Retirement 101 (or how to live on half your income)

When I mentioned to someone I work with that I am retiring from my job, she said “Not retiring ‘from,’ but retiring ‘to’ – that’s the new way of thinking nowadays.”

Well, I have to confess that retirement planning feels fraught with potholes, as we drive toward that ultimate demise. My ‘sustainable’ income is not yet in place (and probably won’t be until I take Social Security). But life is so unpredictable that it’s time to hang up full-time work, a moderate risk given I have the more critical social safety net of health coverage – not all jobs offer that, but this wonderful University where I’ve worked for 12.5 years does. Thank you!

Like most of us, I want to leave some small stamp on our world that I was here. Children are great stamps, and so are grandchildren – I hope to spend some retirement time and energy on helping Bennett become a fine young man, one who understands and respects women and is their friend, their equal, and their advocate. Someone who treats each and every man and woman as a brother and sister, is proud of all of his heritages and to not exploit any one of those heritages/races for easy, inequitable gains. In my opinion, mixed-race-and-heritage children are the future of our world, may they bring it to a better place, leaving racism, cultural-elitism, white-privilege, victimhood-culture, and nation-entitlement movements behind.

Ann Patchett article

What else I’ll do with my 9 to 6 daily fillable hours (about 50 a week), and the subsiding of the identity that came with it, is an open page — some personal and professional development; writing, editing, taking photos, organizing, managing a project or two (these are my soothing, proactive, encouraging skills). Some creative writing– a recently-retired colleague overseas has built herself a daily regimen in writing, and it sounds inspired. There are opportunities to learn (free university classes, volunteering, side jobs, strengthening close personal relationships). And, finally, the chance to increase 2x weekly exercise to daily, and to slowly, incrementally, change the shape and strength of my body.

Thank God most of these things are free to do. Because one part of retirement is a harsh slap — the paycheck stops. And although bits of income may trickle in from this or that source, the healthy bank account dwindles. Low . . . lower . . . still lower.

Which is why, starting in mid-May, I’m adopting a regimen to meet the new living condition of attempting to live on roughly half my usual income. Here’s a link to an essay by the writer Ann Patchett — this, in a few weeks’ time, may become my new bible:


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One Response to Retirement 101 (or how to live on half your income)

  1. Melanie says:

    Thanks, Janet. I LOVED that article by Ann Patchett. I haven’t bought any new clothing since it ran— I’ll keep you posted on my progress. Meanwhile, the reality of the disappeared paycheck keeps me rooted to my chair in this dark, unfortunate office space for the time being. I experience the retirement dream only vicariously through your experience and that of others who have taken the giant leap before me. Keep truckin’

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