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


This stylish family home combines a classic palette and finishes with a flexible floorplan

35 North Street Windsor

Just 55 minutes from Sydney, make this your creative getaway located in the majestic Hawkesbury region.

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We’re constantly told that one of the potentially biggest benefits of artificial intelligence is in the area of health. By collecting large amounts of data, AI can create all sorts of drugs for diseases that have been resistant to treatment.

But the price of that could be that we have to share more of our medical information. After all, researchers can’t collect large amounts of data if people aren’t willing to part with that data.

We wanted to see where our readers stand on the balance of privacy versus public-health gains as part of our series on ethical dilemmas created by the advent of AI.

Here are the questions we posed…

AI may be able to discover new medical treatments if it can scan large volumes of health records. Should our personal health records be made available for this purpose, if it has the potential to improve or save millions of lives? How would we guard privacy in that case?

…and some of the answers we received. undefined

Rely on nonpartisan overseers

While my own recent experience with a data breach highlights the importance of robust data security, I recognise the potential for AI to revolutionise healthcare. To ensure privacy, I would be more comfortable if an independent, nonpartisan body—overseen by medical professionals, data-security experts, and citizen representatives—managed a secure database.

Anonymity cuts both ways

Yes. Simply sanitise the health records of any identifying information, which is quite doable. Although there is an argument to be made that AI may discover something that an individual needs or wants to know.

Executive-level oversight

I think we can make AI scanning of health records available with strict privacy controls. Create an AI-CEO position at medical facilities with extreme vetting of that individual before hiring them.

Well worth it

This actually sounds like a very GOOD use of AI. There are several methods for anonymising data which would allow for studies over massive cross-sections of the population without compromising individuals’ privacy. The AI would just be doing the same things meta-studies do now, only faster and maybe better.

Human touch

My concern is that the next generations of doctors will rely more heavily, maybe exclusively, on AI and lose the ability or even the desire to respect the art of medicine which demands one-on-one interaction with a patient for discussion and examination (already a dying skill).


People should be able to sign over rights to their complete “anonymised” health record upon death just as they can sign over rights to their organs. Waiting for death for such access does temporarily slow down the pace of such research, but ultimately will make the research better. Data sets will be more complete, too. Before signing over such rights, however, a person would have to be fully informed on how their relatives’ privacy may also be affected.

Pay me or make it free for all

As long as this is open-source and free, they can use my records. I have a problem with people using my data to make a profit without compensation.

Privacy above all

As a free society, we value freedoms and privacy, often over greater utilitarian benefits that could come. AI does not get any greater right to infringe on that liberty than anything else does.

Opt-in only

You should be able to opt in and choose a plan that protects your privacy.

Privacy doesn’t exist anyway

If it is decided to extend human lives indefinitely, then by all means, scan all health records. As for privacy, there is no such thing. All databases, once established, will eventually, if not immediately, be accessed or hacked by both the good and bad guys.

The data’s already out there

I think it should be made available. We already sign our rights for information over to large insurance companies. Making health records in the aggregate available for helping AI spot potential ways to improve medical care makes sense to me.

Overarching benefit

Of course they should be made available. Privacy is no serious concern when the benefits are so huge for so many.

Compensation for breakthroughs

We should be given the choice to release our records and compensated if our particular genome creates a pathway to treatment and medications.

Too risky

I like the idea of improving healthcare by accessing health records. However, as great as that potential is, the risks outweigh it. Access to the information would not be controlled. Too many would see personal opportunity in it for personal gain.

Nothing personal

The personal info should never be available to anyone who is not specifically authorised by the patient to have it. Medical information can be used to deny people employment or licenses!

No guarantee, but go ahead

This should be allowed on an anonymous basis, without question. But how to provide that anonymity?

Anonymously isolating the information is probably easy, but that information probably contains enough information to identify you if someone had access to the data and was strongly motivated. So the answer lies in restricting access to the raw data to trusted individuals.

Take my records, please

As a person with multiple medical conditions taking 28 medications a day, I highly endorse the use of my records. It is an area where I have found AI particularly valuable. With no medical educational background, I find it very helpful when AI describes in layman’s terms both my conditions and medications. In one instance, while interpreting a CT scan, AI noted a growth on my kidney that looked suspiciously like cancer and had not been disclosed to me by any of the four doctors examining the chart.


This stylish family home combines a classic palette and finishes with a flexible floorplan

35 North Street Windsor

Just 55 minutes from Sydney, make this your creative getaway located in the majestic Hawkesbury region.

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