Retirement – it’s now been a year for me!

This time last year, I notified my boss I would not be returning for the following school year. Several folks told me I was crazy to walk away from a job I enjoyed, was good at and paid decently well. I tuned out those voices, listened to my gut and took the leap of faith into early retirement. Scary, yes, but absolutely worth it!

Today, I celebrated the retirement of a former colleague at the local Mexican restaurant. It was wonderful to see some of my favorite folks from my old school. Their fellowship was much needed.

The conversation eventually turned to life in retirement. There is definitely life after teaching. Retirement is essentially what you make of it. Money is a concern, but you figure out a way to manage things and thrive in the process. If not, you can always return to work. It’s your choice,

Things I’ve learned this past year:

It usually takes 12-18 months for new retirees to feel comfortable in their “retired” status.

You do not need as much money as you think to retire. Convenience can be costly. Our monthly spend has definitely dropped since retirement.

A sense of purpose is essential for one’s overall well-being. What’s your one thing?

Building connections and community (a/k/a finding your tribe) as an early retiree takes time and patience. It’s a challenge to find folks with similar interests who are close to the same age as you AND retired.

There’s a reason financial advisors advocate for 2-3 years of cash reserves when retiring – especially during a down economy.

Returning to work does not mean you are a retirement “fail.”

What’s ahead for me?
A relaxing summer that I was too anxious to fully enjoy last year! Cookouts with friends, a family reunion, Braves baseball, outdoor concerts, hikes, and picnics in the park. Add in two quilty adventures, one beach trip, Quilt Camp at SQTM in June and a CraftLAB camp in late July. We close out summer and usher in fall with our bucket list trip to Alaska in September.

Fall also means back to reality with hubby’s check-up and meeting with TRS one final time to make sure all of my ducks are in a row before I officially begin the process to apply for retirement benefits. Both of us look forward to when my pension checks begin and health insurance rates drop back to active employee/retiree rates.

Beyond this? I have no clue other than QuiltCon 2024 in February and a possible trip to Paducah in April.

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