Contemptlating my mortality and reducing my standard of living
Jan 19, 2020 at 10:15 pm #3627975
Hi, Diane –
I retired about 10 years ago, at the age of 55. I’d had that number in my head as a dream retirement age for about 10 years, but didn’t really think I’d be able to – but all of a sudden circumstances changed at work that made it more feasible. Retiring at 55 meant that I got a little under half of the amount I’d get if I’d waited until I was 62, but I decided I could live on that since we are pretty frugal. I don’t regret it for an instant. As it is, I think the last few years of working (at a desk) took a toll on my body, but I can’t imagine if I’d stayed longer.
In making my decision I sat down and figured out how much I’d have retiring then vs waiting a few years, and the payoff didn’t seem enough to make it worth waiting. I was lucky enough to have my home paid off already, though, which helped immensely.
If you can sit down and figure out how much you will need to live on, and if you will have the resources somehow to meet those requirements, I’d say go for it. I’ve always been on the conservative side with regard to financial risk, but if you have the ability to live frugally that helps a lot. I think you can find a way to make your dream of hiking work physically – I’m betting on your body healing. I do understand the worry about “losing your dream”; my knee was pretty messed up for about a year, but it eventually has gotten back to being pretty functional. If you say it’s “okay” but hurting, I’m assuming they told you nothing is seriously damaged? Time and physical therapy are your best friends there.
If you can’t afford to fully retire yet, can you work part time? That can make life much more enjoyable until you are able to retire completely.
I hope that you are able to find a path to retiring at the right time for you. It’s understandable that an accident can make many things feel shaken (or shaky), physically and emotionally; as others have said, if you need help (counselling) to work through that, don’t hesitate to seek it out.
DebbieJan 19, 2020 at 10:25 pm #3627977Sam FarringtonBPL Member
@scfhomeLocale: Chocorua NH, USA
So I’ve also experienced some serious physical and mental trauma recently. My approach was to make no changes right away, and focus primarily on getting better. It worked pretty well, as mentally I feel much better, and the physical part just takes a while and requires persistence, fortitude and adjusting to whatever the outcomes may be.
My hiking buddies for a number of years were folks who lived happily in NYC without cars. I lived in the Newark area and drove us backpacking whenever they wanted to go.
But the happiest time was when several of us friends rented a house together for a few years. A three-decker with lots of bedrooms. Most of us did not have cars, and lived dirt cheap. I got mugged by two junkies walking home from work after missing the train, but was young and it didn’t bother me much, except the cops kept me up most of the night and had to nudge them out the door. But for you now, something like that might not be cool. Maybe sharing a couple cars along with a house might work.
When you are ready to decide about a new lifestyle, please consider that having a regular job is a good way to keep busy, the benefits of which you might not miss till they’re gone. And when one gets older, the social security payments accrued from employment most of the time make a big difference.
Probably the most important word above is “friends.’
Just some thoughts FWIW.Jan 20, 2020 at 8:03 am #3627998
It’s health insurance that keeps me chained. In one year I will have 10 years of service at my job. Maybe my pension will be worth it then. Health insurance will still be there to tether me.Jan 20, 2020 at 8:51 am #3628005MJ HBPL Member
I don’t see a good solution to the health insurance problem for an individual. I pondered it myself when I was thinking of going to work for myself. I think that’s why the Republicans keep trying to destroy Obamacare without proposing an alternative. The status quo, where otherwise reasonably well-off people are one disease or accident away from bankruptcy if they lose coverage, keeps wages down by making it harder to strike out on your own and harder to retire young if you’ve saved money.Jan 20, 2020 at 9:55 am #3628011Jerry AdamsBPL Member
@retiredjerryLocale: Oregon and Washington
I quit working before age 65. I continued to buy health insurance which gradually increased to about $1000 per month at age 64. A bit of a stretch but it seemed worth it.
If you qualify for Obamacare it’s subsidized so you pay less.Jan 20, 2020 at 10:01 am #3628012
Diane, I hope you can figure out a way to do what you want and/because in some ways I am in a similar situation: 52 yo, 12 years at a job that gives us a good insurance policy. The health insurance has been the main reason I have stayed and my family depends on it too. I would like to retire from there but not because I resent having to work for a living, I don’t, I feel fortunate that I can work. There is just a lot more than that job that I want to do and those 8 hours a day are “interfering” with everything else on my list ;). One way to do it is to just do a whole lot more besides working, daily. New studies are showing that “big sleep” has been pushed on us a bit too much; while it is an individual number, in general 6 hours are ideal and every hour above is just as “damaging” as every hour below, or almost. So 9 hours is likely worse than just 5. Let’s say you thrive at 8 though, plus 8 at work, that still leaves let’s say 7 hours a day after a hopefully short commute. Maybe cut down on cleaning the house, and that is where simplifying can really help. Not every day will give you that big of a window to do what you really want, I know firsthand, but there is no reason I can think of that I should not make the best of my time at least as many days of the week as I can and I can break it down to ever smaller units. This is what contemplating my mortality has done to me. It starts right now, no matter what situation you are in, hopefully not a painful one.
Then I compare myself with Chris that works out every day so that he can stay healthy and continue to work until he’s 90 ( and he will too..) and it gets a little depressing.Jan 20, 2020 at 10:05 am #3628014
Edited to add that vacation is a whole other animal and the main reason I cannot take leave no pay and have more time off is the union. I would happily trade the two paid weeks per year with 4 non paid weeks but I am not allowed to work that out with my employer.Jan 20, 2020 at 11:23 am #3628020HkNewmanBPL Member
@hknewmanLocale: Western US
It’s health insurance that keeps me chained. In one year I will have 10 years of service at my job. Maybe my pension will be worth it
Health insurance is the biggy for the US. Then there are various ex-pat communities in other countries with just about as good healthcare (many US trained providers are going to the tropics or Mediterranean coasts to practice and/or even set up schools).. Some econo-babble but it basically means there can be increasingly just as good care overseas at a fraction of the price/co-pays:
The pension thing can get complicated tax-wise. May be time to lurk on some early retirement boards.Jan 20, 2020 at 1:10 pm #3628033rubmybelly!BPL Member
@sleepingLocale: The CascadesJan 20, 2020 at 1:34 pm #3628035
That links to something weird that won’t load…quick and dirty tricks … or something like that.
I have been reading studies on how important it is to sleep enough, my whole life. I think for teens in particular this seems true. More recently I have also been reading studies that debunk the whole hype with actual data: more than 8 hours, even worse 10+ hours is bad for most people. Couple this with all the sleeping aid people take out of fear of not getting enough sleep and there really is a crises. Most people that can’t fall asleep at night need to move more, get off their devices and change what/when they eat. Most, not all.Jan 20, 2020 at 1:39 pm #3628036rubmybelly!BPL Member
@sleepingLocale: The Cascades
Loads fine for me, not sure why it’ not loading for you. The link is to Quick and Dirty Tips, which is part of Scientific American. This link goes to Scientific American and the beginning of the article, you can click for the rest of the article from there. Maybe that will work for you.Jan 20, 2020 at 1:41 pm #3628037
Ah ok I will give it a try. I got worried while it was trying to load and got away from it just on case it was not legit. Will try again.Jan 20, 2020 at 2:05 pm #3628038
I sleep whatever amount my body wants. That’s also how much water I drink, however much I’m thirsty for. I’m hoping my biology has my best interests built in. So far so good.Jan 20, 2020 at 2:07 pm #3628040
The article makes sense, giving a range instead of a set number of hours of sleep.
I am not claiming that sleep is not important ; it just seems that as with so many other things it’s been hyped up more than studies can actually back up, at least for grownups.
40 hours a week of work is really not very much and if work is not fulfilling there is quite a bit of time left to do other things; maybe not long backpacking trips, but other outdoor/nature things or whatever else one enjoys.Jan 21, 2020 at 5:47 pm #3628191
Wow, if I can put up with this working nonsense for 4 more years it looks like I’m pretty golden. If we still have a country by then anyway. I haven’t figured out yet what the health insurance situation looks like, but I hit the jackpot with the whole pension thing.Jan 21, 2020 at 7:36 pm #3628208W I S N E R !BPL Member
Our health can turn in an instant and this economic system requires more faith in the unseen than most religions. As for banking on the future, I’ll believe I have a pension and my health when I see it. Until then, I’m playing it safe and assuming this is as good as I’ll ever have it.
Good luck folks!Jan 21, 2020 at 7:36 pm #3628209Dave HeissBPL Member
@daveheissLocale: Pacific Northwest
That really is the key question, isn’t it Diane? At what point can a person retire and have enough to live off of in reasonable comfort and security? Can minimalism help get us there?
I’m aiming to bail out of the workforce somewhere between age 64 and 65 (translation: next year) and I’m pretty sure we’ll be OK financially but every time I look at the numbers I think… “You know, if I stayed on for one more year THEN we’ll be OK for sure.” Part of that is me having a provider mentality and part of it is the all-American urge for more, but I’m coming to the conclusion that line of thinking is not very wise. Work is tolerable and as far as I know I’m in good health, but my parents died at 63 and 71 so I’m not assured of a long life and I’m eager to get on with the one I have.
My wife and I have downsized the house and continue to reduce the amount of stuff we own (although I just walked by her and saw she’s on Amazon looking at baking pans). Hopefully we’ll be ready when the day comes. I know it’ll be an adventure, with blank spots on the map of life and lots of unmarked trails to consider, but I’m so looking forward to it.Jan 21, 2020 at 9:02 pm #3628225Tom KBPL Member
“Happy the man, and happy he alone,
he who can call today his own:
he who, secure within, can say,
Tomorrow do thy worst, for I have lived today.
Be fair or foul, or rain or shine
the joys I have possessed, in spite of fate, are mine.
Not Heaven itself, upon the past has power,
but what has been, has been, and I have had my hour.”
Wisdom worth contemplating? Especially by those who anguish endlessly about being sure they have enough to be free, only to find that, if and when they finally think they do, they are in no condition to fully enjoy the opportunities they worked so hard to attain.Jan 21, 2020 at 9:21 pm #3628230Greg MihalikBPL Member
“While we’re talking, envious time is fleeing, pluck the day, put no trust in the future.”Jan 22, 2020 at 8:28 pm #3628360
That sounds encouraging, Diane; do you have options to draw a reduced pension if you retire sooner? Any options for part-time work applying to pension? If not, 4 years isn’t as long as it seems (barring, of course, unforeseen health problems). Think of vacation and other leave days, and how they can be used to maximize either your happiness before retiring, or your pension. I had accumulated enough unused vacation at my day job that I was able to draw from it for a year as one day per week of work, so I only worked 4 days per week my last year, with full-time pay and credit towards pension. I think the laws have changed some regarding that since I retired, though. That pension fund had contributions from employees as well as employers, so it’s in pretty good shape.
The musician’s union pension fund, on the other hand, is in serious financial trouble and can’t be relied upon at all. I can start drawing a small amount from that later this year when I turn 65, but no guarantee that it will last much longer. I’m not counting on that at all…after having contributed to that for 40+ years.Jan 23, 2020 at 4:17 am #3628375John S.BPL Member
Sleep article from clinical psychologist tl;dr
“So, here’s a recap. Getting enough sleep is important for your health and happiness. Just remember that “enough” is not the same for everyone. It’s not even the same for you throughout your life. The only way to know what your body needs is to listen to it. If you’re too sleepy during the day, then you’re not getting enough. If you struggle to fall asleep or stay asleep, you may be trying too hard. Keeping a consistent wake up time will help you to get on the same page with your body, and to have just the right amount of that sweet, innocent sleep, that balm of hurt minds and chief nourisher in life’s feast. “Jan 23, 2020 at 8:16 am #3628397
Looks like you got it made Diane.Jan 23, 2020 at 4:17 pm #3628441
I don’t know if any of us can really rely on a pension or our 401k or social security or anything really anymore. But I do work for the University of California, and I have already earned/vested enough to be able to pay my current rent in perpetuity. The difference between leaving now and leaving after the 10 year mark is pretty significant. And then there is all the money I’ve saved in my 401k equivalent.
I worked part-time before I got this job at the UC and let me tell you, a part-time job gets in the way of long distance hiking just as much as a full-time job and pays a lot less, so I may as well do the full-time job for 4 more years.Jan 24, 2020 at 2:19 pm #3628587
Sounds like you have a plan – and a good one, too, even if there’s no immediate gratification! Just hang in there for a while, maybe work on your knee issue. Like I said, the last few years go way faster than you think they will.Jan 25, 2020 at 11:58 pm #3628765KarenBPL Member
Interesting comment David, about your area of Alaska. When I first moved to Fairbanks, I didn’t have much money or stuff. I discovered a massive barter system, and used it to gradually fill my house. I didn’t buy clothes for my kids for the first 10 years or so! Well, I think I bought a couple things, and those ended up being traded for other stuff. There are folks living here – where it gets to minus 40 every winter! – who only ride bicycles for transport, year round. If they can do it here, you can do it in sunny California, Piper. Go for it! You can trade some rides you might need for something someone else might need. I love the barter system; everyone wins and you don’t feed the capitalist, earth-destroying beast.
Less stuff is less to worry about. Less to be stolen, less to get broken or dirty. It doesn’t really mean being totally nonmaterialistic, it just means focusing on what is important to you. You can make someone very happy giving them something you have and no longer need. We live in a small house, but not a tiny house, it’s about 1100 square feet for four people and two dogs. It works well enough, harder when the kids became teenagers. The tiny house thing seems like a silly fad, but going smaller than the American average sure doesn’t.
I don’t think you need a therapist; find a good friend to hike with and talk with; that has been the best way to work through anything for me. But a massage therapist or a physical therapist might be useful as you heal.
I hope your recovery goes smoothly. I’m 55 also and over the past 5 years have watched all my elders die- all the parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and a sister in law. The bucket list is long and time is short. Sell or ditch most of the stuff and get out for a good hike!
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