It’s now about finding a small quiet community where time is shared, stories are told and friends and acquaintances are plenty.
No more alarm clock, driving to work, stressing out all day long, eating unhealthy, mortgage payments, credit cards, car payments, high property taxes, and weekends spent maintaining the property.
And yes, it does take plenty of preparation to choose this new way of life. It takes time and careful planning to make many adjustments in one’s life, even when it is for the better. Where will I live and what will I do with my days? Hey, maybe I will have the time to finally write that book I always wanted to write… Or maybe I can start that small business I have always been dreaming about. Will I play golf? Or maybe just fish all day. Whatever it is that we choose I believe that within 5 years before retirement these thought should play a large roll in future decisions of retirement.
As I carefully go through my house and start downsizing I can’t help to think about my future. Each item we make a decision about keeping or getting rid of things, brings about thoughts like, “Where will I put this item in my new retirement home, and will I really need it after I retire”? Again it brings about reflections of what are the important things in life.
The pictures I hold in my head that pertain to my future are wrapped around getting up out of bed when it feels right. Sitting in my recliner and watching a ball game. Going out for an early morning bike ride or simply taking a long walk. My wife and I working together to prepare a daily meal. Holidays spent with grandchildren and family around the dinner table.
Each morning now I quietly sit and think about all of these things and more. The only worries I suffer are those worries of affordability. I suppose these thoughts haunt most of us who ask the same question… Am I financially ready for retirement. I have summed it up to the fact that any of us can find an affordable retirement somehow. Even those less planned have discovered wonderful retirement lives living in motorhomes. And there are those who will continue to work even after retirement. For me I will need a small home in a retirement village where I can find like minded people to be a part of a small community. I have discovered communities like this all over the country with prices as high as $600,000.00 to as low as $25,000.00 for a home. With continued saving and number crunching soon the vision will become clear.
This stage of life is filled with both joy and fear, but either way preparation is the key to finding the way.