I have no idea. I was an engineer in the aerospace industry for 30 years and had a really good life. But when I lost my job, I had to reinvent myself and took the only job I could find, which paid a lot less. It was a very stressful time. My wife left me. Fortunately, I met a wonderful lady and we got married. She makes good money and has helped me out of the financial hole I dug for myself. She is kind and very sharp. Thanks to her, I am somewhat back on my feet, and with her encouragement I was able to find a job that paid more. We are doing all right now, but still have a lot of saving to do before we can even think about retiring.
-Howard, 64, Aurora, Colo.
We “retired” when we turned 62 in 2001. That had been our goal for a very long time and we worked hard to achieve it. We spent two wonderful years enjoying our vacation home, our kids, living the good life. Then, my wife got cancer and had to undergo a long, painful and expensive series of treatments. Thank God she survived and is healthier than ever now. When she was finally eligible, we got her on Medicare, of course. But the medical bills were pretty tough to take. So I went back to consulting part time to help pay for them. Once I got back in the game, I realized I missed having something to do other than just golf. But at the end of this year I plan to hang it up for good.
-Anthony, 71, San Diego
My wife retired some time ago from teaching and has been doing volunteer work ever since. We are fortunate that we have good health plans that will carry over into retirement. I am planning to retire in about a year-and-a-half. I had already moved most of my money into safe havens (cash, bonds) before the stock market crash, so we were really lucky in that sense. I probably would have retired by now except the value of our house dropped so much, we decided to wait a few more years to see if it would rebound. We bought it so long ago that it’s still worth a lot more than we paid for it. But since we’re planning on downsizing anyway, we figure if we wait too long, the new place will cost more. So we’ll just sell it after I retire either way.
-Brad, 60, Flagstaff, Ariz.
We retired back in ’05 and have been living the dream ever since. My husband had a successful law practice and I worked in accounting. We were very careful how we spent our money and didn’t blow it on stupid toys the way some people do. So we were able to retire at 56 and 57. We have friends who were not so careful, and they ended up really struggling through the economic collapse. Some of them were downsized and had to sell their houses just to make ends meet. I am so glad my parents taught me how to save. My mother drilled it into me that you don’t want to end up poor and old. That’s a terrible combination!
-Ruby, 62, St. Petersburg, Fla.