Ham Radio as a Person Heads Toward Retirement

A while back (18JAN20) Jeff KE9V wrote a piece on “Hobby Money” which he has since purged while updating his website.  My original workup for this post had included referencing my comments to Jeff KE9V’s now deleted post.

Often in discussion concerning Ham Radio touches on the ROI (Return on Investment) a ham achieves for the money they spend on their hobby.

But is that really the right measure?

On a pure ROI basis most hobbies come up short.

Why would you buy a $75,000 fancy piano, spend endless hours in instruction and practice, to play music that you can stream for free?

Or that $75,000 fishing boat when you can buy fish cheaply at the supermarket?

Or that expensive land & cabin in the woods to harvest modest amounts of game, when you can buy meat ready to cook for a fraction of the price?

Similarly Ham Radio in most forms comes up short.  I do know one local ham who designed and built his own transceiver from 100% salvaged components so his out of pocket cash investment was trivial – perhaps in sub $50 range with his scrounging.  While out of pocket he is treading very light, but he never confesses how many hours of his time went into the project.  I’m kind of thinking at minimum wage enough labor that in dollar equivalent would have bought a contest grade top end transceiver was invested.  But he had a lot of enjoyment, learning and pride as additional paybacks.

In the original article some thoughts on a ham as they head towards retirement were laid out.  Some pretty good thoughts centering on what the value of ham radio could be once a person retires.

Over the past few years I have seen people face the issues that they have retired and started the life-style changes that employment, health and other changes brought with hobbies that couldn’t flex to their changing circumstances.

Some folk are lucky and ski until they are ninety, have enough investments that they can take monthly retirement cruises until they are very elderly, and have the vision & muscle control to competitively wing shoot throughout their retirement.

Others, not so much as they face the brittle bones, weak eyesight, duff hearing, balance problems, wore out knees/joints and other aging infirmaries that are not worth scaring ourselves cataloging.

Some find out that their retirement preparations fall economically short, or that other economic issues like health care not covered by insurance or needs of other family diverts their “jolly monies.”

Those who do have life changing issues may face giving up some of their old activities for sound reasons, and then need to find something to engage themselves.

Some have interests that can make enough transitions to match their changing needs in retirement.

Ham radio seems a perfect transition candidate.

The young and spry can do summits on the air, be the muscle to do field day club activities, do Emergency Radio activations, contest, do DXpeditions and basically run as had as they want.

Typically hams move in the direction of building a more mature station as their lives change, with a bit lass of the other stuff.  They often join those who build radio kits at some point.

Headed to retirement has become different with a couple relatively recent innovations – easier digital modes, remote-ready radios, and rent-a-station-by-remote operations.

Truly modern ham radio can move with the ham to a retirement place, to potentially assisted living and right through their life changes as long as they remain able.

Not all that many hobbies that can do that!



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