On Track

After years of being on a career track (I changed lines a few times, but I was continually on a track owned by someone else) I am having trouble identifying the track I should be traveling in retirement. I watched the “Lego Movie – 2” with some of my grandkids the other night, and I felt like my retirement track was similar to the roads the Lego characters traveled – thrown down in front of me as I go. I’ve been told that this is one of the perks of retirement, but I’m always afraid I’ll do the wrong thing (really, I’m always afraid… of making the wrong choices, of offending someone, of wasting time, of wasting money, of smiling too much, of not smiling enough; it’s exhausting).

I see commercials for financial retirement plans that promise to provide the right track for retirement. I don’t think I qualify for those plans. I’m not independently wealthy with a lot of money to put in to a retirement plan. I don’t want for anything: food, clothing, shelter, entertainment; so I am doing okay, I just doubt the longevity of my retirement track. What if my track ends before I end? What if, in a here-to-for luckless life, I’m experiencing a temporary moment of luck, manifesting as fiscal adequacy? I’m afraid it will come to an unexpected and abrupt end.

My daughter, in an attempt to maintain some maneuverability in my granddaughter’s room, periodically gathers up toys that are not being played with and gives those toys to charitable organizations. While staying at our house earlier this week, six year-old granddaughter Liadan was lamenting the loss of her doll houses . Although she hadn’t been regularly engaging in play with her doll houses, she immediately recognized their absence and mourned their absence throughout her visit with us. She began to worry about other toys that might turn up missing. She is worried that her Mom, in her next toy purge, might include her Marty McFly action figure. Liadan has been enthralled with the “Back to the Future” movie franchise from the age of three. When her Mom arrived to pick her up, she immediately brought up the missing doll houses and with big tears in her eyes said, “Just promise me you won’t get rid of my Marty McFly.” Happily, her Mom agreed.

Marty McFly is safe!

I wish I could implore the stock market not to devalue my retirement stock holdings. To whom can I cry, “Just promise me the value of Home Depot stock won’t fall”? And here I am back at the depot for my Retirement Track. I think I need to be laying tracks that embrace frugality (this is a component of my Retiree Position Description). Maybe my Retirement Tracks need to be made of recycled aluminum. There will be no golden spike in this track. I’m pretty sure that’s okay. Truly, I have enough money, I just don’t have MORE than enough money.

There are LOTS of great money quotes out there. The common theme is that it’s not about quantity or even quality, its about how you use what you’ve got. There are quite a few “time is money – time is better than money – spend time before spending money” type quotes out there too. Which brings us back to retirement, where any lack of money is compensated by availability of time.

So I will take my time (currently, my most readily-available resource) and leisurely lay my Retirement Track, except while working on grout-related projects, because there’s no “leisurely” in anything related to grout.

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