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An article in today's Houston Chronicle caught my eye. It was titled" In retirement, should you eat dessert first?" That's always been a question of mine, and it was part of my pre- retirement dream of buying a Winnebago and touring this great country of ours. I'm glad I didn't do that, I can imagine trying to justify that purchase with today's gasoline prices.

A couple of paragraphs into the story I decided that this article wasn't for me, but it did make some interesting points, such as the new demographics. The author came up with three different classifications:

  1. Young- Old ....age 65-75
  2. Old...............age 75-84
  3. old-old..........age 85 and beyond.

It doesn't make sense to live frugally if you're 65 years and there is a 76% chance that you'll never reach 95. He was talking about 30 year actuarial tables. He lost me with his example of a retired couple with $600,000 in retirement accounts and $100,000 in a reserve fund. According to the financial plan, he was trying to sell, that couple could afford $18,000 to spend on yearly vacations.

December 31st of this year will mark the 10-year anniversary of my retirement. I retired at age 57, and I don't regret it a bit because I got to pursue other interests. At that age, I certainly was not going to sit around, and watch television, and I knew I wasn't going job hunting. I was lucky. My retirement incentives gave me shove I needed in because very few people want to leave a certainty for the uncertain. I think in the back of my mind, I remembered going to a retirement party to wish my old friend, the best in his retirement years. The very next day he was rushed the Houston where they opened him up and immediately sewed him back up because he had terminal cancer. He didn't get to spend one nickel of his pension, Social Security or IRA. That's probably a rare exception but last year a friend of mine wanted to retire at the magic number of 58 years old with 30 years of service. He had a heart attack on the job, last November; he only had one month to go. You can't plan for every situation, but a plan is better than no plan at all.

At first, my working families found some chores for me to do, like take their cars for an oil change, pick up laundry or my grand kids from school. I quickly and creatively bungled some of those chores, so now I not trusted to do a lot of those things. I'm the backup plan, and I can handle that.

Retirement means a lot of things to a lot of people. I have an old friend who is still working because his financial planner calculated the amount he would need to live comfortably after retirement. The others are also happy about their decision to retire early because they've adjusted.

A retiree is pretty easy to spot; they're the ones on the right side of the road going 5 MPH less than the speed limit. They're the ones clogging up the lanes with empty baskets because they are talking to their fellow retirees. You might as well go around because the conversation will take 1/2 hour longer than it should, because we're trying to think of the names of the people, we are talking about. I don't get angry with companies anymore because, if they put me on hold, I'll just put them on speaker, refresh my cup of coffee, and browse through the Internet, until they get around to me. It's the same way for a doctor's office; I come prepared for a three-hour wait because I'm retired.