According to my friend Kelly, I should be planning for my retirement now. My dad retired when he was 56. The trend is to work longer, but I feel like bucking that trend. I mean, I enjoy my job, but I don’t think I’d want to be doing it when I’m 70. I’ve always enjoyed working on my own projects, even when they don’t generate income. So I’d like to retire around the same age as my father. Gulp, that’s in 16 short years from now. Anyway, according to Ben Stein, the first step in planning for retirement is to set a date, so I’m choosing October 22nd, 2022. I was going to say October 28th, which is exactly 16 years from today, but the 22nd makes for a more interesting date.

I realize this date might be wildly unrealistic, especially if Xy and I had a child, but I can always make adjustments later.

Wow, that first step was easy. But that next step — “Calculate how much money you need to accumulate by the time you want to retire” — that makes my brain hurt. Even with this retirement calculator.

I think I need a vacation.

  1. B:

    I think many of us pretty much “made our bed” when we decided to enjoy an extended adolescence into our early 30s. I’m not being defeatist or crapping on your good intentions. Rather, I am just empathizing. I have been through all the thoughts on this myself and have done the math, etc. I have am now on what I hope is my last career, but the journey has been though many states, jobs, etc. I need 30 years with my current employer to enjoy the full retirement package, and I have only 27 to go! I used their calculator and saw that retiring even a couple years shy would mean a massive hit to our income in retirement.

    The way I see it, I have written off retirement as some holy grail to strive for. Again, this isn’t defeatist. Instead, I have chosen to live now and enjoy it–and enjoy my work. I, too, am in higher ed (although at a much larger school than yours, and state-run) and see a lot of movement possible, if I so choose in the future. I see how my folks and those of their generation always putting things off until the magical retirement takes hold. “When we retire, we’ll finally have enough time to do…” Forget that. I have seven weeks of vacation per year. I have plenty of time to do what I want. Granted, we’re broke, but we can scrape stuff together to make things possible. Moreso in the coming years as earnings increase, our daughter gets older (thus allowing my wife to work again).

    And in that vein, that (stay-at-home-mom instead of two-income family) was a choice we made that I will *never* regret. Sure, it’s a financial burden sometimes, but we wouldn’t trade it for the world. It’s a matter of priorities for us. So I’ve put off all thinking of retirement. It’s counter-productive to my psyche, personally, to strive for some amorphous thing I “should” be working towards. YMMV. For some, retirement means not going to the office anymore, and that’s enough for them. For others, it’s being able to do other stuff all day long.

    I guess for me, this has been an ongoing issue that I’ve thought about a lot over the past few years. And more just this past week. When my dad had open heart surgery a couple years ago, it made me realize that maybe we aren’t guaranteed to live to 87 years old and enjoy a big long retirement phase of life. So I decided I want to live now and “not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34).

    Or were you not looking for more existential angst?


  2. I can retire from my present job in two years. I won’t get my full pension, I’d have to stick around almost five years for that. I really don’t think that the big issue is money. Most of those retirement calculators will tell you that you will suffer horribly unless you have built up some indestructible bulwark against any misfortune. The thing is that life has taught me that you can’t build up any such bulwark. It’s good to save money, and some planning is neccesary, but really, you should be thinking about what else you’d like to be doing. How expensive would it be to do that? Most of us spend our middle years working on establishing our place in society. Life tends to be a fairly expensive undertaking. In later life, it’s quite possible that your life won’t require an elaborate infrastructure of “stuff”. I am 53. When I was 40, I was very concerned about a lot of things that no longer seem very important. I’m not dismissing those concerns, but priorities do change. Sorry for the rambling post, but you’ve touched on something that I’ve given a lot of thought to lately.
    PS: If you have kids, just figure on working until you’re at least 65.

  3. PPS- I checked out the calculator. It says with the preparations that I’ve made, I can expect to survive in somewhat comfortable genteel poverty. That what I’ve been aiming for all along. Success!! Thanks. Sometimes I need pats on the back from software.

  4. For what it’s worth, my parents both retired in their mid-50s, despite the fact that they had the expenses of raising two kids, and even paid for both of our college educations with no student loan assistance. Dad was a mid-upper manager at a local bank in Kentucky. Mom was a schoolteacher, although late in her career she went into school administration. In other words, neither had a big-money career. They were simply frugal, and planned ahead from the start. I tend to think that if they could pull off such an early retirement, surely it’s possible for childless people who started saving ten years late. And even if you do have children, you’re certainly in a better financial starting place than my parents were when they had us kids in their early 20s.

    You’ve inspired me to start looking at this long horizon. I’ve been going through the motions in my new job here, taking advantage of the maximum employer and employee contribution to my 401-K and such. But I haven’t gone so far as to set a goal date, nor a financial goal. Seems like a good idea, at least so that there’s a frame of reference to gauge my failures!

  5. And for what it’s worth, I’ve read that sometimes it’s true that the retirement calculators (useful as they really are), or the hype that you MUST have a certain percent of your current income when you retire, are kind of bogus and misleading, not to mention intimidating.

    The most important thing is to start saving if you haven’t already, keep doing it, and let it compound, compound, compound.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>