Dale Says

July 20, 2015

Notes from the Other Side #8

Filed under: Other Side — Dale @ 3:40 pm

About me

Some of you have asked for a little background about me, so you know where I’m coming from.

I’m in my mid-60’s, and I’ve been semi-retired for 10 years. I worked in financial services (desk jobs) my whole career. Most of my working life was spent doing project jobs and managing small groups of people. It was stressful, but usually rewarding work. I commuted an hour each way, travelled a fair amount, and went through my share of organizational changes, down-sizing, and layoffs. I was caught in a layoff in my mid-50’s and given a severance package on my way out. Since leaving the corporate world, I have worked part-time, doing consulting, contract work, and done writing and editing. None of that work fully-supported me, but it all slowed the outflow of funds and helped stretch my savings.

I was fortunate to work for an organization that had a generous retirement package, which included a matching 401-k program and a defined pension program. They also had annual bonuses, which were performance-based. I participated in the 401-k program and saved half of my bonuses. When I left the company, I took my 401-k funds and my pension and rolled them into a 401-k of my own. When the severance program was gone, I started dipping into my 401-k, and I now take funds from it twice a year, to pay bills and supplement my part-time income.

Will I have enough money to live comfortably the rest of my life? Probably. Each year, I total all of my assets and compare it with the total from the previous year. So far, it’s grown each year. That tells me I’m not over-spending, and assures me I will probably have enough put aside. Let’s hope so.

Notes from the Other Side #7

Filed under: Other Side — Dale @ 3:38 pm

Health

There are many things to look forward to in retirement. Health is one, but there are mixed messages.

On the plus side, it’s easier to get and stay healthy when you aren’t working. There is more time to exercise, and it’s easier to exercise during the day than to squeeze it in before or after work. And it’s easier to eat well and go to doctors and dentists when you aren’t working full time.

On the other side, things start to go wrong with your health after a certain age. Knees start to ache, lower backs get stiff, and your metabolism slows down. There isn’t a lot you can do to prevent those issues, but you will have more time to deal with them.

Here’s a couple of suggestions from the other side of working for a living: (1) lose weight and get in shape now, and (2) develop good eating and medical habits now. Both of those steps will help you adapt to and fully enjoy the next phase of your life.

Notes from the Other Side #6

Filed under: Other Side — Dale @ 3:36 pm

Special place

When I first retired I worked on consultant jobs, writing jobs, and volunteer boards and committees. It was a great way to transition from working full-time to not working at all, and it helped keep a little money flowing in. Unable to justify renting an office, I worked on the end of our dining room table. I soon found out that for me that was a bad idea. First, I couldn’t concentrate on my work because I wasn’t the only one in the house. Second, and perhaps more important, I couldn’t leave my work behind. It was always in the house. After a couple of years, I decided to rent an office, which is really just a bedroom in a house three blocks away. That did it! Now, I had a place to go where I did my “work.” When I was there, I could concentrate on what I was doing, and not worry about a load of laundry, or weeds in the garden. And I could leave my “work” behind when I was ready to stop. I left it at my office.

If you are like me and like to have a place to go each day to be alone and concentrate, you might want to start thinking about it now — planning, building, or setting aside some funds so that you can have a special place when your time comes.

Notes from the Other Side #5

Filed under: Other Side — Dale @ 3:35 pm

More time

I wanted to say a couple of things about having more time available to do the things you have always wanted to do:

First, you do have more time. Even with sleeping later, spending more time with the newspaper and email, exercising more, volunteering, and travelling — you do actually have more time for yourself. It’s very special time, because you realize that previously you would have spent it commuting to work, sitting in meetings, or trying to do work. Now its your time, to do with as you please. So, what are you going to do with it?

Second, it’s not as much extra time as you would expect. It’s not 60 extra hours each week, as you might think, or even 40 extra hours. Life still gets in the way, and it still takes time to keep your life in order. But now, you can run errands and keep up the garden and see friends and family during the week, rather than trying to cram everything in on the weekends. And that leaves more weekends free to travel, exercise, or work on new hobbies.

One possible suggestion regarding time: if you start now, you can have a good head-start on developing hobbies, or skills, or play sports — so that when you are free from the desk you can really enjoy them.

Notes from the Other Side #4

Filed under: Other Side — Dale @ 3:32 pm

Are you worried about having enough money put aside for living on the other side of working for a living? So was I, and I suspect that nearly everyone is.

Here are my suggestions:

1. Save as much as you can, and invest it wisely. Do without a new car or a second vacation and put the money away instead.

2. When the time comes to stop working for a living, seize the opportunity. Go for it!

3. Don’t burn any bridges behind you. The momentary pleasure of telling your boss where to stick it will be long gone if you ever need to use that boss for a reference or a consultant job.

4. Develop a “sellable” skill that you can use after you stop working for a living.

5. Each year after you stop working full-time for a living estimate your total assets. If they are larger than the previous year, stop worrying, at least for another year.

Notes from the Other Side #3

Filed under: Other Side — Dale @ 10:31 am

Like everything else in life, successful retirement requires planning. Here, based on the author’s experiences, is a five-step guide to preparing for post-career happiness.

1.Have a plan.

It’s important to have a plan for how you will spend your free time after retirement. Don’t wait until you actually retire to start on your plan; instead, write it down now a little at a time as ideas come to you. “I’m going to golf” doesn’t count as a plan; neither does “we’re going to travel.” Figure out how you want to spend your days (and months and years) for the next 2-3 decades, put it in writing, and make changes until it makes sense to you. When you actually retire tinker with your plan as you see how your new life is developing.

The good news is that you (rather than your boss) get to decide how you will spend your time.

2.Include activities in your plan that will produce “meaningful” results.

Most of us were raised to do consequential things with our lives, and even after retiring you will probably find you need to feel like you are accomplishing something meaningful (besides relaxing, having fun, and traveling). Add at least one activity to your plan that will let you look back at the end of the year and know that you achieved something important.

The good news is that you get to decide what is meaningful.

3.Take on some (but not too many) challenges to acquire new skills or accomplish things you’ve always wanted to do.

All of us dream about what we would do “if we only had the time.” Well now you are going to have time. Learning to play the piano, for example, or hiking in a Brazilian rainforest are the types of activities that are possible when you have more control over your schedule.

The good news is you will have time to do whatever you want.

4.Be prepared for unexpected developments to force you to fine-tune your plan.

Unforeseen events like health issues, family emergencies, or friends in need could sidetrack you and force delays or changes to your retirement plan. That’s part of the deal. You might want to start an annual ritual of reviewing your plan, seeing what you were able to accomplish, and making adjustments for the next year.

The good news is you will have the time to dedicate to those situations.

5.Expect to go through your retirement savings faster than expected.

Despite careful planning and diligent saving many retirees spend more than they thought they would. Health care is a frequent culprit and inflation, travel costs, and unanticipated home repairs are others. After a year or two you may become uneasy because your income has stopped but your “outgo” hasn’t. A suggestion: at the end of each year add up your assets and see if the total is on track with where you hoped to be. If it is, you are probably doing OK.

The good news is that you will have more control over your spending and can adjust your income or expenses to get back on track.

A successful retirement requires planning, but includes a lot of good news. If you are diligent about developing and following a plan, you are likely to find (as I have) that retirement rocks!

Notes from the Other Side #2

Filed under: Other Side — Dale @ 10:15 am

There have been times in my life when I wanted time to go faster. When I was working full-time, for example, and my job wasn’t going real well, and I was waiting for our vacation to come around. Those were the times when time seemed to drag, and weeks crawled by and days stretched out forever.

Now, I want time to slow down, for days and weeks to last as long as possible, so I can enjoy each day and each week to the fullest.

I realize that this period is as good as it’s going to get. I’m healthy, I have enough money set aside to do pretty much what I want, and I’m doing pretty much whatever I want each day. So, I want this period to last.

It’s a conundrum with no easy answer!

July 14, 2015

Notes from the Other Side #1

Filed under: Other Side — Dale @ 12:45 pm

I slept in today. I woke at around 7:30 when the construction on the remodeled house next to us started, and when I awoke I needed to pee, so I got up and did that. Normally, I would have stayed up, but today I crawled back under the covers and slept another 45 minutes or so. Just because I could.

I rarely set an alarm in the mornings anymore. I don’t need to, because I can get up when I want and do what I want, all day.

This is what it’s like to be on the other side of working for a living. I just thought you should know, because maybe it will help you keep at it — to avoid telling your boss to shove it and walk out. Maybe you will keep quiet and put up with the B.S. because someday you will be on this side, too.

These notes won’t always be so smug. There are downsides to being here, too, and I will cover those. But for now, hang in there. It will all be worth it!

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