Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sometimes Retirement Can Get Boring!

One of the things that I've learned over the past few years is that at times retirement can get boring. You get up, go to breakfast with the buds, and then try to figure out what else you want to do.  No matter how you plan your day, whether you work part time or not, how many grandkids you play still will get bored at some point. Now I think I'd rather be bored at times than go back to full time work...but just be aware that at some point you'll wonder what's next.  Woody used to tell me that I needed a hobby to retire.  I got several going before I retired but now I'm looking for new hobbies to master.  So I guess the message is that change is inevitable...whether at work, at play or in retirement.  There are ups and downs, but mostly ups. The longer you are in retirement, the more change you should expect. So not only do you worry about money, but now I'm telling you that you must worry about getting bored. Bummer.

So here's the deal...get more hobbies than you ever thought humanly possible to enjoy because you'll get bored doing the same thing day in and day out...too much like work!  Expand your group of friends.  Get a map or not and follow the yellow brick road.  Go back to school but this time for fun.  If you always wanted to be an architect or archelologist or astronaut, go see if you really did take the wrong career path.  Get a library card and read significant works, not casual books.  Join a book club.  Join a garden club...not me, I hate yard work! And if you think of any other fun things to do, let me know! I'm always looking for new ideas that don't involve shopping or two favorite things to do!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Almost Free Stuff!

With the price of gas going up, we did the absolutely wrong thing this week.  We love to, with gas rising, we headed out on a road trip.  We went to Pancake Pantry in Nashville...or the village, if you're a local.  Breakfast was $30...and then we just started driving.  We ended up going through Leiper's Fork  which is a trendy little community and home to multiple stars including Keith Urban and Nicole Kidman, the Judd's and Brad Paisley and Kimberly Williams-Paisley.  So we drove about 150 miles meandering through the countryside!  Great day...saw lots of jonquils and blooming bushes!  Today was almost as bad!  We drove to Green Hills and had lunch at Cheesecake Factory and walked around the mall...of course I came out with a purse.  I had to buy's a Brahmin with a "woody wagon", a palm tree, a truck and a '57 Chevy...sounds crazy but it's so cool!  We had already driven around our former street in Hendersonville to look at the wind or tornado damage.  All in all...about 50 miles today.  Now 200 miles at $3.25 a gallon! So one piece of advice...consider buying a hybrid or all electric car before you retire if you want to drive a lot!!  But driving a lot is part of the fun of being retired.

Tomorrow is a sleepover with baby Savannah.  Her mother is coming out for lunch and a bit of shopping before she leaves...and we keep the baby! The fun of babysitting grandbabies is PRICELESS!

Have a fabulous weekend!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Don't Fly! Drive!

I still work as a healthcare consultant on occasion to pay for our travel...this week was a work week.  It has been a while since I've flown and between trips I forget that it's not as much fun as it used to be! From getting to the airport hours early just in case security lines are long to late arrivals and broken ain't what it used to be.  I added up the time it took me to get home from Greenville, SC to Hendersonville, TN by plane and it would have been quicker to drive! So next tip...if you're retired, think about whether the journey might be part of the trip rather than just the destination!

A few years ago, we meandered the Maine coast in May eating lobster, lobster rolls and clam chowder at every opportunity. While we saw the usual lobster boats and lighthouses, we also saw things off the beaten path that tourists rarely see. One of our favorite photos is laundry on the line tied between a tree and the dock. The colors, early spring flowers and water were tranquil and reflected the emergence from a long winter.  We chatted with the locals and were pointed in the direction of great dives and fabulous food. You don't have to eat "frou frou" to get really great lobster fact, the more simple the better.  Lobster meat, a little mayo and the bun, preferably eaten standing in the parking lot or on a dock looking at water.  From work to retirement can be something like from work and end point to end point to meandering along the back roads and out of the way places!

Be sure your car is in good shape and reasonably fuel efficient since gas is going up...but if you're driving slow you'll use less gas. Pick months that most people don't vacation and you'll save a fortune on hotels. We also pick less popular months for cruises too...we did Nova Scotia and Alaska cruises in September.  The cost was almost ridiculously low, the boats weren't packed, and we only had to put up with a bit of cool weather and occasional misty rain.  With the right clothes, layers of course to add and subtract as needed, you can enjoy anywhere.  If you're retired, you can also meander to where the cruise departs rather than flying. Repositioning cruises are great at the beginning and end of seasons when the boats move to their next port. Sometimes you don't even need to get off the boat to have a blast!  We're thinking about doing another Nova Scotia cruise and just taking different shore excursions! You can save money, enjoy the journey and head on out to the sea. 

If you don't want to stray too far from home, consider the back roads around you.  When we first retired, we spent a lot of time being tourists in Tennessee.  Like a lot of other people, we rarely had the time to explore.  Day trips became fun, but there was always an overnight bag with clean underwear in case we found somewhere we wanted to stay!  One trip we did do a quick WalMart run for toothbrushes when we forgot our bag!  So enjoy the journey...the destination isn't really that important!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Don't forget to have fun!

Not all tips about retirement have to do with money or saving money or working...throw in grandchildren and it makes everything perfect! While I worked some this week, I also took time for a sleepover with Savannah, a movie with hubby, spending my Groupon at Barnes and Noble, dinner and a fast trivia tournament, not to mention cleaning out the closet and a snow storm.  Busy, busy, busy! Sometimes you just have to play.

While moving through retirement, don't forget to have fun.  We get so focused on managing our dwindling portfolios or working to make up shortfalls, that we forget that retirement is supposed to be fun.  Like many of you, I graduated from nursing school on a Friday night and went to work on Monday, rapidly followed by marriage, children and more school! When our kids graduated, we encouraged them to run and play for a year...sort of like a gap year that so many of our European friends' children do between high school and college...our one hippie like daughter really embraced it...truth be known....she still does!  The other two work a lot but do have a bit of fun along the way.  We love our kiddos but we really love our grand-kiddos! They are so much fun to play with, shop for and just all around spoil.  So plan on spending some time with your grandkids and rediscover your inner child. Life is too short not to have fun!

Have fun with your spouse! Woody and I truly are best friends and would rather be with each other than anyone else...well, most of the time. When I make him clean out his closet, he might rather be somewhere else! Remember when you fell in love and before the kids and bills and stress and work...try to recapture that feeling if you've lost it. If you're single, consider your options. I have a friend in her late 50's who just got married to a wonderful man she met through an online dating service...I think it was eHarmony.  Another friend is a perpetual volunteer.  In addition to seeing everything from plays to football to basketball free, he's met a few cuties along the way.  Hasn't settled down yet, but at 70 he says he has a few years before he has to grow up. 

Don't be a couch potato. Get out...have fun...remember why you wanted to retire in the first place!  Volunteer. Join a dating service. Find a club or group to join. Do all those things that you always complained that you never had time to do!! When all else fails, go to a funny movie and just laugh. You are responsible for making life what you want it to be...I can't imagine a day without laughter...can you?

Monday, February 7, 2011

Don't forget Groupon!

One of the best deals I've found is Groupon! Once you sign up at and select your city, you get a daily email with deals in your city. I just got a $20 Groupon for $10 for Barnes and Noble ( ), our favorite bookstore that can be used locally or online. Our dinner club as a group all bought Groupons for a wine tasting at Belle Meade Plantation in Nashville ( ) and can't wait to use them.  Other recent Groupons included spa treatments, restaurant discounts, and gym memberships! We got a great deal on dinner and a play at the new Nashville Dinner Theater ( ) in downtown Nashville! If you are traveling, you can also enter your destination city and see what's available.  So free sign up and huge discounts! What could be better in retirement?

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Heading to Facebook!

I've spent two days now trying to get this lovely blog tied into facebook! I did buy a book called Blogging for Dummies but haven't read it yet.  Typical...try to jump through hoops without reading the directions! I've had this blog running for almost 5 years now but just decided to "monetize" it as they say.  In other words, put ads on the blog and pray that someone clicks on them or even better orders something from Amazon and I get money! In the past, the blog has been more to keep our friends up to date on our retirement journey and travels...I'll still do that, but more importantly, I want to share tips for retirement survival with all of you retirees or pending retirees!  So wish me luck and click away!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Non-traditional Work in Retirement

When we decided to retire, we had planned on selling our house and storing our stuff and taking off in the RV. We have a saying in our family...God laughs when you tell Him your plans! Needless to say, the house didn't sell.  We decided to still try to travel in the RV and work part time along the way. Hiring house sitters and lawn services is not the most cost efficient way to do it, but it will work.  The best option is to become a work camper...also known as a workkamper! You sign up for a service that matches employers with employees who want to work in retirement!

With or without an RV, you can find part time jobs by going to  and signing up for their job lists for a small fee.  Here's the way it works...employers post part time or seasonal jobs of all kinds, you send a resume, and then you get hired. If you have an RV which is most often the situation, the employer provides you a spot for your RV, you work a certain number of hours without pay to "pay" for the spot, and then you get paid for all other hours worked. Some jobs are as few as 10-20 hours a week up to full time. Jobs are usually in resort or vacation areas. We spent almost 6 months in West Yellowstone, Montana, the gateway to Yellowstone National Park! We worked 28 hours a week in a gallery and gift store and spent the rest of our time exploring the Park and surrounding areas including Jackson Hole and Cheyenne, Wyoming!  It has been the most fabulous "vacation/part time job" we've ever had. We also took this job because we thought we wanted a gallery...decided really quickly that we didn't like retail. We also tried working in a campground for 6 weeks checking campers in and out...not fond of that but we have friends that are staying free in a resort area all winter in return for some outside maintenance and cleaning the restrooms a few days a week. Restrooms sound gross, but most campers use the RV bathrooms and if they do use the resort baths, they are usually neat! One retired CEO said it was the best job to have because it takes only a few hours a week and if you factor in campground fees it's the highest paying job he had ever had! Jobs may also be in a theme park and Disney Resorts hire tons of people for part time, seasonal jobs.

There are also other options if you don't have an RV or are traveling alone. Both the National Park Service and a company called Xanterra hire seasonally and provide "dormitory" accomodations at parks across the country. We met one single woman who had worked for about 20 years at Yellowstone from summer employment while a school teacher to part time work in the summer in retirement. If you want to travel internationally, options are available through both volunteer and paid positions. If your health is great and you are adventuresome, there is always the Peace Corps who encourage healthy, active adults to apply!  The Peace Corps provides health coverage so that's also an inducement if you are too young for Medicare. Just search online and you'll find tons of opportunities.

If you aren't quite this adventurous, there are lots of local part time jobs you can explore...remember, you are supplementing your retirement income until the market comes back! You can work in day care and after school care settings if you want to work with children, the YMCA (I got offered a job teaching swimming which was also, by the way, the first job I ever had), a gym, or Chicos (my favorite store!). In addition to a salary, there may be perks such as discounts, free memberships or even access to health insurance! Think about all the things that you wished you had been able to do before you had to take a "real" job.  Because of my healthcare background, degrees and love of writing, I work as a contract medical editor for a firm based in Taiwan and China. This allows me to work when I want and from anywhere in the world! All I need is a computer and internet service! I also found a consulting company that lets me work select jobs without commiting to full time work. I've even worked for my old company a few times.  Keep an open neighbor wanted a fancy closet retrofit and while getting a quote, found out they were looking for help on Wednesday and Saturday making appointments and were even somewhat flexible on her desire to still travel occasionally! She even got a hefty discount on her new closet.

So...bottom can always travel virtually free and spend long enough in an area to really see it. You can stay at home and make extra money to enjoy your retirement until the market comes back. You can take part time jobs that allow you to explore things you've always thought you wanted to do.  But most importantly, you'll feel better if you are out and about and exploring the world rather than being a couch potato! So combine a little work with a lot of play and embrace retirement! And so...with a memory of Yellowstone and the Lower Falls...happy retirement from Woody and Pat!