Retirement and this Military Brat


My husband and I are retired, and so far, so good. Recently I pondered some reasons why we have adjusted to such a major lifestyle change so good, so far. Both of us grew up as military kids – did this have anything to do with how we planned for and adjusted to life after our paying jobs? I wondered, and came up with a couple of factors:

  1. To retire, one must plan financially to be able to support oneself after the regular paycheques stop. We addressed this priority by reducing expenses, and one way was to move down. Growing up military, I moved a lot. This is the defining factor of my childhood. I still must use fingers to count out the moves, and we’re talking major displacements here – prairie to foreign countries to far north and back again. Then my husband joined the military himself, so we moved some more. Packing and changing households has no special significance for me – I don’t have a family home where I was raised or I raised my kids and wouldn’t want to leave it, for example. I admit in my “old age” that changing towns holds no appeal, but moving down to a smaller house to save money? No problem. The condo suits now and has very low expenses.
  2. More about money (pretty important for retirement). The military provided a stable income, but nothing one could get rich on. We saved like anyone, but learned that income is not the key to savings – spending is. And living on military bases, there were no “Jones’” to keep up with. We always lived well enough, but never hungered for more stuff. Conspicuous consumption didn’t reach me on base, in isolated postings like Cold Lake. I guess we lived below our means! The extra means must have gone to savings. And now, in retirement we don’t need to save for the future – it’s here!
  3. Raising kids. We grew up expecting to leave the military base. We had no hometown. We were expected to fend for ourselves as our parents retired to the hometowns of their own childhoods. Not to say we were abandoned; we wanted to make our own way. I think we passed this value along to our own children. Although like the rest of their generation, they took longer to get there, they now do support themselves. This is a big expense we don’t have in retirement! (Money considerations again 😉
  4. Sports and activity. A healthy fun retirement is everyone’s goal : for me, that means sports and fitness. Growing up on military bases with a father who worked at the gym, I had access to develop a love of sports and fitness. In retirement, I can relive the childhood activities as long as my aging body holds out. The fees to belong to community recreation associations is certainly more than I paid in the military community, but I also don’t need to belong to fancy spas or private clubs. (See #2)
  5. Attitude. Hey, the world is a big place. I’ve moved around it, met many different people from many different cultures and viewpoints. Now I like to travel, and I’ve discovered something. We all live this life with the values we were raised with. Mine came from a military upbringing. Sometimes it was hard, but now, in retirement, I am thankful for the lessons of such a childhood.

If you are interested in more about this military kid’s life, check out my book Camp Follower One Army Brat’s Story by Michele Sabad

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