Retirement: Some things to consider

In August 2012, I published a post that I titled ‘Ten Tips For Retirement.’ At the time, I had only been retired from work for a few months, and decided to share some of my early observations about something that I had thought would be very different to what it actually was.

Almost four years later, and I have a little more experience about not having to go to work (unless you want to) and the pros and cons associated with the decision to do that. As my wife Julie is much younger than me, so still works, I am not reporting on the classic married-couple retirement scenario, but on a situation where just one is retired.

I didn’t really consider the fact that I would not be physically capable of doing all the things I had expected to be able to do. Past the age of sixty, the body deteriorates at a much faster rate. It is far easier to get tired, to have aching muscles, to hurt your back, or to be unable to lift things, than it was a few short years before. Even the prospect of tasks can become daunting, almost approaching a fear of the endless list of things that have to be done. Instead, I try to do one thing each day at least, seeming to constantly battle the time that appears to be slipping away from the moment I wake up. One of the reasons that time slips away is because of blogging of course.

Started to keep my mind active, and to leave some record of my life and activities in Norfolk, blogging has become a lot more, and taken over a large part of my life. Not that I am complaining. I would urge anyone to start a blog, especially if they are retired. Older people may be in a minority in the world of blogging, but they have lots to offer. It cannot be denied that it maintains interest in things outside of the routine, keeps the mind active, and continues to develop the thought process. Perhaps don’t spend as much time blogging as I do though. Otherwise, stuff will not get done, believe me.

Consider the change in financial circumstances. By stopping work at sixty, and taking my work pensions early, I reduced my income by two-thirds. This means no holidays to far-flung exotic places, as well as thinking hard about major purchases, like changing the car, or buying new large electrical goods. Impulse-buying had to become a thing of the past, as did changing outfits at will, or discarding perfectly serviceable clothes and shoes because they were no longer fashionable. My retirement credo has been to buy the best of anything that we can afford, and then keep it, hoping for a long-life from a product that is better-manufactured than the cheaper option. Keep the older car running, but also buy something new to accompany it. You need reliable transport in rural areas, and two cars are better than one, at least for the time being. As long as one of you is still working, you can afford this comparative luxury. When I am 65 next year, I will receive the State Pension, potentially making life a lot easier. However, this will also push me over the tax threshold, meaning that my work pensions will be liable for income tax. They give with one hand, take with the other.

Getting a pet, in our case Ollie the dog, is something to be carefully considered too. The plus points are obvious. Companionship, a reason to go out and exercise, and to imbue you with a sense of responsibility to something other than yourselves. Ollie became a part of our lives to the extent that we can no longer imagine what it would be like if he wasn’t around. At first, the downsides of pet ownership were less obvious, but they soon appeared. Vet bills that have to be budgeted for, by taking out expensive insurance. Making sure that you are back from anywhere, in time to take him out. Not being able to act spontaneously, without considering things like ‘Can we take the dog?’ Attending overnight functions, such as weddings or parties a fair way from home can be problematic. If you cannot get friends or neighbours to dog-sit, you are faced with the prospect (and additional expense) of using kennels. Holiday destinations have to be dog-friendly, and for the sake of convenience, in the UK as well. Think hard before getting a pet. That’s my advice.

Regular readers will also know that I have become unhealthily obsessed with the weather. When you no longer have to go to work, and the day is your own, bad weather seems like a punishment. You might feel like pottering around in the garden, perhaps driving to a place of interest, or going off to admire a nature reserve, or for a walk along the coast. Then it rains. It carries on raining, until it seems to be raining every day. Then you realise that it really is raining every day. All the nice things you wanted to go and do are no longer possible. But you still have to go out in it, because you have the dog to take out. When the sun finally appears, the day seems to go so fast that you feel cheated of the time to enjoy it. Before you decide to retire, think about weather.

My conclusion is that it is still better to retire as soon as you are able. Live with less income, and get some time back, after all those years at work. Plan ahead, better than I did. Live somewhere near some shops, so you don’t necessarily need to have two cars. Think about what you will do when the weather is bad, and don’t expect to spend all your time enjoying the garden, or the great outdoors. If you want to get a pet, really think about the implications of that decision.

And start a blog. You will be glad that you did.

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22 thoughts on “Retirement: Some things to consider

  1. Some 20 years ago I took retirement (I like that expression, as I don’t intend to give it back). I went into it thinking that it was important to do something and to do something that was important for other people. After 20 years, I think I was right on both counts. However, it is not always the case that what one can do for others, the others will want. So, take care that you choose something to do for someone else who actually wants it done. I figured some time back that I had been the beneficiary of a number of other people’s kindnesses and assistance in my career, family and life in general. So, I view anything I do for others to be for them and if they want to pay me back, I suggest they pay if forward. I already got mine.

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    1. I like your thought process in this comment, Theo. I did some volunteering, as you will know. When they started to treat me like an employee, as they always did, I stopped. I now wait for opportunities to come to me, and help when and if I can.
      Best wishes, Pete.

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  2. For me, traveling is on hiatus until better times, if ever they should arrive. But I don’t mind. There’s plenty of fantastic scenery around Las Vegas to explore and revisit. The heat has arrived, which means that nearby Mt. Charleston now becomes the #1 destination of choice. In any event, I plan to take advantage of staying mostly inside by spending more time writing/translating fiction. I do love animals, but simply can’t afford to own one. However, I’m enjoying the Eurasian collared-dove family that has taken up residence on our back yard wall (it’s a very shallow back yard). The family has been there for a couple weeks now, and just basically hangs out there all day long. Once in a while, the mother flies off, and then comes back to feed her young. The father pops in often. They enjoy the bread crumbs and crushed ladyfingers sprinkled on the patio, but always search for food elsewhere as well…. Maybe I should buy some bird seed.

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    1. You do have some amazing scenery to enjoy, David. Like me, you have also done some travelling in the past, so have that to look back on. Enjoy the birds. They don’t have to be exotic to be entertaining.
      Best wishes, Pete.

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  3. Excellent things to think about. I expect to retire at the end of 2022. I made what has turned out to be a wise choice to invest in retirement savings starting over thirty years ago. Those savings, plus Social Security and a very small pension (and no debt), will allow us to have income equal to or probably more than our pre-retirement income. Plans include the garden and house, healthy cooking and an exercise regimen, travel, visits with the kids, blogging, and working on the photography. My biggest concerns are taxes and medical expenses – never know how those are going to go but they are likely to get worse!

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    1. Thanks for your comment Dennis. You have done well to achieve the same income in retirement that you would get for working. I congratulate you on that. As for medical bills, they are covered by the NHS in the UK, fortunately.
      Like you, I was hoping to do a lot more photography. I have made a start, so now all I need is some decent weather!
      Best wishes, Pete.

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  4. Interesting observations and advice, Pete. I will retire from teaching in eight years and can receive a pension, but earning money gives me a reason to get up in the morning. Traveling is my passion. When I’m retired, I hope to rent a place here for a month, go there for a couple, few weeks. Head to the northern hemisphere during the hot, summer months. Go to bodies of water as much as possible.

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    1. That’s a good plan, Cindy. If you can afford it, then I would say ‘go for it.’
      We cannot afford to travel that much, but I was fortunate to do quite a bit some years back, so will settle for that, unless circumstances change.
      As for getting up in the morning, you will have new reasons for doing that.
      Best wishes, Pete.

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  5. Another thing I’d add is to have paid off your mortgage by the time you retire and own your home, but allow for annual maintenance costs. Being subject to continual rent increases as your income reduces will be very difficult, though as many younger people are struggling to get on the property ladder this will not be possible for everybody.

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    1. Very true, Jude. We have no mortgage, but it would have not been possible to go ahead with retirement if we still had one. Rental is never a good option on a fixed retirement income, I agree. Another good thing is to include emergency repairs on the home insurance. We have saved a lot of money on plumbing disasters liked blocked drains by doing that.

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    1. They are talking about pensions at 70 here mate! Still, with your back-to-basics lifestyle, I suppose that retirement will be much the same as work. In that respect, not too much will change.
      Cheers, Pete.

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