Wednesday, May 8, 2024

What, me retire?

Not long ago, Terry and I had an overdue check-in with Dave, our Merrill Lynch financial guy (NOTE: That's not Dave above. That's Alfred E. Neuman. If you don't know who he is, you're probably too young to be interested in reading this post in the first place.)

Maybe the conversation wasn't "overdue," though. I'm not sure how often you're supposed to talk with your money person, but it felt like we hadn't taken a step back and discussed the big picture for quite a while.

While Dave stays in touch regularly, some time had passed since I had gathered all of our account information, sent it to him, and allowed him to run the numbers and gauge our financial health.

The results were encouraging.

Lord willing and the creek don't rise, we're right on track for me to retire in about 11 1/2 years. My goal is to work until the end of 2035 before calling it quits and enjoying whatever comes next.

I'll have just turned 66 at that point and will have been a member of the full-time workforce for two-thirds of my life (that's 44 years for those who didn't have Mrs. Schwarzenberg at Mapledale Elementary School and whose arithmetic skills may therefore be lacking).

That "feels" about right. I would rather not work full time into my 70s, if I can help it, but I also don't want to get out of the game too early, for reasons both personal and financial.

There are several factors that go into deciding how much money you need to sock away for retirement, including the lifestyle you want to lead once you get there. Terry and I want to be able to travel with some regularity, whether it's to visit kids/grandkids or just see the world.

I'm not talking about boarding a plane for some exotic location every two weeks. Maybe "several" trips a year, with most domestic and one overseas.

"Comfortable but nowhere near extravagant" is how I would describe our desired post-retirement lifestyle.

That's somewhat vague, I realize, but it was enough for Dave to decide we're ahead of the curve with our savings and investment plan, given the vagaries of the markets, my presumed ability to continue working for another decade-plus, and all of the other unpredictable realities that come with aging.

This was all somewhat of a revelation to me. I'm 54 years old. I don't think about retirement very often beyond how much I throw into my 401(k) and occasional dreams of touring World War I battlefields in France and Belgium once I have the time to do so (that's likely to be a solo trip sans Terry, if I had to guess).

For the first time, the conversation with Dave made retirement seem like a tangible thing and not just a far-off hope. I've still got a ways to go, and like I said, you never know what's going to come your way. But the fact is, it could happen, and that's fun to think about.

Again, though, as quickly as time passes these days, I still have several career-building years ahead of me, which is OK. We'll get there when we get there.

The closer it gets, the more real it will become, I'm sure.

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