Does one need $500,000 set aside in order to retire? That's just one reason why Courier-Post columnist Danny Henley isn't contemplating retirement.


The answer to the question posed in the headline above today’s “A Little Salt” is “no.”

I stumbled upon that question one evening last week while trying to come up with a subject for today’s column.

That question was posed above a teaser explaining how I could get a 15-minute retirement plan from the firm of a Forbes columnist.

The thing that really caught my eye about the item is that it started off with the following question: Have a $500,000 portfolio?

Five hundred thousand dollars? Seriously?

I couldn’t scrape together that much money even if you let me count my Monopoly cash.

Is $500,000 really what it takes to retire today and not have to reside in a refrigerator box? If it is, my “golden” years will be more fittingly the color of baby poop yellow.

It isn’t that I haven’t been saving for the future, but it seems the future is arriving a whole lot faster than I’ve been able to amass funds in anticipation of its arrival.

Let’s say for comparison’s sake that those with $500,000 or more stuffed in their mattress – that much I imagine would likely entail stuffing the guest bedroom mattress and a couple of throw pillows, too – have a “nest egg” the size of an ostrich egg. My egg in comparison is more the size of a sparrow’s egg. But at least my “bird” laid an egg. Even though it’s nothing to “crow,” about, at least it will be enough to retire on for, say, a spring afternoon. Hopefully it doesn’t rain that afternoon.

In all honesty, the thought of retirement doesn’t overwhelm me. My game plan has been to keep doing what I do until I show up one day at the Courier-Post to find the employee’s door combination has been changed and a box containing my personal items sitting on the sidewalk.

What would I do in retirement? Sit around the house all day? I’ve spent vacations doing that and after two or three days of it I find myself growing bored.

Yes, I’m sure if I mentioned to Nancy that I was needing something to occupy my time, either on vacation, or in retirement, she’d be more than willing to come up with a lengthy “honey do” list. But I’m confident the tasks I’d be assigned would feel far, far more like work than sitting though an extended city council, board of public works or school board meeting, or putting out an issue of the Courier-Post.

If retirement meant jumping in the car every morning, with my camera bag in hand, and new horizons to explore, I’d be looking forward to it. But because my momma raised ugly kids, not dumb ones, I know that won’t be the case.

Even if I had a big enough nest egg set aside to allow me to go where I wanted, when I wanted to, there’s no guarantee I’d be afforded the time.

What do Alabama football coach Bear Bryant, “Peanuts” creator Charles M. Schultz and “60 Minutes” host Andy Rooney all have in common? They all died a short time after retiring.

And while ill health forced both Schultz and Rooney into retirement, Bryant died of a heart attack in 1983 just a month after coaching his last football game.

According to an article entitled “Can Retirement Kill You?” by Will Oremus, the link between retirement and death is indirect. However, research has shown that while the stress of a working life can be deadly, so can too little stress.

“The everyday routine of getting up, going to work, interacting with colleagues, and striving for professional goals can keep people more physically and mentally fit than a quiet yet dull retirement,” wrote Oremus.

Is it time to retire? Nope, especially if I ever want to reach that $500,000 nest egg. (Wink, wink!)