There are many, many things I do not miss from the years I spent in the corporate world. Anyone who’s read here for any length of time knows that I am very well-suited to solopreneurship; I enjoy the solitude in my office, I like setting my own hours, I’m (relatively) organized and motivated, and being my own boss has significantly reduced the amount of rage I feel on a daily basis. But… there are a few things I sometimes think about, wistfully.
Fortunately, I’m married to a guy with decent employer-provided health insurance. That’s helpful, because to get a comparable policy on my own would probably cost me a kidney. But I have to tell you, I have a big birthday coming up (it, um, starts with “none of your business” and ends with a zero), and I guess I’m feeling my own mortality. I miss having a 401k with an employer-contributed match. Because the truth is that when I worked for IBM and money magically appeared in my 401k (okay, it wasn’t magic, but I was young and impressionable) I never worried about retiring.
Now, I wonder if I’ll ever be able to afford to stop working.
The reality is that I enjoy working and my job doesn’t require any heavy lifting or anything, so chances are excellent that I will continue working well into my twilight years whether I “have” to or not. But the question is, will I have the option to stop working?
Honesty time: At this very moment, the only retirement saving I’m doing is the max $5,000 contribution to my IRA every year. I rolled over my previous 401k to that account, and then—like everyone else in this country—lost most of it when the stock market tanked. The bottom line is that I don’t have a lot of money in that account, and even though the earliest I can picture retiring is still 25 years away, I worry.
I fooled around with this retirement calculator to get a sense of what I’m looking at for the future. It scared the hell out of me. I’m guesstimating on a lot of the numbers, of course, but with what I input, the calculator informed me that I’m around a million dollars short for a worry-free retirement. One million dollars. Ack!
Now, there’s lots of variables not figured into that equation; I can input my retirement savings, for example, but none of my other savings. There’s no way to account for spousal income or insurance money if he predeceases me, social security, or potential inheritances. And I’m totally guessing on the amount of money needed for yearly expenses because once my house is paid off and my kids are out of college, I’m not entirely sure what we “need” to live on. (Can you even imagine a world with no mortgage and no children needing snacks, clothing, and activities fees? Ha!)
All of those unaccounted-for issues aside, I worry. I don’t think $5,000/year is enough.
Now that I’ve incorporated my business, I’m eligible for a company 401k again… it’s just that I’m the company. So guess who just made an appointment with her accountant to talk about setting this up? It’s not that simple, of course; part of me feels like but I need that money now, I can’t afford to set any more aside!, but the long-term planner in me knows that I’m more likely to be able to make up the difference now than later. Somehow I need to figure out how to be putting more of this money away, or I’m still going to be blogging when I’m 100.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that. It’s just that, you know, I might have arthritis by then and typing could be painful. And I’d probably rather be playing with my grandkids.