Counting the daze -- 12/28/11

Every time I take a week or so off from work, I have begun to think of it as a foretaste of retirement.

I think that started back when I was looking at retirement as being something to be avoided. Well, here I am, 68 (actually, four months short of 69) and not retired, so obviously I've been successful in avoiding it.

At some point two or three years ago, when my employer was having layoffs (uh, excuse me, I mean "resource rebalancing" or "resource reallocation") and there were rumors of more, I realized that if I were selected for non-retention, I could simply retire. And somehow, that thought seemed to take the terror out of thinking about being laid off and also out of thinking about retirement.

My unofficial planned date for retirement has been at age 70. My reason for picking this is because of the way US Social Security payments are structured. The longer you put off collecting Social Security payments, the higher those payments are. That is, based on a given total income and payments of your Social Security taxes, you would have higher monthly Social Security payments if you retire at 68 than if you had retired an age 67. That is true until age 70; after that, there is no increase for postponing retirement. If you postpone retirement past your 70th birthday, you are throwing away money. Social Security payments after that will not increase to reflect a later starting date.

Lately, however, I've been thinking that even though I have to start receiving Social Security payments at 70, I could still work up to another six months before actually retiring. It would really jack up my taxes, but they couldn't tax away everything. But once you hit age 70 and six months, you must take mandated distributions from IRAs and 401(k) type retirement plans, and it would be fiscal insanity to continue to work under those conditions.

So, depending upon which date I actually do stop working, that means that retirement is between 16 and 22 months away.

I used to think that when I retired I would continue to work part-time, maybe do some consulting work or teach as adjunct faculty in a local college, but that was when I was assuming the typical age 65 retirement. Now, I think I will not bother with anything like that. Frankly, I've got too many other projects I want to have time to work on; I'm not interested in a new job after retirement.

(Oh, of course, if tomorrow's newspaper had a front page headline announcing new medical breakthroughs that would push the average healthy life expectancy well past 100, I would have a completely different take on things and would definitely plan on some combination of consulting work and teaching as adjunct faculty for at least another decade or more.)

This is a picture of our kitchen table. I have been amused all week by the Christmas ornament that Nancy put on the pineapple. I was originally just going to take a picture of the decorated pineapple, but I liked the bright color of the Clementine oranges next to it. (Yes, sometimes I am easily amused.)

Who am I? I am a 68 year old computer geek who lives in Rhode Island with my wife, Nancy. She used to be a computer person as well (we got our MS degrees in Systems Sciences together) but she has since escaped from computers to become a middle school math teacher (and, this year, has moved from teaching math to teaching science). Eldest child lives in New York City with his wife and their two boys. Daughter is currently in Ottawa with her boy friend. Youngest is a restaurant manager here in R.I. The nest is empty. I work for a big computer company (you definitely know their initials) in their education and training department. I used to write courses and teach courses for them but a few years ago I got involved in helping to set up a quality assurance group and now I work from home doing editing and quality assurance checking on courses written by others.Hobbies & interests include photography (and video), running, reading, gardening, cooking, drawing, writing, and politics as a spectator sport. (No wonder I never seem to have free time.) And I've been babbling here on a semi-regular basis for more than fifteen years.

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