- Name: Carol G.
- Location: Atlanta, Georgia
- Age: 72
- Retired At: 61 years and 10 months
- Marital Status: Married 49 years
- Profession: Writer, Author
Every day, Carol G is thankful she and her husband worked hard when they were younger. Both Air Force retirees feel very blessed. Her husband retired a second time as upper management from a well-known Atlanta hospital; she retired from the university affiliated with that hospital. She served nearly 8 years in active duty and another 14 years in the Air Force Reserves, retiring from the military after nearly 22 years. Doing so has enabled the two of them to live a good life.
As a published author and freelance writer, Carol already knew she would continue her profession in retirement. The last 7 years before she retired, she worked as an editor at Emory’s Goizueta Business School. She copyedited scientific journals and researched and wrote business case studies that professors taught in their classes. Adding these skills and other writing services, she formed her small, one-woman writing company, A Feast Of Words. We talked to Carol about her retirement.
Retirement Awaits: What does a day in retirement look like for you?
Carol: Each morning is different, but it starts with getting up around 8 a.m. As my writings typically focus on life issues, health, fulfillment, and living well without spending a lot of money, I will either write a piece on one of these subjects, or complete editing a client’s manuscript.
Freedom to do what I like. If I wake up one morning and feel like I need a mental health day of not doing anything, I take it. My husband has a number of chronic health issues, so I typically accompany him to doctor appointments. Frequently, these health issues have required hospitalizations and home care, so being able to be there for my spouse is important to me. Since it also creates some stress, being able to have a “down day” is critical for me.
Your Retirement Plan
Retirement Awaits: Did you have a solid plan going into retirement?
Carol: Yes, I knew that with my many interests I would keep busy. Even though my husband — also a retired Air Force vet — and I traveled extensively the 20 years we both served, I still enjoyed traveling from time to time, which being retired has allowed.
Best Part About Retirement
Retirement Awaits: What’s the best part about retirement?
Carol: Freedom to do whatever I want!
Challenges In Retirement
Retirement Awaits: What’s the biggest challenge in retirement?
Carol: Retired nearly 11 years to date, I have not found any challenges to retirement.
Cost Of Retirement
Retirement Awaits: We want people to understand how much retirement really costs. How do you manage your money now? Do you have a budget, meet with your advisor on a regular basis, etc?
Carol: I have always been careful with my money. “Old school” from the beginning, my husband and I decided to pool our income where three-fourths of our salaries went into a joint checking account where we paid all our bills, purchased large items, etc. Because I believe that it is also important that folks also have funds to do what they wish, both of us also have separate savings accounts.
Because my husband didn’t wish to deal with money issues, I took over this task which continues to this day. With both of us having several pensions, 401(k)s, Social Security, and funds from my books, freelance, and crafts, I manage all our income myself. Because of all our money streams, we do have an accountant do our income taxes.
To attempt to hold onto as much of our money as I can, I adopted several savings mechanisms. For example, long ago, I put all our utilities on a flat rate or budget billing. That way there are no surprises during the summer or winter months.
We buy select items (toilet paper, paper towels, coffee, etc.) in bulk. With it just being the two of us, I will divide large packages of meat into two or more packages and put them in the freezer. I buy BOGO and 10-for-10 items that we use on a regular basis, like tomato sauce or canned vegetables. I also freeze certain vegetables.
Retirement Awaits: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give someone about to retire?
Carol: Pay off anything that you can. We paid off a luxury vehicle before retiring. Other vehicles had long been paid off.
Inventory what skills you may have that can bring in extra money. If it is something that you enjoy doing, all the better. My love of doing crafts led to my teaching select ones at my county libraries.
We also don’t spend money on every new ‘toy’ like the latest cell phone or TV. We only replace these when they no longer work or may be too expensive to repair.
I also recycle or repurpose items wherever I can. A lover of plants, I have used old glass coffee pots or plastic coffee cans as planters for both outside and inside, both look lovely in the kitchen.
I will wipe off and reuse aluminum foil when it’s still clean. Old cotton T-shirts make great dusting cloths and old towels are great for cleaning your car.
Things I Wish I Would Have Known
Retirement Awaits: What are a few things you wish someone would have told you about retirement/this season of life/transition?
Carol: I am a talker, so speaking to those who retired before me, many said they wish they would have retired sooner as they love being retired. A few were not as happy as they didn’t have hobbies so found themselves bored. I have yet to be bored.
Best Retirement Vacation
Retirement Awaits: What is your favorite vacation or vacation spot?
Carol: Having traveled for over 20 years while in military service including such places as Okinawa, Panama, etc., our retirement travels have been places we’d never been to before. Living in Georgia, we have discovered a number of small towns we have enjoyed.
However, my husband’s all-time-favorite place was Aruba, where we once spent a glorious week at a resort. In fact, he had thought about buying a vacation place there. I also enjoyed New Orleans. Instead of driving, we took the Amtrak train. Relaxing and watching the world go by instead of dealing with highway traffic was great. Winning Amtrak items while playing train Bingo was also fun!
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