31 Replies Latest reply on Jan 30, 2014 1:23 PM by JohnBridges

    Should I retire?

    Zephyr

      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?

        • Re: Should I retire?
          DeltaDawn

          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.

          • Re: Should I retire?
            mamajana

            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.

            • Re: Should I retire?
              Chrysalis

              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.)

                • Re: Should I retire?
                  Zephyr

                  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. 

                    • Re: Should I retire?
                      PuppetsbySteve

                      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.

                        • Re: Should I retire?
                          Chrysalis

                          "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.

                        • Re: Should I retire?
                          KateIN
                          I am going to be 69 in October.  I love my job and hate to leave.  But I realize that my thinking has slowed down.  I am making a few extra errors more than I did in the past.  I want to leave my job working as  I did in the past.  I have given myself one more year to help build up my nest egg and then I am out.   So, what I am saying is.....evaluate how you are working.  Is it the same quality as in the past?  If so, keep working and building up your nest egg.  If not give yourself a date to retire and just do it.
                            • Re: Should I retire?
                              Zephyr
                              It's strange to watch ourselves deteriorate, isn't it?  I'm a little bit slower but not enough that matters yet.  I did notice with my recent move (I did just move and downsize) that all the stress of the move affected my memory...I made more memory errors, which usually my memory works just fine.  LIkewise, when I was young and under stress I did not have memory problems, so I am presuming aging is entering in here.

                              Since I started this thread I exercise a lot more and it has helped my legs.  I have decided to hang on to 66 if possible 
                                • Re: Should I retire?
                                  Canoejh
                                  Your message clearly points out a serious mix of stress and physical issues.  Higher social security benefits won't help much if your not well enough to enjoy them ,or not here at all. Consider reducing your work schedule to three days per week if you can't reconcile retirement all together.  If you can duplicate the SS income you would receive you could postpone SS until 66. Start getting your health back by taking care of yourself. I find that a simple walk in a park is far more satisfying than work and meetings ever were.
                                  • Re: Should I retire?
                                    bentleywarren
                                    Two years ago when I was 57, I had a serious medical issue and spent a few weeks either in the hospital or at home recovering.  That was my wake-up call.  On my trip home from the hospital, I saw things that I had never really paid attention to before (trees, cows, sunset, grass, etc).  Since then, I have drastically lowered my cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure, etc and I have quit believing that "the job" is the most important thing on earth.  I am trying to keep on working for 16 more months, and retire at age 61.  My income will be less, but I am optimistic that my quality of life will be greatly improved.  I asked myself whether I was living to work, or working to live.  Once I decided that I was working to live, I was able to set a retirement date, and I'm anxiously looking forward to that date.  I'm convinced that most people can live on  less money than they now earn, and at the same time most people can spend more money if they have it.  I think it's all a question of where we place our priorities.
                                      • Re: Should I retire?
                                        gfelton
                                        bentleywarren said...
                                        Two years ago when I was 57, I had a serious medical issue and spent a few weeks either in the hospital or at home recovering.  That was my wake-up call.  On my trip home from the hospital, I saw things that I had never really paid attention to before (trees, cows, sunset, grass, etc).  Since then, I have drastically lowered my cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure, etc and I have quit believing that "the job" is the most important thing on earth.  I am trying to keep on working for 16 more months, and retire at age 61.  My income will be less, but I am optimistic that my quality of life will be greatly improved.  I asked myself whether I was living to work, or working to live.  Once I decided that I was working to live, I was able to set a retirement date, and I'm anxiously looking forward to that date.  I'm convinced that most people can live on  less money than they now earn, and at the same time most people can spend more money if they have it.  I think it's all a question of where we place our priorities.
                                        You are so right!  I also had a long hospital stay a few years ago and it certainly made me see the world  differently. I actually had time to think about things in my life....retirement looks great to me!  I will be there real soon :-)
                                      • Re: Should I retire?
                                        jbc1013
                                        Totally agree with not waiting until retirement to start the health changes. Losing weight is about 90% diet in my opinion. Exercise helps, but the biggest loser shows make it look like you need a marine sargent personal trainer to lose weight. You don't. See an orthopedic surgeon, and see if the knee can be helped- there is an excellent chance it can. However, getting the knee fixed will not enhance weight loss. Then get a realistic financial plan going, and see if retiring now makes as much sense at 3-4 years from now.
                                        • Re: Should I retire?
                                          c5ac5b9
                                          I will retire early and the reason is a health emergency at the age of 48.  I almost died from a heart condition.  I have always been a huge saver, max out my 403(b) and 457(b) plans, as well as contributing to a medical savings plan.  Just bought 9.5 acres of beach front property in Fiji and will retire at 58 and move to Fiji.  I'm not rich, but the cost of living and life style in Fiji is much better than in the USA and should be able to withdrawn $60K/year and leave my daughters over 1.5 million or more when I die at the age of 80, if I can make it that long, which I doubt based on my health.
                                            • Re: Should I retire?
                                              JerryD
                                              Sounds like heaven, but have you thought of the details of living on Fiji like medical care?
                                                • Re: Should I retire?
                                                  c5ac5b9
                                                  JerryD said...
                                                  Sounds like heaven, but have you thought of the details of living on Fiji like medical care?
                                                  yes, in fact that was my #1 concern.  A new clinic is being built just 10 min from my retirement home.  The best hospital in Fiji is just 1.5 hours away.  Then if I need any more extensive treatment (and in a hurry), I can always go three hours by plane to Brisbane Australia. 
                                                   
                                                  It also helps to have a friend of mine that is a top notch cardiologist and he told me that he will do house calls to my home, as long as I pick him up and feed him!!
                                                   
                                                  But you are correct, the biggest concern of all retirees is medical care!  I have been saving the max into my retiree medical account since age 50, of which my employer also contributes 50%, which makes a nice 'extra nest egg'.
                                                   
                                                  However, my biggest concern has been the welfare of my family, if I should pass early.... and I do believe I have them covered, but just in case I have TIAA-CREF doing an analysis for me at this time as well.
                                              • Re: Should I retire?
                                                bhoth
                                                     Whenever I talk about retiring i am told that I am too young to retire. I am only 54 but I look like I am 35 so I can inderstand some of this but since when is retirement a function of age? If you can afford to not work why do you? If you love your job so much you need to get a hobby or refocus your priorities. I have been planning for this since i started working and I will go when i want to. If the powers that be think they need to "downsize" then I will live on what I have. 
                                                  • Re: Should I retire?
                                                    JerryD
                                                    bhoth said...
                                                    Whenever I talk about retiring i am told that I am too young to retire. I am only 54 but I look like I am 35 so I can inderstand some of this but since when is retirement a function of age? If you can afford to not work why do you? If you love your job so much you need to get a hobby or refocus your priorities. I have been planning for this since i started working and I will go when i want to. If the powers that be think they need to \"downsize\" then I will live on what I have.

                                                     
                                                    Have you verified that you have "enough" -  house paid of, can handle real estate taxes, can afford paying for medical insurance which gets expensive even with higher deductible, travel expectations consistent with income/savings, afford a new car once in awhile, etc. Another big consideration is what to do with yourself after you get a ways down on the retirement bucket list.
                                                     
                                                    Don't quite understand your "downsize" point. In regards to downsizing, we moved from an expensive urban area to a beautiful mid-size environment close to sufficient things of interest. The RE tax savings are substantial which really helps.  Whereas the house isn't at all smaller, it certainly was less expensive and on a property we could never afford in the urban area. There are lots of things to consider when retiring. Retiring 7-10 years before "normal" requires that you get the goals clear and the finances under strict control. I pulled the plug at 60 "officially" but there were a couple of years before when the income was non-existent or not even as good as being retired and on SS then Medicare. Required lots of discipline and planning, at least in my case. Plan, plan, plan, then execute.
                                                  • Re: Should I retire?
                                                    jofa
                                                    Sould I retire early?
                                                    If you can, why wouldn't you?
                                                     
                                                      • Re: Should I retire?
                                                        pelpsych
                                                        Do you have something to do?  Are you enjoying yourself?  Do you still have some of the "fire in your belly"?  Do you have a second career that you want to do?  etc.  Those are some questions to ask yourself.  If you respond with a resounding NO.. then retire....  
                                                    • Re: Should I retire?
                                                      Buttercup
                                                      Hi, thanks for posting your message. Memory loss is not often mentioned on the posts. In March 2011 I fell and had a concussion for months afterwards and I think I am still having problems. You are right on about retiring with dignity before we lose more memory. I have been putting off retirement, house is paid for, have a little money in bank, can live off retirement, no big trips but I don't do that now. I am 68 and ready to start the new year with a great big HAPPY NEW YEAR to me. Hope you can do the same.
                                                  • Re: Should I retire?
                                                    krismgraham

                                                    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.

                                                  • Re: Should I retire?
                                                    Please do not wait to work on health improvement.  While you are still working, go see your doctor immediately (ask for a "primary care consultation" and perhaps she can refer you to a dietician/nutritionist) and get on a lower-calorie, high nutrition meal plan.  Exercise is great but it is ancillary to avoiding diabetes via overall nutrition.  You are young enough to make this matter now.  Best wishes!
                                                      • Re: Should I retire?
                                                        bjmq

                                                        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.

                                                          • Re: Should I retire?
                                                            salsaguy
                                                            I also agree it's vital to work on improving your health - you will need that body for many more years. Also, you need to establish a figure for your monthly income in retirement, and see how far your SS and savings will take you toward that goal. TIAA has a great retirement calculator that allows you to make various calculations based on annuities, equity investments, etc. For me, putting significant money in TIAA Traditional (annuity) is a strong part of the plan. Financial advisors seem to be saying that it is unwise to take out more than 4% - 5% per year from retirement savings if you want your money to outlive you. The annuities allow you to take out more (6%+ right now), but you need to take the time to understand the pluses and minuses of annuities to see if this approach is right for you.
                                                        • Re: Should I retire?
                                                          jayploessl
                                                          I am in the same health boat......I want quality retirement
                                                          • Re: Should I retire?
                                                            spudowns
                                                               SHOULD I RETIRE ?   I am 59 years old and am fortunate to have a pension plan and 401K that will supply about as much as I bring home from work. I also have an affordable medical plan that takes me into Medicare. This is from 32 years service with a good company.
                                                              I plan to retire next August. Mentally , I'm as good as ever, and in some matters, better with age. I'm good physically (could be better...  )
                                                              I think of it as "Free money for life!"  Why NOT retire?
                                                              After 32 years of servitude I look forward to taking 6 months off, getting bored and letting my mind and body rest. After that I'll work at my "bucket list" , things I've wanted to do that can't be done on a 2 week vacation.
                                                              I want to volunteer more at Church, Salvation Army,
                                                            Library, and maybe Audit some classes (free at UK).
                                                              So, as baby boomers go; I'm not rich... but I'm not going to get rich. So I'm gonna retire and see how that works out for me.   Thanks for listening , John.  
                                                             
                                                              • Re: Should I retire?
                                                                JerryD
                                                                Is your pension golden and not subject to loss? Do you have some built in inflation adjustments (inflation will kill you over 25-30 years)? Got all your bills paid? Got some extra in savings for emergencies? Got enough to do the things that you want to do in retirement? Etc.
                                                                 
                                                                Sounds good to me. Wish I had your situation when I left the working life after getting tired of job searches.
                                                              • Re: Should I retire?
                                                                Michigander
                                                                Going back to the original poster's question:  I agree with everyone else (and your later posting) that you'll be better off to start working on all of your health issues now WHILE YOU STILL HAVE BETTER HEALTH INSURANCE THAN YOU"LL BE ABLE TO BUY FOR YOURSELF.  You'll probably also extend your life and have a happier retirement.  If you can work until at least 18 months before you qualify for Medicare (COBRA eligibility period), you won't have to worry about medical bills.  I retired at 62 with more serious health issues than yours.  I exhausted my COBRA and then had to deal with the private pay health insurance market.  I can't get any insurance that requires underwriting.  I suspect that you'd be in a similar situation with your health issues. 
                                                                  • Re: Should I retire?
                                                                    MotherO
                                                                    I too am looking at early retirement, though my health is reasonably good and women in my family tend to live into their late 80s. I had a brief hospitalization with chest pains that turned out to be stress-related and am rethinking my work. (50-60-hour work weeks are the norm for faculty at our place.) While my solution is probably forcing more work onto younger, non-tenured faculty, I have cut back to one major committee and no more than three different preparations (five classes) per semester. (This still means grading more than 300,000 words of prose every term, so I refuse to see myself as slacking.)
                                                                     
                                                                    I am 55, my spouse 60. (My first husband dropped dead at 65 shortly after retiring, so we know that there are no guarantees.) We teach at schools five hours apart, adding to the stress level.
                                                                    Our current thinking is that he will retire at 62 in December 2013. Academe was a second career for him, and he has little in his pension fund (gotta love those vanishing corporate pensions). SS at 62 and his pension will bring in about $1500 a month, but we will need to maintain only one household at a savings of around $1000 a month, not to mention stress and wear and tear on the cars.
                                                                     
                                                                    My hope is to retire at 60, in either May or December 2016. Unless our state legislature decides to renege on its agreements with retirees, our health insurance premiums will be paid for at least the next five years. I will have a fair amount in TIAA-CREF (barring disaster), the house will be paid off, and I already have part-time work lined up that will bring in at least $6-7 K a year.
                                                                     
                                                                    Are we dreaming, or is this plan workable?
                                                                      • Re: Should I retire?
                                                                        JerryD
                                                                        MotherO said...
                                                                        ...
                                                                         
                                                                        My hope is to retire at 60, in either May or December 2016. ...
                                                                         
                                                                        Are we dreaming, or is this plan workable?
                                                                        Instead of dreaming, put the specifics into a spreadsheet and work with it to see if you can retire. One thing to look at is to find the cheapest place to live including all of the taxes (real estate, income, sales, etc.) and how the state treats retirement income (our state allows each spouse to deduct $6,000 of retirement income as well as Social Security). Plug in the costs for things that you want to do like travel or buying that boat or replacing that car or whatever. The spreadsheet is a fabulous tool to "what if" your choices and plug in your income to see if or maybe how you can make it work.
                                                                         
                                                                         I "retired" or more correctly got tired of looking for jobs every couple of years at 60. With the help of a fairly complex spreadsheet, moving to a cheaper (and very pretty) area and some people at TIAA-CREF, I figured out how to make it work. You can too. GOOD LUCK!!!!
                                                                    • Re: Should I retire?
                                                                      JohnBridges
                                                                      You're in an interesting situation.  One option you don't mention is remaining in your job for a timeframe you set (6 months, a year, etc) and make a commitment to build some kind of exercise into your life - even something small like walking a certain amount each day.  If you really are sure that retirement right now is the best option, more power to you.  I just wouldn't want you to retire and then discover that that alone didn't cause you to lose weight, etc.