Well, the big day is almost here. After spending 50 or so hours at work every week for the past 40 years, I’m finally about to retire. A lot of people have asked if I’m ready for this life changing experience. I definitely am, because in a few short days I get to begin living my life dream. I’ll be spending all 50 of those former work hours each week, plus all the rest of my nights and days with the most beautiful, wonderful woman in the whole world, my wife Yvonne.
Yvonne has stood faithfully by my side for all of these years and has always been there to support and encourage me, so now that I have time I want to do everything I possibly can to help make our retirement years as special for her as I know they will be for me.
One of my ideas is to do everything I can to help her around the house. For example, I’ve decided that my first project will be to organize the kitchen cupboards. I don’t mean to imply that the way the cupboards are sort of organized now is not okay, but I think Yvonne will appreciate having all of the canned goods sorted alphabetically by type of food. I can’t wait to see the look on her face when she opens the cupboard doors and sees all of the cans arranged in neat rows from left to right – asparagus, baked beans, black beans, green beans, kidney beans, beets, carrots, chicken broth, corn, olives, peas, spinach, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, mushroom soup, tomato soup, and so on. Of course, canned fruits will be categorized separately, and everything will be stocked by date of purchase – newest to the back, oldest to the front!
I think Yvonne will also appreciate having me rearrange the items in the freezer – frozen veggies on shelf one, meat products on shelf two, pastry and bread products on shelf three, and so on. And while I’m at it, I’ll go ahead and rearrange all of those things on the kitchen counter to make everything more efficient for her.
The nice thing about helping in the kitchen will be menu planning. I think Yvonne will like sitting down together to plan our daily menus for the coming week. I’ll prepare an excel spreadsheet to list each day’s meals and then post it on the refrigerator to help her remember what she is supposed to cook for each meal.
I’ve never been much help in the kitchen, but with our menus all planned out it will be easy for me to help her with the cooking. I might even have some suggestions about how she can improve her cooking, and as we use the canned goods I’ll be able to track inventory and make a list of the items we need to purchase and restock.
Another nice thing about doing menu planning together will be all the money we will save. I’ve tried not to show it, but I’ve always thought Yvonne spends too much on groceries. I think she will be pleased when she sees how much money menu planning will save us.
I’m also looking forward to going grocery shopping with Yvonne. I can push the cart and help her do price comparisons by checking those little cost-per-serving labels they post in fine print below the prices. I don’t think she even looks at those numbers now, but with me along to help we will have time to do it right.
After we’ve gone grocery shopping together a couple of times, I think Yvonne will want me tag along on all of her shopping trips, which I’ll be glad to do. It takes her forever to pick out a pair of shoes or some household item like new place mats for the kitchen. I’ll be able to save her a lot of time by suggesting which shoes to try on, or suggesting which color of place mats to buy. Just think, for all these years she has had to make all of these decisions by herself. Now she will have me to help.
I know there will still be times when Yvonne will just want to go browsing at TJ Max and Marshall’s, but that’s okay because I’ll have plenty of time, and now she will have me there to gently remind her to avoid impulse buying.
For the past few months I’ve been dropping hints to Yvonne about needing to be more frugal when I retire, but I think the best thing I can do is just try to be a good example. One idea I have is about loading the dishwasher. When she is in the kitchen, without trying to be too obvious, I’ll load the dishwasher the right way, putting as many things in it as possible, and I’ll mention that doing so will help save money on our water bill. If this goes well, a few weeks later I’ll suggest that she wash the dishes in the sink instead of using the dishwasher.
One other idea I have is just for a nice surprise. I’ll suggest to Yvonne that she go shopping by herself. Then, while she’s gone I’ll rearrange the living room furniture to give it a fresh look. Won’t that be a surprise!
I have a lot of other ideas in mind to help make adjusting to my retirement as much fun for Yvonne as I know it will be for me. I can’t wait.
George Brown is the executive director of Clermont Senior Services.