Lemonade Retirement will be my blog, and I plan to post every Wednesday morning. I have two purposes in mind for this blog. First and foremost, I want to be a helpful place for Baby Boomers who are at, or are approaching their retirement season, but are finding financial challenges staring them in the face. Sadly, way too many Boomers find themselves short of where they believe they need to be retirement income and asset-wise, to enjoy a happy, secure, stress free retirement. Many will tell you they no longer expect that they will be able to retire at all. I want to talk about this, and perhaps offer some suggestions and hope.
In addition, the second reason for the blog is to follow my retirement as I deal with any number of difficult issues, not the least of which will be: 1. coming to terms with the lifestyle change retirement brings, 2. defining my purpose and goals for the rest of my life, 3. slowing down the ticking clock and not wasting precious time, 4. dealing with the challenges of the financial side, and 5. retirement relocation, yes or no, and if so, where?
In short, this blog will be about living these years meaningfully and powerfully, regardless of the level of retirement income and retirement assets one might have.
But first let me tell you about a little bit about myself.
I was born, raised, and currently live in Baltimore, Maryland. In 1969 I graduated from the University of Maryland, began my business career, and married Suzanna, the love of my life, all within three months early in the year. Our three daughters Alison, Ashley, and Meredith were born in 1972, 1973, and 1977. In the years between 1969 and 1977 I pursued my career in business, specifically financial management, with four companies, including Black and Decker, Abbott Laboratories, and Arthur Young & Company (now Ernst & Young). During those years we lived in Baltimore; North Carolina; Salisbury, MD; and Chicago.
Then in early 1977, I decided to start a business of my own. We moved home to Baltimore and two weeks after the birth of our third daughter I began a commercial printing business. Beginning this business from scratch with three children five years of age and under was a challenge to say the least. I operated the business for 33 years through 2010 and it proved to be a challenge for most of that time. Although never a large business, we had fifty employees tops, but probably averaged 25, we were a modest success. We had a good life, paid for a handful of college educations, and also traveled a good bit.
By 2008 the business was worth enough to provide us a very solid, comfortable retirement. And this was always the plan. However, the fourth quarter of 2008 began the worst economy since the Great Depression and everything changed. Over the next two years the business we had worked 33 years to build lost much of its value.
A deal was made to sell the business in January, 2011 to a Washington, D.C. area company. The deal included an employment contract for me from 2011-2014. It was this company from which I retired in April, 2015 just before turning 69 years of age and after a 46 year career in business. I had planned to work fifty years, not just because it’s a nice round number, but also because we still have a bit of debt to be paid off. It would have been my strong preference to begin my retirement debt free. So why retire early (“early retirement” at 69!)? I was well paid and had excellent healthcare benefits to boot, but the job was not a challenge nor was it interesting. In addition, my two hour daily commute made it a 60 hour work week door to door. All in all this had become the definition of “drudgery”. It became clear to me that at the age of 69, my time was worth more than money.
So after the grind of the printing business for over thirty years, I plan to embrace this retirement season, the “fourth quarter” of my life, hopefully with optimism, energy and enthusiasm. It is the time to reset my life, and it is should be an exciting time, although admittedly sometimes it does seem somewhat daunting. This is primarily for two reasons. The first is that after working 46 years in demanding, competitive, fast paced, often pressurized environments, this change to the opposite has not been without some difficulty. And the second reason is that I feel some stress over the uncertainty about the financial part of this will work out. But I know this, I want to do retirement well, and I hope this blog and the conversation it generates helps me in my journey and others in theirs.