Tuesday, January 23, 2024
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4 Prerequisites and 4 Parts of a Happy Retirement

When I review the retirement goals I set, I realize I have achieved them. Maybe that is why I am happy. Burned out by a
hectic (but fulfilling) computer career, I retired early, way ahead of today’s trends 
great resignation or
quiet quitting. These were my five goals: 
“Teach a
little, paint a little, travel a little, write a little, and love a little.” 

That last one was a must. I was teaching at a university and two colleges. It ballooned into another full-time
career (huge check) that my groom (big check) had to take me RVing full-time to re-retire. We travel a lot and I write
about those journeys (two significant checks). But I still only
have two paintings to my name so the check beside that is still pretty small. I don’t know if photography can replace the original goal.

The big question is how did I get to such a happy retirement? For me, there are eight reasons. The first four
are prerequisites but the last four are parts of what seals it. They are not guaranteed; they must be planned for and sought.


1.    Setting Aside Adequate Retirement

If we do not
have enough retirement funds, we may not be able to retire at all, or at the
time we want. Businesses prosper when they increase income while controlling expenses,
thereby maximizing profits. The same thing applies to our personal lives. I
focused on increasing personal profits (savings) for retirement.

When my
marriage broke down, I had to work doubly hard to provide for my family as well
as prepare for our future. My children and I lived so simply that when I got
major advances in job or salary, whether in the same or a new company, I did
not commensurately increase spending. Our expenses when I was a junior manager hardly
changed by the time I became a CEO.

One focus I
had was to save enough for a down payment to buy a new house near each new
company that hired me. Besides not having the stress of the infamous Manila
traffic, this strategy helped me own four homes by the time I retired. Their
rentals became one source of  retirement income,
albeit in pesos. When I moved to the US and long-distance property management
became difficult, I sold them, bought two homes in the US, rented them out, for
a retirement income stream in dollars.

2.    Maintaining Optimal Health

A more
important kind of wealth is health. Wherever we may end up being and whatever
the status of the healthcare system in that place, optimal health is the goal. It’s
the best gift we can give ourselves. I entered the US down to 101 pounds at
5’2”, tired and burned out. But the American healthcare system brought me physically
back into the game. I have learned to eat my fruits and veggies, exercise, and
sleep well every day. There is simply
no substitute.

3.    Changing Your Perspective

When my
three daughters began successful careers of their own, and I reached C-level in
management, I became accustomed to seeing the big picture. It led me to see the
world no longer in terms of dollars and cents. My mind strayed from having to
earn money to achieving life balance, quality of life, a higher purpose, and connectedness.

Luckily, I
came across the
School of Practical Philosophy that married the teachings of East
and West. It pushed me onto a new course of self-discovery. I wanted to be a
better person, citizen, mother, and grandmother. Most of all I wanted another
chance at being a wife.

4.    Finding Life Companions

Being alone
in retirement was not part of that worldview. I had been single and alone for twenty
years, far too long, with no one to share my hardships and successes. To be
closer to my children who had settled in North America (the youngest settled in
Australia later), I migrated to the US. Having missed out a lot on parenting, I
became a nanny to two new grandsons, three months to one and two years to the
other. Those were some of the happiest times of my life.

But, just
like children, grandchildren grow up to have lives of their own. The older ones
accompanied me on a few trips, but a life partner was the companion I needed
most. It was so important that I did not want to leave it to chance. I
“projectized” it, set a goal, established a timeline, and plotted the steps.

And I found
him. We had many things in common. A former CEO like me, he also hungered for travel,
had homes that gave him rental income (plus more from investment funds), and was
as temperamentally frugal. Together, we enjoy a very comfortable retirement.

These first
four—saving, staying healthy, changing perspective, and finding life companions—are
prerequisites to a happy retirement. If you have them, the next four—traveling,
hobbies, some work, and giving back
will follow. It will not be
automatic, however. We have to plan and prepare for each one.


5.    Enjoying Travel without Depleting Your
Nest Egg

gives us a lot of free time. What better way to spend it than to experience new
things, places, and people? Following some rules (like a second-hand RV and a
membership in
Thousand Trails), renting out our condos and RVing full-time
to cover North America became a financially rewarding way for us. When we
looked to travel more of the world, we used those savings to buy timeshares
that enabled us to reach many countries and enjoy three months every winter at
an all-inclusive resort in Mexico at reasonable prices.   

6.    Settling In a Place That Caters to Our

Apart from
the timeshares, we also bought a simple travel base in
Viewpoint, a resort-lifestyle community in the
Phoenix area. It has two golf courses, ten tennis and ten pickleball courts, a softball
park, four swimming pools, five hot tubs, two saunas, four ballrooms, a
restaurant, a library, billiards, card, craft, other rooms, and about 50 clubs.
I joined the writing/editing, photography, computer, poker, Karaoke, and mahjong
groups. My husband went into tennis and golf.

All those
things I was interested in but didn’t have time for when I was so career-driven,
suddenly became doable. I won photography awards, maintained a blog, and published
travel books.  Give me more time and I think
I might still become a real painter! And I would love to return to ballroom
dancing, too.

7.    Finding Something to Do to Earn Some, Ease
Boredom, or Find Fulfillment

We think we have
enough funds not to have to work. But, with surging inflation, there may come a
time when we will need to supplement what we have set aside. But retirement is
not the time to engage in stressful work. It’s important to find something enjoyable
that lets us earn some, ease boredom, and/or give fulfillment. Thankfully, I
have found a voice at
Travel Awaits.

8.    Finding Ways to Give Back

And when retirement
is going well, we will have the time and inclination to share our good fortune
and give back. My husband became a
CASA, a court-appointed special advocate,
helping youth born into dysfunctional families who have broken laws, to find
their way out of the legal and social quagmire. I co-founded the
Alumni Association of Arizona
which became a chapter of the UP Alumni Association in America. Both organizations raise funds for deserving disadvantaged students
back home. In Mexico where we spend three winter months each year, we join a
feeding program for the poor.  

retirement goals may be different from mine. The details of your prerequisites may not be the same. You may use other specifics to complete the parts. But the eight reasons for a happy
retirement are the same.


5 Things My Husband and I Practice in Retirement to Keep Us Young

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