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November 30, 2011


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I like those 'stones' on the beach that are supposed to represent sand. What are they? I like them. They look like little bits of coral.

Retired Syd

Morrison: You are exactly right, it's a totally coral beach. Looks nice but painful to walk on!


Don't they read your blog?

Retired Syd

@Roberta: Perhaps. That's ok too--I'm sure I'll eventually 'fess up.

Tom Sightings

Looks like you've got it made in the shade ... er, I should say, made in the sun!

fred doe

don't forget to bring back some seashells? ah seashells....... they're the souvenir that never goes bad.


Nice to hear an update...I think its been a while and wondered if you had gone back to work...

So a question for you....,With the completion of a great financial year, we have just officially reached the point where we can actually retire at 45, and never work again as long as we stick to our budget....Currently debating whether to stick it out in the work world just "one more year" to be "really, really sure" we have enough, or just say the heck with it and get on with it...Would be interested in your perspective on this and wonder if you ever have the thought that if you had worked just one more year, would that mean you wouldn't need this part-time job?...., or are you doing the part-time job for other reasons....Best, Penta

Retired Syd


Nope, I never think I should have worked one more year, and no, I'm not doing this gig for the money, so it wouldn't have mattered anyway. Whether I worked one more year or not I still would have taken this gig.

In fact, I'm really glad I didn't keep working full-time, I was done and really ready to retire. This was really a one-off opportunity, something I wanted to do with someone I already knew and really liked. Plus I think the years off gave me what I needed in terms of a re-charge, if this opportunity had arisen any earlier in my retirement, I probably wouldn't have done it.

As to your situation, my question would be whether you are happy in your job. If you are not, and you have enough to be ok on your budget, believe me, staying on your budget will not be hard for you in retirement, because you'll be happier retired. If you enjoy what you are doing, why not work another year if you feel like it makes you feel more financially secure.


Thanks Syd. Great to get the perspective of someone who is actually walking the talk. And to your question, I actually can barely tolerate my job. It pays extremely well but requires intense travel, time zone issues, painful bureaucracy, stress sprinkled with Long periods of boredom, et al. But did I mention it pays extremely well....

So bluntly I am doing it exclusively for the money, but am fighting this nagging thought that if I quit and the market crashes, etc, it would take me a year to earn in the future what I can earn in a month today....

So as I read my own answer to your question, I'm a little embarrassed to have been clearly bought by corporate America. And despite seeing it for all it's ugliness, still find it difficult to actually submit my resignation. Ugh.


So another question for you, Syd...And this one has to do with anxiety....Do you find that at moments of "rationale" thinking, you look at your spreadsheet and the analytical part of your brain says, yes, under almost any circumstance, I have enough to retire/stay retired. But than at other moments, like at 4am for instance, there is a voice inside of you that raises some fears...? Not sure if this is common or just my self conscience trying to tell me something....So what I'm looking for is a simple clear "sound byte" that I can remind myself in moments of worry that I really do have enough to retire....For example. "I can live comfortably on 3% of assets because Bengen's research says so...", or "The long-term average of the stock market is 11%, so even if it goes down tomorrow, it will eventually go up..."....But so far, I haven't stumbled on the one the really quiets my 4am voice of worry....Sigh, any insights?

Retired Syd

Penta: Well this recession and slow recovery, I can see why you would want to be extra safe, nothing to be embarrassed about!

As far as the 4am thoughts, here's my recommendation. You should have a series of backup plans in place. For me, the back-up was 1) when the market went down so much that first year of my retirement, I cut back on our expenses, so we weren't withdrawing 3% from our assets for those first couple of years. If you can plan on being flexible in your budget depending on what's going on in the economy, you'll be better off in the long-term.

2) My other backup plan is that I haven't considered my home in the plan at all. So I can tap into that at some point if necessary, either taking out a reverse mortgage, downsizing to a smaller home at some point, or selling it to rent or live in a retirement community.

I also recommend having at least 3 years of expenses in cash or very short-term bond funds so you aren't forced to liquidate equities when the market is down.

And of course, if you are open to some kind of part time work down the line, that is a good back up too for a little cushion.


All good thoughts and nice to have a real life reference point. You are the only person I've ever known to actually retire before ~55. I know a ton of people who have talked about it, but you are the only one I know who actually pulled the trigger...Thanks for being our "scout"....Penta

Bill Birnbaum

Syd... You're right, "guilt has no place in a healthy retirement." Enjoy it! Bill


Penta, can we be pen pals?

I'm kidding of course, but so much of what you've articulated is exactly what I'm going through. I retired first because my salary, though very healthy, was much smaller than my husband's. He, ironically, is totally ready to pull the plug and retire, but I'm having minor anxiety attacks for all the reasons you've described, not the least of which is simply how much bloody money he pulls in.

However, we don't need or use his salary at this point, which I have to constantly remind myself. We have been happily living on our retirement income for seven months now, and it has been more than ample. In fact, because I now have time to research things to do, we are finding all kinds of wonderful, interesting events that have us scrambling to find enough time to squeeze them in.

Syd, your sound advice on the 4:00 am crazy thoughts is so helpful. We're already have plans in place, and backup contingencies, that cover everything you've suggested, so your input is reassuring. My spouse will be having a high level heads up discussion with his boss later this month, then giving the official notice in mid-spring, to be effective late-spring. He'll be 56 at the time, I'll be 49.

I'm sure I'll struggle with giving up the security of his paycheck until the last moment, but having more time with him is truly priceless.


Tamara - Good to find a kindred soul....It's a situation for which there is understadably no sympathy....You're making a ton of money and it probably appears from a distance that you're living the good life....But ironically the very fact that you're spending all your time making a ton of money, it means you're not living the good life...A real conundrum, isn't it...?

P.S. Funny that it seems so clear to me that if you really are able, you should make your exit immediately...But somehow find it difficult to make myself take the same advice....I guess that's why Syd is our hero....Best, Penta


Tamara -One more thought: Decisions about whether to "accumulate more" versus "start enjoying life" (assuming these can't be accomplished at the same time), usually center around a "reference point". If you've had a recent experiece with someone dying, getting a terrible disease, etc, you're probably going to line up behind the latter..., However, if you just coveted your neighbors fancy new (house, car, vacation, boat, fill-in-the-blank) then you're more likely to opt for the former...The one thing to keep in mind however, is that unless you're hit by a bus while running a marathon in perfect health, it is probably clear where your thoughts will be in your final moments....Good luck, Penta

Retired Syd

Penta: I love your observation--it's so much easier to be objective when looking at someone else's situation, isn't it? Now you know my secret--it's not wisdom, it's just objectivity!

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