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High blood

Where to spend my retirement money?

/ 05:00 AM August 04, 2018

I joined the workforce at 20. My first four years were with the private sector, the next 37 years with the national government. Then, for the first time in over 41 years, I was unemployed—by choice.

I didn’t wait for the mandatory retirement age before bidding goodbye to my challenging job, even when my last few years in the service was less demanding; even when work was not work at all in the company of my young colleagues, King and Bheno, who became my wedding godsons, and who would later call me Tita Ninang.

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As full-fledged retiree, with no more office-related challenges to face head on, with more years behind me than ahead of me, and with hard-earned retirement money that I thought would last forever, I prepared a long list of retirement activities.

I’d buy anything that would make me happy; renovate the house the way I’d like to leave it to the next generation; cook clipped recipes I wanted to experiment on, or eat out with my family on lazy days; travel to countries not yet ticked off in my bucket list; buy a new videoke machine for my “lung exercise”; read books and magazines that have gathered dust in my computer room; play bowling, watch concerts, shows or films, or go ballroom dancing once in a while; connect with old and new friends through Facebook; block the unwanted and hide the fake ones; reconnect through Messenger or Yahoo Mail; and, of course, pamper myself at the beauty and massage parlors once a month. Whoa!

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Shortly before retirement, I also planned to work part-time, as I didn’t want to depend solely on my retirement money. I thought of returning to the academe, in one of the colleges near my residence. I also thought of appearing as my friend’s paralegal in quasi-judicial offices. I did appear for him three times, but I quit when I sensed I’d end up as his Atty. Postpone.

Then I realized I’d rather celebrate life and make the most of it according to my terms.

I knew how it was to be broke. One’s movements are restricted, guided by the dictum: Live within your means.  One has to observe self-deprivations in order to make both ends meet and successfully send all children to college in big city universities. The GSIS offers all types of loans for members—salary loan, policy loan, calamity loan, multipurpose loan, housing loan. Been there. Done that.

Thank God I never resorted to loan sharks, they who bury the willing victim alive. They even shame the borrower in spite of the illegal interests they greedily earn.

Retirement money is meant to provide the retiree a comfortable life, until he or she moves on to the next inevitable level, the Great Beyond. It’s not to be used for business or long-term investments. Much less is it intended to be loaned to fair-weather friends whose loyalty ends when their need of you ceases, or whose wrong perception is you’ve won the lotto or sweepstakes, and, in that case, no need to repay.

I love the line on a bank’s calendar: “Be aware of little expenses. A small leak will sink a great ship.” Many officials and employees live and retire with unexplained wealth. Take heed, or you might end up with unexplained poverty!

I learned of a former colleague who invested her retirement money in a newly-opened private school. The next thing I knew, she was now begging for financial assistance from former colleagues! Pathetic!

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Today, nearly five years retired, my retirement money is dwindling. I have, instead, earned wrinkles, sagging skin and bulges at the wrong places. But happily, “I’ve earned the right to be wrong, the joy of being imperfect. I enjoy the great freedom that comes with aging.”

Kat Viacrucis, 66, has four daughters, four granddaughters and two grandsons.

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