Kansas City Radio Legend Darcie Blake Explains How She Transitioned From A Dream Job into a Dream Retirement
My listeners in the Kansas City area are going to love hearing Darcie Blake’s voice again! Darcie was a radio mainstay here for nearly 30 years as the morning show co-host on KUDL and as a host on WHB. After leaving KUDL, Darcie founded The Radio Dish, where she hosted her own show, and started her own advertising company.
On today’s show, Darcie Blake sits on the other side of the desk to share some memories about her time on the air – from laugh-out-loud gaffes to some really serious events that she covered as a reporter. Then we discuss how Darcie and her husband handled the transition to retirement and what she’s doing today to make this half of her life as fulfilling as the first.
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Do what you love and live within your means.
Darcie Blake is one of those lucky folks who spent her career doing a job that she loved, starting with a surprise report on a Bismarck, ND city council meeting at age 15. Between her TV and radio work, Darcie covered everyday fun like turkey bowling, as well as major news, like when she rode in a helicopter with President Jimmy Carter to survey Red River flooding. She even got a peek behind the Iron Curtain when she traveled to Moscow with Heart to Heart International on a humanitarian mission. And she worked with one of my good friends, Angel Flight Central’s Don Sumple, when he was still a radio program director.
Because Darcie’s husband Paul also worked as an engineer, they decided to budget around his salary and commit Darcie’s radio earnings to savings, investments, and retirement.
“We never live beyond our means,” Darcie Blake says. “My parents retired at 55. They were the same way. They came from a generation that didn't have a lot. My dad saved an awful lot. When we first got married, we figured that radio was a hobby. I mean, radio people and TV people don't last very long. Who knew it was going to be 26 years? All of that money went into investing.”
Changing life’s stations.
But even with such a solid financial plan in place, Darcie and Paul, like so many folks, had a few curveballs thrown at them before they were even thinking about retiring.
“2008, when the downturn happened, affected all of us,” Darcie says. “A lot of people were losing their jobs. And media companies looked at people they could get rid of on the stations. I had a contract that was coming due in about six months.”
Darcie found a way to say goodbye on her terms. She retired from her radio hosting job but kept working on commercials and advertising. That led to the creation of her advertising business, which became a successful second career during the first 11 years of her “retirement.”
Paul kept working until another fork in the road moment made him and Darcie decide it was time for a full early retirement. “We weren't planning on retiring until 65,” Darcie explains. “The fact that Paul was going to have to go back to China for another two years was the deciding factor. It wasn't the place he wanted to be. It just worked out well. We talked to advisors, we talked to our accountant making sure that we were all okay. The opportunity arose that he could retire, and I sold the other half of my company to my partner.”
Know your “Why” and trust your budget.
Retirement allowed Darice Blake to spend more time on a job she was already loving: Grandma.
“I think I was born to be a grandma,” she says. “I just love it. I realized I can do this. I can do what I want to do. At that time, it was spending time with the grandkids, which I still do.”
Darcie says a key to her and Paul’s successful transition into retirement is that they were in sync about the timing and about what their life was going to be like.
“A key for anybody is to make sure you know why you're retiring,” she advises. “Yes, I'd like to leave some money to my grandchildren and my kids, but that's not my sole purpose. I want to enjoy life. Both of us felt the same way. We want to travel, which we've done. We both have hobbies that we like to do. You've got to know why you both want to retire. You've got to be on the same page.”
Like many retirees who have grown their wealth over time through hard work and discipline, Darcie and Paul did have some initial jitters over cracking open their nest egg. But they learned how to trust in their budget and in the planning process that allowed them to retire early in the first place. “I think the first couple of months you kind of panic because, oh my gosh, there's no money coming in,” Darcie says. “We've both kind of realized, don't take a look at everything that you do monthly. We set up a yearly budget. This is what we want to meet as a goal to spend. I remember, Paul retired in October. In December I said, ‘How much can I spend on Christmas presents?’ He looked at me and said, ‘Uh uh, we're not doing that.’ By May I wasn't asking every month, and sure enough, we came in right on budget as we reviewed things at the one-year mark of our retirement.”
I’ve said many times that no Keen Wealth financial plan is exactly the same, because no two clients have the same lives, challenges, or goals. But the way that Darcie and Paul approached retirement is really a recipe for success for all of us. They knew their “whys” while they were working towards retirement, and they knew their “whys” when it was time to retire as well.
Thanks so much to Darcie Blake, it was a real honor to have her in the Keen Wealth studio. And if you’re looking for more ideas on how to find your retirement “why,” check out my new Amazon best-seller, Keen on Retirement: Engineering the Second Half of Your Life.
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Bill Keen is a CHARTERED RETIREMENT PLANNING COUNSELOR℠ and independent financial advisor with more than 25 years of industry experience. As the founder and CEO of Keen Wealth Advisors, a registered investment advisory firm, he specializes in providing personalized retirement planning designed to help people thrive before and during their retirement years. With a passion for educating others, Bill regularly blogs about retirement planning, hosts the podcast Keen on Retirement, and has contributed to U.S. News and World Report, Reuters, Wall Street Journal’s Market Watch, Yahoo Finance, and other publications. Based in Overland Park, Kansas, Bill and his team work with clients throughout the greater Kansas City area and across the nation. To learn more, connect with him on LinkedIn or visit www.keenwealthadvisors.com.
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