My father-in-law, Captain David L. G. King, USN Retired, used to say that life held three stages: schooling, work and family, and retirement. I understood the first and second stages, but retirement seemed like something to be feared.
But now that my husband, Captain Michael King, USN Retired, and I are both in that third stage, it is far more exciting and wonderful than I had envisioned. This time, however, has not arrived without faith and planning; and just as my father-in-law shared his wisdom about life, I would like to pass on a few pointers my husband and I have gleaned regarding retirement.
Begin to plan for this stage by living under your budget financially. Kerry Daly of Saint Cecilia Parish said, “ I saved money continuously during my working years: if you start early, it adds up tremendously.” Like Kerry, before retirement, we, too, lived way below our income for 12 years. I cut the family’s hair, planned monthly meals, rarely ate out, purchased used clothes and goods, kept vacations frugal by camping and using our timeshare, and did our own house and car repairs by watching U Tube. And since Michael utilized his employer’s matching funds through The Thrift Savings Plan, the money just kept on growing, for we never saw it. That living beneath our income helped us get on a good financial footing. And the savings accumulated enabled Michael to leave his place of employment at age 61 and permanently unplug his old faithful alarm clock.
Susan and Bob Kuebler, also of Saint Cecilia’s, added a similar thought. “We prepared for retirement by putting our pensions and savings into low-risk, well-balanced mutual funds and by talking to a financial advisor and friends. Since March 2015, we have been on a constant vacation but not one free from work, for this time has allowed us to more faithfully attend to our Catholic Church’s needs, our family, and friends."
The Kueblers and Kerry Daly now have also culled out more spiritual time. Sue adds,” We love Bible study class and daily reading Utmost for His Highest and Jesus Calling and praying together out loud before we go to bed.” For Kerry, complete retirement has enabled her to attend daily Mass and make room for uninterrupted prayer time.
Sue also added, "This retirement time has allowed us to be on call to our grandchildren and given us time to jointly attend our Saint Cecilia Bible study, volunteer for Super Suppers and The Welcome Committee, and serve on The Funeral Reception Committee. This period has freed us to more fully serve our parish and grow in our love for His Church." Susan further stated, “We are busier than when we were working, so be prepared to examine and prioritize because you probably will have to let some things go. You’ll still have to decide what’s TRULY important.”
So if you are anxious about your retirement days, fear not. Lay out your budgeted plan, stick to it for one to two years BEFORE retirement and take the leap. We may be on our way out out of this earth, but we sure are enjoying the joy of doing it fully for Jesus and His church.
Martha Wild King, M. Ed., Author
The Frugal Catholic: Learn to live on less to give and save more.