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Geri-Antics: The Ramblings of a Crazy Old Broad

Even as a child, I recall my grandparents and other seniors talking about “living on a fixed income.” I heard elderly folks speak of how difficult it was to make one, much-awaited check, stretch to the end of the month.
Of course, it never fully hit home until I became that senior person, dependent on the once-a-month deposit of a check that would be my primary source of income.
The choice to leave a well-paying job to follow a dream and write full-time was ill-advised. I was warned by financial advisors, caring friends and family who had my best interest at heart – but I did not listen. I accept full responsibility for my decision. As I so often do, I was thinking with my heart. Intellectually, I knew that it was going to be difficult, but I didn’t think it was impossible.
I was forty years old when divorce forced me into the role of sole breadwinner. It was not a job description I sought nor a pathway I had envisioned heading into midlife, but I reluctantly accepted the challenge. I became stronger and more independent as a result.
The following twenty-five years were spent working in the corporate world. I was financially comfortable, owned my own home, paid off a nice car and had virtually no outstanding debts. I even had a little nest egg, but I knew my nest wasn’t well-feathered.
Maybe I allowed marginal success as a published author to cloud my judgment. All I know is that an extracurricular foray into the world of writing made me exceedingly happy. I came to resent the hours that a full-time job took me away from what I loved.
Retirement made no sense on paper. I had been a stay-at-home mom while my friends, who were beginning to retire, had been working. I hadn’t earned my stripes and I had a mortgage and obligations.
Still, I was woefully unhappy. I took my dilemma to a Higher Power. I prayed, and then I took the leap off the most frightening precipice of my life.
I’ve been retired for two years now. It’s a major life-change, but one I accept. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that I made the absolute right decision.
Drastic lifestyle changes have included health insurance with zero premiums and co-pays; bargain shopping for auto and homeowners insurance; budget plans offered by local utility companies; alternatives to cable TV; and generic brands at the grocery. I’ve done my homework.
Life continues to throw down the gauntlet and put challenges in my path. Unexpected home repairs, tax increases, and countless unknown factors play havoc with any budget and could spell disaster to a senior on a fixed income.
And yet, I have faith that God put me on this path. The opportunity to write my first book came out of nowhere. I’d never considered writing as a career. Doors were opened that I didn’t even know were there. A sequence was set in place. I’m holding steadfast.
This column and now other freelance journalistic opportunities offered by the Jessamine Journal have been such blessings. I’m meeting wonderful people and learning so much about our community, and I’m doing what I love. I’m writing about these people and places.
I hope that together as neighbors and travel companions on the final leg of our journey through the Golden Years, we can continue to share our Geri-Antics.

Anne Carmichael is a lifestyle columnist who contributes monthly to the Jessamine Journal.