Retirement thoughts

I’m getting closer to paying off those debts I incurred through youthful idiocy. I wanted to be done this March, and not surprisingly, I wasn’t. What with getting implants for my teeth and needing my knee – possibly also hip – looked at, it’s gonna be a while yet. Not this year, and not early next year – but I’ll get there.

And that means I started worrying about retirement. Will social security still be there? Can I afford to retire with Mai Tais on a yacht? I’m 35 now – isn’t it a bit late to get started?

And the answer I found by taking advantage of the retirement calculators and 401k advice as well as retirement advice at fool.com is:

It doesn’t fucking matter whether SS will still be there.

That’s a comforting thought. If I start investing into a 401(k) now, then by the time I can get at that money – 62 – I’ll have enough even if SS tanks completely. Which it won’t, I’ll wager. I’ll have enough even considering the staggering cost of medical expenses, though it would be really really wise to start a long-term-care insurance plan, like, now. Or soon soon at any rate.

The best bit about it for me, after reading through all that stuff for hours on end, is how simple it can be in the end.

  • Look at what you can afford to put away comfortably.
  • Start now.
  • Put your money into these vehicles, by order of preference:
  • 401(k) matched by employer. Free money, woot!
  • Roth IRA
  • 401(k) not matched by employer
  • Over time, see whether you can max your contributions to these plans. Nay, over time, max your contributions :).
  • Choose an equity index fund – like an S&P 500 – to put it all in. That’s because managed funds have expenses, and they nearly all underperform the index over the long run. I don’t think I’ll pick the one managed fund out there that outperforms the index, so I’ll stick with the index thank-you. Big bonus plus: It’s a no-brainer. I can forget about it.
  • Start now.
  • If you switch jobs and you’re offered a check for your 401k money, decline. The tax man would rape you. With a spiked mace. Anally.
  • And foghet-about-it. No need to worry about this stuff any more for the next 3 decades.

See? Simple. The calculators claim that if I follow this simple plan, I’ll have something like 1.5 mil when I retire. Even considering inflation, that’s plenty. Just one qualifying statement:

If you have unsecured debt, for fuck’s sake, pay it off. No investment is ever going to have the kind of return to outperform what you pay in interest on that credit card.

Geeky fun

It’s free! Woo!

MicroSoft has woken up to the benefits of a strong “hobbyist” community, and they’re giving away Visual Studio .NET in an “Express” Edition. It will do pretty much everything us home-brew guys want.

There’s a bunch of editions – web, Visual Basic, C++, C#, J#, SQL Server. I grabbed the C++ and C# ones, and then tried to compile Le Putty, which failed spectacularly.

Which turned out to be caused by the “Express” Edition allowing one to build .NET applications, but not Win32 applications. The good news is it’s not been crippled, it just isn’t configured to build Win32 apps out-of-the-box.

So here’s what you do:

Grab and install Visual Studio Express 2005 Beta 2
Grab and install the MicroSoft Platform SDK

Then follow some rather elaborate instructions, keeping in mind that the SDK actually installs in C:\Program Files\Microsoft Platform SDK\ by default, not C:\Program Files\Microsoft SDK\

Le Putty compiles now, and I can see it crash and have VC++ jump right to the code line where it crashed. Sweet. Still haven’t figured out why it crashes – which is what prompted this whole installation madness – but I will.

Ohhh — I could dig out accrete code again. Be still, my beating heart. Then again — haha, it now exists as an applet! Awesome. Never mind that then.