Another column on retirement. This time, I’m joining you

Your faithful radio anchor and columnist has a year before his own retirement and will chronicle the practical parts of the planning.

Federal retirement and retirement planning ranks high as an enduringly popular topic for readers/listeners of Federal News Network. Feds are as hard-working as any workforce you’ll find, but few rational people want to work until they slide into the sepulcher.

We pilot our lives through many stages. I say this as prelude to telling you that I’ve started the glide path to my own retirement after what will have been 17 years at FNN, 32 years covering federal matters in one medium or another, and 47 years of professional work. Readers, listeners and FNN colleagues will be stuck with me for one more year, though, because I don’t like to leave things to the last minute.

Between now and then, columns on retirement and financial matters will continue to focus on federal employees. No weekly diary about me, but maybe an occasional anecdote and the understanding that in certain respects, I’m sort of psychologically aligned with those who are also headed towards retirement.

I’ll say this: The retirement decision brings decidedly mixed emotions.

You feel positive anticipation about a change of pace even, as in my case, you don’t plan to check completely out of your field but just want to dial back the day-to-day grind. Few, even in our building, quite know the energy and persistence it takes me and my producers to get the Federal Drive show finished and ready five days a week, year after year. I’m lucky in that I love the work and operate in a highly supportive organization. I love that moment when, arriving in the FNN garage, I pull off my motorcycle helmet and march upstairs to my studio and dig in to the day’s tasks — multiple and varied.

But your body and psyche somehow get together to tell you when it’s time; that perhaps your capacity for replenishing your daily energy expenditure isn’t quite as resilient as it was a year or five years ago. You want to leave the parade while you’re still hitting your stride.

You feel worry about money. Will Social Security, my union pension, and what my wife and I have accumulated after decades together carry us through? If I had a Thrift Saving Plan account, I’d be one of those TSP Millionaires we write about from time to time. Our financial planner keeps admonishing us not to worry. But I worry.

You feel satisfaction in what you’ve accomplished, tinctured with regret at opportunities not taken or pursued.

You feel uncertainty about your identity. This may be the most potent producer of trepidation about retiring. For so many of us, work is nearly indistinguishable from identity, sense of self and self-worth. I plan to do things in the federal market and stay involved in a limited way. The key to happiness in this mode is maintaining realism and a healthy perspective.

The happy retirees I know find fulfillment in things they now have the time to pursue. My friend and regular Federal Drive guest Bob Tobias gave me a great example just the other day. Bob had a significant career — first president of the National Treasury Employees Union, founder of the Federal Employee Education and Assistance Fund, long-time professor in the Key Executive Leadership Program at American University, among other things.

Every morning, in his home in a rural area of Maryland, Bob spends three hours reading and working at a fairly recent passion: writing poetry and trying to get it published. He also spends time with a group working to enact a legislative ban on Schedule F — the civil service reform tried by the Trump administration, not the IRS tax form.

I know retired feds who chair boards of local charities, who pursue art, and who teach underprivileged kids. They’re not melting into anonymity, but rather acquiring a new identity.

This isn’t good bye. Like I said, I’ll be around for another year. I hope you’ll feel free to send me a note with your thoughts on retirement planning and dealing with the money, healthcare and life issues you’re dealing with.


Nearly Useless Factoid

By: Derace Lauderdale

Among the top 1% of individuals, those between 65 and 69 years saved, on average, nearly $2.7 million for retirement.

Source: RetireGuide


Copyright © 2024 Federal News Network. All rights reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

Related Stories