LJWorld.com weblogs Just about ... and more

Into the sunset?


Women can retire at 60 in Europe and receive an "old age pension" as well as a free bus pass, free spectacles in addition to other special deals. A man has to wait until he is 65 for such perks. In America the AARP marked me as a Senior as soon as I hit my fifties and some stores give me a senior discount (wihtout checking ID I might add) but I have to wait until 62 to get a Marriot Senior discount and Social Security.Some people have cynically said that it's hard to tell when Europeans are retired because they take so much vaction anyway. The minimum vacation is 21 working days (which translates into four weeks including the week-ends) and then one has to add the Bank Holidays, which, if strategically placed with vacation can amount to six weeks. Of course, in many jobs, the amount of vacation can be anything from the minimum four weeks to a sensible fourteen weeks a year.Just as I was preparing to take advantage of the "old age pension" from UK and Social Security from the US, I met an 81 year old woman who moved to Lawrence when she was 64 to get a new job. She "retired" at 70, didn't like it, and worked in a Bank until she finally decided enough was enough at 80. She still does volunteer work and looks better than I do even on a good day. She's one of a growing number of seniors in the US who continue working simply because they love their jobs.Is there a way we can strike the balance between these two cultures? I know people who take only a week vacation and spend it cleaning out the garage, or "doing odd jobs around the house." This seems like a recipe for stress-related illness somewhere down the road. However, when I look at those octogenarians who have worked well past retirement age, they seem pretty healthy to me.I would love to hear from those of you who retired in your early sixties or before, and those of you who have worked, or continute to work into your eighties or even nineties.


Ronda Miller 10 years, 5 months ago

I agree that we have it all wrong in the states when it comes to time we take for vacation. If we were to take more frequent vacations, we would be better employers, employees, parents, spouses, and citizens in general. I was told once by a wise person how vacations are good for the soul - and I agree.

It is most restful for me when I hear the roar of the ocean and feel the sun on my face. There is a lot to be said about the proper mix of vacationing and continuing to work into our 70's or 80's.

We in the states also need to learn not to feel guilty when we do take a break.

eileenroddy 10 years, 5 months ago

The balance sounds like a good idea, Ronda. When we like what we do, it's easier to keep working, but so many folks feel trapped in their jobs. Many people in the US have told me they stay in situations they hate because they get good benefits. It brings the word "benefit" into question.

Others in Lawrence and around the nation have enough money to retire early; I wonder how ilife is for them?

blessed3x 10 years, 5 months ago

Eileen said "...but so many folks feel trapped in their jobs."

I really don't understand this. The unemployment rate in Europe is out of control while in the U.S. we are consistently in the low to mid 4% range. Many economists will argue that dropping below 3% or so is not possible, these are the folks that simply will not work or are unemployable. I know from personal experience that my company has tripled in size over the last 3 years. There are jobs everywhere. If you don't like where you work, LEAVE!!!! We are not our grandparents' generation where jobs were hard to come by so you stayed with your job for decades upon decades because there were no alternatives.

As far as the vacation thing goes, most people get a 2-3 weeks/year. When this is coupled with the 7 or 8 Holidays and weekends, the average American works about 240 days a year. In other words on average we get about 1 in 3 days off. Whew! Too laborious for me. Get over yourselves. Ask the French how the European system is treating them. They recently dropped to 8.1% unemployment, the lowest in over a quarter of a century. Woohoo! French unemployment rates for people under 25 years of age are more than 20%!!!!!! Wait a minute.....maybe Europe does have something here. There certainly are a lot of them that don't have to go to work!

Ronda Miller 10 years, 5 months ago

Blessed 3x., well good for you! A lot of people can not afford to start over with one of the zillion jobs available here in the states because a new job often means new starting rate (sometimes not a lot above minium wage). Couple that with one week of vacation a year (we don't usually count weekends as vacation days Blessed 3x), lessened, if any, health insurance, retirement benefits, and it is no wonder people stay put in the job they feel trapped in. There are also numerous people who are working more than one job to survive in our terrific booming economy. And we wonder why Iceland came in at the top of the list for best places to live?

Linda Hanney 10 years, 5 months ago

Eileen, for me, the bottom line is, I am 62 and have lots of interests beyond my full time job. I do not know how much money I will need or how much time I have left. My decision to retire in a year is based on the known and that is I want to do something other than my full time job before hitting that inevitable death bed.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.