Sunday, January 4, 2015

Are you(Am I) prepared to retire?

You might find it weird that I post about the subject as my first posting of 2015. No particular reasons just that after taking a long break, I want to get more clarity what exactly is retirement.

I am bored and tired of the same old, same old text book writings or advice about retirement. It's always about money, money and money. We all will be blasted of not having enough money to retire. We will run out of EPF money within 30 months and etc. Therefore, starts with PRS and so on.

What make me feel even more sick is whole bunch of these people who are advising other people about retirement, are people who never experiencing retirement themselves. They just copy and paste from textbook without serious efforts of getting primary or secondary research.

Money matters aside, I think there are some other big pieces of puzzles are missing. Let's warm up with simple questions like What exactly retirees do? We all dream of retiring, Yes? What would you(I) want to do with this new found freedom? Or suddenly turn ourselves into "billionaires" of time?

Before I go on, I have a qualifier: I have never experience retirement myself too. The subject pops up is just to provoke myself to kind of thinking through about retirement. Hopefully, I have sufficient clarity before I really decided to retire. After I started to make this entry I found out reality(facts) and imagined retirement(myths) could be two very different animals. I don't want to just focus on the financial preparation alone but also thinking through how am I going to live until the day I going back to see the Lord!

I have a hard time to think how are we going to fill our new found 16 hours(24 minus 8 hours sleep) for the next 15 to 40 years. One-Five is a long time, Four-Zero is closer to eternity. Looking back, during my career, I have quite a number of events that break my monotony. Most of the challenges are forced by changing business or personal environments. Living for next One-Five and Four-Zero years doing the same thing(or no idea of doing anything) is quite a scary thought to me. I have more to comment on this later.

An ideal retirement according to our imaginations or told by people are(my comments are in red color):

# 1 - Spend more time with the loved one. Be careful of what you wish for. You might find out the more time you have with your loved one ended up with more quarrels. You may ended up finding more ugly sides of yourself or loved one.

# 2 - Travel around the world. Each trip may last you 3 days to 15 days, what are you going to do with the rest of 350 to 362 days, not to mention the depletion in your saving account?

# 3 - Improve your home. Sounds reasonable. Repair here and there, do a bit of gardening, vacuum and shine the whole house. Technically we have just found ourselves a full time job coming out from retirement.

# 4 - Community service. Spend more time in the church, temple, mosque, etc......volunteer ourselves. It's a noble inspiration. But....a big BUT. Are you ready for public service? Public service can mean it's a thankless job. A candle burning itself? Not everyone has that calling. 

# 5 - Learn something new. Yea.....great idea. Do it today! If you can't do it today means you won't do it when you're retired.

# 6 - Execise. This is another no brainer. What is preventing you exercise today? Kick your butt and get the fuck out of couch watching the TV, surfing Internet, etc.....Just do it!

# 7 - Reward yourself.  Draw up a bucket climb Mount Everest, buy a xxx car, drink that xxx wine, switch to xxx brand clothing. Nice in theory.

The list can be endless.........on those so called retirement dreams.

In reality, these are more likely.

# 1 - Sleeping. When you are inactive, the tendency of sleeping or taking naps are high. 

# 2 - Watching TV. Most likely you will spend about 4 - 5 hours daily watching TV.

# 3 - Surfing the internet. Facebook, gossips, blogging, and etc.....

# 4 - Eating. In an unhurried life, we tend to spend more time to prepare food and also eat more slowing. Some may even travel miles and miles to find things to eat.

# 5 - Shopping. Like teenagers with so much time at their disposal. They ended up with lots of window shopping. 

# 6 - Reading. Yea, I think most people will try to read from cover to cover with a few cups of coffee.

# 7 - Socializing. Personally I don't have that many friends. So I am not so sure about this. Again, talking to the same friend over and over again for next 15 to 40 years is kind of weird and scary.

You may start to protest and demanding the punch line. What are you trying to say?

Do you have any aspirations when you quit your full time job(voluntarily or by forced)?

Before we talk about aspirations, let me share my views of what my retirement certainly SHOULDN'T be:

  • Running away from the world. We shall never alienated ourselves to a monastery to be monks or nuns(unless you strongly feeling that you have the calling).
  • Downgrade ourselves to become manual laborers - butler, driver or housemaid.
  • When time turning from a friend into an enemy. Getting ourselves into trouble of developing clinical depression that leads to all kind of other problems - alcoholism, womanizing, popping blue pills or all kind of escapism.
  • Wasting time endlessly gossiping about people, politics or any other special topics, stocks. Yes, especially the last one is dangerous because thoughts will eventually trigger action.
  • Mechanical programs that sold by imaginary successful retirement like go round the world, fulfilling exotic bucket list wishes, play golf, etc.....  
  • Volunteer ourselves to do community works just because we have nothing better to do.
  • Turning ourselves for next half our life into somebody who are worse off than our first half of our life. Why should l sleep more than it should be? Why shall I spend more time on a couch? Why should I allow my physical and mental sharpness to deteriorate?
  • Preparing our funeral.

P.S. My postings will be infrequent until market valuations improved or I might write additional follow up thoughts on this topic.

Happy New Year 2015!