Preparing for My Husband’s Retirement

My husband, Tim, officially retires on October 5. His last day of work is October 2. That’s only two weeks from today!! Yikes!!

When I picked my WOTY (word of the year) for 2020 earlier this year, I thought it would mostly apply to Tim’s retirement later in the year. Little did I know, that would be the easiest thing facing me this year.

My word for this year is Adapt and I’ve had to do a lot of it, like most everyone else. Fortunately, before everything started, Tim and I had begun talking about his retirement and what we both expected from it. I had mentioned creating a list of questions we’d both answer and then compare notes. We did this in January but so many things have happened this year, I’m finally getting back to it!!

When I first started working on this, I had expected to have another year on my own. Then Tim injured himself at work and was off for seven months. So, we’ve kind of had a retirement dry run. The only difference is, he was recuperating so he was unable to do many of the things he would normally do when he’s not working.

After two months back at work (June and July), he had another surgery which kept him home from August 1 through September 9. So, my year of preparing has been more like 4 months, at the most!!

Before he went back on September 9, he’d talked about using vacation so he’d only have 4 day workweeks to finish out. I think I hurt his feelings when I said I’d rather he worked those days!! Am I a bad wife? I love having him around but I also have been craving days to myself. And I wanted every day I could get.

He did end up taking three of the four Saturdays as vacation, and for two of those, we’ll be traveling to see the grandkids. I guess that’s OK. 😉

My questionnaire

I think Tim thought I was a little goofy when I asked him to complete this. But it’s not complicated or long, and in the end, it did provide us with a way to start having the right kinds of conversations.

There are only five questions, but each has sub-questions to help provide clarification. These questions may not address everything we need to consider, but it was a good starting point for us. And it was based a lot on the things that matter to us.

I’ll include it but I encourage you to tailor it to your own situation, if you’re interested in trying this same approach.

Types of activities

We want to make sure we’re thinking about the types of things we want to do each day, both alone and together. And will it vary based on the time of day?

For example, will we spend time on our individual pursuits in the mornings and then do something together in the afternoons? Or should we even try to be that specific?

We ended up listing our activities plans by time of day but I don’t see that they’re limited to that. Especially if we incorporate day trips or other outings into the plans. Flexibility is key, but each of us needs to feel we’re getting the individual time we need.

I think we are very in tune with each other’s expectations with this. I do know we’re already leaning towards making all appointments in the afternoons!! Neither of us feels like rushing around in the morning.


I think we were pretty consistent in this area as well. Tim is interested in doing more cooking and would like to be responsible for the grocery shopping.

He’s actually been doing most of the grocery shopping since February, first because of my mom’s injury and second, because of the pandemic. I admit grocery shopping is not my favorite thing to do, but I kind of miss it. Lately, I’ve made a few trips to pick up a few things but until I did our weekly shopping right after Tim’s surgery, I have not done a full week’s shopping in months.

I’m fine if he wants to do that, but he will need more instruction. There are certain brands and types of products I prefer. For instance, always buy low sodium canned goods. My grocery list template is not specific enough in some areas, since when I was involved in the shopping, I knew what I wanted without having to include it. I may have to update it. However, Tim rarely uses my list anyway.

He’s been doing more of the evening cooking, which I actually find nice. I love relaxing while he’s working in the kitchen. But I also like making meals too. We’ll figure out a good schedule. I may cook more in the winter, as most of Tim’s meals involve grilling.

It will be nice to have him responsible for more of the home maintenance so he can deal with the HVAC company and schedule appointments for repairs or improvements. In some ways, it hasn’t been any different for me from when I was living alone, so I’m ready to share these things.

Tim would also like to do our travel planning which I’m fine with. So far, we’ve kind of been splitting this, which has worked out OK too. I’m sure we can figure it out going forward.


And speaking of travel, we need to think about what we’d like to do and how often. I know we agree that we’d like to take some fun driving trips, such as exploring Route 66.

Right now, it’s tough to think too much about travel. We’ve had several plans canceled already and will not be making any new plans for a while.

When we can travel again, our plan is to snowbird in Florida, visit the grandkids more, visit Tim’s mom and sister in Arizona at least a couple of times a year, and then a couple of other vacations each year.

In August, we had plans to visit Cincinnati for the final weekend of a tennis tournament, drive up to meet some of Tim’s relatives, and then over to Cleveland for the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame and a baseball game. We’ll definitely try this again, hopefully, next year.

We’d also like to go to Hawaii and other parts of the country neither of us has seen. We’ve talked about creating a map of the US and marking which states I’ve visited, which he’s visited, and which we’ve both visited together. That should help us decide the kinds of trips we’d schedule.

Spending money

Unfortunately, I don’t see a lot of expenses going away. And we’ll likely spend more money on travel, home improvement, and medical expenses. We’re lucky that Tim can retain his federal employee health insurance and it coordinates well with Medicare.

Initially, we plan to try making it on my pension alone. It might mean spending less in some areas. For me, that would mean my hobbies. Especially in the last year, I’ve ramped up my spending in that area. (Future post on that.) I may have to become more selective but I need it all!!

It’s nice that Tim encourages me to spend on these things so that’s not the issue. He’s the spender while I’m more frugal. But I can’t expect him to change his spending habits if I don’t change mine, right?

I know we’ll be fine but how do you ever know if you have enough money to get through your life?

Eating out

This has naturally decreased this year already, except we are trying to “support local” and get takeout a couple nights a week. I see that continuing, but hopefully at some point we can visit restaurants again. Even though takeout works, it’s not the same as going to your favorite restaurant and having a relaxing meal on real plates and with real silverware!!

Tim does like to eat lunch out more than I do, so that’s an area where we’ll have to compromise. It’s nice to combine lunch with errands so I see us doing that. And we like little day trips that typically include lunch. Guess we’ll see how it goes.

Other considerations

I thought we might want to consider how both of us being home might affect our sleep schedule. During Tim’s injury-related time at home, we’ve definitely stayed up a little later than he does when he’s working. And I’m usually up later than him anyway. I can read longer than he can!!

So, no major sleeping schedule plans. I told him this week that I feel like I’m more productive when he’s working, mostly because I get up at a good time, around 7:00. I know that might be late for many of you, but it’s kind of my sweet spot – not too early, not too late. So, maybe we’ll start trying to get up around 7:00 every day. It’s good for both of us to get our days going. We’ll never be early risers but I don’t like getting up too late either.

I know we’ll have days when we drive each other crazy, but overall, I think we’re very compatible. Tim understands my need for my own time. Actually, even when we’re home during the day, we’re in separate rooms. I’m in my studio and he’s downstairs listening to his records.

I’m also looking forward to the flexibility we’ll have to do whatever we want whenever we want. Doesn’t that have a nice ring to it?

Have I missed anything? What have you taken, or will you take, into account when preparing for your spouse’s retirement?

19 thoughts on “Preparing for My Husband’s Retirement”

  1. I love the idea of a questionnaire to start the conversation, Linda. I suspect too many people go blindly into retirement without this kind of discussion. I require more alone time than my husband does–and also more activity–so we’ll definitely want to work through some of these things. I am definitely looking forward to the more flexible schedule! Good luck with your husband’s retirement. It sounds like you guys have a handle on things.

    1. Thanks Christie. I like to think this approach is something between winging it and overthinking. It also helps that Tim is easy going and understanding of my individual needs. I know we’ll be fine and will love the benefits of his retirement. But I’m also going to enjoy the last four days on my own!!!

  2. Linda, I love that you have identified these areas of “how will it change now”. One thing I did when Terry retired was state, “You are on your own for breakfast and lunch.” Of course, it wasn’t well received….go figure, but I was honest. I was already retired on the home front and didn’t want him thinking I was going to cater to his needs. This has worked very, very well for 16 years now 😉
    …It is great that he has his machine shed to hang out in when he chooses. Many “to do” items that I suggest kinda take a back seat to his very open time schedule. I never make a list for him…..doesn’t work in our household. I have my own agenda and we blend most of the time.
    …We both love to travel and have had some great trip and look forward to more. Best one yet was the Danube River a couple of years ago! Our favorite!
    ….Happy Retirement to Tim & Congratulations! It is the best part of life 😉

  3. Congrats, Tim! It sounds like you are really wrapping your head around this nicely. I’m slightly jealous of all your travel thoughts because I’m married to someone who doesn’t really like traveling at all. But during this pandemic, she has mentioned certain places she’s always wanted to see (such as Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard). So I’m adding them to the very top of our list for when we can finally go places again.

    Money is definitely something we’ve changed strategies on since my retirement. I choose to think of it as an evolving thing. Our original budget, which I’ve kept for posterity, doesn’t even closely resemble the actual one. 🙂

    1. We’ll run out of time and money before our list of places to visit runs out. I would like to visit Martha’s Vineyard too. Haven’t seen enough of the northeast.

      The spending part is tricky. We’ve never had a budget per se, but I do closely monitor where our money goes. I don’t think we’ll have to squeak by but I also think we need to watch things closely. As I work with my parents’ finances, I see how medical expenses can skyrocket. My dad worries even though we’ve assured him he’s fine. But it’s one of those things you never quite feel confident about.

  4. Interestingly I’m putting together a similar questionnaire as we continue to implement our move to Florida. I know many things are “on hold” at the moment, but I do want to get some unspoken expectations (assumptions) on the table. I have all the same topics – time together/apart, household/garden chores, travel (short and long). It’s not him retiring, but it is a huge lifestyle change for us!

    Merely a BTW, I have exploring Rt 66 on my bucket list also!

    1. It may seem a little anal but I thought it helped us know what we each expected. There were a few small surprises, but overall, we came out very similar. The ensuing conversations were the best part.

      I can see how moving to Florida could require a new mindset. Good luck figuring it out!!

  5. I think you are so smart to put a lot of thought into your husband’s impending retirement (I don’t believe you can over-think it… it’s very important). I wish my husband had a hobby (sometimes I think I’m his hobby) that would fill his days with something interesting to do (key ingredient: it doesn’t involve me). I have tons of interests and (at least pre-covid) activities and, while I enjoy spending time with him, I desperately need “me time.” Good luck with your journey!

    1. Individual pursuits are so important. Fortunately, Tim likes to be active so he’ll be running, fishing or doing things around the house. I just have to be careful when he starts “organizing” things because he can sometimes make assumptions about things that aren’t correct!! It will be different having him around all the time but we’ll adapt. Taking the time to complete my questionnaire shows we have similar expectations which is a good start. Thanks, Janis.

  6. Thanks for sharing… I sometimes wonder how many guys you have following. As a huge fan of your Mom and Dad, as I read your great writings, I read as if I’m hearing your Mom speak it. You have a lot of your Mom in you, a wonderful thing! This one hit me, interestingly, as just last weekend, we talked about retirement. We’re 57 and 58. What shocked me, was when my Dawn said, you can’t retire, you’ll drive me crazy, and yourself. The next day I hit the road and traveled for the week on business.. I was kind of in shock, you mean that she doesn’t want me around ‘all of the time’? 😂 It’s a good thing that we have 8-10 years to work on your planning advice!! Thanks for sharing.

    1. I do have a few guy followers but I doubt they read everything I post. That’s ok.

      Finding your own interests is critical. And you can’t wait until you retire. It’s much better to figure that out while you’re working. But retirement is great and you can’t beat controlling your own schedule. Thanks so much for following. My mom is lucky to have such good friends.

    1. Can’t beat flexibility!! I’ve already seen the benefits of that. Even better when we both have it. Now if we can just get past this COVID thing!!

  7. I agee. Don’t overthink it. The things you think you want to do are not necssarily the things you want to do when you are retired. Baby, my hobby expenses have doubled during Covid, but I’m telling myself these can always be gifts . I’m saving for moving but looking at fabric and yarn. Clothes, as of right now, who needs them. My monthy medical has increased since Medicare, no doubt. BUT in the last five years the only ou of pocket expense I have paid was because I had an transvaginal sonogram and the recommendation for my history is one a year. AND my insurance apid six months each year of my part B.

    1. After this year, I think we all know you can’t plan for everything. I’m less concerned about the financial aspects and more concerned that we are each happy with how we spend our days. We’re pretty compatible so I know we’ll figure it out. Good luck getting ready for your move.

  8. My best advice…don’t overthink it. You’ll figure it out. Just enjoy each other’s company, and when you’ve had enough, go out for a walk or curl up with a good book. Enjoy your retirement! You’ve both earned it.

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