Friday, October 28, 2016

What Constitutes a Good Life?

I've been thinking about what it takes to live a good life in retirement. My husband is considering his options for after he reaches retirement age and has been concerned about whether or not we will have enough income. It doesn't help to see all the guidance that claims one will need enormous amounts of money in retirement accounts and that Social Security won't be enough.

My concerns about the environment, too, led me to look at My Make Do and Mend Life, again. One of the comments on her October 13th blog entry led me to Shannon Hayes' writings. In her book, A Homespun Mom Comes Unraveled, she talks about people using their purchases to "vote for the kind of planet and society they wanted to be part of." She also discusses what she calls "radical investing," which really speaks to my issues with the idea that one needs to have a large income in order to live a happy life. For us, that means that we have reduced our cost of living by eliminating our debt, purchase only what we really need, and that we take care of what we have. We have also set aside an emergency fund to cover unexpected expenses, regularly add to savings (including a dedicated fund for property taxes and house insurance), keep track of where we spend our money, budget for regular expenses (including "mad money" we can spend as we wish), and we try to make gifts and some of the things we might want.

While we do have my pension, which was built up by an 8% contribution from my income and a matching amount from my employer, since I worked for a public university, my Social Security income will be reduced, even though I paid into the system there in other jobs. There is a movement to have that law changed, but I don't feel I can count on it happening. (The law was set up to prevent public employees from "double dipping," even though people who work for corporations can have the same type of set up for pensions through their employers and get the full amount of Social Security for time they paid into the system.)

Beyond the pension and Social Security income, we have a small amount in annuities, which will provide additional funds, and we have medical insurance coverage. Altogether, however, our totals are well below what the "experts" say is necessary. Given the fact that we have been tracking expenses, I have calculated we will be fine, even though that is the case.

We will continue to vote for a planet and society that cares for the earth and other people, as well as ourselves. As with the choices we made that enabled us to create a certified wildlife habitat with our suburban property, we consciously decide what is most important to us. That does include the idea of downsizing in retirement, as well as continuing the practices that have allowed us to live well on considerably less per year than the experts see as necessary.

What do you think? How do you vote with your purchases?

Until next time, I wish you peace.

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