Why retire early when you’re having fun?

  • Tue Sep 21st, 2010 9:44pm
  • News

By Kristi O’Harran, Herald Columnist

On a wonderful, leisurely vacation, when a person is old like me, it’s normal to daydream about not going back to work.

Maybe I’ll retire right out of the chute when Social Security offers me a monthly stipend in two years.

It would be lovely to spend more time with my folks on Camano Island. We had a sweet visit during my early September vacation and we met for lunch on a Wednesday at Angel of the Winds Casino in Arlington.

It felt decadent, cruising around off work in the middle of a week.

Should I retire in 24 months?

“Don’t do it,” says Julie DeNoma.

She retired in 2004, moments after she hit age 62.

“I miss the interaction with people and a reason to get up and get going in the morning,” DeNoma said. “Retirement is not what it is cracked up to be unless you have lots of money.”

She married soon after graduating from Everett High School in 1961. She worked at The Boeing Co. then stayed home with a daughter and son. Her husband, Roy DeNoma, owned a construction business.

He died when her children were 6 and 9.

Raising her children alone, she worked at a machine shop, at a law office, then became a secretary at Cedar Way Elementary School in the Edmonds School District.

DeNoma worked at the school for 28 years.

“I still hear from some of the kids,” she said.

Her employer offered a retirement seminar that eased the way. As a state employee, she got a medical plan until she was 65, she paid hefty premiums and received Social Security.

“I traveled a bit,” she said. “I went to Arizona for one winter.”

She sold her Edmonds home of 37 years, taking time to sort her goods, and bought a condo.

“I couldn’t take care of the house anymore,” DeNoma said. “Can you imagine going through 37 years of stuff?”

In the comfortable condo, boredom set in.

“I retired too young,” she said. “I still wake up at 6:30 a.m. but don’t have to get going.”

Her girlfriends are still working, she said. Those who have retired don’t have any money.

“Those who don’t work are barely squeaking by,” she said. “You wait for that check to arrive each month.”

She is employed by H&R Block four months and does charity work. She said she adores her grandson, Spencer DeNoma, 19, who lives in Arlington.

“I’ll stay in my condo until I go out on a gurney.”

My buddy, Kris Krischano, was in post retirement at age 60.

“I tried golf, but tired of using my five-iron to plow the fields that bordered fairways,” Krischano said. “These were areas where golf balls were not intended to go.”

And besides, he said, he stopped getting invitations to play.

He turned to volunteering, first with the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, then with the American Red Cross.

“There were 15 years of rock-solid satisfaction,” he said. “They became my ‘golden years’.”

Krischano said in his volunteer work, he found adventure, opportunity, new friends, self-fulfillment and more.

“They enriched my life significantly. To whatever extent I might have given of my time, talents and effort, I unquestionably received far more in return. I miss volunteering.”

Last year, at 75, he retired again with health issues.

“To anyone looking for something worthwhile to do with their time, I wholeheartedly recommend volunteering,” he said. “There is a place for everyone who is ready to make the commitment.”

DeNoma agreed that volunteer work is satisfying. She helped worked on benefits for two cancer patients.

She is helping plan a 50th high school reunion.

In retirement, DeNoma watches the bottom line. She knows where to get good dinner deals using two-for-one coupons with a friend.

“I am 67 years old,” DeNoma said. “But I feel like 40 in my heart and thoughts.”

Before my vacation ended, my husband and I talked about the possibility that I would be home permanently in two years. I said that if we are both in good health, I don’t see a need to quit a job that I love.

Would you share your thoughts about retiring at age 62? Send me an e-mail.

Kristi O’Harran: 425-339-3451, oharran@heraldnet.com.