My Retirement Hero

Richard Quinn  |  Sep 16, 2022

CAROL IS MY COUSIN. Long divorced, she raised three daughters on her own. Now newly retired, her life is one long adventure—tackled with an incredible attitude. Some people approach retirement with trepidation, but not Carol. She was out of the gate with gusto.

Carol retired from Medtronic in November 2021, after 22 years. She’s a registered nurse who assisted doctors with the insertion of medical devices. She has a pension—Carol became eligible just before the company stopped offering them. Now 65, she’s waiting to collect Social Security until her full retirement age of 66½.

She sold her townhome in December 2021, moved in with one of her adult daughters, and pays no rent. Her daughter lived with Carol as an adult a few times, so Carol is collecting on that. She says she takes her approach from a line in The Godfather, a movie she’s seen many times: “Someday, and that day may never come, I will call upon you to do a service for me.”

Carol turned over her 401(k) and the profit from her townhome sale to a financial advisor, and crossed herfingers. Yes, her free-spirited approach to life also applies to finance. Her investments are allocated 41% mutual funds, 30% “other” (whatever that means), 27% “equities” and 2% cash. “That’s about all I know,” she tells me, but she promised to ask about the “other.”

My cousin described her immediate plans this way: “I’ve decided to spend the next year-plus traveling and hitting many of the major European, African, Asian and Australian tourist sites. In the medical field, I learned that once you reach a certain age, you’re much more vulnerable to chronic medical problems. I am healthy and want to do challenging activities now, and for as long as I can. Then I’ll do the more relaxing stuff.”

I kinda think “relax” is a foreign word to Carol.

She recently returned from three months in Europe. I asked if she was bored back home. “Heck no,” she said. “I’m bogged down in paperwork—getting ready for the next trip.”

Carol requested that I note the difference between a “solo traveler” and a “singles traveler.” The latter is often assumed to be on a quest for a partner. As she said to me, “Why can’t a healthy, adventurous, financially comfortable single woman just want to explore the world, learn ancient history, see iconic sites and admire famous artwork?”

Why not indeed?

In case you think she’s exaggerating her appetite for travel, take a look at 2022 so far. In February 2022—just as a practice run, my words not hers—Carol spent three weeks in Belize. While there, she made casual friends with an elderly couple who have been traveling the world since their late 50s. The couple confided that they both have fairly serious medical problems, but they keep on going.

It would be worth your time to read the rest of Carol’s story, including an update of her tracking gorillas in Africa this week. The link is below


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