Too Old To Retire "Young"

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EdithKeeler
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Too Old To Retire "Young"

Post by EdithKeeler » Sat Mar 29, 2014 4:21 pm

I’ve been reading the blog for quite a while and posting on the forums a bit, but I decided to start a journal here, just to keep myself accountable.

So, I’m 49, which is too old to retire young (but not THAT old), but I still plan to retire by, hopefully, age 55. I am single—never married—no kids, but I do have 4 dogs (all rescues). I own a house in Texas, which is currently rented out; the rent is paying the mortgage and management fees but nothing on top of that. This is the second year it’s been rented, to the same tenant, who is a good tenant, but I am planning to raise the rent a bit for him if he stays, and more if he leaves, come September. It’s rented for considerably under market at the moment, but in fairness, the market has changed quite a bit in almost 2 years.

Anyway (and clearly this is going to be a bit of a ramble…), I moved from Texas back to Tennessee in 2012 to be close to my elderly mother and my brother. My mom has a lot of physical problems—terrible arthritis, Parkinson’, a blood problem—and can’t drive anymore and needs help. My brother, who is 5 years younger than I am, lives with my mom, but he’s got troubles of his own. A victim of brain injury when he was a kid, he’s smart, but has some physical effects, memory problems, and some emotional issues as well. He does work right now, but makes about 10 an hour or so, and usually not a full week.

When I moved from Texas back to Tennessee, I gave up my management job with an insurance company. That was good and bad; the job was FRANTIC all the time, and I worked 60 hour weeks. There had been two of us in my position, splitting the work load, but the other guy got fired and they never replaced him. And me, being the kind of person that I am, just took it and worked myself into some pretty significant health problems. When I moved back here, I took a step down in role (no longer in management), but got to keep my same salary, which was pretty sweet. My job is quiet, and often boring, actually, and I’m still trying to adjust to that. I’m not used to being bored… I bought a house that was in foreclosure, paid cash for it, and then incurred some debt in fixing it up. I also had a giant tax bill last year related to the move and some decisions I made there, and am working to get that paid off. I hate having debt!! It should be paid off within a year, if not sooner. I also paid off my car a couple of months ago, and plan to drive that sucker until the wheels fall off.

I’m currently maxing out my 401(k) at work—will be 23K this year as this is the “turn 50” year so I get to bump it up and start doing catch up contributions. I’m lucky, because my company also offers a small pension (at last check, if I retired tomorrow, I think I’d get about $100 a month starting at age 62, though it goes up considerably the longer I stay), a nice match on my 401(K) from my employer, and profit sharing each year into the retirement account as well, which usually is about 2-3% of my salary.

I know that I’m doing better financially than 99% of my peers at work in terms of savings, assets and debt, but not so hot compared to the rest of this community! My current goals are to:
• Pay off the debt I’ve accrued
• Eat out less (putting a huge dent in my income… and I actually still eat at home quite a bit)
• Look for additional ways to cut expenses
• Start investing outside my retirement accounts.

In that last category, I think I’d like to buy more real estate. I like being a landlord, and I think if I didn’t have to work full time, I’d manage my properties myself. My DxBF has several properties, including a small apartment building, that allowed him to retire at 50, though like Jacob, he went back to work because he sort of got an offer he couldn’t refuse.

The big unknown in my future planning is my mom and brother. They have no assets and no income other than my mom’s social security income and what my brother makes. If she has to go into assisted living—wait, let’s change that to WHEN she has to go into assisted living—there won’t be enough money to pay for anything decent, and I struggle with knowing to what extent I will/should help out. Also, I’m pretty sure that once my mom passes away, my brother will end up living with me. So I have to factor some of this stuff into my ERE plan.

Anyway, so that’s me. I’ll check in here periodically with updates.

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BennKar
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Re: Too Old To Retire "Young"

Post by BennKar » Sun Mar 30, 2014 4:19 pm

As you're about my age, I would point out one thing... you should check on the pension being available to you at 62 if you leave now (if you're considering it). I say that as I have a pension I am eligible for and for me it starts at my "normal" retirement age, which according to the S.S. is 67, not the age I am first eligible for any SS payment (which is 62). Your pension may be different from mine, but I would make certain of that. As a side note, I can get pension payments before that date, but only if I "retire" from this job (not quit), which will be at 60.5.

WorkingWageWealth
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Re: Too Old To Retire "Young"

Post by WorkingWageWealth » Sun Mar 30, 2014 7:27 pm

Thanks for sharing. My parents turn 59 and 60 this year and one of the reasons that I have recommitted to prioritizing my financial life is because I want to be in a place to help them should and when they need it. I look forward to reading more of your journal and I wish you the best.
Last edited by WorkingWageWealth on Mon Mar 31, 2014 1:56 am, edited 1 time in total.

EdithKeeler
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Re: Too Old To Retire "Young"

Post by EdithKeeler » Sun Mar 30, 2014 10:07 pm

BennKar wrote:As you're about my age, I would point out one thing... you should check on the pension being available to you at 62 if you leave now (if you're considering it). I say that as I have a pension I am eligible for and for me it starts at my "normal" retirement age, which according to the S.S. is 67, not the age I am first eligible for any SS payment (which is 62). Your pension may be different from mine, but I would make certain of that. As a side note, I can get pension payments before that date, but only if I "retire" from this job (not quit), which will be at 60.5.
Thanks, BennKar. Good point. I called it a pension for simplicity's sake, but it's actually a cash balance pension plan. As I understand it,these are sort of hybrid between a defined benefit and a defined contribution plan. Essentially each year I work there, an amount is set aside by the company (actually, I think it's a credit of some sort), and it works out to be about 3% of my pay each year (at least so far... Theoretically that contribution could stop at any time, I guess). This is not money that I put in, but rather that my company earmarks to an account that belongs to me. I've been there long enough that I'm fully vested. When I get ready to call it quits, I have the option of purchasing an annuity with the money or rolling it over into an IRA, I believe, or taking a lump sum payment.

It's administered by Aon; I have fun going into their website and playing with scenarios: If I quit tomorrow and started taking my payments the next week, I'd get $22 a month... or whatever it works out to be. But the longer I stay, the more I get. The $100 was what I recalled from my last foray onto the website. I do remember that, if I stick it out to 65 it estimates I'd get $1600 or so a month. Not chump change... but not worth sticking it out another 15 years if I don't have to.

DutchGirl
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Re: Too Old To Retire "Young"

Post by DutchGirl » Mon Mar 31, 2014 2:17 am

Hi, nice to see you here. And also nice to see that you're supporting your family.
EdithKeeler wrote:I own a house in Texas, which is currently rented out; the rent is paying the mortgage and management fees but nothing on top of that.
I would like to point out that if the rent pays mortgage and management fees, then the renter is probably also helping you pay down the principal. So you are in fact getting a little bit of profit from this. You won't see that profit until you sell the house, but still you're "saving up" within the house...

mxlr650
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Re: Too Old To Retire "Young"

Post by mxlr650 » Mon Mar 31, 2014 5:40 am

EdithKeeler wrote:I know that I’m doing better financially than 99% of my peers at work in terms of savings, assets and debt, but not so hot compared to the rest of this community! My current goals are to:
• Pay off the debt I’ve accrued
• Eat out less (putting a huge dent in my income… and I actually still eat at home quite a bit)
If there is a way you can take a loan from retirement account and pay off your debt, you will be essentially paying interest+principal to yourself. It will be an amazing achievement if you can retire early and still help out your mom/bro. Hats off to you!!

EdithKeeler
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Re: Too Old To Retire "Young"

Post by EdithKeeler » Mon Mar 31, 2014 8:43 pm

@DutchGirl: You're right, I am building equity with my Texas house, and I'm definitely counting on it. I just meant from a cash flow perspective, it's not giving me any more cash beyond covering costs. Knock wood, so far I have not had any significant repairs, and I'm hoping the roof lasts one more year (or a really bad TX hailstorm comes and lets me make an insurance claim to have it replaced). I want to get my debt dealt with before that happens. Also, I think there's a pretty good chance I may move back there eventually, and my plan is to accelerate the payoff some after I get the other debt handled.

@mxlr650: You're right, I could do a loan from my retirement account, but I've been really hesitant to do that, because I'd have to pay it back immediately if I lost my job or quit in a fit of pique. My company likes me pretty well, but our office is overstaffed, and we have some new management that's big on "efficiencies." We're hearing a lot about that these days. I've decided I feel more comfortable not getting a loan against it right now, just because I don't want to be in a "OMG, I need to pay this back" position. You don't have to, of course, but then the tax ramifications are pretty dire. (I know because I did this once, years ago. Just not eager for a repeat). The debt is all at really low interest rates, so I feel OK about it... but I'm getting it gone, too!


And... on the subject of debt, good news! I got an unexpected windfall check today, found out I got a small raise (very small, but my first in 3 years) and I was told I am getting a bonus I was not expecting. Not a Wall Street banker type bonus, but a bonus just the same. All of this will go onto the debt, which will accelerate the payoff.

I've been keeping a spreadsheet of my debt, tracking my payoff rate, but today I updated it to calculate my net worth. I don't want to post a lot of details about my money here right now, but I was happy to realize that my net worth is enough that, if I were to liquidate everything right now, I could theoretically live a Jacob-like lifestyle. That is a really freeing realization, and frankly, seeing it laid out like that gives me great peace of mind. I actually didn't realize it was a high as it was, because I've been so focused on the negative (the debt). I'm not ready to walk away right now, of course, because I don't think I could actually live quite as ascetically as Jacob seems to, and I can't give up my car and I won't give up my pets. Most importantly, I have these family obligations I have to attend to, and uncertainty about the future there.

And I have to say, I love this website and forum and the community. I especially love the journals--I spent a lot of time reading them yesterday, and just got so wrapped up! They're giving me some great ideas and inspiration!

EdithKeeler
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Re: Too Old To Retire "Young"

Post by EdithKeeler » Wed Apr 02, 2014 9:41 pm

Was reminded a couple of times this week why I want to retire early.

Our annual employee survey went out, asking questions like "I am excited to get up and come to work in the morning." (Hardly ever), and "I feel like my full abilities are used in my job" (no) and "My company provides excellent work-life balance." (Well, it's OK, but I'd like more "life" and less "time at the office.") And on the one hand, getting such surveys makes me slightly optimistic that they really do care and want to improve things, but the cynical part of me feels like it's all done so someone can check off a box on their own goals for the year. And slightly paranoid that despite all assurances of anonymity, I'm still not quite convinced. And really, I have nothing to complain about. As companies goes, mine's not bad, probably better than average. I'm just kind of burnt out and in need of a change.

The second thing that reminded me that I want to retire is a conversation with a friend where he told me he just paid off his house, and finally hit the half million bucks mark in his retirement accounts. I was thinking "What the hell are you still working for?" thinking that at a 4% SWR and a not-even-so-Spartan lifestyle, he'd be set. He's not that crazy about his job, either, but has bought into the financial industry's hype of "gotta have a million bucks or more before you retire."

Finally, I feel a cold coming on. I've been on the downward slide all day and I know I'm not going to feel well tomorrow. I get sick about once every 2 years, and of course I HAVE to be in the office the next two days. Thinking that once I hit ERE I probably won't get as many colds (not that I get a lot) since I won't be sharing germs with other office people and if I do, I can nurse myself back to health quicker by sleeping in and resting like a person is supposed to.

On the financial side, I paid off a debt balance with my windfall money. More to go, but a good start. More next week when I receive my bonus money. I also increased my HSA contribution to the max, in anticipation of retirement. I'll use that money to fund my health insurance premiums before Medicare kicks in. Next step is figuring out the investment mechanism for that money, which I haven't paid any attention to.

Hankaroundtheworld
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Re: Too Old To Retire "Young"

Post by Hankaroundtheworld » Thu Apr 03, 2014 6:47 am

Lol, had to laugh about the "employee survey", you are fully right to be cynical about it. I have seen so many about these surveys, and also discussed with management about the results and focus area's for improvement, but one Month later, everything goes further as-is. It is a yearly discussion, managers need to do this and show interest (for their targets), but it will not change the major processes of a big Company.

EdithKeeler
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Re: Too Old To Retire "Young"

Post by EdithKeeler » Tue Apr 08, 2014 7:43 pm

Nothing to do with ERE, but I finished a short story this weekend. I've had several short stories published, and have been picking away at a couple of novels, but my old job and its demands, as well as some other things, got me off track on my writing. I've finished 3 short stories in about a year, which isn't terrible, I suppose (I have a writer friend who'd be thrilled with that), but I think I need to do better.

Anyway, it felt really GOOD to be in that "flow" space and just write, and have a very passable draft at the end. My usual practice is to put it away for a while then revisit and edit and rewrite, and I realized that I haven't gone back to those other 2 stories to review--I just kind of put them away.

Anyway, it's a very short, light piece, and I don't know if it's sellable, but it reminded me how much I love to create, and that I still have some stories that I need to get "out there" and find a home for.

And, of course, it will earn me money furthering my ERE goals--I think I've earned maybe $100 total from my writing endeavors to date! (lifetime...)

EdithKeeler
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Re: Too Old To Retire "Young"

Post by EdithKeeler » Thu Apr 10, 2014 6:50 pm

I was working on budget stuff today and thought I’d post some actual numbers, for self-accountability. I wasn’t going to do this, but I figured everyone else has, so why not?
My net income from my salary, after health insurance, HSA contribution, maxing out my 401(k) with catch-up contributions, etc. is just over $4K a month. I’m going to use inexact, round numbers here because well, I was an English major, not a math major—sorry, engineers! I’m not including my income and outgo for my rental, because right now that’s breaking almost exactly even. These are rounded, average numbers over the last year. A couple are wild-assed guesses because I didn’t feel like doing that much research.

House: $440 (taxes, insurance)
Utilities: $125 (electric, gas, water, sewer, garbage pick up, etc.)
Internet: $45
Cell phone: $120 (yes, it’s huge)
Gasoline: $150 (probably a bit on the high side, reflects several road trips and unusual activity)
Car insurance: $100
Pets: $200
Food at home: $200
Food out: $200
Clothes: $50 (WAG)
Gifts: $40 (WAG)

Total: $1670

Stuff not here are things I’ve bought for various projects, etc., books (a big expenditure in the past), media (paid-for streaming movies, I-tunes, etc.) and other spending I just really don’t do much of anymore. I also don’t have a category right now for house repairs; a good portion of the debt was for work I had done to the house before I moved in, and right now everything’s pretty new and pristine, though realistically I should budget a couple of hundred or so at least for that each month... but I’m going to wait until the debt is paid off then recalibrate everything. I also don’t have a category for gardening, which has been a big expense the last couple of summers as I’ve gotten my yard in order, and my veggie garden going, etc. but those outlays are behind me—more miscellaneous going forward.

In other words, I’m not really super meticulous about keeping up with every number, though I admire those of you who are!

I mentioned in another post that I have some debt that I’m working on, so that’s where the difference is going right now, and with any luck, it should be paid off in 6 months or so.

I’m actually really happy with these numbers, and while I know they’re not as extreme as most people’s around here (I totally admire you guys and am learning a lot), they are way better than they used to be, and they’re still improving. This also gives me a pretty good idea of what my budget is going to be like after I finally retire—the food out is already going down but it represents mostly meals out at lunch and taking my mom and brother out to eat once a month or so.

The big unknown for me is what’s going to happen with my mom, and along the way, with my brother. I wrote about that previously, so I’m not going to rehash here. Once the debt is paid off, I could technically probably semi-early-retire now, take a position with maybe lower pay and fewer hours, but the uncertainty with my family keeps me from doing that. Some of my expenses are related to family—the cell phone is high because it includes a cell for my mom so she can get in touch with me. Both of the “food” categories include stuff for them—if we go out, I always treat, and I buy groceries and cook at my mom’s house every Sunday night. Occasionally I get takeout, etc. for her as well. Even the pets category—this is mostly for my pets, but my mom has these feral cats that she feeds, and I’ve been taking them in and having them neutered and spayed as we can catch them (to prevent MORE feral cats...) and I occasionally help with a vet bill for my mom. Actually, some of the debt I’m paying for is for some vet bills that I took care of for her a while back when 2 of her dogs got really sick. (Yeah, don’t lecture me. She’s old, she’s stuck at home, her pets are her biggest pleasure, and I’m not going to have my mom too much longer. I can afford it. And she’s not getting any more pets as the ones she has go to their eventual reward in doggie and kitty heaven...). But a lot of these fees and things are going to change as some of the pets die off, and my mom will eventually be gone as well. Of course, before then I might find myself helping with assisted living, and that’s what keeps me from pulling the trigger on scaling back. For now.

I mentioned that I calculated out my net worth for the first time, and it’s really given me a sense of security. If the bottom fell out right this very minute (heaven forfend!) my net worth is still right around $270,000, and that’s even with one house with a big mortgage and one paid for, a 401(k) that took a pretty good dump today with the stock market’s fall, and that crappy debt that I’m throwing everything at right now. I feel pretty good about that, and am looking forward to seeing that net worth number increase as I get that debt taken care of, get a better handle on what the house in Texas is really worth (I think I’m estimating low, but it doesn’t really matter because I’m not selling it anytime soon), and maybe tweak some of those problematic budget areas like eating out, etc.

George the original one
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Re: Too Old To Retire "Young"

Post by George the original one » Thu Apr 10, 2014 7:35 pm

> Of course, before then I might find myself helping with assisted living, and that’s what keeps me
> from pulling the trigger on scaling back.

That's a potential expense that is will keep you from pulling the trigger. Have you looked in advance at the assisted living options for her?

EdithKeeler
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Re: Too Old To Retire "Young"

Post by EdithKeeler » Thu Apr 10, 2014 8:46 pm

George the original one wrote:>

That's a potential expense that is will keep you from pulling the trigger. Have you looked in advance at the assisted living options for her?
Yes, I have done some research, but I need to do more--with my mom. She's in denial about a lot of things--she goes between "I just want to be in assisted living right now so I don't have to deal with anything," and "I don't want to hang out with those old people in assisted living." My mom's NOT a joiner, and because of her depression, getting her to do anything outside of family stuff is a real challenge. I suggested we tour some local ones, just to get a feel for what might be right for her, but so far I haven't been able to make that happen.

Assisted living around here will run anywhere from $1600 a month to $6000 a month. Of course, she wants to live in the $6k a month one if she has to go.... and can only afford the $1600 ones (which are awful). The other issue that I think I touched on in an earlier entry is that when she finally goes into assisted living, she will lose her house, and my brother will need to find a new place to live (likely my house). It's best for many reasons to keep her in her home for as long as possible but we're going to have to her some help, and it doesn't come cheap.

Honestly, I feel very torn between saving for my own retirement and helping them; in dark moments I'm really angry that she didn't prepare better, but we don't have a time machine to go back and fix it. I debate with myself a lot about how much I should help, and how well I can live with myself if I don't.

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Dragline
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Re: Too Old To Retire "Young"

Post by Dragline » Thu Apr 10, 2014 9:56 pm

I am your age and have a similar situation with aging parents and a sister who lives with them, who sounds a bit like your brother in terms of capabilities.

They essentially ran out of money -- or you might more charitably say outlived it. I ended up buying their house, selling it and buying a different house closer to stores and doctors to put them in. I gave them an annuity (self-created) as payment for the house so they can't squander the money, which means they get a monthly payment from me, but its not available to creditors and should not disqualify them from Medicaid when its time for that.

Don't know your situation exactly but these might be some options you want to look into. I agree with your sentiment that I feel much better knowing I did something now than regretting it when they are gone, even if it does delay my other plans a bit. Thank God I have a generous and understanding DW.

EdithKeeler
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Re: Too Old To Retire "Young"

Post by EdithKeeler » Sat Apr 12, 2014 10:34 pm

I'm taking a small vacation soon, and have been struggling all week making hotel reservations. I think sometimes I get so "into" saving money so I can quit my job that I deny myself things that impact my enjoyment of life now. I've planned this trip to Texas for a while--already canceled it once--and I'm looking at hotels and thinking "Man, that's expensive!" My first inclination is to go with the cheap cheap--I could stay in a Motel 6 by the airport for about $40 a night. But, it's too far out, and it's a vacation after all, and I'd like to see friends and stay somewhere more convenient.... So I started looking at Courtyard, Hampton Inn, etc. which are the kinds of places I stay when I travel for business (so rarely now). The prices for those places and the deluxe Omni hotel were almost the same. The Omni is super convenient to where I want to be, it'll be a great place to meet friends for a drink in the bar, the pool is lovely... so I decided what the heck and booked it. Now, of course, I feel guilty!

Anyway, the rest of the trip will be on the cheap--I'm driving, I can anticipate my DxBF to take me out for a nice dinner, and other friends may do the same. Actually, I shouldn't feel too bad--my dogs' "hotel" bill will be more than mine.

Everyone needs a vacation once in a while, I think. I haven't had a non-business related trip in a long time.

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Dragline
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Re: Too Old To Retire "Young"

Post by Dragline » Sat Apr 12, 2014 10:50 pm

Yup. Make sure you check Hotwire.

saving-10-years
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Re: Too Old To Retire "Young"

Post by saving-10-years » Sun Apr 13, 2014 1:05 am

Have a good trip. I understand about all the mental circling about wasting money vs. wasting the opportunity. Spending nearly more on your dogs' holiday should clue you in that you have not gone overboard. ;-) If you are travelling alone a good (safe and convenient) location matters for peace of mind. I don't stay in corporate hotels when travelling for holidays because they usually don't suit our needs, but I know that you can get good deals that make them a reasonable option.

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Carlos
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Re: Too Old To Retire "Young"

Post by Carlos » Sun Apr 13, 2014 8:18 am

Enjoy your vacation and don't feel guilty. Remember to live in the present.

IlliniDave
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Re: Too Old To Retire "Young"

Post by IlliniDave » Sun Apr 13, 2014 9:14 am

In my mind the game isn't completely about spending the lowest amount of money possible. I saw a definition of frugality once (in a dictionary) that was essentially "efficient and prudent use of resources". Money spent to truly enhance one's quality of life is generally worth the time it took to earn the money. If you haven't already, Your Money or Your Life by Robin and Dominguez might be worth reading; and they do a nice job of framing a reasonable guiding of ones spending towards that which enhances quality life and away from that which detracts or has no real effect on quality of life. It's not an objective measure as we all have different sets of values/goals/aspirations, etc. I didn't follow their process but absorbed their principles into my process and it was beneficial. If nothing else it heads off some of the internal debate regarding "guilt" when I spend money on things that are not critical to survival.

EdithKeeler
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Re: Too Old To Retire "Young"

Post by EdithKeeler » Mon Apr 14, 2014 9:50 pm

I was just thinking about the movie “Working Girl,” which came out in 1988, just a couple of years after I graduated from college. In a lot of ways, I could totally relate to that movie at that time of my life. I was going to be Tess, do the bold things (unlike Sigourney Weaver who did devious things) , work really hard and end up with the great job and great career and lots of money.

I re-watched “Working Girl” a year or so ago, and I was struck by the END of the movie for the first time. Here’s this fighter, this sassy woman who puts it all on the line to advance, who gets the office, her own secretary AND Harrison Ford at the end. But with that final shot of the outside of the building, we realize that it’s just one of a kabillion similar small offices in the big city, and it was sobering for me to realize that what seemed so important, so monumental, is actually so, well, mundane. My 23 year old self missed that the first time around.

I realized on my recent viewing (through the jaundiced eye of age and experience) that she’s going to give up a LOT of quality time with that hottie Harrison Ford if she wants the much-harder-to-come-by bigger corner office. You see it in their frantic breakfast scene on her first day of work. I thought the first time around “How fun and cute!” to be eating toast together over the sink. Now I watch it with the benefit of hindsight and life experience and realize that was just the beginning of a life where they roll out of bed at 5 AM, rush to work to get home by 9 PM or later... and they might have dinner together once a week, and sex every other Saturday if they’re lucky and not traveling, too tired, or trying to catch up on sleep. I know it, because it became my life, and I wasn’t even doing anything exciting like flying to Hong Kong once a week to negotiate multi-million dollar deals.

I wonder if Tess and Harrison Ford stayed with it until they got their gold watches and formally retired at 65 or 70? I wonder if Tess a few years down the road felt the ticking of her biological clock and had a baby or two? Did they move to a house in Connecticut where she decided to take a few years off work, or did they stay in the city and hire a nanny? Maybe the frantic work pace got to them and their relationship died a year or so later. Or did Tess and Harrison Ford a few years down the line realize they could save like crazy and chuck the frantic working life and concentrate on other interests before they were too old to enjoy them?

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