(In full disclosure, Scott Paris is my husband of 35 years.)
“Why would you want to include me,” Scott Paris said. “I don’t have everything figured out.”
But that’s why I wanted to include Scott in my blog. Not everyone has their retirement plan in place when they leave. Instead, he is constructing a plan as he goes.
That’s not to say that Scott hadn’t thought about retirement before leaving. “I had always planned to leave the Federal government when I was 62,” Scott said. With that goal in mind, he had already begun thinking about what would be important to him once he retired.
Employed as an economist for 35 years at the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), his most important goal was being financially comfortable after retirement, but he also recognized the need to build his social network in the town where he lived.
Scott had taken the train to Washington D.C. from his town outside of Baltimore City for more than 35 years. That meant that many of his social connections were in D.C. Scott looked for ways to build more relationships closer to home as having a local social network of friends was very important to him.
In addition, Scott wanted more time to enjoy his two passions: playing music and exercising. Once he stopped commuting during the Pandemic, he had more time for the things he loved most, including spending time with his wife. “I spent more time in my house during COVID than I had during the past 25 years,” Scott said. He found that he liked being home and liked the time he and his wife had together.
So why leave during the Pandemic when he was working remotely 5 days a week?
In the past few years, Scott had taken a leadership role in his Union as the Executive Vice President. After a change in Union leadership, Scott found the environment was too stressful to stay and decided to retire at 59 ¾ years old.
However, before leaving, Scott checked in with his financial advisor to see how this change would affect his retirement income.
As a government employee with 35 years of service, Scott received a pension, but not one large enough to cover all his expenses. However, he learned of a supplement to his retirement pension that he could receive until his was eligible for Social Security at 62, which was called the Federal Special Supplemental Annuity . The additional monies were designed to help federal employees who had 30 plus years of service cover expenses in the intervening time from retirement until they become initially eligible to collect Social Security.
Also, Scott realized that staying with the government those two years additional years would not significantly increase his pension. This revelation made him much more comfortable with retiring.
Scott was not yet ready to tap his 401K, but looked at it as an option if necessary since he had met the 59 ½ year old age requirement.
The other thing Scott had going for him was that his spouse (that’s me), continued to work.
With all that in mind, his financial advisor and his wife gave him the green light to retire.
Scott chose July 29, 2020 as his retirement date. As an avid cyclist and runner, Scott knew that retiring when the weather was nice was essential. He knew that the extra hours of sunlight would allow him to be more active and elevate his mood.
However, for Scott, the transition to retirement was not easy. He had been raised to have a purpose every day and without the Union and/or his job as an economist, he had lost that purpose.
So, he decided to try a variety of activities. His brother-in-law had told him. “Retirement isn’t about having nothing to do. It’s about having the time to do whatever you want.”
Scott was already involved with two bands and retirement allowed him to take it up a notch. Since the members of one band were all retired, they decided to start practicing once a week. Although his other band only practiced intermittently, his frequent practices greatly improved his bass skills.
In addition, even before Scott left, he had begun exploring joining the Masons.
“I had spent my life in Washington and realized I didn’t have a lot of local connections,” Scott said. After hearing about the Masons from a family friend, Scott did some research and decided to join.
The Masons offered, not only social connections and mental stimulation (memorizing information), but also yet another group of musicians to play with as one of the other members invited him to a weekly Friday afternoon jam.
But Scott was looking for something more. He had spent years with the Union negotiating contracts and settlements, so he decided to pursue a master’s degree in Mediation and Conflict Management from the University of Baltimore (his third master’s degree). In addition, Scott already had a basic certificate in mediation, and he had always been interested in a position with the Federal Mediation Conciliation Services (FMCS) which adjudicates differences between Management and Unions. This degree seemed like a natural fit.
While pursuing this degree, Scott was recommended for a part-time internship with the Global Peace Foundation. The goal of the project is to address concerns between the Black and White communities in Baltimore City.
“Although I feel as though I am totally outside my comfort zone, it is such a worthy project that it seems like a great way to invest my time.” Scott said.
However, Scott also wanted to make sure he had time to have fun outdoors.
Scott has always been incredibly athletic. He has run the Boston Marathon 6 times and believes going out for a two-hour bike ride is a just a quick trip. Getting back those three extra hours a day not commuting, especially in the winter, gave him an opportunity to use his new retirement gift.
As a retirement present, Scott bought himself a custom-fit road bike, a bright orange Tommasini Techno complete with Campagnolo parts. Apparently, that is a really cool bike and other cyclists, who know bikes, stop him to comment on it when he’s out riding.
Both the music and activity put Scott in his happy place.
At this point, Scott does not have a clear direction of where life will take him. He still thinks about going back to a full-time job, if the right one would come along. However, commuting back to Washington D.C. five days a week is not an appealing option.
He is looking forward to more hours of sunshine and the warmer weather of spring. The winter and the cold weather which sometimes limits his outdoor activities are still sometimes challenging.
Still, he is excited with all the activities he has chosen although there is a downside, “Sometimes I’m busier than I was when I was working,” Scott said.
If you have an interesting story or know someone you think would make a great subject for my blog, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.