Posted on Friday, 15th March 2024 by

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I felt liberated from the day-to-day work schedule of the past 40 plus years when I first retired, and I see this excitement in new retirees that I encounter.  Most, with some reservations, feel such a sense of elation when they walk out the door for the last time and realize their new life begins NOW.

Free at Last!

What will this new life look like? Whatever you envisioned about retirement will come to fruition only if you pre planned and take the necessary steps to make retirement work successfully for you and yours. What will you do, from activities, travel, hobbies and everything in between.

You have to have a plan, so you won’t be adrift in this new world. Did you accumulate the assets (funds) that will support the lifestyle you desire?

The Beginning

I don’t recall a time when I wasn’t working. As a teenager, I did everything I could find to put money in my pocket and help out at home. Actually, I started in my pre-teens selling all occasion cards door to door and foraging for pop bottles to cash in at the grocery store for 2 cents a bottle. I started my first business at age 16!

To this day, much to my chagrin, I still get up before sunrise, 6 am sharp like clockwork 7 days a week, make coffee and toast for my wife and I, let out and feed the dog, and then off to my office.

Habits are hard to break. At least now, I go out for coffee with friends several days a week, then either back to work, run errands, spend time with family, work on home projects or hobbies. I’m currently restoring a 1910 Model T Ford dash mount brass clock.

1910 Rim Wind Model T Ford Brass Clock

As much as I would like to change my routine, possibly sleep in, or slow down, something pops up: website upgrades, technical and software issues, article deadlines, replies to queries, managing investments, family matters, or a home project that can’t be put off. Wish I had the stamina and health I had earlier in life!

In our twenties, we did things without hesitation, married at 20; together for 55 years now, and bought our first house at 22. As time passed, we moved 12 times over the years. We had two wonderful children, and now they are approaching retirement over the next 10 to 15 years, and there are three grandchildren to nurture and help them on their way.

The Journey

Thoughts of retirement started early. At 25 my wife and I discussed which career path to take and we decided to stay in government so I could retire at 55, which I did. However, the path diverged along the way as it does with life in general. So many obstacles to overcome, and options to consider throughout life for all of us.

Fortunately, federal service offers many benefits only dreamed about in the private sector: eleven paid holidays, early retirement options, a substantial pension to rely on, a Thrift Savings plan similar to a 401K, health care carried into retirement, Social Security with FERS supplements for early retirement under age 62, and so much more.

Incremental Changes

All retirees come to realize that life is finite; as we age, there is more in the rear- view mirror than what lies ahead. Dr. Phil used a poignant tool to drive this home to those later in life that had more plans than time left to achieve them or were procrastinating about key decisions in their life.

His staff would layout a wide tape measure on the stage floor, about 40 feet long, and marked in equal length increments from 1 to 100. He asked the person to stand on their age facing 100 on the tape.

Then he asked them to turn around and look at what was behind them. A 78-year-old had put off cleaning out their home and downsizing for over a decade much to his wife’s displeasure. This demonstration acutely illustrated that there wasn’t that much time left and shortly after the show he cleaned out his home and moved.

I’ve made substantial but incremental changes knowing full well the constraints of time and circumstance have upon all of us. I’ve sold off three quarters of my business over the past decade, no longer have employees and payroll to contend with, and this year my last of 28 books was just listed as out-of-print; I don’t intend to write or publish another.

Even though my early morning routine hasn’t changed, I spend more time enjoying retirement and what it has to offer. My focus is on reducing clutter in our lives, updating estate plans, consolidating accounts, simplifying investments, and relishing life in general.

Retirement Life

All retirees have the same thing in common. We want to live comfortably within our means and enjoy the time we have left with our family and friends. To do that, we must have what we need to make this happen and organize our lives to reduce tension and anxiety while pursuing our retirement goals.

First Things First

Establish a new routine and retirement activities. After you feel comfortable in your new skin so to speak, review your estate and financial plan, if you haven’t already, to smooth the way for your heirs.

Many retirees set up their estate and financial plans long before they retire. It is wise to reevaluate your plans after you leave federal service to ensure they will continue to meet your needs or require revisions. Beneficiary designations can change or one of your heirs may have passed on, etc.

Updated estate and financial plans add a sense of security for the retiree and confirms that a surviving spouse and their heirs won’t be blindsided when the time comes.

Are you able to manage and simplify your financial accounts for your survivor/heirs or do you need the help of a financial planner? Preservation of capital is a major concern and may impact how your money is invested after retirement.

Procrastination Breeds Discontent and Inaction

After putting your estate, finances, and final arrangements in order, simplify your life where it is most needed. Do you have too much on your plate and need to pare down your activities or commitments? Are health issues a concern?

Reduce clutter in your life starting with your home if you haven’t already done so. If you try to do it all at once, you will more than likely fail miserably, and continue to ignore the obvious.

Start with the area in your home that causes you to cringe whenever you enter that space, show progress, and move on the to the next area that needs your attention.

Begin with one small area or room, divide the contents into three piles: items to keep, another for throw away, and a pile for items to sell, donate, or give away. Take the items to be donated to Goodwill or to wherever, sell what you can on Ebay or Facebook Market or take it to the local Thrift store for a consignment sale. Then sort, organize, and store the items you are keeping.


Don’t leave retirement to chance, proper planning and discussions with your significant others can make the difference between a happy and healthy retirement to one of despair and frustration.

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Disclaimer: The information provided may not cover all aspect of unique or special circumstances, federal regulations, medical procedures, and benefit information are subject to change. To ensure the accuracy of this information, contact relevant parties for assistance including OPM’s retirement center. Over time, various dynamic economic factors relied upon as a basis for this article may change.

The advice and strategies contained herein may not be suitable for your situation and this service is not affiliated with OPM or any federal entity. You should consult with a financial, medical or human resource professional where appropriate. Neither the publisher or author shall be liable for any loss or any other commercial damages, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential, or other damages.

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