Look at this happy couple. They were smart. They planned far ahead for their golden years with a sound investment strategy. Her great grandfather was John D. Rockefeller.
A wise man once said, If a man’s wealth be measured in grains of rice, he could hold all the riches of the world in his hands. Okay, so that man was an idiot. He was also my Uncle Larry, and he died penniless – unless you count the 850 boxes of Minute Rice found in his basement after his funeral.
Thankfully, I did not follow Uncle Larry’s investment approach, though I am enjoying the Minute Rice he left us. In fact, I have accumulated a large amount of wealth over my lifetime – almost as much as I have lost. If you’re concerned you may not have saved enough to comfortably retire before the age of 75, you’re not alone. You’re still probably screwed, but at least you’ll have company.
Let me share a few pearls of wisdom. First, whatever you do, and you might want to get a pen to write this down: NEVER HAVE KIDS! They are insanely expensive. The ROI on progeny is like a buying a bond – it takes decades to see a profit – if you’re lucky. According to recent studies I just made up, the cost of raising a child through college is $4.9 million – even more if you indulge in orthodontia for their crooked teeth. Okay, maybe I’m overshooting my cost projections slightly. My point is, kids will drain your retirement savings.
Don’t get me wrong – I love my kids – almost 70% of the time. I’m just saying, think of all you could do with the mega-bucks you’d save by being a little more conscientious about birth control. You could buy a small island off the coast of Greece (other than Mykonos or Santorini – I checked – they are way out of your price range). However, if you glibly choose to ignore my advice and decide to start a family anyway, don’t say I didn’t warn you. Continue reading “How to Retire Filthy Rich” »
I recently turned 45. Even more recently, I turned 62. This old body is starting to show signs of wear and tear. I haven’t checked, but I’m pretty sure it’s way out of warranty. When I was a teenager, I thought anyone in their sixties was ancient. But now that I’m one of those people, I realize that as a naive 17-year-old, I was … 100% correct. If you’re one of those youthful people still in your teens, twenties, thirties or even forties, don’t feel sorry for me. I’ve discovered many advantages to getting old.
For example, at my age, I’ve stopped worrying about what other people think of my appearance. It’s so liberating. Sure, my body will never regain the six-pack abs I never had in my youth. And yes, my waistline is not quite as svelte as it once wasn’t. That’s okay. That’s the great thing about getting to this point in life: you can look back and finally accept that most of your hopes and dreams have passed you by. Nobody expects you to do any great new thing in your next chapter – because there is no next chapter. So, you can kick back and read the latest John Grisham novel – on the couch – in your boxers – scarfing down peanut butter from the jar.
I’ll admit that I don’t have quite as much hair as I used to. But, full disclosure, I still have way more than my three brothers. Trust me, by comparison to them, I look like a member of heavy metal band Mötley Crüe. Besides, now I’m finding hair in exciting new places, like my ears, my nostrils and the knuckles of my left hand. (But not my right hand, for some reason. Should I be worried about that?)
Another benefit of aging is that I no longer worry about all the embarrassing things I did the previous day – because I usually can’t remember doing them. My recall skills have declined a bit in recent years. For example, last weekend, for the life of me, I couldn’t remember the name of that gifted group who sang Let It Be and Hey Jude. Then hours later, BAM, it hit me: Of course! The Grateful Dead.
Continue reading “The Upside of Getting Old” »
Recently I joined an extremely exclusive club here on Camano Island – the swank Royal Racquet and Earl Grey Tea Society. They play on the only public tennis courts on the island. In order to be considered for membership you must live on the island, be male (sorry ladies, get your own club), be at least 60 years old (at 61, I barely made the cut) and be able to ambulate without any help from your grandchildren.
I was inducted into this fashionable club in a formal private ceremony which involved my walking onto the courts and asking, “Hey, mind if I join you guys for some tennis?” Apparently that was the correct secret phrase because somehow they let me in on my very first try, without any background check or body cavity search.
The posh Royal Racquet and Earl Grey Tea Society, more commonly known by its members as the Old Farts Tennis Club (OFT for short) is 25 members strong plus 11 more who are admittedly weak.
The rules of play for the Old Farts Tennis Club are rigorous:
- All games are played in a classic doubles format.
- Play must go on regardless of inclement weather conditions – unless it rains or looks like it eventually might.
- Players must hit the ball such that it lands within the boundaries of the tennis court, as designated by white lines around the perimeter – except for Ernie, in which case if his shot lands within a foot of the line, that’s close enough. Members have suggested to Ernie it’s probably time he got his eyes checked.
- Members must remember to wear their pants when they show up to play – this rule was created specifically for a member named “Barney.” (Not his real name. His real name is Ned.)
Continue reading “The Old Farts Tennis Club” »
Until this past July, for the previous four decades, I had always worked in business. I was routinely required to submit reports on my progress: Sales forecasts, pipeline analyses, business plans – you name the report, I made it up, er, I mean…. um …
My point is this: Just because I’ve recently retired and moved to an island home near an idyllic beach doesn’t mean I plan to stop submitting regular progress reports. Quite the contrary. I’m happy to report that I’ve continued this practice into retirement. The focus of those reports, however, has shifted slightly.
Here is my business report for the past week.
Sea Shell Inventory Forecast:
My collection of sea shells grew by an impressive 11% this past month, due in part to two unscheduled beach-combing field inspections. While sightings of scallop shells were up 14% year-over-year, unfortunately, the projected production of intact sand dollars is expected to be down 18 to 20% compared to the previous quarter, in part due to increased foreign competition (tourists from Japan) which is anticipated to grab significant market share. I plan to diversify my portfolio of shells by investing (my time) in conch shells, tibias and spiny oyster shells. I’m optimistic we will experience a net gain next quarter if beach market conditions continue on their downward tidal trend.
Continue reading “My Weekly Business Report – Retirement Edition” »
Great news for all of you who have passed the big 50 milestone and are depressed that the best part of life may have passed you by. It has, of course, but be patient. In just 19 years you’ll feel happy again. That’s the findings of a recent study by the London School of Economics. The study determined that 23 and 69 are the two ages at which people are the most satisfied with their lives. And every age in between pretty much sucks.
According to the study’s findings, we experience several up and down periods, peaking at age 23 before dipping in a long, slow decline of satisfaction with our lives by our mid-50s, after which age our happiness rebounds, peaking again just before age 70. After that, for most of us, there really is no point to go on living. So if you’re planning on having a mid-life crisis, the study suggests 55 is the perfect age to plan on having your world shatter into a million meaningless pieces.
Why 23 and 69? Because they’re prime numbers? Good guess but no. (And to those of you who just got out your calculators and figured out that 69 is not a prime number, congratulations.) According to the study, at 23 you are confidently picturing an optimistic future of wealth and career success, probably with an attractive life partner and 2.5 well-behaved kids who get into Princeton on a full-ride merit scholarship. Perhaps you’re already envisioning that second home in the Hamptons or on Cape Cod.
Continue reading “The secret to happiness: Always remain twenty-three” »