Planning for the Future
Posted by hyperpat on July 2, 2007
I’m contemplating my upcoming birthday, when I’ll turn 59. Back when I was in my twenties, 50 seemed to be an impossibly long time away, and an age that I’d never reach. Now, it looks like I might actually reach retirement age, despite various medical problems and a lot aches, pains, and non-limberness. With such a milestone actually in sight, planning for it has moved center stage: just how much capital will I have at that point, what income will I have, where do I want to live, and perhaps most importantly, just what will I do when I don’t have to get up and go to work everyday.
Most of my free time right now is spent reading, watching TV or movies, bowling, or playing chess. These activities probably just won’t be enough to really keep me occupied when all my time is ‘free’, and the item that looks most likely to fill that extra time is real writing. Part of the problem I have right now trying to write is the lack of large blocks of uninterrupted time that I can devote to this, when I can concentrate on what I want to say, immerse myself in the logic of the story, and figure out all the myriad details, secure in the knowledge that I won’t have to put it aside to go figure out the latest hardware or software bug. Because when that does happen now, I find it very difficult to get back into the story’s ambiance and logic after the interruption. But to make this work will require some discipline, setting aside particular hours to ‘work’, and getting my wife to recognize that these hours are not the time to regale me with the latest family gossip. It also means that whenever possible, I should work till there is a clear closure to a least a part of the story.
Planning for the other aspects of retirement, most especially the monetary ones, makes me realize just why it is so difficult for young people to do any serious saving or planning for their retirement. When you are that age, retirement exists only in never-never land; the time-frame is just too far away to be ‘real’. This is one great service that Social Security does perform, as it’s basically an enforced savings plan. What would be better, though, is a plan that requires that a certain percentage of your income be set aside, unspendable, but that the individual could control how it is invested, and is actually owned by the individual (unlike the Social Security funds, which really go to pay current retirees, not put into any kind of savings, and which depend on a continuous stream of new, young workers to pay the benefits to those retiring – a rather dangerous form of a Ponzi scheme, given that demographics can change in unanticipated ways). While the last attempt at setting up something like this failed the Congressional test, it’s a concept that I hope will not go away, and will eventually be implemented, because, you know, retirement is just so far away, man, and I just can’t be bothered with something like that now.