Saturday, February 15, 2014


Today is February 15.  That means that it’s 45 days until I fly home for my last R&R.  And it also means that in 136 days, I will leave the ranks of the fully employed.  Yes, the State Department, for many reasons, forces us out when we reach the magical age of 65.  Since March 31, 2008, I have dreaded the day that I no longer have to use a password for every one of my devices, computers and access to my office.  This has been a dream job for me and my only regret is that I didn't discover it sooner.  

The Department of State puts out information for those retiring and it starts out telling you what to do one year from retirement.  Well, that’s hogwash!  Take notice…you should be preparing for retirement the day you punch the first time card of your first job.  I've done a fairly good job of preparing to be on a fixed income but I’m the first to admit I could have done much better.  If your employer offers a 401(k) or any type of savings plan, participate in it to the fullest extent you can.  Don’t think that you can always do it later.  “Later” will be here before you know it.  Starting early (and sticking with it) will give you a better chance of not outliving your money.  I've been reading all the documents I've saved over the past year on retirement and that phrase is scary.  "Outliving your money."  I've plugged in several ages when they ask for ‘life expectancy.’  One table had me running out of money at age 90, another at 98.  My dad passed away at age 97, my mom at 56.  Options are spend less, make more money or dye young!  I hope I have lots and lots of my dad’s genes running through my body that will help me slide into old age gracefully and for a long time with a good quality of life.  So if that happens, just how long will it take me to run out of money?  I sure don’t want to entirely depend on either of my children in my advanced years.  After taking very hard looks at my finances and deciding that I want to just work part time, I think I've saved enough to supplement my Social Security check and the annuity I’ll get from my government service.  The message here (in case you've just been skimming) is to SAVE as much as you can while you can. 

So just how will I exist beginning July 1?  I hope to find a part time job that will make me happy.  For 6 years, I've loved getting up and going to work, which is more than I can say for a couple of the jobs I've previously held.  I've always lived well within what I earned and am not extravagant. And I sure need to be able to take a couple of trips a year to Hawaii to see my son and grandsons.  That’s a must. A full time job just won’t allow me that time away. I’ll also go back to hitting the estate sales, picking up great bargains and selling them on Ebay.  I did that while I waited to hear about my job with State and loved it.  It’s addicting!  You can make some good money doing that.  I’ll also look for ways to make money using my love of photography.  Besides selling the photos online, I’d love to find a way to photograph special events, like birthdays and anniversaries and then present the photos in books.  And there are also the 350+ necklaces that I've been making in my spare time over the last 3 years.  We can’t use our DPO (Diplomatic Post Office) mail to earn money so I've had to wait until I retire to really begin marketing them.  I do have a website with just photos ( and soon, I can add more information, including prices and a way to order them.  Or I can sell them through Etsy or Ebay.  And finally, I've signed up for the State Department’s program for retirees.  In an effort to not lose all our experience and knowledge gained in our years of service when we retire, we can get on a call list and be offered short term assignments.  Could be a month or up to 4 months, I believe.  We can sign up for domestic, overseas or both.  There are many advantages to this, one being we get the same salary rate that we had when we retired.  And that’s a very good thing.

All in all, I think I’m going to be just fine.  This is a comfort to me but it’s still a huge change in my life and I hope I’m up for the challenge.  There are some things I’m not looking forward to…seeing guys with their pants hanging around their knees, women with their boobs exposed in skimpy clothes and the whole list of expenses I've not had for 6 years.   But, the trade-off is that I can drink the tap water, buy meat that’s really beef and not probably water buffalo and be able to work in a garden again. 

It’s the little things in life that matter.