- Name: Donna S.
- Location: Colorado and Key West, Florida
- Age: 68
- Retired At: 67
- Marital Status: Divorced
- Profession: Registered Dietitian
Donna’s career had many versions, but all were connected to health, food, nutrition, and wellness. She spent most of her career self-employed and co-founding an online cannabis training program for health professionals. That has allowed her to split her time between Key West, Florida, and Colorado. She has a 24-year-old son, so her lifestyle and family commitments skew toward someone younger than 68.
You could say retirement is another version of her career. This one includes travel writing and blogging. It allows Donna to create income through her passion of travel, but she also gets to help people get out of their comfort zones. Her blog is called Open Mind Adventure. Through it, she is able to be the conduit to helping people realize how many great experiences are still out there for them. We talked with Donna about her retirement.
Retirement Awaits: What does a day in retirement look like for you?
Donna: There is no “typical” day. I am usually writing for my new blog, pitching stories to news outlets, and researching and planning for my next travel adventure. My 6-month 2023 itinerary includes several months in Oaxaca and Puerto Escondido, Mexico, then to Spain and Portugal. This type of scouting trip, for a potential new part-time home, requires lots of planning. When I’m not planning and writing, yoga is a key part of my life. I enjoy hiking when in Colorado and our boat while in Key West.
Your Retirement Plan
Retirement Awaits: Did you have a solid plan going into retirement?
Donna: That word itself sounds boring. I don’t really consider myself retired; I’m just doing something different than my previous careers but at a slower pace. I was clear with myself that I needed something mentally stimulating to do (there is so much more to know about successful blogging than just telling a good story!) that would also be mobile.
Best Part About Retirement
Retirement Awaits: What’s the best part about retirement?
Donna: There’s not as much pressure to chase the next dollar. With college expenses behind me, I can somewhat financially relax. That’s not to say I don’t need some income; I do expect to generate income from my writing and blogging. But there’s just not as much pressure anymore. There’s also the flexibility of a schedule. Having just spent an entire year doing a hands-on renovation for a house flip in Key West, (I’m quite good with a chop saw now!) we were able to take off on a 3-month, 10,000-mile motorcycle trip through Mexico. Try doing that with a real job!
Challenges In Retirement
Retirement Awaits: What’s the biggest challenge in retirement?
Donna: I don’t sit still very well so I’m just not the type who would be content going to lunch everyday as my main activity. To round out the days aside from my work, I also volunteer at the animal shelter, when in Key West, and do some English language tutoring. For a Type A personality like myself, having my days jam-packed is a priority.
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?
Donna: Even when married, I was always the primary wage earner so I’m keenly aware of financial management. I switched financial advisors a few years ago because they just weren’t as responsive as I would like. You have to be your own advocate with your money. Though I travel a lot, it’s never high end. Even if money were no object, I actually enjoy finding the hidden deals, or the cute, local Airbnbs, and uncovering restaurants that don’t break your wallet. Anyone can go to a resort; that’s too easy for me. Of course, there’s always a loose budget in my head and the trick to making money is not wildly changing your lifestyle just because you retired.
Retirement Awaits: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give someone about to retire?
Donna: Be honest with yourself and know your personality. Don’t have some pie-in-the-sky vision of what this will be like. If you’re someone who has always wished for downtime from an exhausting career, then a quiet, laid-back retirement might suit you well. If you’re someone like me who thrives on “doing,” then be sure you’ve got a game plan in place. It’s taken me a while to get into a groove and it’s still evolving.
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?
Donna: Think about adding some new friends to your mix. Most of mine are younger, still working, and don’t have the flexibility and time that I do. So reaching out to new folks through meet-ups or Facebook groups or expat groups (if moving abroad) will help a great deal. And don’t let your kids/grandkids hold you back. Sure, you want to be near them and see them, but they have their own busy lives. Don’t necessarily let that be a criteria for your future plans.
Best Retirement Vacation
Retirement Awaits: What is your favorite vacation or vacation spot?
Donna: I have many favorites for different reasons. As an avid traveler, I’m not the type that goes back to the same place over and over again. The recent motorcycle trip through Mexico was an eye-opener as to how inexpensive it can be for a very nice quality of life when living outside the United States. This has prompted me to get serious about living abroad for part of the year. It will be culturally interesting and save a lot of money.
Extra Retirement Advice
Retirement Awaits: Anything else you would like to add or share about retirement?
Donna: As long as your health holds up, keep exploring and going. There will be time in old age to sit and reflect. In the meantime, there’s so many opportunities for learning new skills and reaching outside your comfort zone, at least just a wee bit.
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