16 April 2013

Calling it Quits - Part 2 劈炮唔撈-下卷

My older siblings are professionals in their 40s and early 50s. They have hunkered down at the same companies for decades and seen their stress levels rise in lockstep with their seniority. With their children heading off to college, they have one thought on their minds constantly: retirement. The earlier the better. It is a topic of conversation that dominates every family dinner and gets all of us scribbling numbers on the back of a napkin. On that napkin is a game plan, an exit strategy and a light at the end of the tunnel. It is our midlife euphoria. 

Retirement planning for dummies


The idea of being emancipated from our cubicle and lying on a sandy beach all day is enough to make any overworked middle-aged parent crack a smile. On the other hand, the notion that we must work another 15 to 20 years before reaping what we sow seems unpalatable, if not downright depressing. We want to taste the fruits of life while we still can, when our knees are strong enough to ski and our bodies are not too droopy for swimwear...

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Read the rest of this article in No City for Slow Men, published by Blacksmith Books, available at major bookstores in in Hong Kong and at Blacksmith Books.


25 comments:

  1. I took the plunge a few years ago and become a freelancer since, I reckon this is a better way than a full retirement where I can still enjoy the liberty while not wasting time on sudoku

    NaNa

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  2. Good for you! You should read my other article "Don't Quit Your Day Job" about going Plan B and Plan C. Here's the link: http://jasonyng.blogspot.hk/2012/10/dont-quit-your-day-job.html.

    Jason

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  3. 45, do you actually mean forty-five? Don't you think it's too young to retire? I can tell you that you'll feel boring all day long, believe me.

    Michael

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  4. Haha, Michael. I do mean 45!!! Looks like I should have interviewed you for a different perspective!

    Jason

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  5. I can only imagine the boredom!! If your job is so bad that you really want to call it quits at 45, you may actually want to just look for a new job.

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  6. Au contraire, I love my job and the people I work with. But a job is a job, and I always want/need more time to write, travel and do all the other things for MYSELF.

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  7. I think 45 is to early to retire. Don't you think so??

    Michael

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  8. Agree with Michael, 45 is too early to me... and probably to most of ppl, it's only a dream or it's just impossible.

    Toni

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  9. It's just a number I use for my example. Realistically, I think I would retire somewhere between 50 and 55.

    Jason

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  10. Oh my god I should retire in August?!

    Lisa

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  11. I can't add a word to this... Highly recommend this article for everybody to read!

    Patrick

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  12. You make me laugh.

    Michael

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  13. While I can't detect any elements that make me laugh, but I gotta say that you make me feel inspired - as usual.

    Cheewai

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  14. Actually I think many people would love to retire earlier and no one wants to work like a dog. However, it seems that it is not easy to achieve this goal as we need to depend on ourselves only after we retire. It’s like a dream to most Hong Kong people. The Hong Kong Government does not give much support to our life after our retirement. In case we run out of money due to various reasons, the pension is too little to support our basic needs, not to mention a quality life. If we get sick, we may need to wait for a long queue, maybe for 2-3 years in order to get treatment unless we can afford to go to those private hospitals. But the fact that of getting sick among the elderly is a commonplace. It’s hard to make sure we have enough to pay for those medical expenses in the future.

    Moreover, as the support from the government is not enough, many of us need to take care of our own parents when they get old. To some people, it’s luckier for them if they have siblings to take care of their own parents as they can share the expenses. However, as the only child of my family, I need to support the whole family after my parents retire and save money for the future life of my parents and myself and no one can share the burden and help me. So early retirement is just a dream to me and to many Hong Kong people I reckon…

    Lily

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  15. Thanks, Lily. The plight of the only child! I'm grateful that my parents have five kids and we can all share our filial responsibility. :-)

    Note that I did NOT mention anything about MPF or government old-age allowance in my article. In fact, I deliberately avoided talking about the lack of social security in Hong Kong. That's a whole different subject for another day. It's a can of worms really.

    It's shameful that for a government that generates enormous budget surpluses year after year, that sits on a gold mine of foreign reserves, and yet won't spare a fraction of it to take care of the retired. Like I said, it's another subject for another day.


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  16. I think I'll want a semi-retirement when I reach 45 - 6 months of work and 6 months of holiday!

    Yuanna

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  17. I love that, Yuanna. Work 6 months, and LIVE LIFE for the next 6 months. But what career would be able to allow one to reap enough while working for 6 months to be able to support living life the next 6 months?

    Cheewai

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  18. Sell ice-cream in Australia in summer for six months, and then spend the warmer months in other parts of the world!

    Yuanna

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  19. Haha...Yuanna, I like that. In fact, I know of a high ranking corporate guy here who actually threw in the towel a few years ago, packed his bags and flew to Oz to sell ice-cream, and he reported that he has never been happier. Ice cream is soooooo popular in Oz?? Hmmm......

    Cheewai

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  20. You guys are dreaming, hoping your dream willl come true one day. God bless!

    Michael

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  21. Bet correctly on the Japanese Yen and finally the US deficit imploding and you can be retired before 40 (I plan to). In fact when (not if) those things happen, most people will be "retired" anyways. The question is whether you'll retire in style or be in extreme poverty.

    Obviously please don't take the above as let's bet the farm and do it tomorrow. Most of the people here are too intelligent to do that anyways :)

    Roger

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  22. Well, I think going to a job you enjoy and do it just for the sake of fulfillment rather than the paycheck itself it as good as retirement for me.

    And Michael, if the numbers work out as Jason suggested, it's definitely doable.

    Candice.

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  23. Jason,

    Just some more info. for you and other readers~~~

    http://hk.news.yahoo.com/%E9%80%BE35%E6%AD%B2%E6%B8%AF%E4%BA%BA-4%E6%88%90%E6%B2%92%E5%84%B2%E9%8C%A2%E9%A4%8A%E8%80%81-230000423.html

    BTW, you've been given lots of speeches recently. Happy for you!!!

    Lily

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  24. “Calling it quits” has got to be one of the most frequent statements made by my friends, especially those with children to look after. Even so, my cousin has to come back out to work after full retirement for a year or so, to keep her sane and to avoid being driven nuts by her “hyper-active” daughter at home.

    Still, won’t you feel aimless in and with your life if you quit and don’t know what to do with your life? It’s different if you got something you REALLY want to pursue and can afford it, of course, but wasting one’s life on something other than work just because we got fed up / tired at the office is not necessarily more palatable anyway.

    I think no age is a benchmark for whether it is too early or late to quit, it depends on what one is going to make of one’s life afterwards.

    As for the requisite amount of monthly income, you are assuming that this won’t change after we retire: what if we get so much free time (or get so bored) after retiring that we begin to take on expensive hobbies that we otherwise wouldn’t have like collecting Pagani Zonda R and Lamborghinis? And these aren’t good investment items either, you can write them off totally the moment you buy them. With the property prices in Hong Kong climbing on an exponential scale (till the recent effectiveness-yet-to-be-seen measures), will we ever pay off our mortgages? Or are we better off doing a reverse mortgage on our property to save us the trouble? Not that that is any guarantee it will foot our bills till we can lie comfortably in a wooden cabinet. Call me pessimistic, but I guess a moderate rate of 3% inflation rate is a bit too “foolhardy” so to speak.

    It is even less fun to choose between adequate and inadequate medical care, or food and food that will trigger you to seek medical care. Remember all those extra Chemistry lessons we learnt from importing food from the PRC?

    Can’t say for others, but I am sure I am one of those who can’t stand reading the paper in our pajamas while my friends are working. I do need a sense of purpose in life and to know that I am living and not merely existing. We all got this innate need subconsciously and we may never realize that until till it dawns on us too concretely, that’s all.

    Christine

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