How I make the most of every day in retirement


Overview of the retreat

Joe and Julie Hederman on Anna Maria Island

Photo credit: Julie Hederman

  • Location: Florida
  • Age: 66
  • Retired at: 65
  • Marital status: Very happily married to my best friend of 37 years
  • Occupation: Fundraising Director (Owner), IT Director for a Global Credit Card Company, College Administrator and Instructor

The retirement gift came on Joe’s 65th birthday, followed by knee replacement surgery the next morning. While it may not seem like the best retirement gift, he put it off as long as possible, and then exposure to COVID made it the right time. Retirement gave him more time to travel with his wife. They went to Europe and South America on business, but his favorite trip was to Ireland with his wife and in-laws. We spoke with Joe about his retirement.

Reality Retreat

Retirement awaits: What does a day at retirement look like to you?

Joe: We are lucky enough to spend time between Florida and Missouri. My wife is more the social director than me. If she hasn’t planned an event with friends like dinner, a movie, a visit to the winery, the boat, I usually have a project going on like painting the basement or moving some bushes. I can even wash and wax the car. I don’t do well just sitting. I believe, “God gave me each day to do what I choose. I can use it for good or waste it.

Your pension plan

Retirement awaits: Did you have a solid plan for your retirement?

Joe: Financially, we have achieved our objectives, that is to say, we have determined our monthly expenses and, with the help of a financial professional, established our monthly budget. The stock market has had more impact on our portfolio than we would have liked, but we are very optimistic about the recovery.

Socially, we intended to travel, perhaps even stay in destinations for a significant period of time. That plan was changed when we came across a canal-side villa in the Gulf of Florida. Perhaps risky, we approached this second home as an investment that far exceeded expectations.

The best part of retirement

Retirement awaits: What’s the best part of retirement?

Joe: Less stress. I/we do what we want, when we want.

Retirement Challenges

Retirement awaits: What is the biggest challenge in retirement?

Joe: Probably the biggest challenge is staying within our budget. We acknowledge our blessings; our health and that of our loved ones are always in our prayers.

travel in retirement

Retirement awaits: What is your favorite vacation spot?

Joe: Growing up a short distance from Lake of the Ozarks, a 100 mile treasure trove for all water sports and activities, I was spoiled. Now our Florida home is in a 55+ year old community, Mt. Vernon Community in Bradenton, Florida. I had reservations but instead everyone comes from elsewhere. It seems that many are looking to expand their circle of friends. Specifically, a day might start with an ongoing project, followed by a trip to the gym or pickleball, afternoon boating with friends, maybe a trip to the pool, ending with a sunset on the beach. It’s a beautiful day !

cost of retirement

Retirement awaits: We want people to understand how much retirement really costs. How do you manage your money now? You have a budget, meet regularly with your advisor, etc.

Joe: We know our fixed costs. Our variable costs must remain under control and/or, if we exceed variable costs this month, we should catch up next month. Arguably, dinner parties are the biggest budget killers.

retirement advice

Retirement awaits: What is the best advice you would give to someone about to retire?

Joe: Delay knee surgery for as long as possible! Recovery time is not fast. But seriously, the budget is so important; it influences decisions about your quality of life. Moreover, you will always be parents, as happy as the most unhappy son or daughter.

I’m sorry if this sounds like a sales pitch, but we released a Southwest/Chase credit card which we always reimburse in full. Put as many fixed costs (utilities, insurance, taxes, etc.) on the card as possible. This allowed one of us (once 125,000 points accumulated) to fly as a free companion. Using these accumulated points, plus the free companion, we travel for next to nothing.

Things that I wish I had known

Retirement awaits: What are a few things you wish someone had told you about retirement/this season of life/transition?

Joe: Communicate with your spouse. You will spend more time together than ever. Your expectations may not be the same. My wife couldn’t be happier than reading a book. I’m happiest when I dig a hole. You have to compromise!

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