It is said that the average retirement age in this country is 62, and given my current state of incapacitation, it was inevitable, I suppose, that I would have to consider dropping out of the workforce entirely, since I am 62 — closer, in fact, to 63 — and whatever the benefits of work, dolce far niente is pretty inarguable at times.

The Social Security Administration, of course, is not keen on this idea: their annual report on such matters arrived yesterday, and it advises that by retiring four years before the Approved Retirement Age of 66, I will lose out on about $400 a month. This is, of course, simply a reflection of the mathematics involved: if I draw for four additional years, the monthly draw has to be reduced accordingly. What about three additional years? Not much of an improvement.

Still: could I live on $1500 a month? Not very easily. Based on my usual 47-hour weeks, my typical monthly takehome, after taxes, various insurance products, and 6 percent to my 401(k), would be a hair under $2600. During the Austerity Years (2010-2015), I was held to a budget of around $1800 a month, and some of those months were decidedly difficult. Admittedly, I'd have fewer expenses not working, but not $300 worth.

In addition to said 401(k), I have a pension from a very early job I held, which at age 66 — though apparently not sooner — would pay me about $250 a month. (Before age 66, I can draw a maximum of around $50.) And that leaves the 401(k) itself, which would conceivably be exhausted in just over a year.

This would almost work if I were closer to the end of my mortgage rather than the middle of it. I owe about $55,000 on the house, and for the moment, I'm not in a position to start bundling extra payments. I could sell it for $100k, maybe, but that leaves me looking for a place to live. (A house up the street, based on this same floor plan but with one additional room built on, failed to sell for $182,900, later failed to sell for $159,900, and only just this week is sporting a modest "SOLD" sign. I'm guessing it went for about $125k.) Refinance? Maybe. My credit score, previously in the toilet, has improved a bit; at least, it's better than it was when I bought the house in 2003. Still, forty percent of the payment is escrow stuff; I could, perhaps, bring the other sixty percent down to 55 or so, but that's not going to make much difference in the long run, or even in the short run.

So much for dolce far niente. I'm going to have to keep working as long as possible. This is probably not, however, beyond the pale. Yesterday I pushed myself away from my desk and headed for the bathroom, for reasons which are probably obvious. This operation requires a pause at the bathroom door, because the walker is just a bit too wide to get through the opening. I duly paused, and only then did it dawn on me: I hadn't actually brought the walker.

Divine intervention? I hadn't done more than seven or eight steps in succession all summer, and suddenly here was a series of thirty. (Okay, two series of fifteen.) At this point, I'll take all the confidence-builders I can take.

The Vent

  25 August 2016

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