More musings on “retirement”

A topic I have posted about a lot.

A lot of people recognize the harmful aspects of investing in Wall Street — even a lot of the so-called “socially responsible funds” are problematic — but some people feel like it’s their only option since retirement is not so secure these days.

As an older person who has had it a lot easier than the younger generations, I feel I’m in a position to resist the social pressure to amass a large lump sum for “retirement.” Maybe others in a similar boat will feel emboldened to resist as well, and find other ways to face their later years. 

A lot of people dread having to work till they die. 

Regarding “retirement,” I actually prefer to work until I die. Because I really like my work, and have various categories, some of which are possible to continue well into a very old age. Such as writing and teaching.

Knowing that I’m not going to retire helps let me off the hook from having to deal with these grisly investment dilemmas which I am not willing to compromise on.

I am not willing to participate in investment funds.

I do have a paid-for house*, which I share with other people in various ways as much as I can.

My needs are simple, and I minimize my monthly expenses so I don’t need to go out and earn a bunch of money, and also, I am at peace with death so the medical industrial complex doesn’t have much threat to hold over me. (I love my life and I wouldn’t want to die anytime soon, but if it’s my time to go it’s my time to go.)

I am a boomer, and even though I dropped out of the middle class starting in the early 2000s in order to be a full-time artist and activist, with a big drop in income, I still consider myself to be in the very privileged class, and I am making my choices accordingly. I will not participate in investment funds, and I generally avoid accumulating money beyond a bit for house repairs.

My choices aren’t an option for everyone, but since they are an option for me, it is one way that I am trying to move the needle.

As part of this, I am trying to encourage my fellow Boomers to explore how they might also be able to reduce their need for money. And therefore to reduce, at least a bit, the collective pressure on people to invest in blood money just to get by.

In a couple of years I will be starting to collect Social Security, which will probably be about $1000 a month and that will be a lot for me. And if Social Security doesn’t remain solvent, then a lot of us will be in the same boat and I will be focused on helping others weather the storm as much as dealing with it myself.

And right now, one of my favorite activities is helping people get free of dehumanizing jobs and or just jobs that demand too much of their time. Almost any job is tolerable if we don’t have to spend too much time & life-energy doing it. I learned that over the years as an artist activist who has taken many gigs to pay the bills but never been forced to take full-time jobs just to get by.

It’s way harder for younger people, so I feel an obligation and a calling to help younger people especially. Sometimes the help is just offering a really cheap or free place to stay. Or supporting their side business by spending money with them and sharing their posts etc. It’s all little things but I really think it adds up.

And thank you Laura Oldanie for mentioning our book in the SC-FIRE community. This is one of the ways that we are trying to help people get free of these dreadful dilemmas.

  • Full disclosure: the paid-for house is only because I inherited money when my mother passed. Before that, I was a precarious renter like so many of us. And I will always and forevermore be a housing activist, for life! I have been strongly activating for various forms of naturally affordable housing to be re-integrated into our neighborhoods, towns, and cities. A big reason why things were so much easier financially for us white boomers is that the housing ecosystem hadn’t yet gotten massively tainted by behemoth “investment funds,” as well as NIMBY ism / single-family- zoning elitism and other ills.

BTW I have found that one of the main things they give a person leverage, besides radically reducing their overhead expenses, is having such a strong calling that they will do whatever it takes to be able to pursue that calling fulltime (or close to fulltime).

Every choice has trade-offs; that will always be the case. But having a strong calling can make it feel a lot easier and less sacrifice-y to do things like share an apartment; forgo “vacations” (it’s amazing how little we need a “vacation” if we don’t have a life we need to escape from); share a car or go car-free altogether.