The Wise Cracks Blog by Dan Otter



50 is Kind of Nifty: My Thoughts on Turning 50

So I just turned 50. I don’t really consider myself 50 though because I was in England when it happened and they have the metric system and we don’t. That's some crazy logic I realize. But is it any crazier than the fact that besides the United States, only Burma and Liberia don’t use the metric system? It strikes me that the U.S. seems to treat the metric system the way school districts treat the 403(b). Both entities know that what they are doing is pretty stupid, but for some reason they refuse to change. Anyway, as of now I am more like 49 and 350/365ths old. The gap represents the number of days I was in England, Scotland and Ireland. I suppose by this logic, the fact that I have been home for 17 days means I’m actually like 49 and 367/365ths. So I guess I am 50. But I’m a young 50.

OK. Now that I can agree with myself that I am indeed 50, how does being 50 make me feel? I can honestly say I am not sad that my time left is most likely less than the time I’ve already spent here. I am pretty happy right now with my life situation. I have an amazing wife and two pretty wonderful kids. I have terrific friends here in Albuquerque. I mountain bike and play ice hockey weekly. I feel pretty healthy. But I can also say that 50 has really got me asking: What’s next?

When I turned 30, I moved from California to Washington, D.C. When I turned 40, I moved from Bethesda, Maryland to New Mexico. I won’t be moving this year because my daughter will be a senior this fall. But I can honestly say I am up for an adventure. That’s one of the very cool things about being a teacher. There are jobs literally everywhere. When we were in England recently some family friends were encouraging us to consider moving to England for a year or so to expose our youngest child (Ben, now age 11) to what I experienced. I lived in England from 1974-1977. It was quite an experience. I went to an all-boys school, wore a uniform, and got hit by half-crazed teachers. Think Dead Poets Society. In all seriousness, besides the lack of girls and the hitting, it was an amazing experience that shaped me in so many positive ways. Plus, I hear the teachers aren’t so crazed. In fact, my old school (Bedford Modern) is now co-ed.

Anyway, who knows what’s next for me in my 50s? One thing I am absolutley going to do now that I am 50 is take full advantage of the age-50 catch-up contribution in both my Roth IRA (an extra, $1,000 in 2015, thank you very much) and in my 403(b) plan (an extra $6,000 in 2015, thank you very, very, much).

Another thing I should probably do is get a colonoscopy. Supposedly that is something you do when you turn 50. I mentioned this to a 74-year-old in England. His reaction? Nonsense! It’s a scam! It’s utter rubbish! BTW: That’s metric for garbage.