Who and what is the happiest person on Monday?
What does or will retirement mean for you?
How will it be defined?
When I look back on my family tree, the meaning of retirement was many things.
On my father side, no one retired as all of his siblings including himself died earlier in life (in their 50’s). On my mother side, some retired from working a long adult life and others retired on disability.
As everyone might know, your past experiences can shape your future action. This has gotten me to thinking to what this retirement thing is going to look like for me.
If I look at my family, I believe that after you retire from your working world, you probably have about 10-15 good years of being able to do what I want to do before health issues start to creep in on my life.
This thinking might be flawed, but family history might suggest I am right.
In this article, I want to discuss how the idea of retirement got started, what is looked like for my family, and how will it look like for me and maybe you.
How did this retirement thing get started?
What is the definition of retirement?
From Wikipedia, “Retirement is the withdrawal from one’s position or occupation or from one’s active working life”.
Many articles have been written on how the concept of retirement got started, here I will try to summarize based on my research.
Today, the young worker is encouraged to save for his/her retirement. Retirement will be your “Golden Years” of leisure.
Many years ago (around 150 yrs), retirement was not a thing on the horizon. The concept of “retirement” has only been around for about 60-70 years now.
In the early to mid 1800’s (pre-industrial revolution here in the USA), most people farmed or had ranches. The man would work his farm/ranch until he was physically unable to, Then his son or son-in-law would take over the work on their property.
The older person during this time was looked up to for their wisdom and moral guidance. However, you need to understand that the male life expectancy during this time was only 38 years of age. Only about 4% of the population lived to be 60 years of age.
Then in the late 1800s leading into the early 1900s, the industrial revolution was in full swing in the US. With this new industrial world, efficiency started to become necessary to produce what the country was requesting in products. A new age of living was beginning.
When this happened, the older worker was having a difficult time keeping up on the assembly lines. The younger worker was the answer to faster and more efficient assembles.
Also, during this time, European immigrants were on an upswing into the US. This provided another source of workers for the new industrial America.
This is about the time the concept of retirement or replacement of the older worker began. As older workers were forced out of the factories, new retirement laws were being issued to support this. At the end of this period, about 43% of all men over the age of 60 were forced out of the working population.
The US was booming during the roaring twenties and then the unthinkable happened, economic collapse and the Great Depression began. During this course in history, the US lawmakers pondered on how to deal with the increasing unemployment.
Now in the prewar (World War 2) era, legislators introduced new social bills and laws such as the New Deal and the Social Security Act to encourage aging workers to leave the workforce at a preset age. The idea here was for the older person to cease being a producer of products to being a consumer of products.
This idea was to help boost the US economy and keep jobs available for the younger more efficient worker.
Then World War 2 happened and America was forced to act with the attack on Pearl Harbor. With the majority of all the body able men going to war, the older man and women joined the workforce to aid in the war effort. This was also a resurgence in the industrialized America.
After the war, all the younger men came home from overseas and needed jobs. This once again forced the women back to the home and the old men to retire to the front porch. During this time is when the concept of retirement really took off, thus the advent of the mandatory retirement age of 65 years old.
The term “senior citizen” was invented and the insurance companies took advantage making products available for this new aging group. Sociologist even suggested that this was a new transition time for the older person to withdraw and prepare for their own death.
This indoctrination worked on the American public. The mythology of retirement had been completely assimilated into the American consciousness. Retirement now became a full fledged industry.
Now today, everyone expects and wants to retire. This is what we are programmed to do.
Pensions and social security are now in full swing and everyone is expected to save early and expect social security will support them as they grow old.
My Parent’s retirement
My parents grew up during the Great Depression and entered the workforce before and during the WW2 era. They experienced all of the changes I spoke about above in our history here in America.
Even though my father did not live long enough to realize his retirement, my mother did. She retired at age 65 as required and started to live another 30 so years before her death.
Early in retirement, she was able to travel and see somethings I’m sure she dreamed of seeing and doing.
For this I am thankful.
Even with health issues, she lived a long and productive life. As I wrote earlier, she only had about 10 to 15 years of good enough health to do the traveling she did.
This is part of my experiences that drives my future today.
Times have changed!
The world has certainly changed over the last 60 years or so. Things are more available and accessible than it was for our parents. This doesn’t mean things are more simple or complicated, just different from before.
I look back at the sacrifices my parents made for me and for that I am thankful. Just as they did for us, we are making sacrifices for our children if we realize it or not.
Technology has boomed making our lives and the lives of our children more accessible to the world we live in and our options on how we live are changing. This is the reality we live in today.
So what is retirement about for me?
I worked almost 4 decades in the corporate world after graduating from college. The technological boom shaped the world I lived in and live in today. I now can realize what retirement will look like for me as I have options that the generation before me did not have.
Does retirement mean sitting back and watching my family grow and the world go around? Or does it give me freedom to do things that I never thought of doing before.
For me, my retirement is about being productive and active. I want to learn new things as I grow older and have the freedom to explore these as I learn them. I want to see in person parts of the US that I have only flown over at 30,000 feet.
My wife and I are transitioning into the life of RV living so we can travel the US and Canada to see this remarkable country. We are leasing our home to one of our daughters and her family to make this dream come true.
My dream and plan for this to happen is to make a passive income from the convenience of my RV and have the freedom to hit the open road. This will allow me to withdraw a minimal amount from my retirement fund and hopefully leave a legacy for my children.
This will also give me an outlet to share my experiences and travel adventures. So stay tuned! lol
How can I make my future happen?
The world of the internet will make this happen for me. The internet gives you the freedom to work where or any time as long as you can connect. I have chosen to make a passive income in the world of affiliate marketing. You read about that here.
This is a new chapter in my new life of retirement that I can write about and share. Maybe my experiences will help or even motivate others to look at their later years differently.
So what does retirement look like for you?
It can be anything you want it to be.
Stay productive and healthy!
I hope you have enjoyed reading this article as much as I did writing it and learning about our country’s history.
If you have any questions or comments, please leave that below and I will get back to you ASAP.
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