A Single Mom’s Plan for Retirement: Slow Things Down, Enjoy Life
|March 26, 2015||Posted by Marcia Mantell under Boomers in Action|
It is always so exciting to meet someone who really understands the value of having a plan for retirement. I met a woman recently who had only the best things to say about her personal plan for retirement. In fact, she was carrying a folder around with her that contained her detailed budget, her Social Security statement, her benefits information from her employer’s pension plan, and a few other financial papers. She said that she is reminded every single day of where she is heading and is feeling confident now that she has a clear direction for her future. In fact, her plan is the reason she can put up with some of the shenanigans she deals with on the job!
Karen is an office manager at a large company, supporting a small in-house legal team. Her days are jam-packed with changing priorities, crazy deadlines, and competing personalities. She also manages an administrative person and deals with internal and external clients on a daily basis. She’s been working for her employer for the past 18 years. Prior to that, she worked for years as a bookkeeper for various small companies.
Through all those years, she successfully raised two sons as a single mother and just became an empty nester. Her younger son is off at college and her 27-year-old “finally moved out and into his own apartment.” Karen is a native San Franciscan, living in the same house her parents bought in the 1950s. She has strong emotional ties to this house where she was raised and where she raised her boys. She thinks it will be a perfect place to spend her retirement, near friends and family and the comfortable life she has built for herself.
As we chatted, we got on the topic of what Karen wanted to do in retirement, how she wanted to spend her time. She livened right up at this. She is looking forward to slowing things down and having the chance to enjoy life before she gets too old. She wants to travel, and is thinking that right after she retires, she wants to do one exotic trip for a couple of weeks. Australia is high on her list right now. She’d also like to see if she can make it work financially to add a new bedroom and bathroom to her home to give her more room when the boys and their future families come for visits. But, they will be short visits! She spent all those years raising her sons, and she clearly adores them, but they need to build their own homes and adult lives. Holidays and short visits are perfect. And if she is blessed to have grandchildren someday, she will not be taking care of them. She’s going to be busy and has no interest in being a full-time babysitter. She wants her grandchildren to have a special relationship with her, but she doesn’t want to raise them.
Karen has started some gardening projects. She wants to knit and crochet and do some sewing when she has the time in retirement. She has friends all over the country and is planning many road trips and visits to stay connected. She doesn’t have everything mapped out, and doesn’t know all of the possibilities that might be there for her retirement years. But, she understands that she needs to create some kind of structure to all of that open time she is going to have. Some retirees she knows haven’t replaced the rigid routine of the work week with any kind of structure. She’s seen them become depressed, bored, and feeling like they have been “left out to pasture.” That is not what she will be using her retirement for!
As she poured herself another glass of wine, she commented that she just doesn’t understand how or why anyone would want to work in their 70s. There is too much else to do in life. She commented that she thinks people claim that they want to work well past traditional retirement age because they haven’t bothered to plan. She tapped her folder that contained her plan and said that she knows her exact retirement date – 6 years, 2 months, 18 days. She’s not wasting one minute getting ready for retirement, and won’t waste a single minute enjoying her long-awaited retirement years. It’s the power of having a plan for retirement.
What does your plan for retirement look like?
For More Information:
You may find it helpful to plan for retirement with a number of tools and resources, including:
While I don’t love the title of this article, the concepts are right on for transitioning to retirement.