Planning for Retirement Despite My Anxieties

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by Ann Reynoso |

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My husband is retiring in a couple weeks. I’m not of retirement age, but sometimes life happens and decisions are forced upon us.

(Photo by Ann Reynoso)

My husband and I have quite an age gap. He is 16 years older than me, making our retirement stages uneven. While he is excited for it, I’m not ready to think about it.

When my husband and I were married, I worried about our age difference. I knew he would retire before me, but I thought, “This is the natural course. He’ll retire, and I’ll keep working to make sure we are financially stable and living comfortably.”

Then life sends you on detours and makes you rethink your plans.

The day I found out about my rare illness, my mind felt like it was spiraling. I knew everything I had planned for our future was about to change. My husband and I had already talked about his retirement, which he delayed for two years after my diagnosis. Anxiety set in, and for the first time in our marriage, I worried about our future.

What would I do about the medical insurance we had through my husband’s employer? How would I continue with my medications?

My husband kept telling me, “Everything will work out. Have faith.” But at the time, I felt my faith temporarily drifting away.

The next couple months were a testament to my faith and hope. My husband would come home from his physically demanding job looking tired and worn out. He had worked most of his life, and I knew it was time for him to retire.

I could not shake my anxiety. I needed to find a way to return to work. I spoke with my previous employer to see if there were any classes I could teach. I was good with being an adjunct professor. I could work part time and not overdo it.

Then another life detour hit: the pandemic. Many full-time teachers had to teach remotely, and there was little hope of me teaching part time.

The topic of retirement came up every day in our home. Anxiety kept creeping up inside me. I needed to find a job so that I could contribute to our family’s finances. I worried that my husband’s retirement income wouldn’t suffice. I worried that his 19 years of service with the city wouldn’t be enough.

Bills don’t wait. They come like clockwork, and you must be ready to keep up. Would we be able to keep up?

I grew up with a single mother who worked two jobs. I remember how she struggled to provide for us. In our economically challenged Latino community, many of us had never even heard of retirement. Most of our elderly people lived on Social Security alone.

As a young person, one acquires a certain perspective when seeing only people struggling to survive. I know my anxiety stems from this experience and has carried over into my adulthood. I worry how I will make ends meet.

I had to do something.

I decided to educate myself about how retirement works. I made appointments with human resources personnel at my husband’s work so we could both discuss his options. I also made an appointment with our credit union to speak with a financial advisor. (This is a free service for members.)

For the next couple days, I felt like I was back in school. We were being educated about how retirement works and learning about options to secure our future.

Today, my monster anxiety has begun to decline. I’m starting to feel that while I may not be ready for retirement, I don’t have to be afraid of it, either. I feel good about the decisions we’ve made. As a married couple, decisions should be shared. It helps to support one another.

It doesn’t necessarily mean you hit the jackpot, but it can ensure your loved ones will be cared for when the time comes.

(Photo by Ann Reynoso)

I’m still nervous about my husband retiring, but I know together we will be fine.

Maybe it’s time to write out a honey-do list!

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Note: Pulmonary Fibrosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Pulmonary Fibrosis News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary fibrosis.

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