The Next Steps

Sometimes life whacks you in the back of the head while you are laser-focused and moving toward a goal. Our goal has always been an EARLY target retirement date of March 2025. Cancer and COVID caused us move the target date up to June 2023. Navigating our new work normal in the era of COVID has certainly been interesting. No wonder people are quitting jobs in record numbers. You eventually reach the point when you’ve had enough.

I reached that point on our first day of teacher preplanning. Apparently, my husband had a similar revelation about the same time while he was in the tube undergoing his most recent CT scan. He shared a little bit of what was going on at work before he left for his annual pilgrimage to the trapshooting competition in Sparta, IL. Since his return, we’ve had some very frank discussions about the future. His most recent visit to MD Anderson was mostly positive, but the blood tests show the cancer cells are active somewhere in his body. There just aren’t enough of them in any one place to show up on a scan.

These discussions have led to a flurry of activity:

(1) Number crunching – do we press pause or can we actually retire early?
(2) Figuring out our health insurance options. With his cancer, we need insurance. This is a non-negotiable.
(3) Being realistic about what life might look like without a day job.
(4) Am I really ready to stop working?

Answer: Health insurance coverage is going to be driving the bus. Fortunately, we do have some options for COBRA through our employers and private insurance; however, none of the options comes cheap.

My take: After 20 years of doing essentially the same thing, I’m ready for a new adventure. I’d like to chill for 6-12 months, travel, volunteer with Sadie and work on my sewing biz. I imagine I’ll be plenty busy, but I can always go find a part-time job if I get bored.

As Dave Ramsey always says, “Live like no one else so later you can live like no one else.”

It’s very true. We’ve worked hard, saved money and lived well below our means. We’ve been at Step 7 (Dave Ramsey plan) for a while. On paper, the numbers say we’re ready. Mentally, we’re ready. In a couple of weeks, I’ll have confirmed the nuances involved in keeping my existing insurance coverage in place during the gap between my last day of employment and the date I reach the age to receive my pension (insurance drops to retiree rate once my pension checks start if I keep the insurance in place during the gap).

So, if the price of freedom = 24 months of COBRA insurance payments, you bet we’re going for it!