If you Google “biggest worry among retirees,” the most frequent links among the first zillion choices you’ll see are: paying for out-of-pocket medical expenses or just having enough money to live on. These links are interspersed with others featuring tips and guides for financial security, another sign that this is the BIG ISSUE in the minds of many retirees or wannabes, particularly during the current housing and employment crisis. Having been retired for only a short time, I have no sense of whether we will have enough money to get us to the grave in style, though we have received some assurance that we don’t need to panic, and we’re both healthy. Consequently, I haven’t begun to worry about finances yet, a real feat by someone who is capable of worrying about anything. However, I started thinking about the question “How much is enough?” when friend Claudia and I were tripping through the Chinatown International District last week. We were in a store featuring Asian arts and crafts and, being addicted to paper products, I purchased two tablets for “notes and to-do’s,” one for me and one for her, that included 50 designer post-it notes. After thanking me Claudia said, “I see that you are an impulse buyer.”
Impulse buyer? Me? Not possible, I think, because I went to the biannual Kyoto Art and Antiques warehouse sale and passed on a gorgeous antique Japanese basket that would have looked beautiful atop my Chinese chest (though, I admit that it is all I can do not to rush back for it before it’s too late). But for the sake of argument, let’s just say, hypothetically speaking, that Claudia is right. Instead of “How much money is enough?” more questions arise and these questions become more complicated: Is impulse shopping a sign of a character flaw? If so, can one stop being an impulse buyer? Or, if one is committed to hanging onto his or her current character, flawed or not, “How much is enough for an impulsive shopper to live on in retirement?”
According to businessdictionary.com, the impulse buyer is deeply troubled and items purchased by someone with this imperfection “usually (about 80 percent of the time) lead to problems such as financial difficulties, family disapproval, or feeling of guilt or disappointment.” It gets much worse if you click on links below businessdictionary.com. At least one website is calling impulse buying a disease. The Google references to articles on how to cure impulse purchasing are as ubiquitous as the articles on worry about retirement expenses; luckily, many are able to name the simple cure: plan ahead.
Now I am completely depressed. I’m not yet disappointed with my new designer post-it notes, but I’m feeling guilty. At least I am comforted by knowing that family disapproval is not on the horizon. When my husband and I recently stopped in at a local consignment furniture store, not having planned ahead to buy anything, we walked out with five Persian rugs of varying sizes. By now, I hope it will be obvious to all that I am not the one with the disease. However, coming to this conclusion does not get me any closer to an answer to the question of how much money is enough for the impulse-shopping retiree, though it does point to the urgency of finding out soon. Hmmm. How shall I test this? I must do it quickly so as to protect the family and prevent financial difficulties (and get to the antiques sale before it leaves town this Sunday).