Wednesday, September 3, 2008


The Big Guy has always been way into financial planning. His idea of a good, stimulating evening is to finish up dinner with discussing the health of our financial condition with me. (I sometimes feign attention.) Thanks to his constant attention to that matter, and living what I often refer to as “frugally” in a number of areas, we’re entering our second half of life in okay shape financially. Retirement should not bring visions of poverty to us. As I inferred above, I don’t always give it my undivided attention.

I guess I started to have an inkling of how close retirement really was when our closest friends began retiring, one by one. Our “gang” consists mostly of couples whose men have worked together for over 30 years. In an unusual twist of fate, we found the female portions of these couples also got along really well and have socialized together for many years now. I have other close friends, including one who has been my “bestest” friend since we were twelve, but the ladies in our gang are the ones I confide in, kvetch about The Big Guy with, and share recipes, photos and jokes. They are as close, if not closer, than my actual family. These buddies of mine are now moving away as the hubbys turn in their ID cards and hard hats and wave good bye to the company life they’ve lived for several decades.

When folks in Maryland retire, most consider moving away as the cost of living and the tax rate is just not retirement friendly. Just crossing the state line to the North, to either Pennsylvania or Delaware can do wonders for your retirement dollar. Climate here is not usually the primary reason for moving on after retirement. Maryland weather is not all that bad in comparison with so much of the country. There’s plenty to do here and it is centrally located. It’s a good life, if you can afford it.

The first of those friends retired about seven years ago. The most recent, and perhaps our closest friend in the gang, left just about a year ago. That’s when The Big Guy started seriously discussing his time table. He started out planning to retire this September. He quickly adapted that plan to be “the end of the year.” We started making some half-hearted travel plans in our heads. Suddenly, in late March or early April, he came home saying he was considering this past May. That struck panic in me.

I wasn’t ready. I couldn’t picture us as the retired couple together 24/7. The fact that I stopped working two years ago didn’t play into my vision. We jokingly refer to it as retirement but I’m not old enough to collect a pension or Social Security. We had our reasons for my leaving the working world but I’m just not ready to share my home time with him that closely. I enjoy that time alone. I will admit to trying to discourage it. It was selfish and there really wasn’t a good excuse for me behaving that way.

I think that momentary plan was triggered by his company being sold for a fourth time in five years. There is always uncertainty in such transitions and the long-time employees feared tinkering with their pensions and retirement health plans. There was a grace period where they would be able to go out under the old owner, a known entity to them.

My prayers were answered. The new owner agreed in negotiations to stick with the same plan and the current employees relaxed a bit. We slid back into the late Fall/end of the year range again. Now, he’s even talking about staying until the end of next year. That gives me a long time to prepare mentally.

I have a new mantra : “Prepare for retirement.” I’m not talking about financial plans. I’m talking about sharing MY space. I also have a new goal in life - try to help The Big Guy find some sort of hobby outside of the home. He’s really not the golf type. Any suggestions?

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