Posted by: chlost | October 6, 2015

(Bad) Dreams of Retirement

It often seems to be much too far away, and at other times, I am frightened by how quickly it is coming up. Each day, I am that much closer to retirement.

My job is stressful. I have been burned out for many years. I worked for this office on a part-time contract for most of the those years. But for nearly 4 years now, I have been a full-time employee. I am one of the lucky few who still has a defined-benefit retirement, which bases my pension amount on the highest five years of salary over the time of my employment. So even though I will have worked most of the time as a part-time employee, my retirement will be based on those five full-time years. I am now four years into the “high five” that I want to use for the retirement.

It is time to figure out what we are going to do when that day gets here.

I don’t see myself as not working at all after I retire. I would love to work at some sort of job. Something that I enjoy, but without the stress of my current position. I am very tired of being the one who is supposed to “fix” the mistakes made by others. I am not sure what I could do, and not sure what jobs are available for me at this age.

This past week, Merle and I attended a retirement seminar put on by my employer. That made the prospect of retirement even more real. So we have begun the “discussions” in earnest.

Merle and I have always had trouble agreeing on things. We tend to get stuck on issues where there is no agreement, and nothing happens. The status quo is maintained by default. On this subject, that really isn’t an option. So we have been searching for things we agree on, and deferring for later discussion those things that we don’t agree about.

One thing we did agree upon was that we need to downsize within the near future. This house is too big, we live too far away from our son, and we would like to have some funds available for doing other things.


We want a one-story home with a main floor laundry and minimal upkeep. We would like something newer than our current home. We would like enough bedrooms to allow some overnight guests., and a modern kitchen.


However, we do not agree on the definition of “downsize”, we are of differing opinions as to how close we should live to the city where our son lives, and we disagree on how much money should be tied up in housing.

We (I) have been looking at real estate listings to see what the prices are and where our money would be best spent. I share them with Merle, who doesn’t look at them unless I force him to open the emails while I am looking.

We (I)  have been in contact with a contractor to check out what repairs or improvements we should do to our current home in order to sell it and get the best price. Merle hasn’t talked with him yet, and I have had to schedule another meeting at the end of the week-supposedly Merle will be there.

Merle, in my opinion, wants to spend much too much money, have a much too large home, in a very unrealistically upscale area. His preference is to have a home “on water” in order to have a big speed boat that he can just walk to in the backyard. He has become fixated on a house plan for a home that we could build. It is marginally smaller than our current home, and according to a friend who has done some building, would cost significantly more than our current home’s value.

He’s always been a dreamer.

I’m the dream killer.

These next several months are going to be very difficult.



  1. At least you’re talking and that’s good. I don’t know that you’re so much a dream killer as a realist. (Maybe that makes you a dream killer.) You know your comfort zone. If you stretch your finances beyond that, then you will be stressed, replacing one stress with another. That’s my outsider looking in observation. Hopefully you and Merle can reach a compromise.

    • Yes, I think that practicality usually kills dreams. I have had the tendency to give in to the dreams in the past. Not sure how this will end up.

  2. Wow, I could have written this piece myself. We’re having the exact same conversations at our house these days. Must be a developmental stage they didn’t teach me about in grade school.

  3. Oh, boy. My stomach hurt by the end of this–mostly because I wouldn’t have the patience for these negotiations or having to work with a partner whose vision was so different from mine. You are patient and wise, to know that this is a slow dance,one step to the left, two to the right, and back to the left again.

  4. I think I would be considered a dream killer too. But just because it can be afforded at the moment doesn’t mean it can be afforded. The unexpected happens, things change. I gave in on some dreams but learned that “things” can’t bring happiness…that has to come from within… and things won’t make a person full if they are empty inside. I hope in time you will find a middle ground you are both comfortable with. It’s great you are discussing this advance.

  5. Yikes. That’s a tough one. I’d have a view more like yours – I am a huge fan of living below your means and not getting sucked into excess.

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