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29 and Ready to Pull the Pin. Advice Needed.
Old 04-26-2014, 07:07 PM   #1
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29 and Ready to Pull the Pin. Advice Needed.

Hello all,

Iím 29 and married, with a baby on the way. My wife and I have a portfolio of about $6m.
Iíve been working in law enforcement in a major US city for 6 years. To put it simply, Iím burnt out and considering applying for vested retirement. I collect a decent paycheck from my job, but thatís all it is, a paycheck, and one that I consider my ďplay money.Ē For the most part the job is incredibly boring, and what isnít boring is frustrating and thankless. I also work nights, which is physically and mentally draining. The paycheck seems less and less worth the hassle, especially come tax time when I see we paid more in taxes than my gross job income and I have to duck out when coworkers start comparing tax refunds. My wife, who has a disability and doesnít work, is supportive, but has her (very reasonable) reservations. I feel that if Iím not working long, odd hours, I would be more available to support her and our baby when he arrives. We sat down with our advisor a few weeks ago to speak with him about the feasibility of this. He basically said that financially itís not an issue. Though my net income of 60k is not insignificant, we donít depend on it; our investments are yielding more than 4 times that a year. His opinion is that itís more a self-worth issue, that I should ask myself if I will feel the same level of self-worth if I were to give up my career. He also suggested that I speak to many people in similar situations, but I really donít know any. That search for opinions and advice has lead me to this site, which has already been very helpful.

I have 2 major reservations that are holding me back:

1) As I mentioned earlier, my wife has a disability. She makes thorough use of our health insurance plan, with frequent doctor visits and occasionally sees a specialist. I currently pay $14 a month out of my check for insurance. If I were to retire early, the same plan will cost $1400 a month, and thatís with COBRA. We could afford this, but should we? If I were to work another 4 years, and vest out at 10, I would become eligible for retiree benefits in 2028. Again, cost-benefit analysis comes in to play. Itís ďonlyĒ 4 more years, but I could do a lot in that time instead of being miserable.

2) If I leave now, rather than staying till my 20th year, I would be giving up a 3k a month pension. I would still get something, but it would be a small fraction of that.


Keep in mind, I donít intend or even want to sit around the house all day. I just want to do something I love whether it makes money or not. Our long term goal is to start some type of humanitarian organization and in the meantime, volunteer with some NPOís to see how they operate on the day-to-day. We also love to travel so we would be doing quite a bit of that. Of course I would love to indulge my hobbies. Astronomy is my true passion, which my night job constantly interferes with. I would love to start an astronomical outreach program in my neighborhood.

I took my job because I wanted to help people, but more often than not I feel like an overpaid babysitter, working for incompetent supervisors in crumbling old facilities and driving around in unsafe cars that are falling apart. Iím sick of my profession constantly being trashed in the media, trying to help people who would sooner see me dead, being called every slur in the book, and all the while risking my life in the process. I also worry that our assets would be exposed in this litigious society, as cops get threatened with lawsuits on a daily basis. Most importantly, I want to be there for my child in every way possible, and not be a stereotypical distant cop dad, forced to miss birthdays and other milestones because I got stuck at work.


I guess in the end, my question isnít, ďCAN I retire?Ē, but, ďSHOULD I retire?Ē I don't want to make a hasty decision, but I would love to start a new chapter in my life. Sorry for the long post. I'm looking forward to hearing your wisdom.
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Old 04-26-2014, 07:21 PM   #2
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Not sure I understand everything. Why are you working as a cop? Not "why did you get into LE?" But rather, "why are you still doing it?"
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Old 04-26-2014, 07:25 PM   #3
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I guess in the end, my question isn’t, “CAN I retire?”, but, “SHOULD I retire?”
If it were me, yes, I would retire tomorrow.
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Old 04-26-2014, 07:32 PM   #4
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You certainly are financially capable of retiring. You at least should be doing something that you enjoy. Staying in a job that is miserable makes no sense when you don't need the money.
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Old 04-26-2014, 07:40 PM   #5
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It is not just that you are miserable but it sounds like you are putting your assets at risk by staying, plus there is the element of danger some people deal with better than others.

You might benefit from sitting down with an asset protection attorney if you have not already done so.
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Old 04-26-2014, 07:47 PM   #6
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At a minimum you should take a break and then decide what you want to do for the rest of your life. If you took an extended leave of absence it might preserve options for you but it sounds unlikely that you would go back so that may not be a big deal.

Your wealth gives you choices - choose wisely.
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Old 04-26-2014, 08:33 PM   #7
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Any chance for changing positions at your employer or changing employers? Or switch careers altogether. Could you teach astronomy at the local community college or work with the local science museum or some other local org?

And I'm curious how you guys ended up with $6 million at age 29! No need to share unless you want to satiate the curiosity of every single person reading this thread.
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Old 04-27-2014, 07:40 AM   #8
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I'm retired law enforcement and what you are experiencing is the burnout that affects 80% of officers with between 5 and 10 years on. It is normal and will almost certainly pass. Granted that some never get past it and they either get heart attacks or quit. And some people figure out that they just aren't a good fit for law enforcement work and there's nothing wrong with that. It can be and was a richly rewarding career for me and if I was 22 I'd do it again.

What is not normal is the unsafe working conditions of the vehicles. The agency is taking on a huge liability risk doing that. For that reason alone given the options you have I'd be looking for work at a different agency that places appropriate emphasis on officer safety.

The incompetent supervisors? Read around on this and other forums and you'll find those are everywhere. There is apparently no escape from those.

As for personal liability risk, you do have some exposure to that. It's what insurance is for. Talk to an attorney about it.

All that said, I too am mystified why given the option to quit whenever you want, you continue to work in a job that you clearly don't like when you could be doing essentially whatever you want to.
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Old 04-27-2014, 10:01 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by AnAtomInTheUniverse View Post
...
1) As I mentioned earlier, my wife has a disability. She makes thorough use of our health insurance plan, with frequent doctor visits and occasionally sees a specialist. I currently pay $14 a month out of my check for insurance. If I were to retire early, the same plan will cost $1400 a month, and that’s with COBRA. We could afford this, but should we? If I were to work another 4 years, and vest out at 10, I would become eligible for retiree benefits in 2028. Again, cost-benefit analysis comes in to play. It’s “only” 4 more years, but I could do a lot in that time instead of being miserable.
...
...
You have never heard of the ACA ("Obamacare")?
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Old 04-27-2014, 10:39 AM   #10
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Thanks for the helpful responses. I really wasn't expecting to get such fervent answers! I realized that I never really explained why I'm still working at this job and I think it would help to give some context:

When I took the job, we had a few thousand in savings, but were living paycheck to paycheck. About a year into my career, my wife received the money as a windfall (no real financial wizardry there) and we promptly got an advisor and invested it. Thus I entered this sort of limbo phase where despite being the one working, I was not the "breadwinner" of the household. I kept going because in the culture of my department, hitting 20 years and getting that pension is everything, and people will put up with any amount of nonsense to get there. I was firmly ensconced in this way of thinking as well. I was also raised in the same society that most of you were, that measures a person's success by how much money they earn. I was afraid that people would think I was lazy or a moocher. I've been disillusioned with the job for a couple of years now, but finding out we were going to have a child really caused me to reevaluate how I wanted to live my life. As such, I've spent the last month in full blown existential crisis mode.

Quote:
If you took an extended leave of absence it might preserve options
I've considered taking an extended unpaid leave, but that creates 2 problems. First, I would be required to use up my accrued time, which I could cash out upon vesting. Combined with my savings it would give me about another 24k to invest. Second, taking a leave greater than 6 months would count as a break in service and would preclude me from vesting for another five years upon returning to work.

Quote:
You might benefit from sitting down with an asset protection attorney if you have not already done so.
I'll definitely look into that. It sounds like a good thing to do, law enforcement career or not.

Quote:
I'm retired law enforcement.
Thanks for the response, Walt34. You probably have the best perspective on living with "the job" out of everyone. I know it's true about the incompetent supervisors. If the different jobs I've had in my life have one unifying factor, that's it!

Quote:
You've never heard of the ACA ("Obamacare")?
As I understand it, we don't qualify for any subsidies and it would be the same cost as buying an insurance plan privately. Perhaps I'm wrong and someone could enlighten me.

It's been great hearing all of your opinions.
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Old 04-27-2014, 10:52 AM   #11
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As I understand it, we don't qualify for any subsidies and it would be the same cost as buying an insurance plan privately. Perhaps I'm wrong and someone could enlighten me.

It's been great hearing all of your opinions.
If your wife's disability is through SSA, after a waiting period she would be eligible for Medicare, add a supplement to it, you have good inexpensive insurance, for her.

You probably don't qualify for ACA tax reduction or cost sharing, but it doesn't cost anything to find out.
Best wishes,
MRG

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Old 04-27-2014, 12:59 PM   #12
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You should check out the ACA for insurance rates even without the subsidy; cobra would last only 18 months and you would still need insurance after that.

I would be very tempted to keep working for four more years to become eligible for future retiree benefits in 2028, although you surely are financially able to retire now with your nest egg. With a disabled wife, you shouldn't need to justify a decision to retire to anyone, as it will allow you to spend time helping her. And congrats on the baby on the way!
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29 and Ready to Pull the Pin. Advice Needed.
Old 04-27-2014, 03:40 PM   #13
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29 and Ready to Pull the Pin. Advice Needed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Walt34 View Post
I'm retired law enforcement and what you are experiencing is the burnout that affects 80% of officers with between 5 and 10 years on. It is normal and will almost certainly pass. Granted that some never get past it and they either get heart attacks or quit. And some people figure out that they just aren't a good fit for law enforcement work and there's nothing wrong with that. It can be and was a richly rewarding career for me and if I was 22 I'd do it again.

What is not normal is the unsafe working conditions of the vehicles. The agency is taking on a huge liability risk doing that. For that reason alone given the options you have I'd be looking for work at a different agency that places appropriate emphasis on officer safety.

The incompetent supervisors? Read around on this and other forums and you'll find those are everywhere. There is apparently no escape from those.

As for personal liability risk, you do have some exposure to that. It's what insurance is for. Talk to an attorney about it.

All that said, I too am mystified why given the option to quit whenever you want, you continue to work in a job that you clearly don't like when you could be doing essentially whatever you want to.

+1. Get the hell out and do something else. You don't need to retire, unless you want to. Find something you enjoy, or which makes you feel good. Maybe something you can share with DW.
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Old 04-27-2014, 03:59 PM   #14
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I've said it before and it applies to you: yours is an emotional decision, not a financial decision.

You certainly have the assets to live a comfortable life without working, just on the proceeds from the assets. You just need to figure out what it is you want to do. Keep working in a different job? Become a permanent stay at home dad? Retire and take some time off to decide? At a minimum, it seems you should take a fairly long break when your new kid arrives. Take FMLA time and just make sure you go back before the 6 month window.

You are still very young, so you are not stuck being a cop if you do not like that. Assuming you might still work, there are a lot of other jobs you can do; especially because you are working because you want to, not because you have to. Look into other city departments, or county/state? Just trying to provide options to consider. Work as a trainer at the academy? More than likely there is some regular hours M-F type job within your city organization you might be able to switch into. Even at a cut in pay, your mental health benefit will outweigh the loss in income.

You can also get medical insurance just talking to the providers directly, you do not have to go through the ACA website. Since you will not get the subsidy, not need to go through the ACA BS. Just buy it direct like people used to do.
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Old 04-27-2014, 04:06 PM   #15
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I'd quit, go back to school, and become an astronomer. Or whatever sounds interesting. I don't think the insurance or pension will be worth the pain at this point, and you do have a difficult job.

Keep reading here so you can see if your advisor is charging you too much. $6M will allow a better lifestyle than you might have expected, but it still must be managed to last through another 60-70 years.
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Old 04-27-2014, 04:17 PM   #16
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If you are in NYC, you have over a hundred ACA choices with unsubsidized prices ranging from $928 to $2700 per month for all three of you (as well as catastrophic coverage while under 30). There's no extra cost because of your wife's pre-existing condition and no longer fear that you will lose coverage or reach a lifetime cap. However, healthcare prices will continue to rise.

An astronomy career is probably going to require a PhD. Is that what you want to pursue?
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Old 04-28-2014, 09:56 PM   #17
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Hello AnAtom. That name sums up a philosophy quite well. I love it.

If my wife and I found ourselves with 6 million bucks, I would consider my career to be one of financial management, not whatever my job was beforehand. I might throw my back out carrying investments books from the library. To be blunt, I would never trust an adviser WITH my money (at any wealth level). I was burned by a very incompetent one right at the start of my investing career and I see it as a great lesson. I would definitely pay for the best fee-only adviser(s) I could find with that many bucks though. Only you can mess up being that rich so I'd be pretty conservative.

6 million? I'd buy one of the life-strategy funds at Vanguard, live on 1-2% of it each year, and enjoy the hell out of my new career. Thanks for your service and enjoy a very prosperous life.
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Old 04-29-2014, 12:08 PM   #18
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I would be very tempted to keep working for four more years to become eligible for future retiree benefits in 2028, although you surely are financially able to retire now with your nest egg.
With all respect, this makes no sense to me. The OP says he is disillusioned, bored, feels his work makes no real difference, is needlessly risking both his life and his family's assets, and that his job is keeping him from spending time pursuing his passions. Given that he and his wife have ample capital, why incur the opportunity cost of hanging on for a pension he does't need?

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With a disabled wife, you shouldn't need to justify a decision to retire to anyone, as it will allow you to spend time helping her.
Agree 100%.

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An astronomy career is probably going to require a PhD.
A conventional career, sure; but there are plenty of unpaid opportunities for enthusiastic amateurs.

Happily, contemporary society's obsession with formal credentials has little impact upon those who don't require a pay cheque.

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My wife, who has a disability and doesn’t work, is supportive, but has her (very reasonable) reservations.
This is likely the nub of the issue.

What are her specific reservations?

If she is concerned that about the financial risk of your not working, I agree with your advisor. Unless you take very aggressive risks with your investments, $6 million should be sufficient for a reasonable and secure lifestyle, including medical coverage.

If she is concerned that you will become lazy, or will just be around the home too much, those are issues that you will have to talk out.

My advice would be to transition into early retirement by exploring your volunteer options before quitting. It generally takes some time to find the right fit, but when you get there you will know it and will discover that there are more than enough opportunities to keep you fully occupied, if that's what you want (one of the benefits of volunteering: you can set your own level of engagement).

FWIW, since taking early retirement in 2012 I have derived infinitely more satisfaction and pleasure from volunteering than I did from 20 years of paid employment. I know that I am helping others who sincerely appreciate it. The clichť that you get back much more than you give is quite true, and I have no self-worth issues: on the contrary.

Best of luck to you.
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Old 04-29-2014, 01:47 PM   #19
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If I had your resources, I would quit tomorrow and go do something I wanted to do - I feel similarly about my work. At this point, your financial future is best determined by how you manage your windfall, not by sticking around for a nominal (with your resources, it's nominal) pension. JMO.
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Old 04-29-2014, 03:31 PM   #20
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Maybe it's my paranoia - but I'm not sure I'd want to quit my job based on my spouse's windfall. If it's in her name - it's her asset, not yours. Granted - while you are married, you are reaping the benefit of the income it is generating.

I would look closely at how the asset is titled. I assume (but could be very wrong) that it is an inheritance. If your wife titled it in her name only, then it is HERS separate from the marital assets.

That said - you should find a career that suits you. Look at different career options, figure out the education/training needed to change to that career. Look at the job prospects in that field. And retrain/retool your career. You should not have to be miserable.
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