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When they pivot into retirement, people ask themselves one question first.

Will I be able to pay my bills without working a job?

Being able to cover your expenses gives you peace of mind.

But, you will also have a lot more free time to look forward to. Especially, if you are used to being busy and working long hours in a workweek.

And if you don’t plan on what to do with this time, you may not enjoy your retirement as much as you’d expect.

In this episode, Ron Stanton shares how to pivot from years of working long hours to retiring while you contribute to your community and guide the next generations.

Listen now.

Show highlights include:

  • How experiencing humiliation makes having to motivate yourself to do hard work unnecessary (5:18)
  • Why setting specific goals helps you succeed (even if you don’t achieve them) (11:12)
  • What to expect if you consider to work in special education (14:07)
  • One way to aid your community with a little time per week (17:29)


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Do you want a wealthy retirement without worrying about money? Welcome to “Retire in Texas”, where you will discover how to enjoy your faith, your family, and your freedom in the State of Texas—and, now, here's your host, financial advisor, author, and all-around good Texan, Darryl Lyons.

Darryl: Hey, this is Darryl Lyons, and you're listening to Retire in Texas. Thank you for tuning in. I’m the CEO and co-founder of PAX Financial Group.

Before we get started, I always have to remind you that this information is general in nature only. It's not intended to provide specific tax or legal advice. Visit PAXFinancialGroup.com for more information. And as always, if you want to meet with a financial advisor, it's real simple. They have a heart of a teacher. It'll take a 15-minute phone call just to see if it's a good fit. You just text “TEXAS” to 74868. That's “TEXAS” to 74868. Again, visit PAXFinancialGroup.com. They do sponsor this show. So, thank you. [01:03.0]

Today, Ron Stanton is here, and I'm sitting here thinking about this and it's going to bug me until I'm blue in the face. Ron Stanton, whereabouts are you from originally?

Ron: I'm from El Paso.

Darryl: El Paso. So, the last name is Stanton. Tell me the history of Stanton.

Ron: There's a lot of Stantons in El Paso. In fact, an ancestor, Maggie Stanton, started the first library in El Paso, and there’s Stanton Street and the Stanton Street Bridge that goes to Juárez, and Stanton Hotel, and Stanton is a main street in El Paso.

Darryl: Okay, so that must be it. If you're from El Paso, you're like, Stanton, I know Stanton. Is that related a long way?

Ron: Yes, a long way back.

Darryl: Yeah, and you've mapped out that history, so to speak.

Ron: Oh, yes.

Darryl: Where did the bridge name come from?

Ron: It comes from the Stanton Street and it runs right into Juárez.

Darryl: But was it a family member that did something significant?

Ron: She was the founder of the first librarians in El Paso.

Darryl: Oh, that same one? Okay.

Ron: Yes,

Darryl: Same one. Wow. She must have been quite a-- [02:00.6]

Ron: Pioneer.

Darryl: Yes, she was a pioneer. It makes me think my great-great-grandfather, four, was one of the pioneers of San Diego, so I don't know if-- I think there's a few things named after him., Lyons. George Lyons is in San Diego, but it's something that I know my family takes a lot of pride in, and I'm sure your family does as well.

Ron: Oh, yes, very much so.

Darryl: Yeah. So, you were in El Paso. You could just cross the border and go get a taco.

Ron: Yes.

Darryl: Yeah, and Juárez.

Ron: We did that for years.

Darryl: I lived in Harlingen and you could just cross the border, no problem, and those were awesome days. Those days are behind us.

Ron: Yes, they are.

Darryl: So, growing up in El Paso, did you have brothers and sisters?

Ron: I had one brother, younger, and just my father, well, stepfather and mother, and my maternal grandmother lived with us.

Darryl: Is that right?

Ron: Yeah.

Darryl: What did your parents do?

Ron: He was a pipefitter for Texaco refinery.

Darryl: Okay, yeah.

Ron: Right there on Trowbridge, it was a big refinery. And my mother was a housewife.

Darryl: Okay, yeah, and you have brothers and sisters? [03:00.6]

Ron: I have one brother.

Darryl: An older or …

Ron: He's younger. He’s nine years younger.

Darryl: Yeah, and so that sounds like kind of a lower-middle-class income or middle class.

Ron: Yes, it was lower.

Darryl: Yeah.

Ron: And we had a lot of trouble, because, being a chemical worker, he was in the union.

Darryl: Yes, absolutely.

Ron: And they were always going on strike.

Darryl: I was going to ask about that. That's very much a union job.

Ron: Yes, and they always were striking for better wages, but the whole time you were off, you weren't making anything, so it took a long time to recoup what you got as the benefit of your strike. It took maybe six months or nine months to get back what you lost while you were out on strike. So, we were always living from paycheck to paycheck, and he was always-- He worked hard all his life and which I was grateful for, but we didn't have a whole lot when I grew up.

Darryl: Yes, so El Paso was not as big as it is today, obviously. [04:00.6]

Ron: No.

Darryl: And very much manual labor work was in El Paso, not the metropolitan that it is today.

Ron: Right.

Darryl: Like a financial hub and all that, and it's really impressive what's happened in El Paso and the growth of El Paso. But at the time, there was a lot of commerce between Texas and Mexico, and coming from a union family, I think about it from a financial perspective as I kind of deliberate here, how would it be possible for somebody like that to squirrel away enough money while you're taking care of your family to whether those six months’ stoppage of work?

Ron: He never caught up, because, like I said, he worked hard and he made a good wage, but while taking care of the four of us and himself, there was no really squirreling away. There was never … you know? In fact, when they were on strike, he would get nonunion work to help supplement.

Darryl: I was going to ask, yeah. [04:57.7]

Ron: And not always did the nonunion work help. One time, he was making bricks and he suffered from heat exhaustion and he was in the hospital for several days, so if you don't have insurance and you're in the hospital.

Darryl: Yeah, yeah.

Ron: So, they never really caught up from the strikes. It was from one strike to another.

Darryl: Unbelievable. Now I'm really blown away by that and the reason I'm blown away is because I’ve seen documentaries on that. What era was that? I mean, give me the decade for the context to our listeners.

Ron: The 1950s.

Darryl: Yeah, that's about right. That makes sense. And so, growing up on an income that didn't have a lot, was it just a series of low points or did your family kind of just bring it together and muster through, or was there any time where you were like, Oh, man, this is going downhill?

Ron: One of the low points that I remember specifically, I guess I was in junior high, maybe the seventh grade, my tennis shoes wore out, and they put cardboard in the bottom and they taped them up for a couple of days. The cardboard wore out almost immediately and they tried to put me in my father's dress shoes to go to school. [06:04.7]

Darryl: Yeah.

Ron: My foot was just a little bit bigger than his.

Darryl: Whoa.

Ron: So, I had blisters and nothing flat. So, then I had to stay home from school until they could afford new tennis shoes.

Darryl: No kidding.

Ron: And tennis shoes, at that time, they weren't like they are now. They weren't expensive and they couldn't even afford tennis shoes at that time.

Darryl: I'm going to make sure my kids listen to this podcast, because they have, like, five pairs of tennis shoes and they still ask for more. You must look at kids today and you're like, You're just … you have no idea.

Ron: You have no idea. You're right.

Darryl: You want $250 For Jordans, for Air Jordans? Really?

Ron: Yeah.

Darryl: Man, and I can only imagine that, I mean, just obviously the humiliation, but did it do anything to inspire you or to change your thinking? [06:49.2]

Ron: I worked hard and I got an education because my stepfather just had a high school education, so I wanted my children to have-- I wanted to be able to provide better for them. So, I went to college while I worked full time and went to college at night, and went on the GI Bill and things like that, and I almost always had two jobs for a long, long time to squirrel away money and put money in a 401(k) so they wouldn't ever have to do without.

Darryl: No one, I mean, I say this, no one has generalities. Bear with me, there's certainly exceptions. But very rarely do people have the emotional fortitude to go to school, to take two jobs, to work to the degree that you just explained, unless they have cardboard in their shoes. I mean, it's those types of things, you're like, I don't care what it takes. I'm going to provide for my family.

Ron: I appreciate that. Yes, it's true.

Darryl: And so, you went to and you graduated, was at Coronado High School?

Ron: I graduated from Austin High School.

Darryl: Austin. Was Coronado there when you were there?

Ron: Yes.

Darryl: Yeah, okay, so Austin High School. And then, after Austin High School, it sounds like you went active duty or …?

Ron: Then I went into the Air Force. [08:01.1]

Darryl: Yeah, thank you for serving. How long were you active?

Ron: Three years.

Darryl: Three years. Thank you.

Ron: Three years and three months.

Darryl: Stationed where?

Ron: Ended in Vietnam, in 1968.

Darryl: Yeah, okay. Man, first of all, I just know how challenging it is today for a lot of our brothers and sisters who are over there and they're still wrestling with some of the challenges that they dealt with at that time. That’s real stuff.

Ron: It’s real.

Darryl: Ken Lewis did a documentary on the Vietnam. I haven't yet seen it. Have you seen it?

Ron: I have not seen it.

Darryl: Can you watch the Vietnam stuff?

Ron: Not usually, I don't care to. It’s … yeah.

Darryl: Yeah, yeah, some guys are like, I won't. I won't watch it.

Ron: I haven't watched much of anything about the Vietnam.

Darryl: Yeah. But the Air Force gave me a GI Bill.

Ron: Yes.

Darryl: And that's pretty powerful because the GI Bill allows for you to get that education that you wanted. So, where did you go after or when you were ready to go to college?

Ron: I had started at El Paso Community College because my grades weren't good enough for regular college into UT El Paso.

Darryl: Yeah. [09:00.3]

Ron: So, I started at El Paso Community College, and even then, it wasn't because of my grades, but to get into school, I sanded desks for El Paso Community College because it was new and just opened for the first time.

Darryl: Yeah.

Ron: So, I sanded desks for all the students.

Darryl: No kidding. You took those sanders out and plugged them into the wall.

Ron: The big orbital ones.

Darryl: Oh, the big ones, yeah.

Ron: Yes, on the desk and you could do a desk and nothing flat at one time.

Darryl: Wow. I had to do that once for a car. It's work. It's work. I mean, it is a workout. It's tiring. And so, El Paso Community College, they don't give you a 4-year degree.

Ron: No, it was just two years.

Darryl: After that, did you …?

Ron: Then I went to UTEP.

Darryl: UTEP, okay, yeah.

Ron: Gradually transferred to UT El Paso.

Darryl: And UT El Paso, I mean, I’ve got to give credit to them again, to El Paso, those listening. I'm not patronizing, but UTEP has garnered a really good reputation.

Ron: They have.

Darryl: So, good for them. What was your degree in?

Ron: I got a degree in business management. [10:00.8]

Darryl: And then what?

Ron: I worked for El Paso Natural Gas for a long time. I worked there 27 years. And then they lost a contract with PG&E in California.

Darryl: Yeah, okay.

Ron: Pacific Gas and Electric. They lost the contract to supply, to give them gas, and when they did that, we lost 900 employees there in El Paso.

Darryl: Oh, my God.

Ron: Reduction in force.

Darryl: Yeah.

Ron: And because I had made a good living there, when you lay 900 people off in one day, it's difficult to find decent work there, so that's when I came to San Antonio.

Darryl: What year was that more or less?

Ron: 1996.

Darryl: Okay, 1996. It was a good run.

Ron: Yes, it was.

Darryl: Twenty-seven years.

Ron: It was a good run.

Darryl: That's tough for the community, in general. Why San Antonio?

Ron: My youngest daughter was here and I'd also been looking in the paper because she lived here, and I found a company that had a position that was just right in my wheelhouse, right where I wanted to be. So, I worked hard to get that one position because it was so much like uniform and just meant for me. [11:08.0]

Darryl: Yeah.

Ron: So, I had to have it. I really needed that position. I wanted that position desperately.

Darryl: You know what I think? One thing that may be understated in that brief dialog was you had clearly identified what you wanted, it sounds like. I mean, maybe not to perfection, but you knew what you wanted and you went after it.

Ron: Yes.

Darryl: And the reason that's important is because a lot of people, when they transition out of a job or retire, it's very nebulous. It’s like, “What do you want to do next?” “I'm open to anything.” Really, I always find that to be very challenging to help as an employer. Especially as an employer, I want to sit down with somebody who says, “This is what I'm looking for,” and you clearly had that defined when you came to San Antonio, right?

Ron: Yes.

Darryl: Yeah, and so tell me about what you were looking for?

Ron: I had been in systems analysis and design, and when I got into the Air Force, they had just started computerized system supply and that's what I worked in, it was supply, but we worked with the computers and the computers were basically new. [12:05.4]

So, I came along with new knowledge for computers and I used that knowledge with El Paso Natural Gas, which was where I worked, and that's what I built my career on 27 years with El Paso Natural Gas. It was the computer analysis and the background systems analysis. I had done a bunch of the work for El Paso natural gas manually, so when they wanted to automate it, I knew the system well enough to automate it, because I had been doing it manually.

Darryl: That's always, I think, from a business-owner perspective, you usually can develop systems because it’s done manually, and then you take the technology to do the heavy lifting, but you have to do it kind of manually to work out the kinks. It sounds kind of a little bit about what you were doing.

Ron: Yes.

Darryl: Were you raising your kids? I mean, you alluded to how many kids do you have?

Ron: Two.

Darryl: Two. How old are they? I’m putting you on the spot. I'm sorry.

Ron: Yes, you are—55 and 51.

Darryl: Okay, and subject to six months more or less, right? [13:01.4]

Ron: [Yes.]

Darryl: Now 55 and 51? Okay. So, they were raised in El Paso.

Ron: Yes.

Darryl: And then one moved to San Antonio and one moved to …?

Ron: All over. Now he's in Pflugerville.

Darryl: Pflugerville. That's not too bad.

Ron: But all over. They were in San Diego and Washington, D.C. His wife was in the Navy.

Darryl: Okay, and so married?

Ron: Married, the oldest one. The daughter is not. She never married.

Darryl: Never married. So, you have grandbabies?

Ron: I have three granddaughters.

Darryl: Oh, nice. They're not grandbabies anymore, are they?

Ron: No, no. In fact, the youngest one is 24. She's going to be a physical therapist. She’ll graduate from NYU Physical Therapy in August.

Darryl: So, let me understand this correctly. A guy that puts cardboard in his shoes has a grandchild that's going to NYU. Is that right?

Ron: That's the truth.

Darryl: Did I hear this correctly?

Ron: Not only that, we're the ones that are putting her through NYU.

Darryl: No kidding.

Ron: With the money from … all that I draw out from PAX Financial three times a year for the tuition. [14:02.4]

Darryl: That's unbelievable. I'm glad we can help and support you in that. That's cool. That's really cool.

Ron: They're very good about that.

Darryl: Kind of bouncing around a little bit, but there's so many little tangential things that piqued my interest and here we are kind of coming down to the tail end of this conversation. But the career was mostly in El Paso and then how long were you employed in San Antonio before you officially retired?

Ron: I worked for another, the data processing job that I wanted for seven years.

Darryl: Okay.

Ron: And then they were moving to Seattle and they asked me if I wanted to go, and I wasn't ready to leave and Seattle was a tight market for living expenses anyway. So, then I took my severance from there and I went to Valle Verde College here and got a teacher's certificate, teaching certification, and went back and taught special ed for seven years.

Darryl: Where at? [15:00.0]

Ron: At Northside School, middle schools.

Darryl: Good for you. Wow. My father in law taught in special education at East Central. So, unbelievable stories that you have just in that alone.

Ron: Yes.

Darryl: There is a special place in heaven for guys like you that teach special ed, because it's …yeah.

Ron: It's very tough.

Darryl: Very, very tough.

Ron: It's a tough profession. All the teachers deserve, especially in special ed-- All the teachers do, but special ed teachers, they deserve a special crown.

Darryl: Yeah, no joke. So, then you finish that. Now, are you officially retired? I mean, are you?

Ron: Yes.

Darryl: Okay.

Ron: I’m done.

Darryl: Now, you're not dead, so you're not done, so you've got to something else that tugs at your heart, but it may not be something that you get paid for. Is there something that you find yourself doing during the day now?

Ron: We volunteer at school.

Darryl: Of course, yeah.

Ron: We go and copy for the second grade where my daughter used to teach and we teach. We copy all the second graders’ stuff for the week and then I read to the kids that have reading problems, because reading was one of my specialties. [16:02.0]

Darryl: You say we.

Ron: My wife and I,

Darryl: Yeah. Oh, man, that is the way to do it.

Ron: [Yes.]

Darryl: So, you're not sitting around listening to Fox News and working on your flower beds all day long, right?

Ron: No.

Darryl: Nothing wrong with that, but after a while, God put breath in our lungs for a reason and kept it there for a reason. So, man, that's the way to pivot and it's really encouraging. I think anybody listening to this should say, “Well, that's what I want to do,” because, I mean, it's just constantly giving back in various capacities. And so, how old are you now?

Ron: Seventy-seven.

Darryl: Seventy-seven. The kids still enjoy having you around?

Ron: Oh, yes.

Darryl: Yeah. Second graders, where at?

Ron: At Raba Elementary in Northside.

Darryl: Okay.

Ron: It's over by 151 and SeaWorld.

Darryl: Can anyone just raise their hand and say, “I want to volunteer at an elementary”?

Ron: Oh, they'd love to have you, yes.

Darryl: Okay.

Ron: They’d do a background check.

Darryl: Sure.

Ron: But that's all.

Darryl: Yeah. And tell me specifically, you do reading to them and then you check grades. Is that what you said? [17:00.6]

Ron: We copy their papers that they're going to use for the week. They don't have a lot of textbooks and they work from mimeograph paper, so we print the lesson plans or the things they're going to learn, their math pages and their reading pages that they're going to do for the week. We do five big stacks, one for each teacher.

Darryl: And teachers are just, I mean, that gives them another 30 minutes.

Ron: Oh, yeah, that's 30 minutes for each one of the teachers.

Darryl: Absolutely.

Ron: So, it’s two and a half hours of their time that they don't have to worry about.

Darryl: I hope, if any of you guys are listening, to just noodle on this a little bit, if you're thinking about pivoting or if you've already retired and you're thinking, Okay, I need to figure out what to do, because I can only hear so much about Chinese balloons. There's only so much I can hear about Hunter Biden. I think there's something here for you to check out the local school and help out the teachers there, yeah. I go on, they do-- They used to call it Watchdogs. Now they call it Hallway Heroes. But I go once, twice a year.

Ron: I've seen the Watchdogs. They have Watchdogs at Raba. [17:59.0]

Darryl: Yeah, and it blows me away what the teachers do. I love to help, even if it's for a few minutes, but, really, teachers are, I mean, we know they're underpaid. I participate in Texas legislation to a certain degree and I know the challenges of paying them, but certainly value what they do and I want to encourage those that can help and volunteer at the local schools. I think that's valuable, not only to the kids, not only to teachers, but actually your soul as well. I would imagine you'd leave they're going, “I feel good today.”

Ron: It's good to help them, yes. They need it, they appreciate it, and we look forward to it every week. It keeps us active.

Darryl: I love it. This has been great. It's gone too fast, a really fun life journey, so thank you for-- I know we skipped a lot, but thank you for sharing that with me. I do have one more question that's probably the most important question. What is your favorite salsa?

Ron: I like tomatoey. I guess I don't like the avocado stuff and the green stuff. But I like tomato, but I don’t like cilantro in it.

Darryl: No cilantro.

Ron: No cilantro. I'm one of the people that [feels] it tastes like soap. Some people, you either like it or you don't, and if you don't, it normally tastes like soap. [19:01.0]

Darryl: You were the first person that I’ve had that said, “I don’t like cilantro.”

Ron: I don't like cilantro.

Darryl: Okay, good to know. Spicy or not?

Ron: Not, not too spicy.

Darryl: Yeah. Is there a restaurant that you go to that you like, a Mexican restaurant that you prefer their salsa or just in general?

Ron: Las Palapas, we normally -

Darryl: Yeah, Las Palapas.

Ron: - like their red sauce.

Darryl: Yeah, Las Palapas. I have to get the owner of Las palapas on the show sometime and share a little bit more about his story. But Las Palapas does pretty good stuff.

Ron: Yes, they do.

Darryl: It's definitely underrated. Underrated. Thank you again for being here. This has been a pleasure and an honor.

Ron: You're welcome. Thank you for having me.

Darryl: Yeah, thank you. For those that stayed to the end, thank you very much. Hope you've gleaned some nuggets of wisdom here. And I want to remind you to visit PAX Financial Group. We've added content to the website, some pretty cool stuff. And then, again, text 74868, just put in “TEXAS” and we'll have an advisor reach out to you. It's no cost, just an easy way to get to know that advisor.

Then, finally, I want to remind you that you think different than you think long term. Have a great day. [19:55.8]

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