The Penniless Pensioner: The Good

Header-image-StephenBy Robert K. Stephen

(TORONTO, ON) – In this three part series of articles we’ll muse into the three different convenient compartments about what it means to retire. Lest I be interpreted as a cynic or pessimist let’s start with the good.

Less Stress

Theoretically, where is the most stress in your pre-retirement life?

Considering you spend most of your waking hours at work, I can bet you’ll say most of your stress is work related. You retire and that stress is gone.

However, a new stressor sets in for many pensioners and that is the fear of being penniless ie: monetary stress. That stress increases the less your financial resources.

The stress may be so high you may have to find work again just to survive. That benefit plan for dental and health you had at work (and took for granted) is gone.

At home now. Stress with adjusting to full time life with your spouse or a dream come true?

Nightmare or dream, it will take some adjustment time. If both of you have ex-home interests, I will boldly state that is ideal.

Stress is good for you, but in controlled measures. Without stress your body becomes thrown out of whack. If you have no hobbies or outside interests, your lack of stress is hazardous to your health.

Those seniors without interests, hobbies, or community involvement succumb to death and disease faster than those with an active life. It’s like an orca in a pool at some marine park. The poor orca has nothing meaningful to do so is stressed, as it is out of its usual environment and becomes unpredictable and often murderous.

Assuming then you have a life outside your employment, and you have some decent financial resources, the absence of employment stress should lead to an overall reduction of stress which will be beneficial to your health.

Time to Think

When one is so caught up with work issues there often is little time to think about life and what matters. That work related stress doesn’t end at quitting time. It’s etched so deeply inside you it is only recognizable on the subconscious.

Eliminate that stress and your mind is freed to think.

You may actually have time to read, continue, or pursue a new hobby. You may even take a class at a community college on some topic you’ve been just dying to learn. Perhaps you’d like to learn German? Perhaps you want to start a blog or even write a book?

You may finally have time to stop and think about whom you are, where you are going, and what you should be doing to make yourself a better human being, and the world a better place.

Time to Take Care of Yourself

People on the run and under work related stress often don’t have the time to properly take care of their body. They eat poorly and often fail to exercise.

No, you don’t have to go to spin classes, learn yoga, or participate in programmed activities. It simply may mean walking for an hour every day.

It also may mean the time to make proper meals and have more restful and longer sleep. My pal Mr B, who has recently retired, declares he has been rejuvenated.

Less worry, more sleep, and fulfilling a variety of hobbies. The consensus amongst his circle is that he looks fantastic and is terribly positive in his attitude for life.

Put another way, work takes its toll on many. Eliminate that stressor and perhaps you pave the way for better physical and mental health.

Time to Care for Others

Being caught up in your work were you ignoring your family? Were you feeling guilty about not taking enough time to care for ageing parents suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia?

Then you’ll have some quiet time to relate to those you have deferred or ignored. Assuming you have no ill parents, you really must think about some type of community involvement to help the disadvantaged particularly, as being a penniless pensioner, a sudden dip in the stock markets may thrust you into that category.

Theoretically, that community involvement should make you feel better.

Time to Prepare for Your Demise

The ugly fact about retirement is it is a transition step towards death. You’ll have time to finalize funeral arrangements, powers of attorney, and wills. Don’t leave your affairs in a mess. You owe your spouse and children more than that.

Time to Take Control of Your Life

It could be that during your employed life you had little control over your life, particularly if you had that Yes Sir/Yes M’aam personality. Now, it is you making the decisions about your future. Hopefully you have the confidence to make these decisions after being told what to do for so many years.

Time to do what you been Postponing

You’ll have time to start those projects around the home you have been postponing because you haven’t had time to start or finish them. I spoke recently with a newly minted pensioner and his pensioner wife who said that nothing really has changed in their life except they feel less rushed.

As parting words I quote this pensioner.

“To sum up retirement isn’t that bad if you have enough money for your lifestyle and someone to share it with. It’s not all doom and gloom for everyone.”

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About the Author

Robert Stephen (CSW)
Robert Stephen (CSW)
Robert K Stephen writes about food and drink, travel, and lifestyle issues. He is one of the few non-national writers to be certified as a wine specialist by the Society of Wine Educators, in Washington, DC. Robert was the first associate member of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada. He also holds a Mindfulness Certification from the University of Leiden. Be it Spanish cured meat, dried fruit, BBQ, or recycled bamboo place mats, Robert endeavours to escape the mundane, which is why he loves The Square. His motto is, "Have Story, Will Write."Email Robert Stephen