Bill Atkinson: On retirement, planning & lasting relationships

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Content orginially posted on CFFC.

You may have seen or read about Bill Atkinson in the news – Bill has been a dedicated spokesman behind several initiatives for Grey Power, the “advocacy organisation promoting the welfare and well-being of all those citizens in the 50 plus age group”.

As the chairperson of the Retirement Villages Committee, Bill has held an active interest in the rights of retirement village residents. A village resident himself, he has been noted for fighting for the rights of Red Zone retirement residents displaced by the Canterbury earthquake – residents who weren’t covered for relocation costs offered by the government. Residents in retirement villages will usually have a “licence to occupy” status, rather than ownership rights, which disqualified them from the scheme.

Throughout his time at Grey Power he has highlighted the importance of knowing exactly what you’re “buying” into when you move into a residential village.

The Commission for Financial Capability invited Bill and his wife Christine along for a chat about retirement. Bill’s insight into the couple’s experiences is both heart-warming and interesting to uncover.

On retirement and planning

screen-shot-2017-05-24-at-9-33-43-amBill speaks of how he thought life would turn out, “My father died at 72 and we thought that was a good age for life then. So we thought we’d make… maybe hopefully 75 or even 80. We never expected to be living this long quite frankly!”

That he retired at the age of 63, after the small business he was working in went bankrupt, probably wouldn’t have been a worry – if he didn’t realise he’d be sticking around a lot longer. “I could have worked probably until 80!”, he reflects.

We can all take this on board – perhaps we will live a lot longer than we actually expect – important to remember when we’re thinking about retiring.

Keeping busy after retirement

screen-shot-2017-05-24-at-9-37-26-amAt one point during the chat Bill is posed the question – what would his life had been like if he hadn’t joined Grey Power? Becoming animated he states, “I wouldn’t be here, yeah, I would literally have curled up and died I think! I would’ve died of boredom! I had to keep my brain going.”.

Keeping yourself going with challenges and things to keep yourself ticking over is particularly important once you hit retirement – you have to work out how you are going to fill in the hours of the day, now that you’re no longer working. It helps if it’s a cause you’re passionate about!

On a lasting relationship

Bill puts it succinctly when it comes to his relationship with his wife, Christine. “If she looked out for me for 60 years, if I can’t look out for her for a few, know something wrong isn’t there? This is a partnership.” The pair giggle together as they chat about putting up with each other for so long.

But really, in any lasting relationship, it’s always important to remain best friends and take care of each other when needed.