NAAWAN, Misamis Oriental (MindaNews/23 March) — Retirement is all about freedom. It is in becoming free, finally, from the responsibilities, obligations, politics, routines and daily grind in the workplace. Retirement, like any freedom, is either dreaded or looked forward with great anticipation.
It is important to have some wise, handy and pragmatic plans on what to do upon retirement to avoid being destroyed by the newfound freedom and indulgence. Many retirees who were carefree and careless in their new status found themselves buried in debt and misery in the closing days of their lives.
If you are a government employee, your retirement money is a forced savings imposed on you by the government. It is intended to help answer your basic needs and health concerns once you are out of the service. If properly managed, your pension may provide joy and see you through in the remaining 5 – 15 more years of your life. You need, therefore, to spend or dispose your money judiciously for the purpose.
The following may lighten your retirement journey and help preclude any catastrophe along the way.
- Do not withdraw your pension in lump sum, unless you feel you are already dying and about to expire in a year or two. The first huge amount of money in your financially inexperienced hands may disappear like bubbles at no time at all.
- Do not use your pension in going into business. You don’t have the experience and it’s too late and expensive to start learning the ropes now. I knew of retirees who opened a merchandise store, a restaurant and a catering outlet, and invested in transport services who closed shop and went hungry in less than two years in the business.
- Do not buy agricultural lands and engage in farming. You are already too old for the enterprise. Farming is a very demanding activity. The stress in operating or managing a farm may only shorten your life.
- Do not build your dream house out of your retirement money. It’s a little late to do it now. You don’t really need it in the twilight years of your life. Some repair or little renovation to your old place may already give you comfort without depleting your bank account.
- Do not buy a car or even a motorbike and start learning to drive. It’s not only an unnecessary expense; it is as well dangerous to your health and safety. At this stage in life, you need to be extra careful with your health and safety. Avoid unnecessary mental and physical stress.
- Do not be tempted by double-your-money-in-a-month offer by anybody, even if the guy is a well-known personality in town – the mayor, the judge, the chief of police, the school principal, the church pastor or anyone else you know in the block. There is no such thing.
- Do not loan your pension money to relatives and friends. They will start avoiding you like the plague as soon as you hand them the dough. Collecting will break your heart and may bring you closer to the grave.
And what should you positively do to enjoy the remaining years of life? Try the following.
- If you think you have more than enough, make one happy and forever grateful by supporting a financially-challenged student earn a college degree or in acquiring some livelihood skills. His/her success will become your success, his/her joy, your joy. If you finished your education with tax or people’s money, you may call the motion a payback or a pay forward move. It is good for the soul.
- Be physically active. Adopt an exercise that suits you physically and do it regularly either alone or in the company of friends. There is no easier and cheaper way to exercise than to walk. Do brisk walking as frequently as possible. And if you can still handle a bike, take the pleasure of biking alone, or in the company of much younger friends, especially in going to places you have not been before. Their energy and enthusiasm for life will rub on you.
- Have a hobby, an activity that gives you pleasure and a sense of fulfillment. Try backyard gardening. Caring for and watching a plant grow, flower and bear fruit is very satisfying. Or try writing a blog to pour out your sentiments or share to others your perceptions and perspectives in life. Or post a regular status in Facebook that is entertaining or challenging. The comments, whether affirming or negating, harsh or flattering, will make your day. It will keep you thinking; you will never develop Alzheimer.
- You have now enough time at your disposal. Join in meaningful projects of your church, or get involved in voluntary social activities like coastal or river cleanup, tree planting and elections watch. Attend and participate in barangay assemblies which you might have never done before when you were still active in the service. It is not yet late to contribute your talents and some little resources in making a difference in the social and physical environment of your immediate community.
- Enjoy being a senior citizen. Use your discount SC ID by visiting places not just in buying maintenance medicines. Scout for the most beautiful and charming spots of our land and with close friends explore them, if the body and the purse are still able.
It is, indeed, necessary to make some wise plan of what you want to do or accomplish in the concluding years of your life. Retirement should be enjoyed and not wasted in directionless, dull and empty existence. (MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. William R. Adan, Ph.D., is a former professor and the first chancellor of the Mindanao State University at Naawan)