Chapter 10 – Quasi-Retirement

This post will describe the final chapter of my life, which will be ongoing until…the inevitable end that we all come to sooner or laterAs always, the purpose of documenting my life in this way is to accomplish the following goals:  (1) to teach you some English words, (2) to document my life for self-reflection purposes, and (3) to provide you some insight into how you can avoid the same mistakes I have made so that your life has a happier outcome than mine likely will have.

I am currently 63 years old.  I could retire now for smaller monthly retirement payments, but I am trying to delay official retirement until I am 66, when the monthly payments will be substantially larger.  So I find myself in a kind of limbo.  “What is limbo?” you might ask.  Limbo is a place that you don’t want to be.  In the Christian religion, Limbo is a place between Heaven and Hell, a type of “holding cell” for those who don’t fit into the nice clean categories of 100% good or 100% evil.  Outside of religious context, we use limbo to mean an ill-defined, indeterminate, nebulous, unpredictable state, place, or condition maybe, that doesn’t fit neatly into any particular category.

My particular limbo I shall call “quasi-retirement”.  It looks like retirement and acts like retirement but it is not retirement because I am not drawing any retirement payments yet.  So I can describe my current limbo situation as “quasi-retired with neither job nor retirement income”.  The truth of my current situation is that Chapter 9 has finished but Chapter 10 hasn’t really begun yet, so I could say I am in “Chapter 9.5”.  Do you see the problem?  Are you beginning to understand limbo?  I am in a nonexistent chapter, a place that I am not meant to be.  If you try to find me in a book as Chapter 9.5, you will not find me there.  It’s like Platform 93/4 in the Harry Potter books.  It shouldn’t exist, yet for a select group of magical people, it does.  Extenuating circumstances have conspired to dump me into my current state of limbo.

Weighing the pros and cons of my situation presents an ugly picture.  The single pro is that I don’t have to commute to work and be told what to do for one-third of my remaining, diminishing lifetime.  The cons are many:  I will have no income for at least two-and-a-half more years (if I can delay my retirement as I desire to).  I have many large debts to pay in addition to many smaller expenses such as food, clothes, lodging, utility bills (electricity, water, sewage, trash removal).  Without an income, I cannot afford medical or life insurance, gasoline for my car, vacations that require travel, etc.

The good news is that I am not insolvent yet.  I have a small amount of savings that will pay my expenses and debts for about nine more months.  Then I will have my first encounter with failure — an obstacle that I cannot overcome, an enemy that I cannot defeat.  What will I do when that time comes?  I don’t really know because I have never before in my life not had enough money to pay my bills.  It will be a new experience for me.  I don’t expect it to be pleasant.  My debtors (or creditors) will want their money, and I won’t have any money to give them.  We have a saying:  You can’t get blood from a turnip.  This means that you can’t get from something what that something doesn’t have to give you.

Of course, they can take me to court and sue me but… they can’t get blood from a turnip.  I’m afraid I may have to pay money that I can’t afford to pay to a lawyer to help me declare bankruptcy.  I have heard of people and companies doing this before, but I have no direct experience or knowledge in how to go about it or how it will affect my life subsequently.

So looking on the bright side, the silver lining if you will, new experiences are coming my way, like someone shouting “Fire in the hole” …, and I am in the hole.

I have never asked (or begged) for anything in my life from others; it is not in my nature to do so.  However, at this stage of my life, my options have become very limited.  So, if you should happen to know any rich, philanthropic people, I must humbly admit that any donations would be appreciated.  I can try to offer donors some kind of training service to return the favor.

Donations are welcome.  Please click here.

7 comments

  1. Hello T. Lee, 
    I am sorry to hear about your situation. I am also in a limbo because I have quit my job and finding (struggling) to continue my studies in a way which won’t cost substantial amount of money. If I had to afford my own living, I would also have very limited options. 
    However, I believe you will resolve your situation without much trouble because you are a good person.
    Best wishes,
    Thein Lin 

    1. We are all tested in different ways in this world, Vasanth.  How we respond determines the ultimate outcome.  We are responsible (mostly) for our own lives, lifestyles, and decisions in life.  As the song goes, che sera sera – what will be, will be.

      smile

    1. Pensions are paid by your employer.  If you worked for the government, then you may get a government-paid pension.

      If you work for a private company, then you may get a pension paid for by that company.

      Some pension plans are voluntary.  You can choose to put some money from every paycheck into one or not.  If you choose not to, you will have no pension payments when you retire.  I have no pension because I changed jobs too often.  It takes years to establish a sizeable pension fund via contributions from your paychecks.  For this to work, you have to stay with one company for a long time 20-30 years.

      Now separate from pensions, we have a system called Social Security (SS).  Everyone must pay an SS tax from every paycheck.  This money goes into a huge government-controlled fund.  When you retire, you can receive a small monthly payment from this fund proportional to how much money you paid into it via the SS tax over your lifetime.

      Generally, to survive in retirement, we say you need three components:  (1) Personal savings, (2) a pension, and (3) Social Security. 

      Like most Americans who retire, I will have only #3 so I will be living a more austere life than I enjoyed most of my life.

      1. I see. The pension is similar here in Myanmar but the government-paid pension is usually a small amount and we have no such thing as social security. Company-paid pensions are better but you have to work for them for a long time. I do not expect myself to stay in one company for three decades.

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