The couple achieved that last year when they
moved from a Washington, D.C., suburb to the
college town of Lexington, Va., home to Washington and Lee University and the Virginia Military
Institute. “The two colleges make it a stimulating
community,” says Margy Werling, 73, who is taking
a class in the arts of India. “You can audit classes,
use the library and attend student performances.”
Her calendar includes performances by an a
cappella group from Venezuela, an orchestra
from Germany and a chorus and dance company
Werling says she and her husband, 82, have become more budget-conscious since they began
their retirement. They travel but they also enjoy visiting historic sites that are within driving
distance, such as Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello
and Civil War sites in Charlottesville, Waynesboro and Roanoke.
“We constrain ourselves so we can extend
what we have,” she says. “If we don’t spend this
year, we can put it away for next year.”
having fun. They’re just taking a
more thrifty and creative approach—
and reaping surprising rewards.
use the library
‘Everything I do is free’
Betty Gerstein’s social calendar is
teeming, but her skimpy entertainment budget remains intact. At 80, Gerstein has
figured out how to take in shows, concerts, sporting events, the ballet, and even meals without
forking over a single cent.
Her secret? Volunteer for just about everything.
“A normal person wouldn’t be able to live on
my income. I can because I’m a saver,” says Gerstein, a retiree who lives in Delray Beach, Fla.,
with her dog, Bogart. “Everything I do is free.”
If it’s February or May, Gerstein is volunteering at the Delray Beach International Tennis
Championships, a tournament where some of
the biggest pros compete. “I get to see great tennis, and they give me breakfast and lunch every
day,” Gerstein says.
She helps out at the Downtown Boca Film Festival, usually in April, when she’s also busy at the
Palm Beach International Film Festival. “I get
to see all the movies,” she says.
If it’s October, she’s ushering at the Chris
Evert/Raymond James Pro-Celebrity Tennis
Classic. In December, she’s dividing her time
between ushering at the Nutcracker ballet,
working at Palm Beach County’s Jewish Film
Festival and helping out at the Chamber of Com-
merce, which hosts holiday events and provides
her with lunch every day for about
three weeks, not to mention dis-
counts at local venues.
‘The colleges make it stimulating’
Margy and Richard Werling knew what they
wanted in retirement: a rich offering of affordable cultural events, access to free or low-cost
college-level classes, and an active lifestyle.
‘We love dress rehearsals’
The Wall Street slide snatched a portion of Steve
McLaughlin’s savings just as he was phasing
into retirement. Fed up with the volatile stock
market, McLaughlin, 61, decided to invest with a
broker recommended by friends. That decision
would cost him dearly and change the course of
his financial future.
“All the money we gave him is gone,” says
McLaughlin, a lawyer who lives with his wife,
DJ, 62, in San Diego. “We don’t have much for
McLaughlin says they both plan to retire and
take early Social Security benefits within a year,
which would replace their current annual in-
come of about $33,000. After paying bills, there’s
not much left for entertainment, he says. They
stopped dining out and seeing movies, instead
renting releases from Netflix for $8 a month. He
searches online for notices of free exhibitions.
“We try to stay busy,” he says.
But the couple haven’t given up on their favorite activity: the theater. They belong to the
Shakespeare Society, which puts on free play
readings. And with more than a dozen community theaters nearby, they attend shows and
invitational dress rehearsals free of charge.
“We love to go to the invitational dress rehearsals,” says McLaughlin, a volunteer treasurer for the San Diego Association of Community
Theatres. “Last month we saw Arsenic and Old
Lace. It was well done.”
MAT T HERRING
aarp.org/bulletin MAY 2012