One of the financial goals we’ve made is to have our house paid off before age 55, or at least have the capability to pay it off if we want to. I know that as I get older, I’ll struggle to find a job if I lose the one I have now. I anticipate that sooner or later I will lose my job, so much of our financial planning includes that scenario. One of the biggest things my wife and I can do to ensure we are okay regardless, is to have a free place to live. Of course it’s not actually free because we still have to pay for taxes and insurance, but without a mortgage, it’s manageable on pretty much any income level.
When I read this story about the challenges of finding work after age 55, it reinforced our strategy. Unfortunately, Darrel Keesee, age 61, is out of work now and has been struggling to find a job. While he’s getting by on his unemployment and wife’s income, once the unemployment runs out, he may struggle to keep the house that he’s had since his kid’s were born. That’s a scenario I never want to have to consider. The reality is that it’s getting harder and harder to find a good job as you get older. Once you get in to your fifties, companies tend to overlook you and choose younger, cheaper, less experienced people. While I’m in my 40’s, I don’t have any illusion that I won’t face this in the future. If I can maintain my current job until about age 50 or so, I think with the planning we’ve done, we’ll be able to get by for the rest of our lives.
Excluding all of our retirement accounts, we just about have enough cash and value in our second home (that is paid for), that we could sell the second home, use the extra cash and pay off our primary home. That’s a very safe feeling to have. Of course, if we needed to, we could always sell our primary home, take the equity and the cash we have and move to the second home and live VERY economically. The problem with that is it’s in a much more rural area and doesn’t have the level of services that we’d want for our 10 year old child. Once our child is grown, it’s a much more feasible option.
I know that we are very fortunate to be in this situation and I don’t mention it to brag. We’ve actually worked very hard to get to this point and will continue to work hard on the long final stretch. It was only through living within our means, spending far less than we make, and planning for the future, that we were able to even get this far. Those same fundamentals should carry us through to retirement if we can avoid the layoffs and job losses that so many other people have experienced. Oh, to have grown up in the generation that experienced lifetime employment………