5 years after retirement: Where will you be?

Remember the History Channel series “Life After People.” A team of scientists, engineers, and archaeologists predicted what would happen if people suddenly disappeared.

It showed the subway system of New York filling up with water, the Statue of Liberty toppled without maintenance, and central Washington, D.C., becoming a swampy lake containing the crumbled remains of the iconic Lincoln and Jefferson memorials — creepy but entertaining.

Fast-forward to now, and you. You have a full-time, rewarding-or-not job. You are doing meaningful work. You walk, bike, drive or take public transportation to work. Weekends for many are sacred time to do stuff, or not.

Then you retire. Whether that’s a good thing or not is yet to be determined. Your expenses should be down, but so too is your income. And time, which was once precious when you were working, suddenly becomes abundant, which can be good or not.

So how will you handle it? Or if retired, how’s it going? Better or worse than you thought?

We asked a long-time reader, Tony Krolik, if there is life after retirement. He left the Internal Revenue Service five years ago and this is what he said:

*Mike asked me to do a five-years-after-retirement update: I definitely don’t regret it one bit. Am I flush with a huge pension? No I’m not. I am just your average run-of-the-mill retiree who has a side business, who collects Social Security and a fed pension and makes through every month doing just fine.

“I left the IRS in August of 2014 amid the constant fear of losing any of my entitled benefits that I originally signed up for. I don’t have that fear now. I wasn’t happy at the job anymore. If you were productive you were counted on being more productive as work piled up. I could of stayed on but I was eligible at [age] 60 and 27 years [of service] so I was out. I saw too many coworkers and good people die off and not be able to enjoy retirement. I believe they died because of the stress at work.

“At 65 years old, healthy for my age, I walk 5-7 miles a day on average. My minor heart issues are under control. I could not be luckier. My wife and I camp (in our trailer) often. With 12 grandkids, Christmas can be expensive but I love watching them open presents. May eventually have to tighten the budget for that day but it still will be celebrated with vigor. I golf in a league once a week during spring and summer and then bowl once a week in the fall and the winter. I’m also a minor official for the Ontario Hockey League team the Saginaw Spirit. This is a non-paying job but I love being the goal judge and working upstairs with stats for the game.

“So in between all that I now help people with the tax issues and file tax returns during the filing season. I got to say to Congress and the president to please fund the IRS, the wait on the phones is terrible. A client gets a notice and tries to get through on the phone, and you wait and then are told the lines are too busy try another day and you’re hung up on! I’ve been on hold for two hours or more and hung up on. I do understand why, so I never take out my frustration went I finally talk to somebody. I do always ask how long they have to go and I feel bad for those who’ve got 15 years or more to go. The lack of bodies has taken its toll on IRS response time and being able to collect, because you don’t have resources to make contact.

“To all feds I hope you’re happy and if you are, keep on working. If you are not, get out while you can as retirement is a joy that every fed deserves. Again, I am not flush. My wife did not work so my pension and Social Security and what I make from my business seems to keep us happy. I do use my IRA also when we need some cash, like for daughter No. 2’s wedding. Yes, there are places I want to go on my bucket list but I’m not complaining.

“If you want to retire, don’t be afraid. You will adjust your spending habits to make things work. I’m not the wisest guy around but as far as what I have I’m okay. The days of leaving money for the kids are done for the most part. They know we’re taking care of ourselves. If there is anything left, they can split that. That means they don’t have to take care of me. Remember, you can’t take it with you so don’t be afraid to spend a few bucks when you want to. I hope, God willing, I’m good for another 20 years or so. Maybe Mike will let me update you in another five?”


Nearly Useless Factoid

by Amelia Brust

Lake Nicaragua is the only freshwater lake containing oceanic animal life, including sharks, swordfish, and tarpon. This is because, it is believed, that the lake along with Lake Managua to the northwest originally formed part of an ocean bay. A volcanic eruption created an inland basin containing the two lakes, which are linked by the Tipitapa River. The ocean fish that were trapped within Lake Nicaragua adapted themselves as the salt water gradually turned fresh.

Source: Encyclopedia Britannica

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