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April 03, 2012


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I think the need to be retired becomes more pressing if you are not in good health or do not enjoy what you do. Financial considerations probably take the cake though, among the reasons some of us dread retirement. Disappearing pension and retirement funds are not helping either!

Thanks for the post.

My mom is semi-retired and became a real estate agent to help support herself since she's not able to get all of her retirement benefits yet. It's a great job and allows her flexible hours and the ability to work as little or as much as she wants - although it's stressful since the income is not consistent.

I retired in 1992 at the age of 58 from a 36 year career where I looked forward to going to work every day. I needed the challenges that work provided and I enjoyed all of the interactions with my colleagues. I also felt good that I was helping to bring some major projects to fruition that were essential to our national defense during the days of the Cold War. I was allowed to set my own working hours to minimize traffic and I could also work plenty of paid overtime. I was getting 5 weeks vacation per year that I took full advantage of with lengthy treks to Peru and Nepal (twice), and shorter trips backpacking and climbing within the USA, which were plenty enough to keep me very happy. I was also in a great marriage and had three children that were never a problem.

My wife retired shortly after I did and between us we each had nice pensions that easily supported our lifestyle. We both took SS at 62 which helped fund even more travelling after the children left home.

Looking back on our lives after 20 years of retirement neither of us would change a thing.

I realize however that with the fall of the Soviet Union and the ending of the Cold War everything started changing in the defense industry. Bottom line - I was very lucky that my timing in the industry that I chose was perfect. Today would be a very different story. I learned that you have to have an occupation that is in sync with the times and in sync with the economy.

I'm in perfect harmony with Steve @ Money Infant's sentiments. For about 10 years, I've been blending working for money part-time, investing for passive income, volunteering in enterprises and for causes I'm passionate about, and pursuing what interests me. I do not envision a day, nor do I want the day to come, when I'm not working at all. As long as I have a few functioning brain cells, there's nothing like earning a little money and contributing to community to help me feel satisfied. To me, 'retirement' is a defunct concept.

After saving for years at a 50% savings rate I went into business for myself. I'm around 40 and probably have about half of what I'd like in investments to retire early.

Sometimes business is bad and there's not that much to do, but what work I do do pays well. When work is busy I call myself a small business owner. When work is relly slow I call my self semi-retired. I really don't mind either state.

@Anthony - It's a very different world from the one our parents retired from. Bad enough that the company pensions have gone the way of the 45 record, but its hard to even rely on our own savings and investments these days. Not to mention what surprises the government might have in store for the future of social security.

@YPF - That's great for your mom! The best way I've found to smooth out the fluctuating income is to budget from savings. That's to say, if my expenses are $3000/mo I have an account that gets funded with $18,000 twice per year. It does require some discipline to make sure you stick with your budget, but it gets rid of the stress that comes with making $4500 one month and $1500 the next.

@Old Limey - It sounds to me as if you've had an ideal career and that has continued into your retirement as well. You sir are a fortunate man :)

@Kurt - Maybe retirement was a failed experiment? Consider that there are probably only two generations in the history of the world who had the luxury of retirement...

@Steve - It actually sounds like a pretty good balance. Is the business seasonal that you get the ups and downs? That would be great because you can even plan/prepare for the busy and slow times.

@Money Infant - I agree that I have been very fortunate in that in retrospect the timing of the three major decisions in my life turned out to be perfect. It was pure luck because they were not the result of any great brilliance or research on my part. One was the chance meeting of my future wife when I was a young boy of 16, the second happened when a successful uncle made a rare visit to our family when I was 17, immediately saw that I was in a dead end job and suggested that I take a cut in pay to become an apprentice for a major nearby aircraft company that would also sponsor me to get the equivalent of a BS degree in engineering by the end of the 5 years.

The third happened near the end of my apprenticeship. I was standing in line in the cafeteria getting a cup of hot chocolate on a bitterly cold winter's day in England. A fellow worker behind me in line said, "I will say goodby to you since I'm leaving this weekend for a great job with an aircraft company in Canada". He gave me all the details, I then applied for a job with them, received an offer at 3 times my current salary. We then got married, and sailed off to Canada, two years later we moved from Canada to Denver, and then after two more years on to California where we have been ever since. Without those 3, out of the blue, decisions it's impossible to know how my life would have turned out.

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