I’ve mentioned elsewhere on this website that I’ve entered the final stretch towards retiring from the workforce. I refer to this time as the glide path towards retirement. Getting to the point of realizing the time had come was an interesting process.
My first “real job” came along during my early high school days, working for a department store not far from my home. That was more than 45 years ago. Actually, closer to 50. For the last 30 or so years my profession has been Information Technology, though when I started everyone just called it “working with computers”. It’s been a good profession, and has enabled my wife and I to raise a couple of fine sons and build a comfortable life. I found my way into the banking and finance world around 2000 and have been there since, arriving at another community bank here in the NEK in 2017.
I had never seriously contemplated retirement. The most attention I paid to it was ensuring that IRAs and 401k plans were funded and that was that. For me work has usually been a pleasant endeavor, and I’ve been fortunate to have positions very liberal with time off, so travel and other diversions were always just around the corner.
Then along come March 2020 and the Coronavirus Panic. In a very short time the American work ethic I was used to was stood upon its head, and “the safety of everyone” became the most paramount feature of worklife culture. Rational thinking and actions be damned- we must lockdown to save humanity! That’s as far as I’ll go with commentary about the Panic in this post; there will be plenty more on this website as time goes on.
Worklife became downright unpleasant beginning with the lockdowns- “15 Days to Stop the Spread”, my eye. As banks are considered critical infrastructure and their employees “essential workers”, the bank I work at never closed, though operations were modified- lobbies closed and drive-thrus open. The Information Technology department never missed a day, although the fear factor raised to such a pitch that most of my folks worked remotely for a time, as did many at the bank. I was at the office every day.
As the fifteen days progressed into a year, and then beyond, the mandates and guidance stopped following any semblance of common sense, much less science. It became hard for me to find satisfaction or joy at the workplace. Watching co-workers and people in general succumb to the pervasive fear campaign was sad. It’s still sad as it continues today. There’s not much more depressing than seeing someone driving alone in their car with a mask on.
Sorry! I said I’d defer the panic commentary.
Last summer my youngest found a job in his field of study, electrical engineering, which was amazing considering the hiring environment. We officially became empty nesters. This, combined with becoming worn down by the panic-infused workplace led me to spend some time over a weekend last fall crunching the numbers, trying to answer the question: “Work is no longer fun- when will I be able to retire?”
Also, after damn near 50 years of work, I came to the realization that I’m entitled to some good years doing what I want to do. I do not see being chained to the wheel until the end as an attractive proposition. We all deserve quality years for ourselves.
I pulled together all of the data and charted expenses vs. income under many best and worst case scenarios. Researched that mother of all expenses, health insurance, for it’s still a few years before either of us qualify for Medicare. Then I redid all of the work because I did not believe the results. Shared it all with my wife and asked her to find the mistakes. None found.
I could retire right now. In fact, doing so a couple years ago would have worked, too. This was a surprise, and it took some time to digest. Like, six weeks.
Don’t get the wrong impression here, we are far from anything classified as “wealthy”. Simply put, we’d figured that our projected income and savings would allow us to maintain our modest lifestyle for quite a while. Longer than needed, probably. Hopefully?
That’s a question integral to this decision making process, and one most folks unconsciously avoid- how much time is left? Not fun to think about, but you do need to pick a number. Retirement planners will tell you that the odds of one or both married retirees living to age 90 are higher than you’d think. A happy thought as you peer into the abyss.
Figuring out when was my first step. The next step is to make sure to have a plan for what you expect to do when you retire. I’ll cover some thoughts on that in a future post.