Thursday, January 22, 2009

R is for


Along with so many others, we (hubby and I) have been caught in the crash and burn of the world economy this past year. Being self-employed, we have no big company pension, no union-backed retirement plan; nothing but our own savings and investments. Like most others, our investment/retirement savings have dropped significantly. To say it's set back our retirement plans is an understatement. I joke to friends and family that we may retire by age ninety, if we're lucky.

We had great plans for retirement. Those of you who follow this blog know, we love to travel, dine out and help our sons out if and when necessary. I was going to spend more time reading, writing and pursuing other interests - perhaps a new language or two. We even had a tentative date set in 2010.

Given my family history of longevity, and if nothing untoward happens to my health, and I don’t get hit by a truck or go down in a plane brought down by a flock of birds, I may live well into my nineties; which gives me some thirty-odd years to go. A rather daunting thought.

Our savings investments have dropped by roughly a third. So, using my fuzzy math, that equates to approximately one-third (or ten years) of my expected remaining lifespan. Rethinking was definitely in order.

Our options:

  • Retire on schedule, do what we planned and live the final ten years destitute and on the dole;

  • Retire on schedule, penny-pinch and save (no travel or dining out) to stretch our funds out and hope they last;

  • Don't retire yet, save, save, save and save some more and hope things recover, hopefully, before age ninety

  • Don't retire yet, continue our combination of work, travel (albeit less); save, and retire before age ninety

The first two options are a definite no. The third is also a no. That leaves us with the last option – continue working, living our lives, and enjoying things when and while we are still able. Really, nothing wrong with that.

When I first came to the realization that there won’t be any sleeping in, indulging in new hobbies, endless days to read, write or do nothing, there was a great gnashing of teeth, moaning, groaning and a general feeling of doom and gloom.

Then, one day on our recent trip while driving through a less than picture postcard area of a Caribbean city, a switch flipped in my brain. I realized that my concerns are nothing - nada - wouldn't even show up as a blip on the radar screen of hardships - compared to what other folks endure on a daily basis. I told myself to get a grip and just carry on – because that's all any of us can do. So, I'm armed with this not so new perspective and intend to continue working, taking life as it comes and making the best of it.

Hopefully, I will retire by the age of ninety


Kay Dennison said...

I wish I weren't forced into retirement but despite that I would rather just keep working at my little low-paying job (that I love) that supplements my little Social Security disability check & gives me a liveable amount to exist upon.

With the U.S. economy in the hole, we're all in a mess. With luck, our economy will bounce back & perhaps you will recover part of your losses. I truly hope that happens.

I'm not giving up without a fight. They're taking away my job that I love and robbing me of a semi-decent life. It's hard enough to be all alone in the world without being afraid of losing losing what little comfort you have.

Like you, I could live well into my 90s. With everything going on around me, I don't know if I want to do that.

Joy said...

I think you're making the right decision. I knew something was going on and thank you for letting us know. The economy will get better. Your investments will recover. "They" say as long as you don't have to use that money now, it will be OK. I can't tell you how much you've been on my mind, and I'm glad you told us. That does put things in perspective, but you're used to a certain standard of living which can be reduced up to a point. Enjoy your life and live each day! It's going to be good however it goes because of your values, family, and love.

Kay, I'm sorry about your circumstances. I've been a single-parent teacher since 1975 and know how it is to struggle. It's been better during retirement because for some reason I don't spend as much money now. Fight on! I hope for the best for you! Maybe some of us need to get together in a compound or something. :-)