Key Takeaways:

Forced into early retirement by a mass lay-off, Sherry made the best of her situation by living frugally and trying new things.

Sherry Cunningham

Nationality: 🇺🇸

“I worked there for 30 years, and one day I got laid off out of the blue. The company told me to pass my accounts to a younger staff member because my time was over. They warned that if I didn’t comply, my severance package would be in jeopardy. I felt betrayed and angry. Immediately I began to hunt for other jobs, but my age was a detriment to being hired. Eventually, it became clear that I would not be working anytime soon. I contacted my financial advisor and told him the news. Together, we came up with a plan to keep me afloat and comfortable. I am grateful to have savings for such an emergency.”

With the money problem solved for the immediate future, Sherrie faced the second, perhaps more daring issue: time. Work brought Sherrie a sense of purpose and challenge. Without a full-time job, her calendar shifted from crowded to nearly empty. So, she got to work filling it. Sherrie, an adventurous, caring, and competitive individual, finally had the opportunity to do the things she always dreamt about.

With the beach just a few blocks away, Sherrie spent her extra time walking and riding her bike along the shoreline. Within a few months of being laid off, Sherrie attended Bible studies, started playing pickleball, met her future travel buddies, and joined the Scooter Babes, a group of fun-loving women who decorate their mopeds and ride through holiday parades. She also volunteered at a local hot meals program, helping serve over 150 meals a day.

It’s been three years since that phone call that cost Sherrie her career. In that time, she’s traveled around the world with her friends. From hiking in Mexico to exploring the Mediterranean, to collecting sea glass on the beaches of Alaska, she is doing it all. Travel is limited amidst COVID-19, but just last month she attended a family reunion with cousins she hasn’t seen in decades. Sherrie approaches life with a sense of excitement and opportunity. When she walks down the street of her beach town at least a dozen friends call out

“Hey Sherrie, how are you? What are you up to?”

And her reply is always exciting. Whether it’s going to play pickleball or drive to see her grandkids or ride the motorcycle with her honey. “Without a full-time job I get to do all the things I always wanted to do. I live more frugally now, but I have more time to do the things I love."

This feature is written by GetSetUp Journalism Fellow Jordan Evans, student at Florida State University.

May 19, 2022
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