Monday, January 23, 2012

A belated Happy New Year—now about the guy in this painting…

Picture of Dorian Gray

I  used to have this annoying habit of apologizing for everything; Did I take your pen?  Gosh I’m sorry.  Did I interrupt your call when I walked past & said hello?  I’m sorry, I didn’t see you on the phone.  Did I act a bit cool towards you after you canceled lunch plans with me because you didn’t feel like going out?  I’m sorry, but when I saw you leaving with someone else twenty minutes later, I—nevermind, I’m sorry! 

I bring all that up now for two reasons: first, I feel like I should be apologizing for not writing anything here in the last 3 weeks—I’ve just been terribly busy with a lot of year-end deadlines. 

Second, I feel bad for not having something more interesting to talk about, other than the stuff below that’s been on my mind lately.  (So if it helps... gosh, I’m sorry.)  Okay I’ll stop! 

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about my age, and where things are headed.  I’m not worried about becoming the old man in that painting—I’m ready to BE the old man in that painting!  Okay, that’s not exactly true; I know I shouldn’t be wishing my life away, but ever since I turned 50 a couple months ago, I can see retirement right around the corner.  RETIREMENT!  Well, if I play my cards right. 

“43% of American workers said they have less than $10,000 in their retirement savings.” –

One day last week in the office, I brought this up to my friend Julie.  She said “How old are you again?  Fifty?”  I nodded my head yes.  She said “I know you have money stashed away, is it like a million dollars?”  I laughed & shook my head no, if I had HALF that much I wouldn’t BE there. 

She said “You’ve got like 15, 20 more years of this grind then.  You better stop thinking about it.” 

Well, I can’t!  It’s not 20 years, or even 15—more like 12.  (Like it or not, I’m counting on Social Security playing a major part in my retirement--but the earliest you can begin collecting is 62.)  Even then, you’re warned not to do it.  The folks at AARP remind us all to “just hang in there a few more years, baby boomers; you’ll get a boatload more cash if you work until 70.”  THAT’S TOO LONG & I’m not the only one who thinks so, it’s reported that 3 out of 4 people opt to begin collecting SSN benefits at 62—and in 12 years, I aim to be one of ‘em!

According to this retirement estimator, if I continue doing what I’m doing for the next 12 years, don’t get into real estate, avoid casinos, cocaine, Nigerian scams and black widow brides I’m projected to have enough

When I showed this to my sister Shawn last week (with the actual amounts), she remarked how nice it was that I’ve “achieved financial security and independence”.  Well, that’s not exactly true just yet, there’s a lot riding on these numbers.  And a lot can happen between now and 2023 too.  But for now, the old man in that picture is hopeful. 

I know that 12 years is no drop in the bucket either, but it’s all perspective.  To my 7 year old niece Sophia, who’s in the first grade & anxious to pick out her wedding dress and china pattern, yes it’s practically forever.  But to someone my age? 

A few weeks ago, an old friend (and former coworker) wrote me, asked me how things were & began talking like only a few months had passed.  Beth (that’s her below) and her family left Pittsburgh sometime in the late 90s, and this was the first time we’ve talked since then.  Had it really been 15 years or so?  The more I thought of how it just seemed like yesterday when we were working & hanging out together… you get what I’m saying.

My old pal Beth Burkhart from Dept of Aging


Beth & myself at my first job with the Department of Aging, mid-90s.  I think I still have that cool necktie

And just the other day my sister Shawn remarked how she couldn’t believe she’s been married almost twelve years, how the time has flown.  (I agree, I even did a double-take when she said it!)  So you see?  With a little luck, I’ll be an old man before I know it.  I know all of this sounds pretty mental (Doug stop wishing you were an old man!) but there’s nothing any of us can do about the “March of Time” (besides dropping over) so why not embrace it? 

Yes yes, I know—live in the present.  I’m doing that now (I have no choice) but I’ve ALSO got a retiree in my future who I need to look out for, and he doesn’t want to be applying for a job at the local Wal-Mart when he’s 70.   So If you’ll excuse me...I have some planning to do, that clock is ticking.  Man, look at it go! 

Hope everyone has a happy & prosperous 2012