May 11

How does one go about planning for the future?  I’ve tried doing some planning, but it all seems like such a waste of time. Things never work out the way you want them to, and life always gets thrown into the mix and screws everything up… like stupid “fix-it” tickets that you have 5 days to get taken care of that involve probably hundreds of dollars worth of electrical work on your vehicle that you can’t afford… stinking Scottsbluff police…

Planning small things isn’t such a big deal.  Planning a birthday party or a weekend trip or something like that is pretty doable.  I’m talking about the major plans like retirement or future career direction or where you would like to live.  I know that there are people who successfully plan for such things; I’m just not one of them.  There are those who say it is all in God’s hands and to trust in God.  I don’t disagree about the God’s hands part, but I don’t think God is going to pay my mortgage.  I don’t think God is going to make sure my electricity doesn’t get shut off because I quit my job.  God doesn’t take care of “fix-it” tickets… although I’m hoping some prayers for a certain police officer getting a random plague of locusts will go answered.  God has never led me to believe that I can just quit my job and lead the life I would like.  If this life didn’t contain vast amounts of major suckage, why would we turn our eyes toward heaven?

I tried to plan for my future by going to college.  I went to college, I got good grades, and I got a job. I wanted to make a lot of money, but I have never made a lot of money.  The only reason I went to college was to get a job that pays a lot of money.

Period.

I will never have a job that pays a lot of money.  Different people have different definitions for “lot of money”.  I have mine, and I will never see it (and it probably isn’t as much as you may be thinking).  In hindsight, I would not have focused on money.  In hindsight, I would have focused on doing something that utilizes my inherent talents and skills… something like… uh… okay, so I don’t have any inherent talents and skills.  Planning sucks.

I’ve tried planning for various other things, including retirement.  Retirement planning is kind of a joke.  If you don’t start enforcing a plan right when you get in the workforce, it’s too late.  I know there are people who are able to do it later in life and find some success… but those people are either making more money than me or are willing to sacrifice more than me.  I don’t have a big issue sacrificing, but while my kids are still around the house, I am willing to sacrifice less.  Kids are expensive.  Worth it?  Of course.  But expensive none the less.

Recently, I was talking with a couple of friends at a high school soccer game and we started talking about life after all of the kids are out of the house.  Interestingly enough, one of the friends said she and her husband plan on traveling around the country after the kids are gone.  You know, just kind of moving from town to town, getting jobs that pay enough just to get by.  The other friend said he and his wife plan on doing something similar, but more of a retirement-type thing.  Get out and see the world.  This point is probably where I made my mistake.  I started thinking and planning which are two things I don’t do very well, especially together.

Retirement has always been very important to me (just not important enough to completely quit living in the here and now, which seems to pretty much be what it takes at my income level).  I hate working.  I hate the way life is laid out.  I hate the fact that you spend most of your waking hours working at a job in order to pay for everything.  Call me lazy, call me whatever you want, but I hate working.  Now, I helped a young man with his Eagle Scout project a couple of weeks ago and it was actual physical work.  I didn’t mind it at all.  In fact, I enjoyed myself.  I do various household and community projects. I volunteer for BSA and at my church.  I do stuff, and I don’t hate doing stuff that involves “work”.  So I don’t really think I’m lazy.  I just hate working for a paycheck.  I understand that there are lots of people out there who would love to have a job and I can hear the tiny chorus of voices saying, “Be thankful you have a job!”  I didn’t say that I’m not thankful I have a job… but I still hate working for a paycheck.  Thus, retirement has always been like a stupid dangling carrot that urges me to get out of bed every morning.  I really don’t think I will ever be able to retire… at least not fully:

  • I started too late.
  • I dipped into those funds at one point for something I probably shouldn’t have.
  • I can’t contribute as much as I would like at this point.
  • Most success that the stock market has seen recently has eluded me.

Okay, so working until I die is sounding more and more like the reality of my situation.

That sucks.

That really, really sucks.

So, back to the conversation I had with my friends at the soccer game that involved the thinking and the planning.  As long as I’m going to have to work up until my death, I want to travel and see stuff and try to get a little enjoyment out of the whole situation.  The wife and I have discussed it and she agrees that, once the boys are out of school, selling much of our belongings and going transient sounds like a doable plan.  You know, move up to Estes Park for a year and work at the shops up there.  Spend a summer working in Yellowstone…. or maybe a year or two.  Spend a year or two working in Key West!  Just travel… and get little jobs with little responsibility and little stress in places we would really like to live!  Try out different areas.  Make enough to pay the monthly bills.  Retirement isn’t an option, so why stress about it?  See the US (or maybe even the world) and just get by.

When I mentioned the “goat farm” idea to the wife, she was less than enthusiastic.  The whole “see the country” plan she seems to be on board with.  And in a mere 9 years, both of the boys will be out of high school… so although it is a little further away than I would like, it’s not an eternity.  I don’t wish my children’s childhoods away, but they are slipping by without any prompting from me.  Might as well have something to look forward to at the horrible time when the nest is empty.

The problem now rests with the fact that I am planning for the future.  Whenever I plan for the future, stuff seems to get in the way.  Therefore, stuff will probably get in the way of the plan to travel once the kids are on their own.  It’s like I’ve jinxed myself by thinking about it!

Damn it!

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