What would you do if retired?

Back in May, Leigh talked about how when interviewing for her current job they asked her what she would do if she were retired.  She mentioned she’d considered graduate school, and they were all, you can do that now (if you take this job)!

That got us thinking about the general question– what would we do if retired?

#1:  We have enough money saved right now that we could retire to my DH’s home town if we really wanted to.  We’d rather work.  The answer is always different depending on how much money we have in these retirement scenarios.  At one amount we could retire to paradise permanently and enjoy events and hobbies and library books and so on– enough to keep us entertained.  At another amount it would be irresponsible not to be philanthropists and to use that money to make the world a better place.

When #2 was between jobs she loved it.  I have plenty of hobbies including riding horses, reading, napping, and fostering orphaned kittens.  I have friends to see and cool places to go.  I could do some traveling.  My partner was working (and supporting my lifestyle) so there was a limit to what we could do together.  I will probably never live long enough to read all the books I want to read, so I’d be happy to do that for a long, long time…. being temporarily retired is awesome!

Though making money is awesome too.

34 Responses to “What would you do if retired?”

  1. hollyatclubthrifty Says:

    While I once thought I would *need* to work forever, I think I could get by with the hobbies I have now. It’s easy to fill my day tinkering, reading, and writing. If I didn’t have a job, I would really like to become an excellent cook.

  2. notofgeneralinterest2 Says:

    Write more books, only without the credibility that a university position gives to scholarship in my field? Hope that I don’t “outlive my savings” as the headlines so cheerily put it? I don’t have any wish to retire, and between “being busy” by working and “keeping busy” after retirement, I’d choose the former.

    If you had wealth enough to be a philanthropist, though, that would be a different story.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      You could probably keep your uni affiliation. Didn’t some academic blogger imagine giving herself an endowed chair?

      • notofgeneralinterest2 Says:

        That was me! Apart from being queen of the universe, which I understand is off the table, being affiliated with a university in some exalted position like that would be my dream job.

      • Contingent Cassandra Says:

        There’s also the question of whether one could become emeritus/a fairly early. While I expect to work for quite a while longer,and suspect that it most likely will be at my present university, I do have my eye on the fact that I’ll be eligible for emerita status in only a few more years (I think the requirement is 20 years of service, but it might even be less, in which case I may be eligible now), which would mean an ongoing affiliation, email address, and library privileges (I’m especially interested in that final item). It’s certainly an option I would explore if my present position were eliminated (which is the most likely way for me to lose my job before I’m ready to leave).

  3. monsterzero Says:

    Reading, writing, programming, very long walks, cooking, playing with the cat, volunteering. If I make it to retirement healthy enough to do long walks I’ll be a happy camper. (No actual camping though.)

  4. Debbie M Says:

    Not totally sure yet. I just retired in February. I am now in Spanish III and planning to take Spanish IV as a study-abroad course in Spain (who knew community colleges could have study abroad courses?) with our favorite Spanish instructor so far. And figuring out how to pay for it since my boyfriend is still underemployed (working 0 – 10 hours a week at a good-paying job plus flipping a used car) and I have been using my travel money for our Spanish classes.

    Also, lots of reading, movie watching, video game playing, and just generally still trying to keep things off my calendar.

    I’m still in the recovery phase.

  5. Miser Mom Says:

    For an academic, the line between “working” and “retired” is a lot more fungible than for many other careers. When I go to academic conferences, I see lots of my retired friends there!

    I think of my sabbatical as “practice for retirement”. (I say this, writing from my bedroom, where I’ve just finished a a bunch of NYT crossword puzzles on a sunny Monday morning). I am having a blast working on my research, driving/flying places to give talks and hear other mathematicians. I still meet with students (had dinner with about 20 of them last night in fact). Does that count as “still working”?

    But I’m happy to give up being on assessment committees, and grading papers, and dealing with plagiarism. Those, I could gleefully leave behind me. If and when I do retire, it will be so that I can slough those off my shoulders.

  6. chacha1 Says:

    This is much on my mind since we are in the Actively Planning for Retirement phase of life (I’m going to be 50 in two weeks, he’ll be 56 in a month). There were just so many considerations as to Where and When and How.

    Truthfully, we are not going to be retired for long enough to get bored with it. I’ll be working to 67 unless there is a serious windfall; he’ll be working to 73.

    We are buying land in the country. If we are both healthy when the time comes to build our house, we will do just that and move up-country to dabble our feet in rivers, beat back the blackberry vines, entice birds, go rockhounding, generally spend 300-500% more time outside than we do now, and taste a lot of wine.

    If we are *not* both healthy when the time comes, then we’ll sell the land, and the money we would have spent to build a house will be spent renting an accessible apartment close to services. Gots to be practical.

    If we could retire right this second – that is, if the universe dropped enough money on us to build the house and finish funding the retirement account – I don’t think we’d necessarily change our plans. The place we want to go is not a boring place, and is close enough to cities that short-term cabin-fever escapes are very do-able.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Here’s hoping for health!

      • chacha1 Says:

        Indeed. Statistically, it’s foreseeable that I will get to 90 without serious health issues as long as I am diligent. But it’s not unlikely that my husband, with stroke and heart disease in his family history, and high blood pressure and weight issues in his own history, will have some kind of health event that will throw a spanner in these works.

        If so, I intend to salvage what I can from the situation by planning the “unhealthy scenario” either in the same area where we’re buying, or elsewhere in non-urban-but-civilized California. I don’t think I should have to give up 100% of my dream just because he’s not healthy (i.e. city living is not an option. I am TIRED OF IT). We just need to be somewhere that I can hire affordable help for him, because the caregiver personality is not mine.

  7. Contingent Cassandra Says:

    I’m not sure when if ever I’ll be in a position to retire (while I’m in a very good contingent position, as contingent positions go, I’m still earning about less than an entry-level TT assistant professor at my school, and, given local cost of living, the TT faculty is far from overpaid. Unfortunately, this area is also where I have roots, family and otherwise, so moving is less attractive than it would be otherwise, though it’s still a possibility I consider from time to time.) My short- to medium-term goals are much more along the lines of “find/make work I enjoy more, including as part of my present position, and look for other, relatively age-discrimination-proof possibilities that I might begin pursuing now, so as to have alternative options in place should I need them later.” There’s also a pretty long family tradition of working well past retirement age (though admittedly only among males, but I am, as far as I know, the first woman in my immediate family to have a full-time, working-life-long, career outside the home as opposed to about a decade of work outside the home before marriage, followed by homemaking and childrearing; my mother would probably have added a return to work outside the home after the most intense childrearing years if she’d lived long enough, but she didn’t). My grandfather probably worked until age eighty because what should have been his most productive working years coincided with the Great Depression (and then there was plenty of work at home for middle-aged men, while younger men were at war, so he held down 2 jobs); my father is working into his mid-eighties because work has always been a major part of his life, and his identity. If tenure were an option for me (which it probably isn’t, though there are occasional rumblings about a teaching tenure track at my institution), one of the things I’d certainly appreciate would be having the option to keep earning well into my 70s or even early 80s, and might well take it, health permitting.

    On the other hand, if I could afford it, I’d happily retire right now (or perhaps wait just until I could claim emerita status; see above. On the other hand, since I do have a pretty good contingent job, and those are scarce, I might feel duty-bound to retire if I could afford to do so, so someone who needed it could take the job. If I won some sort of lottery that one doesn’t have to enter — since I don’t enter lotteries — I suppose I could probably negotiate in some way for continued institutional affiliation/emerita status, and pay for the library privileges. Things really shouldn’t work that way, but I suspect they do, and I think I’ve earned the institutional affiliation at this point).

    As to what I’d do, I’d almost certainly do considerable research and writing, for both academic and other audiences (this is not officially part of my current job, though it is part of my profession/professional identity). Assuming money wasn’t an object, I’d also have a good-sized garden (ornamental and edible) somewhere (which would need to be identified and purchased, so that would be an early priority), and would also want to live somewhere with good opportunities for long walks nearby. There’s also a good possibility that I’d become, at least at at times, a close-to-full-time church volunteer (I belong to a denomination with strong lay leadership, and plenty of substantive and potentially satisfying work to be done by lay volunteers). There’s an outside chance that I, like several members of my church who can afford it, would attend seminary and even consider ordination, but I think probably not. I might take some classes. And I suspect I might do other volunteer work, most likely with community historical and/or environmental organizations.

    Honestly, and judging by what I see of people with similar interests (mostly former colleagues and members of my congregation) doing, I don’t think I’d have any difficulty at all filling my time, and might need to think pretty consciously about how to balance my time.

    But first, I’d take up to a year to regroup, by sleeping, eating, and exercising well; reading a lot; and working on whatever projects with tangible results (household and/or garden) came to hand. Right now, retirement or no retirement, I could really use a bit of that kind of time. I’d really like a sabbatical (or a fellowship, but preferably one that didn’t require all the planning necessary to move somewhere else, at least not unless I could afford to just leave my present apartment as-is, without subletters), or even, barring that, a summer off from teaching.

  8. Mrs PoP Says:

    Coming off of a week-long staycation, I’m pretty sure I would have no problem filling my time in retirement. I’d probably spend even more time outdoors, exercising, building things, reading, and having longer conversations with friends. Also we’d like to try living on a boat for a while and seeing where those adventures would take us.

  9. jlp Says:

    If I were to magically retire right now, I’d almost certainly homeschool my kids. I expect that would easily take up most of my time.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I don’t think I could homeschool my kids. They just have way too much energy for me to handle.

      • jlp Says:

        Ah, but if I were homeschooling, I wouldn’t have to deal with the kid-energy when it comes to never-ending, time-eating, not-learning-anything, pointless homework. We would just do 3ish hours in the morning, then I’d cart them about to piano/swimming/gymnastics/rock climbing/dance/Spanish/martial arts/math circle/etc. in the afternoons, and let someone else deal with the kid energy. And then my late afternoon/evenings would not be spent in homework pain.

        Otoh, perhaps we will finally find a school that: a) does not serve up homework for kids who are so young (5 and 6.5) and b) does not balk at taking them when I tell them where our kids are academically. It could happen, right?

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        We sympathize– that’s one of the reasons DC1 is skipped two grades and we’ve been paying for private school. (Also DC1 didn’t get any homework until 3rd grade.)

  10. Leigh Says:

    Looking at the varied backgrounds of the people in my grad school program, most are sooner out of undergrad than I am. Some even just graduated! I really, really value financial security and independence too much to have done grad school on a grad student stipend right out of undergrad (especially this program that doesn’t have a stipend option!), despite having tens of thousands of dollars in the bank, not when I had a job offer that would have me making six figures. This post from Meg at APW was really thought provoking to me: http://apracticalwedding.com/2015/05/changing-financial-habits/

    Except that I did eventually stop worrying about money as much as I used to. I have a draft post somewhere about how unhealthy it is for me to read frugality blogs because I am naturally a miser with my money or an underspender as Gretchen Rubin would say. And the strange thing? I didn’t grow up in a family where we didn’t know where our next dollar was coming from. My parents both did grow up lower middle class ish (?) and somehow I inherited that worry of scarcity.

    I don’t know if I can retire early, to be honest. I really crave and need structure and a 9-5 job gives me that.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I don’t think that wanting to be financially secure is unhealthy! And I have also been amazed at how easy it is for me to loosen the reins as we’ve accumulated income and wealth. Even though we definitely don’t purchase things as quickly as most people. I’m good with this even if it means we’ve spent 10 years with a functional but non-ideal kitchen. But eventually we will fix that kitchen up and have enough money in the bank to finance an extended period of unemployment should DH’s company go under. I don’t think we’ll have enough to buy a house with cash in paradise and pay all our bills in the event of a job-loss though (and it’s seriously not worth it to me to try!). But who knows.

    • Leah Says:

      I love the structure of a job too. My job as a teacher is quite boom and bust, so I have a lot of structure interspersed with huge chunks of free time. That’s actually great for me (I think). I’ve thought about jumping ship, but the thought of working all summer is sad. I like being able to have structure to my year, and that really helps me enjoy my summer of (mostly) freedom — I work some, but I really control when and where I work.

      I also worry about money despite having a middle class background. I know, for me, it comes from my mom. She is constantly worried about money. They have a good chunk saved up for retirement, and she is paranoid to retire lest they run out of money. I’m trying to encourage them to retire because they’re both burned out on their jobs and don’t have any time to pursue hobbies while working (but do plenty whenever they take a vacation).

  11. bogart Says:

    I’ve started thinking about this. I met recently with the TIAA-Cref consultants (the ones who make the rounds giving advice) and they cheerfully advised me that No Worries! Indeed I can Retire at 55! Which I had set out as sort of a pie-not-quite-in-the-sky plan (it’s not a totally crazy/unrealistic idea, depending what the market does in the next decade or so, but neither is it a clearly sensible plan IMHO) — and just to be clear, I don’t necessarily believe them, but all the same.

    I don’t know if I want to retire early. OTOH my DH already is retired (and will have passed 70 by the time I’m 55, and is not aging entirely gracefully), so we could travel together or do whatever. Of course, for the next decade or so we are tied down by the kid-in-school and while I have considered the “move to another country for a year” I’m not sure the other members of my family would be up for it (even if I am, and it’s not clear that I am).

    I did recently go to a talk on accessibility (the ADA type), which is a passion(?) of mine but not something I’ve really engaged with (except in e.g. remodeling my own home) and it occurred to me that I could likely have a second career in e.g. developing remodeling plans (for clients) consistent with those values, perhaps attractive as boomers age and certainly workable if I didn’t have to bring in money to live on (i.e. a small scale consulting sort of things … I could get training and provide, or perhaps partner with someone in a low-cost sort of way, NOT a “invest big bucks in what I hope will become a hugely profitable business” kind of way). Not sure if I’d enjoy doing that or not, though it is an issue that interests me.

    I can also envision myself retiring earlier than I otherwise might in order to be able to care for either my mom or my husband. Of course this assumes that I myself stay health which — you know, touch wood and all that.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      That’s great you’re on track for age 55, whether you retire then or not!

      Accessibility is definitely going to be a growing field. And care-giving is also a possibility.

      • bogart Says:

        Oh — and part of me can see my volunteering for any number of good causes. But another part of me figures that I’d actually do more for said causes by continuing to work and giving them lots of money, if I am able to do so.

  12. Donna Freedman Says:

    Spend more time with my DF. Since we became a couple rather late in life, we’re acutely aware of the ticking of the clock. Not in a morbid way, just a realistic one: We won’t have as many years together as we’d like.

    Also: Writing for fun rather than paid deadlines, growing more food (he just built a greenhouse and we’re all about the possibilities), hanging out with friends and family more, volunteering more and most of all, not rushing as much. I’d love to be able to SAVOR a walk on a spring day or lunch with a pal vs. thinking, “I’ve got to get back to work.”

  13. Mutant Supermodel Says:

    I’d travel and volunteer at the library.

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