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Hi, 54 yo, Federal Employee in NW Washington, Wary of Retiring at 55
Old 02-16-2009, 05:38 PM   #1
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Hi, 54 yo, Federal Employee in NW Washington, Wary of Retiring at 55

Hi, I'm 54, single (divorced), and seriously planning on retiring Jan 1, 2010. I've been a Federal employee for over 35 years. My CSRS pension will cover my daily living expenses and I plan to save my very small TSP for a rainy day and/or RMD's at 70. One flaw in this scenario is if my future COLA's don't keep up with inflation. A couple more years of work would be more fiscally responsible but I don't want to leave in a pine box either.

I started a list of things to do when I retire. It is woefully short and actually has some things on it that I may not enjoy in reality (or is that actuality?). My friends assure me I will have no trouble filling my days and I'll wonder how I ever found the time to work!

My daughter (still single and no children) has made her home in Juneau. I am close to one brother and his wife; they live a couple hours and a ferry boat ride away from me. My newest best friends are a family in Coquitlam, BC and a family south of me. The majority of my friendships were made when I worked in Anchorage. Like me, these people have scattered. Texas, Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee, Pennsylvania. We keep in touch by phone and email. For the last 5+ years I have managed an office in NW Washington. As the boss I am friendly but not 'good friends' with the staff. I've always enjoyed my personal time and used it, needed it, to recharge. (This is my way of saying I don't have any close friends where I live now...if you need me to spell it out .)

So, stay in this town or move to a warmer, less expensive location ... where I know no one? Leave what I am familiar and comfortable with ... Why? I've done this before but I was going for something. Guess I've answered that question for now at least.

Discover I really miss the interaction I have with the staff and public after I retire? Miss that I'm not making a difference anymore? This one truly worries me. I work with some very good people who are vibrant, smart, full of life. They've helped keep me young. I'm afraid my personal/alone time in retirement will be too much of a good thing.

I'm a lazy procrastinator and have been successful at work because I had to. In retirement I don't have to be successful at anything. Maybe that is what really scares me. But that pine box scares me more.

If anyone is still reading I welcome any comments to my post and thank you in advance.
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Old 02-16-2009, 06:00 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TopDown View Post
Hi, I'm 54, single (divorced), and seriously planning on retiring Jan 1, 2010. I've been a Federal employee for over 35 years. My CSRS pension will cover my daily living expenses and I plan to save my very small TSP for a rainy day and/or RMD's at 70. One flaw in this scenario is if my future COLA's don't keep up with inflation. A couple more years of work would be more fiscally responsible but I don't want to leave in a pine box either.
Welcome to the boards.

I retired as FERS in 2004 at age 54.

Quote:
I started a list of things to do when I retire. It is woefully short and actually has some things on it that I may not enjoy in reality (or is that actuality?). My friends assure me I will have no trouble filling my days and I'll wonder how I ever found the time to work!
That was my experience.

Quote:
My daughter (still single and no children) has made her home in Juneau. I am close to one brother and his wife; they live a couple hours and a ferry boat ride away from me. My newest best friends are a family in Coquitlam, BC and a family south of me. The majority of my friendships were made when I worked in Anchorage. Like me, these people have scattered. Texas, Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee, Pennsylvania. We keep in touch by phone and email. For the last 5+ years I have managed an office in NW Washington. As the boss I am friendly but not 'good friends' with the staff. I've always enjoyed my personal time and used it, needed it, to recharge. (This is my way of saying I don't have any close friends where I live now...if you need me to spell it out .)
I have no family or close friends here. This is where I retired. You can certainly keep in touch via the internet and stay where you are.

Quote:
So, stay in this town or move to a warmer, less expensive location ... where I know no one? Leave what I am familiar and comfortable with ... Why? I've done this before but I was going for something. Guess I've answered that question for now at least.
It is often suggested that people wait a year or so after retiring before making any huge decisions.

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Discover I really miss the interaction I have with the staff and public after I retire? Miss that I'm not making a difference anymore? This one truly worries me. I work with some very good people who are vibrant, smart, full of life. They've helped keep me young. I'm afraid my personal/alone time in retirement will be too much of a good thing.
Some people experience this, some do not. As a lowly cube-dweller, I did not.

Quote:
I'm a lazy procrastinator and have been successful at work because I had to. In retirement I don't have to be successful at anything. Maybe that is what really scares me. But that pine box scares me more.
Quote:

If anyone is still reading I welcome any comments to my post and thank you in advance.
You can set goals, but only you decide what they are.
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Old 02-16-2009, 06:20 PM   #3
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Howdy TopDown and welcome.

I think you raise some concerns that may of us face when considering retirement. For me, work is a big part of my social world, so I worry sometimes about losing that. But I console myself by figuring that I can work on ways to replace that social interaction, like volunteering.

Move? I'm planning to stay put, for a while anyway. I'll be doing some traveling and who knows -- maybe I'll find a place where I'd rather be. You don't have to make huge changes right off the bat. You can stay where you are for a while, anyway.

And I'm a procrastinator too. I'm hoping I'll find interesting things to do.

I guess I'm just saying that many of us face these or similar issues. But I've seen surprisingly few posts from retirees who regretted it!

Best of luck as you contemplate the future!

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Old 02-16-2009, 06:33 PM   #4
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Topdown,

Do you seriously, actually have no outside interests, or are you concerned that your interests aren't ones that others would consider worthwhile?

In addition, you can view "success" two ways: success in the eyes of others (oh, those darned others! what power we give them over us!), and success in your own eyes. The first is an artificiality; the latter is totally within your control, and that is what is so wonderful!!

Once I pull the plug, I don't expect to miss the workplace for one second. I don't have relatives or close friends in the area, either. I fully expect to have a better shot at making friends once I'm not tied/tired at work.

P.S. After 35 years, your CSRS pension ought to do better than cover daily living expenses, unless your GS grade is low or your expenses are high. Please allow me to be the first to suggest you run FIRECALC, if you haven't already.
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Old 02-16-2009, 07:00 PM   #5
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Discover I really miss the interaction I have with the staff and public after I retire? Miss that I'm not making a difference anymore? This one truly worries me. I work with some very good people who are vibrant, smart, full of life. They've helped keep me young. I'm afraid my personal/alone time in retirement will be too much of a good thing.

I'm a lazy procrastinator and have been successful at work because I had to. In retirement I don't have to be successful at anything. Maybe that is what really scares me.
Hi TopDown and welcome -

Your post caught my eye, because I am about your age (53, almost 54), fed. employee (CSRS), and my current plan is to retire sometime in 2010 (almost 32 years of service). I highlighted the quote above from your post because I think it sums up your problem - you are not sure what you are going to do with your time after you do retire, you're afraid of losing your purpose, and you're not sure that losing your people connections from work is going to be a good thing for you. If you retire without giving more thought to these things, and having some kind of definite plan as to how you want to live your post-retirement life, and why, I'm afraid that you may be going into retirement before you are really ready.

Having said that, the "pine box" argument is very real, and is one thing that motivates me to retire as soon as I am eligible. I've also thought some about the questions you pose, and in my case, although I like the folks I work with, and generally like my job, I'm more than ready to move on to some new adventures. But, no one can tell you whether you are ready to retire or not........only you can decide that, after honestly answering the questions that you've posed.

On the financial side of things, I don't know what your lifestyle is, but remember that we do get the full COLA with our pension, as CSRS retirees. So, although inflation could hurt us a little bit, we're a lot better off than a lot of folks. It sounds to me like you probably need to give more attention to the "mental readiness" side of the retirement equation, moreso than the financial side.

Best of luck to you, whatever you decide to do.
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Old 02-16-2009, 07:11 PM   #6
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Welcome ,
I also worried about the social interaction . After three months I joined a gym and do group work outs . I've met a lot of nice women and it really fills my social needs . People also told me I would be bored after working for 38 years . I've proved them wrong . I happily putter about finding new recipes , selling on ebay ,exploring and fixing up my house .Only you know if you are really ready to pull the plug so Good Luck !
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Old 02-16-2009, 07:32 PM   #7
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Khan - Thank you for the warm welcome. Waiting a year is very good advice.

Coach - Volunteering is on my list. Just not right off the bat as it is making a committment and I don't want any committments right away.

Amethyst - I have interests, just not sure they are enough for 24/7.
I belong to a Miata car club and go on drives with other Miata owners. I have 2 standard poodles and go to dog shows. One of my friends is sure she is going to get me into showing a dog of my own (she's had six champions, both American and Canadian) but I've seen how hard she works ... I read and play games ... I have exercise equipment/free weights I need to start using again. I have friends I can coerce into taking a hike. A couple ladies at work will probably let me babysit for them on occasion after I've retired.

Success at retirement is important to me. Let me see if I can explain this - Success is part contentment, part keeping physically active and mentally alert. If I were to just sit around, hibernate, I would become a crotchety, unpleasant person that no one would want to be around and I would be disappointed in myself. Not success as in 'Look at Me, I retired and now I'm on the Planning Commission'. I don't know if that makes sense to you.

My pension is good but I am only 5 years into my 30 year mortgage. I actually found the Firecalc site before I found this site.

Thank you all three for your comments. It's nice to get the thoughts of people who don't know me.


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Old 02-16-2009, 08:02 PM   #8
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TopDown, is the Miata club mostly women?

Ha
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Old 02-16-2009, 08:26 PM   #9
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Rae - You're absolutely right about the mental readiness. I know I'm ready to go and my reasons are valid but my "definite plan as to how you want to live your post-retirement life" is still too fuzzy. I've given myself a Juneish deadline for coming up with it. Otherwise I'll need to start using my use-or-lose annual leave.

Moemg - I've not done the gym thing for years but if that's a way to meet people then I'll give it a try. I made myself quit clipping recipes since I never try them. And with the internet I rarely open a cookbook. Heck, with frozen meals I rarely use the internet (for recipes). I am curious about a house that gets 'explored' - the only place I could explore in mine would be the cramped attic which we all know is full of spiders...not that I'm afraid of them

Thanks both for your insights.
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Old 02-16-2009, 08:38 PM   #10
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haha - Mostly couples with some single men and some single women. All ages. You don't have a Miata do you? They are a fun group - even have some overnight outings like one to Friday Harbor.

Here's their website - Club Miata Northwest Some of the ladies are real lookers nice.
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Old 02-16-2009, 09:25 PM   #11
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Hello TopDown and welcome. I'm still sitting on my personal retirement fence, too nervous to jump off yet. Fact is I could have written part of your original post. I am a professional woman with 26 years at a large corporation and have enjoyed a modest success. I gotta tell ya, I am preparing to ER in a few months but I have never had such a difficult time with ANY decision in my life! My hubby is quite tired of listening to me obsess, lol. This is a real hand-wringer to me, which is puzzling because usually I am quite decisive.

Anyhow, I just want you to know that you are not alone; there are many of us lurking in the shadows of the happily retired.
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Old 02-17-2009, 11:46 AM   #12
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TopDown, is the Miata club mostly women?

Ha
Why?!? Are you interested in joining?

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Old 02-17-2009, 11:52 AM   #13
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I retired March 08 after 35 years under CSRS. My wife retired a couple years earlier from teaching with a very small pension. Our pensions cover all our basic expenses. We traveled a lot last year; Hwy 66 LA to Chicago, a week at New Orleans Jazz Fest and a week on a Habitat For Humanity project in Biloxi, a Grand canyon trip and then a 7 week 8.5K mile trip to arctic Canada & Alaska. And then another couple weeks in Santa Fe/AZ. You could travel a bit. We have taken trips with the Sierra Club and a group of frineds from our church.
We, well my wife, also have a Miata and we have done a few activities with the local Miata club. http://home.earthlink.net/~yakers/Images/miata.gif

There is a lot to do in life. I loved work and miss aspects of it but not so much to go back although this would be a good time to be buying into the TSP program. Life is short; do what you want. If its work, that's OK but if there is anything else on your to do list this is the time to do it.
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Old 02-17-2009, 11:55 AM   #14
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Why?!? Are you interested in joining?

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LOL! A little far for me. Mainly that I always see women in Miatas, and I wondered if that was happenstance or a market fact.

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Old 02-17-2009, 01:07 PM   #15
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TopDown, I feel your discomfort, but it's almost refreshing to hear from you. Yours is not another "I'm down 40% and my retirement dreams are toast!" post. We're back to the good-old days of "but what will I do all day?" posts! Fair weather is here again, if only for a moment.

Anyway, there are tons of resources here and elsewhere to help deal with your worries. You might find a copy of "How to Retire Happy, Wild and Free" by Zelinski, for example. Even if few of the suggestions resonate with you, it's still inspiring.

By the way, for those who don't know, the "Miata" is no more. The cars are now called the "MX-5" in the States. Apparently, Mazda wants to distance itself from the prevalent view that the Miata is a chick-car.
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Old 02-17-2009, 02:16 PM   #16
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LOL! A little far for me. Mainly that I always see women in Miatas, and I wondered if that was happenstance or a market fact.

Ha
Yeah, I know, Ha. Just wondering how far you were wanting to go to see good-looking sports car drivers!

(I leave the rest of thread-jacking to others . . .)

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Old 02-17-2009, 06:57 PM   #17
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TopDown--now we know the reason for your handle :smile: My husband also retired from Federal employment. He hasn't missed work for one minute. Sure he gets crotchety, on occasion, but no more than before retirement. Mostly, he stays very busy taking care of the home and large yard, plus he is a news junkie, so indulges that passion to his heart's content. I realize your social concerns are those of a single person, but consider that from his perspective, I spend most of my waking time away from home, so he is a bachelor all week long. He has had to be very self-sufficient. There aren't any men his age in our area. All the men are in their 30's to 40's, and very taken up with jobs and kids.

The good thing is, it sounds like you have lots of interests! I also know someone who shows her dogs, and it is a lot of work as you say, schlepping the dogs from show to show.
I did not have a Miata (although I am certifiably a chick ) but I drove a 1986 "Mark 1" Toyota MR2 for 18 years; drove it 100 mph on Pocono Racetrack, in fact, in a "Performance Driving" course.

As for the mortgage: If you read this board very long, you will find that there are 2 kinds of people: those who think a mortgage is something to be got rid of at all costs before retirement, and those who don't. Each side has many good arguments (and some that are so sophisticated, I don't understand them).

Good luck with your decision.

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Old 02-17-2009, 07:49 PM   #18
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Welcome to the board.
Your post was excellent. I can see you are not sure.
May I suggest taking 1 or 2 weeks leave, do whatever you want to except travel somewhere else, and pretend you are retired.
Act like you never have to return and see how hard it is to "fill your days".
Or...use the KISS method...drum roll...GO FOR IT!
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Old 02-18-2009, 06:38 PM   #19
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Hi TopDown - I definitely can relate. I decided to take the leap, and as of May 1st this year I will be one of the retirees on this board. It's a little scary, but I can honestly say that since I've made my decision and gave notice, I feel a hundred times better. Yes, I'm worried a little about finances, and yes I'm concerned that without the structure of having to go to work everyday I'll start to stagnate, but I'm going for it. And I'm feeling really good about my decision. Hope you decide to take the plunge. Keep us posted as to how things go.
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Old 02-18-2009, 10:40 PM   #20
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Congrats, Janet! I'm thinking August...maybe. Arrrrgh.
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