Retirement: You’re Never Too Old
Do dreams die in retirement? Retirement should be the gateway to new beginnings. I recently turned sixty-four. For me, sixty-five has always been the passage-of-rite to retirement much like sixteen was the passage-of-rite to independence when I acquired a driver’s license and could suddenly drive legally. I always figured I’d be wealthy by the time I turned 65, and wouldn’t be concerned about having enough money to live comfortably for the remainder of my life. At about 50, I began to worry ’cause, up to that point I didn’t have a clear retirement plan and was relying solely on the plan offered through my employer, a state agency where I had been employed the previous ten years, or so. Well, there was also Social Security. It was then I took serious stock of what life would be like after retirement.
The first thing I did was take advantage of our employer sponsored investment program. We designate a certain amount to be deducted from our paycheck and used to purchase stock in mutual funds of our choice. As it’s turned out that was a pretty wise thing to do as my investments have done well. The only downside at this point is the meager amount, because of my financial responsibilities, I’ve been able to allocate for this purpose. I knew by age fifty-five, this retirement planning was going to fall short and there was more I needed to do. It became pretty obvious I was going to need to be able to earn some money to supplement everything else so there’d be enough to support my standard of living at its current level. I knew I didn’t want to work for someone else and I also knew I did not want to continue in my current job past the time I would be eligible for full Social Security benefits. That pretty much meant I was going to have to earn money working for myself. So, what were my options.
Well, having learned the carpenter/construction business growing up and earning a living in the field as an adult for over ten years, being a handyman was one option. I had a lot of tools already that would allow me to complete a goodly number of jobs. But, you know what, I saw this as not much different from working for someone else and already I was aware of the pitfalls of working for the public. What other option would I have? I have always loved photography! I took pictures as a child, sneaking my mother’s Kodak box camera out and using up her precious film. She soon hid it from me. By sixteen I began buying my own cameras and film. In my early twenties, and soon after marriage, I got a job in a photography studio in OKC. I learned weddings, some portraiture, and some darkroom skills. My love for photography never stopped even though my growth and development in the art almost ceased as I became a father, changed to another career, and put aside my wants for the wants and needs of others. However, in 1999, my father passed away and left me just enough money to buy a new camera, a Minolta 800si and a few other accessories. Over the next several years, my financial picture improved and I was able to purchase a few more lenses, a flash, and some filters. So, by the time I was at the point of considering options for earning money after retirement, pursuing becoming a fine art photographer was not out of the question. I still had over a decade left in my current career until retirement and this would allow me to grow slowly and cheaply and to be earning some money before retirement. So that’s just what I would do. I would become a fine art photographer. This was my new retirement plan. So, you ask, “How’s it been going?”
Well, this may not have been such a good plan, yet. Retirement may be a lot farther away than I had hoped! There is one thing for sure, though; I am not giving up. More on that next time.