In today’s uncertain times, I already knew what I’d do if I was laid off. I’m already near my planned retirement age. Credit card or other short-term debt is very low. The Phoenix mortgage is nearly paid off, and I’ve been maintaining two residences in order to work in the SF Bay Area. The plan: I’d retire to Phoenix. This would drastically reduce monthly expenses. If I wanted to work part-time, the economy is grim, but I could seek employment in Phoenix more cheaply than in the Bay Area.
Before the economy nose-dived, I had originally thought I’d retire on my 65th birthday. Then, I thought, well, my 66th birthday would be more practical. Better to retire with a healthy 401K. As economic recovery forecasts projected out to 2010 and beyond, I knew that I wanted to keep all the doors open.
That was the plan, but corporate America has to continue cutting costs to the bone wherever it can. My performance evaluations have always been very favorable, I was a very senior employee, and my company had already had several rounds of layoffs. We were speculating there would be more.
When my name was picked out of the corporate hat, it was a shock, but not a surprise. I was lucky. I landed on my feet.
I want to acknowledge my comparative good fortune in being nearly prepared for a transition to retired life. Hundreds of thousands of newly unemployed families around the United States are faced with a catastrophe. The November unemployment rate was 6.7% and climbing. An additional 7.3 million workers are working “involuntary part time”, up from 3.9 million in 2006, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
My company offers an outplacement counseling service as part of the severance package. I haven’t written a resume in many years. Style and content expectations have changed. My interview skills will be rusty. I plan to take advantage of all post-employment benefits while they remain available.
On a more personal note, this change gives me the time I need to start going through a twenty-year accumulation of “stuff”: consolidating households means donations to Goodwill Industries and other charitable organizations. It means cleaning out old household records and archives: I already found some old stock certificates that may be practically worthless, but worth following up on. It means getting ready to call the moving company.
It means taking care of all the transitional obligatories: social security, medical care, prescription coverage, and, soon enough, all the changes of address, the utility companies, the IRS and motor vehicles folks, the banks, and more.
In my case, since I’m moving, it means getting to do much of the above, all over again, in Phoenix.
Lastly, it means remembering to take care of me. I’m OK with this. Even on this, the third day after the layoff, it’s beginning to feel “normal”. While I don’t have to shift into “scramble mode”, I drafted out a complex to-do list, I’m prioritizing it, and I plan to “work” on it every day for 4 to 8 hours. Just like at work, I expect “visible results, visible progress”.
There are rewards. I can sleep in to 830AM. I can’t say “but I don’t have time”. I can tackle all those chores I never had time for before. I can read or watch TV when I want. And I can make a tank of gas last more than two weeks.
This website and my email won’t change. Look here for postings from time to time as I explore the ins and outs of making do with what I have.
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