Death by Retirement

I originally wrote this post two years ago, but it remains my most popular. It also generated the nastiest comments. Today, I post it again for new readers. I rewrote it and added an update for those of you who may have read it before.

When I share my early retirement dreams with people, the most common argument I get is this: “If you retire, you’ll die. Your life will lack purpose and you’ll whither away to nothing.” Normally, I dismiss this advice as jealousy or incomprehension, but recently I realized that this is exactly what is happening to my parents.

Retirement is the worst thing to happen to my mom and dad. I really believe it is going to lead them to an early death. First, dad.

Dad Forced into Retirement

When the Great Recession hit, my dad was laid off. He was in construction and jobs were nowhere to be found. He received unemployment compensation for a couple years and then gave up and took his retirement pension. His mental health started going downhill rapidly when he realized he wasn’t going to work again.

My dad had always validated his existence through his work. Without work, he felt useless and empty. After retiring, he sank into a deep depression, often staying in bed for up to 20 hours a day. He gained weight and became withdrawn. A doctor put him on some anti-depressants that made things even worse. During his waking hours, which were few, he was far away. My mother had no idea how to deal with it, so she did nothing. I didn’t live near them, so it was difficult for me to help.

To get him out of it, my siblings and I took action. I called his psychiatrist and explained what had become of him. We then filled his life with activities. We encouraged him to start volunteering, which he did for a while at Habitat for Humanity. One sister taught him to cook, which to everyone’s surprise, he enjoyed. He has since stopped volunteering and doesn’t cook much, but at least he’s not sleeping 20 hours/day anymore and has a personality.

Full Time TV Watcher

My mother still has a part-time job, but it should be full time. Hours not spent at work are filled with TV and going out to eat with my dad. Really, that’s about it.

When I was a child, my mother was a disciplined, hard-working person. She would to go to bed at a decent hour and wake up at 7 or 8 am. No more. The other week I called my mother at 11:00 am and quickly realized that I had woken her up:

  • Me: Mom, are you asleep? It’s 11 am! Are you feeling OK?
  • Mom: Yeah, I’m still in bed. I’m fine. I stayed up late last night watching some shows.
  • Me: Ummmmmmmmmmmm, what time is late?!?
  • Mom: 3 am or so.

Two Wrongs make an even Bigger Wrong

When I go for visits, I notice how far I’ve drifted apart from my parents:

  • Me: I’m waking up at 5 am tomorrow to go for a hike to the top of Turtlehead Peak.
  • Parents: Are you nuts? 5 am?
  • Me: Ummmmm. Do we have plans for later today?
  • Parents: Well, not really.

I think it’s crazy that with all the time in the world, my parents choose to do nothing. Very little travel. No exercise. No hobbies (Is collecting cats a hobby?). Not much socializing. Poor hygiene. Not much more than TV and unhealthy meals.

When I visit, it really hits home. Half of the conversations start out with, “Did you see what happened on this or that TV show?” Nope, I just don’t have time for TV*. Their life the path of least resistance and it is horrible.


My parents existence

My mother recently had a minor heart attack and the doctor said it probably wasn’t the first. I was hoping this would be a wake up call. It wasn’t. Cheeseburgers rule the dinner table. Exercise is a foreign concept. I don’t understand.


I’ve come to realize that retirement requires work and planning. You can’t just stop working and expect life to come to you, especially if you don’t have friends or family near and participate in few activities.

All of this scares me a little bit. After all, at the core, this blog is about Financial Independence and leaving work. I still haven’t figured out exactly what I’m going to do, but I have some pretty good ideas. Right now, I never have time to do everything I want to do during the day. Here are some things that I’ll do when I don’t have a full-time job:

  • Exercise: I love biking and hiking. Wouldn’t it be great to start off every day with a 50 mile bike ride or a good hike into the mountains?
  • Write software: My full-time job is writing code and I do like it. However, if I didn’t have a job, I could make time to write the software that I really want to write. I have loads of ideas floating around in my head; I just don’t have the time.
  • Kids!: My job is pretty flexible and I’m able to go to many of my children’s activities, but not all of them. As my kids grow older, their activities will increase and I want to be there for them. With no job, I’ll be free to attend everything.
  • Read: I love reading and I have about 10,000,000 books that I’m waiting to dig into.
  • Travel: The kids will be in school for 9 months out of the year. The way I see it, that leaves 3 months for epic adventures! We’ll be hitting the open road and the blue skies.
This is how I see it.

This is how I see it.

The more I think about it, the less I worry. There is a huge world out there with possibilities everywhere. While our family is scattered, we have lots of great friends close. I’m not sure where retirement will take me, but I’ll be free to do anything. It’s really incredible to consider the possibilities.

One thing I won’t be doing though is watching more TV.


Update (8/30/2015): My dad is doing well. One sister moved back to their town and she keeps him occupied. He is probably the best he’s been in years. My mom is still the same. Despite the heart attacks, she sees the doctor’s orders to eat less red meat and fried junk as a personal affront.

The thought of a heart attack is completely terrible. Think of it. The heart never gets a rest, pump, pump, pumping away. I’m seeing to it that I take good care of mine. I wish my mother felt the same way.


*I’m not one of those pretentious types who brag about not owning a TV. I actually own two of them. I just don’t have time to watch them much. (Mrs. 1500 note: He HAS the time to watch them, he just chooses to do other things with his time. There have been shows we have watched in the past, like Lost and Arrested Development, but most TV shows are crap, and why waste time?)

**My dad is staying with us now to help with electrical work. After about a month of being here, my mom told me over the phone that dad was upset that we hadn’t hooked up the TV yet. With our recent move and a lot of stuff going on, we hadn’t bothered to take it out of the box. We noticed that my dad instantly went from reading books to spending every free minute in front of the idiot box, re-watching entire series on Netflix. RE-WATCHING, meaning he has already seen then entire thing, and chooses to view it again. Sigh.

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138 Responses to Death by Retirement

  1. My mom and your mom should hang out sometime. It seems they had the same work to television-centric retirement path. My sister and I try to get her out of the house, just to walk the dog or get out into the neighborhood a bit, but she’s having none of it. Give her some sports & sitcoms to watch for 14 hours and she’s happy.

    I don’t want to sound too judgmental because, like your parents, my mom worked preposterously hard her whole life, from her childhood in the Philippines and up into her sixties in the US. Still, it’s funny what she’s chosen to do with all this extra time.

    Maybe there’s a grain of truth to the idea that retirement poses its own risks. We ought to approach it carefully: more time doesn’t necessarily lead to a better life.
    Done by Forty recently posted…Football, Losing, & Bad BehaviorMy Profile

    • 1500 says:

      “We ought to approach it carefully: more time doesn’t necessarily lead to a better life.”

      Yeah, very wise thought. At least we are cognizant of it. Therefore, we can learn from the mistakes and not repeat them.

    • Sioux says:

      My mum was forced into retirement at the grand age of 65. She had worked since she was 14 years old. She was always on the go and busy busy busy. Then once retirement hit: she did nothing.

      Her days consisted of watching TV all day, smoking a pack of cigs a day and eating a poor diet.

      She refused to exercise or join social groups. She was a ticking time bomb.

      Two years into retirement she developed diabetes and high blood pressure.

      A year later she had a heart attack and stroke.

      Her life had done a complete 180. Three years after retiring she was now paralized on her left side. She ended up in a rehab hospital for 3 months, then home with me with a complete loss of independance and mobility.

      Retirement scares the crap out of me.

      • 1500 says:

        Wow, but you shouldn’t be scared. Now that you’ve seen the mistakes, you will avoid them.

        I am sorry to hear about your mother. Perhaps we nees retirement classes? A lot of folks could sure benefit from them.

    • You’ve raised a really interesting discussion here.

      One point I would make with people attempting to retire early is that we have much less to fear than the average joe who accepts their lot and works till normal retirement age… We are already having independent thoughts and going against the grain from a young(ish) age. If you have lived to 65 without questioning the norm, then you have two things against you, 1) you are probably knackered from a lifetime of work. 2) you haven’t had any time to develop independent thinking. I think both of these things complement and reinforce each other, in the sense that 1 is the cause of 2, and once the free time is in abundance, if you try to get someone to think/act independently and they are knackered from working all their life, then they can’t / won’t want to do it.

      Again I echo DB40’s thoughts… don’t wanna sound judgemental there, it’s just the way I am seeing things, I could be way off the mark of course!

      My mum and dad also seem glued to the gogglebox as they are nearing retirement age, but maybe they always have been, and it’s only now that I am noticing it, having lost interest in the last few years.

      Another thing with TV is that they grew up when it was this new fangled amazing invention, they are the TV generation so to speak, maybe in the way that we’ll be glued the internet when we reach that age (as if we aren’t already!?) – Maybe our kids will be recording 3d messages on their vlogs in 35 years time, exasperated that we still sit on our crumby old iPad 17s and reading PF blogs, rather than checking out the latest virtual hike along Saturns outer rings down at the total recall centre 🙂
      theFIREstarter recently posted…2014 AspirationsMy Profile

      • 1500 says:

        “One point I would make with people attempting to retire early is that we have much less to fear than the average joe who accepts their lot and works till normal retirement age…”

        I completely agree! Another point is that if you plan to retire at 65, you are probably spending money with that in mind. A lot can happen over the all that time. You’ll probably lose your job at least once. You could have a debilitating accident and have to leave. If you narrow your working life down to 10 years for example, you have a much shorter span to worry about. Also, you are forcing yourself to examine your money habits with an electron microscope.

  2. Matt Becker says:

    I’m sorry about your parents, but this is a really great lesson. Keeping yourself sharp is not just important for your own health, but for the people around you as well. I would want to make sure I was in condition to be able to truly enjoy and teach my grandkids, and even great-grandkids, for as long as possible. Retirement is an ability to focus your time on the activities that bring as much positivity to your life as possible, not a reason to completely disconnect from the world.
    Matt Becker recently posted…Buying a Car: How to Negotiate With the DealersMy Profile

    • 1500 says:

      Yeah, I agree! I’ve even read studies that claim keeping your mind stuff may help prevent dementia and Alzheimer’s.

      For me, I want to be as good as I can be at all times; mentally and physically. No exceptions.

  3. I think Mr PoP’s dad has been a good example of some of what we imagine is possible in retirement. (He retired when Mr PoP was in high school and fills his days with things like cultivating a giant garden in the summer, restoring antiques, and traveling to fairs throughout the eastern us to visit with old friends who share his antique hobby. We wouldn’t do the same things of course, big I’ve never walked into their house and seen him parked in front of the TV either. And yet, he’s managed to fill the last 13 or 14 years of his life no problem!
    Mrs PoP @ Planting Our Pennies recently posted…$150 In Write Offs, And Happier For ItMy Profile

  4. Rory says:

    I’m also sorry about your parents. As Colonel Sanders said, ‘a man will rust-out before a man will wear out.’ As a general rule, I try to live my life my life in a way that Colonel Sanders would appove of.

    But in all seriousness, I’m trying to convince my mother to retire – at 63. She’s got fairly fat cash, 2 retirements, 2 social securities. But she ‘doesn’t know what to do with herself’ outside of work. Perhaps its generational? I don’t think I’m lazy at all, but the most interesting people I know aren’t defined by thier jobs (and the inverse is also true). I also had parents who weren’t around much as a kid, so I know I don’t want to do that thing.

    Nice link to the ‘bragging about not owning a TV’ rant. Unfortunately I see a bit of myself in those brags, telling people why ‘TV’ rots your brain. I gave the speech yesterday, in fact. But I’m going to stick with my current belief that I’m still better than you for not having TV in the house. 🙂
    Rory recently posted…A Quick Update on the Site & the Case StudiesMy Profile

    • 1500 says:

      Wow, that quote is awesome and I really like this too: “the most interesting people I know aren’t defined by their jobs.”

      There is a lot of truth in that. I remember at my first real job, people were completely wrapped up in their job. People worked long hours and the would go play softball in the corporate league. After that, everyone would go out for drinks together. One day, layoffs came and the guy in the cube across from me got canned. He was crying his ass off, right there in the aisle as he carried his stuff out. His whole life was work and now it was gone.

      I like the ‘TV rots your brain speech!’ Seems like some people say it just to say it. Those are the annoying ones. If you live, by all means preach it!

  5. Great article. I have heard many similar stories about people who retire. Fortunately, my grandparents all stay busy enough that I don’t see this happening to them. I do agree that it’s important to at least find a hobby with purpose when you are retired. It’s easy for the mind to shut down if it’s not being used.
    Jake @ Ca$h Funny recently posted…Why I am so Passionate about Personal FinanceMy Profile

  6. Stephanie says:

    sounds so much like my husband’s dad and step-mom – at one point they had 3 dvrs because they were recording so many shows they needed an extra box! They are always trying to talk to us about shows they watch – we haven’t had cable in 9 years . . . They never stay more than 24 hrs and I’ve heard my MIL joke that they ‘just get too far behind with their shows’ if they stay longer. Alrighty then. They both retired from the government positions the minute they turned 55 and have been glued to the TV ever since. what a waste.

    • 1500 says:

      Whoah, terrible. What an empty existence. I wonder how much you shorten your life by? This lifestyle just can’t be good. I would go nuts.

  7. Ouch! That sucks. I know a lot of people who retire and fill their lives with activities. I think some people are even busier than they were before.
    I probably wouldn’t last in retirement if it meant sitting in front of a TV. I would go crazy after two weeks. Maybe one week. I need activities!
    SavvyFinancialLatina recently posted…What I Want Out of Life at 23My Profile

    • 1500 says:

      Yes, me too! If I’m not busy, I lose my mind. I think I could find stuff to do without a 9-5 though.

      When I do accomplish my goal, I think I’ll my dream of being an entrepreneur. Cool thing is that it won’t matter if I fail.

  8. SusieQ says:

    That is sad about your parents, and I am sure you worry/stress about their situation, often feeling helpless. It’s hard to help/change people who don’t want to. Fortunately, my parents have kept active in retirement – my father, at 85, still rides his bike 3-4 miles a day! My mom (81), not quite as active, still volunteers one day a week at a local hospital. So it’s important to HAVE hobbies/activities that will keep you busy and your mind active. My husband and I are also 2 years into early retirement (50 & 60) and are keeping very active. We exercise at our local Wellness Center 3-5 times a week, travel, each have loads of hobbies, read a LOT, interact with my BIG family, etc. (NO TV for us, either!!). I guess I would say you NEED to have hobbies/interests outside of your job. Whether is a learning something new, volunteer thing, or participating in clubs, etc. Just GET OUT and keep moving! If you don’t have any outside interests, etc., well then, you may as well keep working (if possible). To sit home and rot on the couch in front of the TV is a sad, sad way to end your life.

    • 1500 says:

      You’re fortunate to have lots of family around! Mine is so spread out, we hardly ever see each other.

      My folks like 800 miles away in Las Vegas. Some people think that LV is a fun place to visit (I don’t), but it’s not fun to live there. Summers are scorching and the culture just seems all wrong. I am trying to persuade my family to move closer. Who knows if I ever will. I’ll never give up though.

  9. It is amazing how much this part of your paragraph resonated with me, “I think it’s crazy that with all the time in the world, my parents choose to do nothing…No exercise. No hobbies…TV and going out to eat unhealthy meals. That’s it.”

    My parents both willingly retired about a decade ago and now they do nothing. Just sit around, watch hours of TV and eat out 3-5 times a week. It frustrates me to no end and I’ve basically given up caring.

    If you had all the time in the world, how could you not find a better way to spend it than to sit around all day??
    Brad @ recently posted…Southwest Airlines Visa New 50,000 Bonus Point OfferMy Profile

    • 1500 says:

      I KNOW!

      The world is wonderful! Sometimes, I just walk out my front door with absolutely no destination or purpose. I just walk around for hours with my camera and observe. It’s actually really great. There is so much to our little green-blue sphere. If I didn’t have to work out of my home office, I’d probably spend very few waking hours in my home.

  10. You know, I’ve heard that a wise man thinks about death. So looking at our life in the scale of things is a pretty important evaluation.

    I’m not retired, but I was unemployed for a year. It was fun for two weeks, but it ground down on my confidence as a man. It got to the point it was hard to even get more than 1 single thing accomplished in a day.

    You’re a great son for helping out and filling up his life with some adventure and things that really matter!
    Todd @ Fearless Dollar recently posted…Getting Courage To Look Ahead and Take Action for Your RetirementMy Profile

    • 1500 says:

      “I’m not retired, but I was unemployed for a year. It was fun for two weeks, but it ground down on my confidence as a man. It got to the point it was hard to even get more than 1 single thing accomplished in a day.”

      Yikes, hearing stuff like this scares me. Could you be happy not working if you were confident you had all of the money you would ever need?

      • Joeblow says:

        I left a very stressful job last year and decided not to look for another one for a while, for 6 months I was free so to speak, I had plans to travel and do all kinds of things and all I ended up doing was sitting around the house becoming depressed and bored, the more boredom took over the less I did, I’m 34 and not in my 60’s. It’s easy to say you’ll do this or that but the truth is that many of us don’t for various reasons.

        • 1500 says:

          Good point! Retirement takes work. It’s not just going to come to you.

          • Dean says:

            I’ve been laid of 4 times in the last 10 years. I’m 58 now so have had the time to think about what I am going to do when I retire. I am a runner, so I’ll continue to do that, do lots more walking and reading and working in the yard – we hire a guy to cut the grass now. Since we have a house there is ALWAYS something to fix, clean, etc.

            BTW I am working again, but I am looking forward to retiring and doing what I WANT to do vs what I HAVE to do.

            Thank you for sharing.

          • 1500 says:

            So, it seems like you’ve had a test run and that is good.

            Lately, I’ve thought that there should be classes on how to retire properly. Maybe a non credit course at the local community college. Some people get it right, but others like my parents get it horrlbly wrong.

        • Babs says:

          Involuntary medical retirement (injury) from an excellent and fast paced job at 39 (no warning) sent me into a tailspin. I managed to stay occupied for several years with horses and various volunteer work. However, new diagnoses a few years ago have me homebound most days (age 52, no children or family or many ffriends nearby). As an extrovert, I go CRAZY with boredom, restlessness, and isolation. It is pure hell. I often go for days without speaking to anyone since most people choose to communicate via messenging now.

          No doctors or counselors understand the scope of my isolation because I’m “younger” but living the life of an 80 year old shut in. I realize many disabled/medically retired live similarly and I don’t know how they do it.

  11. Micro says:

    Your comment about re-watching shows reminds me of a reason why I refuse to re-read any book, no matter how good it was. There are so many different books to read out there. Yes, it’s nice to walk down memory lane of an old tale but it is so much better to experience a whole new story.
    Micro recently posted…Dividend Day: A day of cash windfalls.My Profile

  12. E.M. says:

    Interesting perspective. My dad was also forced into retirement – he was laid off right before Christmas a few years ago and tried to look for jobs to no avail. He was a system admin and unfortunately couldn’t compete with kids fresh out of college willing to take any salary. My dad has always been anti-social and withdrawn, but I think it hit him hard because he could no longer provide for my mom and I. My mom felt enormous pressure on her and her salary barely cut it. They were both very much looking forward to getting the house sold and being able to move on to retirement.

    They are beyond happy now, though my mom is a little bored. She will be getting a part-time job soon, and my dad is happily building things in the garage. It was his dream to get a space where he could work and they purposely purchased a house with a 2-car garage so he could enjoy his woodworking. So far he refinished the coffee table and built a bookcase. Likewise, my grandma is super active. She goes out all the time, plays cards with friends, goes to Atlantic City every month, and goes on vacation at least once a year. I definitely don’t want my retirement to be an endless cycle of eat->sleep->TV! I guess some people really do lose their identity a bit when they move on from their careers.
    E.M. recently posted…Why We Want To MoveMy Profile

    • 1500 says:

      “I guess some people really do lose their identity a bit when they move on from their careers.”

      I wonder how much of it is an American phenomenon. We seem to work longer hours than anyone else, especially Western Europe. Perhaps we need to re-evaluate our priorities?

  13. Hey Mr. 1500,
    It seems once your dad lost his work he lost his purpose. That is very difficult as you see your father wasting away. The key takeaway is that you will live a full life in retirement as you see how others live.
    charles@Gettingarichlife recently posted…Negative Net Worth Means You’re Paying To WorkMy Profile

    • 1500 says:

      Yeah, exactly. He has no purpose and at least now, doesn’t have any interest in finding a new one.

      • Dan Cousins says:

        Yes, it is sad to see people waste their life in front of a tv or any other form of sedentary activity . We all know exercise is very important for us physically and mentally, but I have to make one point. You lose energy as you age. Probably most of these post’s are from younger people with high levels of energy and find it difficult to imagine not being like that. Maybe we do rust out not wear out, but we also get bad knees, arthritis, etc, that prevents us from doing a lot of activities that we enjoy.
        Find time now to do the things you enjoy as they may not be as enjoyable later on.
        Sorry to seem so pessimistic.

  14. I love to sleep a little later on my days off and not make any plans or appointments until later in the day. I am off to work soon and it was dark at 6:00am. Soon it will be dark at 7:00am.

    In retirement I plan to rise when I feel like it. There will be lots of hours in the day for reading, walking with friends, caring for grandchildren and volunteering at the Habitat For Humanity Restore. Retirement is freedom and freedom is choosing when you sleep and when you rise.

    Your parents have some issues with life style but sleeping in is not a crime.
    Jane Savers @ Solving The Money Puzzle recently posted…Lottery Wins, BlackJack And Money Quickies For September 25, 2013My Profile

    • 1500 says:

      I plan on sleeping late too, but in their case, it is a symptom of greater issues. They have an almost complete lack of discipline. If they were doing other things right (bathing regularly, keeping a clean home, eating halfway decent), I’d have no issue at all with sleeping until noon on occasion.

  15. I’ve noticed that those that are retired without hobbies or other things to keep them busy always look older than other retirees that are active. My Dad has been retired for 2 years now and he is loving it. He plays golf 3 times a week and works in the yard/garden/plays with the dog in the spring and summer and does projects around the house in the winter. Sure he has let himself stay up a little later and sleep in a little later, but he is staying active and that is the key to a long, healthy retirement.
    Jon @ MoneySmartGuides recently posted…“Mine’s Broken!” Fixing Your Credit ScoreMy Profile

    • 1500 says:

      Your dad is an awesome role model for all retirees!

      I hope that I’ll be busier in retirement than I am with a full time job.

  16. Phew, makes me almost dread retirement. The post has been a real eye-opener, I projected my life some few years down the line and realized I have a lot of changes to be making along the way if am to remain active in body and mind during those golden years!
    Wonderful post
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  18. Doris says:

    Why hasn’t anyone mentioned the importance of friends and acquaintances when one retires? Families can be far flung (and judgmental) but having immediate contacts every day and friends one looks forward to visiting occasionally seems to be very important. I find the social thing is a little bit like back in grade school- best friend, buddy or freak – even pecking orders. I’m a bit of a loner, if truth be known, and I am active on tribunals, mostly by telecommuting, but I have time to hang with my new and long time friend.

    • 1500 says:

      Doris, you are spot on correct. I think that friends and family are probably THE most important aspect. Solid relationships with others are the key to a happy life. I really believe that.

      I also think that is one of my parent’s issues, maybe the core one. They moved 2000 miles away from all friends and family for no good reason. I would NEVER EVER move away from my family, especially my children. Not in a 100 million years.

      • Babs says:

        I posted above….
        Involuntary Medical Retirement at 39 (now 52). I am in CA and most of my longtime friends are back east. I’m trying to move back there, but husband doesn’t want to (he works remotely, so it is doable) and says we can’t afford. So, it may mean separation or divorce. He will probably never retire (62 now).

        Since my “disability retirement” at 39, I’ve done things alone since other people are either working or at home with kids and now, grandkids. Very difficult to find a place to fit in esp with unplanned retirement 25 years early.

        Yes, my life and social circle did revolve around my career.

    • Kathie says:

      I found upon retirement that the people I was friendly with at work were not really friends in that there was no contact after I left the workplace. I miss the comraderie of the workplace, but not being tied to a 9-5. I know it’s up to me to seek out others, but I have had too many negative experiences trying to make connections. So I substitute TV for social interactions for a couple of hours s day.

      • 1500 says:

        Why did the contact dropped off?

        I will miss the workplace too,. This is especially an issue for early retirees as most of my friends will still be working.

        • Kathie says:

          I think contact dropped off because what we had in common was our work. I went to a couple of after work meet ups, then noticed via fb that they had had a party for a visiting former employee. I hadn’t been invited. Time to move on.

  19. Mike says:

    Eight years ago at age 52 I had a growth removed from my lower spine while at the same time my wife was diagnosed with Ovarian cancer. As a result, we were both forced onto disability as we battled health issues. After 5 years, my wife passed away and I was left alone and out of work. Fortunately, and I know this makes a big difference, I am in a financially sound position. In spite of all I have been through and keep in mind I am still disabled, I am having a great time being retired. I have met someone else who is wonderful and I enjoy every day to the fullest. Perhaps because of all I went through, I make an extra effort to enjoy every moment. So to those who are sitting around moping about being retired? Get up, get involved in life and enjoy whatever time you have left. Retirement is a gift.

    • 1500 says:

      “Retirement is a gift.”

      Right on!! It’s clear that you don’t take it for granted and that makes all the difference!

      You’ve clearly been through some rough stuff. I’m glad you have found happiness despite it all.

  20. Ron Weisman says:

    I am sorry but your parents aren’t demented or otherwise impaired. I would not like to spend my days watching video but hey your parents days aren’t mine to control and they are not yours to control either. Many people might be critical of your distroying your body on a bike–which is just a child’s toy really make expensive enough to interest adults. Wonderful that you play with your kids, but if you didn’t live so far from your parents, they would play with your kids too.

    You need to find something important to do with your life so that you can lay off your poor parents. Their only crime is spending their time doing something you don’t.

    • 1500 says:

      “Wonderful that you play with your kids, but if you didn’t live so far from your parents, they would play with your kids too.”

      The distance is an interesting point in itself. About 10 years ago, they decided to move away from all family because they thought Las Vegas would be a cool place to live. I’d never ever move away from my family if I could help it. I think that their priorities are just out of wack in general.

      “You need to find something important to do with your life so that you can lay off your poor parents. Their only crime is spending their time doing something you don’t.”

      You completely misunderstand me. Family IS the most important thing in my life. My mom is in her early 60s and has had at least one, but probably more heart attacks. She can barely walk up stairs these days due her sedentary lifestyle. My dad will eat large, Costco sized bag of potato chips in one sitting.

      More than anything, I want to see my parents grow old. I want my children to know them. If they stay their current course, I don’t see either of them lasting until 70.

      Do I lay into them? Hell yes and I won’t stop. My children adore them and vice versa. I’d eat nothing but broccoli for the rest of my life if I knew it would give me another month with my children.

  21. Wolfhead says:

    I have been retired for 9 years. My lesson learned about retirement is that it is an extension of your attitude about life. If you we’re doing things that you enjoyed before you retired, then you will enjoy having more time to do them when retired.

    What you did is what you will do.

    If your day was going to work and when at home you just watched TV, ate and had no other activities/hobbies/etc., then retirement will be just more time for more of the same. Don’t expect a magical transformation in your life.

    So figure out how you want to live your life NOW (and it does not have to be playing golf, travelling, hiking, etc.) and then retirement becomes the next phase of your satisfying life.

    • 1500 says:

      Wow, this is a really great comment and applies directly. My parents also did nothing when they were working, so their retirement is just an extension of that.

      “So figure out how you want to live your life NOW (and it does not have to be playing golf, travelling, hiking, etc.) and then retirement becomes the next phase of your satisfying life.”

      I love his comment!

  22. 2nd Retirement says:

    At 65 I have numerous older relatives and friends. And, yes, even if it’s not a paying job it is so important to have work to do. Staying in the house, and not mixing with friends and family is bad idea for many people, not only does it lead to bad habits but it also builds a sense of frailty and fearfulness as I’ve seen in one of my relatives, even those who worked well into their 70’s. Money worries compound this issue. I’m concerned about the person who thinks retiring at 43 with $1M is a good idea. I retired (the first time) at 49 with 2x that amount, and believe me, unless you are willing to live a very constrained life for the next 60 years, $1M will not come close to it. I’m now back at work, rebuilding my nest egg, and count myself lucky.

    • 1500 says:

      With 1 million and no debt, I can spend 40K/year or about $3,000/month. I’d have to try hard to find a way to spend that much. However, I’m still a bit paranoid, so I plan on buying at least 2 rental properties before I take the plunge.

  23. moi says:

    Wait until you’re their age — you won’t be so flippant (or rude hopefully).

    Also, “come do daddy, Stephen King”?? Pretty gross.

    • 1500 says:

      Flippant and rude? I call it tough love. Did you miss the part about my mother’s heart attack? They’re not going to survive the decade if they keep up their current lifestyle. It is my dream for them to see their grandchildren grow up. Not gonna happen if they continue to put on 10-20 pounds per year in front of the tube. I’d much rather boss my parents around then have my mother die at 65 from health issues.

  24. Valerie says:

    My daughter sent me this post! We plan on retiring early and everyone keeps asking us why? Why? So we can read more, volunteer more, travel more, hike more, walk more, see the kids more – learn more! We thought we we move to a small town and go to university for a year for kicks! 🙂
    Valerie recently posted…Gluten Free Flour – How you can make your ownMy Profile

    • 1500 says:

      Hi Valerie-

      You sound like you have it figured out and I really applaud you for it! The idea of going back to school for a year is just awesome and I may steal that idea from you. Keep me updated on your adventures please!

  25. skydiver says:

    You need to try a ‘mini retirement’, it’s like practicing (or a skirmish) before the big game night so you know what to expect. I did one right out of Uni (not the ideal or logical time, but the free time was there) and I captured many, many learnings to be applied to retirement including what your parents are going through (the ‘blah’ effect).

    It sounds crazy but try getting them into video games. There is a social aspect to them that adds much more value than TV watching. Many retiree’s game now and stay connected through it. Start with some simple apple apps, find what they like.

  26. David Brown says:

    I think that it is important to pay attention to each stage in life. Retiring at the mere age of 43 is far too young. At that age you should be building a career and at 50 shifting to being generative. Helping ours find purpose and reach their potential. And then at 60 there is another shift, at least in my experience, when you start to refocus on who you are and what you would like to experience and feel before you die.

    We have a job to do, and that is to make a better world – for everyone, not just our kids – before we die. But, yes, also to find peace with ourselves. It is a great project! Stick with it man! Do not retire at 43!

    • 1500 says:

      Well, retirement means different things to everyone. Right now, I have to work at a job for 40 hours a week. If/when I retire early, I’ll continue to develop software, I’ll just do it on my own terms. I’ll definitely be busy!

      • Ron says:

        I’m 43, going on 44 and have been preparing fro early retirement the last 10 years. I now have 1.5 million invested and also own a business worth $800k. As much as I would like to sell the business and not have so much stress and retire early, I have been having second thought lately. Even though I love golfing, camping, tennis, etc. and sometimes wish I had more time for vacation, I now feel if I retire now, I would go from not enough time for vacation to too much time. You mention to retire on 40k a year. That was my goal 10 years ago and although I could still live on that amount if I wanted to, I feel it would restrict my retirement too much by not being able to travel, eat out, play golf at different courses, etc. So now I choose to continue to work so that when I choose to take a trip or go eat out, I don’t have to worry about the money I’m spending. I consider myself financially independent as I don’t have to save for retirement anymore and now I can spend my free cash from my salary as I feel and I am finding freedom in that.

        When I reached my retirement goal and decided not to retire, it made me realized that living my life to quit working early was probably not the best goal. Building strong friendship, stronger relations with family, finding enjoyment in work and finding balance in life are probably better goals.

        • 1500 says:

          Thanks for your perspective. I’ve often wondered if I’ll be able to leave my job should I meed my goal. I’d definitely have to have a plan to do something else. I’m a programmer, so I”d probably continue to write code, but on my own projects.

          Also, I suspect that working because you choose to and because you have to changes your mindset a bit too.

  27. Andrew Woburn says:

    I watched my parents go down the TV road in retirement with a critical eye. I didn’t understand why they didn’t make better use of their time but now I am retired, I have a sense of some of the issues.

    First of all you simply have less raw energy, strength and enthusiasm. I love boats. If I were 55 still, I would buy a dinghy and sail as much as I could. At 70, I am not sure I could rescue myself if it tipped over so I don’t sail. My reaction time and eyesight have deteriorated so I avoid heavy traffic and driving at night. You may want to go on a 50 kilometre ride every morning when you are 70 but I doubt it. I feel this way even though I am in great health and still strong enough to move my own furniture so I can only guess how frail I will feel at 80.

    Second, society has done such a good job of devaluing old age, that a lot of old people don’t want to hang out with other old people. I laughed when my 88-year-old mother complained she had to associate with all these “old people” at her assisted care home but I get it now. If you thought socializing with old people was lame when you were 55 you are not going to suddenly welcome it when you are 65. Nobody really believes they are 65. Nobody. Ever. However most people are not really comfortable socializing with people more than a decade older so social options can become quite limited.

    Third, you have spent your entire life responding to other people’s demands: parents, teachers, bosses, customers. Suddenly, nobody can make you do anything. You do nothing followed by nothing and suddenly doing anything seems like an effort. You fall into a state I call physical depression where, even if you are not sad, everything is too much trouble except mindless entertainment to pass the time. I don’t watch television but I found myself spending all day on the net. The temptation to further dull one’s mind with booze is enormous and fatal.

    The only way out of the depressive loop is light exercise which pumps up the oxygen content of the blood. Even though my parents walked relatively frequently, they did no upper body exercise and deteriorated faster than necessary IMO. Although I have always loathed gyms and hearty exercise, I now spend an hour a day on my exercise bike while I review my favourite websites and I use wrist weights when doing household tasks or driving. That very moderate amount of effort seems to keep me interested in life.

    My parents also went through the phase when they talked incessantly about what they heard on talk radio. I found it annoying especially since they had no real interest in political issues. I came to terms with it when I remembered an incident from the sixties when people from an old age home protested against being moved from a building in the Yorkville district in Toronto. The area had turned into what the authorities perceived as a hippie freak show and there was concern that the old people were frightened. No, said the old people, they loved the street theatre at the end of their garden and they didn’t want to be moved to some boring back street. It connected them to life as I assume the talk radio did for my parents. Perhaps that it part of the reason for the apparent television addiction of retired people.

    • 1500 says:

      Wow, thanks for your perspective. There is a lot of good information in what you say. Perhaps most important, stay active for as long as you possibly can.

      I notice the talk radio syndrome with my older relatives too. It’s amazing how seriously many folks take these people. It’s commercial radio! If they didn’t say crazy things, no one would listen and then they wouldn’t sell commercials. Turn that crap off!

  28. Art says:

    Wow! I had no idea what to do in retirement. My company cornered the employees who lived to be 60, then found a way to lead us out to pasture. After 33 years, I was happy to leave … to do something else. I get up at 6am and have the world to myself. While my wife sleeps, I feed the cats and dog and we sit out on our rural front porch and watch the world fly by on their way to work. By 8am, I’ve usually written local politicians a new set of ideas that might help them make our world a better place. Trying not to rant, I like to think that the suggestions are meant to express the feelings of the working poor, taxpayers, retired seniors and those who still care enough to vote. Some of our politicians just need a little help.
    As for socializing, I enjoy talking with older friends and retired strangers in a coffee shop setting. Most lived interesting lives and enjoy sharing their experiences – perhaps it makes them feel their lives made a difference. Unfortunately, many of them are now alone. A kind word and a smiling face can make their day. It could be me someday.

    I suffer from hearing loss and arthritis but try not to let it show. Somedays, I’ll walk four miles in the rain and listen to classical music through radio headphones. Sporting a beard and wearing a baseball cap, I wander through our neighborhood. Several times I’ve been scorned … perhaps thinking I’m homeless, drunk or that I’m a burgler.

    During the summer, I split several cords of firewood for the winter. I love the hardwork and the sensation of cold beer replacing the sweat. We spend alot of time with the grandkids. Fortunately, they still laugh with me and not at me. (So far). I’ve been married for over 40 years. My biggest fear is just being alone someday … But until then, I’ll spend a portion of the day writing.

    One should never retire. I rarely watch TV. Until then, I will go out, be active, eat well and smile … hopefully making my world a little better each day.

    • 1500 says:

      “Somedays, I’ll walk four miles in the rain and listen to classical music through radio headphones. Sporting a beard and wearing a baseball cap, I wander through our neighborhood. Several times I’ve been scorned … perhaps thinking I’m homeless, drunk or that I’m a burgler.”

      This is pretty awesome and you sound a lot like me. I love to put on headphone and wander aimlessly. Berlioz?

      Forget the scorners. Give them a smile and a wave and continue on your way!

      • Art says:

        Living on Vancouver Island (British Columbia) is a great place to be if you are retired, healthy and don’t mind mild weather with rain. The crime rate is low and many seniors volunteer. Foodbanks are rewarded by local generosity. I guess it is a way of “paying it back” if you’ve been fortunate enough to have had a good life.
        There are a lot of things to keep us folks (with creeking bones and poor hearing) busy. After reading “Death by Retirement” I am inspired. I plan to keep myself/spouse in reasonably good shape. Beer, wine, more salads , laughter with less stress are on the menu. Perhaps the Guiness Book of Records may include one of us in their Longevity Section.
        I’m writing a daily journal of how my retired anonymous acquaintances spend their time. We always planned our future course but Life has a funny way of tossing PLANS out the window.
        Eat healthy, (but enjoy some junk food) exercise and be kind to yourself.

  29. Anne says:

    Thank you for this article.
    I have seen my parents struggle in similar ways, and it has me worried but I hope by recognizing it in them, I can hopefully avoid the same fate.
    Anne recently posted…Don’t be a (city) hater…My Profile

    • 1500 says:

      Right on! I really do think that being aware of the situation is half the battle. When you feel yourself slipping, you can give yourself a good kick in the behind and get moving again!

  30. Bernard Lachance says:

    You’re bringing up an important point, not saying a major concern about retirement.
    I am among the lucky ones who can benefit from a government employees’ pension plan. In spite of that, one has to stay busy in retirement otherwise, he falls into despair and depression. During all my working years, I got involved and volunteered in several activities such as union tasks and various sports organizations, clubs and events in addition to my family commitments. That gave another meaning to my life and I’m glad I have done that because it helps me to accept my retirement more easily.

    I’ve been retired for 2 years now and I still feel I should go back to work part time sometimes. I probably will whenever I find something that suits me. As a matter of fact, I did work part time for a 8 month period within my 2 years of retirement. I like reading but I hate watching TV (except for watching the news, a good hockey or soccer game or a track & field championship once in a while). I kill most of the time by staying fit, training regularly, keeping a balanced diet, participating in master track & field (indoor & outdoor), hicking, bicycling, playing soccer sometimes with friends aged 50 and over, getting involved with my local Athletics club and masters athletics at the provincial and national level, as well as sport events organization.

    Some days, I feel haven’t done much for, every day is different. But, staying fit and moving around, keeps me in a positive mood and steers me away from depression and idleness. I will even refrain from driving my truck around and walk instead even for doing the grocery (provided I don’t do a full grocery) because I feel moving around is better for my health than sitting in a car.

    I find it sad when I see some friends and people I know getting out of shape, gaining weight, smoking and getting idle more and more. Life expectancy, which has increased a lot in the last 15 years, is a very good thing provided we age alert and in good shape. If not, to me it’s a sad thing. And so far, the only medicine known to fight alzheimer and demency is exercise and remaining active. Why not sticking to it?
    Don’t we deserve this type of retirement? Living longer is fine provided we do everything we can to remain healthy .

    • 1500 says:

      Bernard, I think you have it figured out. I especially like this line:

      “Living longer is fine provided we do everything we can to remain healthy.”

      Exactly! I don’t really care how old I am, just as long as I have high quality of life as long as possible. I’d rather die at 70 doing something I love than die at 96 in a half vegetative heap in a retirement home. I realize there are many things we can’t control, but I sure as hell am going to make full effort in what I can control.

  31. Love the honesty! My parents have a very simple routine they have been doing for 30 years too. In the summer, there is golf, but in the winter there is much more TV for my dad. They do socialize quite a bit though and they have huge families.

    While I am just about to reach 40 with 2 kids becoming teenagers, my time is very scheduled. I too have to get up really early to do exercise. I do have a plan on what I will be doing when I am retired. I would love to read more, travel more and learn to cook more. And then there is the blog …
    The Passive Income Earner recently posted…Should Your Bonds Allocation Match Your Age?My Profile

    • 1500 says:

      Exactly! I don’t have nearly enough time to do everything that I enjoy. Retirement will be when I can actually do more of all of that stuff.

  32. James says:

    We need much more attention on this issue and much less on the finances required to retire. Some great comments from readers.

    I don’t get a very warm reaction from acquaintances who are still working when I tell them that retirement is not guaranteed to be ‘golden’. In fact I find it awful, probably the worst period in my life.

    In 10 short years I went from an incredibly demanding job with a lot of international travel; a houseful of kids/teenagers/university students requiring help, advice, coaching in sports, attendance at events; friends who were mostly associated with our kids activities — to basically none of the above. I was defined by my work and my kids. Both ‘went away’ in that one decade. Grand-kids have not made an appearance nor are on the horizon — they seem to help.

    It would be easier if we were closer geographically to family but I have none and I am not sure I could be totally assimilated into what I still see as my wife’s family 2000 km away.

    I continue to volunteer but even that’s not a long term given. Eventually you lose relevance as you become the oldest one on the Board or lose touch with the latest technologies that are an essential component of today’s life. I see that happening and am cutting back on my one healthy outlet.

    Travel helps a lot. Somehow getting away makes us both happier. Having a schedule to be here and do this is very comforting. But it’s expensive and can realistically only use up (odd terminology) a couple of months a year.

    Sorry I don’t have the answers, except to not retire and to stay close to whatever family you have. One book I read recommended never retiring but to scale back your work and effort until they fire you — and use the time you save by slacking off to develop other interests. Don’t know if I could have turned it off like that but it might have been a better plan.

    One more thing, on your diagram, remove the kids as they move away, develop a bum knee (or equivalent) and assume you will fall behind in the mobile app development world, and you are not too far from your parent’s cycle.

    • 1500 says:

      You seem like a wise man who has done a lot of thinking on the subject.

      “One book I read recommended never retiring but to scale back your work and effort until they fire you”

      This is something I have thought of too. I may propose it to my work when the time comes. I’d love to work 3 days a week.

      “One more thing, on your diagram, remove the kids as they move away, develop a bum knee (or equivalent) and assume you will fall behind in the mobile app development world, and you are not too far from your parent’s cycle.”

      But, it’s all in the mindset. Family is the most important thing to me. If my kids move away, I’ll get an RV or buy a property near then so I can be close. If my knee goes bad, I’ll take up a low impact sport like swimming. If I don’t write mobile apps, I’ll write web apps or take some online courses to learn some other form of software development. Maybe I’ll take classes. I do know that I’m not going to let my body and mind waste away.

      • Mysticaltyger says:

        Did it ever occur to you that your kids might now WANT you to live that close to them? I love my parents, but having them in the same zip code (or even the same telephone area code) as me would drive me crazy. I hope you’ll take that into consideration.

  33. Jeff S says:

    Hi, I enjoyed the post. One crucial point is that the concept of giving up paid work in exchange for retirement is not really necessary. If you like what you do, I think it’s perfectly viable adjust your work/leisure balance to meet your needs. My step-father did this for years. He worked until he was 87, in the end he was working 3-4 mornings per week but he loved what he did and only retired when he felt that he was unable to keep up with the advancements in his field.

    I’m also in the software field and while I currently work full time, my long term vision is to slow my hours down so that I can work on my own software, still work for clients, and continue to do the leisure activities I enjoy.

    I also take exception to the term “work – life” balance. Work is an important part of our lives. While I do work alot of hours, I still manage to find time for family and the leisure activities I enjoy. What I don’t seem to have time for is watching TV and lying around doing nothing.

    • 1500 says:

      “I’m also in the software field and while I currently work full time, my long term vision is to slow my hours down so that I can work on my own software, still work for clients, and continue to do the leisure activities I enjoy.”

      This is exactly my plan! I’ve developed a couple iPhone Apps and would love to do more mobile development. I also do like my full time job, so I may ask them if I can go part time. I’d love to work 3 days/week instead of 5.

      “What I don’t seem to have time for is watching TV and lying around doing nothing.”


  34. Julie says:

    It comes down in part to diet. As we age, we have a harder time drawing energy from the food we eat due to poor digestion and other complications. If the diet is poor to begin with, a downward spiral is inevitable. Add to that a few injuries and surgeries and it becomes even more difficult to take any initiative. Those of us in our 40s need to ensure that we get more nutrition, not less, as we age, that we engage in moderate exercise (which has a huge impact on depression and well-being) and that we develop interests now that we can sustain through retirement. All of this will, however, only provide the foundation for a meaningful existence. We also have to exercise our will in the face of all the opportunities for lethargy (I myself watched several seasons of Breaking Bad on Netflix recently). But more than any of that we have to ask ourselves what exactly is the purpose of life in the first place? Why am I here? The people I know in their 80s and 90s that are the most active are those that have answered this question. If you know why you’re in this world, you will have a clear idea of what you should be doing. Otherwise, why not just watch TV?

    • 1500 says:

      “If you know why you’re in this world, you will have a clear idea of what you should be doing. Otherwise, why not just watch TV?”

      Wow, great thought! Perhaps finding a purpose is the key to the whole thing? I know that my parents don’t think they have any purpose. My dad’s purpose was to work. Not sure if my mom ever felt she had one. Now I”m getting sad.

  35. Laurence says:

    I’m not disagreeing with your take on what course of action your parents should take. Exercise, yes! Healthy food, yes! Books, yes!
    But, have you walked in your parents’ shoes yet? No, you haven’t. Perhaps life has worn them out, physically & mentally. It happens. You probably think you know what they have been through, in their lives. Chances are, you are wrong. Parents always protect their children, no matter how old their children may be. When you are my age, arthritic and perhaps suffering from various injuries sustained during the course of your life, you may have a different perspective. People get old. They wear out. And then, well, you know what comes next.

    • 1500 says:

      My goal is just to see my parents live a little longer. If they keep on as they are, they won’t survive the decade. My dad eats a whole bag of potato chips in one sitting. My mom has had one confirmed heart attack, but probably more. She exercised for a while after that, but now has given in up in favor of 8 hours/day of TV watching. I think the way they are behaving is way outside the norms and I disagree with it strongly.

      I haven’t walked in their shoes, but a hard life is no reason or excuse to let yourself waste away. They can walk. They can exercise. They just choose not to. They are only in their early 60s. Most of my 80+ year old relatives are in better shape.

      • HatterMike says:

        It’s a slippery slope when you start thinking you know how your parents should live their lives better than they do. What you say makes great sense and might be the model you follow when you are their age… or it might not. And then, how much would you enjoy having your kid publicly shame you for your lifestyle.

        There are a lot of folks who are not yet retired who spend time watching TV and eating junk food. That’s how these businesses have become so huge in North America. Just because you (and I, as it happens) don’t live like that, I don’t think it gives us licence to be superior and judgmental.

        • 1500 says:

          Did you read the part about the heart attack? My mom has had one confirmed heart attack, but probably at least two more. She is in her early 60s. I’m trying to save their lives.

        • Mysticaltyger says:

          I don’t think he’s trying to feel superior and judgemental. He’s frustrated at seeing his parents self destruct. It’s like watching a drug addict or alcoholic self destruct.

    • Babs says:

      Exactly, Lawrence.

      Throw in some chronic degenerative illnesses, chronic pain, and plans will be derailed. The less you do, the less you are able to or want to do.

      Many people will not admit this, but they don’t WANT to live beyond a certain age, especially if ill and unable to participate in life. More and more people are dying in their 40s, 50s, 60s. Some Risk factors are unemployment / disability and childlessness.

  36. Grandy says:

    Very Interesting discussion, Thanks for your sadly honest comments about your folks.
    We have now been retired 6 years. My husband found at 67 he was not enjoying going to work at something he had always loved. We had traveled to a few southern states during our winter vacations, so we knew that would be one part of our retirement plan. But you need a plan, and someone to push for it to happen. ( you DO need to practice)
    We are fortunate to have the means – but as our financial consultant has said, you can save all the money you want, but your health determines how your retirement unfolds.
    Look after yourself with exercise, both MIND and BODY, and feed yourself well, no matter what your age.
    Do not turn up your nose at spending time with seniors. They have a wealth of information to share, and just need the right kind of questions to get them talking.

    We love our winters spent south, as our communities that cater to seniors are filled with wonderful activities, from every sport you can imagine, to cards, and swimming pools, dancing clubs, singing groups, exercise facilities etc.
    This can be done inexpensively. There are R.V. parks that are 55 plus, and some park models can be purchased or rented for a few months, or longer, depending on finances. It can be fun spending time with those in your own age group, as there are many different connections, and similar attitudes.
    Please remember as a senior you need to show your young families that there is life after work. Teach them while you can that your family comes first OVER your work. You want your children to get to know the FUN you, and not just the person that hands out discipline, and is the ATM.
    Our children, (and 10 grands) spend time with us during their summer holidays, as some live far away, or we travel to them if we can. Yes, we are very fortunate, and continue in good health, but we seniors absolutely need to keep a positive attitude, or no one will want to sit by your side and have a conversation with you.
    Be sure the person you are with now, is someone who will keep you laughing and happy in the last third of your life. Yes, it is possible to retire happy !
    (Sorry – this came off more as a lecture – was not the intention! )

    • Mr. 1500 says:

      Don’t apologize, I love your comment. You have it figured out. I really like this part:

      “Do not turn up your nose at spending time with seniors. They have a wealth of information to share, and just need the right kind of questions to get them talking.”

      Someone else commented how older folks are devalued in our society. How true and sad. The guy down the street from us how just killed himself was a senior living alone. Terrible.
      Mr. 1500 recently posted…Thursday Rant: The 1500’s have the Drone! (and Dinobots)My Profile

  37. Marc says:

    I loved you article about your parents searching for a new way of living in their retirement. I agree with most of the posts here about finding a new identity for yourself in retirement. My wife and I are both 50 now and of course we both still work, since we have 2 kids in High School. Since the kids have their own interests now, we decided three years ago to get more involved in community sports.

    My wife and I are not waiting for the kids to grow up & move out to develop hobbies and social circles outside of work. We both play in an adult softball league in the spring & summer and we play Curling in the winter. (Some readers may know what Curling is..). The point is to not wait until retirement to find hobbies and interests.

    We are both fortunate in that we both have jobs that will provide a defined benefit plan in our retirement. I expect I will retire at 63. We live in Canada, where having health insurance is not tied to having a job (thank God!)

  38. Jennifer in Kingston Ontario says:

    First of all, I’m so excited that I found you on twitter, it’s so nice to see that there is someone else out there who is trying to retire early, I mean really early. Love it! I’ve mentioned around work a few times that I would love to get out early and retire in my 40’s and I’ve been told I’m nuts. One gentleman told me I would be bored in no time and would be asking for my job back. He knew someone who retired at 55 and within 2 years he was back because all of his friends were still working and he didn’t have anyone to hang out with….I said why didn’t he make new friends? I think people who have outside interests and hobbies besides work are the ones who do best in retirement, or those who like learning new things. I find that work usually gets in the way of my life, and that i have to put off things I’d like to do because of work, so I don’t think I’m going to have a hard time being “retired”. I’m looking at retirement as being able to do what I want to do, on my own schedule. My grandfather was 93 when he passed away, a strong, cheerful man right up until he had a stroke which killed him. He was out working on his ride em lawn mower the day he had the stroke, looking forward to the summer and doing his gardening again. Apparently he retired the year I was born, so I never knew him when he was still “working”. My grandmother retired a few years after him. The two of them always kept busy, my grandmother ran the charity fundraisers at the church, played bridge, took care of her elderly mother, babysat grandkids, knitted, read, played scrabble everynight with my grandfather, and went to the “farm” every summer, where the two of them tended their huge garden. Grandpa delivered meals on wheels, played bridge, babysat grandkids, gardened, did crosswords, and was always tinkering with things, fixing things around the house, fixing tools or the small mechanical things. They liked watching Lawrence Welk in the evenings and a few other shows, but loved playing scrabble with each other on the nights their favourite shows weren’t on. In my mind that’s what being retired is all about, being able to do things you want to do without a job interfering. They always had something on the go. When my grandfather died, my grandmother moved to an apartment building and there were a lot of other seniors in the building, they had so many activities on the go that it was annoying because we could never get a hold of granny in the evenings, she was never in her apartment, until the last few years when she started slowing down.

    I don’t think you’re going to have a hard time with retirement, I think you’ll definitely be able to find things to fill your days, I have a list of all the things I’m looking forward to having time to do, and I can’t wait to get there. Take care!

    • 1500 says:

      Hi Jennifer-

      First of all, thank you for the kind comments. I really appreciate them!

      “I find that work usually gets in the way of my life, and that i have to put off things I’d like to do because of work, so I don’t think I’m going to have a hard time being “retired”.”

      I feel the same way! I could use about 36 hours in the day. It just flies by too fast.

      I don’t think you’re going to have any problem at all!

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  40. I feel as though I am going through something similar currently in my life (and I’m only 27!). I feel so isolated. I work, go home, make dinner, watch a couple shows and go to bed. On the weekends I don’t go to work and I just end up being lazy. I am trying to address this by getting more active in the community, but having moved 500km away from everyone I know (except my fiancé – who isn’t very socially outgoing) I feel as though I’ll end up like your parents, but at 40. But I am trying to fix it!
    Alicia @ Financial Diffraction recently posted…playing “what if” with personal finance.My Profile

    • Babs says:


      This may be completely out of line, but seriously consider the ramifications of an active extrovert marrying someone who prefers to stay home, especially being far away from your support system.

  41. Jon says:

    One of many archived articles that I’ve enjoyed from Mr. 1500 Daze….so motivating to read like-minded thinking vs the old guard of retire in your golden years complete with golden handcuffs i.e. Debt, obligation to just work ” 10-15 more years to beef up potential pension and/or medical benefits” . I’m convinced more than ever that in our malaise of the daily grind we literally nail our financial coffins shut from the inside with unnecessary debt from too many/much material goods. The irony is we do it to feel better about the ” low grade misery” that the aforementioned daily grind produces.

    • 1500 says:

      “The irony is we do it to feel better about the ” low grade misery” that the aforementioned daily grind produces.”

      Yep, maybe we feel better for the very short term, but we’re really setting our selves up for long term misery.

  42. Salman says:

    Nice share … After retirement, one simply enjoys watching TV while relaxing on a couch. IMHO one should stop being a couch potato and get off his butt to do some exercises
    Salman recently posted…Chile vs Australia Live Match Score: Match 4 FIFA Brazil 2014My Profile

  43. Kretch says:

    Hmm……so sorry about your parents, but I retired at a retirment community and let me tell you I am more busy now than when I was working. THis sounds like people who had no identity other than work……..that is the problem not that they are retired! I live in the same community as my mother in law who is 89 and let me tell you she wears me out!!! Its all about the state of mind you are in. This is truly a poor representation of retirement!!!!

    • 1500 says:

      “This sounds like people who had no identity other than work.”

      Yeah, I think you’re exactly right. No friends, no hobbies, not even exercise. It used to be work and then TV. Now, it’s just TV.

      Sounds like you and your mother in law are doing it right. Congratulations!

  44. I love this article! This is something I’ve been thinking about: how can we do things if we ‘absolutely have to’ when it is that we simply ‘would like to’. There are many examples of how we slow down and drift into un-productive (or even destructive) routines when we ‘don’t have to’. This is why, I fail to undertand lusting after early retirement; I do understand ‘financial independence’. Thanks for writing this.
    maria@moneyprinciple recently posted…How to Buy Bitcoin and Use it in Everyday LifeMy Profile

    • 1500 says:

      “This is why, I fail to understand lusting after early retirement; I do understand ‘financial independence’. Thanks for writing this.”

      The more I continue on my journey, the more I agree with you. My thought is that I’ll never actually retire. I’ll always be working, just not in the conventional way. If I have the desire though, I’ll have the freedom to work 40 hours a week or travel for a month. It all boils down to doing what you want to do.

  45. mrfi says:

    We did a three year mini-retirement/sabbatical and loved the freedom to travel but also the freedom to slow down. It’s nice to have to think about what you will do in a day vs. how in the hell will I do everything.
    mrfi recently posted…Mini-Retirement: My Zero Hour Workweek ExperimentMy Profile

  46. Noonan says:

    I came across this great article of yours via RockStar Finance, where it appeared in today’s links of top financial posts. I know i’m a late commenter here, but i think what you’ve written is a truly inspiring cautionary tale.

    I’ll have been retired six full years as of the end of this month (i resigned from my career in 2008 at age 48). Since quitting work, i’ve been enjoying life more than ever.

    I’ve maintained my body by hiking, biking, kayaking, snowshoeing, and skate skiing (some golf too but at that i rot). This summer i’ve been hitting the LOBO bike trail between Longmont and Boulder, Colorado a couple times each week. The rides last 3-4 hours depending on how many shortcuts i take.

    I’ve maintained my brain—at least i think i have—by writing, managing investments, and reading (many hours have been logged on Kindle with many books i never got to during my working years).

    I continue to work on the intangibles of life by spending time in the great outdoors, hanging out with friends and family, and helping my wife take care of her 83 year old father (we’re currently his room mates, which keeps him out of assisted living and helps us focus on someone other than ourselves—we’ve both found this rewarding and it’s something we never could have taken on without our financial independence).

    The credo “use it or lose it” might sound a bit reductionist, but it states a core truth. We all have to keep pushing forward, as much as possible, on all three major fronts of our existences: body, mind, and soul. I hope that my wife and i are still in the early stages of working through all this, and i hope we’ll be fortunate enough to stay on this same course for many years to come.

    By the way, we own a couple TVs too, but we don’t seem to watch them much.
    Noonan recently posted…Price Tag for the American Dream: Much Less Than $130K—Sorry, USA TodayMy Profile

    • 1500 says:

      Nice, you are clearly doing it right. I’m happy to see that you live right by me too. I need to look you up…

  47. Wow. How unfortunate your folks feel and live that way.

    When the pie chart that visually represents your daily life activities only has two wedges, work and family, retirement leaves such a void and TV is the easiest drug to take to avoid the uncomfortable feeling of having no “life”.

    Adding to that pie helps us develop an identity in the event that one of those two wedges, which are not entire in our control, disappears. If or when one disappears, the others simply fill the void, almost effortlessly. That’s what happened to me when I left my corporate job. I barely noticed the change. I was happy and fulfilled from day one with activities such as reading, walking, writing, cooking, running a small business part time, biking, running errands, travelling, working out, etc. Who has time for full time work with all that? 😉

    • 1500 says:

      Very well said!

      My parents are just taking the path of least resistance. It’s easy to veg out in front of the TV. Much harder to get up and make new friends or take a bike ride.

      “Who has time for full time work with all that? ;)”

      Ha, that is an awesome quote!

  48. Great Article 1500! Couldn’t agree with your more. Although I do strive for early retirement, I plan to use the time to do things that I am not able to do while working. Strengthen my existing relations, travel, volunteer, etc. This is a great reminder to those retired or close to retirement to begin thinking of how to stay active and productive in retirement. Life is short…we should all go out and enjoy every moment of it! AFFJ
    A Frugal Family’s Journey recently posted…Stocks Added to Blog Collection (Update) – Mid-Month (July 2014)My Profile

  49. I’m sorry to hear that about your parents. I’m sure with the right help they can change. Maybe destroying the TV would help. Just kidding. Maybe you and your siblings can give them more activities to do, do you know what kind of activities your parents enjoyed when they were young?
    Money Saving Dude recently posted…Getting Our Wants Under Control and iPad Mini GiveawayMy Profile

    • 1500 says:

      Ha, I’ve thought of that! A good, sharp screwdriver to the screen would take care of things. However, it would be only a temporary solution as Target is only minutes away.

      We’ve tried to fill their life with better activities. One of the problems is that they don’t live near us, so it’s difficult to enforce any regimen.

      My parents just came for a visit (left yesterday) and I’m pretty sure my mother has less than 5 years left. After multiple heart attacks, she is more inactive than ever and her diet is filled with cheese and red meat. Not good. At least my children are old enough now to remember her.

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  52. Zambian Lady says:

    It is sad that sometimes people’s self-worth is directly linked to their work. Of course, when that is taken away, the people crumble. I envy my parents who retired unexpectedly but they are so busy with running their small holding, entertaining visitors/family, church activities and a thousand other things. They are never bored because they are so busy. The only time you find them watching TV is in the evening for an hour or two to just wind down and then it’s bed time.
    Zambian Lady recently posted…Do I have breast cancer?!!My Profile

    • 1500 says:

      Sounds like your parents got it right. My parents have no social lives and zero activities outside of the home. The biggest mistake they every made was moving away from family. At least having others around gave them something to do occasionally. Sigh…

  53. Tj says:

    A lot of your chart involves your kids. What does your chart look like after your kids go to college and/or otherwise move out?

    • 1500 says:

      Travel! The wife and I will pack up and RV and move about the country. After that, the world. So much to see…

  54. Kathy says:

    Did your parents complain about their life? Did they ask for your opinion about how they should live? Did their activities keep them broke and unable to pay their bills? Why are you so upset that they watch TV? Do they refuse to see you or their grandchildren because of it? If not, then it is not up to their children to determine if their retirement years are being spent “appropriately”.

    • 1500 says:

      Did you catch that part about the multiple heart attacks?

      You could still make a point that if my mother wants to kill herself, that is her business and not mine. Where do you think the line should be drawn?

  55. Matt says:

    Your post struck a nerve for me, but in a good way. My parents started like your parents in retirement. My mother retired at 52 and my father at 55 and they did nothing for 2-3 years, until my dad got diabetes and my mother had a stroke. Ever since then my mother eats significantly healthier, omega-3 this, flax seed and green tea that, while exercising every day. My father walks for miles every day and now does flea marketing every weekend with lots of heavy lifting loading and unloading his van. He tells me every time we have a family gathering “welp, dinner was fun but if I’m going to beat this diabetes I’ve got to go for my walk” and then he is gone for an hour, comes back in a sweat. I wish you the best of luck with your parents, if the heart attack didn’t wake her up then I don’t know what will?

    I’m only 32 with a target of FI by 40, but I have noticed that my wife and I keep slipping into watching hours of TV at night. Then when we notice it, we shake it off, are active for 2-4 weeks, and then slowly slip into it again. TV and not doing anything is like a very comforting drug saying “Hey guy, that bathroom reno can wait… you don’t need to Rosetta Stone any languages today… that book will be there tomorrow… come watch 4 hours of Netflix.”

    I find that the days where I go to the gym are the days I have more energy at night. Those are the days where I crave less junk food and I get things done. All it seems to take is me getting a cold and missing 3 gym days for it all to fall apart. I must be ever vigilant about staying active and after reading many of the posts from older and wiser people, I fear the uphill battle of diminishing energy and willpower, but its either that or give up.

    I only started reading (binge reading I suppose) your blog 2 weeks ago (per a Frugal Woods recommendation) and I am about 1/3 through it. Thanks for the reminder to keep moving, use it or lose it!

    • 1500 says:

      Hi Matt-

      That is awesome about your parents. All of the people I know who are over age 60 that are aging well are big-time walkers. We have a lady that is 93 in our neighborhood that walks 3 miles every day. How awesome is that?

      My mother will never change. Sometimes I make hints, as gently as possible, that she should eat a green vegetable instead of french fries. That gets me a disgusted look. I can imagine that she gives the doctor similar sneers.

      Keep up the battle! The fact that you cognizant of it means you’re already halfway there. I’m not sure what advice I would give; perhaps try to fill that TV time with something more meaningful. We go for long family walks every evening and spend a lot of time at the library.

      Before kids, my wife and I watched a little TV, but it has completely fallen by the wayside. The last TV series I watched was Lost which ended in 2010. I don’t miss TV at all, but may that’s because the horrible ending of Lost soured me forever!

  56. Tm says:

    A year before my father retired at 53, he asked a friend who had retired successfully a year or two earlier what advice he had. He shared the following:

    Establish a schedule of things you want to do but be strict about this schedule, treat it like a work schedule. There should be regular physical activity in the schedule. There should be regular socializing opportunities in the schedule.

    The schedule can be made of activities and interests and yes, useless things like watching television for a set time everyday, but be disciplined about it from Monday to Friday. Take the weekend off and do as you please just like if you were working.

    For my parents they decided it was learning and playing golf (both physical and social), Monday to Friday, 7-9 am, going to market, gym/exercise 3x a week, running errands the other 2 days, followed by lunch, nap, TV news and recorded sports for an hour or two, dinner prep.

    After a year or two when the schedule is established, feels habitual and is therefore easy to return to, consider things like extensive travel periods, and whatever else strikes your fancy. The schedule then evolves naturally.

    They are now in their 14th year of successful retirement, with fun and full days. Golf has now become occasional, replaced by 1 hour morning walks up and down a hill, Monday to Friday.

    • 1500 says:

      Hey TM- Thanks for the comment and this makes a lot of sense. As you implied, perhaps the first year or two of retirement are critical.

      I don’t know if anything would have saved my parents though. They just never had anything to do outside of work; no exercise, no interest in cultural events, pretty much nothing.

      To compound the issue, they moved away from all friends and family.

      Thinking on it now, there is a bright spot. My dad recently bought a motorcycle and goes for rides with a group on weekends. Perhaps that will lead to more interaction outside the home.

  57. Bill Joyce says:

    I’m a real estate Broker and self employed. I’m not sure I ever want to retire, just work the right amount for whatever age and lifestyle I want at any given point. The retired people I have known seem to have periods of fun, but far longer and more frequent periods of very little in their lives. In also changes the financial math considerably when you don’t have to plan to support yourself for some long and unknown timeframe without income. It takes a lot of risk out of it and lowers the demands on those pre retirement years. I think having purpose makes both work and leisure more rewarding.
    Bill Joyce recently posted…Making Our Homes a ‘Nest Egg’ AgainMy Profile

    • 1500 says:

      My view of retirement is always evolving. For me, it doesn’t mean not working. I’ll be working at something, but purely by choice and for probably less than 40 hours a week. I love to write words. I also love to write computer code. Conveniently, both of those activities frequently generate income.

      Some will say that isn’t retirement. They are right. However, sitting around doing nothing would bore me to pieces. On top of that, I have to be accomplishing stuff. Live is just more fun and fulfilling.

      They key though is that I’ll do it by choice. If I get sick of writing code or blogging, I’ll move on to the next challenge.

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  60. SpacemanFry says:

    This is an interesting post, thanks for re-linking it as I’ve missed it so far.

    I’m the type of person who has always thought to myself that I wish I lived 1000 years there is so much I want to do and experience, so I find it hard to imagine being bored with more free time.

    On the other hand if you do retire and your health is poor and you’re sick all the time I can see how that would deprive you of any desire to do anything. But this to me is not an argument against retiring, it’s an argument for retiring as soon as possible so that you can enjoy this freedom while you’re young and healthy.

    I can also understand on some level being defined by the work you do as I’m definitely the type of person who delves deeply into their work. But again, wouldn’t you rather be defined by work you do for yourself rather than for someone else?

    I don’t have “a plan” for when I retire. But I’m not even remotely worried about it. All I have to do is let my mind wonder for 5 minutes and I’ll come up with things to keep me engaged, entertained and enjoying life for years to come. Maybe this has to do with the fact I’m a scientist/engineer and already spend a lot of my time thinking about alternate possibilities and imagining new solutions.

    • 1500 says:

      “But this to me is not an argument against retiring, it’s an argument for retiring as soon as possible so that you can enjoy this freedom while you’re young and healthy.”


      “I can also understand on some level being defined by the work you do as I’m definitely the type of person who delves deeply into their work. But again, wouldn’t you rather be defined by work you do for yourself rather than for someone else?”

      Right on.

      Someone said in a comment once, boring people live boring lives. I hate to call my parents boring, but they just don’t have much to do besides watch TV. There are different reasons for it, but they are healthy, so that isn’t one of them.

      And yeah, I’d love to live to be 250. No way I can fit it all in with the time I have…

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