Thursday, February 9, 2012

An Arguement for Early Retirement

I plan to follow in my grandmother's footsteps. She was looking forward to having Willard Scott wish her a happy 100th birthday, but died a week or so before she made it to 99.

My ex-husband's parents weren't so lucky. They were living the American Dream: immigrated from Holland right after WWII with four children and nothing to their names. They had a couple more kids and the whole family worked day and night to get ahead. They eventually built up a large dairy in Southern California, were able to help each of the kids start a dairy of their own, and then finally sold the original property to developers and retired very comfortably.  A very short time later, she was diagnosed with Parkinson's. They never had the opportunity to enjoy retirement.

My parents retired early.  Dad was 55 and Mom was 53.  They bought a really nice motor home and hit the road. Two years later, my dad had two heart attacks.  I realized the wisdom of retiring early while you can enjoy it.  He recovered from that but ten years later died from throat cancer.  By then I had set my goal of retiring at 50. Even though there was a good chance that I would have to go back to work at a later date, I wanted to be sure I got to have time to enjoy that freedom.

By the time I turned 50, I was just taking care of last minute details like selling my house and putting my stuff in storage before heading out to see the world.  I started in Japan.  I was on a 90-day tourist visa so I had to leave the country for a short time.  I took a vacation from my vacation and went to Thailand for ten days before returning to Japan with a new 90-day visa.  Two months later, some stuff came up that made me realize that something was going on with my mom.  Good daughter that I am, I finished my second 90 days and then went home to Oregon.  After about six months of dealing with her newly diagnosed diabetes, we found out that what she really had was pancreatic cancer.  She died two months after diagnosis.

Of course, this only confirmed my idea of retiring while I still had time to enjoy it.  The difference now was that I inherited just enough money to be fairly certain that, as long as I'm careful, I shouldn't have to worry about having to give up my early retirement to go back to work.  I doubt Willard will still be around to wish me a happy 100th birthday, though.

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