Wait, what? Retirement option already?

by Raeleen
(Conway, AR US)

About a year ago, I told my husband that we needed to get our finances in order just in case an awesome retirement package would come my way.

Well, it did...only it was about 5 years before I was ready.

I am 58 years old. I have been in this career almost 24 years. It's who I am. I work too much. I enjoyed it for about 20 years. Now I am tired. I don't want to learn the new technology. The stress at time is almost unbearable.

About 3 weeks ago, an awesome package presented itself. Looming layoffs down the road won't be as generous. I am in the demographics that the company is looking to reduce. I really need to go with this voluntary layoff option and take the retirement.

I will get a pension. My 401K is almost there.

Yet I am almost dreading the day, but also looking so forward to it at the same time. I don't know how to feel. I have been so proud of my position. I worked hard to get here.

Who will I be when I leave? Yes, I want to volunteer, and travel, and do the things that I felt that I couldn't due to working so many hours these last 24 years.

I am just not so sure that my 401K will last if I do everything that I want to.

I am already grieving the loss of my 24 year identity, and I don't even know if I will be accepted in the voluntary layoff.

I don't even know for sure when my last day would be. It could be as early as 4 weeks from now, or 6 months from now. I am already crying.

How am I going to be when I am actually sitting at home without my career. There are no jobs that will provide the income that I have gotten used to. Financially, I believe I will be ok. I just know that I will blow right through my 401K in a few short years, if our spending isn't altered.

I haven't handled changes too well in the past. I think it has to do with being a military brat. I can adapt. I just don't like it.

I am terrified of not knowing the future. If I leave, then who will I be? If I stay, what will the work environment be like? The stress will be worse. There will be involuntary layoffs in the near future. What if I stay and I am hit with a less lucrative layoff package?

I am terrified, with moments of excitement for the future. How does one process all of these mixed emotions? I am afraid of getting lost mentally, after I am retired.

Comments for Wait, what? Retirement option already?

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Life after work
by: Margaret (Johannesburg Gauteng)

Money is crucial in retirement. As we get older, medical expenses pile up. If you have a nest egg, invest it for that. You will have to tighten your belt, but look carefully at how much money you are spending on work-related things right now? Gas? Clothes? Work-related donations? Lunches? Those things will disappear. Lastly, you will still be YOU. If you were successful at work, you will be successful after work. You take your personality with you.

You can do it!!!
by: Lisa/Canada

I was surprised to read all the very different comments and perspectives. That's a great example of how different everyone views retirement.

I agree with Wendy's comment most of all. I was in a similar situations as yours and decided to take early retirement. Yes it's an adjustment and you go through a grieving period but it's your outlook that will dictate how you feel.

My spending changed drastically when I retired and I haven't felt like I'm depriving myself. Only you can make the decision for yourself but my thoughts are take the retirement, leave the stress behind!

You earned it, be joyful!

Best of luck to you and keep us posted.

Wait, what? Retirement option already?
by: Anonymous

You will be OK. Time will let you realised that job identity i transient. I think your finances are well above the ordinary man in the street, so count your blessings.

I think you will enjoy your retirement.

by: Weez R

Raeleen, I went thru something almost identical. I worked for one of the best companies for 18 years and was offered a package to go due to the company moving to another state.

I got a fantastic package and I was able to collect unemployment too. I had a pension and 401K.

Yes, I still suffer from 'losing my identity' but that part of my life is gone now. I am now on SS. The hub and I are drawing from IRA's.

You need to speak to a financial advisor on how to keep your 401k money working for you. The current thought of withdrawal is around 3.5% to 4% per year of your balance.

Figure out all your bills, misc. expenses, medical expenses. You may have to downsize your lifestyle to live within your means and not run out of money. You can take a part time job, work for a temp agency to help with expenses. Some people work at Walmart and grocery stores just to get the health benefits.

Now is the time to buckle down and put pen and paper in hand and start figuring money in and money out. If the package is really good, it might make sense to take it. You may never get another chance at a good offer to go.

When big companies want older people to go, they will find a way. Been there twice. They can't say you are OLD but they want to clean house of the old people. The older employees are making bigger salaries.

They figure they can hire two new college graduates to one old employee.

Good luck!

Reitre or not?
by: Elisa/Chandler, AZ

Oh Raeleen, I wish I had your choice and you had my years! The short answer is - you will NOT be ready for the changes that early retirement brings.

You were given a choice that happened sooner than expected. My suggestion is to NOT retire and give yourself a chance to embrace the new technology.

You may miss out on a lucrative retirement package, but then again - you may not. Allow yourself the time to see if you can adjust to the new environment.

In the very least, it will give you a bit more time to grieve the loss of your work identity and prepare for just being you - and not being a job title.

It may also solidify your reason(s) for retiring and thereby making the decision easier.

Good luck to you. It will all work out - you are still a young woman.

Change is Always Difficult
by: John A. / Tyler, TX

You are still young and can find other employment after a "forced" retirement. I am sure after 24 years at the same job you have developed many transferable skills. To me, you may be selling yourself short in this aspect. So, not all is lost unless you want it that way.

After 24 years at the same job, anyone would react the same as you given the circumstances you described. Change is always difficult to accept when we have been doing the same thing for years and the current employment situation is out of your control.

The only thing consistent in life is that changes will occur. Take stock of your transferable skills and look for something else. Start looking for another job now since it is easier to find another job while you are employed. Brush up on your interviewing skills and develop a good resume using excellent references on the Internet designed for that purpose. For each job you apply for, you will need a resume specifically written for that position. So if you have 5 job opportunities, you will need 5 resumes tailored for each job.

You will find job hunting is a full time job in itself.

Keep in mind the next job may not pay as much as you are earning now, but it certainly beats a poke in the eye with a sharp stick since yow will at least have an income. When you land the next job, just view it as getting your foot into the door and work up the ladder from there. You did it once, you can do it again. Just use the new job as a stepping stone to something bigger and better.

Best of luck to ya!!!

reply : identity loss
by: Anonymous

Just want to add that in my experience, no one will even want to hear what your past employment is. Strange, isn't it? I guess it could be like starting over having never worked at all. To me it is strange that no one cares what I "used" to do. I guess most people are just looking for someone to be nice to them "in the current moment".

So normal...
by: Wendy, www.retirement-online.com

Do you realize how many retire due to new technology? It happened often when I was doing retirement paperwork, though that was only behind closed doors -- with co-workers it was just time to retire.

WHY retire? Because you can!

You are eligible, pension and 401k, just do it!
(and don't blow that 401k either!)

Now -- yes, you will grieve your employment loss (even though its a blessing). Yes, you will grieve your loss of identity (your job is not you... you are much more.)

You don't know yet when you will retire -- you've got some time (whether weeks or months). Start Now --
  • What do you want to do post-retirement?
  • How will you get out of the house?
  • What did you enjoy as a teen/young adult?
  • What class might you enjoy taking?

    You will be fine. But -- yes, it does take time to get there!

    You are blessed! Take this as a new life opportunity -- run with it!

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