April 12th, 2017

What I’ve been thinking about lately is this: how in the name of all that’s right and holy am I ever going to be able to retire? Sixty-seven is only 12 years away and due to my own stupidity and bad financial moves I have maybe 35K set aside in my 401K. With the pittance I contribute, that is not projected to grow very fast or very much.

Tina and I are masters at living beyond our means and we kept it up until all the boys moved out of the house. I wasn’t eager to leave, but the mortgage was unmanageable and quite frankly, I am NOT Mr. Fixit. The place needed work and needed it soon, and there was no money to put into it. Under water by more than $40K and with an interest rate hike coming in six months (we were on a modified plan with Well Fargo at the time) it was time to go. We were fortunate to get a short sale approved, even more fortunate that the government was forgiving taxes on the balance of short sales.

Apartment dwelling doesn’t bother me much, but I can see the writing on the wall. We pay as much in rent now as we did on our mortgage eight years ago, but we bring in about 65% of what we did at that time. The math is pretty remorseless. We have an enormous debt consolidation loan that we are paying in excess of $650 a month towards, and that SAVED us about $300 a month in payments. Five year term- if we pay it off on time we can pour that money into a retirement fund and maybe, maybe put away enough that I’ll only need to work 20 or 30 hours a week for the rest of my life.

This assumes we don’t pile more logs onto our funeral pyre of debt.

Now, I actually haven’t got anything against working until I’m seventy or seventy-five as long as my health is up to it, but I suspect jobs are going to be tough to come by. Were my current job to suddenly vanish, at 55 in the IT business I am essentially unemployable at anything beyond the Help Desk level. I don’t do coding and I’m not a UNIX guru so I’m just a commodity Microsoft Systems/Exchange Admin. Trying to move on to another job just isn’t in the cards. Besides, I like my current employer, even if I bitch about them here and there. It’s a good place to work, and it’s not in Massachusetts with the hour-plus commute and ridiculous income tax.

I know this sounds like whining, but honestly, it’s not. It’s a reality-based assessment of the future. I could take on a second job, but my availability with my full time position limits the options. So what can I do?

I can start writing again, that’s what I can do. I’m good at it, I enjoy it and I don’t need to make a fortune doing it. Hell, most writers have full-time jobs unless they’ve sold movie rights or gotten into screenplays and whatnot. The short story format has lots of potential, particularly if you can crank out the word count. You won’t get rich, you won’t be able to quit your day job, but you can bring in some income AND do something you enjoy.

I desperately want to write the sequel to Methuselah’s Daughter. This is the first step.