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The last guest is gone, so now I've had a little time to think about life - retired life.

Retirement (especially early) never turns out as you imagined, but nothing in life does, so why should retirement be different? You would think that 8 years as a SAHM (stay-at-home-mom) would have gotten me ready for the unstructured natured of retirement, but children are sort of like bosses – they want you there for them always whether they really need you there or not.

Anyway – in no particular order:

1. At first time will seem very unstructured. That's because you aren't spending 2 hours in rush hour traffic, swearing at other drivers. It might also be because no one really sets your goals except you (maybe with some input from your SO). That can be a pretty scary freedom. It won't bother entrepreneurs like GolfWayMore or SeattlePioneer, but us regular Joes and Jos are pretty used to someone telling us 5 days a week (or more!) what we should be doing. Good news – if you've done your homework and have considered some things you'd like to do during retirement, your time can get structured pretty darn fast.

2. You did not remember to put everything in your budget. I forgot the possibility that my children might marry, and have children. I've bought a high chair and a crib for my own house in the last year. Never expected that. And that doesn't count the new baby and grandchild presents. I also didn't know that I would be spending money on bird caging and so much birdseed. Remember that you will develop new interests in retirement that you didn't have time for while you were working. Let's ask intercst how much his golfing equipment costs have gone up <g>. And they didn't even have broadband when I retired.

3. Some things in your budget cost more than you thought, even if you tracked it for 5 years (like I did). Aging pets cost money. Broken garage doors cost money (who thought you could break one!). Trips to visit aging parents cost money – and now you have time to do it, so no excuse.

4. And as I get older (I hate to say this) there are things that it is better to pay someone to do rather than do it myself (or DH with the herniated disc) – heavy stuff. Getting older sucks, especially if you have a family history of arthritis (right, ariechert?). So save your strength for the fun stuff!! Ahem.

5. I, at least, get more laid back about most stuff. Because most stuff doesn't matter in the long (and often the short) run. [isn't there a book about that <g>] Because I move at a slower pace (because hurrying along is something that you do when you have to work and take care of a family and cook and walk the dog and....), when too many things happen at once, I'm not used to it anymore, and I get a bit frazzled. That only happens a couple of times a year, like Christmas.

6. Getting a little bit more positive – there are things I spend less on than I figured, even with 5 years of data. The big thing here is clothes. As long as you don't outgrow them, your yearly needs dissolve into various undies and a couple of replacements. For instance, I spent 1/3 of what I expected in 2002 – and that's after 4 years of retirement! Because I can check out bargains, gift spending has maintained its own or been reduced over the years. I can also make things that I bought when working (mostly food items). I have time to go to the library – book and magazine costs have gone way down.

7. You can actually make new friends during retirement! And because these people are more likely to be aligned with whatever your interests are, they are more likely to become “real” friends. I retain only a couple from my working days. You also get to know your local trades people. You can stop and talk, which is interesting in its own right. Also useful when you need unusual assistance. SP would enjoy my relationship with a local grocery store which was having its circulars filched from the newspaper. I told the local manager and also wrote the newspaper. Stopped happening (I think it was a union “problem”, SP). This same store employs many immigrants (we have a lot in NOVA), and getting to know them is invigorating. They really want to make it the US. I bet they'd like to retire, too <g>.

8. Family relationships change. As in you have time to get to know your own family better. I think it is because you have the time to make it work, even if your family members are harassed by work requirements or geographically distant. If I were still working, I couldn't give my grandchildren's parents the day off quite so easily. Or trot up to a remote island in Maine at the drop of a hat to visit the 'rents. Accessibility is important.

9. It is amazing how your interests can change. Before I retired, I had never heard of rehabilitators (people that fix up wildlife to be returned to the wild), and now I are one. Totally fascinating, and something I had to learn lots about. The old INTJ learning new things trait coming out.

10. Every day is a new adventure, and it is directed by ME. I can do whatever I want, whenever I want. That, my friends, is freedom.

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