- Name: Amy P.
- Location: Holt, Michigan
- Age: 66
- Retired At: 66
- Marital Status: Married for 45 years
- Profession: Information Technology Project/Program Manager
As a program/project manager for a large IT firm that worked for Fortune 500 companies, Amy’s job was stressful, but it had a positive side. During her 35-plus-year career, she traveled to 40 countries. In 2008, she worked on five continents and visited a sixth en route. While she was never home, she loved life on the road with all her adventures. Amy also had opportunities to get to know the cultures in depth because she had extended stays in many countries where she was working.
Amy and her husband have a daughter and two granddaughters. Her husband and daughter often tagged along on her work trips. In the last few years of her career, she began travel writing to capture memories. Now, she has more plans to travel. We talked to Amy about her retirement.
Retirement Awaits: What does a day in retirement look like for you?
Amy: I get up at the same time as I used to and eat breakfast. Then, I make my way to the computer to start writing. I like to write for at least 4 hours each day.
I take a break for lunch and then run errands or relax for a bit. I’m enjoying catching up on my reading that I never seemed to have time for during my career.
If I’m traveling, I begin my activities after getting ready for the day. Typically, when traveling on a hosted trip, I am up and out about an hour earlier than at home. So, typically, I don’t get much writing done while I’m on a trip, although I try to type my notes while they still make sense.
Your Retirement Plan
Retirement Awaits: Did you have a solid plan going into retirement?
Amy: Yes, we sold our 4,000-square-foot home and moved to a condo at a fraction of the price. That way, we wouldn’t have as many unexpected expenses in maintenance. In addition, we paid off all of our debt, so our costs would be minimal. The plan then was to spend our discretionary income on travel.
My husband just retired, so we are planning our first retirement trip to Costa Rica, which we plan to take in the spring.
I planned to expand my time on freelance travel writing and blogging because I enjoy it. In addition, it allows me to continue learning, which I have always loved.
Best Part About Retirement
Retirement Awaits: What’s the best part about retirement?
Amy: The flexibility in my schedule. I don’t have to worry about keeping my activities after 5 p.m. and on weekends. Instead, I can get out during the day and explore locally. Although before, I was always cautious about being away from my desk for doctor appointments or other things I couldn’t take care of after work hours, so I value the more relaxed pace. This flexibility alone took away some of life’s stressors.
Challenges In Retirement
Retirement Awaits: What’s the biggest challenge in retirement?
Amy: The best part of retirement is also the most significant challenge: the flexibility of my schedule. Before, I had to plan my time rigorously. Now that I have more flexibility, I have to be careful not to let time get away from me. As a result, I don’t particularly like the feeling of not having accomplished anything on a particular day.
I’ve begun keeping a list of accomplishments to see that I have achieved things, even when it may seem like I didn’t.
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?
Amy: I have a loose budget with a list of all my expenses and income. I don’t buy many things now, but my highest cost is eating out and traveling. We have always eaten out a lot; that is one area I try to reduce when I am not traveling. I prefer to use that extra money to eat in higher-quality places while traveling and cook at home when I’m not. So I am spending more time on meal planning and prep.
The nice thing is I now have the time to enjoy cooking and learn to experiment with ingredients I may have experienced while traveling.
Retirement Awaits: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give someone about to retire?
Amy: Begin to prepare early with a solid plan. I often tell my daughter, “The more you have, the more you have to manage.” I downsized my living space, got rid of debt, and got rid of many things that had no meaning in my life, and I found that I was much happier. I have less to clean and maintain and more free time. That also took away stress.
Be sure to know when you will receive any pension or Social Security income. We were both paid twice a month before, and now, all of our income comes in once a month on the same days, so we needed to revise managing expenses. It could be an issue initially if you don’t prepare for it.
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?
Amy: I’m not sure. If a person doesn’t have a solid plan on how to spend their days, they could be isolated and lonely.
Best Retirement Vacation
Retirement Awaits: What is your favorite vacation or vacation spot?
Amy: In the United States, I love New Orleans and Santa Fe. I love the food and art scenes in these cities. When traveling internationally, I like to visit Spanish-speaking countries. I majored in Spanish literature in college, so I love trying to speak Spanish and continue learning more about those countries’ history and culture.
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