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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

I'm Still Dreading Retirement

I know that's not the usual reaction. Most people are looking forward to it, welcome it with open arms, have a party, start planning for their trips around the world. Finally, a chance to give the finger to the boss, be your own person, map out a new phase of your life.

(Photo courtesy of

At my age, I feel the dread closing in more acutely.

A month ago, I heard of one of my high school classmates who passed away. This hit home because of three things: (1) It was someone I knew, who was my age. (2) In case I do "go away" right now, would I leave all my affairs tied and in order, or will there be multiple loose ends? (And I think most people would fall into this category.) And (3) If I live to a ripe old age, how will my retirement look like?

I took a good look at my financial picture. I didn't like what I saw because "I'm not there yet". Meaning, I still don't have enough to get me through my old age, if I have to stop working.

I have savings, but not enough. (And I find, too often, I have to dip into them for "emergencies".)

I have some investments, but given the current economic situation, you can guess how that's doing. (But I have been investing for quite some time, and I know that there are cycles, and that in the long run, chances are that I will be earning if I stay. This isn't a gambling moment, where I take my winnings when I feel I've hit the jackpot. I am looking long term so I accept the losses I am sustaining during the periods of "low".)

Arthur and I have invested as well in a joint account (a high yielding bond).

This is something I have given more than just a passing thought, seeing as I am forever consigned to be "not married" - at least, not in this country. Even though I have been together with my partner for 15 years, even though we have built a life together, live together in the same home, and went through every possible, imaginable hardship that every other married couple goes through, we will never be seen as "married" in a legal sense. (Hmm. Must contact my lawyer friends, I just remembered something.)

(And please don't bother lecturing me about religious implications and whatnot. I am talking about marriage in a legal sense. I could care less about a "church wedding", as I have made my disdain for organized religion pretty much known.)

And because of that reality, I will be considered "single" for the rest of my natural life. With that realization comes the boink! in my head: I have to fend for myself, for my old age. And Arthur will have to do it as well.

If I stop working at 60, and forsee myself living for another 20 years (based on this country's statistics, that will be very optimistic), what would that entail?

Not working would mean living off the interest (as in interest rate) of something.

My current expenses on a monthly basis would amount to roughly 100,000 pesos. (This includes food, electricity, gasoline, going out, a checkup to the doctor, clothing, name it, everything that would be considered ADL -Activities of Daily Living.) That's in TODAY'S value. (By the time I retire this would probably worth only a third, meaning 100,000 pesos today would only translate to 33,000 later. But let's just say the values won't change, for illustration's sake.)

That's 1.2 Million Pesos annually, AT LEAST. IN INTEREST. You can compute how much the Principal should be, based on your favorite financial instrument.

We haven't discussed what accompanies old age: Sickness, ailments. This is the natural order of things, as we get older, we become frail, less resistant to diseases, joint aches will be aplenty (and from what I gather from my friends and high school classmates, a lot of us ARE already experiencing joint "fatigue" in some form or another). I would have to set aside at least a million pesos (conservative estimate) for all medical expenses. (This is a very rosy scenario: I work out everyday so that's my additional insurance policy to lessen the impact of this particular variable.)

I will probably have to hire a personal assistant/helper to help me get through the mere act of walking by then. (I see a lot of that configuration in the malls, an older person being helped by a "maid in uniform". Which, by the way, is a pet peeve of mine, (seeing maids dressed in "maids' uniforms") but that will be for a future post.)

We haven't discussed burial/cremation costs, and funeral arrangements. (I'm leaning towards cremation.)

Yes, it seems materialistic. But that is truly what it boils down to, let's cut the crap. Only people like Bill Gates can afford to say things like "at my age, it's not money that's important, blah blah blah". Screw that - we aren't mega-billionaires. We HAVE to start thinking about this NOW. And if this gets me labeled as "materialistic", I really don't care. I prefer to think of it as forward thinking, staying pragmatic, and being prepared.

And seeing the bill that I have to shoulder and prepare for retirement (and all these are conservative estimates), surely you can understand the heading of my post.

About the only thing I can look forward to is playing bingo pretty much anytime I want.

I hate bingo.

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