It is what it is…

The day after 3rd quarter earnings were announced the company I work for sent an email to all management employees announcing that there would be no future payments into the pension plan. What is in the pension plan will be frozen at the end of the year. What that means is that my pension as calculated for 12/3o/2009 won’t change regardless of when I retire. For me this is a good thing. I was going to lose my highest earning year and going forward my pension would have been somewhat less because of that.

While I say that this is a good thing for me it is another sign that the economy is not turning around. Everyday some company is announcing more layoffs. One department in my company recently announced a 30% reduction in their workforce.  Some of that 30% is made up of union employees. The company had to give a 60 notice to the union when reducing union jobs.  The management employees have already been let go.

More to follow I am afraid.







No tap on the shoulder for me

I found out for sure on Friday that I had not been selected to receive the Management Separation Package which would have given me one year’s salary to leave Qwest. It took me about 10 days to decide to fax in my form with a X in the yes box. About a week later my boss called me to let me know that there had been an overwhelming response of employees saying yes. Considering that the VP org that I work in has some of the most tenured employees in our market unit I was not surprised to hear that a lot of people said yes. The email came out on Friday thanking everyone for responding (we didn’t have a choice) and it stated that those who were selected were notified earlier in the week. Friday the 12th was their last day on the payroll.
This was the first time in 31 years that I actually was in a position where I had an option to say yes to MSP. I doubt another MSP will come up soon. If one should I imagine that the terms will change and not be so generous. Oh, well like Tara said “mother you weren’t even sure you wanted to do it”. But you know what once I decided to say yes I got psyched up about it.
Back to plan B which is to work a few more years then retire.

Thursday morning email with the subject: Show of Interest in Leaving Qwest with MSP Benefits

This email came from the VP of the department I work in at Qwest.
“In an effort to reduce expense I am looking for management employees who would be interested in taking a management separation package in December 2008. Please indicate your preference whether you wish to be offered the Qwest Management Separation Plan (QMSP) benefits and leave Qwest or continue your current employment with Qwest. This is not a guarantee that you will be selected to receive the QMSP.”

Next week when I won’t be so busy becasue a lot of people I work with will be taking vacation days I will do some investigating to determine if I want to say yes or no to this offer. I need to look at my retirement options, 401k (yah, I know), my stock options, etc. to feel like I have adequate information to make a decision. Even if I think this is something I want to do the VP said it is not a guarantee.

If I retire now instead of in three or four years I would want to work so that I could continue to live the lifestyle I do now. But the flip side to going to work for another company is that I would not have 35 days of time off with pay which gives me the freedom to travel many times a year. I can’t see myself not working and just sitting around the house. I can see myself renting an apartment on Isla Mujeres and spending several months there.
My daughter and husband are in the early weeks of trying to get pregnant. If there is a grandchild in my near future I wouldn’t want to be away for long periods of time. However, if I wasn’t working I could help out with the baby.
Like I said I need to evaluate the options and make my decision by December 5th. I have no idea how employees will be selected for the separation package.

Where oh where to retire to?

I have been thinking a lot lately about where I want to live part time once I retire. I plan on working for a couple of more years though but it is time to start seriously looking. I used to think that I would live part time on Isla Mujeres, MX. I have come to the realization that I do not want to be a remote home owner of a house in Mexico. Too many challenging things to deal with, FM3, managing remotely to have maintenance and repairs done on a home that by virtue of being on an island would be prone to debilitation from nature’s elements.

I had made an offer on a small condo last year but the builder would not negotiate on price. When I saw the finished condos in April I realized that they were much smaller than I even imagined and it was just not meant to be.

Then I toyed with making an offer on a private home on Isla but after a couple weeks thought the owner wants to sell because he lives in Canada and the large house is too much for him to manage by himself. His reasons for selling were what made me decide not pursue making an offer on his house.

When I visited with my friend Jane while on Sanibel she told me about the 55+ retirement community she bought a small home in outside of Phoenix. I looked at some of the communities online yesterday. I could get one of the small homes and add room or look for one that has already added a room for a reasonable price for a 2nd home. The homes are pretty tiny but the upside is outside living due to the warm temparure and dry climate. The downside is that some of these communities are huge and there is no beach close by. They have several communities in southern California and three in Florida but due to the high cost of living I don’t think they would be on the top of my list. Actually the one community in Tampa may be affordable but it is gigantic! This is one of the smaller communities in Arizona.

So my dilemma is where to start seriously looking for a reasonably priced 2nd home to spend 6 months or so a year at when I retire.

My lists of requirements are:
1. Close to an international airport so I can still travel to Isla Mujeres and get back to Portland relatively easy
2. I would love to be near a beach
3. Warm and sunny weather is a must since I live in Portland where it is often gray and rainy
4. Somewhere I do not have to totally rely on a car to get around
5. I would love to be able to afford a two bedroom home or condo so my daughter or friends could stay with me when they visit

Where is this retirement utopia? I will be looking for it over the next year or so. I want to purchase a place or rent year round prior to my retirement which will most likely be September 2009 when I will turn 55.

If you know of a place that fits my requirements let me know.

Fast forward a year to April 2008 – another Isla Mujeres home buying dilemma

I spent 1 ½ weeks on Isla Mujeres last month. I came home with the same dream of buying a place on Isla.
I briefly considered these new condos on the Caribbean side of Isla. They are 860 square feet for $219,000. There is a rooftop pool and can you believe this UNDERGROUND parking. For what a golf cart?

I had dinner my last night on the island with a friend who has lived there for 18+ years. She told me about a friend of a friend who wants sell his home. I had several email exchanges with him regarding his home which is exactly where I would love to live on the island. I considered making an offer but I felt so stressed out about it that I was not sleeping. I finally came to the realization that the same reasons he wanted to sell were the exact reasons I wasn’t ready to buy.

Here is the email I sent him regarding not making an offer on his home.

I have been going to Isla since 1993 and I still am undecided about buying a place there. I think I have decided not to pursue making an offer on your home. It has me stressed out thinking about managing a home as a remote owner. If I were retired I would make a different decision. But I still plan on working for a few more years. When I am on Isla I get all excited about the possibility of owning a home but when I really think things through I get stressed. All of the reasons that you are looking to sell your home are reasons for me not to buy a home on Isla. Quickly a vacation would become work. Thank you for taking the time to tell me about your home. I am sure you will find a worthy buyer