Just how much fun should a person have when they retire? Well, I’m not exactly sure, but I know one thing, having fun does not come easy to some of us, not to me at least. Having fun doesn’t figure in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs which was a psychological paradigm that I referred to quite often in my working days as an educational psychologist. I found it helped to make sense of the world for myself and my clients and I think it still does but, as for fun, it just doesn’t figure in the hierarchy at all.
I only ask the question because we’ve been trying to have fun recently. Don’t misunderstand me when I write this I don’t mean I’ve spent thousands on a Harley Davison bike or Maseratti sports car, or huge amounts of dosh on a world cruise or even a Saville Row suit, as if. I haven’t bought another guitar for months but, given I don’t much play the twenty I already have, this is not exactly a big sacrifice. True, even without guitars, there is a strong element of let’s spend the kid’s inheritance now while we still can, but our outlay has been modest even if our guilt levels have been disproportionately high.
It’s all to do, at least I think it is, with reaching seventy, me already and Mrs Summerhouse shortly. It’s led to a view that this is our last decade (although a depressing statistic which said that Type 2 diabetics die on average at the age of 74.1 years of age, so a decade may be on the optimistic side) and hence we need to get on with it, having fun that is. Even more so if it really is 74.1. That really changes the balance of which I shall write in a moment.
So that’s why we’ve been eating out with some regularity. This, in the absence of a more traditional bucket list, is what amounts to our excessive living. This last week we ate out twice in one week. Both times at one of our local pubs (both dog friendly, it’s surely only right that if we’re having more fun, then they should be too) in Leeds and up at the village near to our vineyard (see photo above). I mentioned the first occasion at Woodies in the last cartoon blog and once a week was fine, but then we did it again at our other local and that started me thinking – is this alright? Is this what retired people who have the cash should be doing?
I suppose that, once again, it’s about balance. We have some friends who do not have children and who have, they tell us, worked out their spending so that on the day they die they have spent every penny they own. It’s based on their prediction of their life expectancy. The ultimate balanced retirement life structure you might say. I think there’s a flaw in their neatness but I can’t quite put my finger on it. I suppose if they’re prepared to jointly put their heads in the gas oven, they do have quite a big oven, when they run out of cash, it might work, otherwise it might be problematic.
We don’t have a cunning plan of this sort and besides we have two children who expect to inherit some money and I suppose that’s fair enough, just a matter of how much, that balance again. So we’re left with an on-going problem of what is a legitimate amount of money to spend on having fun, however that might be defined. And yes I know that having fun is not necessarily linked to spending money but there’s a connection there somewhere. It’s not easy because we’ve led a fairly frugal life with, even our joint education-funded, incomes always counting the pennies. There’s been a lot of no we can’t afford that, apart from the world trips on borrowed monies – credit card or increased mortgage.
So to find ourselves, at this stage of our lives, saying – go ahead buy it / spend it / go for it. All the tired clichés coming out – this is not a rehearsal, you only get one retirement etc. etc. well it’s puzzling and takes some getting used to. More so given the first five years of retirement have continued to have a strong element of, we can’t afford that. But now we’re 70, or thereabouts, and it feels a bit different. But two lunches out in one week, are we worthy of such excess?
It might depend, or at the very least the balance might be influenced, by how much good you’re doing in the giving column either financially or in terms of good works. And here I will confess to feeling that we’re not that good in the giving area. We do make monthly donations to charities and even give time to friends in need, namely those with mental health or health issues, but I couldn’t for one split second begin to say that we do a lot. But then two lunches out a week isn’t exactly massive either – is it?
But then say three meals out, or even eating out in restaurant, café, pub, road side stall, every day, that feels like we’d need to do a lot of giving to balance that level of excess not to mention the effect on our health. As is usually the case looking at the extremes (the everyday eating out), it’s much easier to make a judgement about what’s OK and what isn’t but finding the balance in the middle, in the grey areas of retirement life, seems much harder. And that’s where we are with our own eating-out regime.
So there we have it. Clearly eating lunch out twice a week counts only as a moderate level of fun but unless we’re going to up our giving output, that’s where it might need to stay. And even this does not begin to answer the question posed in the first sentence of this retirement blog – how much fun should we retired people be having, assuming good health and fair finances of course? On one hand there’s the, ‘you’ve worked hard all your life now enjoy your retirement’ stance. On the other there’s … well you tell me.