I’m not ready to retire, but I think I can see it from here. Kind of. I know it’s coming, I know I want it in some ways, but when and how are dark in my crystal ball.
I think I have 10 years before I have to step aside due to health and competency/competitiveness in the workforce. I absolutely believe that aging is a separate condition. Each individual is different. And I hope and believe that I am both intellectually honest enough and perceptive enough to know when it is time.
I’ve read that the average American plans to retire around age 65. However, due to factors such as health problems, unplanned unemployment and age discrimination, the average age of actual retirees is 62. This delta from 62 to 65 is important for both the individual and society. That’s millions of dollars in lost revenue, millions of angry old men’s advice, and tons of accumulated wisdom.
62 is also the age at which a person eligible for Social Security in the United States can begin drawing it. That doesn’t mean you want to take it that early. Monthly payments increase significantly for each year you remain in the workforce. The Social Security Administration considers 67 to be the “full retirement age” for my age group. For me, the estimated Social Security difference between retiring at 62 and 67 is about $1,000 a month. So there is something to solve. (You can check your status here: https://secure.ssa.gov/SiView.action).
Then there is health insurance. Medicare goes online at age 65/after. Figuring out what you need to do for health insurance before age 65 provides a special exercise in getting your head around it. There is a tighter window to apply for Medicare, which is 3 months before and 3 months after your 65th birthday, even if you’re not retired and have other health insurance. (If you remember anything from this column, turn it into this paragraph!)
I am not committed to working when I retire. I am open to it. It will likely be similar to consulting gigs, which is something I do occasionally and may do again after a full day of work in the rearview mirror. The Social Security income rules seem complicated to me, but outside income is subject to Social Security, income taxes, etc. when it comes to his interactions with, he seems smart and fair at the same time.
I’m thinking of reviving what I thought was a brilliant idea when I was younger: a consulting firm devoted entirely to scapegoating. My value proposition is simple: every company needs someone to blame for everything, but you don’t need that person full-time. A person can serve as a designated scapegoat for 20 organizations. And it’s not like there’s no precedent. If I’m a Fortune 500 CEO planning to fire a bunch of good people, I’m probably going to bring in a McKinsey-type consulting firm. Sure, they’ll do their research and make recommendations to do what I know I’m going to do, but now I can blame them. Compared to having a full-time paid scapegoat for $65,000 a year or hiring McKinsey for 20 times that amount, my $10,000 per client per year is a positive value!
Yes, it might make you stupid to think about it. You ask: Who am I in today’s world? What skills do I have in this world? I even want to know what the bean emoji means in a workplace context? Am I a generalist who can adapt to multiple environments, or a niche specialist? How many of my healthy years do I want to work? How much say do I actually have in this? Can I stay local in the place I love, or do jobs and health care require me to drag my old bum to a more established, urban location? Who knows me…who owes me? Do I still know me?
My contact information is in the bio below. If enough of you contact me for a scapegoat, I can still retire.
Michael Kraft lives in Humboldt Hill and works for Pope & Barkley. In preparation for retirement, he learned to share a car with his wife, spent a week painting his house, read up on Medicare and considered trying his hand at fishing again. He can be reached at [email protected].