Quickly, without overthinking it, here are some of the retirement issues that fascinate me.
Shelter from the storm
First and foremost on my mind right now is: Where am I going to live? Not as simple as it sounds.
One of the wonders of retirement is that we have freedom, perhaps for the first time in our lives, to choose our geography and environment. Stay put? Or resettle in Florida, or Alaska, or Panama, wherever?
It’s not simply a matter of what part of the country or the world; it’s also, what kind of environment? City, rural, small town? How important is it to be near family?
And critically, what kind of housing? Big house, little house, condo, apartment, tent, travel trailer. For the sake of completeness, the options for some are reduced to: Sleep on a park bench, or a heating grate, or in the woods.
The many aspects of where and how to live are a consuming interest for me at present.
Dollars and cents
Financial issues loom large for many retirees. As I said in the previous post, Retirement Made Simple is NOT a blog about saving and investing for retirement. Too late for that, for me and for many! From where I sit, the money issue is about making do with what we have. How to conserve and use wisely the limited resources available?
The scare tactic favored by the investment industry is warning workers that if they don’t save and invest enough, they risk running out of money before they die. Talk about morbid advertising! For those of us not in the investment class, that is, for the rest of us, the issue is more immediate and more pressing.
The issue most retirees grapple with is: Retirement resources are limited. In the absence of a winning lottery ticket, or returning to paid work, my retirement income is fixed. It’s not going to increase, beyond the paltry annual Social Security cost-of-living increase, which is at the whim of Congress. Given the present political climate, the cost-of-living adjustment could very well disappear.
Cut to the chase: For the rest of us, the retirement imperative is budgeting and economizing. Scrimping and saving. Or to put it in a more positive light, living a simple and frugal lifestyle. I suspect I’ll be talking about budgeting and simplicity a lot.
Hell on wheels
My car is an important resource. It grants the miraculous freedom of going to the grocery store or going on a cross-country road trip.
Most of us dread the moment when some responsible relative might confiscate our car keys. Or the day the state replaces our DL with a mere ID card because we can’t pass the eye test. Or even the time when we simply can no longer afford the luxury of a car.
There are other alternatives to a car, but those alternatives are closely related to local geography (see Shelter from the storm, above). In all too many modern American suburbs and rural areas, a car is not a luxury, it’s a necessity. We should seriously look into alternative modes of transport before the car issue becomes a car crisis.
And the list goes on
There are other issues of concern to retirees. Primary among them is health and illness. I’m not very well informed about health issues, but that probably won’t prevent me from writing about it.
I won’t avoid issues such as aging gracefully, playing a positive role in our family and community, and simply enjoying life. These are important parts of retirement, but I’m nearly clueless about such things. Nevertheless, I look forward to learning about those other aging issues, and probably writing about them.
And that’s a quick preview of what I hope to explore with you on this blog. Have I left out anything important or interesting? What would you like to talk about? Your suggestions are welcome.