An 8 Year Countdown -- 01/02/03

Remember a couple of entries back, when I was complaining about getting older?

That was partly because this April I will hit the big six-oh... but it may also have been prompted by the fact that January 1st is my official employment anniversary date. (Long time readers may wonder at that, recalling mention of having begun this job in October of '95. Well, that is when I started, but that was with the small software company that was being acquired by the Big Dancing Elephant company and under the terms of that purchase, we all became officially enrolled with that company on 01/01/96.)

A few years ago they changed the benefits plan so that the cost of retiree health insurance would no longer be provided outright; instead, the company would set up a virtual fund for each employee towards which a certain amount would be credited each year and, upon retirement, the money in that fund would be used towards the purchase of health coverage. The catch is that you have to have a minimum of fifteen years of service in order to collect. If you were to retire after fourteen years and eleven months of service, you would get zero. Thus, I cannot retire before January 1, 2011 if I want to have company subsidized health insurance.

So in eight years I can retire. Oh, yes, of course, I can retire sooner (just without subsidized health coverage) if I want. In theory I could retire now. Yeah, "in theory" -- I reached age fifty-nine and a half a couple of months ago so I am eligible to withdraw funds from my 401k plans without having to pay a ten percent penalty (on top of regular government predation -- uh, I mean taxation, of course) -- however, given what the stock market has done to my 401k savings over the past two or three years, I don't think that is a viable option.

Eight years from now I'll only be 67 (oh, okay... I'll be a few months short of 68) and I'm not sure that I would want to retire that early. I don't have to retire in January of '11 -- although it's always possible that there will be additional bouts of "workforce rebalancing" or "asset reallocation" ("layoff" is such a harsh word *grin*) -- so I might stay on longer. I think I would want to stay at least through my birthday, so that I'd be retiring at age 68, or maybe at the end of June, matching up with the end of the academic year, since Nancy's a teacher. (Or, who knows, maybe work another year or two.) But then what?

The topic of retirement came up in an exchange of email among people on Stefani Tadio's notify list a few weeks ago. I was surprised by people who are retired who are younger than I am. It's not that I would have nothing to do (I certainly managed to get through this recent week and a half of vacation and holiday time without any great difficulty.) but I would miss work. I like my job. I like working.

My brother retired a few years ago -- uh, six years, actually -- after thirty years with the Big Dancing Elephant company -- but he was only fifty years old and he has been working ever since he "retired" (mostly as a consultant). So I suppose I could do some consulting after I retire... or maybe I could teach part time, as adjunct faculty. (I've done that in the past, teaching computer science courses at a college.)

I will admit, however, that if I were to hit the Powerball Lottery for fifty million dollars (or some such incredible amount of money), I would "retire" -- and probably sit down at a computer and start to write a book. However, that is not likely to happen because I almost never buy a ticket (maybe three or four times during the past seven years) -- I think of lotteries as being a form of voluntary taxation paid by people who fail to understand basic arithmetic.

There is a new online journaler you have to check out: Sam Pepys. His entires are blog style (newest posting comes on top) and he may be posting on a daily basis with commentary on his daily life including politics, government scandals, drinking and eating (and other pleasures).... Oh, so you thought the name sounded familiar? Yes, somebody has just begun posting entries from the famous 17th century diarist, beginning with his entry for January 1, 1660. A new entry is supposed to be posted at the end of each day (which is when Pepys tended to update his diary). Check it out... http://www.pepysdiary.com/

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