Retirement Victory!

Source: PNG Image.net

Bylaw 1.7(a)(4-3) of this blog’s charter states… ‘A topical post relevant to retirement must be published at least three times a year.

What, this again?!

With all that the pandemic has tossed at us this year, I fully admit to ignoring the above blog obligation. I had hoped that it would somehow get lost in the hubbub of mask wearing, social distancing, and trying to look hip as I say the name “AstraZeneca” in front of others.

Unfortunately, those bean counters at the ‘Snakes home office sent me a reminder earlier this week that I’m overdue for this update. Just as I was about to cross over that December finish line too. Persnickety creeps.

The lesson I take from this keeps coming back: one never really gets away from management, even the ones I invent for literary purposes. Our previous bosses, whether they even realize it, manage to find a way to remain in our various states of awareness. I know this because I still have dreams in which I’ve overspent my procurement budget.

So on that somewhat ethereal note, I am duty-bound to offer an update on this retirement journey of mine. Since the six of you out there have been spared from this all year, I caution you that we will not tolerate any whining or griping. Just take your medicine and know that that regular programing is just around the corner and will be presented in time for the holidays.

Source: Genum.com

Welcome to my six year retirement celebration party! Although a few months late (it was actually August) I now formally make a classification change of early retirement to simply retirement. The distinction, as I’ll explain a little further below, has to do both with age and an important financial milestone taking place early next year.

But I still celebrate now. Why? Because in spite of sweating through the previous four years of nervously watching an orange-shaded dude who seemed determined to chip away at earned entitlements, we made it through financially unscathed and without having to touch any of our retirement savings. 1

According to the Society of Actuaries, while most pre-retirees expect to work to age 65, the average retirement age remains at about age 60 (AARP Bulletin, Nov. 2020, p. 14). I retired at age 55, but I did so with a luxury not offered to most Americans anymore: a monthly pension, plus a continuation of my former employer’s health insurance in which I share the expenses for it.

The pension, less the health insurance deduction, is not enough to live on by itself. This is where my diabolical plan for early retirement came into being: to depend on my lovely bride to continue to work full time and bring home the figurative bacon.

What I lack in actual finesse, I more than make up in guile.

Source: Pinterest

I was not naive at the start of this journey. Many such retirement schemes fail because of overly-optimistic budget assumptions, similar to those of politicians who are desperate to curry favor with voters. Since I only have a constituency of one, albeit a crucial one, I was able to persuade my voter with reasonable income and living expense estimates. Well, I do recall a few glasses of wine that that aided in that endeavor.

Fortunately the plan worked. Between what Gorgeous earns, and what I scrape together from my part-time job, we’ve managed to live comfortably and within our means. Though the pandemic has affected her business –Gorgeous is a professional psychic; her income is down by roughly 40% this year — it’s also been a fortuitous (and slightly incongruous) period where we’ve even managed to save a few dollars because expenses are actually lower.

2020 hasn’t been a retirement dream by any stretch of the imagination, but thankfully it also hasn’t been a nightmare for us either.

I am turning 61 in a few short weeks. During a recent review with our financial advisor, we came to an understanding that I could begin distributions from my 401(k) starting next year; it comes a year earlier than I had originally planned. But with some home renovations in the offing, post-vaccine, I wanted to be a little more liquid than we have been. And who knows, by mid-to-late summer 2021 is it possible some of us might even — GASP — actually go somewhere besides the grocery store?

Some financial limits need to still stay in place. For instance, I remain obligated to make a monthly alimony payment to my ex-wife, which keeps a line item from the earlier pre-retirement forecast, certainly in our current budget, and for now at least, in future ones too. This means that the $5,000, restored, Bluetooth-enabled mid-century modern stereo console that I’ve been salivating over has to wait a few more years.

However, with the start of distributions, I can declare my early retirement period to officially be over. Any celebratory victory ends quickly, though, because there is still so much ahead to navigate. The start of both Medicare and Social Security, five years and (at least) seven years for me respectively, plus eventual distributions from Gorgeous’ retirement accounts loom in the distance.

Still, at least no one is calling my victory fake.

Until next time…

1. I did take a small one-time distribution in 2017 to add cushion to the down payment purchase of our home.

40 thoughts on “Retirement Victory!

  1. I’m glad you were able to satisfy your obligatory retirement-related post before you incurred any penalties (which probably haven’t been allotted for in your budget). I retired at 58 and enjoyed the “early retirement” badge of honor for a couple of years. Now that I’m going the be entering the Medicare phase in a few months, I realize that I crossed that bridge a while ago.

    Although not Bluetooth enabled (for obvious reasons) that console looks very much like the one we had in my childhood home. I guess I didn’t realize how hip my parents were.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Janis, I never thought I’d want one of these consoles. I was always a separate components kind of guy, and assumed I’d get a classic Marantz receiver and all the associated 70’s brands for speakers, turntables, etc. But once I saw these restored consoles I decided I had to have one. It’ll apparently take a while for that to happen too!

      I will be following your Medicare journey with great interest. I hope and trust that you blog about it.

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  2. Congratulations Marty! I am very happy for you and look forward to learning from you since I am on your heels by five months. Admittedly, I wish I had NOT been made aware of RetroModRadio. I have already written to Max with some questions 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ooh, now you have me intrigued, Eddie. On my heels for retirement… or in an-service start of distributions? Let me know offline when you have a chance.

      So I’ve made you interested in the restored console, huh? He’s one of several dealers/refurbishers who do this, and I regularly look at all of their offerings. I kid not when I say I salivate! Let me know if you end up getting one — I’ll be green with envy, but will be most interested in what you have, and to share in the excitement.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi, Marty – Congratulations on your 6-years of retirement, and officially crossing over from ‘early-retirement’ to simply ‘retirement’. I retired 5.5 years ago at the age of 57.8. Funny, I never really thought of it as early retirement. I hope that I won’t be required to backdate anything….or worse still go back to work because of this technicality. Just thinking this has put a chill up my spine! 😀
    Thanks for this update, it is great to hear from you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, I got lazy, didn’t I? I really should have linked to at least one of the posts I’ve written about the job. Sorry!

      I’m a law librarian, and I now work for a couple of area law firms in updating their book subscriptions every week. It’s nice to still have a bit of a hand in what I used to do, though thankfully it’s just the easy part of the job. All these firms have central libraries in another city, so I don’t have to answer any reference questions. The small amount I make does pay for the cable and electric bills, though. So it’s a very helpful job to have.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Always nice to hear from you, Marty. All of a sudden “Gorgeous” has become “my lovely bride.” As I read further I see and learn from some of your persuasive tactics. Glasses of wine never hurt the deal. Wow, the console is a real thing from Etsy. Canadian funds, possibly more doable in the near future? In the meantime, Genesis will have to stream in other formats. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  5. debscarey

    Marty, I take my (metaphorical) hat of to you for your financial planning. Despite my father having set an excellent example, I think he assumed I’d get one of those husbands who’d keep me (financially if not actually) for the rest of my days and so it wasn’t necessary. Sadly, I seem to have avoided marriage and the closest I came to it was with a canny Yorkshireman who walked away with it all when we split up. Them’s the breaks. That said, having found a new career as I was approaching my sixties, I’m more than happy to work on (although don’t tell the UK government that I forgive them for sneakily moving my retirement age and that of other women in my generation by a whole 7 years *just* a few years before we got there).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Deb: oh, those previous relationships, eh? My wife and I spend way too much time with self-recriminations over our own earlier entanglements. There’s not much one can do except follow the example you’ve apparently made and just bugger on as you have. Gorgeous arrived in my life (actually it was a reappearance) with virtually no savings, but what she’s accomplished in building up a savings in her 50’s is astonishing. So it indeed can be done. Good for you too.

      Re: governments moving the goal posts on us. I’m sorry to see the UK leaders have done that. The current White House occupant here had it on his plans to make similar changes, but thankfully I believe we had a respite from that kind of thinking going forward — at least for the next four years anyway. Keep the faith!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. debscarey

        Yes indeed, I plan to (quoting the current UK incumbent’s favourite prime minister) “keep buggering on” 🙂

        Oh & good to have you back Marty – forgot to say that earlier!

        Liked by 2 people

  6. Now that Tim is retired, my pension mostly covers our expenses, with the exception of those one time larger purchases. However, we’ve lately been overindulging in our hobby expenses. But we’re also saving in other areas. COVID has really skewed things. We’re going to start pulling from savings in 2021 without touching retirement accounts. I think it’s going to be a little bit of trial and error!! I start Medicare too. Still hard to get used to taking money out instead of putting it in!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, so I guess in my hiatus I missed Tim’s actual retirement. Congrats to him, fellow fed that he is. Yes, “trial and error” sums it all up perfectly. I agree though, Linda, that it’s a little disconcerting taking out now when I spent so many years riveted to saving it all. Stay well!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yep, his retirement date was October 5, although he was encouraged to retire at the end of a month. But when you’re ready, you’re ready. I haven’t written anything about it. In fact, I’ve written very little lately. Not a conscious break but it just happens. Hope to get something posted this week!!

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Ahh, so you’re up and about after our odd hurricane season. Which sadly hit the Gulf area worse than us in the Carolinas this year, but at least it’s basically over, right?
    Now that you got that obligatory self-imposed by-law blog post out of the way, on to other blogging vistas, eh?
    I do like that console, very sleek and could double as a flat screen tv perch.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Laura. I’m going to slightly edit your sentence to the following: “… but at least it’s basically over, right? Right? Right? Right??!!” This hurricane season is one for the record books for sure. Global warming… ‘er, excuse me, climate change I fear is here to stay. G-d knows what we’ll see next season.

      Yes, onto other blogging vistas indeed. More silliness and stomach-churning humor is coming, I promise. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  8. m2muse

    “2020 hasn’t been a retirement dream by any stretch of the imagination, but thankfully it also hasn’t been a nightmare…” This rings true for me as well. I never thought of labeling retirement as “early” at age 56, given that it was possible after 32 yrs of employment. I realized that it’s a combination of good planning and good luck to be in this position. What does Oprah say about luck? It’s where opportunity meets preparation.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We’re very close, Ms Muse. I too had 32 years of employment. My dad retired at 55; although it wasn’t my plan to emulate him, I guess I ended up doing just that. You are absolutely right it involves both planning and luck — luck from now on is in the hands of Wall Street! Oprah’s observation only gets us so far, I fear. 🙂 Many thanks for reading and taking the time respond. – Marty

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  9. I had thought I would be no longer talking early retirement myself, but by your definition… nope. I retired 6 years ago myself, but I was younger… dare I say much younger? So I am still a long way from Medicare and taping into any retirement savings. I tell folks I’m “living off my good looks”. Hubby does have his small pension and he started Social Security even… yes, against most people’s approach. It gives him play money while he can enjoy it! (Our finances are fine for later years, years of retirement savings and delayed gratification pay off that way.) But me, nope. No retirement money at all being accessed for me. So I guess I’m not really retired yet!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m cracking up on the “good looks” remark. May that be something you live on for the next 40 years! 🙂

      My definition is definitely a narrow one, mostly because of my earlier divorce. This post started out as a kind of Plgrim’s Progress ode to making up for earlier setbacks (in a way that Deb describes in her comment earlier). But I thought it better to keep it more positive instead.

      I think in the main, no two retirements are ever going to be the same. That goes for financial and personal living experiences. Something you chronicle so well in your own writings, Pat. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I’ve been thinking about you and wondering how you were doing. It’s great to read this post, now that you’re officially wandering down the retirement path. This has been a year for the ages, and you’re celebrating it in style.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Congratulations on your milestone. I’m crazy about that console. We have one that is not as fancy or restored, but it does serve the old stereo well. Maybe you could find one and refurbish yourself (oh and blog about it too please!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Isn’t it just a beaut? I’ve been looking at them for the last two years; there are a handful of vendors (mostly individuals) who specialize in modernizing them. Sadly, it’s a skill I don’t have, but I do promise to blog about it if I ever get one. 😉

      Like

    1. Hey, Vy! One of my favorite pieces advice I read somewhere many years about saving for retirement went something along the following: “Keep saving till it hurts each month…. and then add a little more good measure.” Except for a two-year period during my divorce because I struggled to contain expenses, I did just that. Soooo…. in trying to answer your question from my couch here (easy for me, eh?! lol), my feeling is that it sure never hurts to try and add more for yourself. From what I know about reading your blog, with your kids getting older and being more independent, this sounds like the perfect time for you to work more and add to your savings. Of course, it might be easier to do this after vaccines are administered, but perhaps you can start planning to do so now? Keep saving till it hurts!

      And speaking of your excellent, blog I’m looking forward to getting back to reading it again to see what you’ve been up to lately. 🙂 Stay safe!

      Liked by 1 person

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