Shirley shares the story of her and her husband's civil service retirement.
Shirley grew up near the Cherry Point military base on the coast of North Carolina, and married Jerry who started working for the Civil Service in 1960. About 6 years later, Shirley also went to work for the federal government.
Shirley and Jerry raised 3 daughters over the years, and beginning in 1967 Shirley's mother also lived with them.
In 1993, in their early 50's, Shirley and Jerry retired from the Civil Service, with 27 and 33 years of service respectively.
Their federal government pensions were provided in the form of an annuity.
Even though both had worked outside of the government and paid some to Social Security, because they had federal pensions, their social security benefit was reduced by about two thirds.
Shirley and Jerry had hoped to see the country after retirement, but since Shirley's mother wasn't able to travel comfortably, they put off those plans for a while, but managed to take a short trip to Jersey with a sister.
In 1995, Jerry took a job with a Cherry Point government contractor doing work he had done before retirement. Sadly, he only lived 6 weeks after that.
Only a few short months later, at age 97 1/2, Shirley's mother was also gone.
Even though Shirley was well situated and working a familiar job after losing her husband and mother, her daughters didn't want her to be on her own. They persuaded her to move nearer to them.
So she sold her home, quit her job and moved to Florida. She had envisioned a life of leisure in retirement, but life seems busier than ever, with family, friends, and church activities.
After several years of widowhood, Shirley remarried and enjoyed a second happy marriage with a sweetheart from her youth. Widowed a second time, she now lives on her own again and spends time with her family and friends.
Shirley's retirement story gives two important lessons we should all consider. The first is that we should not put off living our dreams.
After long careers, Shirley and Jerry thought they would get the chance to see the country, but time got away and it didn't happen in time.
Caring for others is important, but it's also important to care for our own life, too, since we only get one chance to do it.
The second lesson Shirley offers is related to money management.
Early in retirement, she was offered an opportunity for financial advice for managing her federal employee retirement benefits (fers), but didn't take advantage of it.
Now she suggests everyone listen to retirement planning advice, and learn more about money management as early as possible to have the best chance of making the most of it for a long retirement.