Staying in Focus: Daily Prompt: RIsky Business

What’s the biggest risk you’d like to take — but haven’t been able to? What would have to happen to make you comfortable enough to do it?

My husband and I are reaching the point where we must consider a very risky business : Retirement. When exactly is the right time to retire? Do it too early and the money may not last. Do it too late, and you’re either too ill to enjoy it, or your dead. How to make such a decision when:

• the stock market is on a seemingly endless roller coaster ride.

•in one day I heard  the same news channel report that the economy was well on the road to recovery in the morning and by evening  had apparently taken a u-turn, because now there were no signs of recovery and no “magic wand” waiting to stimulate it back to life this time. Maybe if Congress convened a special session, and they all clapped their hands and really believed, Tinker Bell might appear, magic wand in hand At the very least, they would all be participating and working together, and believing  in the same thing again – that their job is to find ways to work things out, to compromise and to produce something positive. A little coöperation and positive attitude can make  a lot of magic. Our country used to have this magic, but somewhere along the line  we lost it to  divisiveness, dogma and spitefulness. Let’s get back to making the magic, to being a country of the people, for the people and by the people – the best way we can spread democracy around the world is to show how it really works, and frankly, Congress, you are falling far short of being a positive example of democracy in action.

To make us feel comfortable about our decision would be to know that policies enacted will be there for us when we need them. I dislike the term“entitlement programs”when refering to social security and medicare. My husband and I have paid into these programs throughout our working careers and  they may be subsidized, but they are not free. 

All that aside, it’s really up to us to make the life changes such a risk will require. We just have to come to terms with living on less. We have already dipped our toe into the water by making some changes:

• We’ve moved to owning one small modest car. We traded in our Honda Civic and Odyssey for a H•onda Fit which we were able to pay for in full, with some money left over, from the sale of the other two and we  are also saving on insurance and gasoline.

•We use coupons and shop on Thursdays to get the old folks discount  at the grocery store.

•We have cut way back on eating out, both to save money and keep our weight down. We just have to reach that point our parents have –  given a White Castle hamburger at a restaurant they will comment on such large portions being served these days and then say, “I can eat on this for a week!”

•Our family will have adjustments, too. Once Bill retires, all meals out will require each person to pay their own way.. Birthdays  will be scaled back (we don’t want to count any higher anyway)  and  Christmas will no longer look like Best Buy or Toys R Us have set up shop under our tree.

When we reach a certain age we realize we have accumulated enough stuff. What we’d really like more of is time with family and with friends.But time is tricky, it has a way of slipping through our fingers, the  years seem to pass faster the more we want them to slow down.  My husband is tired of the rat race, tired of commuting to work every day  .We’ve made our contribution to society, now we just want to relax and  use our time wisely, however much we have left. But it is a risky business. There is no magic wand. We stand at the side of the pool. I guess we might as well jump!

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