In discussing the increase in the number of workers quitting or retiring during the coronavirus pandemic, one question I keep hearing, and asked last week, is: how do people who have abruptly resigned or retired are they doing financially?
Most of the early workers I heard of had also asked themselves this question, but they had decided that they could more easily give up their wages than their welfare.
Some retirees have said that while the pandemic has forced them to retire faster than they expected, it has also relieved the expense of continuing their careers.
“I [no longer] need to buy clothes or shoes for work, refuel three times a week, pay for parking, etc. Sandy Marasco wrote in an email. After being fired from her job in the pharmaceutical industry in Cambridge, Massachusetts at the start of the pandemic, Marasco used her severance package to pay off her mortgage.
She then lived off her savings and state unemployment benefits for 18 months of unsuccessful job search before realizing that her previous goal of working full time until age 70 no longer interested her. Marasco is now coping with Social Security and a 401 (k) pension plan.
Kathleen Corcoran feared giving up the “golden handcuffs” of a full-time job in the high-cost DC metro area when she retired from her communications career. But no full-time salary could afford her what she really wanted: time.
Giving up an income is stressful, but “then you realize that some of that money is going to things to de-stress you” from work, Corcoran told me in a phone interview. “Once I sat down and looked at the numbers, I realized [retiring] was doable – and what I got in return was time to pursue things that I really wanted to pursue, ”like seeing friends, writing, reading, and volunteering. She now teaches part-time, a job she finds “rewarding in a way that goes beyond a paycheck.”
A former office manager in Laurel, Md., Who withheld her name due to tensions with her former boss, does not regret retiring early, even though it meant having less Social Security: “If j ‘had waited until 70, I would have received an additional $ 300 per month. But, she said, she weighed her sanity against this financial loss and “decided to take the plunge. I’m so glad I did.
Of course, retirement is still a long way off for many people. Some have re-evaluated what they want from their job versus what they need.
Jason S. of New York, who requested partial anonymity out of respect for members of government who share his last name, was fired from one contract position and fired from the next after he protested being called to the office for a job he had been told would be 100 percent remote.
Although his wife is working and they have six months of savings, Jason’s unemployment is a huge drain on their finances. His job search priorities change: “Take a lower paying job with health insurance rather than a [contract job] would be obvious to me now.
And some people have been able to overcome the loss of income through careers that conditioned them to prepare for the worst. Marlen Garcia, from Chicago, emailed me how, at age 26, she was denied a $ 5,000 raise with her promotion in a newspaper because of the company’s compensation policy, and how she saw other journalists lose jobs and opportunities “at the whims of the bosses.”
Garcia told her husband, “We have to be in a position where I can quit my job someday if this happens to me.” They bought a small house and “ate a lot of bologna” so that they could afford to pay extra for the principal each month. When the mortgage was paid off 16 years later, it allowed Garcia to take on self-employed and part-time work when full-time jobs weren’t available.
A common theme among people who have shared their stories with me: They don’t take their relative fortunes for granted.
“I was very lucky and I am grateful for it,” wrote Marasco. “I also do what I can for the less fortunate. Marasco has chosen not to receive the federal government’s expanded pandemic unemployment benefits.
Garcia recognizes that luck and economics have been important in strengthening his finances. “I had less than $ 5,000 in loans when I finished college in 1993. [Graduates today] have tens of thousands of dollars in debt. The rents are crazy. Too much housing is unaffordable. I don’t see how they can do it.
Even before the pandemic, the rising cost of living – rather the costs of survival – left most low- and middle-income workers unable to build a large savings cushion or anchor themselves in real estate and other investments. For those with student loans, medical debts and dependents, the situation was already dangerous. Enter the pandemic, and the ground crumbles.
I know that for every success story I’ve heard, there are many more unseen struggles – people with no retirement, no partners, or no pandemic relief to help them get out of this. I can only assume that they are obsessed with making ends meet.