Originally published in the Money & More section of the York Daily Record/Sunday News on Sunday, January 1, 2011.
By LAUREN BOYER
Daily Record/Sunday News
I’m learning a lot from my recently retired dad.
At the ripe old age of 55, Stan the Man kissed the working world goodbye.
Two years later, his resume reads: full-time tennis player, parttime TV-watcher and sweatpantswearer, specializing in food consumption, yardwork and being allaround awesome. Picture college, minus the classes, plus a very-adult savings account. He does whatever he wants, when he wants— which sometimes includes whatever I want, as well.
“Want to come to York for no apparent reason?” Sure.
“Want to go to Chocolate World?” Gladly. “Let’s go to the mall at 4 a.m. on Black Friday.” NOT A PROBLEM.
My sister and I have grown to believe that he’s reached his optimum level of coolness. He’s just rocking out.
And why shouldn’t he? He did his time. He worked hard. I remember the days when he had little time or energy for shenanigans.
Now, he’s all about the F-U-N.
He visits my sister at college in Virginia. He goes out to eat. Does the crossword. If he wants to, he can wear his pajamas all day.
Recently, he arrived in York to take me to dinner before Louie Anderson’s show at the Strand. That’s when it all came together.
• • •
There’s something to this financial junk he keeps babbling about. There’s a reason he can be so carefree, and he’s always trying to share it with me.
I just assumed he was getting Alzheimer’s earlier this year when he instructed me to put 10 percent of my income away in a 401K. (I listened.) At first, it depressed me. All that money. Sitting alone in an ivory tower for another four decades. I just wanted to hop on my white horse and rescue it.
Not to be macabre, but people my age can’t be sure that they’re going to be alive in another 40 years to claim that cash prize. We’ve all seen it. Stuff happens.
But then, there are other people — the ones I get regular lectures about.
People who mistakenly think they can live off of Social Security.
People who assume the government will take care of them.
Thanks to dear old dad, I won’t be one of them.
Even as I was writing this column, he was bugging me to open an IRA before Jan. 1.
I probably will, even if it means forfeiting a few beers at the bar, not buying the expensive toilet paper or cranking the heat up to 100 degrees in my house this winter.
My retired self is giving me something to look forward to.
Traveling. All day pajama-wearing. Sushi. Sex and the City marathons.
Peace of mind.
If that isn’t worth it, what is?