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My View: Keeping both eyes on the retirement prize

By Mary Nicotera

“You’re so lucky!”

“I’m jealous!”

“Won’t you be bored?”

“What are you going to do?”

After much thought, deliberation and numerous projections and calculations, I’ve decided that my last day of work will be in April. After 47 years in the workforce, I’m taking an early retirement and moving on to the next phase of my life. Cue the marching band!

The four quotes above represent the most popular responses I’ve received since making my plans official. I find them interesting.

Lucky? Perhaps. But I’m not sure I’d call it luck since I have, again, worked hard for 47 years and have reached the indelible age of demarcation that enables me to make it possible.

Then again, I’ve had my eye on the retirement prize for some time. I purposely chose to live in a comfy, cozy condo I love, but admittedly is below my means. Because I never cared much for the Joneses, it was far from a sacrifice and I will therefore retire mortgage-free. I also methodically saved money and rarely paid full price for anything.

Mary Nicotera.

That said, I wouldn’t have been successful had I not rewarded myself by setting aside some funds for fun, food and fashion. It’s a matter of balance, all while not losing sight of the ultimate goal. I wouldn’t therefore call it luck, I’d call it work – and good planning.

Don’t be jealous. You’ll get older, too. I promise. And if you can figure out a way to make a few adjustments, maybe you’ll be able to move your retirement up a few years. Every decision you make should fit in to your master plan. Then if you make it work, others will envy you, too.

I won’t be bored. Well, maybe on occasion I will be. But that’s OK and nothing that a good book, Bravo or a crossword puzzle won’t cure. I will look forward to having more time to rest my brain and body. Meditate, contemplate or even luxuriate in an afternoon nap. I’ll cherish having the choice as to when to shift into a higher gear. How glorious will that be?

What will I do in retirement? I have a few ideas. Some will start immediately, and some will wait. Some will be easy to get going, and some are grander plans requiring more thought and execution. But I’ll happily figure all that out on my schedule. Or, not.

I’m going to absolutely love not having to be up and out by 8 a.m. every day. I’ll wake up when I want and quietly deliberate about important things like what K-cup pod to feed the Keurig. I’ll savor my morning routine in my jammies instead of worrying about a snowy commute or being mired in a frenzy of deadlines, decisions and other demands of the job.

As I reflect on my career, I’ll be forever grateful to my employers and for the wonderful colleagues I’ve had the pleasure to work with along this epic journey. Several of those people have tremendously enriched my life and become cherished forever-friends and mentors. They will be an integral part of my life for the decades ahead, and this gives me pure comfort and joy.

So, there’s no need to call me lucky. Please don’t be jealous and don’t you worry about my being bored or having enough to do. I’m fully aware that I won’t be dancing in daisies every day, but I also don’t know one person who thinks retirement sucks.

Point being, I am ready to start writing my next chapter. You might catch me frenetically composing and keyboarding in my pj’s, but I’m 100 percent okay with that.

Mary Nicotera, a lifelong banker, lives in Williamsville. She’s currently busy stocking up on colorful caftans and K-cup pods.

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