Retirement planning tips: Alabama Baptists who have retired recently share insights from their experiences

Thinking about retirement? Check out these reflections and tips from retirees in our Alabama Baptist family for encouragement and inspiration.
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Retirement planning tips: Alabama Baptists who have retired recently share insights from their experiences

At 83, I still live independently. I’ve been retired for 31 wonderful years now. My advice is to remember God has you here for a purpose, and it’s important to figure out what it is. A few of my suggestions when preparing for retirement:

  1. Consider what you are retiring to. I had a long bucket list, and it’s still a long one.
  2. Hopefully you are blessed enough that your finances aren’t a problem. The big question is, what are you going to do with the life God has given you? For me, I had much more time volunteering for the church. While moving from Illinois to Alabama, and now much older, there is still much satisfaction doing for the Lord what I can.
  3. I wish I would have known much more about investments. All the options available today were not there for me. It is never too late or too early to open a mutual fund account. Save now for the future. If the Lord returns tomorrow, you will never miss it. If the Lord tarries, you’ll need it.
  4. The most practical thing you can do is become knowledgeable about retirement. There are many helps available. Don’t retire ignorant of all the free advice available.
  5. Your retirement will be felt by all those around you. Include them in your plans, and tell them what you are thinking. Listen to what they have to say. As Christians, we are in this together.
  6. It is never too soon to prepare for the next phase of your life. You spent 12 to 18 years preparing for adult life plus a career, job, profession. This is not a burden. For us, it was enjoyable, much like playing a table game — what if, best case, worst case, etc.
  7. When I first retired, there was a feeling of relief from supervision for 25 years. What a great feeling knowing I was responsible for family and family alone.

A little about me — my nearly 30 years as a police officer was a calling from the Lord. I had many opportunities to tell hurting people about God’s love. Before serving the Peoria, Illinois, police department, I spent four years in the U.S. Navy. My wife, Paula, and I were married 47 years before she died from breast cancer. I have two daughters and one son, all willing and able to care for me.

Tony Berry

So you’re retiring? Here are a few pointers based on been-there-done-that personal experience.

Get comfortable with your finances, the sooner the better. Before you retire, familiarize yourself with Social Security rules. You will need Part A and Part B. Learn how to file-and-suspend and what it can mean for you. Working an additional time after your official Social Security full retirement date can result in significant additional monthly payments.

Understand your employer’s pension plan, 401(k), 403(b), IRAs and other funds, and how you can use them to your advantage (your bank or credit union may be able to help).

If you’re retired military, learn about Tricare For Life and its benefits for you and your spouse.

Don’t get in a hurry to do things. This is a major transition. Chill out for a month or two or three before looking at what to do more long term, but keep in mind that boredom is your worst enemy.

Dig in the garden, make minor home repairs, wash the car and do other little things. A bored mind quickly ceases to be a nimble mind. Consider a part-time job.

Spend time with close family, but not too much at first. They, as well as you, will be getting used to your change in work status. They, as well as you, will need an adjustment period.

Read a few books, and I don’t mean heavy topics. Reading should be fun. Hit the library. If you had some favorite writers from your past, read their works again and look for their newer products.

Rediscovering a favorite author is like going back to your childhood home and finding it exactly as you remember it. After that, find other authors. Kindle can be your friend.

Keep doing something you like doing now. If you’re in your church choir, stay there and volunteer for an ensemble.

Alabama Singing Men and Alabama Singing Women are always looking for new members.

Do part-time work around the church. Light bulbs always need to be changed. Wednesday night meals always need to be served.  The Alabama Baptist might need your help, so ask them where they can use you.

Educate yourself. Take courses, in person or online, at a local university or junior college.

Visiting the World War II Museum in New Orleans is one of our most fond memories. We have been there twice and plan to go again in June next year for the 80th Anniversary of Operation Overlord, riding Amtrak on the way to and from NOLA.

There are other such destinations within a day’s drive of Alabama. Find them and just go.

Travel, locally at first, then farther afield. Reunions of family, friends, military buddies and coworkers can be fun, especially when you realize you still laugh at the same silly jokes.

Our church sponsored a Reformation Tour of Great Britain last spring, which my wife and I joined. We consider it one of the major events of our lives not only because we saw the astoundingly beautiful country, but we learned much history of the Reformation our churches never taught us before.

Again, don’t get in a hurry and try to do too much too soon. It may be a year or two before you are comfortable with retirement. It’s a new journey, so take your time and enjoy the ride.

Don Shipp

What are some practical do’s and don’ts related to retirement?

You don’t retire FROM something, you retire TO something. If you don’t have anything to retire TO, don’t retire.

Many retirees have said to me, “I’m so busy, I don’t know how I had time to work all those years.”

They haven’t learned how to say “No.” There is no limit to the demand for free labor.

Say “No” for the first year until you have adjusted to your new normal.

How far in advance should we think about and prepare for retirement?

When you start your first job. Like a good chess player, you must have an end game and a strategy to get there.

If you just “let it happen,” you’ll be disappointed with the result.

Along with thinking through and setting goals related to finances, you should also consider how you are going to spend your time.

Following your spouse around the house all day is not healthy for either one of you. Playing golf every day may seem like a life goal, but a month later you will be burned out.

You spent years chasing success and spent less time chasing significance; retirement gives you the opportunity to chase significance.

Put your efforts into those things that pay eternal dividends.

James D. Fisk
Doctor of Optometry

I’ve been retired a few years now after 38 years of teaching. I loved teaching. I am doing all the things I wanted to do. I went to Israel and did volunteer work with the Israeli Army.

I joined the Calhoun Baptist Disaster Relief team. I’ve been on several deployments. I work with the Calhoun Baptist Raceway Ministries team. I’ve been to Honduras with Golden Springs Baptist Church. There are so many good ministries to help with.

I often say I’m living my best life now, even though I thought I was when I was teaching.

Gina Hardman

You asked us to share about retirement:

I love being retired. What a joy it has been to have so much freedom. I feel like every day is a holiday now. No setting alarms to get up. No hurrying anywhere anymore. No job responsibilities. I feel so relaxed and free. What a blessing.

I have more time now to take walks, study my Bible and most of all pray.

I love praising God as I walk. I have the time now. I have enjoyed every minute of it.

I have more time during the week to prepare to teach my dear little ladies in Sunday School. I love teaching the Word of God.

What wonderful joy it is celebrating my sunset years with the retirement I have worked to achieve.

God is so very good to me. He is to be praised and praised.

Sherra Claunch
Alexander City