Can Early Retirement Save Your Life?
(Don't show this to your kids - they might try it!)
This letter was written in response to another in one of the garden groups I frequent. The owner of the group did not publish it because she felt that I was getting a free advertising ride at her groups expense - Since I run my own blog. So I sent it to several other garden groups where the owners didn't feel that way. I hope you enjoy it and check-out my blog! And let me know what you think!
Absolutely, and when I figured out a way to retire a few years early, I dropped out from the rat race of getting up every morning at 5:30 to hit I-235 which took me to work at 7am and working sometimes until 4:30pm. (Starting time used to be 6am but the new company owners couldn't get out of bed that early....)
I'd already had Sextuple Bypass surgery and went back to work to a physically demanding assembly job. ByPass Heart Sergery is not considered disabling - at least it isn't for the likes of a common assembly worker. I needed the company insurance. My constant lifting/pushing work and long hours and half-hour - eat out of fat glutted machine, lunch periods - were slowly killing me. And unlike most of my fellow workers, I knew it. When I told them of my decision, "I'm getting out while I still have some health left to enjoy life"; My supervisors and co-workers were aghast! How could I quit now? I obviously couldn't afford to retire early on these wages! And I wasn't dead yet! Even. Fortunately, I Am a Veteran. The V.A. paid off big time with medical expenses when I had to retire early from my job.
However, as the days slowly wound down to that Blessed last day of work, and my supervisors and managers finally realized that I was Really going to do it; One of my supervisors asked me how I managed to fight the company for a small, early out pension of $125 a month - which I was Entitled to - one of the benifits they mentioned when I hired on - but they Really were dragging their feet about setting it up: People not returning necessary papers. Not answering phone calls or going on "Vacations" etc. Giving me 1-800 numbers to the New York Main Office to answer important and required questions, that never seemed to reached the proper person. Until I got a sympathetic secretary - who must have been "out of the loop". I was amazed! An International Company worth Billions of dollars - a Name Brand manufacturer who of course will remain unnamed whose stocks had just been split at $65, couldn't seem to be able to do their part in getting my tiny pension.
I told my supervisors to: "hang tough - and don't give up. Remember your entitled to what they promised you. Don't let them discourage you or wear you down. Don't let them pat you on the back and 'smooze' you. It's their job to keep you here. They would have to replace you." Which would take about 5 minutes in this enormous industry! But that would be inconvenient.
On my last day, my co-workers shook my hand. My Supervisor for the line I worked on shook my hand as well and with tears in his eyes, wished me well. (I didn't get any "official" recognition, nor a $15 mantle clock and a "Chip-and-Dip", 15 minute, after Work Party. Like the old timers get for a full 20 years or more. But I figured I could live without the lunchon and I figured I really didn't need a $15 mantle clock!
It wasn't so much the thought of loosing me that put a tear in my supervisors eye, but mostly the Envy of Not being in my shoes that really hurt him, I'm sure.
A few months later, he and another supervisor put in their resignation and retired early and left. 6 months later, another supervisor who had been fighting the same kind of health problems as mine, retired - early - by about 8 years. We all must have lost retirement money - but I think we all saved our life too! Gosh, what a loss... They had taken the words of a common worker seriously. All of them are now happy with their decision. I meet them at the local Wal-Mart on occasion. Low rollers, just like me. And ther're enjoying their life away from the "Real World" very nicely. Bless Them!
It doesn't take much money to be happy if you have a small garden to enjoy. Travel? I can Goggle most of what I haven't seen, if nothing else. At my age, Fishing is free here in Kansas, even if the only thing you can catch is giant Catfish, Bass. etc. and participate in early spring Trout Tournaments. We won't do much Sailfish fishing here until Climate Warming really gets in gear and brings the ocean up to the Kansas-Oklahoma line.
I begin to teach myself to draw and watercolor about 2 years before I retired. I always wanted to do that. I knew I needed something to do when I left the "Working World". (You don't have many office conferences on an assembly line, so I didn't get any work time to learn golf - or any clubhouse golf expense money.)
ANYWAY, I'd quit drawing when I was 10. Drawing was not the manly thing to do back then...at least for a 10 year old farm boy. I Was foolish little farm boy back then don't you know. What wonderful work I could do Now if I hadn't quit.
Instead of still being in the amateur learning stage. I did go on to learn photography - before the digital camera.
So now, there are no gym workouts for me to get bored with before my 2 year contract is fulfilled with ---- Gym. They are still around aren't they??
There are no Mall Miles to "fast-walk" every day. I have better things to do with my time.
I made up a business card. "GrandBob's Garden - Gardening for the Health of it". It says Who I Am Now! If anyone needs my address or telephone number, I hand a card to them. They cost me 3.75 cents postage and handling for 250 cards from "VistaPrint". A good company for business beginners that I could recommend - but I won't here...
I "work-out". Everyday. Anywhere from 1 hour to 3 hours a day in my garden depending on how I feel and how nice the weather is. I love it. My whole body gets a good workout and my blood pressure goes down. Doesn't cost a penny, and I never get bored.
So, I have my Blog. I have my home garden with the Victorian -Dodge City - Picket Fence, I designed and build it myself around my little 30 X 35 plot where I grow, and experiment and photograph -Tomatoes, and Flowers and Bugs and Stuff.
I had the opportunity this spring to start and coordinate a new Community Garden with the blessing and help of my small town City Council. (The Mayor at the time though I had a great idea. It started with an e-mail. We worked it out together, from the rules to follow to the size of the plots and direction they would lie on - East to West and the North Side for Corn and other tall crops. You pay $10 per small plot. And whatever you grow is all yours. Free water! Of course, the $10 for the plot pays the City for it's water. Can't beat it! I bought 8 plots. A nice sized second garden for me to play with.
And, just a block away; A new "Home Town Market" site was constructed in the Historical District secton of the Town - This area had been practically leveled in a tornado 10 years-ago. One vintage little cottage and a couple of vintage store fronts, now in excellent repair by the City, survived the storm. A very nice lady plants beautiful flowers all over. She directs the landscapeing "the park". She also is a Volanteer.
I won't mention the two authentic looking "Out Houses" that actually have running water and flush toilets and warm blowing hand dryers behind the "BlackSmith"
Storefront and the Art Gallery that front the drive past. The Home Town Market is a place to sell your produce if you want too. Or your craftwork if you wish. It runs through the summer months and costs $20 a booth. Bring your own tables and chairs! Not bad. Most people are sold out by noon so I understand! You should come to visit and shop on Saturday mornings! You'll have fun. People are friendly. And there is usually a Bar-B-Q wagon parked nearby to tempt you while you browse around.
When I feel like it, I fish in the town's small stocked lakes, and I draw and do watercolor landscapes and people and Cats and Dogs. And the Lord looks out for me and mine for anything else we need.
ps: Some people will resent me writing about my plan for living. They don't see the money in it. That "cushion" the call it - to die wealthy on that they just got to have. They call themselves "advantaged....