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I've been moving my retirement investments into a more aggressive posture as I get closer to retirement itself, because I'm already falling short of what I had expected to have accrued by now. At this point though, I'm beginning to think it's not such a good idea. The InvestTalk radio guy (, who I respect, was pretty clear that this is not the thing to do. I'd thought it was. How do you all weigh in? I appreciate your thoughts.

Retired Syd

@Jay-I spent my working years with a pretty aggressive portfolio (something like 80% stock and 20% bonds). As I got close to retirement, I shifted to a slightly less aggressive mix (75/25), which is still considered pretty aggressive for my age and retirement status. But I need it to last 40-50 years, so need that growth. I think the most important thing right now is to have about 3-5 years of cash on hand at the time you retire so you can ride out the market roller-coasters without having to liquidate the stock portion in bad years.

I wish I knew, it certainly is nerve-racking--but I generally have faith that 3-5 years from now, things are going to be looking up . . .By the way, I think it's important to have a VERY diversified mix in your stock holdings. That has made this down turn less awful for me so far.


Thanks so much, I appreciate your perspective on the matter! Your approach is similar to what Steve Peasley recommended on InvestTalk, which is encouraging because that's what I use as my primary advice. Seems it's time for me to start paying a little more attention to this, I get why it is that a less aggressive stance will be preferable. I do agree with you that being VERY diversified is the way to go, at least I have that set up so far.


Wow. How are you guys feeling about your investment choices now? My husband and I are more conservative than this and we aren't retired yet - closer to 60% stocks/40% bonds and fixed. We've been glad that we are through the current downn market.

Retired Syd

@Chris, thanks for all your great comments recently! On this one, I have to say "a lot better than I did 5 months ago!" But seriously, as we get older, we will shift our allocation slowly more toward bonds and cash, but for now we still have such a long time to wait it out since we're going to be needing this nest egg to last maybe 50 years.

If we were in our 60's or 70's, with less years to ride out the stock market's turmoil, I would probably not be feeling as calm about such huge fluctuations.


I'm afraid to mention this one because of all of the political ruckus but the thing I'm most afraid of if I retire completely is having to buy individual health insurance. I work a little over half time right now and am able to buy into a group plan. I pay the full premium but it is decent insurance that would provide good coverage in the case of cancer or some other high cost disease. This seems like such an unpredictable cost to me and I know people who have not been able to get decent health insurance - or had to pay extremely high premiums - that I can't get comfortable with the risk.


Chris, I am now in the same boat as you, or as you were in September of 2009, afraid to retire from my part-time job because I would have to pay the outrageous insurance premium of $564 a month, which will undoubtedly go up in 2011. Even though I could manage the premiums, the thought of shelling out that kind of money each month for insurance is holding me back. Is it worth it? Is being totally retired worth that $564 a month? Any feedback would be appreciated.


I retired at 55 years of age. Now I am scared and uncertain about that move. Sure the company had changed and the job was different, however, I made a uninformed decision to retire. I was probably depressed, now I am terrified that the pension is not enough for me. any suggestions on how to get over the hump and accept the retirement

Retired Syd

@leo: Well, in general there is a little terror in each person's decision to retire. It's scary. In your case, if you're worried about the financial end, I might plan a session with a financial planner just to get a second opinion. If you're still nervous, maybe look into a part-time job or contract work, maybe even something unrelated to what you did before, something else you're interested in, just to earn a little cushion.

But the "hump" isn't over once you figure the money thing out--the adjustment just begins. It took me almost a full year to really relax into my new life. It's a big change.

Doris Brown

Every time I run the numbers, we have plenty of money to retire early. But we are still afraid. For one thing there are unknowns such as future returns and costs. But there's also always the thought of what else will be able to do if we have more money, such as starting another business or giving it to family who could use it, or to charity.

Deecia V. L.

For the past few years I have been thinking about retirement. I have been a part of the educational system for over 35 plus years, here in California. I feel that I am secure enough financially to retire but when I really get down to the truth of retiring, I think I am afraid to give up the comfort of my "created identity" that goes along with working over the years and of course the friendships that has been developed over the years would be difficult to give up most of all.
I guess you could say that it is scary to let go of that "created identity"that my career has allowed me to embrace all these years! I do want to retire and I continue to examine how I will finally let go of it all. With retirement, comes a great deal of planning and looking at not only the financial picture but who you really are and how you feel about recreating a new you in a new non-work environment. Yes,retiring can create lots of fears for many of us. Hopefully the thought of relaxing and not being in the onslaught on a daily basis will help me to make this critical decision soon.

mike b

We are just transitioning into retirement at age of 54. I presently own a business that is slowly being phased out by technology. I used to be concerned more about an identity after retirement than the actual financial concerns. The idea of not being involved in the day to day operations of a business was a fear. After reading the blog and others, I have decided to plan what the remainder of our life will look like during the first year of retirement. Right now we are in the process of liquidating real assets to enable a move. We always lived "below our means", which is the key to financial independence. I would recommend that people look into a HSA account for health insurance.

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I guess it is all a question of time verses risk you are willing to take- the less time you have, the more risk you will be willing to take to come up with the amounts you need, but who said you cannot trade stocks later on - when you retire? Perhaps make it a part time job with you as your own boss.


I'd like to retire in 5 yrs at age 50, but I'm afraid of rising healthcare costs and not being able to travel.

Tamara R

I understand about the job identify issue. It took me two years to work through that issue. I recently realized it wasn't about leaving my job title behind, it was about moving toward something even more fulfilling.

I still intend to be productive and have structure and to contribute in retirement, I will simply no longer draw a paycheck. Once I was able to clarify this, I began searching for volunteer opportunities that seemed interesting, intriguing or of personal value. With the current fiscal crisis there is, of course, no shortage of options. I've landed on getting involved in helping adults learn to read, becoming a court appointed advocate for abused youth, and volunteering in our state park system. On the personal development side I've blocked out one day for personal pursuits (photography, hiking with the Sierra Club, and my never-ending pursuit to improve my Spanish) and one day for errands. The weekends, I've decided are still about play, at least until my husband follows me into retirement in the next 6 - 18 months.

This may seem too structured to some, which I understand. In my case, I do better with structure. What is different though, is there is a hugh difference in the degree of stress.

So I gave my retirement notice yesterday, and my boss was, well, shocked since I'm only 48. And today I woke up at 1:00 AM to an unbelievable sense of joy that the stress of my job was gone and I could now begin to concentrate on living. What an ah-ha moment for me.


My wife and I have an opportunity to retire in Costa Rica on approximately 800 acres of land that one of her clients is developing into a lifestyle community.
We'd be doing marketing sales and activities once people take up residence. (They're in process of building a model home)
I've worked at a high school in NYC for 14 years, got the pension and the 401k going. Tried to find a school in Costa Rica to sign-off on a teaching artist contract so I could take a year's leave of absence but no takers. Thinking of retiring anyway. I'm 58. Any thoughts on this will be greatly appreciated.


Sounds like a great opportunity. Go to Dave's ESL Cafe and look up "teaching English in Costa Rica."

Your idea sounds good, plus you have your established NYC pension.

Always make sure you have a Plan B set up.

Best wishes from a retired teacher in Montreal.

Retired Syd

@Grady: I agree with Bren. It sounds like a great adventure. What's the worst that can happen? You move back to the U.S. if you don't like it. I don't see the downside of trying a new adventure!


Thank you for your blog. I've been reading it for some months now and lately it has taken on more significance.

After nineteen very successful years in the financial services industry I find myself in an awkward position. I am 44 years old, will be 45 in December, and have gotten crosswise with my leaders in the company I'm with as a result of behavior on their part that I find violates my personal values.

As a result, they've suddenly come to the conclusion that I am no longer capable despite a long track record that proves otherwise. Of course I don't believe they are capable either. We agree to disagree at this point. Needless to say, I have been angry and feel disrespected, but have come to peace with my situation.

So, my current dilemma is that I will have to choose between being demoted from my senior executive role and returning to a role that I had 9 years ago, a demotion, and most likely a relocation as well, or leaving the firm and retiring at the end of the year.

Now the hard part and why I would like to hear from different perspectives. I have always dreamed of retiring early, even picking out 45 as the time, and I 'm confident that I have the financial resources to live independently for the rest of my life.

My wife and I were never able to have kids and that makes things a bit easier. She essentially retired 9 years ago when I assumed my current role.

I have many hobbies and things that I would like to pursue if only I had the time.

The role I would be offered, does not pay as well as my current role, but would still be substantial by any measure.

What to do? I really don't need the money and I've been leaning towards retirement.

Thanks for your insights.

Retired Syd

@JW: Thanks for your comment, and congratulations for being in the position to be able to make this decision!

I read through your thoughts a few times, looking for the reason you might NOT want to retire, but I couldn't find any. Which makes me think it's mostly fear of change, which is totally reasonable.

Seems to me like life's too short to stay in a position such as you describe. It sounds like you have to compromise either your values or your skills, neither of which contribute to a happy working life.

The truth is, this decision probably doesn't have to feel so heavy. What if you left your job? In a few years you would find that you either love your new retired life, or that you'd rather be working--in which case you go get another job (that you like better, since money isn't really the issue.)

I don't see the downside. You deserve to have the life you want.


Thank you for your response.

I am excited about the prospects of having freedom and control back in my life. The ability to walk away is very much a blessing. My brother has reminded me that I've been dreaming of retirement for 20+ years almost and that just because it is not happening exactly the way I had dreamed doesn't make it's fulfillment less worthwhile.

I have to give them an answer soon and I want to make sure that I get my ducks in a row before then. This past week I began reading How to Retire Happy, Wild and Free to help me with my planning on what to do next.

There are a number of variables, some of them financial, having to do with my exit that I'm trying to nail down related to relocating or not.

Also, I want to make sure that leaving is not just a reaction of my bruised ego or an act of retrubtion since the afforementioned leaders want me to stay, albeit in a reduced role.

Now that the question of what to with the rest of my life is no longer theoretical I find it both very exciting a bit daunting.

I do have many friends at the firm and would like to preserve those good relationships despite having lost faith in some of the Senior Leaders.

You've helped me to confirm my feelings. After wrestling with how much is enough for so long both from a financial and personal values stand point my conclusion is that I would rather be in control of my own destiny from now on.

Thanks again. Your blog and the links to others like yours has been a great comfort. There's not much out there about retiring at 45. I should know as I have counseled clients on preparing financially for retirement for many years. Glad that i practiced what I preached.all these years, otherwise there would be no choice but to continue working.

Best regards,


Wow - retirement? I'd love to, but I have absolutely no idea how much $ it takes to do so. I've read estimates that range from a minimum of $1M to a more comfortable $3M. Would anyone feel comfortable telling me how much you've got saved for retirement and how that's working? Thanks.

New at this

JW - We are in very similar situations. I've also become very disillusioned with where I work but the remuneration has held me captive far longer than I wanted to stay. What I've discovered in my own journey toward early retirement is that despite all the advice you'll hear along the way, you won't find real peace in the decision until you really "know" in your gut that you have "Enough". All the peripheral thoughts like "will I be bored?" or "how will I fill my days?" are just nagging attempts by your self-conscience to protect yourself from ever "going hungry". But if you can really reach that place that you feel it in your bones that you have enough to navigate through whatever may come, than the decision to spend your days how you decide (versus relying on some corporate agenda to decide for you) is remarkably easy.

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I have enough years through my retirement but lately I started to think about getting old not having the life I wanted for myself. The company I worked for closed. So, yes, I'm afraid because apparently, a 45 years old employee is too old for the job market.

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Are you afraid to retire? Most of us worry whether we will be able to have a decent live after we retire. To have a good live after retire you need to have a certain level of income after you retire.

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