Planning my death


What?  Too melodramatic?  Too morbid?  Eh, read on…

When I left my last job I had a reasonable plan for the rest of my life.  Most of it had to do with lazing around in the South Florida air and doing as much of nothing as I could after years of working hard at removing my posterior.

Granted, I wanted to do the “serious” writing that I just could never get my head around with a regular day job, but unless I suddenly turned into a wildly popular (and in-demand) author, I expected to have ample free time on my hands.  Considering the ratio of successful authors to attempts is disconsolately low, I had no illusions of a monetarily rewarding writing career.

Fortunately, I had planned for a long time to “retire” as early as I could.  I avoided most of the pitfalls that plague modern man:  expensive cars, expensive homes, wives, kids, a life.  By the time I hit 50, I was sure I would be set up for a comfortable, if modest living.  Something which exactly describes the perfect lifestyle for South Florida (pockets of excess, notwithstanding).

Darn if I wasn’t dead on target, even if I left a year before my “golden” date.  As I examined my investments, expenses and life goals, I saw that I could live to just about 93 before I literally ran out of money (actually, about  month and a half before my 93rd birthday).

Having a substantial financial background, I built-in plenty of conservative estimates.  Expenses were increased higher than general trends, returns on my investments were limited to a modest 6%.  And, as in any budget or financial plan, there was a “slush fund”; a line in the expense area that could be used for whatever (good might be some new toys, bad might be the front fence falling down).  So, I was content, figuring my conservative estimates would end up lasting me longer than I was predicting.

Then came the “Great Recession”.  Three years of essentially zero returns on my investments, a house that dropped in value by half and a dreary economic picture for the next couple years as well.

All of a sudden, I was not going to be seeing that 93-year old birthday party.  In fact, I would be hard pressed to get past 82 after the various changes and adjustments I felt compelled to make in my plan.  Holy Shortfall, Batman!

So, how to make up those lost 3 years?  The simplest and likeliest way is to rejoin the work force once more, covering the expenses and putting the excess back into the “plan” until I’m made “whole” again.  Depending on the job and salary, that means either a short time back at work or a more extended stay.  How that will affect my writing remains to be seen.

I hear the expression “That took ten years off my life” from time to time and it’s usually associated with a chuckle at the exaggeration.  The “Great Recession” did indeed take ten years off my life; no exaggeration.

And you won’t hear me chuckle at all.

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