Thursday, January 12, 2017

Retirement Is Easier Said Than Done

It is a rare day when someone doesn’t ask me how many days I have left until I retire.  I do have a strong desire to retire from the work I am currently doing so I have more time to do other things including doing nothing at all.  I am running out of gas.  Unless you are near or at the typical retirement age you probably have no idea what it means to retire.  You don’t give your employer notice and two weeks later wake up on the beach in Key West with $1,000,000 in a Swiss bank account.  For many people it simply means you quit your job.  Of course, you can do that at any age.  It’s really not about age as much as it is about money.  It occurred to me recently that retirement is like Obamacare.  You shouldn’t repeal your current source of income until you have a another income in place.  The average person is not given a pension or a healthcare plan unless you are in a union.  You definitely do not get a “Golden Parachute” like most overpaid executives.  In my situation you can collect your social security benefits, supplement that with whatever money you have saved in 401K’s or other accounts, and possibly work a less stressful, part time job.  Another shock for some people is that Medicare is not free.  A Medicare plan with a supplement and drug plan can cost you approximately $300 a month and this comes right off the top of your social security check.  Another thing to consider is how you want and expect to live.  Most people are happy if they can continue to live as they have been much of their life.  If you are happy with your current standard of living you need to ask yourself how much it costs every month to live that way.  If you quit your job do you have enough other sources of income to sustain that lifestyle?  Another part of the equation that is very difficult to estimate is how long you will live.  I could keel over today with no warning and never get to retire at all.  My father, on the other hand, retired at age 62 with a pension, and was retired for 22 years when he died at age 84.  Once he retired from 40 years at the Louisville Gas & Electric Company he never worked another day in his life except in his garden.  I could end up as a Walmart greeter (God forbid!).  The bottom line here is that you can’t save too much money and it is never too soon or too late to start.  If you have a spouse or significant other, it also helps if they are on board and you are both on the same page.  As I have told people many times, I was only 34 years old when I started working at Humana and I will soon be 66 years old.  Life moves quickly as Ferris Bueller once said.  Getting old happens more quickly than you think it will.  I do not have a definite date that I expect to leave here but I am trying to get all my ducks in a row so I can retire eventually.       

1 comment:

Scott Gilliam said...

Very well said. I'm only 56 and am already longing for retirement to take up an encore career that will allow me to use my gifts as a lawyer, lobbyist, government navigator and Lay Cistercian to help the powerless. Scott Gilliam