I’m a good employee. I’m conscientious, pugnacious, and attentive to detail. I get things done on time and do my best to at least project the illusion of confidence. For the most part, things are reasonably busy and productive (as long as you count meetings as “productive” time). Even on those busy days, once I get back from lunch the days just drag. The 120 minutes between 2 and 4 seem to pass at the same relative speed of the six hours between 7 and 11. I’m sure some big-brained psychologist out there has a good and rational explanation for why that is, but a cursory Google of the issue hasn’t returned any really satisfactory answers.
And don’t get me started on the weekends. They go by so fast that they’re practically non-existent. Seriously, damnit. I no more than wake up on Saturday morning and suddenly it’s Monday again and I’m schlepping down Route 40 with a thermos full of coffee and a bleary-eyed slightly dazed look on my face. Sure, time flies when you’re having fun and all, but should it really fly when all you’re doing is cutting the grass, cooking a few meals, and picking up a bag of dog food? When you’ve figured out the secret to this time management dilemma, let me know.
Sitting here on a Monday night, all I know is that I want my weekend back. Or I want to start my next career as a PowerBall winner. Either way’s good.
I’ve been thinking alot about retirement this weekend. Not the actual act of filing my paperwork and getting my gold watch, but of all the preparation and planning that needs to go into making that moment happen. It’s the big picture questions that have been bothering me lately and that’s probably the internet’s fault for running adds screaming “will you have enough money to retire” on three sites I visited yesterday. I’m not a financial genius by any stretch of the imagination and I’m not even all that good at the day-to-day stuff. I’m not going to sell the truck for a bag full of magic beans or anything, but checking out my Target cart on any given visit will show there tends to be more wants than needs loaded in it.
I’m throwing a respectable percentage of my pre-tax salary into the Thrift Savings Plan, the government’s version of a 401(k) and have an IRA that isn’t as well funded as it probably should be. I’ve got the real estate portion of an investment strategy covered (even if the part of it that’s in Memphis will never be more than a tax deduction). Gold and precious metals were out of sight before I ever thought about stashing any money there. Still, I feel reasonably good about my allocations… but that doesn’t overcome the voice in the back of my head that keeps whispering “you should be doing more.”
The element that’s still working in my favor is the sorcerer’s elixer of investing: time. I’ll be 33 this summer. Under the current rules, it will be another 29 years until I can retire “early” and collect social security at age 62. If I wait for full retirement, now set at age 67, it’s another 34 years. Of course as social security implodes in the next two decades, I don’t have much expectation of those milestone ages meaning much. Even if the system is “saved,” I expect the age to collect will be much higher. Under any set of rules, it’s safe to assume that I’ll be working for at least as many years into the future as I’ve been alive and probably more. Assuming an uninterrupted federal career, I’ll meet my age and years of service requirement at age 57 in 2035. That’s a full five years before the current Social Security early option and 10 years before full retirement under the system. I don’t necessarily “have to” walk away at that point, but by that far off moment in 2035, I’d like to be well enough financed to do it if I wanted to. I’m pretty sure that is the working definition of having “F%#& you” money.
I suppose the good news is that I’ve got the better part of 30 years to throw money at this particular problem. The bad news is that it looks like baring a PowerBall win, I’ve got almost 30 years of bitching and complaining still ahead of me.