montanaTelevision commercials about retirement … mostly sponsored by investment firms seeking our 401K or IRA dollars … paint a picture of vital seniors fly-fishing in Montana, hiking in the Himalayas or enjoying a glass of wine at a Paris cafe.  The truth isn’t quite as pretty.   For many retirees, retirement is a balancing act between meeting monthly expenses and making sure their nest egg lasts until that certain day down the road when they no longer need it.  Various sources give guidelines for how much money you need to have to fully retire … I won’t bore you (or frighten you) with the details.   But according to Forbes magazine, Teresa Ghilarducci, a professor of economics at the New School for Social Research, estimates that 75% of Americans nearing retirement in 2010 had less than $30,000 in their retirement accounts.   That is substantially below anybody’s magic number.  As a result, more and more people are continuing to work after the age of 66.  At 69, I’m one of them.  I’m Semi(?)-Retired.

I’ve actually retired twice.  The first was voluntary 14 years ago.  My retirement from Big Industry left me a 401K account that is a few yards south of the ideal magic number but substantially more than $30,000.  I then started a consulting business with a colleague that gave us some of our best years financially.  We probably could have saved more during that brief flash in the pan but that’s water under the bridge.  The declining economy forced my second retirement about nine years later.  I don’t ever want to work as hard as I did during those nine years but I don’t need to be fly fishing in Montana, either.  I like what I do (I’m an electrical engineer) and my education gives me some unique employment opportunities.  In semi-retirement, my avocation, writing, has become an important part of my life and I value the flexibility to spend more time with my wife, Muri.  I’ve often said that if I could be employed quarter time, I’d be both happy and able to balance our expenses with our retirement savings.  And over the past few years, our business has gradually recovered enough … and I’ve found enough additional work as an expert witness … that I am working approximately quarter time.   Nirvana, right?  Semi-Nirvana.  The way life is, the quarter time work comes in bursts of nearly full time, followed by days of almost none.  And the bursts don’t seem predictable.  Sometimes, I seem busier than when I wasn’t Semi(?)-Retired.  That requires me to be much more flexible than I’m inclined to be at 69.

TSTHere we are on Top Sites Tuesday #204 (which I believe should be #205) where I’m taking time out to post my Two Thoughts on Tuesday.  I want to be perfectly clear, I’m not complaining, I’m just providing Reflections from an Older Perspective, which is what I do here on Bud’s Blog.   Thought Number One: I am a Semi(?)-Retired senior living in Semi-Nirvana, even if it’s no one else’s Nirvana. That’s a good thing.  And Thought Number Two is this.  I’ve observed that part of feeling older is becoming inflexible and set in our ways.  There’s no chance my Semi(?)-Retired life in Semi-Nirvana is going to let me do that.  That’s a good thing, too.  It would also be a good thing if you would show your flexibility by taking a moment out from your busy day to push my button to make me Number One on Top Sites Tuesday #204 … er, #205.  And leave me a comment, too.

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8 Comments on “Semi(?)-Retired”

  1. cherperz Says:

    Those types of commercials kind of annoy me. They imply that investing with their firm will give people that peaceful existence. Any senior that has waited this long to invest is screwed. Call me a skeptic but a 60 year old that only has 30K can’t expect to retire at 65 or even 70.

    Anyway…The fact is, there is no magic number because there are too many variables. Our accountant assures us that we can retire now but how can that be? One major disease could impact savings, escalating costs could change the numbers. Our plan is to work while we can and try to enjoy our life such as it is. There are plenty of reasons to love life without full time retirement…at least for us.

    I read two books by the Delaney sisters. In their book “Having Our Say” one of the sisters said it was a good thing they lived modest lives because they never expected to live to 104 and 109. They worked way past retirement age.

    As always very thought provoking topic.


    • oldereyes Says:

      Well, I suppose there is a magic number but it’s bigger than most of us have. The story that quoted the 75% with less than $30K went on to say that we are entering a new era of poverty among seniors. That’s so sad when we’ve had so much prosperity in this country.

  2. territerri Says:

    Semi-retired sounds good to me. I know I will want to feel like I have a purpose every day of my life, not just until I’m done working full-time. Semi-nirvana sounds good too. There are some who never come even close to nirvana in their retirement years. (I look at my parents and remind myself to do all that I can to be in better place when I reach that stage in life.)

    Your button has been pushed.

  3. Trina Says:

    Retirement is scary, many people that I know are nearing a :retirement age” with no savings in the bank, depending on Social Security Income. It’s scary and I admire your balancing act.

    A retired couple I work for have a different problem… they planned to live until their 80’s and are surprised that they are living longer than they planned for – running out of money so to speak….

    Enjoy every day, feast or famine, life is good 😉


  4. Wolfbernz Says:

    Hi Bud,

    Semi Retired or working quarter time sounds nice. Around here when work starts it’s busy and sometimes overwhelming. But, that’s why we travel in the winter, it’s our semi-nirvana time.

    Clicks for you!

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