Replies: 11 - Last Post: May 15, 2012 3:40 AM Last Post By: dennisf
May 1, 2012 5:45 AM
Approaching RetirementHello all,
I had a question I wanted to pose on this branch regarding how you all think about retirement what with the current economic situation.
Some of my background: I'm almost 59 years old. Financially I'm in pretty good shape; no debt at all and pretty good savings. I'm thinking about when I might be able to, if not retire, scale back from the stresses of working in Corporate America. I'd like to be able to take an extended trip, but for the near term, I do have a couple of responsibilities I've committed to ... completing college payments for our youngest son (3 more years) and caring for my elderly (90 years old) mom who is living with my wife and me. That aside, I don't have much in the way of a fixed pension benefit as most U.S. companies don't provide that anymore. With that, in these economic times, I'm curious how others who participate on this branch have approached a desire to either retire or at least slow down their pace of life. With the economic situation as it is (somehow if 'feels' different this time and not just a normal business cycle), I'm thinking that even when I've completed my commitments to my Mom and my kids, given my cautious nature, I can see it being difficult to 'pull the trigger' and stop working in my profession; if I needed for some reason to start working again, getting back into the workforce once I'm in my sixties could be very difficult.
So, how have you all approached the idea of disengaging from the workforce in your latter years? Have these economic times changed your outlook or approach from what you thought it would be when you were younger?
Thanks in advance for your thoughts!
May 1, 2012 9:27 AM
1I retired from full-time employment in 2008. And since then I have never been short of work. But the beauty is I can pick and choose what I do and when I do it. I'm currently covering maternity leave and finish in July. I'll have the summer off and if something comes up later in the year I'll think about it. Last year I had about 6 months off.
When I'm not working we travel. We've seen so much of the world since 2008 - Africa, Europe, Asia, South America.....this year we are planning to head up to the Arctic Circle.
I've loved every day since I retired. My pension now pays the bills and anything I earn pays for our travels. I wish I'd had the confidence to work this flexibly years ago. The only other thing I would add is do it while you are still in good health. Sooner or later we'll be too old for the kind of travelling we do and one thing's for sure - I will not say on my deathbed " I wish I'd worked longer"!
May 2, 2012 12:45 AM
2I "retired" at 53, my husband at 60 - that was 7 years ago. The meltdown in 2008 did lots of damage to those of us who left work early, believing we'd put plenty away. I certainly had my moments of thinking I'd made a mistake but I no longer think that. Life is short and then you die so it's important to really ENJOY it while you still have your health.
My advice to you would be:
1) Keep a careful record of every penny you spend and where it goes over the next 2 years so you honestly understand what you will need to retire. We all have fantasies about how much we do or do not spend and how much we will be able to cut back in retirement. Once you have a number fixed in your head and proof of that number on paper, live on that for a year to ensure you were realistic.
2) Retire with NO outstanding debts and a fully paid home
3) Ensure that your savings/pension will pay your day to day bills with a margin for inflation.
4) Figure out some ways to make extra money in retirement. This will pay for your travel, new roof, new car, grandkids education, etc. In our case, we kept our big house and made a rental suite in 1/2 the basement. The other half will be a VRBO later this year. My husband hires himself out as a handyman from time to time. I do contract work - in my former field. With the economic meltdown this really dried up for a few years but it is coming back again. I've also written a book on traveling through Alaska and the Canadian north that is about to hit the street - not a far fetched idea since I was in publishing during my professional years.
We normally travel 6 mos of the year and it is a VERY good life from my perspective. No regrets although I had my moments/hours of anxiety from 2008-2010. But knowing that we can survive just fine on a day to day basis with what comes in regularly means we can spend the extra money we make without worry.
May 2, 2012 4:18 AM
3Hello wigstan and living, thanks for your responses and sharing your experiences.
wigstan, congratualtions on your situation; you're point about having the 'confidence' to make your decision earlier resonated. I can be overly cautious and regardless of any successes I may have enjoyed, can suffer from an 'imposter complex' thinking "today is the day they all find out".
living, thanks, too, for sharing your experience of what you've done and how you and your husband navigated through the past few years of downturn. I actually have a well-thought out plan for how to earn extra money in my retirement; convince my wife to keep working (joking, HONEST!). But you have good points about planning budgets (something I'm not good at doing formally although I always live within my means and with no debt) and supplementing income. I did work as a contractor for many years (in IT) and my wife is a registered nurse, both professions that lend themselves to contracting.
The challenge in the U.S. (alert: I'm making excuses now) when you step out of the full-time workforce is the crazy cost of healthcare, especially as we get older.
Another interesting thought is the notion of what a 'balanced' life is. I've sought to do that over the years with shorter (2 - 6 week) trips. Last year we took a couple of two week trips to the Philippines and Thailand and my co-workers were amazed at taking two 2 week vacations in one year! Of course, when you lurk on these forums, you get quite a different perspective.
Sorry for rambling, thanks again for responses and advice!
May 2, 2012 8:53 PM
4I retired in 2008 on my 58th birthday. I was seeing far too many people in my small northern community waiting to retire and then dying too soon after or before their retirement. Many were younger than me. I just decided I hadn't taken enough vacation time and needed to actually do some of the things I'd dreamed about for many years.
I found it hard to quit a position of responsibility in the community and re-invent myself as an anonymous retiree in a new community responsible only to myself (and my wife/boss). It requires a leap that isn't easy for everyone but for me it has been fantastic. I'm no less busy, maybe even more busy, but I'm doing things I never would have thought possible (running 10k's, biking 200km in the last 7 days, swimming 3000+ metres a week) and loving it.
Now I'm planning our next trip and loving the anticipation of it. Start planning your dream trip to celebrate your retirement - leave the dates open but don't wait too long. Good luck.
May 7, 2012 5:25 PM
5Several years ago, I retired at 55 and I have no regret. That being said, retirement is a very personal thing. Some people are in poor health, are in constant financial distress, have no hobby or friends outside of work so retirement is not an option or a joyous time.
Your retirement income is an important consideration, but there's so much more for a successful and happy retirement.
May 8, 2012 1:55 AM
6You'll be astonished how little you need to live on - my income is less than a third of my working wage, but I have everything I need. And I spent a chunk of it travelling for a year when I was 56 (I haven't 'worked' since then), and still go walkabout for 1-2 months at a time when I can. It's a big, exciting world out there. Caution - pah! How will you feel if you sit back at 80 and said 'I wish I'd done more travelling ... '
I am healthier than I have ever been - so what do I miss about work ... um ... if pushed, I'd say I miss the buzz of ideas that are generated in groups of different ages and genders. But that's fairly easy to solve - just get out there and mix with people.
But - for you - your commitment to your son and your mother must tie you for a while. You can't take off for a year - and even a month or two might be difficult. Which puts you in an impossible situation - you want to plan for a future, have to deal with your general caution, but that feels like wishing the years away. You don't want to begin to resent your kids, or your mother, by dwelling on things that are simply impossible at the moment. So - my thoughts - indulge in some travel dreams, do the financial planning, and then enjoy the life you have.
May 8, 2012 5:34 AM
7Thanks again for taking the time to respond. I really appreciate hearing how you all have approached this topic not just financially but 'philosophically'.
Wenceslaz - congratulations on your decision and the life you've created for yourself. Sounds like you've really created a great balance in your life. It is sobering to see our peers passing on and to realize how precious life is and figuring out how best to live a 'life well lived' for ourselves.
SojoMojo; thanks for the link; while the finances are important, they are the 'mechanics'. There is so much more than the accumulation of money to try to ensure security. Ironic that often the more we accumulate, the less secure we think more about what we have to lose, insure, protect, etc.
Jomcarroll - thank you, too, for the balanced and thoughtful reply. You seem to also have found a great balance and outlook ... you're right, regarding the importance of taking care not to nurture a resentful or unthankful attitude. I've been greatly blessed with a wife who is an angel, good health, and a comfortable life that does allow me to be in the place to be able to be of some help to my kids, Mom, and wife's family (in the Philippines). That's what families should do for each other and I don't dare to complain about my situation as I truly have been richly blessed! I do look for my 'balance' in the ways that make sense for this place in my life. I started backpacking with my brother just a couple years ago (brief, 2 - 2 1/2 week trips) and I love cycling ... for health, fresh air, solitude on a country road. My dear wife is very supportive and, while she is not as interested in travel, she does support me in my little indulgences.
Thanks again for taking the time to reply ... I love hearing about people's approach and philosophy to their lives Always something to learn from everyone.
Now, not complaining :-) but I do need to get to work now!
May 8, 2012 11:17 PM
May 9, 2012 4:00 AM
9Konniandmatt, thanks for posting, great site, great pictures and great story about your lifestyle.
The theme I'm hearing in response to my original question "did the economic situation of recent years affect your decision on when to retire" seems to be 'no' from from the folks who've responded. You've done your planning, are creative and resourceful, and are going on living your lives without 'over compensating' on what's going on in the news. Thanks again all for your posts ... I'm sure there are many other stories out there; would love to hear them!
May 14, 2012 9:44 AM
10I was ready to retire in 2005 at age 51. Delayed until 2008 because became passionately interested something that I wouldn't be able to do after retiring because of the combo of income and where I'd be living. So I retired in late 2008, right into the depths of the global economic mess.
Was I worried? Not much. Knew I had retirement funds that would support twice my estimated costs, that my estimated costs were very conservative (meaning I knew I could live on less), knew my financial planning assumed zero social security even though I expected it to be there. Also wasn't worried because I was a damn good software developer and could return to the workforce if needed, if supply/demand for of programmers was in my favor, and I didn't mind getting paid based on the ageism in tech jobs.
What worries I had were also held down by my desire to retire while I was still young enough to do some of the things on my Bucket List. Picked a safe, low cost country to live in. A significant part of the Thai economy is based on price sensitive exports to the US so they try to keep the Baht - USD exchange rate in a narrow range. Three and a half years later my spending is way under what I predicted, Greece is about to default, the other shoe of the global economic storm hasn't dropped yet and I don't worry much, because there isn't much I can do about it except keep my investments diversified and practice computer programming every now and then.
Good forums for this sort of question at http://www.early-retirement.org/forums/
May 15, 2012 3:40 AM
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