Author Topic: Retirement anecdotes of interest?  (Read 4573 times)

Sayonara925

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Retirement anecdotes of interest?
« on: May 14, 2015, 11:58:20 AM »
We all know individuals or couples who are currently retired or soon to be retired.  I find the stories and situations interesting and insightful, whether they're extreme, early, late, successful, fail, etc.  So please post any stories that may be interesting for others to read about people you know relative to their retirement situation.
 
I'll start with one about my uncle.  His work life spanned from his teenage years until he was 66 with no breaks (about 48 yrs).  The whole time, he never married and had no children.  In that period he primarily worked for 2 companies (skilled labor trade) that would each provide him a pension upon retirement.  His wages peaked at around $65K.  Although this is not a huge amount, he steadily invested his savings in mutual funds and 401K.  He timed it so his home mortgage was paid off about a year before retirement.  According to his plan, at age 67 he would begin collecting his pensions and his full social security payout.

He became an avid long-distance bicycle rider after a health scare in his 50s.  He often rode in charity events for causes such as cancer research, and biked to work most days.  In his final work year he arranged to participate in a biking tour around Europe with a group of friends.  On a Saturday evening, two days before his flight to Amsterdam, he phoned me to confirm I would give him a lift to the airport.  He mentioned being tired from work that day (Saturday) and that he still had lots of packing to do.  He had been putting in a bunch of overtime in the preceding months whenever he could get it.  His job was physically demanding and I was surprised he could still do it.  Later that same evening I received a call that he had suffered a fatal heart attack while resting in his recliner at home.  Prior to that, there were no signs of any heart condition.  This occurred just 3 months before his 67th birthday/retirement day.  With no spouse or children, after all those years paying into the system, there was no payout from social security and he never collected his pension annuities.  His story influenced my decision to FIRE sooner rather than later.

NICE!

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Re: Retirement anecdotes of interest?
« Reply #1 on: May 14, 2015, 01:46:24 PM »
That is incredibly sad. I don't have anything to add to that.

iknowiyam

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Re: Retirement anecdotes of interest?
« Reply #2 on: May 14, 2015, 02:52:04 PM »
Importantly, he lived feeling secure and able to do at least some things he liked, like biking. He did not stress daily about debt or relationships poisoned by money. That is how his wealth worked for him.

sol

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Re: Retirement anecdotes of interest?
« Reply #3 on: May 14, 2015, 03:51:01 PM »
Anecdote:

My grandfather was a successful life insurance salesman.  He never worried about money, because his (oft repeated) philosophy was that if you ever ran out, you could just go earn some more.  He raised four kids and spent lavishly, winding down his career in his 70s secure in the belief that his money would surely outlast him and provide for his wife and children after he was gone.

Then he didn't die on time. He lived to 93 despite years of drinking and smoking.  Too old to work anymore, he had to sell his house and relocate somewhere cheaper, then get a reverse mortgage on that place.  He left his wife with nothing but debt.  His kids had to foot the bill for his funeral, and then take in his wife when she lost the house.  She still lives with her senior citizen children.

Longevity risk is real.

arebelspy

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Re: Retirement anecdotes of interest?
« Reply #4 on: May 14, 2015, 04:13:09 PM »
Oh my god, I opened this thread hoping for happy anecdotes, and I'm immediately horrified and depressed.

Thanks guys!  :P

Anyone have any really awesome uplifting FIRE anecdotes? 

(But keep the bad ones coming too--motivation isn't a bad thing.)
We are two former teachers who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, and now travel the world full time with two kids.
If you want to know more about me, or how we did that, or see lots of pictures, this Business Insider profile tells our story pretty well.
We (occasionally) blog at AdventuringAlong.com.
You can also read my forum "Journal."

Chrissy

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Re: Retirement anecdotes of interest?
« Reply #5 on: May 14, 2015, 07:10:39 PM »
Oh my god, I opened this thread hoping for happy anecdotes, and I'm immediately horrified and depressed.

Thanks guys!  :P

Anyone have any really awesome uplifting FIRE anecdotes? 

(But keep the bad ones coming too--motivation isn't a bad thing.)

My parents were middle class (sometimes just barely) in a mid-sized town in the Midwest.  My father's business was a one-man-band kind of operation he ran out of the basement.  My mother took a generous early retirement package at age 55 after a lifetime of low-level public service.  Her chronic sinus condition immediately cleared up.  She overhauled her diet, started exercising, and lost a ton of weight.  She woke up when she wanted, provided admin support for my father's business, volunteered at church until it started to be a drag, and she and my dad took ballroom dancing.  She reconnected with her 3 college roommates from grad school, and they now email, call, and TEXT (so weird!) regularly, and have annual get-togethers... occasionally in exotic locations, enjoying luxury conditions.

At age 65, she was diagnosed with breast cancer.  She made it through, but decided to take SS at 67.  Since she and my dad are the same age, he retired too, taking the spousal benefit.  They moved to a smaller, better quality, more expensive home near his family.  She hired a designer to do the decorating.  They started volunteering all over town, and going to neighborhood social events and the theatre.  My father began lifting weights again.  He bought a leather jacket, which really does look cool, and his first brand new car (it's a Toyota Camry).  He taught my mom how to trade stocks.  He went to the library and read text books on Chemistry and Biology, because he felt his education in those areas hadn't been adequate.

This year, they turned 70.  My father took his full SS benefit, and guess what???  THEY ARE IN THE BLACK EVERY MONTH.

Sayonara925

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Re: Retirement anecdotes of interest?
« Reply #6 on: May 14, 2015, 07:50:52 PM »
Oh my god, I opened this thread hoping for happy anecdotes, and I'm immediately horrified and depressed.

Thanks guys!  :P

Anyone have any really awesome uplifting FIRE anecdotes? 


The original OP was only the first paragraph asking for anecdotes.  Then I thought I should post one myself for starters.  My uncle's story came to mind and I started typing.

Sorry for setting the sad thread tone.  Yes, the uplifting ones are a better read!

Daisy

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Re: Retirement anecdotes of interest?
« Reply #7 on: May 14, 2015, 08:28:45 PM »
My parents grew up in another country that went through a communist revolution and had to leave and come to the US and start from scratch at about the age of 30.

Back in their home country, they were middle class - probably considered low middle class in the US. My mother grew up in a family of 6 children and was working while going to high school to help the family. My grandfather got sick so they all had to help. She never went to college (neither did her parents).

My father came from more of a lower income family and skipped high school but ended up going to college (first and only one in his family to do so), paying for it all on his own while working full time. He grew up in an apartment building where all units had to share two bathrooms in the whole building. He worked his way into the banking industry starting at the lower levels then had a decent position when the revolution happened. They had just gotten married and then left the country.

They came to the US at about the age of 30 and had to help other family members financially until they could leave the home country. They all lived in one apartment together in the US until everyone could make it and settle in.

My father's banking background helped a lot and he was able to get a good paying job ASAP. My mom also found several jobs she worked at. They had 4 children after coming to the US. After some time, my mom stopped working outside of the house and raised all 4 of us. My father was making a pretty good salary. We all went to parochial schools, only went out to eat once a week, had frugal beach get-togethers with family. My mom was an excellent money manager and always tried to optimize driving, finances, food, etc. Rarely was any food thrown away. We lived a typical middle to upper middle class life. All 4 children went to college (3 out of 4 got scholarships even though my dad had saved money for us for college).

All of that and he was still able to retire at about 65 - well he was forced out due to a company buyout and shakeup. They are in their early 80s now and have lived on the stash comfortably since then. House is paid off. If they can do it with all of those obstacles, nothing that happens to me here in cushy-land USA will be as bad as what they went through. Attaining FIRE should be a breeze.

However, since their mid-70s their health, especially my mom's, has deteriorated. Lots of mobility issues. They can't drive any more. They travelled a bit earlier in life but now that's hard to do.

I definitely learned a lot of frugal lessons. I also learned that I can't wait until regular retirement age and need to FIRE if I want to take advantage of good health. I'm expecting my 70s and onward to be a more local life with not much travel. If I can, great. But I'm not waiting until then to hope that I will have the health to do a lot of active stuff.
« Last Edit: May 14, 2015, 09:09:06 PM by Daisy »

okonumiyaki

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Re: Retirement anecdotes of interest?
« Reply #8 on: May 14, 2015, 09:06:26 PM »
My parents lost almost everything when they were thrown out of Uganda.  They were both naturally frugal (my mother had been in Japanese internment in Shanghai - same camp as "Empire of the Sun" and that means she wastes nothing)  They moved to India, my father landed an expat job (but no pension)

My father timed a trade almost perfectly (switching from UK bonds to DM bonds in the early 80's, then back again in the mid 80's) and so they retired early (he was 52) in 1987 and moved to the UK, with about 500k pounds.   They built a DIY pension out of index-linked gilts, bought a house outright, and had the rest in various shares.  He died 3 years ago, and the stash had grown.  Mother is in the same house, and completely financially secure.

They lived well in retirement - holidays, helping grandkids, volunteering, fishing and editing an academic journal.   

He did say that he thought they saved too much, that either they could have saved a bit less, or he should have retired at 50.  But that was with hindsight.

Daisy

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Re: Retirement anecdotes of interest?
« Reply #9 on: May 14, 2015, 09:07:33 PM »
After typing out my parents' story, I started to wonder what would have happened if there was no communist revolution and us kids would have been born in their home country. My father had been working his way up the banking industry. My mom definitely grew up frugally, but I'm wondering if she would have been as frugal as she was if they had stayed. They probably would have made it to the upper middle to upper class in their country and maybe their spending habits would have been different.

I'm thinking the immigrant situation they found themselves in probably pushed a lot of the frugality. I can't picture them being free-wheeling big spenders, but maybe in other circumstances and not having to go through so much turmoil and uncertainty maybe theirs would have been a different story.

dude

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Re: Retirement anecdotes of interest?
« Reply #10 on: May 15, 2015, 07:47:32 AM »
My in-laws -- father-in-law is first-gen child of immigrants from the Baltic region, mother-in-law made her way to America from South America in her 20's, with almost no money and only one friend in the States.  He a laborer, she an LPN after putting herself through school and learning English.  Raised my wife, an only child, and as such parents are wont to do, indulged her quite a bit -- new car for H.S. graduation, new car for college graduation, paid for 5 years of college, bailed the wife out of $25k credit card debt (she has since changed her ways dramatically), and kicked in $25K for our wedding.  Both really love to travel and hoped to do a lot of it when they retired.  Both retired at 65, she with two small pensions from the two jobs she worked, he with a modest lump sum.  He was always a great saver, been mortgage free for decades, but his only investments were and are in CDs.  They got to travel a bit for the first 5 years of retirement, and then, after 70, the health problems started to kick in.  And they've basically been spending their time in doctor's offices ever since (i.e., the past 8 years or so).  My FIL likes to say, "Yeah, the 'Golden Years,' when you spend all your gold on medical care."  They haven't traveled since they turned 70, and while they are okay money-wise with SS, the small pensions and some savings, the savings have taken a serious hit in the low-interest environment that's prevailed since 2008.  They know of my plans to reach FIRE early and travel as much as possible, and my MIL says, "You are smart, yes, do it while you're young."  FIL says he'd have called it quits sooner if he'd known what lie ahead.  Both have steeled my resolve to FIRE, though somehow their situation has not really motivated my wife to do the same (though she is now maxing her 401k and saving pretty diligently, she doesn't really speak of quitting the rat race early like I constantly do!).

Sayonara925

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Re: Retirement anecdotes of interest?
« Reply #11 on: May 15, 2015, 06:55:27 PM »
Thanks for the great stories, and nuggets of wisdom.

Like this:
My FIL likes to say, "Yeah, the 'Golden Years,' when you spend all your gold on medical care." 

Hope to hear more before the thread fades into the depths.

FiveSigmas

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Re: Retirement anecdotes of interest?
« Reply #12 on: May 15, 2015, 11:27:23 PM »
My grandfather was a successful life insurance salesman.

Sol, I'm curious... did your grandfather ever purchase an annuity?

Mr Dorothy Dollar

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Re: Retirement anecdotes of interest?
« Reply #13 on: May 16, 2015, 12:10:47 AM »
My Uncle was a die maker. He made very good money with over time. He and my Aunt have the your money and my money out look on life. He retired after he got 30 years in at 48 years old. My aunt still works for a school district in the copy room making $10/hr. Part of his retirement I believe is funded by the rent they charge their special needs adult child on SSI disability. They never get to travel. Both their health is so-so. Never seem to be overly happy.

While their situation may be complicated with the needs of their child. Having such an income disparity with split funds and early retirement for one spouse seems like a situation that should be avoided.

Villanelle

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Re: Retirement anecdotes of interest?
« Reply #14 on: May 16, 2015, 04:48:34 AM »
My dad has retired 3-5 times, depending on how you define the term.  Did 20 years in the military.  Retired (and started collecting pension).  Then he worked for a county government for about 20 years, and got a second pension.  He set up a few consulting gigs.   Soon, a former boss offered him a job which he took after negotiating an higher salary, shorter hours, and the knowledge that it was short term.  He did that and enjoyed it for a couple years.  Retired.

Moved to an active 55+ community.  He's involved on the HOA board (which is a pretty involved thing as it is a large, complex community).  The company he worked for briefly brought him back on as a consultant, on retainer.  He sits in on a few conference alls per week, travels (short 1 hour flight) 2-3 times a year, and gets paid.  They let him go for a while, but eventually missed him and brought him back.  When they let him go, he really didn't care, though I think he missed the intellectual challenges.  He certainly didn't need the money.

He plays tennis 2-3 times a week.  He and my mom, in their 70s. They garden.  They play bridge.  They host amazing parties that are the talk of the community. They have robust social lives.  They also have positive income even in their 70s.  And thanks to the military retirement, they have affordable healthcare.  They are still fairly mustachian, doing their own gardening including some veggies and herbs, cooking all meals from scratch, etc., and yet the allow themselves some luxuries, like a 2x/mo housekeeper.  They can afford absolutely anything they want to.

Their life looks so amazing to me and I'd be more than content if mine turned out similarly, other than that I'd like to move the "mostly retired" date up by a decade or more. 

mozar

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Re: Retirement anecdotes of interest?
« Reply #15 on: May 16, 2015, 10:34:25 AM »
My grandfather had an interesting story.
« Last Edit: May 10, 2018, 01:09:57 PM by mozar »

BlueHouse

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Re: Retirement anecdotes of interest?
« Reply #16 on: May 17, 2015, 06:53:34 PM »
my uncle got laid off from a trades job after about 20 years of service and in those days, if you didn't put in your full 30, you didn't get any part of a pension.  Everyone was very worried about him, and then he won the lottery.  It was the first "mega" lottery of multiple millions.  It was a 30Million dollar payout and he bought into it with 10 other people from work who had also been laid off.  Back in those days, there was no lump sum payout option, so after taxes, he got about $30k / year.  A few months later, he got hired back at his job.  So he just took the annual payout and invested it so that he could take an annuity when he did finally retire. He's the only person I've ever heard of that didn't blow all of a lottery windfall, but even back then when he won it, everyone in the family explained immediately how it wasn't really that much, but that it would be enough to replace his pension.