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Overwhelmed by retirement = I need help
Old 07-13-2011, 10:55 PM   #1
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Overwhelmed by retirement = I need help

I need help . Got stage 3 cancer 18 months ago and beat it = so far . Went back to work but was always tired , but was told it might be like that after the chemo also had/having short term memory loss . Well I 've been with the company for over 30 years so I've been able to get by and no one noticed but me and my wife . But I didn't like living like that . Got to thinking . Everyone in my family has been healthy and they only made it to mid 70's , so I thought : Need to retire now ( will have to do it sometime ) while I can enjoy it and get around . Not that I live for these things but if I want to go jet skiing , get on a ladder and paint the house , go horseback riding or whatever now is the time . Probably in 10 years my bones will be brittle and I'll be homebound as they are starting to now . No way I'd get up on a ladder or walk all over Disney World 10 years from now . For some reason I thought I could keep my health insurance forever if I payed the full premium . Talked with the doctors and everyone said = You need to slow down and retire now and enjoy life . SO I DID . Well it's overwhelming . Health insurance , I can only keep it for 18 months and I haven't been able to find any insurance that will cover cancer if it comes back ( and there's a 50% chance it could ) Your not considered cured till you've got 7 years under your belt . My 401k needs to be moved to where I make it work for me . Check around on investing and there is all kinds of people wanting to sell : annuities , cd's , stocks /bonds , just all kinds of investment " plans " . My wife can't ( never could ) handle the stress of money / bills . I don't have anyone I can talk to that I can trust and really it's embarrassing also . ( only child and parents and grandparents are departed ) . Started taking naps but now I'm extending them just as an escape coping tool . AND NATURALLY I CAN'T GET MY JOB OR ANY JOB AT THE COMPANY BACK . My world has become extremely small since I retired . Been going to church and i'm going to do some volunteer work but I feel like a failure . Get another job you say = That's a joke as there aren't any jobs in this small town . Wife doesn't want to move away from our kids or our 2 grandkids and I don't want to either . But I need help . So that is why there is this pathetic post . My wife heard this joke at church but I saw it registered a certain way in her head . " Retirement is half the money you had and twice the husband " She loves me but I 'm finding out she can only tolerate me for a short time , like when I was working . Now that I'm home all the time and she works part time it seems she resents me . If she cuts her hours back she's around me more = that's %XOQ* well I'll leave that alone . If she works more hours she resents I'm at home . It appears I've made some terrible mistakes . Any help out there .

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Old 07-14-2011, 12:15 AM   #2
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First of all...Welcome to the form. You might want to introduce yourself in the "Hi, I Am" section just so folks get to know you a bit better and get a sense of where you are coming from etc.

Second, slow down, take some deep breaths and try to calm down a bit. You have a lot on your plate right now and you can't do everything at once. One thing at a time.

I am sorry about your cancer. I have lived with cancer survivors and lost a wife to it so I have some idea of your mental and physical state. Most would agree that doing what you are able to do now makes sense as long as you don't throw out everything you own to do it. Moderation in all things.

Being home while a wife w*rks can create some friction if you both let it. Now is the time to talk through what both of you are experiencing so things don't get blown out of proportion. It might be helpful for you to find something to do while the wife is away at work; volunteer or even a part time j*b might be the ticket...nothing much but something you want to do with your time. It might make both of you feel a bit better and allow you both to phase into your retirement.

Insurance is and issue and many here on the forum have a lot more current information to offer on that subject so I will let them address that.

Early retirement can be an adjustment for you, your wife and your family. Most folks can't or won't retire early enough to really enjoy life before age or illness take away vitality and opportunity. Some folks are lucky to have good genes and good health; others deal with many health issues but still find a way to enjoy life on their terms within their abilities. The key is to find your way of doing what you want while you can for as long as you can. Money is always a consideration; nobody wants to have to eat cat food in their "golden years." Being money smart is not all that tough. There is a lot of wisdom and experience buried within this forum. All you have to do is search on any topic you wish to know more about and tons of information will be at your fingertips. There are a lot of good books on many related subjects referenced on the board; some written my member of the board. So, take some time to educate yourself on how money can be invested and how the whole system works. Knowledge is power and it is also freedom. The more you know the more you can do for yourself.

Anyway, I am sure other folks will be by to add their ideas and comments so come back often and see what they have to say.

In the meantime...try to relax and start reading.

Work? I don't have time to work....I'm retired.
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Old 07-14-2011, 12:16 AM   #3
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Congratulations on beating the cancer - although I've been lucky enough never to have had to deal with something like that, that is something to celebrate. Given the physical limitations you expect to experience in the years ahead, I'd say quitting was the right thing to do - we only live once.

Not being from the US, I've no suggestions on the health care issue.

On the other issues, attending church and volunteering are good ideas. Keeping yourself busy and getting out of the house (and out from under your wife's feet) seem to be good ideas. Other options might be a course at a local college (or similar) if available, doing more around the house (my wife is really happy when I cook), spending more time with the children and grandchildren, write a book about your experience (self publishing is easy these days), look for things you can do together with your spouse.
Budgeting is a skill practised by people who are bad at politics.
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Old 07-14-2011, 12:42 AM   #4
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It's gonna be ok. Take a deep breath.
I've had the health insurance dilemma. Different situation, similar problem. I'm not an expert and hopefully someone will chime in who is, but chances are if you talk with a no-fee insurance broker (who represents many companies) they may be able to point you to a government option if you've been refused (that's what happened with me). Not cheap, but better than nothing.
On the home front, talk talk talk with your wife, but when you are both calm. If you can't talk right away, make an appointment with each other to talk sometime in the near future. From my point of view, if you are home full time and she is working part time, seems like you might want to be useful with more chores around the house if you're not already. If you've managed to stay married any time at all, you know how important talking about this stuff is. Change can be good, but you have to consider trying new things.
Hang in there, it'll get better.
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Old 07-14-2011, 01:05 AM   #5
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Welcome to the forum. From your post, your decision to retire is because of your health and to enjoy what you want to do now (rather than when you are less mobile). So, let's focus on these first and not try to get back to work. I have parents and a sister who are cancer survivors and they take special care of their health since they have been through chemo sessions. Exercise is essential and actually improves not only body strength but also state of the mind. You can take walks, hikes or go to the gym or swim or yoga, etc. Planning and preparing better meals would benefit both you and your spouse. You also wanted to do a lot of things like paint the house, jet ski, horse riding, disneyland etc - well, you seem to have a list of things to do and once you start planning and doing these, am sure your spouse be happy to see you busy with your time.

As to investments and insurance, since I am not based in US, I leave it to the other experts in the forum. I'll like to add though that some time before I decided to ER, I knew nothing much about investments for retirement but I educated myself by lots of reading and also learning forum like these. After I geared myself with some knowledge, then only I made decisions on positioning my investments for retirement. Of course, I still am learning as sometimes I get a bit greedy with returns and swayed by the market movements.

Don't worry too much, keep things slower and all will work out.
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Old 07-14-2011, 03:48 AM   #6
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Sorry about your health problem.

(mod edit)

Does your state have a high risk insurance program? Health insurance risk pools - state-sponsored programs for the medically uninsurable
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Old 07-14-2011, 05:42 AM   #7
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Welcome. Sorry to hear about your helath issues, but beating it was a great accomplishment. I echo what others have said about 'slow down and take one task at a time'. One of your first part time jobs is your health and what you need to do to maintain it.

One of your next 'part time jobs' can be in finance. Track your spending and sources of income. Determine a withdrawal rate from your investments. Do you have a pension? Educate yourself. Search here for books to read, read lots of the threads, pick out someone and click on their avaitar and see what they have to say about finance, browse Yahoo finance and track a few stocks, ETF, Mutual funds to decide your risk tolerance. Move the 401K to Schwab, Fidelity, Vanguard.
There have been many suggestions here on very simple asset allocations with very few funds.

Then decide what interests you and do it. Except I would stay off that ladder. Look at it like you did when you just graduated from high school/college. The world is there for you to explore.
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Old 07-14-2011, 07:02 AM   #8
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Your post is one big paragraph, and that says a lot - you have a tremenous amount of issues to deal with, and you are seemingly lumping them all together. Although there is no magic bullet, I would suggest the following as a starter:
Break down the various problems to individual items on a list. For example:
Health insurance [does your state require insurance companies to accept all applicants, as some states do, cost, etc.]
Financial - where are your funds, now, consider consolidation, then assess allocation of the funds
Marital - BUY HER FLOWERS, for no reason. Are there any honey-do items you can start on, ask your wife out on a date, plan a serious discussion about your retirement, etc.
Home - List things need to be done, fixed, replaced etc.
and so on
Making a list helps you feel less overwhelmed, and crystallizes the issues needed to be addressed. It doesn't make the problems go away, but they may feel less daunting.
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Old 07-14-2011, 07:45 AM   #9
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I just wanted to add my "Welcome to the forum"..
I've been visiting this site for about 4 years and have learned a lot about retirement planning and retiring early. The information and friendly discussion has helped me plan for FIRE and build confidence to face the uncertainties of retirement. I have not retired yet, but knowledge is power and I have increasing confidence as I get closer to that goal.

I am certainly sorry for your problem. But I think the steps you have taken are entirely reasonable.
+1 for the flowers to your DW. That is always a good idea.

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Old 07-14-2011, 08:41 AM   #10
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It sounds like you're depressed. There is no shame in that. Depression is an illness as real and legitimate as the cancer you had. None of this is your fault.

Consider talking to your primary care provider about some meds for depression. If you can afford to, consider finding a therapist to talk to and sort through some of your feelings of failure. The goal of these together is to gain a realistic perspective so that you can try and relax some and stop blaming yourself so much. IMO, things can seem to fall into place much easier once the depression is less.

I wish you well.
"Some people describe themselves as being able to see a glass half full. For some, the glass is half empty. Me? I can't even find the f***king glass."
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Old 07-14-2011, 10:56 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by thedude View Post
Went back to work but was always tired , but was told it might be like that after the chemo also had/having short term memory loss .
A good place to go for advice about these problems is The Colon Club • View forum - Colon Talk - Colon cancer (colorectal cancer) support forum, a forum for victims of colorectal cancer. I know you didn't say what kind of cancer you had, but the problems you mention seem typical to me of those discussed on the forum I just mentioned. Another good place (I guess) is the subforum on colorectal cancer maintained by the American Cancer Society. (I'm not recommending the latter, actually, since I just resigned from it over a religious censorship issue.)

The tiredness you mention is usual during chemotherapy, but it strikes me as unusual for it to persist afterwards. Maybe it's not the chemotherapy that caused it. Maybe it's poor health, poor conditioning, or depression ...

Short term memory loss after chemo is a very common complaint, and this is supported by some research. Personally, though, I am skeptical. We do lose something as we age, so I think the effect after chemotherapy might be due to hyper-awareness, rather than the chemo itself.

Exercise is good, for a lot of reasons, but especially (probably) for keeping up the calcium in your bones and possibly even to lower the likelihood of a cancer recurrence (see, e.g., ).

I'm sorry my comments are parochial in being all about colorectal cancer -- that's just the kind I know something about, since I had stage 2 rectal cancer, myself. I don't have any ideas about the insurance issue, except to make sure your doctors and your hospital are aware of the problem. If you run into some major expenses because of a recurrence, they may be able to help.
Greg (retired in 2010 at age 68, state pension)
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Old 07-14-2011, 11:45 AM   #12
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Re: health insurance

Your state may have a High-risk health insurance pool. The premiums can be expensive but it should cover you even with pre-existing conditions.
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Old 07-14-2011, 11:52 AM   #13
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Welcome to the forum.

Get some counseling from a good therapist. I suspect many of your symptoms are depression and stress related. Agree, your primary care doc should be able to refer you to a good one.

There may be some support groups within your church. Seek them out.

Good luck.
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Old 07-14-2011, 12:18 PM   #14
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You are getting some excellent experienced advice.

Eridanus has it exactly right, these state high risk pools are for people in your exact situation.
Do a search on this site for high risk pools, and you should find all the insurance answers you need. also go to your respective states health dept and do a search.

I will take a stab at it and say that you used to have to be out of ins for 6 months before you could apply for it. High risk rates were allowed to be higher than regular insurance.
Some of those new insurance changes seems to me had some rate relief, and was requiring that high risk pools be available in all states.
Again welcome, and enjoy the fact that you are in a new environment, but ultimately, the best place!
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What now eh.
Old 07-14-2011, 12:41 PM   #15
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What now eh.

There are lots of people that have experienced something similar. Congrats on beating the cancer thing and all the other stuff will sort itself out. I was a federal employee and had intended to work past my earliest retirement age point but cancer then 4 open heart surgeries changed my mind. I would say no matter how difficult things may look to you it's important to find things each day to smile about. The bottom line is it could always be worse.
Like you I'm also trying to find good investment advise. Currently looking for advise on what I should do to maximize my TSP savings account that I carried into retirement. We are looking to sell our home and build a new one in another location and not sure what the rules are for withdrawing funds early from the TSP for a house.
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Old 07-14-2011, 09:11 PM   #16
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Welcome. I am sorry to hear about your health problems. Take thing one day at a time, things will start to sort themselves out. Answers often come when we are not looking for them.
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Old 07-14-2011, 10:41 PM   #17
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Welcome to the forum thedude.
You mentioned concern about your investments, rolling over your 401k and so on, and wanting someone to talk to about finances. Since nobody else has suggested it yet, I'm going to point you at (if you haven't already). Financial planning help may also be available through your wife's job—some employers offer it as a benefit.
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Old 07-15-2011, 06:50 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by thedude View Post
Health insurance , I can only keep it for 18 months and I haven't been able to find any insurance that will cover cancer if it comes back ( and there's a 50% chance it could ) Your not considered cured till you've got 7 years under your belt .
You didn't mention when the 18-month period ends. If the 18-month period is COBRA, HIPAA laws should guarantee you access to an inidvidual policy that will cover cancer with no waiting periods or pre-existing condition clauses. Although it will likely be expensive, at least you can get access to coverage. By 2014 when Obamacare begins, you should be able to get insurance at the same price as anyone else who buys the same policy, regardless of pre-existing conditions. If your 18-month period will take you through 2012, you will only have to buy individual insurance for one year.

In the meantime, does your wife have access to employer-provided insurance? If so, can you be added to it after yours runs out? Even if you have to pay the full cost, it should be significantly lower with better coverage than anything you can buy in the individual insurance market or a state high-risk pool.
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Old 07-15-2011, 07:05 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by LightningDawg View Post
Welcome to the forum.

Get some counseling from a good therapist. I suspect many of your symptoms are depression and stress related.
Agreed (been there, done that).

You can't attempt to solve the problems in your life on your own. Sometimes you need somebody who is "not close to you", but is fully aware of life's challanges. There's no shame in asking for help, in "interperting" your situation - often in ways you never thought about.

Good luck to you...
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Old 07-15-2011, 11:57 AM   #20
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Here is an excellent link for those with pre-existing conditions.

At that site you will see that some states run their own programs & other states rely on a federal program.

The catch 22 for the federal plan is
You must have been without health coverage for at least the last 6 months. Please note that if you currently have insurance coverage that doesn’t cover your medical condition or are enrolled in a state high risk pool, you are not eligible for the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan.
If your state has it own plan you have to determine what it rules are eligibility.

If I was in your position I would check out all the states with their own plan to determine you transition from employer supplied or Cobra plan to a pre-existing plan without any waiting period. If there was one; I would pull the plug on working & move to that state. In fact, it would be better to rent an apartment* in that state & engage a mail forwarding service to begin the application phase & WAIT TIL YOU HAVE A POLICY IN HAND BEFORE TERMINATING EMPLOYMENT.

*If you're really lucky you might have a relative or friend in that state without a waiting period so you could use their mailing address.

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