Since my beloved finished his PhD last year we’ve been trying to come up with a viable plan for when we stop working full time. I say that because I can’t imagine stopping paid work, there’s so many things I find interesting. I hope by the time I hit my mid 60’s I can have enough wealth to scale back my paid work.
Now all of this is an incredibly privileged problem to deal with, I have paid work that exceeds my basic needs and I have a pension from the military that is about what someone living on Ontario Disability Support Program would get. I’m very lucky. My beloved/manpanion/partner also scored a full time gig as he completed school so things are looking pretty good as we both slide into our 40’s this October.
The minions are teens which leaves us 5 years until they are both in post-secondary and about 8 years until they are both done an initial degree/certification. So, if my health holds, my budget should reduce quite drastically and theoretically I’ll be at the height of my earning potential, so why look at scaling back paid work at all? Well, for once, it’s not about me.
I’ve been watching my friends, parents and extended family as they enter their 60’sand one thing that strikes me is the amount of caregiving that they are doing. Their parents are in their 80’s and 90’s, a time of increasing health care and practical support needs. They have siblings living with disabilities that mean they need more than an occasional visit. They are helping adult children through this tough economy and, of course, spending time with their grandchildren. Most folks who are doing this in their 60’s are still working full time, that’s a lot of activity to fit in!
In preparation for having as much time on this good green earth as possible I’m looking first to my self-care because, as an asshole in remission, I’m quite an angry person and wound pretty tight. That is the part of an A type personality that will kill you young. So screw that, I’m living to 100 and no way am I eating cat food the last 40 years.
So am learning to grow more of my own food to both save money but also become a little bit self reliant and need a little less income. I’m exercising and listening to my doctor about my blood pressure and investing time, thought and money in my longevity. If my 60’s are going to be a caregiving ultra marathon I need to be in shape physically and mentally. I think about what leads to elder abuse and I can totally see that slippery slope if I don’t work through all my issues.
I also want to have the wealth to choose to move if my folks or in-laws need us or help those future grandkids. If the minions don’t breed I’ll just need to find other people’s grandkids to spoil.
I’m lucky to have so many people in my life who show my what life in my 60’s can look like. Friends who are learning new things all the time, having fun and pulling it all off most of the time and when they can’t they ask for help.
I want to measure my wealth in retirement by the pounds of food grown, the decibels of laughter, the friends and family at my table. Yes, cash matters but maybe it’s not as much a focus as the time I get to do it and who I get to do that with.