JP Observer: Reviving, Not Retiring, in JP

“So, how is retirement? What are you doing? How does it feel?” People, many looking ahead, ask me questions these days.

I was on the radio, sort of, when I was a month old. My parents were being interviewed as the first post-WWII military couple in Southwestern Ohio to have a baby. It was February 1946.

Now, 65-plus years later, as one of the first baby-boomers to retire, I have discovered there are some myths about this stage of life.

  • Collecting social security is going on the government dole. Some people here have said things to me like, “Do you really want to be taking money from the government while you are still able to work?” Hello. It is my money. My employers and I contributed every penny I will get for roughly the next nine-plus years. Then, I will collect interest that money earned. After that, maybe it’s a handout. It’s the same system for everybody.
  • Preparing to retire is about money. Sure it is. Turns out saving over time really helps.

Equally important, given life expectancy now, is to think about what you will do in the last third of life. Retiring is like graduating—leaving the confines of a standard job and “going out into the world” all over again. But this time you have the benefit of life experience and years of honing your values as a guide. It’s never too early to do research about what you will do after 60.

  • You probably can’t afford to retire until you are much older. Some experts are forecasting many people will have to work well past their sixties until they become “completely disabled.” Not if they live frugally. Taking cruises and owning a vacation home may not be possible, but maintaining lifestyle might be. The only real “expert” on whether you can afford to retire is your budget. If income will support expenses, go for it.
  • It’s bad not to work full-time at a regular job. If you retire, you will feel worthless and bored. There is so much to do in retirement, it’s hard to figure out how there was time for a full-time job: work part-time; volunteer; lend a hand to people; play sports; work on your living space; learn a language or craft; work out; create stuff; explore; take trips; hang out with family and friends (a great life extender); just have fun.

As you get closer to retirement, keep a list of some things you think you would do if you “just had enough time.” When you retire, you can actually do them.

  • Aging “in place” is no good. Some people think when they retire they need to move somewhere else. People who live in Jamaica Plain would be lucky to stay right here. Public transportation, green space, excellent health care, other services and wonderful shopping districts attract young and old. So much art, entertainment and recreation are available here, it’s easy to revive instead of retire.

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