I always figured I'd work until 66 so I could get the most SS money and also have more time to pack away retirement $ at TIAA. But this weekend, at age 62, I woke up and found I couldn't walk very well on my left leg. I have found that when I don't exercise my knee arthritis gets bad. I have a very stressful job and taking care of my health properly sometimes gets put down the priority list. I eat pretty healthily but don't get a whole lot of exercise and am 75 lbs overweight. I'm borderline diabetic and have very high cholesterol and also high blood pressure. I know I should get the weight off to prevent getting diabetes and to fix the cholesterol/high blood pressure. I know I should be exercising like crazy to help all these health conditions, but the stressful job takes it out of me with not much energy left to exercise.
So it struck me like a bolt of lightening when I had the leg pain and trouble walking: I should retire now, at 62. That means I only get $1000/mo SS and I have $200K at TIAA. I know that if I retired I would lose the weight, make exercise my big activity, and get my health back. Whereas if I keep working, I'm likely to get diabetes etc. But if I retire now, I may outlive my money. Should I care? I figure the money's good for at least 10 years, maybe longer. Then what? Do you end up on Welfare? Or out on the street? At 72 would I care? Why not retire now and have 10 really good years while I'm still somewhat "young", that's what I'm thinking?
I had a similar experience. I never thought I'd be working this long (just turned 65 last fall), but wanted to position myself in the best position situation for retirement.
I ended up in the hospital over Christmas with a cardiac arrythmia and was therre 4 days. They finally had to cardio-vert me (shock) to get the rhythm back to normal.
What I think is this: I have watched several people die over the last decade and NOBODY ever said on their deathbed, "I wish I'd spent more time at the office," or "I wish I'd made more money." Nothing is promised to us. If you have health issues as I do, and a stressful job as I do, you may not have to worry about outliving your money. I firmly believe that if I don't get out of here, my life will be shortened. The hospital experience changed my perspective entirely.
I don't have a pension, just about $1,000 in social security. I do have some money saved and some real estate that I expect to sell, eventually. My husband collects social security and we have an apartment we can rent in the upper floor of our home. My husband is a few years older than me, and if I don't do it now, I may not be around to enjoy any retirement at all.
I also wouldn't mind working part time at something I like if my health improves. Do you have any other options to create an income stream? Sounds like the $200K in TIAA should be a nice start -- I have far less.The stress is the kicker -- it will kill you. I say save your life and then figure out a way to pay for it. I don't like the term, "you don't want to outlive your money." I'd rather say, "I want my money to last as long as I do." My mother lived to be 92 and I think I could to, but not if I don't put my health at the top of the list. Colonel Sanders said, "There's no reason to be the rihest man in the cemetery. You can't do any business from there."
Good luck to you.
Zephyr, you can do what I plan to do when I retire and that is take a part-time job to supplement my retirement and SS. A call center rep, shipping clerk or working in a toll booth seem like ideal jobs for you because you wouldn't have to move around.
We're in a similar financial situation to you. One thing you might want to consider is how long you will need your retirement savings to last. The investment advisors always say plan to 85 or 90, depending on your healh and your family history. But having observed several of my long-lived family, I see that most of them start to slow down when they reach 80. Frailty, medical problems, decreasing endurance, and loss of travelling companions all conspire to end their trips and cruises and Las Vegas junkets at about that age. They have fun between 65 and 80, then they start to become homebodies.
So, personally, I plan to develop a simple, inexpensive lifestyle that I can pay for mostly with Social Security plus a little from savings. Then I'll use up most of my retirement savings having fun before I turn 80. Then, if I need more cash, I'll get a reverse mortgage on my house.
It's important that you plan now for how you'll get by in retirement. Is your house paid off? If not, keep working and put everything you can against the mortgage. Have you considered how you will pay for health insurance? If you think you can live on SS of $1000/mo, start NOW to live on $1000/mo and see how it goes. Put any income over $1000 against your mortgage or into retirement savings (That's the same thing I recommend to young couples when they plan to start a family. Live off one income for one year-- learn how to economize to be able to live within one income and put the other income into savings for after the babies arrive.)
Thanks for all the replies. I didn't get them until today as apparently they went in my Junk Mail.
Well that day I couldn't walk did indeed jar me into action. Since then I have given up sugar and made other eating adjustments to improve my health. I also started walking 30 min per day to get back in shape. My goal now is to start losing weight and regaining my health and mobility.
Also I have taken a new attitude at work. Call it "retirement breath"!! I refuse to get stressed anymore. Nothing at work matters that much to me anymore. I work hard but I refuse to get stressed. I now get up from my desk on the hour and take a walk around the floor. I used to feel guilty for taking so much vacation time at work, but my boss is nearing retirement too and I think he understands that as I get older, I need more time off.
It's very annoying as a state worker that we haven't gotten a raise in 3 years and that we now pay 20% copay in insurance instead of 10%. Expected benefits of working there are eroding. Well we all know the state of the economy and we all feel the pinch.
I have totally changed my (spoiled) attitude towards money. I mainly did this because my rent went from $880 to $1100 when we got new building owners. In order to live within my mean now, I have had to learn how to economize. It has actually been a blessing. I am finally, at 62, learning to live within my means and look for bargains. I don't buy food now that isn't discounted and I look for bargains on eBay and the like.
I am trying to convince myself to move to a cheaper place, but unfortunately I totally love and am at in home in the place I am in. I will at least look and see if I can find something cheaper that satisfies.
Anyhow, life is much better since I got my "wake up call." I have a new attitude and am living well. I will hang on at work as long as I can, but on my terms.
Way to go, Zephyr. You were backed into a corner and it sounds like you've come out roaring. Keep that focus on your health. Stay working on those financial adjustment issues. You're still in a tight spot, of course, but it sounds like you are finding answers rather than excuses. Keep up the good work.
If you can get your eggs in a row BEFORE retirement, then your retirement will be so, so much better.
"If you can get your eggs in a row BEFORE retirement, then your retirement will be so, so much better. "
Thanks, PuppetSteve. Please keep reminding us of that. Sometimes I get really discouraged by the complexities, discipline, and uncertainties involved in all this retirement planning. It helps to have someone say it will all be worth it someday.
My husband had the same rational for taking an early retirement....weight loss, taking care of his health, etc.... four years later he is heavier then ever, less mobile, and his rational was just hating his job and getting away from it.
I agree with living for a year "like you are retired" ...off of that income, getting exercise, and playing the "what if" game....
what if medicare gets revised how do I pay for that? what if I need long term care what is my plan? what if gas goes to $5 a gallon?
There are earning consequences also for drawing your social security. You can only earn $14,500 per year before you start losing part of your social security before age 67.
I agree about not waiting to work on your health. I am in the same boat as the persons listed above with a very stressful job which reduces me to poor eating, sleeping and lack of exercise. But, I have done it before and will do it again and that is taking control of my life and stress. There are always stresses in life. And if we don't manage them, they manage us right into an early grave.
I am on it! Today is the first day of the rest of my life. Thanks for the reminder.
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