Thursday, June 28, 2007
Time to Retire….
I first retired in 1988, when I was 52 years old. I wanted to write for a living. Because my employer was a generous man, I had made a good salary (that I didn’t equal until ten years later!) and saved a nice little nest egg thanks to their profit-sharing program. The nest egg didn’t last long, but I found another job right away working for one of my former bosses, who had started his own company. In the meantime, I wrote and wrote some more but never sent anything in for publication. Then the first company called and asked if I’d like to come back to work—in another town. Sure!
I went there for about a year, then moved to NYC in January the next year. I had a couple of p/t jobs, then went to L.A. for a couple of months, then back to NY for one more month, then back to the Midwest—where I wondered what to do with my life. “I’ll teach deaf kids,” I thought. Back in the 1950s, the sisters had prepared me to teach high school science, so I thought I’d apply for certification to teach deaf students. Because I needed to work as well as go to school, I wrote to the on-campus publishing house, enclosed my resume, and asked if they needed any part-time workers. They called a few days later and asked if I wanted a full-time job. Sure!
In 1996, at the age of 59 going on 60, I retired again with another small nest egg and went back to NYC to concentrate one more time on writing. Because all of the classes in creative writing met late in the day, and because by this time I was too deaf to find more than a few p/t jobs, I took a morning class in anatomical drawing at the Art Students League. Every day on the subway, I sketched my fellow passengers and had a great time. In June of 1998, on what would have been my mother’s 101st birthday, I got an M.A. in creative writing. And I came back here to work as a writer/editor.
In two months, I’m going to retire again at age 70! Having retired twice and spent all the money, I’m feeling the need to figure out how to survive on FICA plus a small pension. One smart thing I did was start collecting Social Security when I was 65. That was the year they changed the rule so that you could work full time and not have anything deducted from your SS check. Because I kept earning money, my Social Security benefit kept going up! Today, it’s almost twice what it was in 2001.
Two very kind relatives have offered to take over my mortgage payment, etc., but I declined. They have enough uses for that money besides throwing it down a rat hole. It’s more fun to take care of yourself anyway, if you can possibly swing it. (You don’t feel guilty, and you don’t have to answer any nosy questions.) I don’t mind living frugally—been there. I learned long ago that a diet of rice, beans, kale, garlic, peanut butter, bread, apples, and bananas goes a long way for hardly any $$ at all. And there are LOTS of great Spanish wines (tempranillo, garnacha, rioja) for less than $10 a bottle. I don’t have a car—sold that in 1991 when I moved east.
When the real estate market recovers, I may sell my condo and move to France. Meanwhile—one of these days—farewell to the office! Time to write and paint again!!