Another beautiful summer has arrived on the Eastern Shore. While you’re enjoying your vacation with loved ones, Matt Repass wants you to consider how you’re going to prepare financially for a permanent one
While we work, the seasons of the year seem to come and go so quickly. We trudge through the grays of winter, when we leave for and arrive home from work in darkness, and finally emerge months later shading our eyes against the brilliant sun and the burgeoning beauty of spring. With renewed energy we welcome the rebirth and awakening of the flora and fauna as they whet our appetite for warmer days ahead. When fall arrives and the kids head back to school, activities, sports and homework have parents on full-time call to ferry them here and there while trying to squeeze in their own careers. Fall certainly has its beauty; however, to me it is more than anything else a herald of the cold and colorless winter to come.
I’ve always loved the summer: the warm weather; vacations at the beach; days so long you could squeeze in 18 holes after work, go fishing or simply relax on your porch with a good book, sipping iced tea, until the light finally fades. Each day as I head to the inlet, I can’t wait to open my windows to take in the most beautiful smell I know: the salt air of the ocean. While the aroma is there throughout most of the year, the salt air of summer seems just a little sweeter. Like the song says, Summertime, and the livin’ is easy... yet it is also a reflection of what I find a great number of my clients live on a daily basis—more aptly known as retirement.
As we move into another summer season and I see those people, who, like myself, try to wring every possible ounce of enjoyment out of their vacations before having to pack their cars and head back to wherever “reality” is for them, I’m struck by a thought: What will each of us do with our time once we reach the permanent vacation status of retirement, when every day can resemble the recreation-filled days of summer?
Though many of us in this area moved here as a part of their “permanent summer” plan, I’ve witnessed others who have left the area, and the reason has nothing to do with dollars and cents. To quote Abraham Lincoln: “What matters is not the number of years in your life. It’s the life in your years.”
What I’m actually wondering is will we be ready when retirement arrives? Will we simply just tell the boss “I’m through”; grab the spouse, sell the house and move to our own ideas of paradise without a plan?
Certainly money has an enormous impact on the style of retirement we may have, and sometimes that might differ greatly from the style of retirement we want, but there is more, much more, beyond the dollars and cents.
It has often been said that people spend significantly more time planning their vacations than they do planning retirement. I have witnessed firsthand people sell their homes at loss and move back to where they lived during their careers because an important part of their retirement was missing. Some do this to be closer to family they may have left behind, but many leave because of a lack of engaging activities and a desire for balance in their lives. I often kid my workshop attendees that they need to think beyond retirement activities as simply playing golf seven days a week.
What I am speaking about really are activities that enrich your life: volunteering at a hospital; joining and being active in an organization or club; taking up a new hobby—or perhaps even work! The folks whom I’ve seen move back did none of these things, and it wasn’t long before our little slice of Heaven here at the beach became as unlivable to them as an inner-city slum, so back they went. I think one of the reasons people of
this area always seem so happy is due to the enormous community support that rallies around people in need or organizations that need help. While my “lifelong summer vacation” is still years away, I’m fortunate to have a roadmap before me of examples on how to enrich my life through the next 40 years of sunrises.
One final thought: The word “retire” itself has bothered me for many years. Look in Webster’s, and you’ll read that the definition includes “to withdraw from action” and “to move back: recede.” I’ve yet to meet anyone planning their retirement with that thought in mind. So, I would like to introduce my preferred word to describe this unique and hard-earned time of our lives: recreation. But to really get what I’m talking about, you must pronounce it “re-creation.”
While dollars and cents may help make our “permanent summer vacations” a life, it’s the enrichment of our activities, good works and involvement with the community that put life into our years—and re-creation into our lives.
PKS INVESTMENT ADVISORS, LLC
Offices in Salisbury, West Ocean City and Lewes
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