Sunday, May 31, 2009

June 1, 2009

Today I could retire. "Could" being the operative word, of course, since I have no plans to do so.... but there is a feeling of freedom and power knowing that if things were to change in some important way I could just pick up the phone and call our friends at Social Security and say "sign me up!"

I never even thought about retirement until about two years ago. That was the first time that I focused on the fact that I will have to wait until 66 for full benefits, rather than "only" 65. I actually found that a bit troubling, but I recall thinking that May 31, 2013 could be the last day I worked. Then I decided to move it to December 31, 2013 in order to get my full 401(k) match for that year. [Miss Nell didn't raise no fools!] And then in June of last year the roof started to fall in - first I lost my job and then the market tanked taking a substantial part of the aforementioned 401(k) with it. Fortunately a new job has made it possible for me to get back to contributing to my retirement funds, so if the market will just rebound soon.... you get my drift. So now that I am back to the starting point, in a manner of thinking, why not retire? Because I'm just not ready.

I love my new job. Working for a start-up corporation has been the most satisfying work of my career. I love being involved in decision-making and planning for the future. I love being asked my opinion. I love being responsible for thinking the finances thru and giving the partners my honest opinion, and often giving them the most negative possible scenarios so that they can decide between options. I love the variety of things that I am doing - even the things that I long ago passed on to others at my last job. And I have come to love working at home.

Money does matter. While things are looking better on the economic scene, I have lost a lot of value in my retirement funds. It would be silly to start hitting them now as they are just starting to rebound. Better to hang in the additional four years and hope for a good market surge.

I'd be bored. Altho the time will eventually come that I only want to work in the garden, play more tennis, and read more, I'm not there yet. I learned last summer when I was "on sabatical" that I did not enjoy having no responsibiliies and no regular work. If I were to retire now, I would want to do a little something a couple of days a week. Better to stay with my full time job than look for something now - when jobs are scarce. I would be better off to negotiate something part time with my current employer. [That idea is definitely filed for the future!]

I just can't see myself as "retired". As much as I would love to spend more time with Mitchell, I just am not ready to slow down completely. I feel too young. I look in the mirror and see too young. I think of myself as too young. Since I started working at home we have settled into a nice routine. I work early in the day - usually 6:30 to noon and then a couple more hours after lunch. He sleeps in most days and then takes care of his tennis playing, lunches out and other errands during the late morning and early afternoon. By 2:30 or so I am done for the day, so we have time together in the nice part of the afternoon - to garden, to shop, and most often to just sit on the porch [or the garden bench!] and enjoy life - and each other. In many ways my job allows me some of the perks of retirement, while still working.

I try to remember what my mother was like at 65 and my grandmothers, but find little help there. Mother retired the day she turned 65 and never looked back. She was ready to leave the city she had called home for 35 years and return to her actual hometown, where she could be close to her older sisters. She was still young at heart, but fully ready to stop working. She renewed old friendships and took on much of the initial caretaking for her sisters - at least until their health (or hers) got really bad. My grandmothers lived a much different life in their 60's than I do now. Their worlds were so much smaller and they had so many fewer interests than I do. They were physically old as well - never having done any meaningful exercise. I can truly see that 60 is the new forty - or something like that.

So, I think I will just revel in the knowledge that I can do it....but on my terms and when I choose to sometime in the future. Unless something happens, I think the next time I need to consider retirement is December 31, 2010 when I could COBRA my insurance until Medicare kicks in. That might be more tempting!

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