As I have posted before, I like to get my income up as a teacher by doing my side hustle inside my job. One of the ways I am doing this is by driving the school bus to my own games. I get $50 if the game is under 25 miles away, $75 if it is under 75 miles away, and $150 for over 75 miles away. We have three games over the 75 miles, but most fall into the $75 range. Our tournaments are three days long, and two of the three are over 25 miles away for six days of driving at $75 each day. Part of this side hustle requires, that every three years I have to get recertified to drive the bus. So, I trade 20 hours of my time, so I can earn an extra $8,000 to $10,000, depending on how much I drive over the three-year period. While in the course I get to meet people from over 20 different school districts. Some are coaches or sponsors, and others are route drivers. This time around I sat in the back in my own camp chair and was anti-social, and for some reason it attracted an older crowd around me. I was the youngest at 36 years old, a then the next youngest was lady at 61 years old. Some of these older drivers were first time drivers. This got me asking why they decided to drive a school bus, and most didn’t have enough money, so they are back in the workforce. Plus, bus drivers get the afternoons off to take a nap they informed me. So today we will talk about how NOT to save for retirement and learn from others mistakes in life. Bus Driver Edition!!
The first guy I talked to, is the oldest guy in the room at 72 years old and getting his bus driver license and training for the first time ever. He was a teacher and football coach and eventually ended up a high school principal. His wife stayed at home, but she worked a few jobs when they first got married as a low paying church secretary. He retired as soon as he could from principal work, because the negativity wore him down. He was 58 years old and living on his teacher retirement. He had no kids at home, but he still had a mortgage and all his normal bills. He didn’t downsize or change his lifestyle once retired. This caused strain in his retirement. He couldn’t travel or play golf everyday, instead he sat at home gained weight and watch a lot of television. His wife couldn’t get social security of $800 month for another 8 years, so they just stuck it out. He had health insurance through his teacher retirement, but his wife’s private health insurance kept going higher, so they refinanced the house and took out a loan to live off, as their bills increased. Finally, even with her extra $800 a month and medicare at age 62, they couldn’t make it any more. He had to come back to work, and he decided school bus driver was the way. He once coached the transportation director at his school district, so getting a job was easy. He makes an hourly wage and could make up to $15,000-$18,000 extra a year driving. This poor guy blames all his problems on the fact that he retired early. I explained he retired without a plan and he didn’t like this and grumbled back at me. I think I pissed him off, but he was angry at life anyways, so I didn’t worry too much about it.
Clearly this poor guy didn’t plan anything. I felt like he just decided he was done and hoped it all worked out. He had no IRA’s or other retirement accounts, no plan to pay off mortgages or downsize. No plan for his wife’s healthcare, and he just expected the state to take care of his retirement without him doing a thing. He never accounted for inflation of any kind or how to keep up with it. If he had just downsized his family home and not been so attached to it, then he might have made it better living in a 800 sq.ft. condo. If he had his mortgage paid off then he might have made it. If he had encouraged his wife to work more, then she could have gotten more from social security. There are a lot of “if’s” that could have changed this scenario, and this man wasn’t having any of it. He didn’t talk to me again once I explained his lack of a plan was the problem, and I even offered to help him figure out a plan, coach to coach. It wasn’t his fault though and he will now drive a bus until health won’t allow him to do it any more. He still needs some frugal changes in his life, and to get rid of the double mortgaged house. He may be in trouble until he can figure out a plan and make the changes.
Now lets talk about the next guy who just came out in January from California to be closer to his daughter and grandkid. This man is 65 years old and has been disabled in California since he was 46 years old. It turns out your arch in your foot can collapse and turned his size 13 shoe into a size 15 shoe. He warned me to watch my arches and take care of your feet multiple times. This kept him from being an electrician, and he filed for disability on the federal level and in California, which got this guy close to $45,000 a year in California. He hasn’t worked in 19 years and has gotten his monthly paycheck every month. He has no savings, no retirement, or anything to his name, and he was making it just fine in California on disability. Now he has ailing health and wanted to spend time with his only grandchild, so he moved to Texas without doing any research. In turns out in Texas, we hate giving out disability and deemed him well enough to work (This is according to him). So, he started to get his social security, which means no more disability, and it just wasn’t going to cut it. So here he is trying to drive a school for the extra $15,000-$18,000 a year to help him get by with his social security.
This guy knew he didn’t have a plan, and he was relying on “hope” that the government wouldn’t kick him out of the system. He had some good jobs for Microsoft as an electrician, and other big companies, but he got his full pay, instead of investing in stock options, and 401k’s. He admits his mistakes and told me he could have easily been a millionaire if he had put that money away young. He was a likable guy, and sat by each other the whole time talking. He has also started a few side hustles, such as breeding German Shepherds and wood working. I think he will be alright in the long run, because he knows he messed up, was lazy with his retirement planning, and he seems to be getting an idea of what he needs to do now, for a better retirement by the time he is 70. He has learned from his mistakes, and he is more family oriented, moving cross-country for his daughter and grandchild, and he is putting a plan together.
So, to end on a hopeful note, on the last day I went on a bus to drive the obstacle course with two young coaches in their mid 20’s. I told them about the old guys and how they are back in the workforce because of poor retirement planning. One said he didn’t have a plan, but with his new baby daughter he feels he needs to start. The other one said he already has a 403b set up with $25 a month going into it. This was the moment to spread the word!! I taught those guys for four hours about IRA’s, how the teacher retirement worked, and anything else I could think of. They read blogs on their phones as we took turns driving in circles on the bus course, and they walked away with an idea of a plan. One said he was starting his Vanguard account that night. I gave them my email and they know of my website and some others, so hopefully I can get an update, and we can track their progress over the years. Millennials are alright if they are trapped on a bus with a crazy, frugal, early retirement coach. So, make a plan or life will get you later and learn from your mistakes and others, so you can live the best retirement ever.