This is what will really happen to my husband and me when we retire. At the rate we are going we will not have enough money to retire. So I fully expect to be employed until my death part-time at Wal-Mart where I will greet customers with an attempted smile, and pretend to scan receipts as people leave. I will have to wear black polyester pants, and those ugly black tennis shoes because my feet will constantly hurt. My husband won't be able to do much; his knees will be gone because he has stood on concrete floors his whole life. I will have some days where I will have to choose between medications and food. We will live in a trailer and won't be able to afford air conditioning during the summer. I will be afraid of the teenagers in the neighborhood, and gripe about the noise of the radios passing by. My only solace will be the grandchildren, which I can't wait to babysit. I also hope to have a giant garden where I will grow enough fruits and vegetables to feed armies of people. (It will probably be a flower pot with one variety of vegetable in it.) We can hope and pray that we won't die in the hospital, or in a state run assisted living facility. It's not a bad ending that I foresee, but it's an awfully hard one.
Here's what I hope will happen, in the next three years I will get my teaching certification. If I am able to get a teaching job, I hope that money will go entirely to retirement. Here are the three obstacles in my way. I already have a bachelor's degree that I earned from a wonderful private women's college. However the requirements have changed so much since I went to school, that getting a degree means a total do-over, I have to earn a new bachelor's degree. Here's the second challenge; money. We do not have the finances so that I can go back to school. I will have to borrow the money, and then I will have to pay it back. With only twenty years left until my husband and I are in our sixties, the thought of borrowing so much money is scary. We have four children, ages 10, 10, 9, and 7. I am a substitute teacher, and writer, so money for me is never reliable. (You might say so get a better job! And pay for day care? No way!) Our budget is so tight that we can only allow a hundred dollars for food, clothing, and household goods per week. For six people that is a difficult budget to meet. Thirdly, there is my self-doubt. Can I really go back to school? Can I really do the math? What if I fail? What if we have a medical emergency and our expenses go up? I know I can do a lot of things, I've proven it to myself before. I worked for a funeral home, and one day came in to find both of the funeral directors were in the hospital. The choice; shut the doors or evolve into a temporary funeral director. So that's what I became. I arranged funeral services, wrote contracts, and did everything but embalming and cremation. I sat across the table from widows who cried tears, asking me "What am I going to do now?" This was a life changing experience, and a lesson for me, I can do anything.
Here's the reality, if I don't reinvent myself I will be working until the day I die. If I do it, our lives will be a lot harder than they are now. I desperately want to find financial independence but the question is how?