#54 – About Money, Retirement and Winning the Lottery

After I retire, this is where I’ll spend my winters

Today, I pulled question #54:  How much money would you have to win in order to feel comfortable quitting your current job?

I looked up what I would need to retire,  because I had no idea.  Considering how close I am to retirement, that’s pretty scary.  I obviously like to live in a little bubble of ignorant bliss.  Here’s what I found out:

According to my research, because I am a single person, a middle class lifestyle is going to cost me about $28,000 to $42,000 per year after retirement.  Of that, the government is probably, given my work history, going to contribute at least $15,000.  So I have to contribute, from savings and my retirement portfolio, or from income, at least $13,000.  The table I gathered this data from says I will need $325,000 in my portfolio but I multiplied $13,000 by 20 (expecting 20 years more of life) and ended up with $260,000.

Okay maybe I should plan on living longer, so perhaps $325,000 would be better.  And of course, as they reminded me, prices are going to go up over the next twenty years.

A lot of the calculation is guess work and will vary depending on several factors like whether you have to pay a mortgage or not.  I have recently upped my mortgage payments with the intent of getting it all paid off before I retire.

I do have fairly expensive hobbies; painting canvasses and paints are expensive.  I would really like to get a degree in fine arts after I retire and even though the local university only charges a senior 50% of the usual tuition, it’s still a lot of money.  I’m not likely to suddenly become famous and be able to charge an arm and a leg for my paintings so I probably won’t even offset the cost of producing a painting.  Maybe after I’m dead.

I have a friend who now, in retirement, takes an around the world trip every year.  I’d like to do that, although unlike her, I think I’ll take it on a cruise ship rather than having to fly from place to place.  So I’m looking at approximately $50,000 per year for that.

I used to think I wouldn’t quit my job unless I won at least $4,000,000 but I was intending at that point to give a chunk to my son and other deserving relatives.  The deserving relatives are rapidly becoming undeserving in my view and my son and his wife both have good jobs.  Therefore, I am only going to worry about what I need to win to guarantee a relaxed and comfortable retirement.  So sorry, everyone!

So my calculations, including a cruise every year, leads me to believe I could retire comfortably if I won $2,250,000 million.  Okay so maybe I won’t take a cruise every single year and I could bring it down by about a million.

Let’s face it a million doesn’t go far nowadays.  But on the other hand, I live in Canada.

Okay, so if I won a million I could retire if I wanted to.  Probably what would happen, even if I won only $500,000, is that the very first time I was snippy about something or didn’t like a project I was assigned to, I’d think, “I’m outa here.” And I’d be gone.

But no matter what, retirement to me doesn’t mean sitting on the porch.  I will probably always be working.  I’ve had my own business since 1981 and I’d continue to have my own business.  I’m actually looking forward to having more time for my business, my writing, my painting, my workshops.  So hopefully, I’ll be continuing to make money long past retirement.

Winning even a million would make it just that much more relaxed and fun.  Tomorrow night’s draw if for $43 million.  I would definitely retire if I won that.

#51 – About Retirement and Money and Planning

I’d probably be bored anyway

Today I have pulled question #51:  If retirement was not an option and you knew you’d be working for the rest of your life, what would you do differently right now?  This is an interesting question to pick right now because I am in a position to be making this decision right now.

I have been self-employed for a good part of my working life.  All of my other employment have been contract or have lasted no more than five years each for various reasons, sometimes because I got bored and moved on and sometimes because of internal changes and layoffs.  Six years ago, I had the opportunity to get a job with the government and I decided that this time would be different!  This time I would stick it out for at least ten years so that I could receive the full benefits package and retire, if not on easy street, at least just around the corner from it.  I was determined.

Now I, more than most, should know that there is no such thing as job security.  I’ve been a career coach since 1981 and in 1994 I had the contract to provide transitions workshops to employees of the very government I am now working for—in the same building.  So when people say that a government job is secure, I scoff.

To my credit, I never completely close other doors, so over the past six years, I’ve written four books and worked half-heartedly at developing other streams of income.  But it was half-heartedly because I really did think I was going to last for ten years.  And after all, I live in Canada where we have a pretty good safety net.

Now it turns out that the branch of the government I work for is being divested and at the very least I’ll be working for someone else, probably.  So much for the great government benefit plan.  So much for sticking it out for ten years.  So now I am seriously thinking about what my options are and recognizing that retirement, as in sitting on the porch in my rocking chair, probably won’t happen.  That’s okay because I don’t have a front porch or a rocking chair, and I’d probably be bored pretty fast anyway. In fact, I was planning to go to university and get a degree in fine arts.  I have even been working on my portfolio since I only have four years left of work.  So much for that!

So I have picked up my pace a bit.  I have written a new book.  I am developing a package that will be available this fall.  I know that my biggest challenge if I want to grow my business will be growing my list so I’m using a variety of means of doing that.  I have upped my mortgage payments with the hope that it will be paid off before I retire.  I am breathing new life into some old networks so that I can get more consulting contracts.

But what I am not going to do is worry.  That is a useless waste of energy and it makes me listless.  I don’t have to worry really.  I have a lot of options available to me and the better I can stay focused on that, the better off I’ll be.  Actually I’m working on a new book about this very subject—dealing with change in chaotic times.  It’s called, Spread Your Wings and Start Walking and it will be about scenario planning.  This is just going to be hands-on research for my book, that’s all.

#29 – About Failure

I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work….Thomas Edison

Arrrrgh!

The quote by Thomas Edison is a great lead in to this next question:  #29–What was your single greatest personal failure?  Did it make you weaker or stronger?  What did you learn? How did you change?

I have to say, this question is one of those that, if I wasn’t pulling them out of a jar, I would probably put off answering.  Even though ‘failure’, like any other word,  is just a symbol representing a meaning that we have adopted as a tribe to apply to it, it carries so much baggage that it would be easy to come up with some blah-blah line that would get me off the hook.  I could say something like, “I don’t believe in failure.  Life is a series of experiments…some work and some don’t…blah blah blah.”  Or “The only failure is to give up trying…blah blah blah.”  Both of which are absolutely true and I could certainly write them with clear conscience.

However, the reality is also that when we try something and screw it up royally, as I, and probably you, have done, we do feel like we have ‘failed’.  We take on the baggage and we beat ourselves up, at least for a little while.  Then, hopefully, we pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and start over—lesson learned.  Or at least if we are smart, lesson learned.  And I believe it is true that the real failure is if you DON’T pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start over.

But I’m going to take this question as it was intended—what is one thing that I did royally screw up and how did it affect me going forward?  Am I weaker or stronger for it?  Did I learn from it?  Did I change?

Actually this question is particularly relevant right now.  What I would call my single greatest failure has to do with money and taking care of it.  Back in 2000, I made a whole boatload of money in one month.  It happened to be a month that came just after a large contract came to an end, and all the people I had working for me had moved on to other opportunities, including the person who did the bookkeeping.  Now I’m not really a detail person.  I’m an idea person.  In fact, I remember once, at the height of my business, Shantelle, one of the great team who worked for me, wanted me to look something over and sign it.  I was busy and I said, “Okay just leave it there and I’ll sign it in a minute,” pointing to the corner of my messy desk.  She said, “Nope, I’m going to stand here and hold it till you sign it.”  She knew me.

So when I made that boatload of money, I failed to keep good records.  I failed to take care of it and invest it wisely.  I gave people things and lent money to people who asked–and never got it back.  I took a bunch of really interesting courses that required travelling all over the country.  I didn’t invoice and follow up when I should have.  Worst of all, I didn’t pay my taxes when I should have.

It took me a while to spend it all but I worked hard at it until I did.  And then it took me a while to get it all sorted out and the taxes paid.  That was my greatest personal failure.

What did I learn from it?  Well I should have learned to keep better records and pay attention to the details but that would probably require a whole personality transplant.  So the other day, facing the same kind of situation potentially, I thought about it and decided that what I need to do is work from my strengths and let someone else take over what I’m lousy at.  I need a bookkeeper.  And I need the bookkeeper in advance of when I earn a whole boatload of money again so that I’m ready next time and don’t replay the same old movie.

Anyone know a great, cheap bookkeeper and virtual assistant in Canada?  Preferably in Ontario?

 Many of life’s failures are men who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up…Thomas Edison