Everyone young and old is dealing with this crisis as best they can. The majority reading this column are either retired or planning their retirement and of the older generation. The ones most susceptible to the Coronavirus. Like the rest of the country that isn’t providing essential services, my wife and I are at home waiting for the worst of this disaster to pass. Yet, I would say to the younger generation, “Welcome to Our World.”
I was listening to a talk show recently and one of the hosts called her elderly aunt to ask how she was getting along. Her aunt replied that life wasn’t much different than usual. The older generation is used to being at home for extended periods and have set routines.
I’m elderly! …. That snuck up on me. Some may consider me ancient at 70. I don’t feel a day over 39. Like Jack Benny back in the day. Jack was a 20th-century comedian who portrayed being a miser, played his violin poorly, and claimed to be 39 years of age, regardless of his real age. I recall watching him on TV in the 1960s. He would cock his head to the side, and with a smirk on his face proclaim he was 39, again! My mother loved his act.
Sorry, I got a little off track. Getting back to the subject; retirees often buy in bulk to reduce trips to stores and overall costs if they can afford to. I typically buy the large packaged paper products at Sam’s Club every three months or so and we do the same with the staples we use. We didn’t have to run to the store to stock up, we naturally do it on a regular basis. I also work from home, and have since 2004 when I retired from the FAA. I’m use to isolation.
The hard part for many my age is the separation from our children and grandchildren. We use face time frequently and keep in touch through Facebook, text messages, and phone calls. We especially miss our we little ones. Yet, we understand that the older generation is most susceptible to this disease and keep our distance. We keep debating whether or not to visit them and then we consider that all of our children are working in essential services and out and about. Our daughter is in the middle of it all as a critical care respiratory therapist, my son works in the banking industry. Both are able to watch their children through split work schedules and some work from home options for one.
There is so much to keep us occupied and productive even while ordered to stay at home. Each day my wife and I spend time working on one home project or another; cleaning out and organizing closets and storage areas, house work and exercise. A little each day goes a long way. I’m power washing our driveway and sidewalks this week. My wife still walks over 10,000 steps daily, I’m down to an average of 7,000 steps a day during the winter months. We do most of our walking indoors.
There’s a Swedish word for decluttering for the older generation: dostadning , a hybrid of the words for death and cleaning. Essentially, retirees go through their house and declutter so that when the time comes, their heirs won’t have an unimaginable task ahead of them. I watch Mike and Frank, hosts of American Pickers on HGTV. They search through mountains of what I consider junk accumulated over a lifetime to find a few nuggets of recoverable treasure. When I see this, I cringe for the children who will inherit this mess. I’ve been working on decluttering for several years and for me this also includes developing comprehensive estate planning instructions  for our loved ones. So much to do and so little time to do it.
My home business still keeps me busy; responding to retirement questions, researching and writing articles, updating website content, and other typical tasks. Then when you add in managing investments, working around the house; there is little time left over at the end of the day. I also learned to cook in retirement to give my wife a welcomed break, several days each week, after 50+ years of marriage and actually enjoy that too.
I can understand how the younger generation may be going stir crazy when they were use to the hustle and bustle of life and now must stay at home. For those providing essential services there is no down time and with schools closed those families are struggling to find viable childcare options. For those who are at home and find they live from pay check to pay check, review your finances  and possibly work up a budget to see where the money is going and ways to save when you start back to work.
There are always productive things that I can find to do. Often, mundane tasks, yet things that need to be done eventually. When I address tasks that I hate to do or would typically put off until tomorrow; at the end of the day I realize what I did this day can potentially make my life easier when life returns to normal. For those planning their retirement from federal service, it would be a good time to explore your options .
My last article discussed the stock market crash and my thoughts on the subject. I plan to follow that up with a discussion of how my conservative investments faired compared to the major indexed in the next article. Hopefully, we will be able to return to a semblance of order soon. A long term economic shutdown would result in severe consequences for all.
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Disclaimer: Opinions expressed herein by the author are not an investment or benefit recommendation and are not meant to be relied upon in investment or benefit decisions. The author is not acting in an investment, tax, legal, benefit, or any other advisory capacity. This is not an investment or benefit research report. The author’s opinions expressed herein address only select aspects of various federal benefits and potential investment in securities of the TSP and companies mentioned and cannot be a substitute for comprehensive investment analysis. Any analysis presented herein is illustrative in nature, limited in scope, based on an incomplete set of information, and has limitations to its accuracy. The author recommends that retirees, potential and existing investors conduct thorough investment and benefit research of their own, including detailed review of OPM guidance for benefit issues and for investments the companies’ SEC filings, and consult a qualified investment adviser. The information upon which this material is based was obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but has not been independently verified. Therefore, the author cannot guarantee its accuracy. Any opinions or estimates constitute the author’s best judgment as of the date of publication, and are subject to change without notice. The author explicitly disclaims any liability that may arise from the use of this material.
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