Retirement Finances

October 12, 2008

We are trying to prepare ourselves for the finances of living in retirement. The prospect is not necessarily dreadful, but several aspects are worrisome.

I will get some social security and some pension. My wife will get a lower amount of social security and a very small amount of pension money.

Our investments are pretty much in the toilet at the moment. We will have a few dividends coming in, but the amount is close to negligible. Our total amount in the stock market was tiny to begin with. With the current crash, it’s lost a third of its value. Who would have thought that General Electric would be flirting with bankruptcy and having to pay loan shark terms to Warren Buffet?

We don’t have any debts except our mortgage and taxes. We will get rid of my 98 Chevy Prizm which is still running but essentially worn out, and my wife’s 92 Ford Ranger pickup, which is also living on borrowed time. We plan to find a simple, small, solid used pickup truck (that we will purchase with cash) that will hold up for the next five years or so of very light driving. At least I won’t have the constant ferry crossings and huge commutes and we will be down to one insurance bill. We figure after that time we will probably start hitting the difficult point were we have to think about stopping driving ourselves, something elderly people often go into denial about.

My computer is essentially trash, so that will have to be replaced. I’ve been using a laptop from work for my insomnia writing adventures (because it’s quieter and doesn’t wake up my wife). I will get a very simple laptop first, and try running it on Linux instead of Windows, and probably use Open Office instead of Microsoft Office. If this arrangement works reasonably well, I will then bid Windows goodbye when I get a desktop and try running that on Linux as well.

My insurance will be on Medicare, but my wife isn’t working and has no insurance. We will have to get some sort of major medical with about a $5,000 deductible and hope she remains healthy for the two years until she is eligible for coverage. This will probably be the most dangerous part of the next two years for us.

At my last eye exam, the doctor told me I have cataracts in both eyes. In a way I was relieved to get this diagnosis, as it explains why my night vision has dropped off to an alarming and frightening degree over the last couple of years. He recommended against surgery for at least two years. The cost under Medicare won’t be that bad (about $400 total). No surgery is “safe,” but cataract surgery seems to usually work pretty well and provide good results.

I have a business scheme in mind, though the times do look dire for almost any kind of venture.

I also have one very small benevolent scheme in mind which I will cover in a future post.


8 Responses to “Retirement Finances”

  1. pandemonic Says:

    Damn, Random. I hope to be in as good a shape as you are when I get ready to retire. Which probably won’t be for another 57 years (when I’m 110). My fear is living in abject poverty, but if that happens, I’m hitchhiking to California, where bums live under the bushes by the beach. Yeah. I can do that.

  2. At least you have a plan, and were smart enough not to have much in the stock market. My parents just lost most of their retirement money last week, but (luckily?) I don’t think they’ve ever had any delusions of being able to retire. Tight and nerve-wracking though I know things are for you and Mrs. Random, you’re so fortunate to have your two acres and a mule (so to speak). You can start a commune right there on your property. I could send the weasel up to help. She’s very helpful.

  3. modestypress Says:

    The weasel will have to get in there and fight it out with the deer, the coyotes, the chipmunks, the red squirrels, the gray squirrels, the great horned owls, the barred owls, the red-tailed hawks, the rats, the slugs, a possible fox, and…

    About a year ago, something chewed right through our garden fence. It might have been a rat. It might have been…a weasel.

    This is the commune from hell. No doubt, LL will fit right in.

  4. truce Says:

    I vote we all start a commune together – Pan can give cookery and food-appreciate courses, David can teach music and creative writing, Mr Random can teach computing and subversiveness, Mrs Random can grow fruit and veg and make muffins, and I’ll teach drawing and painting. RG can teach ninja self-defence courses, aided and abetted by the weasel.

    You’ll all have to come to Sydney, though – the weather over there sucks when your only clothes are made out of hemp and you have boots hollowed out of a pumpkin…

    We’ll live forever, muhauhahhhaaaaaaaa!

  5. truce Says:

    food-appreciation courses. Duh.

  6. modestypress Says:

    Many years ago, my wife and I considered moving to New Zealand. In those pre-web days, we subscribed to a New Zealand newspaper to learn about the country. I guess it scared us enough that we never actually tried to emigrate.

    On the other hand, my aunt Naomi and uncle-in-law moved to England, Sri Lanka, India, Australia, Taiwan (where they lived with millionaire daughter Joanna until she died of breast cancer) and have finally settled in Australia to end their lives.

    My uncle went from being an engineer to being a chiropractor. Joanna’s sister Valerie also became a chiropractor and married an Australian chiropractor who had an excessive sense of humor. (From me, that consists of calling a pot black.)

    Valerie and husband Jeff started a clinic in Hong Kong and then decided to start one that would combine services in France and England.

    The last I heard from Valerie she had amicably divorced Jeff and was living and practicing chiropractic in Spain. Valerie, as I recall her, is a pleasant and lovely woman.

    I am still living in Washington state. I doubt that I can convince my wife, daughter, daughter-out-of-law and granddaughter frequently-out-of-control to move to a commune in Australia.

    That may change next week.

  7. Oh, c’mon, Mr. Random. Wouldn’t it be great if we were all jolly swagmen, beating through the bush?

    I know RG would love it.

  8. modestypress Says:

    David, it might be.

    When my daughter was little, she sometimes threatened to run away to grandma. When we offered to help her pack, she chickened out.

    RG is more into confrontation. I can imagine RG and Sylvie giving her mommies 24-hours to leave the country. “And take Grandma and Grandpa with you,” she would say.

    Though for all I know, she is already on a plane with Sylvie headed to join-up with truce and asking if she can swim with the whale.

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