|Fishing on the Blue River (Colorado)|
|Camping at Navajo Lake (New Mexico)|
My decision to begin a new career required me to "downsize" and economize after my lay-off. I elected to continue my health insurance for myself and my dependent college-age children via the protection of the federal COBRA law. I used my severance to pay the $495 monthly premium. I decided to put my house on the market (which was in a ridiculous "bubble" at the time). Timing is everything. I was able to sell my modest 45 year old ranch-style home in just two months for what was an obscene amount of money.
|Leaving San Diego in 2005...my home since 1969.|
|My little Shangri-la at 7,500 ft. elevation|
|I even had a hammock for those lazy summer days...|
|...and lots of wildflowers and wild birds to enjoy...|
|...and a hot tub to enjoy the clear starry nights|
|My office at home.|
By 2006, I had to convert my COBRA medical insurance plan to an individual plan. I was shocked to find that insurance companies rejected my application for coverage due to "pre-existing conditions". I hadn't planned on having no medical insurance in my pre-Medicare years. Fortunately, in the 1980's, the New Mexican legislature set up a public-private partnership to cover those of us without employer-provided insurance who cannot get individual insurance due to "pre-existing conditions" and/or exhaustion of COBRA coverage. I got medical insurance for myself (no dependents) at age 55 for about $424 a month. Unfortunately, this monthly premium grew each year to ultimately consume 25% of my income by 2010. I applied for an early retirement pension (with reduced benefits) just to pay for my medical insurance. I will not be eligible for Medicare until January, 2016. And now, I have "retired" again by starting my Social Security benefits.
I feel lucky because many "boomers" my age have not been as fortunate in their "retirement" years. For so many, Social Security will be their only source of retirement income and so they will work well into their seventies to supplement their Social Security. The odd fate of being laid-off too early ended up with my selling my house at the "top" of the market rather than after its collapse. I am very aware that so many people my age were not so fortunate and were heavily indebted when the market collapsed and they lost their homes, equity and assets. I am thankful that government "safety nets" have been there to help me navigate the rough road of pre-retirement in the past decade. I had six months of unemployment benefits after my layoff, a 16 month extension of eligibility for my employer-provided medical insurance because of the COBRA law, and I was able to get individual insurance because of state law and will be eligible for less expensive medical insurance in 2014 because of the Afforable Care Act (Obamacare). I am thankful to the Machinists' Union that I was eligible for an early retirement pension. And now I am thankful for Social Security that I have paid into since 1968.
I want to concentrate on creating art in 2013. With more time off and with the completion of my art studio (remodeling the garage), I'm hoping on spending more time on my creative self. That and visiting the kids and grandkids, seeing old friends, reading more, gardening, some camping and fishing, and a little travel....
|Spending time with family and grandchildren...|
|...and travel...maybe even a cruise this year.|