Staying retired is not easy
Hi everyone, I’m back.
My life has changed quite a lot lately. To make the long story short: about a month ago, I started working again. Not full time. It’s a part time job.
I know it doesn’t sound like me. I mentioned in this blog over and over again that, I enjoyed my early retirement life. No regrets about leaving the engineering career 6 years ago, and I was happy about retiring early 4 years ago. That was the truth, and still stays being the truth.
Then, why did I decide to go back working again?
Am I crazy? No.
Where the thought started:
The thought process started when I was in China, in late 2018.
At that time, the stock market was really not doing well. I was not in panic mode. I knew, sooner or later, the market would bounce back. But it’s accurate to say, as an early retiree, I didn’t feel comfortable about that volatility of the market.
Financially I was doing fine, and didn’t have to do any withdrawals from my investment. In many ways, I’m very conservative on personal finances, and had a plan in place to weather years of volatile market.
But, deep in my mind, I still worried, and felt the insecurity financially, especially when the market goes down. I liked to take some actions.
What actions? Get a job, and make some money.
It would be nice to see some money flowing in. I wouldn’t have to touch much about my cash reserves. Also I could invest a little bit. The last, but not the least: it would be good to get the health insurance through work, if possible.
Right after I came back home from China, there was another change.
My car was a 2009 Japanese car. The original plan was to drive it for another 8 or 9 years. You know what? Having a plan is better than no plan. But life doesn’t always go as we planned.
My kid needed a car then. I decided to let him drive my 2009 car, and I bought a brand new car for myself.
So, if you heard that, most of the early retirees are frugal to extremes: they eat ramen every day, and drive beat-up cars, or don’t even own a car, that’s totally false.
Most of the early retirees are regular people. They choose to be frugal on stuff they don’t care about, but do splurge on good things once a while. At least, that’s the way I live.
Life is short. If I die tomorrow, there will be one less regret, as I got myself a new car. I don’t need to worry about car maintenance for 2 years (even oil change is covered by the manufacturer for the first 2 years).
Anyway, this new car put a dent to my cash reserve. Ha ha, another reason to go back to work.
In late February, I started working part time. The commute is short. And I got the full health insurance plus dental and vision coverage from work. Luckily, the part time employees pay the same premiums as the full time employees at this place.
Please don’t ask me what I do (for privacy reason). It’s just a part time job.
How did it go so far?
Being honest is part of who I am. A part-time job is still a job, period. It has a schedule, low level of stress, still need to get up early, work with boss(es), coworkers, and other people with patience and diplomacy.
Obviously I chose to work, neither because I needed socialization, life fulfillment / purpose, nor I wanted to change the world. I just wanted to make some money, and it’s sweet to get health insurance.
We Americans are obsessed with health insurance, probably because our health care system is so horrible. I was on Obamacare for 4 years without any subsidies. As the rate kept going up, I tried the short-term health insurance for 2 months this year. None of them are as good as employer-sponsored insurance for sure.
Do I miss my early retirement life? Absolutely. It would be a lie if I tell you no. I loved retirement, and still do.
But I still have 11+ years to go before hitting the age of 65, when the Medicare kicks in. This uncertainty of health insurance made me a little bit uneasy if I stay retired.
Can I afford to Obamacare? Yes, I can.
Do I want to spend $500 each month to get the bronze HMO plan, the cheapest plan with $7900 deductibles? Not really. Even my monthly grocery and utility bills are far less than $500. Why would I spend $500 on a plan that I don’t use much? It’s kind of against my values.
I like Obamacare, and don’t blame it at all. I blame those politicians, who sat there goofing around with taxpayers’ money, refused to do their jobs, refused to make it better, and tried to find every nasty and possible way to kill it. Shame on them!
The first month of going back to work was brutal. I have to tell you that, giving up the gained freedom is very hard. I was in training the first month, and my schedule was around 33 hours per week. But somehow I survived. Now the schedule is back to normal, 20 hours per week, which is sort of manageable.
Getting to the point of retiring early is hard. Staying retired in US is not easy either, mainly because of the health insurance. I don’t know how long I will work part time, but will keep my mind open to embrace the changes.