Harry & Iris Matthews                                                                            Web log 22-6-2003

Waiting for Dessert

This chronicle is about retirement. Not retirement in general but one specific retirement, that of Iris and myself. We’ve taken our baby steps through the hors d’oeuvres of life; we’ve marched through our salad days; the main course is just finishing; and we’re ready for dessert, which starts on July 1, 2003.

I’m writing about our 3-phase view of retirement, our plans as they have evolved over the last 8 years or so, and how they are actually working out in practice. I am from England, Iris is from New Zealand, and we have been working in northern California for 23 years so our first decision – where to retire – was replete with options. We settled on New Zealand for a variety of reasons that I’ll go into as we see how it works out. The other major decision – when to retire – was finalized 6 months ago based on some rational criteria but mainly on a sense that the time is right.

One of the features of retirement that I’m looking forward to is relaxation of the need to be rational. Decisions need to be informed as far as reasonable but we don’t have to rationalize them to others and, best of all, not even to ourselves. So, I’ll be talking about information a lot and about scenarios and predictions. But I won’t try to rationalize our decisions and plans; they will be just what we decided. The information, scenarios and predictions are excellent fodder for discussion, which I hope to stimulate, but the actual decisions are ours and I will try to explain them in terms of where we are and where we are going, but I will not try to rationalize or defend them.

I will write about finances: saving for retirement a bit, but not much; mostly about spending in retirement. Our retirement is financed by money we have earned and saved, including pensions. We haven’t received any significant inheritances, nor do we plan to leave any, although we have made wills in case our plans are cut short by earlier than expected deaths. We have no children of our own but our siblings have done a good job of making up for that and we have an excellent extended family in both England and New Zealand. We have one living parent, my father, and our financial plan involves visiting him in England once a year during our first retirement phase.

Our views on retirement are very carefully thought out, based mostly on our personal observations but reinforced by reading and by discussions with professional consultants. From now on, entries will usually focus on specific issues as they crop up. I hope you will come back, find it interesting, and maybe send me comments.