Saturday, April 04, 2015

When The Check Stops...

When you're young or even middle age, the thought of retiring seems like a distant galaxy that you'll really never arrive at.  You think...I'll start saving. I'll start participating in the company's 401(k). I'll start an Emergency Fund. I really need to start saving.  You say, 'Honest I will.'  Next month.

I didn't start to get serious about saving until I was in my 40s.  I had a good job and my employers had a Profit Sharing Plan.  It's like a 401(k) but it's based on how well the company does, hence the name Profit Sharing.  It's a great idea...employees come to realize that the better their bosses do, the better their contribution to the Profit Sharing Plan will be.  When I left my employers to join the FS, (and they were just about the best guys in the world), I left with about $90K in my account that was 100% contributed by them. That was my seed money for today.

In 2007 when I joined the Foreign Service, I immediately began participating in their 401(k)-like program called the Thrift Saving Plan (TSP).  There was matching contributions and I could contribute what I wanted, up to the maximum allowed by law.  I was 59 at the time and knew I would only have 6 years in this, my second career.  I had taken a cut in pay to take the job so I decided to contribute much less than the maximum.  A year later, I bumped it up to the max and also started adding the "Catch Up" amount, which is for those 59 and over.  That's so you can...well, catch up.  My money began to grow.  The TSP did great and I felt good about the dreaded Age 65 Exit from the Foreign Service.

My last 2 years were in Pakistan and because it was Pakistan, those of us who volunteered to serve there were rewarded with Danger Pay and a Differential.  The Danger Pay is self explanatory.  The Differential is an add on to your salary to make up for the level of difficulty of the post and can vary from one country/city to another due to the cost of living, hardships, etc.  Because of this, I was able to save money like a mad woman. When I retired I was able to put a very large down payment on my home in Texas.

Dropping from a 6 figure salary to just Social Security and a small pension from Uncle Sam is a big adjustment.  But when you plan for it, it can be very manageable.  But I'm the kind of person who is always looking for added security.  I'm single with no one to turn to in a financial emergency.  I've found several ways to supplement my income and hopefully to not have to begin taking a monthly draw on my investments until I am forced to at age 70 1/2.  Let me tell you how.

For the year leading up to joining the FS, my friend and I would go to estate sales every week, buy stuff and then list them on Ebay.  I also had 2 part time jobs after leaving my terrific employers.  But it's Ebay that was the most fun.  As soon as I returned to Texas, I started doing it again.  Just about every month I make enough selling on Ebay to cover my house payment.  When my PayPal account reaches a certain set threshold, I transfer some to my bank. It works like a charm.  If any of you frequent Ebay and want to see my auction, just do a search on the site for yayato3boys.  My 3 grandsons call me Yaya, hence the name.  And for my DOS friends serving overseas, I do ship to APO and DPO addresses.

I love photography...always have.  And after traveling all over the world, I have some pretty good photographs.  I have found 2 online sites where I can sell my photographs.  One is and the other is on  Both places do all the credit card transactions so I don't have to worry about that.  To find me on Fine Art America, just do a search for my name and to find me on Etsy, the name of my store is my name...DebiDemetrion.  On FAA, you can have my photographs printed in all different sizes, matted or not, made into cases for your smart phone or even greeting cards.  It's very cool.  On Etsy, I am currently offering my photographs in 3 different common sizes.

Why am I telling you all this?  Well, the obvious reason is that I hope you'll visit one of the sites and order a photograph or bid on one of the many terrific items I have on my Ebay auction.  But there are a couple of other reasons I'm writing this.  One, to stress the importance of planning ahead for a huge financial change in your life when you retire and to stress that you need to start early putting money away for retirement.  The other is to let you know that there are many ways of generating income once you retire.  Find something you love to do and then find an outlet for it.  I've been retired now for 8 months and am still looking for the best way to market my skills.  I may find better ways later, but for now, this seems to be working for me.  And the longer I can leave my money in investments and hope it grows, the better.

Good luck!  And happy shopping!


Todd Steele said...

I have one of your photographs, of the Arno River and the Ponte Vecchio which I bought at an estate sale in Berkeley sometime recently.
A friend would like to have the same photo, and we are wondering if you could print another for us.

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Debi said...
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