Monday, July 21, 2014

Retirement: Set!

It's finally scheduled. Not the original plan, where I worked until age 70 and got maximum SS benefits, but the old bod was working hard to get my attention, telling me that kind of wait just wasn't going to be working. No pun intended.

First, Minnesota changed their requirements to pass the DOT physical. The bouts of A-Fib were going to make passing my next one this fall problematic. Everybody was telling me to go to such-and-such clinic: they'd pass anybody. Not any more. The new laws went into effect this spring. I had warning, and a few months of grace to make plans.

I had my scheduled phone calls with the Social Security folks last week. I'd been going on the summer notices they have been sending out. If you are "of a certain age", you've seen them. They start out with "if your income continues at its current level until the year..." then fill in what they will pay you if you retire at each of several different ages. That's why I was planning on retiring at 70. I hadn't seen one of those notices for a while, and only had saved old notices to go on to estimate income.

My problem was that recent years' income had gone down. I'd heard that SS was weighted toward the last years, with a lower income just before retiring producing a lower income after retiring. I was dreading that phone call. My latest figures were from 2009. Retirement this year was already going to be tighter than wanted, and a decrease.... Uff!

I was given two choices. My marrieage to Paul Sr. meant that I could take half of his income until my reaching 70, then get my own full SS from then on. Half of his would mean a couple hundred less per month for 4 years. Pinch! I was surprised to hear that doing that would not actually take away from his income, and he would never know whether I picked that option or not. In other words, never worrying about him showing up at the door with a shotgun in revenge for "stealing" his income. Then I was quoted my own SS income. I was happily surprised to heat it was about $100 a month over what the 2009 figures had estimated, not less as I'd feared. Taking out Medicare first brought it back down to what I'd figured originally: tight but should be survivable.

Then there was the second part of my retirement plan: selling the Minnesota house. The Arizona house is paid for. No mortgage, no rental payments. Just a few major repairs/upgrades planned. The Minnesota house got paid for several years ago. The plan had always been to sell it and use that as supplementary income to SS. Just not yet. I'd wanted to give the housing market time to recover more from the economy. Oh well.

Two questions had to be asked. First, did Paul want to buy the house?  Yes, if he could. So the second: could he afford it? We agreed to hire a reputable appraiser in the area, calling a local realtor I knew for a reference, and go with whatever price came back.  Paul figured out what he could pull together for a down payment, and a website figured out what principal + interest would be over 30, 25, and 20 years for the remainder. The upshot is that we have an appointment with my attorney this week to draw it up legally.

I will hold the mortgage, thus getting income from the house for the next 20 years, plus larger chunks for the next 4 years as the CDs the down payments sit in come mature. Should I die before the house is paid off, from any cause other than his murdering me, he gets the rest of the house payments forgiven, a plus for him. I get principal plus interest, a plus for me. The down payments would still be paid, though to Steve were I to die, for repairs to the AZ house. I also don't have to repair anything in this house. Paul will buy it as is, and having lived in it for the last 23 years, he has a reasonable expectation of what that is. We had a long discussion of expenses, anticipated repairs, and whatever details of home ownership I could dredge out of memory.

It seems like the best possible solution all around. And I get to retire much sooner than anticipated. I checked in at works, and sent in my written notice for September 19th. Now every little annoyance, every package where the customer lies about the weight so 5 lbs. turns into 45, every stop where front desk turns into a demand to haul it to the dock or vice versa, every day of sitting in construction traffic, each of them contributes to  that day seeming better and better.

Now I just have to hold out that long. Last week I pulled something in my back, just getting out of the car. I took Friday off, planning to return this morning. It's not great yet but better enough, I think, for easy duty. Packing is getting planned. So is moving out of "my" bedroom and into the one Steve has had for his own, leaving Paul better access to his home while we still have a summer place to hang out up here.

We're still talking about rent.

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