It has been an embarrassingly long 6 months or so since we last posted, and there are lots of reasons why this website has been dormant for so long. The last time we wrote, there were unresolved questions about exactly what path Will would take: Leave work a year earlier than originally planned, or uproot us to the west coast to keep working for the next couple of years at least? Well, we did decide to take the package buy-out!
Will’s last day with his company of 15 years was 12/31/2016. And, frankly, it was absolutely fabulous for the next 6 weeks or so! It seemed that every week–sometimes twice in one week–a check got deposited into our bank account. Final regular pay, part of separation pay, rest of buy out, unused vacation pay, quarterly bonus, last year’s annual bonus. You get the idea. Our thought: We should do this taking a buy-out thing more often!
Of course, his regular paychecks stopped after 12/31, but we didn’t take much notice of that since other checks were coming in to compensate for their losses. And then after about mid-February, pay-out-related direct deposits stopped as well. Will even got an email from the HR person assigned to his case that he wouldn’t be hearing from her anymore. While it was a very short acquaintance of 6 weeks or so–and all by email–it seemed like we were losing a kind and beneficent ally, and we mourned the import behind the receipt of that final email.
Hard truth: We needed to face the fact that we might be past the accumulation phase of our lives. Given the younger-trending workers in the high-tech industry, whether Will goes back to work full time might not be up to him…
It felt slightly disorienting–and admittedly unpleasant–to wrap our head around the idea that, barring extraordinary investment gains, our net worth would only depreciate from this point forward. While I am still working for now, my salary would essentially be going toward financing our living expenses rather than adding to our savings. And besides, how much longer would I work if Will decided to stay “retired” past his “gap year”?
Then another little problem asserted itself. Will now had “time to kill” before my Spring semester of teaching was over in May. So he planned a bucket-list type bike trip across the country. (At the top of the post is his loaded-down bike as it takes a ferry ride in Alabama.)
Wait, there’s more! Since I was granted my sabbatical leave (full year at half-pay), we would only have half my regular income starting August but more “time off” to spend money. Wanting to take full advantage of our time off together–just in case Will decided to go back to work after my sabbatical was over–we outlined some grandiose plans that included a couple of lengthy international trips and a cross-country road-trip (this time, together, in a car, with Katie!).
While this all sounds like “first-world problems,” it’s probably a learning curve that many new retirees face on some level: Wanting to do everything possible, as soon as possible, while we are youngest and most able to enjoy some time off–but trying not to go broke in the process.
We clearly need to scale back our ambitions, or we will not be able to finance our retirement. We pledged to take the next few weeks to figure out what reasonable modifications we can make to our extravagant plans. On one hand, we want to “make the most” of possibly our ONE year away from full-time work. On the other hand, if this year turns out to be the first year of our possibly 40+ years of retirement, we need to set the right tone of moderation and frugality.
How to find that balance?