One of the best hours of television ever created was the Buffy the Vampire Slayer musical. The big plot was a demon came and made all the characters sing their deepest secrets. By this time in the show’s arc, every character is in some kind of turmoil. They defeat the demon, as they always do, but all is not well. With all the characters singing their secrets all the dirty laundry is revealed for all to see.
You can feel the depression in the last song, Where Do We Go From Here?
If you don’t want to watch, here are the relevant lyrics.
Where do we go from here
Where do we go from here
The battle’s done,
And we kinda won.
So we sound our victory cheer.
Where do we go from here.
Why is the path unclear,
When we know home is near.
I know what you are thinking, “Cool story, Bro! But… what’s the point?”
I’ve had this song in my head for a few months now… because I feel like we’re living the lyrics.
The Million Dollar Email
A few months ago, I wrote that we were waiting for the million dollar email . If you missed it, here’s a quick summary:
My wife is military and has been up for promotion for about 10 years now. It’s been a big rat race as they keep moving the goal posts. One year it was get a certificate (that’s been compared to passing the bar). After that, it was, “Yeah, we know you have a Pharm. D, but we want you get an MBA.” That lead to essentially doing two jobs for a few years. After that they wanted her to lead some committees, so she became an officer at the top pharmacy organization. Then they said it wasn’t related to her military work, so she had to climb the ladder to become president of the 6,000 officer corp. Which of course, she did, and we get to meet VPOTUS Kamala Harris in a couple of months.
You get the picture. We figured that this would be the year that she’d get promoted. Enough is enough. This was the last shot. If she didn’t get it, it was time to retire and maybe run the social media for Lazy Man Media.
It was a little stretch to say that a million dollars was on the line, but if she got the promotion she wouldn’t have to do all the extra work (she could “coast” just doing her base job). She would stay on for three more years to maximize her pension at the new rank (they use the highest salary of 36 months to figure out the pension). That’s a lot more money now, and a higher pension is tens of thousands of dollars for decades (hopefully). In addition, we could continue to get some big active duty discounts that we enjoy. It does probably fall short of a million dollars, but not by too much.
I bet you are smart enough to put two and two together…
… the promotion didn’t happen once again. This time, they had to admit to systemic problems in their structure. They have too many officers that rank too high, so they need some to retire first. However, they prevented anyone from retiring last year because it was all hands on deck for COVID-19. For years, they haven’t been recruiting people, so they told the officers that if they want to be promoted they should recruit others to make the bell curve look better. A lot of people got a laugh when I pointed out that they are on a slippery slope of becoming a MLM scam. It’s a tough situation all around for a lot of people – even for the people making the big decisions at the top.
Where DO we go from here?
That’s been the common question, I’ve been asked. Some people have congratulated me on the retired wife. (That felt awkward, but I guess that’s a positive way to look at it.)
It turns out that my wife can’t even retire this year. Well, she can, but it would be weird. The presidency that I mentioned above doesn’t end until next July, and it makes since for her to be working while she’s helping with the worker conditions. So it’s one more year. Except that maybe when the promotions come out at the end of July she’ll get promoted then and we’ll change course.
One good thing about the “one more year” thing is that it gives us time to plan. We’re looking to have a year’s worth of expenses saved in cash and we’re only halfway there now. There are also strategic times to retire such as when you complete a year of service because the pension is based on years worked as well. The discount that our kids receive from school comes about once a year. We would want to time it after that to get one more year of reduced rates.
There are a lot of moving pieces and right now we are a little too busy to figure it all out. The good news is that we have another 7 or 8 months figure it out. Look for another article at the end next June that gives more detail on what our plans are.