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Old 09-07-2007, 01:23 AM
 
60 posts, read 47,103 times
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If you had to do it all over again, retirees, what would you do differently? What 'smarts' can you share with this single, mid-career professional?
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Old 09-07-2007, 08:04 AM
 
Location: North Adams, MA
746 posts, read 3,178,689 times
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First, there were some things I did right when I was younger. I took all the vacation time I could get and used it to travel the world and do all manner of adventurous things. I got out and met new people, kept growing intellectually, tried lots of things. Now retired for five years, I do not lack for things to keep me productive, creative and happily busy. And when I want, I really enjoy the periods of solitude I give myself - by choice, not necessity.

The things I would do differently might be as expected, to have allocated my budget (Budget, I had a budget? Who knew!) differently. To have kept track of friends and some far flung family members better.

And of course, to have known then what I know now.

But my midcareer experiences have become grist for my writing, a sample of which you can read, if you want, below.

http://www.berkshirefinearts.com/sho...tegory=opinion

I believe, with the passage of time, that even the most mundane life can take on color and meaning you had no idea existed.
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Old 09-07-2007, 11:01 AM
 
Location: Tennessee
34,672 posts, read 33,671,635 times
Reputation: 51856
Quote:
Originally Posted by Love2Travel View Post
If you had to do it all over again, retirees, what would you do differently? What 'smarts' can you share with this single, mid-career professional?
This is a tougher question than you think. I think many of the good things that have happened to me should be credited to plain dumb luck rather than deliberate thoughtful engineering on my part.

May I tell my story?

After I just happened to move back to my hometown at age 20, I got very sick and couldn't work for 3 months. It just happened to coincide with a new large government office going up in my hometown. I was offered and took a low paying job with that federal government office when I was in my early 20s because there were no other jobs to be had at the time, not because I wanted to work there. Although I swore I was only there for the short term, I married someone who wanted to go into business for himself so I stuck with the low paying but guaranteed job/income.

When it came time to decide if I wanted to change over to the new pension plan (early 80s), I stupidly (or so I thought) did no research and made no effort to change plans like some of my co-workers who spent time agonizing over and researching their options. By default, I stayed in the old plan.

I moved up in my career not because of ambition but because of boredom. I volunteered for assignments and important work details which coincidently, not by deliberate choice, built up my resume. I actually got every job I applied for in my agency and I only applied for jobs that interested me.

I went to college after work not because of ambition but because I liked going to school more than anything else. I decided to put all of those classes together for a degree, not because I had any job change in mind, but because I thought it might be a good idea just to have a degree. Right after I got divorced (no children), and after I had served on a number of short term projects that I had volunteered for and got recognition for, someone else put me on a career track with an escalating pay scale which I took not because of ambition or money but because the job itself afforded me the opportunity to be involved with many different, challenging and changing programs.

I applied for a job in Headquarters and got it and get this, they allowed me to postpone my reporting date to finish college that semester, not out of the goodness of their heart, but because Congress hadn't passed some legislation yet that impacted the job. I moved on graduation day. The job was a snooze but it was Congress to the rescue again. Because of some program I had worked on in the past, I was wanted for another one in HQ that was tied to Congress changing the law. It also happened to be a hard job that received a lot of attention. Was I thinking about retirement 12 years down the road and trying to maximize my pension? No. Was I thinking about career advancement? No. I just wanted a challenging job. With I think, but do not know, a good word from someone I had worked for in the past, I got it.

When a job was advertised in a different office with a grade promotion, I applied for, got and took it because I wanted to work on projects (have a beginning and an end), not programs (ongoing). It had nothing to do with retirement planning or ambition. I vaguely figured I'd work until I was 60 even though I could go out at 55 with 30 years in (I actually had 34.9 years in at 55). I didn't do a lick of retirement planning.

About 2 years before I retired, the light bulb finally went on and I thought I didn't save enough so I threw the max allowed into my thrift savings plan (directly deducted from my paycheck) - no matching funds from Uncle Sam - because way back when I didn't change retirement plans, the one I kept didn't offer that.

Then I got excited about possibly retiring because I wanted to go back to school/take classes and pick my town based on the things I liked to do rather than being tied to a location due to marriage or a job. I did a ton of research to find a retirement spot based on what I wanted to do in retirement and that secondly met other criteria (town type - suburbia but spread out, not too hot, etc.) and that wasn't more expensive than where I was living. I would have stayed put if I thought I could be busy in retirement where I was located.

When I actually sat down to crunch the numbers I found out that even though my gross income would take a big hit, my monthly net income in retirement would actually be slightly better than my net income while working and that didn't even include the thrift plan annuity. How could that be? Well, I was throwing so much money into my thrift plan at the end there and living just fine on that resultant net income. Plus, I had no kids to put through college. I was renting so I had no big household repair or upkeep expenses. My family was never in the area.

In the potential new town, the rent was much cheaper for a larger place, the utility bills were lower, the gasoline was lower and the car/renter's insurance was lower. I live near everything I need and do. There are so many activities around here and most of them are free or cheap. I retired on March 31. Moved on May 15. I still haven't requested my thrift savings annuity. I have more money now than I did when I was working and I don't have to watch what I spend any more than what I did when I was working.

I guess the point of the story is that if I had actually planned my retirement for years, I don't think I could have done better. BUT, I was lucky and I know it. Before I left, I advised my younger co-workers to sock their money away. They had to go into the new plan because they were hired after a certain date and their retirement income is largely based on how much money they ask the government to deduct from their paychecks and social security.

If anyone is thinking about retirement, and not going out because you think you won't have enough money:

1. Look at the difference in your net, not your gross.
2. Figure out how much you spend a month on work-related things like gasoline for the commute, lunches out and in, chip in parties/gifts, dry cleaning, professional organization dues/publications (I saved a huge amount of money on these things in retirement).
3. Pick your retirement spot based on what you like to do and don't live 50 miles away from those things. Living in a cheap house with sunny weather won't make you happy if you have nothing to do.

Last edited by LauraC; 09-07-2007 at 11:11 AM..
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Old 09-07-2007, 04:15 PM
 
Location: home...finally, home .
8,235 posts, read 18,506,963 times
Reputation: 17765
I would have sold all my tech stocks in late 1999!
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Old 09-07-2007, 04:42 PM
 
Location: Prospect, KY
5,288 posts, read 17,951,905 times
Reputation: 6544
We are retiring next year but on other retirement forums that ask this same question the answer usually is "I would have saved more money" or "I would have waited longer to retire and saved more money."
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Old 09-08-2007, 06:50 PM
 
Location: Las Vegas
13,884 posts, read 25,306,858 times
Reputation: 26336
Quote:
Originally Posted by LauraC View Post
This is a tougher question than you think. I think many of the good things that have happened to me should be credited to plain dumb luck rather than deliberate thoughtful engineering on my part.

May I tell my story?

After I just happened to move back to my hometown at age 20, I got very sick and couldn't work for 3 months. It just happened to coincide with a new large government office going up in my hometown. I was offered and took a low paying job with that federal government office when I was in my early 20s because there were no other jobs to be had at the time, not because I wanted to work there. Although I swore I was only there for the short term, I married someone who wanted to go into business for himself so I stuck with the low paying but guaranteed job/income.

When it came time to decide if I wanted to change over to the new pension plan (early 80s), I stupidly (or so I thought) did no research and made no effort to change plans like some of my co-workers who spent time agonizing over and researching their options. By default, I stayed in the old plan.

I moved up in my career not because of ambition but because of boredom. I volunteered for assignments and important work details which coincidently, not by deliberate choice, built up my resume. I actually got every job I applied for in my agency and I only applied for jobs that interested me.

I went to college after work not because of ambition but because I liked going to school more than anything else. I decided to put all of those classes together for a degree, not because I had any job change in mind, but because I thought it might be a good idea just to have a degree. Right after I got divorced (no children), and after I had served on a number of short term projects that I had volunteered for and got recognition for, someone else put me on a career track with an escalating pay scale which I took not because of ambition or money but because the job itself afforded me the opportunity to be involved with many different, challenging and changing programs.

I applied for a job in Headquarters and got it and get this, they allowed me to postpone my reporting date to finish college that semester, not out of the goodness of their heart, but because Congress hadn't passed some legislation yet that impacted the job. I moved on graduation day. The job was a snooze but it was Congress to the rescue again. Because of some program I had worked on in the past, I was wanted for another one in HQ that was tied to Congress changing the law. It also happened to be a hard job that received a lot of attention. Was I thinking about retirement 12 years down the road and trying to maximize my pension? No. Was I thinking about career advancement? No. I just wanted a challenging job. With I think, but do not know, a good word from someone I had worked for in the past, I got it.

When a job was advertised in a different office with a grade promotion, I applied for, got and took it because I wanted to work on projects (have a beginning and an end), not programs (ongoing). It had nothing to do with retirement planning or ambition. I vaguely figured I'd work until I was 60 even though I could go out at 55 with 30 years in (I actually had 34.9 years in at 55). I didn't do a lick of retirement planning.

About 2 years before I retired, the light bulb finally went on and I thought I didn't save enough so I threw the max allowed into my thrift savings plan (directly deducted from my paycheck) - no matching funds from Uncle Sam - because way back when I didn't change retirement plans, the one I kept didn't offer that.

Then I got excited about possibly retiring because I wanted to go back to school/take classes and pick my town based on the things I liked to do rather than being tied to a location due to marriage or a job. I did a ton of research to find a retirement spot based on what I wanted to do in retirement and that secondly met other criteria (town type - suburbia but spread out, not too hot, etc.) and that wasn't more expensive than where I was living. I would have stayed put if I thought I could be busy in retirement where I was located.

When I actually sat down to crunch the numbers I found out that even though my gross income would take a big hit, my monthly net income in retirement would actually be slightly better than my net income while working and that didn't even include the thrift plan annuity. How could that be? Well, I was throwing so much money into my thrift plan at the end there and living just fine on that resultant net income. Plus, I had no kids to put through college. I was renting so I had no big household repair or upkeep expenses. My family was never in the area.

In the potential new town, the rent was much cheaper for a larger place, the utility bills were lower, the gasoline was lower and the car/renter's insurance was lower. I live near everything I need and do. There are so many activities around here and most of them are free or cheap. I retired on March 31. Moved on May 15. I still haven't requested my thrift savings annuity. I have more money now than I did when I was working and I don't have to watch what I spend any more than what I did when I was working.

I guess the point of the story is that if I had actually planned my retirement for years, I don't think I could have done better. BUT, I was lucky and I know it. Before I left, I advised my younger co-workers to sock their money away. They had to go into the new plan because they were hired after a certain date and their retirement income is largely based on how much money they ask the government to deduct from their paychecks and social security.

If anyone is thinking about retirement, and not going out because you think you won't have enough money:

1. Look at the difference in your net, not your gross.
2. Figure out how much you spend a month on work-related things like gasoline for the commute, lunches out and in, chip in parties/gifts, dry cleaning, professional organization dues/publications (I saved a huge amount of money on these things in retirement).
3. Pick your retirement spot based on what you like to do and don't live 50 miles away from those things. Living in a cheap house with sunny weather won't make you happy if you have nothing to do.
Thank you for sharing. Great post!
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Old 09-08-2007, 06:51 PM
 
Location: Las Vegas
13,884 posts, read 25,306,858 times
Reputation: 26336
Quote:
Originally Posted by nancy thereader View Post
I would have sold all my tech stocks in late 1999!
Me too! And I would have sold my house in 2004.
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Old 09-08-2007, 06:58 PM
 
Location: Las Vegas
13,884 posts, read 25,306,858 times
Reputation: 26336
Retire as soon as you can. Give yourself the gift of free time. Believe me, you won't die regretting not working longer, harder, more.

Use your time off to see and do everything your heart can imagine. Don't ever be afraid to live. Enjoy every day.

Learn now to live better with less. It's a lesson that will be your lifelong servant.
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Old 09-13-2007, 06:24 AM
 
596 posts, read 1,116,022 times
Reputation: 490
Quote:
Originally Posted by yellowsnow View Post
Retire as soon as you can. Give yourself the gift of free time. Believe me, you won't die regretting not working longer, harder, more.

Use your time off to see and do everything your heart can imagine. Don't ever be afraid to live. Enjoy every day.

Learn now to live better with less. It's a lesson that will be your lifelong servant.
Wise words Yellowsnow! Most people get so caught up in their jobs that they forget that time is a commodity just like money; in my opinion-its way more important than cash.
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Old 09-13-2007, 02:11 PM
 
16,092 posts, read 36,565,737 times
Reputation: 6272
Yellowsnow -- I read a lot of stuff here but I was actually thinking about your post overnight! Thanks for the wisdom.
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