I know this couple fairly well- Jack and Cheryl. Is this their best time to retire?
They're in their sixties, he's already 65, she's just two years behind him. They've done most everything right so far in their lives together. Jack and Cheryl planned and saved and took the lumps that come with raising a family and came out on the other side with their health and their savings intact. Is this their best time to retire?
And all of this while Jack was often the only one making money.
They still lived out their dreams with Cheryl being a homemaker, though every so often she would have take a modest retail job a couple nights a week.
But it was worth it- they knew it would be to have the chance to retire this year. They planned ahead and for something close to the worst and Jack and Cheryl came out on the other side in good financial shape.
But they still have worries. Even though they planned for the rough times as well as the good, well, who would have even seen these rough economic times coming? The children are grown, but not all are independent. And though the countdown which began so many years ago is winding down, it's both exciting and nerve-wracking for Jack and Cheryl.
Jack will begin the transition in the middle of the year, drawing it out a bit by working part-time to keep some income flowing while they wait for Cheryl to qualify for Medicare. But what if this is just the first delay? What if Jack has to stay on part-time for years instead of months? Will they ever really be secure enough to stop having income?
Jack and Cheryl's worries are more common for retirees than ever: The baby boomers are reaching retirement age right when our economy is crippled and staggering, creating a worryingly uncertain future for government aid. Maybe it's a shift in culture, a different future where Jack might have to work until seventy just to stay afloat.
But Jack is exhausted, working full-time for almost fifty years. And the number 70 is intimidating. He can't help but be scared of it. They've taken care of themselves- fiscally and physically- and they are active in mind and body. But 70 has gravity.
It scares Cheryl, too. Even more so when she wonders about the stability of her sons and daughter. She can feel how close she is to that milestone as well. Retirement shouldn't be about trepidation. Jack and Cheryl know this as well. The fear and uncertainty is real and it does grip them, but whenever they feel it, one can look across the living room or kitchen table into the others eyes, and feel the excitement again.
They know how to approach this- it's a time to enjoy with everything they have left. Jack wants to see the country and Cheryl wants to experience all the things she couldn't while raising three children.
It's like being twenty again, they say.
The uncertainty will come and go, but in the end, it's exciting.
Jack and Cheryl are realists, they know this means the final act is arriving and the curtain will soon close.
That just means to them that what matters most is making the finale great.
Their free time will be used for living, not for fretting and waiting for the end.