KERRY HUBARTT: Retirement a tiring mix of purging, planning for future

Kerry Hubartt

Retirement so far has been a lot of work!

Today marks the fourth day of my retirement, and I’m pooped!

While helping edit stories and its pages that appear in the Monday-through-Saturday Journal Gazette since The News-Sentinel’s transition on Oct. 9, I spent my “free time” going through files and documents (paper and digital), email, drawers, file cabinets and the stacks of “stuff” on my office desk. It was an exercise in purging. On my last day, I finally threw the remaining odds and ends into one last box before shuffling out the door.

That was hard enough. Now I have to find time to unload the remnants of my 46 years at The News-Sentinel — the stuff I felt I HAD to keep — and find someplace to put it.

Along the way were phone calls, paperwork to fill out and meetings with my financial planner, an accountant, an insurance broker, the friendly people at the Social Security office and, unexpectedly, the furnace repairman.

It’s kind of like preparing for a vacation — there’s so much to do before you go you’re worn out before you leave, then so glad to be out of the office and on the road. But in the case of vacations, you always have in the back of your mind that you have to go back to a stack of work that piles up while you’re away.

Retirement normally doesn’t involve coming back. But, oh, the tasks involved in preparing for the rest of your life.

• Meet with a financial planner to make sure you are really financially ready to retire.

• Meet with your human resources manager to make sure you’re aware of all your options.

• Prepare a new budget that lists the typical monthly costs and plans for big potential expenses (travel, home renovations, car repairs — and, for me, a new furnace).

• Sign up for Medicare and figure out how you’ll pay for health care — Advantage plan? Supplement plan? HMO or PPO?

• Make sure you’ve looked at your Social Security options.

• Maybe begin the rollover process for your 401(k).

• Meet with your accountant to talk about estimated taxes on your retirement income.

• Start considering where you want to live and whether downsizing — smaller home, apartment, moving in with your kids — is an appropriate option for you.

And while the biggest immediate concern seems to be making sure the money doesn’t run out, really the most important thing is what you’re planning to do to maintain a purpose in your life.

Everybody always asks me what I’m going to do now? What are my plans? So far I haven’t had a definitive answer. I was able to stay up late to watch the World Series since I could sleep in. But my wife and I haven’t settled on too many specifics yet. Those will come later.

In the meantime, I’m ready to begin the purging process at home where drawers and cabinets and shelves are overloaded with even more “stuff.” And then maybe I can start on the fixer-upper projects around the house. And maybe on the hobbies I’ve put on hold all these years. And reading more books. And writing one or two along the way.

Yeah, right. Maybe after I take a nap.

Kerry Hubartt is former editor of The News-Sentinel.