No. of Recommendations: 5
I want to thank ResNullius and Vermonter. Parts of their posts resonate with elements of our own retirements and prompted some memory-jogging.

To begin with, we are not "rich" as retirees go. That word is relative, depending on lifestyle, among other things. We have always been frugal. We're not millionaires, but still relatively comfortable in roughly the top 20% of net worth of people our ages (67 and 65). I retired in 2005 and she did in -07. Both of us were 59 when we left as career teachers with 65 1/2 yrs. between us.

Vermonter mentioned eating habits. We regularly eat out once a week, usually at a $7.75 Chinese buffet or an $8.49 (senior price) buffet. We're pretty Old School about cooking. We actually know what to do with arm roast, chuck roast, and swiss steak. We don't buy those insipid potato flakes or Bob Evans's ready-to-heat mashed potatoes. Our ancient steel masher with a few slightly bent tines does just fine, and I don't have "tennis elbow." We make pizza from scratch as well as large quantities of vegetable soup for immediate eating and for freezing of leftovers. Those 2 are a bit tedious and time-consuming, aren't they? Of course, but when you're retired, you've actually got TIME to consume as you desire. I really believe, in hindsight, that one can't fully understand the equation of Time = Freedom.

ResNullius's details about his health resonated, too. I'm really sorry, RN, to hear of your heart condition. My diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes about 3 years ago pales in comparison. After years of "manly" no- doctoring, DW convinced me to get some screens. Why would I NOT have expected a blood sugar of 251 and a wretched lipid panel?? Oh, I had a vague, restless notion that eating what I liked when I liked and being 20-30 lbs. overweight for years weren't good ideas, but what the hell--I'd get around to that some day. Thanks to modern medicine, I'm doing very well on pills only with blood sugar in the 90's and a lipid panel of a Kenyan marathon runner with cholesterol in the low-100's and triglycerides and LDL near the low ends of acceptable ranges.

As for retirement investing specifically, I had the same ignorant I'll-get-around-to-it-someday mentality that I had about my health. We did nothing on our own for most of our teaching years except contributing the mandatory 3% deduction from our pay and sent to the IN Teachers Retirement Fund. This was put into a GIC (guaranteed investment contract). The only other choice was a bond fund. By conservative IN law, no equity mutuals were a choice. Several "old colleagues" in their 40's and 50's gently urged us to invest on our own. What?! With 2 kids, a mortgage, insurance, et al? Who you kidding? Go away, already.

Finally, with a resigned sigh, I made a move at the too-ripe age of 42. I'll never forget it. A week before the Oct. 1987 crash, we each had a fat $20 sent to our Fidelity 403B's through payroll deduction. Weren't those 403's an option all along, on top of our state-required 3%'s? Of course they were. Did we ever bother to check into that? Of course not! We had all the usual expenses of a married couple, but we could have contributed something for years. What's that thing about "start young....?" OMG.

Finally, if there's one thing I've learned above all others about retiring and finances, it's Expect. The. Unexpected. We've had our leach field and roof repaired, paid bills several times for a hospitalized bipolar/single mother daughter, had our well re-drilled, and more. Something's gonna' jump up and bite you on the ass--expect it. Plan for it?? Just a weak LOL on that one.
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