No grass grows under this old lady’s feet, that’s for sure. Just sent out a résumé for a sweet part-time job that would be a great hoot, and e-mailed my book-length curriculum vitae to the English department chair at a nearby community college.
Hey! We’ve only got nine months here to find a new job! Better get to work.
Truth to tell, I believe I could do either of these p/t jobs on the side, while wrapping up the deconstruction of our office. We know I’m capable of teaching the equivalent of four bloated sections of freshman comp for juniors and seniors while supervising an editorial crew; after that, two sections of real freshman comp whose size is limited to normal NCTE guidelines should be a piece of cake.
Far more appealing, though, is the prospect of serving as p/t gofer and sidekick for an editor (and friendly acquaintance) at my favorite local press. This is the outfit that pays me to read detective novels. Mirabilis! Some of the novels I’ve had the privilege to read have been pretty entertaining. If you enjoy detective fiction and thrillers, you should take a look at their booklist. I know I can do this job to a T, and it sure would be easier than teaching freshman comp. Not only that, but once I walk out the door, it probably would provide the income I’ll need to keep from starving.
Yesh. I scared the bejabbers out of myself, along about three in the morning (as you can imagine, I enjoyed about 2 1/2 hours of sleep last night, between 4:30 and 7:00 a.m.), by loading Excel and massaging some figures. Didn’t take long before I was asking myself the Great Dark-of-Night Ontological Question:
What on earth was I thinking when I imagined I could support myself on Social Security and investment proceeds?
Wait! I remember: at the time, we all actually had some investments.
I was horrified to find that what with the 12-fold increase in healthcare premiums that Medicare will represent plus the need to take my share of the Investment House mortgage out of cash flow, my expenses will exceed my present net income, in the highest-paying full-time job I’ve ever held!
To get by, I’ll need to earn an extra $19,000 to $21,000 a year, above and beyond investment returns and Social Security. This will be a trick, since you’re allowed to earn a grandiose $14,000 before Social Security starts docking your benefits.
Not having the mortgage payments wouldn’t help a lot: even without those, Social Security plus proceeds from my total savings (including the money set aside to pay off the Renovation Loan and the savings fund to buy the next car) will not cover my expenses, post-layoff. Check it out:
Projected Net Income from Social Security and Investments
And oops, indeed: take a close look at what it’s going to cost me to live in blissful bumhood. And consider that my net income today is $39,000. I live like an ascetic: don’t travel, don’t own a cell phone, don’t subscribe to cable, satellite, or any other pay-per-view TV, don’t play computer games, rarely eat out, never buy more than the basic clothes and shoes, drive a 10-year-old car, don’t run a tab on the credit card, don’t even go to a freaking picture show! And I use up all but about about $2,000 of that each year. We’re looking at a $4,560 increase in my expenses once I’m on Medicare! Meanwhile, my income drops into the poverty range.
Clearly, I’ll have to work: either get a job or cultivate several income streams. The candidates are part-time teaching, growing The Copyeditor’s Desk, and monetizing Funny about Money.
Community colleges around here pay part-timers about $2,000 a course. The universities now pay about $3,000. Typical income from a freelance business is about $10,000 a year; I would be surprised, rusticated as we are in the middle of the Sonoran Desert, if Tina and I could generate much more than that, apiece. And what would FaM earn? It’s anybody’s guess. So guessy as to be negligible.
Hiring out to teach two courses from the community college district and two from the Great Desert University each year and ramping up our freelance business so that it pays a consistent 10 grand a year will produce something that looks like this:
Twenty thousand extra dollars would do the trick, in theory. But that exceeds the Social Security earnings limitation by $6,000. Have the temerity to earn more than $14,000 a year, and you get your Social Security benefits axed. So, I would have to earn significantly more than 20 grand to end up with enough income to cover the bloated expenses of retirement.
If I’d had the prescience to sell my investments in the spring of 2008, today I would have plenty of money to live on, between SS and investment income. Too bad we didn’t all have crystal balls, eh?
Well, I felt a lot better, anyway, having sent out a couple of job feelers. Even if they come to naught, just doing something other than hunkering in the headlight while waiting to be run down feels like a positive move.