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How to have a Surprise Retirement

I have been at this retirement thing for about three months. To be clear, my retirement was not by choice. I was forced into early retirement by losing my job. So, what does that really mean?

It means I was taken completely by surprise and I have always hated surprises. My boss came into my office and announced, “This is your last day working here.” They were generous with a severance package and unemployment benefits. But, seriously? “Well, thank you for nothing you greedy, heartless, degenerate moron. I was leaving here in 4.5 years, anyway.” I thought to myself. I packed up my personal belongings, erased everything from my computer including the operating system and walked out of the back door without saying goodbye to anyone.

I had that sudden feeling of falling on my backside as Lucy snatches the football out of the way. I completely understood what the Coyote felt the instant he looked down and saw that he had run off the edge of the cliff or looked up and saw the anvil coming directly at him. Nowhere to run. After a few days of reeling from the news, I was able to think coherently… that is, I could think in complete sentences that did NOT start with, “Now, what the hell am I going to do?”

I had a five year run up to my retirement plan that was effectively cut short by 4.5 years. But, at least the rudiments of a plan were already in place.

  • Pay off my car
  • Pay off my credit cards
  • Double up on my IRA payments
  • Pay off (finally) my student loans
  • Use the IRA to remodel the bathroom and to add hardwood floors downstairs.

Having my income whacked in half, most of my retirement plan had to be amended. Fortunately, I am one of those people who make lists. ALL. THE. TIME. I make lists to remind me to make lists. My new Retirement is Happening Right Now list is pretty simple.

  • Pay the house payment FIRST each month
  • Pay the utilities next
  • Find a cheap cell phone plan
  • Eliminate the cable, keeping Netflix
  • Find a part time job that I can do from home
  • Make regular car payments
  • Make regular credit card payments

Whew! I feel much better having a plan. So how is the new plan working?

It has to be amended again, because I am switching from unemployment benefits to Social Security Benefits which has whacked my already whacked income by 1/3.

So, I still have to make adjustments to my lifestyle and I still have to figure out how to make this work. This story will be on-going as I figure out how to live on a limited income without loosing my house and becoming one of those old ladies who push a grocery cart around and live under a bridge.

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Photo Credit: Photo by Matthew Sleeper on Unsplash

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