Wednesday, June 09, 2010

The Retiring Mind

Lately I've been reading, talking and listening a lot about retirement. The pros, the cons. Unexpected retirements (laid off, golden handshake, buyout, etc.). Retirement by choice.

Finances, cutting back, travel, counting pennies. Giving up the car. Travelling to relatives (usually adult children) or taking care of grandchildren, filling time, TV drones, fusspots, gamblers.

I absorb everything I glean on the topic. The moves to sunnier climes, the mistakes of the moves, the corrections of the moves.

And so on.

As to me? I share my experience:

Outwardly I give the appearance of being a fairly haphazard person. But I'm not underneath. Six years ago I put this current plan in place. I bought this house in Newfoundland having sold an investment property in Toronto at a gain and using those funds for a cash outright payment. I retained my Toronto house which was mortgaged to approximately 50% of its value. I had accrued a lot of debt in the running of my own business – some poor decisions about expansion and additional staffing. The overhead nearly killed me financially (and mentally). I down-scaled the business and moved it back into my home office where it originated. Growing a business can sometimes be a BAD thing. SMALL can be beautiful. A lesson I wish I'd learned at 50 and not at 59.

Over the years I slowly spent more time annually here until two years ago I decided to sell my Toronto house and use the funds to retire most of my debt – mainly my business debt and concentrate on building my life here.

I absolutely adore living here, in every sense of the word. I have an old house, a bit of a financial sinkhole at times with the needed improvements – all necessary – and 7-1/2 acres of land, much of it sustainable woodlot which heats my house in the winter. I have never regretted buying here. My feelings for this magical place grow deeper each passing year.

I downsized much of my contents and found that simple is very much agreeing with me. For example, there are simply a bed and a trunk in each bedroom, including mine. Once I have books and music I am a fairly contented person.

I still work at my business (software training, corporate and personal accounting) and have only retained my favourite clients but am hesitant to let it go completely. And ironically, without marketing, am gaining some clients in Newfoundland and could grow quite a business here.

My overhead is very low, I could get by with absolutely no frills on my pension. I eat out rarely. I rediscovered my joy in cooking and baking. My income from my company I use for travel and granddaughter and daughter endowments and maintenance of home and vehicle.

My dream would be to concentrate on my writing. Polish the 3 novels I have completed, edit the short story collection as per publisher request. Not feel so pressured at column deadlines in two publications I write for. But I am held back. Fear of poverty (although I have a little savings), fear of becoming demented in a bed in a Dickensian ward in an old folks' home, discarded, abandoned and alone waiting for death, having forgotten, in my dementia, to stockpile some serious outta-here drugs.

The biggest fear of course is FAILURE. What if I give up my main source of income and concentrate on my writing and it is all a huge bollox? Then I'm left with nothing. No work, no writing. Thumb twiddler of the year.

See where I'm coming from? Any insights?


  1. Write for one publication and use the freed time from the second to work on your own books and short stories. It won't be a bollox if you concentrate on writing, much the way you concentrate on your business. Writing will become your second business and not quite so scary. You already have a publisher? One major hurdle overcome already! (biliphe is the word verification - I'm sure it mean "go for it" in some language)

  2. Oh goodness, I've always been such crap at planning my own life, I hesitate to advise anyone else on theirs. But could you not in the meantime try to publish one of the novels and see if the reaction is positive? If it is, that would justify concentrating on writing.

  3. That sounds to me like a luxury problem, but I'm not going to advice you, although I would know what I would do. You know best, WWW. Follow your heart.

  4. You know, we didn't get this far by being stupid. Keep following where your heart and brain lead you.

    That said, I'm sitting here in Portland right now scared shitless about money.

    I guess worry keeps us getting up in the morning. I would, however, like to be able to relax some.

  5. @Pauline:
    Thanks for the words. However, I would need to concentrate full time on writing to get anything completed. That is the dilemma. Part time is not working at all for me.
    It would take some serious downtime to polish and present. A luxury I don't have with my present choice.
    That's the dilemma, I am scared to fall my heart. Financially and mentally - my business keeps my mind sharp and gives me the extras. Not luxuries. Just travel and not thinking about going away even for a weekend. Sounds frivolous? Yeah, it is.
    I don't know where 'relaxing' would get me being a Type A-er ;^)
    Comatose more like...

  6. There's an old Yorkshire saying "When in doubt - do nowt"
    (translation: nowt = nothing).

    You are obviously in doubt, WWW -wait a while until you know beyond doubt which way to go. Something, or someone, might establish a feeling of certainty.

    I had no such doubts - when the time came to retire I couldn't be away from work quickly enough - I'd waited so long to feel FREE, and at last I was - come what may!

  7. T:
    I think it a little different in a partnership where there is someone to fall back on. Being single, with the buck stopping at one's own chin, might be a little different. I'm only surmising ;^)

  8. I think what you've accomplished already validates Nora's advice to follow your heart. Selling up and heading off to the wilds of Newfoundland was a pretty ballsy move, one I'm sure gave you palpitations along the way.

    So, we know your heart is a good adviser. That said, I think I'd continue on your path a little longer, if I were you. Having a steady source of income is not to be sneezed at, and you can continue adding to your nest egg until such time as your heart says "Right. On your bike, you! We're retiring." xo

  9. WWW ~~~ Well -actually, at the time I didn't have anyone to fall back on - I had an ailing partner to look after for the first few years, until his death. I had a home and pensions from my government job though, so though we wouldn't be well off, we would always manage. It was the hardest time of my life as it turned out, but being free made it easier to bear. :-)

  10. @Tessa:
    Interestingly enough I didn't have the slightest hesitation about moving to Newfoundland it is only now I think to myself:
    "You did what?" "When?"
    But if I'm dithering like this the time isn't right. I hear you. I'm also thinking of the loss of 'identity' associated with what I've done since prehistoric times.
    Wow that must have been so hard, clutching all that free time and then your partner falling ill. I know you are one of my role models as to happy retirement. You and Himself keep fulfilled!

  11. I like that ol Yorkshire saying.

    "The biggest fear of course is FAILURE. What if I give up my main source of income and concentrate on my writing and it is all a huge bollox? Then I'm left with nothing. No work, no writing. Thumb twiddler of the year." You are young and you have lots of time to decide this.The biggest thing in enjoying retirement is to have NO debt.

    I liked your post.

  12. GFB:
    The secret to stress free aging is no debt, you are absolutely right!
    I like your concept of my being young, I'll roll with that for a few days!

  13. I loved this post and could write something similar.
    Yes, you are young. I am now in my 70's and have traveled a similar but different road then you.
    Now back on my much loved property and built (10 months ago) a smaller home - have downscaled a number of times and now at the finish. 3 years ago I moved to city to be near children and grandchildren - a mistake - a costly mistake. I finally sold that home at a loss - but if I had not done this - I would not have known. Now, just me and the woods, my books, garden, writing, camera, computer, and occasional visits, my adopted dog and as long as I have this roof over my head, food and a small income I am fine.
    Follow your heart is the best advice.


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