We are All (a little) Retired
What the current crisis has taught us about our retirement.
The current stay at home orders have given us a glimpse into what it is like to be retired. There are lessons to learn now and for the future about our priorities.
Certainly, people are more stressed now, especially those with little or no income coming in, parents trying to work and teach and front line workers who are working harder than ever. For all of us though, life has changed. No more going out with friends, seeing the latest movies or taking a trip. Even our wardrobe has changed.
Lessons for Now
Are you talking to your 85 year-old great aunt in assisted living every week now to check on her or calling elderly neighbors and friends? Don't stop after the crisis is over. You see now what it is like to get excited about a delivery, imagine if that is the rest of your life. While older adults will get back to their normal, hearing from people who care about them is priceless. A quick call can be the difference between depression and hope.
Are there hobbies you have been able to pursue that you never had time for? These may become more important when you retire. Take the time to try out what you might enjoy.
Too much television is lethal. Choose what you enjoy watching and limit the mindless stuff.
Social Lessons for the Future
Have you enjoyed being a homebody or do you crave being with others? Make note of this for your retirement.
Reading is pleasurable. In our fast paced society many people seldom read because they are too busy.
Do you and your significant other enjoy spending time together or are you needing space? My uncle used to say about married retirees, "Together forever but never for lunch."
Walking is a form of exercise (my jeans still fit!). When your body tells you a triathlon is no longer possible, walking is a great alternative.
Our parks system is a hidden gem. Use it often in retirement.
Camping is a fun get away and relatively cheap.
Libraries have so many on-line resources. You only need a device and a library card. They are good for when life makes getting out too difficult.
Gardening is hard work but rewarding. Raised beds help those with difficulty bending down.
There are lots of ways you can help from home. Help grandchildren with homework remotely, consult with a non-profit, check in with a lonely person are just a few.
Financial Lessons for the Future
While on a fixed income, you may need to scale back but you don't need to feel deprived.
When was the last time you wore those fancy shoes or anything but yoga pants? You can pare down your wardrobe when retired.
All cars in working order get you from here to there. Now that a tank of gas lasts three weeks or more, evaluate whether you need as expensive of a car as you are driving now. You will probably be driving less in retirement.
Eating out all the time is not great. When you are retired, evaluate how much you eat out. A reduction in restaurant meals will make you richer and thinner. Even those morning cups of coffee you buy can add up.
Evaluating What's Important and Making Changes for Retirement
Maybe this crisis has made you decide that being away from your grandchildren is too difficult and you need to move closer. Or you may have your parents move closer to you.
You may want to change your living accomodations in the future. Do you prefer to move to a condo or retirement village to see more people during retirement? Maybe you would rather move to a small apartment but travel extensively and see the world?
Your siblings aren't as bad as you remember. Now that you are talking to them more, maybe it's time to visit.
When you have the time to help others, it feels really good. Volunteering is an excellent retirement activity.
As much pain as this virus has caused, we need to use its lessons to shape our future as we age.