We recently attended a fundraising dinner event for a local charity. It was wonderful to see a big turnout from our small town. As I looked around the room, I noticed a few young people – in their 20s. But mostly, the faces belonged to Boomers and residents well into their 70s and 80s. I didn’t know it yet, but I was about to hear how it’s important to remember retirement is the luxury of time.
Engaged Older Folks Are Important in Every Community
Our town, like many others, is predominantly focused on the youth. There is a lot of effort to keep our schools well-funded and full of the latest technology for the “wired” generation. Who would have thought it would be critical to have computers and projectors in every classroom? What the heck are SmartBoards? And do we really need wireless capacity in the high school and iPads in the middle schools? There are fundraisers for every sports team, for the music programs, for clubs and activities of every sort.
So, it was refreshing to see another view of our town. Here was a sea of well-lived faces. These individuals and couples all looked happy and engaged. Importantly, they were all interested in supporting the needs of those less fortunate. Many of those in need are retired folks on tight fixed incomes.
We sat at a table next to a couple who looked to be in their early 60s. He is a doctor and she’s a career school teacher. We talked about a variety of topics, including health care and retirement. Susan retired a couple of years ago after teaching for the better part of three decades. Joe isn’t quite sure when he is going to retire. But he’s moving to “part-time” status later this year. That translates to cutting back to a mere 40 hours a week. After all, he’s been working 80 or more hours each week for the past 35 years!
Thinking about how retirement is the luxury of time, not money
They talked about some of the things they were hoping to do in retirement. The main goal was to spend more time together. This didn’t mean hanging out together for hours and hours every day. But rather they wanted to enjoy more dinners together. Susan has a small vegetable garden and enjoys making dinners that feature the bounty. She also does some canning so they have home-grown goods during the long winters. They wanted to stay in their home here in town where they felt comfortable and had a good group of friends. They are also involved in activities in their church and want to continue to participate there.
We talked about traveling during retirement, but neither was all that keen on it. They may make some trips, but traveling the globe was not a priority. Frankly, they are tired. Joe, especially, is very tired and feeling worn out from all the years of getting up before the sun. He spends countless hours at the hospital. And, it’s draining dealing with the extremely raw emotions of families whose loved ones are in distress. He just wants to have an easier schedule. Retirement is the luxury of time. Joe wants the time to do some writing and create a new schedule for himself that is less demanding.
A happy, simple ending
They ended the conversation saying that they thought of retirement as a luxury. Not in terms of big spending or extravagant activities. It was simply a luxury of time when they needed it most. They feel they have enough money, but will have to budget and be mindful of their spending. They are particularly concerned about the cost of health care. The house is paid off, but needs some ongoing repairs.
Yet, at the end of the day, they simply want to own their own time and they can think of nothing more luxurious than that.