This is a question we will ask ourselves many times during our working years. After all isn’t that what we do? Work to retire?
I can recall when starting work in 1965, being told I would eventually retire at age 65 from the Company I was starting with. Back then it was expected I would stay with the same organisation for the rest of my working life.
Oh how times have changed!
After many years of work I still viewed retirement as an event ‘over the horizon’, something I could continue to procrastinate about.
My wife and I were busy with our lives obtaining a great deal of satisfaction doing jobs we loved. We were ‘making a contribution’.
I consider myself fortunate to be a Baby Boomer who was taught a very good savings ethic in the ‘50’s when each week we were encouraged to take our Post Office savings books to school and deposit sixpence or a shilling with the Post Office representative. That attitude followed me throughout my working life so there was always going to be money set aside for ‘retirement’- whenever that may be.
On my 64th birthday I got a timely wake-up call.
My wife Robyn [was she being subtle?] bought me Martin Hawes book ’Twenty Good Summers’. Its by-line was – “Work less, live more and make the most of your money”.
The book contained an amazing array of advice and suggestions. Much of what Martin espoused I agreed with and many times whilst reading it, I gave myself a mental pat on the back.
I was on track!
Everything I was doing was working towards that state of RETIREMENT. However it was still over the horizon – until I read the part that clinched it for me.
Retire from work at time when you are sufficiently healthy, have enough money [however that much that may be] and wise enough to enjoy 20 good summers before settling for a more sedentary existence.
That was my WOW! moment.
I did want to travel, learn how to play a musical instrument, maybe learn a new language, spend more time with my grandchildren, complete home projects, engage in community activities BUT I couldn’t while I was working. Even more importantly to do those things I needed to be healthy.
Health is something that starts to evade us as we age.
If I was to enjoy those activities [especially the travel] I needed to get out of the workforce at a time when I could enjoy 20 good summers.
I figured I had, taking into account family history and my current health, up until my late 80’s to experience those goals the other side of retirement. I play golf with some men in their late 80’s and struggle to beat them they are so fit and wily. I wanted to be like them!
That’s when I set my ‘end date’ for work.
I gave myself 3 more years to get all in order and one month after turning 67 I entered what I consider my new age – the GOLDEN Age of retirement.
I’m now about to embark on my 3rd Good Summer and have at least 17 still to come.
So the answer to the question “When do I retire?” is….
In time to ensure you are healthy, wealthy and wise enough to really enjoy those twenty good summers.
By Alex Sharp
Read more by Alex on GrownUps here.