Sunday, December 14, 2014

Early Retirement One Year Anniversary

One of my former co-workers had been miserable in his position for several years – actually he had been perfectly happy with his job until our company hired another family member and put this co-worker in charge of him. The new employee was like a bull in a China store and my co-worker was forced to work long hours attempting to control the damage.  

He began talking regularly about retiring early and asking questions about finances related to retirement. My post, "Should I pay off my house with 401(k) monies?" was for him. He did end up using his 401(k) money to pay off his home. His wife had retired at age 58. I am not sure, but think she receives a pension from the hospital where she worked for 30-years as a nurse. She also has a part-time job working one day a week for her church. There would be no pension for my co-worker, just his 401(k).  My co-worker’s biggest retirement concern was the cost of their health care. He went over and over the numbers eventually concluding he couldn’t afford to retire early.

Then a good friend of his died at 61 from cancer and his 90-year old mother in-law stopped recognizing him when he visited her in the nursing home. He began not caring if he ran out of money; he surmised from his mother-in-law’s experience that when he is 90 he probably won't know if he is living in a dump eating cat food (his exact words) or in a nice home receiving expert care. He retired on his 62nd birthday not even taking my advice to work until the end of December to receive his holiday pay.  

I thought of him on his birthday a few weeks ago and sent an email congratulating him on first retirement anniversary. I also asked if there had been any financial surprises he had incurred or words of wisdom he could give me since my husband plans to join him in retirement at the end of the year and I still plan to retire early. Here is his response:
THANK YOU for remembering my retirement anniversary. Retirement is one word: AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Between kids, grandkids, remodeling, gardening, dogs, travel and sleep there is not enough time in the day for everything. I can honestly say I have yet to have a boring minute, hour or day. I think one of the biggest differences between work and retirement is stress. For "me" retirement equals ZERO stress. Physically and mentally I feel twenty years younger. During the first couple of months I would feel "kinda" guilty when I would encounter people that were still working. No more. I paid my dues and have arrived. I used to look at retirement as winning the "race". Now I look at it as just "finishing" the race.
Notice he doesn’t even acknowledge the financial aspects of retirement. As my husband’s benefits come to an end, I am forced to enroll in my company’s inferior and more expensive benefit plans. Add in the $800 I just spent to replace my two-year old computer that crashed and my nervous Nellie tendencies are operating at full capacity.

Then I look at how stressful my husband has been in his job this past year, the long hours he worked including Saturdays and the occasional Sunday. How much I enjoyed him being laid-off last winter. How far behind we've gotten on basic home maintenance and cleaning. A real vacation; what is that? Then I think of my co-worker and how awesome his year has been. I want that for my husband and eventually for myself. My co-worker is right in that we don’t know what the future holds – whether we will be blessed with a long healthy life or succumb too early to a horrible disease or that we will end up penniless in a nursing home. As to our finances, I will never be able to control everything; appliances will need replacing, medical premiums will increase and I will need procedures like gum recession surgery. We have our 401(k) plans and we are maximizing his social security benefits by waiting until next year when he is 66 to begin collecting. If our finances become unmanageable we can always sell our home which is paid off. It is time for my husband to cross the finish line.

Are you retired?  Do you have any words of wisdom?



  1. Wow! He does make retirement sound awesome! I am so far from retirement. I am contributing to my 401 k and have some investments. Hopefully I will be able to retire early in my 50s :-)

  2. I feel the way your co-worker does about becoming a stay at home mom. I felt guilty at first that my husband is still working and now just revel in the fun my littlest and I get to have and the things around the house I can finally catch up on. I am never bored and I think thats how retirement will be for me. I probably need to reenter the workforce here when he starts school. I worry about our future because of my medical condition. I worry about not having medicine that controls the pain (either because it stops working or we can't afford it) and then my quality of life goes down considerably and my husband will be left with a big physical and emotional stress.I am so glad early retirement is going well for your friend and so hope your husband enjoys his upcoming retirement.

  3. I am not retired - just joined the sahm force, actually. But I can tell you - the stresses are still there for me. They are different, but there. I think I'm just wired to be an anxious person and it will take many more years (the phrase older and wiser comes to mind) before I can release myself of the stress I carry around and sometimes cause for myself. Writing helps, and God willing, I can make that a career.

    I think you are on the right track about your husband ... and even yourself. Sometimes I hear your longing in your posts and I think everyone deserves to be happy, whether that's working, retired, or a combination of both. I think you need to go get your happy on, girl.

  4. I've chosen the other path. Will turn 68 in June and will retire then, but only after paying off our house, our newest car and all credit cards - and saving enough money to purchase a new car. My current vehicle is 19 years old! We also replaced the appliances that needed it.

    Even then, i will not take my Social Security until i am 70. Fortunately, my husband is already retired, so i can draw 50% of his while mine is on hold. We are doing it this way because he is more than 10 years older than i am and i come from a line of women who live well into their 90's. I will need as much cash flow as possible to last as long as possible. The 32% increase in my SS will make a huge difference. We will also take the bare minimum out of my retirement funds so that more will be left when i have to count on only my retirement funds.

    Have i liked working two extra years - no way! Even in a good job, that i mostly enjoy, i'm way past done with it. It's hard to decide that one has to work extra years - and it would be worse in a bad job - but we live such long post-retirement lives that many of us will need to do just that.

    Happily, i am down to five and a half months .... but who's counting!

  5. While I am far away from retirement, I remember how much of a difference retirement made for my grandpa. He became much happier when he no longer had to clock in at his stressful job :)

  6. i desperately want to retire early. i think when my newborn son finishes high school, i'm going to bite the bullet and retire. we can always downsize and there are so many ways to make extra cash, especially in the san francisco bay area (be an uber driver, work for trader joe's, be a part-time babysitter).

  7. I nominated you for the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers award!! you can check out the details, and questions here!!

  8. Wow, what a difficult maze to navigate - it actually makes me glad to be so far from retirement! I hope for such a happy retirement, but if my finances aren't in order first, I don't think I'd feel very calm and happy about it.

  9. Chasing Joy,
    Ahh - retiring in you 50's I hope so too. Or at least running Chasing Joy full time.

  10. Tanya,
    Thanks for your comment and insight into your life as a stay-at-home mom. Funny how guilt and worry can seep into even the best of circumstances.

  11. This is fantastic. My mom retired earlier this year, and she is able to travel, and to work PT when she wants. And it is weird for her, but she is happy.

  12. Jennifer,
    Thank you so much for your comment. I read it at work - 1st thing in the morning and actually started to cry a little. It made me realize I have all this pent up frustration from stifling my needs which leads to my unhappiness and you get that and me. So cool. I am an anxious person too - my husband describes me as a nervous Nellie. I like that you've figured out that writing helps. For me it is exercise. It's all about stopping those pesky negative voices in our heads.

  13. Webb,
    Looking forward to watching you evolve in your retirement. I am with you in keeping your car as long as possible. I read once that those who keep there new vehicles for 10 years and a used for 7 will retire 3 years earlier than those who don't. I plan to keep my almost 10-year old car for at least 13 years to make up for past vehicle lemons. Also a great idea to replace all appliances that need it before retiring. Will keep that one in mind.

  14. Catherine,
    You are giving me inspiration to continue to look for ways to make money after retiring. I think babysitting would tie me down too much. I still like the idea of helping others - maybe with their finances.

  15. M&M,
    Thank you so much for the award Mariam. I really appreciate it.

  16. brokeRich Girl,
    It will be interesting to see if the younger generations will have an easier time of it. They/you will have less safety nets - pensions, possibly social security, but I think you are more aware of this than my - the baby boomer generation is.

  17. Lynne,
    Wonderful to learn that your mom is happy. I think it works out well if you can work PT, as long as your company doesn't take advantage of you.