A Blogger Looks At 50
Ten years ago I wrote a post called A Blogger Looks At 40 which was a play on words of
the Jimmy Buffett song A Pirate Looks At 40 (long story short, that post is no longer on
the internet). Recently, I turned 50 which like other round numbers can be a good time
to review and assess where you are in life.
Not much has changed in ten years but a lot has evolved. First I will say it was not a
difficult birthday. The only difficult one I’ve had was 25. I think I viewed that as a line in
the sand between being a kid and being an adult. Also I did not enjoy what I did for a
living. A theory of mine has long been that if you’re happy at home and like your job
then you have a much better chance of not dreading big round numbers.
At 50 you probably start to take a closer look at your financial reality and begin to
understand how on track you really are for whatever your idea of retirement might be.
We’ve been good savers and maybe, kinda, sorta we could retire but a lot of things would
have to go right including Social Security being there as advertised which is not enough
of a margin of error for me. It would boil down to whether we would exhaust our savings
by the time Social Security kicked in. In a poor market environment, it would be more
likely that we would exhaust what we have and so have to give up a lot in short order
which seems unnecessary on multiple levels.
My wife and I have an ongoing bit that I have mentioned before where I say I am going
to retire and she asks what I would do in retirement. I answer her that I would probably
spend a lot of time on the computer studying the stock market and write the occasional
blog post. “Oh, so you’re just tired of getting paid for what you want to do?” This is of
course all tongue in cheek, I can’t see a scenario where I want to stop working.
We do however save like we are way behind for a big philosophical reason that may be
familiar to some readers. You never know what "the future you" might want to do or
may have to do. A lot of people face meaningful but unexpected change for reasons that
can be good or bad and if there is something you want to do it would be nice to have the
financial cushion to do so. If your hand is somehow forced into an expense you weren’t
expecting, it would be nice to not have it be financially ruinous as opposed to merely
financially inconvenient. Also, more in the bank obviously means you have more options
should you need them.
Volunteerism Monetizing a Hobby
A big cornerstone to my beliefs on successful aging is to volunteer with some
organization you feel strongly about and that you can have fun with. Equally big is the
idea of being willing to work in some sort of post retirement career. I think by really
committing to some sort of volunteer work you can create an opportunity should you
need it. Additionally, there are countless other forms of interesting part time or seasonal
job opportunities but finding them requires work. The above as opposed to staying in a
job you don’t like or taking something/anything because you have to in order to make
ends meet. If you have to do this, then you have to do it but it can be avoided with
enough planning and work.
My involvement with the fire service continues to evolve in the exact manner above and
I am building an opportunity should I ever need it. I am a Logistics Section Chief
(trainee) for a Type 3 All Hazard Incident Management Team (IMT) which means we
respond to emergencies while they are still relatively small incidents or we would handle
one component of a very large (Type 1) incident. We are a new team, I have a lot of
hours in with no pay (it is fun and I am learning a lot) and we will probably be called out
for our first assignment this summer or next summer. Logs Chief is the perfect position
for me, it is a lot of sitting in an office (more like a classroom in a school) on the
computer and setting up internet access falls under my domain which is perfect for my
day job. This is obviously not my career but I would like to go out once or twice in a
summer (Type 3 assignments are typically short which again is perfect for my situation).
There could also be opportunities to work on large incidents as an EMT or possibly even
an engine crew for a private contractor. This is not option number 1, but I am all in on
creating this opportunity should I ever need it.
Fitness & Health
Everyone knows it is important to exercise and eat decently. Aside from exercising being
important for everyone, my involvement in firefighting demands trying to stay in shape.
A couple of weeks ago we had to carry a 200lb patient down a long set of steps in a stair-
chair. Patients and their families expect you to be able to make it down the stairs
without dropping the patient. There are parallels to structure fires and wildland fires
that require fitness. I want my firefighting activities to be fun and that would be much
harder if I was spent before we even started.
As I have said here before, the best part of your workout should be finishing your
workout. The financial implication is obvious. Staying fit reduces the likelihood of
medical problems, not guarantees but improves your odds for a better outcome. You
probably know about the Fidelity study from a couple of years ago about a couple
needing two hundred and something thousand for medical expenses in retirement. The
more fit you are the better the chance of needing to spend less. While we’re at it, don’t
Random Hippie Nonsense
I’ve talked many times before about the importance of living below your means. If you
have a relatively small financial footprint, then you probably have less financial stress
and if as a married couple you have less financial stress then you probably have fewer
arguments over money which probably makes it easier to be happily married. Obviously
in the face of a shock like a job loss it is easier to cover a $4000 lifestyle than an $8000
lifestyle which is the dollars and cents argument for living below your means. This is all
the easier if you are lucky enough to be on the same page as your partner on this issue.
I’ve long been a believer of the Law of Attraction also known as the Secret. I lived that
way from long before I knew those terms.
It is very important to be genuinely thankful for what and who you have in your life
(only you know if it is genuine).
Get a dog and then get a dog for your dog.