Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Remembrance in Spacetime: Awakening
In a little over a month I would be 44 years old; definitely middle aged. From age seven on, I had been a New Yorker. I had a Bachelor's degree from Cornell, and a Master's and Doctorate from Columbia. I had been married and divorced. I had two young sons back in New York who, along with their mother, relied on my alimony and child support. The alimony would continue until my ex wife remarried. The child support would be required until both sons finished college. That was our separation agreement and that was my personal obligation to my sons as I viewed it.
My first job out of graduate school was like a post doc position. Although I had been a staff scientist at a private corporation in New York, the salary lagged that of my colleagues' who had accepted positions at national labs or similarly established organizations. But what concerned me most at this stage of my career (and life) was that that first significant position of my professional career had provided no retirement benefits. And, that I had a 4-figure net worth.
Although I had been a full-time student for a quarter century, I now realized that my student days were not over yet. I was sorely lacking in personal financial savvy, and, unbeknownst to me, had previously been enrolled in the school of hard knocks. On this particular first day of the rest of my life, I decided on a long-term personal mission: I would educate myself in the basics of personal finance and investing; I would continue to make good on all my financial obligations to others; and I would begin addressing my personal financial obligation to myself, namely, preparing for retirement. Clearly, there were lots of pizzas and peanut butter sandwiches in my future. In effect, I had enrolled in The Peanut Butter School of Life University.