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The first anniversary of Time For Retirement is coming right up. And what a year it’s been! At launch time I had no idea what I was doing. Nevertheless, I persisted, and now you are reading this. So Happy First Blog Anniversary! Here’s a virtual cupcake just for you.
Origin myth of Time For Retirement
It all began in the 1980s when various companies, strapped for cash, started raiding the pensions they set up for their long term workers. To make it OK, the government, in its ineffable wisdom, had set up Individual Retirement Accounts. The company I was working for offered me one. In a fit of foresight, I signed up and put in about $7000 total over the next few years. It was with a bank. The IRA didn’t make much money but the bank sure did.
Along came my present job with a nonprofit organization that offered a defined contribution plan called a 403(b), which is a nonprofit 401(k) plan. It was innocently set up to pay some insurance company for an eventual annuity. The insurance company made lots of money but, of course, I didn’t.
The employer finally got someone to look at this and found out this was a poor plan so we got into investments, which nobody understood a thing about, but we made more money. A little while later the company also got us an advisor to teach us what to do. And the match was good till the Great Economic Downturn turned that off. A couple of years ago the match came back, along with raises and bonuses. And now here we are.
Managing just to get here
Meanwhile, my husband and I managed to buy a house and keep two cars operating the whole time, with various financial things going on. The most interesting one was selling hydro power we generated, until the price we could get evaporated on us. But whatever, we’re still here, the house has a new roof and septic, central heating, mostly new water system and a complete new do-it-yourself kitchen.
That said, if it weren’t for my fix-everything husband, we would not have survived. My job started out getting people onto Social Security disability and Medicaid. I also linked them to survival stuff like food pantries and fuel assistance. Soon I was doing case management, which links to all sorts of other things like jobs, education and housing. And I learned a lot about how to live on a limited income in my neck of the woods and still enjoy life.
A population exists
Most people in my area, like me, are working hard to get a living. We aren’t up on investing, really. Most of us aren’t very nerdy about money. Money to us is another tool you spend a lot of time looking for. And when we don’t find it, we improvise.
Nearly everyone I work for is on disability and broke, if not also retired. Oh, there are the millionaires around, but they are disguised. They own stores and apartment buildings and extra cars, but otherwise you wouldn’t pick them out. The guys in suits are from somewhere else, and they’re rare.
Looking at the news feeds, we see lots of advice on putting together as much money as humanly possible to fund retirements for 30-40 years, plus at least 3 years in long term care. Thus, the $1 million minimum. Yet most of us who had the pension system pulled out from under them and got defined contribution plans instead won’t make it to $1 million..
So for those of us mushrooms with IRAs and such, for those who worked in jobs that didn’t offer even that much, for those who couldn’t save, it doesn’t matter. Whether you enter retirement on your own time or because of misfortune, you can find happiness in this new phase of your life. All it takes is flexibility and a positive outlook. Money is optional.
Yes, I said money is optional. It’s nice, but in 27 years of working with people who have VERY little money, I’ve learned that having a good community around you is a good substitute for a lot of money. Either way you can get what you need. But with a good bunch of folks helping one another, you also have social support. That set of connections will help you find some fun stuff to do too.
Before the second anniversary
So in the next year I will make the jump to retirement myself, with Medicare and Social Security and all that. Stay tuned for the triumphs and flops! It could be something you witness peeking through the fingers of your hands over your eyes, and I hope you can laugh with me. They say the first five years are full of experiments. We’ll have to see how they turn out. If I mess up hugely, you get to avoid what I did. What a deal!
Meanwhile, if I do manage to monetize this blog eventually, I’ll do it gently. Only things that are good values for their purpose will appear. They’ll be useful items and not primarily decorative. I won’t suggest anything I wouldn’t use myself and will usually have had one to work with. Let’s face it, sales isn’t something I do lightly.
I would also encourage anyone to comment if they have something to share. That way we can make a community that benefits from one another’s wisdom and experience.
Looking forward to another year of blogging for you!