Stickman Readers' Submissions November 2nd, 2006

Thoughts On Retirement

In the past few weeks on this site, I have read several articles on retirement in Thailand. Certainly, there are many things to be considered in such a complex decision. Most of the authors outline the possible pitfalls and possible financial problems. I would like to offer a few ideas from my perspective in the states.

Almost everyday the media carries stories of how much money will be needed to have a reasonable retirement. The figures talked about are just short of winning the lottery. So when you add your savings, Social Security and 401K plans it is no surprise you come up short of cash. Most of us did not spend our money on "wine, women and song". We instead got married, purchased homes, educated kids and did all the other things middle income people do in this country. What we never expected was $3.00 a gallon gas. We could not see or plan for our companies closing down and moving to another country or the resulting unemployment. We could not for see our employers cancelling pension plans and trying to sell a 401K as just as good.

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So when you are faced with an uncertain future, you have two choices: First, continue to work until your health makes it impossible. Second, cut expenses to reflect your lower income. As for me, working until I die at my desk does not sound like a lot of fun! So option two is the only real choice.

In the states that is a tall order! If you get on the computer you will soon become aware that many countries encourage retirees, especially if you have a regular income. If you use your brain you can live well overseas, Thailand included. Let me offer some food for thought.

1. don't live in a large city. The cost of living is always more than a small town or village. Also, it is generally safer.

2. Put yourself on a budget and stick to it! Set aside money for fixed expenses, then disposable income.

3. Don't make any large purchases, unless necessary. It is easier to get around by taxi rather than buying a car. Just one set of new tires will pay for a lot of taxi rides. That condo on the beach has a nice view and a matching price tag. A better choice may be an apartment near the beach without the view. Also, you do not pay for upkeep on an apartment.

4. Find a housekeeper / cook and pay her a fair price. This is not the time to be a 'cheap Charlie". Having someone to cook and clean is a necessary expense. Remember this is a domestic worker, not a hooker. Don't discuss money issues with the hired help or flash cash. A comment said at the wrong time could set you up for a robbery.

5. Set aside a fixed amount for fun. The type of recreation is unimportant, just stay within your budget. DO NOT take ATM or credit cards to a club. They could be used in a moment of weakness. If you should be robbed, all you would lose is cash.

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6. Don't take a bargirl back to your place, use a hotel. The less they know about you the better. True if you visit the same club personal details will come out. That is unavoidable. Use of a fake name might be a good thought.

Remember, no matter what a girl says, she is there for the money. Why else would a young pretty girl hang around with an old retired guy? The answer is always money! It does not matter if she is a bargirl or a "good girl"!

Buying an occasional gift for a girl may be OK. However it almost always leads to other things. Her mother is sick, the motorcycle is broke and on it goes. All these things add up quick. Your well thought out budget can go down the toilet in a heartbeat. Cut your loses and run. Let the girl get mad and never see you again. There is another girl at another club tonight.

7. Always have a plan "B". Be ready to move out quick if the need arises. A girl with a larger angry family could make you life very miserable!

8. Find something to do with your free time. There is only so much fishing, golfing etc. you can do before it gets boring. I have known many retirees that died from lack of purpose in their lives. Find something that gives your life meaning. It may be volunteer work or writing a novel. The point is you live longer and healthier if you have purpose in life.

9. Keep a low profile. Do not live a flashy life which might make someone ask questions. Even if you have nothing to hide. The police are everywhere just looking for the next victim. You could find yourself on an airplane headed for the US to face some charge that you know nothing about.

Finally, don't check your brain at the airport in Thailand or any other city. If you gut feeling says it isn't right listen to the feeling. It will save you a lot of headaches / heartaches!

Stickman's thoughts:

Just a couple of comments: That women can account for a lot of a retiree's money in Thailand should come as no surprise. I know a few retirees who have played golf for years – and they still seem to love it. So while it might get boring for some, others really do live the golfing life.

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