In Retirement, We Have More Time Than Ever. But We Want to Use It Wisely. | Kanebridge News
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In Retirement, We Have More Time Than Ever. But We Want to Use It Wisely.

We have fantasised about this moment for decades. The trick is learning how to savour it.

Fri, May 5, 2023 8:43amGrey Clock 4 min

The first year in retirement is often the most difficult. But it also can be the most crucial, setting the stage for how you’ll fill the years ahead—both financially and psychologically. Stephen Kreider Yoder, 65, a longtime Wall Street Journal editor, joined his wife, Karen Kreider Yoder, 66, in retirement in September. In this monthly Retirement Rookies column, they are chronicling some of the issues they are dealing with in their first year, offering their different perspectives on what can be a confusing transition.


For the first time in many years, time isn’t money.

That was never more clear one afternoon earlier this year when we were gazing down at the Mediterranean Sea while sipping coffee in a cafe in the town plaza in Bejaia, Algeria. We had no fixed plans for the day or the next week—just as planned.

We suddenly have time in abundance, now that we’re both retired, and we’re learning how to spend this currency that for decades has been so scarce. We can now linger where we want to be and dally over what we want to do.

Algeria was an ideal place to test this new reality. We had visited in 2019, but could afford only two weeks, what with full-time jobs—far too short for a country roughly 3.5 times the size of Texas. “We need more time there,” I said as we flew home.

This year, we could take nearly twice as long to immerse ourselves in what the country offered: a green coastal region that gives way to the golden Sahara; a mosaic of Arab, Berber, French and other cultures; Roman Empire ruins; good food and wine; some of the most hospitable people we’ve met.

We’ve been fantasising about this time in life since we got married. For decades, time was a rare commodity, and we had to spend a lot of money to acquire it. We paid an absurd price for a house in San Francisco, partly to limit our commutes. We often hired others to do tasks I enjoyed, like fixing our cars or restoring the trim on our Victorian.

“We need more time” was our constant lament, at no time more than during travel. We would shoehorn several countries into two-week tours. We liked to travel abroad on a low budget—it got us closer to the reality of wherever we were—but that took time, and we often didn’t have the luxury.

We have it now. Earlier this year, we rode the Amtrak California Zephyr to Iowa, rather than flying, to see my parents. It was about 48 hours each way, but what was the hurry? We got beds, three meals a day and a rolling display of Western America. We extended our stay with Mom and Dad to a full week.

Back home, I fired up the metal lathe to fine-tune a bearing-cup press I had made earlier—a bike tool that worked fine but which I had great fun fussing with for hours to refine it. I’ll soon solicit bids for scaffolding, so I can start restoring trim.

It’s beginning to occur to us: By saving money assiduously during our 44 years of marriage, we weren’t putting away only funds. We were also accumulating time to spend in retirement.

Money, at long last, is time.


I’ve never been more aware of the finite nature of time. We’re rich with it now, but there’s no guarantee how long those riches will last. At best, thanks to the longevity that runs in our families, we may have 30 good years of life left. That feels like a long time—and no time at all.

So I’ve been thinking: Maybe we should be budgeting our time like we budget money.

Should I, for instance, spend some of my newfound wealth of time on things I’ve loved to do all my life but had to cut back on while I was working? During the busy years of my career, I continued to make quilts, but had to leave many undone. I baked my own granola and whipped up many meals for friends, but found myself ordering out or picking up prepared foods from the grocery store to save time.

Yet now that I have the luxury of time, the opportunities to fill it have also grown. And that means I still find myself weighing how to spend it—and when to keep spending money instead. I still love to create things, for instance, but would I rather sew an original outfit from scratch or shop for a less-original affair and bank the time? We have time to do housecleaning now; does that mean we should stop paying someone else to do it once a month?

These aren’t easy questions. As a result, we’re talking about looking at all the large time expenditures on our list—travel, house work, volunteering, organising photos—and laying them out on an annual budget. That will help us use our time more wisely.

As we talked about in our last column, we also need to do a better job savouring—as opposed to just running through—the time we have. That hit home on our trip to the Algerian Sahara this year. We had blocked off a week to explore the desert, far longer than we would have during preretirement travel. We could finally take a leisurely pace, we told ourselves.

Yet we couldn’t shake the old urge to make each hour pay off. My question when we arrived the first night: “When should we be ready for breakfast in the morning?”

Our Tuareg guide, Habib, laughed. “You get up when you want,” he said. “In the desert, slowly, slowly.”

That became our mantra for the next days as we camped each night in a different swath of the wilderness. We sat around a low table for our morning coffee and baguette with fig jam. “Slowly, slowly,” Habib would say, and we would repeat it after him.

“Slowly, slowly,” he cautioned as we set off scrambling over rocks toward ancient pictographs. After lunch under a cool tree, we would chat and read and nap. “Slowly, slowly,” we would chant, and again in the evening as Habib stoked a small fire to heat tea, pouring it back and forth between two pots until it foamed into a thick, sweet brew. We brought that mantra home from Algeria. We’ve got time now, and if we budget it carefully, we can afford to spend it slowly, slowly.


Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’

Americans now think they need at least $1.25 million for retirement, a 20% increase from a year ago, according to a survey by Northwestern Mutual

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China’s EV Juggernaut Is a Warning for the West

Competitive pressure and creativity have made Chinese-designed and -built electric cars formidable competitors

Thu, Jun 8, 2023 4 min

China rocked the auto world twice this year. First, its electric vehicles stunned Western rivals at the Shanghai auto show with their quality, features and price. Then came reports that in the first quarter of 2023 it dethroned Japan as the world’s largest auto exporter.

How is China in contention to lead the world’s most lucrative and prestigious consumer goods market, one long dominated by American, European, Japanese and South Korean nameplates? The answer is a unique combination of industrial policy, protectionism and homegrown competitive dynamism. Western policy makers and business leaders are better prepared for the first two than the third.

Start with industrial policy—the use of government resources to help favoured sectors. China has practiced industrial policy for decades. While it’s finding increased favour even in the U.S., the concept remains controversial. Governments have a poor record of identifying winning technologies and often end up subsidising inferior and wasteful capacity, including in China.

But in the case of EVs, Chinese industrial policy had a couple of things going for it. First, governments around the world saw climate change as an enduring threat that would require decade-long interventions to transition away from fossil fuels. China bet correctly that in transportation, the transition would favour electric vehicles.

In 2009, China started handing out generous subsidies to buyers of EVs. Public procurement of taxis and buses was targeted to electric vehicles, rechargers were subsidised, and provincial governments stumped up capital for lithium mining and refining for EV batteries. In 2020 NIO, at the time an aspiring challenger to Tesla, avoided bankruptcy thanks to a government-led bailout.

While industrial policy guaranteed a demand for EVs, protectionism ensured those EVs would be made in China, by Chinese companies. To qualify for subsidies, cars had to be domestically made, although foreign brands did qualify. They also had to have batteries made by Chinese companies, giving Chinese national champions like Contemporary Amperex Technology and BYD an advantage over then-market leaders from Japan and South Korea.

To sell in China, foreign automakers had to abide by conditions intended to upgrade the local industry’s skills. State-owned Guangzhou Automobile Group developed the manufacturing know-how necessary to become a player in EVs thanks to joint ventures with Toyota and Honda, said Gregor Sebastian, an analyst at Germany’s Mercator Institute for China Studies.

Despite all that government support, sales of EVs remained weak until 2019, when China let Tesla open a wholly owned factory in Shanghai. “It took this catalyst…to boost interest and increase the level of competitiveness of the local Chinese makers,” said Tu Le, managing director of Sino Auto Insights, a research service specialising in the Chinese auto industry.

Back in 2011 Pony Ma, the founder of Tencent, explained what set Chinese capitalism apart from its American counterpart. “In America, when you bring an idea to market you usually have several months before competition pops up, allowing you to capture significant market share,” he said, according to Fast Company, a technology magazine. “In China, you can have hundreds of competitors within the first hours of going live. Ideas are not important in China—execution is.”

Thanks to that competition and focus on execution, the EV industry went from a niche industrial-policy project to a sprawling ecosystem of predominantly private companies. Much of this happened below the Western radar while China was cut off from the world because of Covid-19 restrictions.

When Western auto executives flew in for April’s Shanghai auto show, “they saw a sea of green plates, a sea of Chinese brands,” said Le, referring to the green license plates assigned to clean-energy vehicles in China. “They hear the sounds of the door closing, sit inside and look at the quality of the materials, the fabric or the plastic on the console, that’s the other holy s— moment—they’ve caught up to us.”

Manufacturers of gasoline cars are product-oriented, whereas EV manufacturers, like tech companies, are user-oriented, Le said. Chinese EVs feature at least two, often three, display screens, one suitable for watching movies from the back seat, multiple lidars (laser-based sensors) for driver assistance, and even a microphone for karaoke (quickly copied by Tesla). Meanwhile, Chinese suppliers such as CATL have gone from laggard to leader.

Chinese dominance of EVs isn’t preordained. The low barriers to entry exploited by Chinese brands also open the door to future non-Chinese competitors. Nor does China’s success in EVs necessarily translate to other sectors where industrial policy matters less and creativity, privacy and deeply woven technological capability—such as software, cloud computing and semiconductors—matter more.

Still, the threat to Western auto market share posed by Chinese EVs is one for which Western policy makers have no obvious answer. “You can shut off your own market and to a certain extent that will shield production for your domestic needs,” said Sebastian. “The question really is, what are you going to do for the global south, countries that are still very happily trading with China?”

Western companies themselves are likely to respond by deepening their presence in China—not to sell cars, but for proximity to the most sophisticated customers and suppliers. Jörg Wuttke, the past president of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China, calls China a “fitness centre.” Even as conditions there become steadily more difficult, Western multinationals “have to be there. It keeps you fit.”


Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’

Americans now think they need at least $1.25 million for retirement, a 20% increase from a year ago, according to a survey by Northwestern Mutual

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