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decision to pull the plug. The hardest day
of my entire life. "
It was time for Retirement Plan B. " All
my retirement plans were up in smoke, as
well as the very intense grief of abruptly
losing your spouse and best friend of 30
years. "
Financially, it didn't look bad: " There
was some life insurance, but I could not
qualify for his Social Security survivor
benefits until I turned 60 in 2014, " says
Grover. " There was not enough to pay
off the mortgage outright, but by using
the insurance money, plus my meager
earnings for massage, sport horses and
teaching, I could maintain. I took on a
lot of extra teaching hours and became
clinic director. I was living very small,
no vacations or frills, but getting by and
keeping the mortgage and bills paid. If
I could make it five more years, then I
could draw widow's benefit on his Social
Security. "
Her parents, who required her care,
died. " I just kept putting one foot in front
of the other until I started to care about
living again. I kept taking my puppy to the
dog park, and meeting interesting people
there, listening to live music, blues and
rock and classical. I ate little and didn't
go on vacation, cancelled cable and
internet, used only my phone, and kept
on paying the mortgage. "
These days, she has qualified, at age
67, as a Blacksburg Transit driver, but
in late June had not yet started. " It is a
personal growth opportunity for sure, "
she says.
" Not at all what I envisioned for
retirement, but I have 10 more years to go
on my mortgage. Meanwhile, in the last
month, my refrigerator, oven, microwave,
air filter, box fan and the A/C in my car
have all ceased to function. So, I am
camping in my kitchen, using bags of ice
to make the fridge into a cooler of sorts,
driving nowhere except to work, not
eating, and awaiting a regular paycheck
before I can repair or replace. C'est la vie.
Such is the nature of retirement in the
USA. "
Lora Katz and Jack Dickerson have found
retirement to be far more welcoming as
singles.
Says Dickerson, who retired in 2007
32 / Retire-VA.com / RETIRE-VA 2023
from Leggett/Belk after 40 years, " In
2000 while living in Harrisonburg I met
with my financial advisor to plan for my
goal of retiring in 2007 at 59½. I have
prepared well to live a comfortable life in
affordable Roanoke. "
He has become a busy volunteer.
" Soon after moving back to Roanoke from
Charlottesville, " he says, " I was invited to
visit the Rescue Mission and shortly after
that visit, I was on the Executive Board. I
served there for over ten years.
" My suggestion
for single folks
thinking about
retirement is
to decide what
would make you
happy for the
rest of your life
and just go for it. "
LORA KATZ
One of my first projects with the
Rescue Mission was to assist with the
development of Second Helpings, an
upper-end thrift store. This was a good fit
with my years in retail.
" Over the years back in Roanoke, I
became more involved with my church
and have served on several committees
with a focus on property. For many years
I volunteered with Summer Enrichment,
a camp of sorts for inner city children at
risk.
" Having an interest in homes,
both remodeling and building; I have
continued to remodel my retirement
home here in Roanoke along with doing
an extensive job of naturalizing my oneacre
property. "
When asked if he misses work, he
has an emphatic " No! " He also has a
recommendation for those nearing
retirement age: " If you possibly can, retire
mortgage free. "
Katz, a longtime Roanoke architect was
beginning to see her chosen field, one she
loved, as less than optimal. " Architecture
included so much of the drudgery that I
always hated, like mounds of paperwork
and constantly changing building codes.
It was just not as much fun for me
anymore. "
Fun? Well, she found that in Naples,
Florida, retiring at 65 recently. Friends
introduced her to Naples and she loved
the pace of life, being outside, all the
water, the low crime rate and low taxes.
Her worry " was that at my age I might
not be able to meet many people and
make new friends, that I would be lonely
and that after living in the mountains
with three seasons I would really miss
Roanoke.
" I moved here during the height
of COVID and that also was a worry.
... My worries ended during the first
week of moving into my super-friendly
community, where I did not know
anyone. On the first day, one of my
neighbors greeted me and introduced
me to a few folks and showed me where
things were and how to access everything
around here, including a great park just
next door. "
She found exactly what she wanted
and now, " My suggestion for single folks
thinking about retirement is to decide
what would make you happy for the rest
of your life and just go for it. You can go
anywhere and be the person you always
wanted to be, doing everything that you
want to do every day.
" It can be amazing, but it will be a little
scary at times. It might be worth the
risk. "
The reality of retirement stares
retirees in the face. " Financially, I had
a wise friend tell me that the key to a
happy retirement is no debt. I think that
does make a huge impact on your life.
I downsized, so my less than stellar IRA
and a couple of small income properties,
along with my Social Security (which will
start soon) should be fine for my needs
and actually most of my wants. "
In a nutshell: " Plan ahead as much as
you can. " I
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