Retiring by the Numbers

written by David Mixson

The problem with retiring is that the numbers in any properly populated spreadsheet will nearly always point to staying longer.

Certainly, every calculation I ran signaled that staying for another year (or two) would buy down risk and make life easier—safer.

“Dave, if you stay a little longer, you’ll be able to afford that lake house you and Sue have always dreamed about. And what if you need a nursing home? You don’t want to be a burden on your kids, do you?”

That little voice is cancer in retirement planning, and it won’t shut up!

“Dave, people are living longer than ever. What are you going to do all day? Isn’t retiring at 56 selfish? None of your friends are doing it this early. And what’s so bad about a stable government job when SpaceX is doing most of the heavy lifting these days?”

“Yeah, Dave, you’re probably better off staying for one more year. Maybe two.”

The unknown almost always seems riskier than the known.

But here’s the real crux of all this. At the end of the day, we’re all selling our time—the most precious and limited resource we have—on a timeline that’s running out.

If you’ve found your purpose through your current job, by all means, stay until the very end. But I’m guessing a lot of folks haven’t.

Maybe I’m crazy for retiring so early. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time someone’s accused me of thinking big. More on that later.


* This article originally appeared on LinkedIn as part of the “Make NASA Great” series.

About the Author

David Mixson writes about Old Space and New Space. He worked as an engineer at NASA for more than thirty years and is the author of three books.

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