What do you fear about retirement?

Feb 2, 2011

How do you survive without a retirement job?

Apparently there is a lot of despair out there with not enough well-paid regular jobs and retirement jobs to go around.

I recently received this e-mail from a gentleman in the U.S. who obviously read one of my books.

It could have been either The Joy of Not Working or How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free.

Or it might have been Career Success Without a Real Job: since the gentleman mentioned something about being entrepreneurial.

Here is the e-mail:

    ----- Original Message -----
    From: Jason
    To: vipbooks
    Sent: Wednesday, February 02, 2011 1:42 PM
    Subject: How do you survive when nobody will let you have a job?

    Good Afternoon Mr. Zelinski;

    I have a rather simple question for you: How do you survive when nobody will let you work?

    I had a 30yr career as a software engineer before I got downsized out of my job back in August 2009. I went from $123,000.00 a year to zip. The economy being what it is, I haven’t worked since. I’ve gone bankrupt, lost my house, have had to depend on my parents for housing, and thanks to the cost of COBRA (health insurance at $1,300 per month), I’ve now burned through my 401K. Initially I was extremely bitter, especially because some of my most recent work is now earning that company millions of dollars. Eventually I got over that and decided to go back to school and train to become a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN). I’m doing very well with my current GPA at 4.0, but like I mentioned – I’ve burned out my 401K and I’ve got nothing left to sustain my not working. The biggest hindrance is health insurance.

    Aside from the quotable quotes, you book speaks a lot to inspiration and the entrepreneurial spirit, but very little to the practical side of the day-to-day existence. I have cut my debt to nearly zero (except for the monthly living expenses) thanks to a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. I have no loans, no housing payment. My wife and I live fairly simply. Health insurance (or should I say the lack of) is my wife’s greatest fear. I have mild narcolepsy, which means I can fall asleep really fast, but my medicine (at $400 per month) keeps me from doing it at the most inopportune times (like when I’m driving or when I’m at work). It makes me, as one insurance agent told me, uninsurable. My wife has fibromyalgia and a thyroid disease which makes her difficult, but not impossible to insure.

    So what do you suggest I do? I’m to the point where I’m actually looking to get back into the same field that abandoned me 1.5yrs ago…at half the salary I used to get. Why? Just to get the insurance and to build back up my savings that are nearly exhausted. Heck, I’d even work at Starbucks, but they no longer offer insurance to their part-timers. Of course I’ll have to abandon my going back to school and becoming an LPN. If you think I could try it again later, let me tell you: doing this now at 54 is pretty damn tough…in a couple more years, forget about it!

    I’m sorry I’m not one of those letter’s you’ll end up with in your next book. I was just hoping you might be able to suggest some way to get the health insurance we’d need.


This was my response:

    ----- Original Message -----
    From: Ernie Zelinski
    To: Jason
    Sent: Wednesday, February 02, 2011 6:00 PM
    Subject: Re: How do you survive when nobody will let you have a job?

    Hello Jason:

    Thanks for writing to me.

    I sympathize with your situation.

    I have a friend who recently at 66 got abruptly laid off after 14 years with a company. His rent is $1450 a month and his utlities are $500 a month but the most he can get from the Canada Pension Fund and Canadian Old Age Security is around $1,500 a month. He has no vehicle since he lost his company truck so I do the best I can do to take groceries to him and take him out to dinner once a week. Of course, my friend will have a hard time finding a retirement job.

    Even so, my friend created his situation over the years by not saving money. He made decent money for many years. I know people who made only half the the income he made and still have saved enough for retirement. And that is so true with many people in the U.S, and Canada.

    No doubt there are many people in my friend's situation as well as in your situation.

    It is your own decision as to whether you want to go back to your old field and work at half the salary. I can assure you, however, that there are people working at the lower-end salaries of $60,000 a year or less and are saving at least 20 percent of their income. One of the reasons that I don't have money problems even though I worked half of my adult life is that once I started making a decent income, I saved over 50 percent of my income. If my friend had done the same, he wouldn't be in the position he is today.

    Since I am not as knowledgeable of the American system as are some American financial experts themselves, I cannot give you any great advice on how to get health insurance.

    I would suggest that you write to Larry Wingate, Dave Ramsey, or Suze Orman who are three of my favorite financial experts in the U.S.

    I wish you the best of luck.

    Ernie Zelinski

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