Tatiana Carvajal, who turns 65 in September, has found her most fulfilling work in her retirement years.
After decades of working in the telecommunications industry, Carvajal now works two days a week as a Title 1 tutor, teaching math and using her native Spanish language to help children learn.
“This is better than I’d ever hoped for,” Carvajal said. “I’m finding this so much more fulfilling than anything in my 35-year career.”
“I felt like my job was demanding, but I never felt this tired in my career,” she said. “This has been eye-opening. I always respected teachers — now I hold them up on a pedestal. It’s 100% engagement, all the time. It’s nonstop.”
Carvajal also has been traveling more in retirement, taking trips with her husband to Spain, Italy, Malta, California and Oregon over the past year. They leave to visit Panama soon.
She’s also looking forward this year to welcoming her fourth grandchild, whom Carvajal will get to see more than her long-distance grandkids because the baby will live near her home in New Hampshire.
“This will be our first grandchild nearby, and I hope to play an active role in their life,” Carvajal said. “My goal is to help make this baby bilingual.”
MarketWatch: How do you feel about turning 65?
Carvajal: Sixty hit me pretty hard. I started feeling more aches and pains. But 65 for me hasn’t been as rough. The biggest significance for me is Medicare. I hate that we live in a country where basic health insurance is so hard.
MarketWatch: How do you feel your generation is approaching aging versus previous generations?
Carvajal: We see so many people in their 70s who are so active, and I want to be that way. I used to see people at 60 and think life was over at 60. My husband’s mom is 88 and still going strong. I’ve slowed down a bit. I still hike, but not as aggressively. But I also know people dying at younger ages, and that feels so close. I think about mortality more.
MarketWatch: What are the biggest goals you want to tackle in this next chapter of your life?
Carvajal: I have a lot of little projects. I want to create a couple of picture books for my kids — their life story of trips we have taken and things we have done. I have a lot of old pictures to organize. I’d like to declutter and simplify my life. Traveling, too, is a goal. We hope to take one big trip or two a year. I’m happy going anywhere. We’ve talked about getting a small camper van and visiting people. We also love Spain. I wouldn’t be surprised if we went every year.
MarketWatch: What’s the most surprising aspect of aging?
Carvajal: I really don’t care anymore — I’ve lost a lot of self-conscious stuff. I’m more relaxed about things. I don’t take things as seriously or personally. I didn’t expect to have as many pains — I have bad knees, and that’s been tough.
MarketWatch: Do you have any regrets about life?
Carvajal: I do wish I had selected a different career. I like working with people and being connected. I don’t feel like telecommunications was the right avenue for that. I was a manager and helped people in that way — saved people’s jobs during layoffs and helped their careers. But medicine also held a real charm for me. It’s not a huge regret, but something I think about.
I wish I spent more time traveling as a younger person. I tended to be very risk-averse. I wish I had done more traveling. When I was at MIT, I stayed there for my master’s degree because it felt safe. I could have tried to move and go to Stanford and explore California. But MIT felt safe. Then again, I moved from Colombia for school and took a huge risk then. I just wish I tried more risks.
MarketWatch: What’s the best financial advice you ever received, and who gave it to you?
Carvajal: I did not get a whole lot of good financial advice when I was young. My first husband got me going with saving. But it wasn’t until I was divorced that I started maxing out my 401(k) and saving for retirement seriously. I’ve always been frugal — I was always the person who liked to save. I got my M.B.A. and that helped, of course.
I’m helping my kids; getting them to max out their 401(k)s and helping them with IRAs. They’re going to need it more — who knows if Social Security will be there for them?
If you’re turning 65 this year and want to share your story, contact us at [email protected].