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40 yr old - rethinking priorities in life
Old 05-08-2008, 04:51 PM   #1
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40 yr old - rethinking priorities in life

Hi to all - This seems to be a great place to share experiences and opinions vs relying solely on advice from fee based financial planners / wealth managers.

I just turned 40, married, 3 kids (9,2,and 3mths) and am in great financial shape (i think). Investable assets of 1.8mm. Home equity of 0.5mm. No debts. Family Gross Income of 300k. Annual expenses of 100k (ex income taxes).

I clearly live below our means but wife not quite there yet.

Goal to retire soon (but really can't see myself not working - so I guess its really just slowing down the working pace). I recently had a life threatening medical problem contributed by lack of work/life balance - and have recently begun to rethink priorities in life. My time off work was spent recovering but also reconnecting with my wife and young children.

I cherished this time that I have with my kids and realize that they will leave the nest in no time at all. Perhaps I am having a mid-life crisis but I am thinking about quitting my job to spend more time at home. Perhaps working part time. However, I would also like to provide a gift of financial independence to my kids and feel that I would not if I quit my job.

I am also caught in the "sandwich" time of my life where I am planning for my kids AND for my parents (both sides). Recently, its become clear, that my parent in-law are in a financial mess and will need some sort of assistance. Sister in-law is also in a credit card mess which i am helping to clean up (refinancing at an more reasonable rate).

Overall, I am pleased with my financial situation but I clearly do not feel well off. I know $2.3mm in net worth is very good but its remarkable that its probably not enough to retire on and it doesn't seem to make folks feel totally financially independent.

Hope to learn more from the experience of others on this forum.

Good luck to all
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Old 05-08-2008, 06:01 PM   #2
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willowbreezer, welcome to the forum!

It sounds like you've done quite well for yourself and are in an enviable financial position. That gives you choices -- more than most people have.

You might enjoy reading Work Less, Live More by Bob Clyatt.

You're generous to want to give your children the gift of financial independence, but I hope that doesn't come at too great a sacrifice. You might also enjoy The Millionaire Next Door by Stanley and Danko. Sometimes that gift does not work out well.

I'm glad you here, and I'll be looking forward to your posts.

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Old 05-08-2008, 06:05 PM   #3
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Welcome!

It sounds like there are a lot of issues you're working through - plenty to think about! There are many here with more experience than I, but a book that is often recommended for those thinking about semi-retiring is Bob Clyatt's Work Less, Live More.

Congrats on getting off to a great start financially. If you do some searches, you'll find numerous threads on everything you've mentioned (influence on kids, caring for parents, semi-retire). You will find plenty of support here for working less (or not at all, if the numbers work). It's not a mid-life crisis, it's being thoughtful about how you want to spend your life
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Old 05-09-2008, 06:39 AM   #4
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While admirable that you would want to help financially --

Your Kids (in adult life)
Your sister
Your parents
Her parents

(see a pattern here?)

Be very careful trekking down this "responsibility road" --- They are NOT all your responsibility and sometimes "helping" can be "enabling" of them to not live up to their responsibilities in life. If fact the more you "hand-out" the more you'll find "hands out".
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Old 05-09-2008, 07:35 AM   #5
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Hi Willowbeezer - Welcome to the forum.
It sounds like you can definitely have what you want - really all of it, with some good planning.
Don't you think that at this point, you could just cut back your work hours, and let what you have invested just grow for a while? Even if you cut back halfway (assuming you are the only one working, you didn't say); you would still have a very nice income.
Or - concentrate on paying the house off if it's not already and then cutting far back and letting the already invested assets grow.
Assuming no inheritance, you have obviously been able to save a lot. I'm sure that your wife would have no problems cutting back IOT have you around more and to benefit your health.
Good luck and hope that you can balance it so that you don't get sick again. I've done it before (recently) and even though it seems like it at the time, it's not worth possibly years off of your life.
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Old 05-09-2008, 07:56 AM   #6
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No debts.

I clearly live below our means but wife not quite there yet.

Overall, I am pleased with my financial situation but I clearly do not feel well off. I know $2.3mm in net worth is very good but its remarkable that its probably not enough to retire on and it doesn't seem to make folks feel totally financially independent.
It looks to me like you have massive debts - the bills just haven't come due yet. Children, a free-spending wife, and financially troubled relatives are all current and future 'debts' that you need to budget for.

You and your wife are a single economic unit. You can't claim to LBYM without your wife onboard.

You, your wife, your kids, your relatives, and your doctors can burn through $1.8M remarkably fast. I think that your concern is justified. So what's your 'magic number' for real FI? Only you and a spreadsheet can answer that question.

Good luck!
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Old 05-09-2008, 08:15 AM   #7
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It looks to me like you have massive debts - the bills just haven't come due yet. Children, a free-spending wife, and financially troubled relatives are all current and future 'debts' that you need to budget for.

You and your wife are a single economic unit. You can't claim to LBYM without your wife onboard.

You, your wife, your kids, your relatives, and your doctors can burn through $1.8M remarkably fast. I think that your concern is justified. So what's your 'magic number' for real FI? Only you and a spreadsheet can answer that question.

Good luck!
I agree,

If you consider you parents, her parents, your sister and your adult childrens financial responsibilities than you need to put a number on that.

Nail it down and subtract it from your net worth. You cannot have something like that just hanging out there. Figure out to what extent you are going to take on their fianancial problems/futures and at least limit it to a number and draw a line to say "this much and no more."

That line will be the line that helps determine how much longer you need to work (delay your retirement) for your choice to bear their burdens.
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Old 05-09-2008, 09:54 AM   #8
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Willowbeezer - welcome. I know how you feel We've supported in-laws and outlaws and finally drew the line. I think I know what you mean when you say you are a LBYMer but your DW is not quite there yet. Looking at your income and expenses, you are LBYM. In our case we were too, but when it came time to build the house, I wanted to build as and when we had the funds, DW wanted more instant gratification (and a mortgage to go with it). As it turns out, I was able to build the funds faster than the contractor could build, so we were OK. But the house is bigger than we needed, meaning a lifetime of higher prop tax and prop insurance.

My advice: draw the line now with the in-laws and outlaws...educate the kids that $xxx is how much you have set aside for their formal education, and they must take responsibility for the rest (make sure you agree with spouse about this...that is the hardest part in our household...the more our assets go up, the more she wants to fund them, which I think will lead them to value their education less).

Also you mention net worth of 2.3m, but don't mention if that is assets held for funding retirement, or if it includes your primary residence. If it does, remember to exclude it from your calculations. At your age and needing 100k after tax (120-130 pretax), then you would need at least 3m in retirement funding assets at he standard 4% SWR, but at your young age you may want to be more conservative. I'm a little older than you but am shooting for 3%, or about 4m (estimated post-tax expense is about the same).

You may want to hang on for a couple years, but slow down some so you don't ruin your health. I know...it is not worth it.

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Old 05-09-2008, 10:19 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by socca View Post
It looks to me like you have massive debts - the bills just haven't come due yet. Children, a free-spending wife, and financially troubled relatives are all current and future 'debts' that you need to budget for.

You and your wife are a single economic unit. You can't claim to LBYM without your wife onboard.

You, your wife, your kids, your relatives, and your doctors can burn through $1.8M remarkably fast. I think that your concern is justified. So what's your 'magic number' for real FI? Only you and a spreadsheet can answer that question.

Good luck!
Socca, thanks for you input.

Actually, our only current debt is a $90k mortgage (at a 4.875% fixed rate for about 7 more years without any extra payments). We pay off our "cash back" cc in full every month. By the way, I would like the group's thoughts on paying off the mortgage with the "cash - fixed income" portion of my portfolio. When rates were good, I would get 5%+ yield on money markets, but now currently at around 3% so that it makes sense to pay off mortgage. I rationalize not paying off by investing $90k in 6% coupon GIC (10 years) in IRA account (ie yield spread of 1.125%). However, i still have cash at the 3%.

Wife spends on personal discretionary items (she has a knack of finding the 0% off sales) but I constantly remind her of excess spending to keep her spending in check (but it sometimes is a point of contention in our marriage). I am not a stickler on spending, but I do try to instill purchasing necessities and looking for value (ie I have no problems purchasing a 52in LCD only if I get it at a bargain) I think that referring her to this site will help educate her on the virtues of LBYM so that I'm not constantly the bad guy.

Daughter is clearly LBYM for now. She is a great saver (we give a $10 weekly allowance and match any amount saved). She now has $4k in brokerage and she shrugs off the silly discretionary items that her friends are into because its her money that she's spending.

Current thought on Sister. I will refinance her cc loans at 6% since that would be what I would earn on a CD. I break even - Sister wins by improving interest rate from 20% to 6% - Credit Card company loses (Sis will cut up credit cards).

Parents will need to file bankruptcy and lose the credit cards (they really don't have any siezable assets). Afterwards, will have a positive net worth which will fund retirement income. We will purchase home and "rent" to them - actually, the economics are not bad here (guaranteed tennants for 10-15 years - and all of the deferred tax benefits / property apprecitation that come along for the ride). Actually, they have been living a pseudo LBYM lifestyle for the past 5 years since most of the income goes to servicing cc debt leaving very little for necessities/consumption. After bankruptcy, they can begin saving big without changing current basic consumption patterns - also, they can't get back into the same CC debt situation since they will not have access to credit. The key here is that they don't try to improve lifestyle after debt is absolved. If things goes as planned, they will have 70% of income in retirement which will be sufficient to retire on (by the way, they live in Canada with access to universal health and long term care benefits - i think i will retire up there as well).

In terms of FI, I modeled out that I could quit cold turkey now (unlikely as I wouldn't know what to do with myself if I didn't work) and have a real net worth of 0.0mm when I kick the bucket in 40 yrs. This assumes a conservative 5% return on investments, 3% inflation and private university education for our 3 kids. In order to increase real net worth to say $2mm ($7mm in 50 yrs), I figure that I will need to work for another 7 years at current pace. So the trade off is work now for kids future or back off now in favor of work / life balance and leave little for the kids.
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Old 05-09-2008, 01:29 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by willowbeezer View Post
Current thought on Sister. I will refinance her cc loans at 6% since that would be what I would earn on a CD. I break even - Sister wins by improving interest rate from 20% to 6% - Credit Card company loses (Sis will cut up credit cards).
Umm... do you trust the sister on this? Are you willing to kiss your money goodbye if she doesn't cut up the cards and re-spends? I'm sorry to be such a pessimist, but tigers don't often change their stripes.

Welcome to the forum, Willow!

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Old 05-09-2008, 03:41 PM   #11
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charlotte,

great point. for now, I view this a very low risk. We've lent money to her in the past for a home purchase and she repaid on schedule (10k).

Now we're looking at $50k but am assuming she will continue repaying me at the same rate as the current min payments for the cc. at that rate, principle will be repaid in about 5 years.

She makes a very good income and can easily handle the obligation. To your point, though nothing is guaranteed. Worst case scenario is that she accumulates new debt on her cc. She's informed me that she uses cash for all of her consumption now.

For now, she's a great credit risk until she proves otherwise and worst case is that I'm out $50k (I will consider it a 1 time bailout for a treasured family member - but will hesitate the next time).

Perhaps I can become a banker for my extended family. I just get infuriated at "predatory-like" rates that are now being charged by the credit card companies and am doing my part at making sure that wealth transfers from family members to the cc companies are minimized.

Thanks for you thoughts.
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Old 05-09-2008, 05:39 PM   #12
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So, how about working a couple more years for the cushion (oe maybe just do PT, as you mentioned, but a little heavier load in the first few years...just a thought.

I worry about the in-law situation. I don't understand how you get a positive net worth out of a bankruptcy. Does that mean in Canada you don't have to sell your house to pay creditors? Another thing...I hate it when people file bankruptcy. I am well aware that there are folks out there who end up in bankruptcy because of catastrophic health issues, but from the sounds of it, your PIL and my Sister are very similar. She ran up her debt (52inch plasma tv, travel trailer, motorcycle, etc), filed banruptcy, and none of it was seized or sold. She brags "look at all this free stuff I got!" It makes me absolutely sick, because we (you, me, all of us) are paying for the toys and extravagancies of people like this. I know it is hard to do to family, but I think a little suffering is in order, if for nothing more than to help them learn a necessary financial lesson. FWIW,

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Old 05-10-2008, 12:02 AM   #13
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Rambler,

I concur with a moral obligation to repay all debts... However, I think that there are exceptions.

the inlaws have paid their min payments for 10-odd years and the balance don't seem to go down much. In the meantime, the cc companies continue to increase credit limits and interest rates to 25-30% despite never missing a min payment. I feel that in this case (and I am sure many others) that CC companies are intentionally indebting non-saavy consumers and making a killing at high interest rates. Ok I agree that they overextended themselves a long time ago, but I figure that they have repaid their debt and them some by virtue of min payments over 10 years at 20%+ rates. Had I known this was happening, I would have refinanced them down a long/long time ago (lesson learned too late that its critical to discuss financials with family members). Bankruptcy is their only option as their income is insufficient to cover min payments and basic living expenses. Infact, they have been tapping into employer sponsored retirement plans (with tax penalty, etc) to cover monthly outflows.

The inlaws do not own any real assets (no house, old car, basic furnishings) but do have their employer sponsored retirement assets which are the only things that are not siezeable. They are not proud of bankruptcy and are trying to avoid it but in this case, they just cannot continue to rape their pensions plans to just get by (by the way father in law works 2 jobs and 7 days a week). After bankruptcy, they will have no debts and little retirement pension assets.

Sister inlaw: debt was accumulated by ex prior to separation. Ex cannot / will not repay. Sis stuck with debt and has made committment to repay. I've intervened since I don't want her to be stuck with 25%+ rates and want to give her relief (because I can). I could just give her the money but that would not be appropriate. You sense correctly, that neither are financially saavy and will need to learn / change behaviour. I am hoping that they will learn from these experiences but the ball is in their court.

Thanks for your thoughts
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Old 05-10-2008, 02:32 AM   #14
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Thanks Willowbeezer. Sorry if I came off a little harsh. I feel for you. Its just the attitude that my own sister displayed when she filed. I love her, and I have helped her from time to time but I have refused to help her openly because of her "I deserve it" attitude. She knows we have money (but not how much), and she has openly said to me and about me to other siblings "its not fair that you/(he) have/(has) money and I don't." This is from someone who works only part time, and only part of the year (tax season), and said to someone (me) who works 12-14 hours a day.

What I have done to help from behind the scenes is to give some money to my parents, who then forward a few hundred at a time, telling her it is donations from people in their church who know her situation. I won't let her go hungry, but I know if I give her a couple thousand bucks in one shot, it will go to more toys and goodies for her and her kids that we don't even splurge on ourselves. Since she filed bankruptcy, she fell ill with breast cancer, so I try to watch a little closer to make sure she is getting care and appropriate nutrition, but I still try to do my watching thru others.

Anyway, Good luck with what you have to do. I think you are a good man for doing it. I just hope you can educate those who need it, and that the message sticks.

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Old 05-10-2008, 08:29 PM   #15
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[quote=willowbeezer;654810]Hi to all -
I just turned 40, married, 3 kids (9,2,and 3mths) and am in great financial shape (i think). Investable assets of 1.8mm. Home equity of 0.5mm. No debts. Goal to retire soon (but really can't see myself not working - so I guess its really just slowing down the working pace). I recently had a life threatening medical problem contributed by lack of work/life balance - and have recently begun to rethink priorities in life. My time off work was spent recovering but also reconnecting with my wife and young children.

Perhaps I am having a mid-life crisis but I am thinking about quitting my job to spend more time at home. Perhaps working part time. However, I would also like to provide a gift of financial independence to my kids and feel that I would not if I quit my job. I am also caught in the "sandwich" time of my life where I am planning for my kids AND for my parents (both sides). Recently, its become clear, that my parent in-law are in a financial mess and will need some sort of assistance. Sister in-law is also in a credit card mess which i am helping to clean up (refinancing at an more reasonable rate).

I know $2.3mm in net worth is very good but its remarkable that its probably not enough to retire on



I read this post and it describes a very similar situation as far as same age, 2 kids, watching them grow up from "afar" as I slave away for MegaCorp too. Same sandwich thing.

Got me thinking on a few things-- how about a few years off. I think I'm going to give it a shot. Not totally stop working, but do something a bit more fun, less stressful, and less time demanding. I dont have enough to FIRE in the lifestyle that I want to live when old, but I think I do have enough to do something less stressful...even if for just a few years before jumping back "in" if really needed. With the boomers all retiring soon, I suspect the job market will be reasonable for those of us in late 30's/early 40's with 20+ years of experience to find our path back into the work force. If not, well, guess we will do what we've been doing, LBYM and enjoy life a little bit.

Best gift of financial independence that you can give your kids is to teach them to STUDY, to WORK, and to SAVE. To me, that means that they get to grow up thinking that they inherit NOTHING from me or DW. That we get to spend all that we have worked for. If there is something left (which, of course, there might be) that becomes an upside later in their lives, at a time hopefully when they are mature, self sufficient, and responsible. We DO have college funds for them, enough for 4 years at State University each. Grad school if needed is on their own dime at this stage.

You are right, scary that $2.3M+ that you have is not enough to retire early on....but the folks on here tend to be very conservative, well prepared, pre-retirees, so dont let their $4M or $5M nest-egg scare you. All the FIRE spreadsheets and FIRECALCS lack one piece of data -- Fact is, any of us could get cancer or a heart attack and die next week and not get to enjoy a single cent of that nestegg....so you gotta be honest with yourself as much as "listening" to those spread-sheet crunching folks on here. You could work 10 more years to double your nest egg. You'll be at $5M by then...but the new number needed will be $10M. And your kids will be all grown up, out of the house, etc. Point is, dont keep chasing the dragon unnecessarily.

Fact: you are in the top 5% of people your age with assets over $2.3M at age 40. second fact....life is short. So, I bet if I had that, I could certainly find a way to do things differently vs today and enjoy my life, my kids, my wife, and my hobbies more while still keeping mentally "in the game" to a certain degree.

Assuming some of your $1.8 goes to 3 kids college educations (figure you need to set aside $100K each from now til they graudate) and that your $0.5M equity in house stops appreciating for the next 25 to 30 years, you would be able to throw off an after-tax annual cash flow of about $70K/year (earning about 4.5% in tax free munis), give yourself a cost-of-living inflation adjusted raise of 3% per year, pull out 4%...and not run out of money til you are 95 years old. Not enough to live like a rock-star, but hell...you live in Illinois...cheap place even chicagoland (personally I'd head for warmer climates...) Certainly enough to cover all monthly expenses including health insurance. If you want more then you can get a job to augment...work a while...spend a while...work a while..spend a while.

One last general thought kinda un-related to this thread; I am not in agreement with people who exclude their house equity as an asset here. This bothers me. Example - you can move from California to Idaho and pull a LOT of equity out of your house. Likewise, can do a reverse mortgage and pull equity out of a house when old.... I just think a house, as a primary investment, should be considered a retirement asset and counted, yes many people are too conservative and afraid to downsize and move and yes you always need a place to live, but if you REALLY crank the numbers, you realize that there are options to increase retirement assets by doing something different with your primary home real-estate investment.
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Old 05-10-2008, 10:20 PM   #16
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Papadad,

thanks for you post and insights. good to see others in the same situation and that I'm not alone facing this. In fact, I think that is the wonderful thing about this forum.

I concur with you on your numbers (my model spits out consistent results). I also agree with your assessment of including house equity. In fact, I just paid off my mortgage today (91K). My investable income just dropped 0.1mm and equity increased 0.1mm, yet I am no worse off. I consider the home an investment like my other financial investments but just less liquid.

I am returning to work shortly (after the medical leave) but am not too stressed out as I know I can leave at any time and downshift a notch. Can even go back to an old employer with a great pension plan and coast a little. Also thinking about doing something I really enjoy - teaching/coaching (big change). I don't have all the answers but LBYM really gives one the financial freedom and options that others may not enjoy.

Thanks again for your input
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same idea
Old 05-12-2008, 03:56 AM   #17
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same idea

I actually am along those same exact lines - probably do some teaching, give back a little to the community, be closer to what my kids are talking about and doing so as to keep an eye and ear out on things. Also, I enjoy teaching a lot.

Crazy how similar the profiles/ideas are. Guess great minds think/invests alike....ha ha.

I will probably take on a year of full-time school, to get certified/licensed and then be able to work part time to start. You DO get credit for your professional experience...and like Rambler, I've worked and lived all over the world and hence that experience I presume will carry me far in the class room and beyond.

I've also considered starting and running my own business -- but will go slow as my real objective is to spend some more time with family, not get buried in "running my own business" which can easily get the time clock back up to the 80+ hours per week....so gonna proceed cautiously there.

What part of Illinois are you in / living? Asking because I've pondered a return to the mid-west where we have family....cost of living is VERY affordable as is housing, making the whole retire-early thing that much more attainable/feasible.

BUT ... Quality of life is not as good as other coastal cities, or outside the USA (weather not as good, lack of global diversity, etc..) but for me it would not be forever. Once kids are grown and out of the house, I fully intend to live/retire outside the USA again provided I am still in good health and parents are able to manage w/o me being local.

There's a little beach in SE Asia that I've had my eye on since about 1995...... "would you like hot or mild sauce with that coconut sir"..... he he he.
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