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51 year old scared of early retirement
Old 11-07-2010, 02:11 PM   #1
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51 year old scared of early retirement

I am a 51 year-old female, and thinking about retirement for the last 10 years. When I was younger, I really liked my job. As I get older I just do not have energy to continue. Financially, my house (~$300K) will be paid off in a year. I own another house (~$300K, paid off) which brings in $1200/mo and various accounts (total ~$500,000.) In my calculation, this is barely enough.

My concern is that my life (friends, activities etc) is so closely tied to work that I am afraid to miss them all. I play piano. I have a dog. I volunteer weekly at soup kitchen. But they are not my passion. I took dance classes, knitting classes etc but did not enjoy. Money is of course a concern. In this economic climate, I do not think I can get my job back once I leave. But then even if I stay, I do not know how long I can hang on to it.

How do you decide when to retire? Some say "retire into something". Do you wait until you find one or things come to you once you retire?
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Old 11-07-2010, 03:01 PM   #2
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FWIW, I am always thinking of retiring-not too dissimilar situation in some ways. Have come to conclusion, piecing together part-time work, maybe reasssessing every 1-2 years may be how I get to where I will finally be comfortable.

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Old 11-07-2010, 03:28 PM   #3
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Whether or not to ER is a personal choice. Knowing whether or not you can afford to is a bit easier. Your question doesn't make it clear if your reluctance to consider it is really due to worry about losing your contacts and social circle, or money, or both. If you can give some more info, say about your annual expenditure, we can perhaps help with the money part.
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Old 11-07-2010, 03:29 PM   #4
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We retired when we were comfortable that our stash could support the lifestyle we wanted. Use Firecalc, but know that there are not guarantees - you are the only one who can decide if you have enough. We knew there were risks and as luck would have it, what we feared happened in 2008/09 - just months after we quit. We went back to work part-time in early 2010, and are ready to leave the workforce again (I left a while ago, DW leaves in 2 weeks).

We were also comfortable that we had enough interests to keep us engaged and satisfied. We did the usual exercises like listing the 50 things you loved doing, but don't do now; 50 things that you always wanted to do, but never got around to- etc. These exercises help and there are books (see ER FAQ) that address these aspects of retirement.

I would have been uncomfortable taking ER if I had doubts about my ability to fill my time with interesting activities. But, that's just me.

Social interaction seems important to you, so you need to figure out how you will accomplish that. I have missed the extensive social interaction that I got as part of my job, but have learned to live with it, and seldom feel deprived. I do have enough social interaction to make me feel good.

All the best to you. Welcome to the board.
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Old 11-07-2010, 03:34 PM   #5
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Welcome , I had worked many years in Nursing so my friends were mostly my co-workers so I did worry about the loss of social life . After I retired I joined a gym ( women only ) where I have made many friends . A few of my former co-workers have retired and we do get together at least once a month for an evening out . There will be a life after retirement . It just takes awhile to find your niche . Good Luck !
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Old 11-07-2010, 03:46 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by sally123 View Post
Some say "retire into something". Do you wait until you find one or things come to you once you retire?
I vegged out for about a year. Then I started looking for volunteer opportunities.

I volunteered at a help center, then later became a volunteer cop. I was a cop for about 9 1/2 years. This work was totally different from what I did during my earning years as I was a numbers cruncher.

You may find that you will reinvent yourself once you have freedom.
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Old 11-07-2010, 04:03 PM   #7
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When I was younger, I really liked my job. As I get older I just do not have energy to continue. Financially, my house (~$300K) will be paid off in a year. I own another house (~$300K, paid off) which brings in $1200/mo and various accounts (total ~$500,000.) In my calculation, this is barely enough.

My concern is that my life (friends, activities etc) is so closely tied to work that I am afraid to miss them all. I play piano. I have a dog. I volunteer weekly at soup kitchen. But they are not my passion. I took dance classes, knitting classes etc but did not enjoy. Money is of course a concern. In this economic climate, I do not think I can get my job back once I leave. But then even if I stay, I do not know how long I can hang on to it.

How do you decide when to retire? Some say "retire into something". Do you wait until you find one or things come to you once you retire?
Of course, finances are important...but they are not the only thing. Have you run some scenarios on FIRECalc: A different kind of retirement calculator ? Or, as the OP just posted, if you post some of your figures on here, I'm sure the 'regulars' would be willing to give you some feedback.

I can relate to your situation, as many of my social contacts were from work. I retired 3 years ago. I have kept in touch with about 10 former co-workers whom I meet now and then for lunch, an evening get-together, party, etc.

A big question is how to fill your daytime (i.e. former work time) hours? I've been surprised how quickly they fly by. Besides meeting the said former coworkers for lunches, there are oh-so-many things to do like researching stuff on the internet, reading a good book, going for walks, going to the gym, doing a bit of yard work, going to a museum,taking some day trips, going on longer trips in the U.S. and internationally, dancing (I discovered ballroom dancing after retiring), house projects, kayaking, etc. etc. It's sort of like being on an endless vacation.

I discovered Do something, Learn something, Share something, Change something - Meetup and have joined about 30 varied groups...everything from wine tasting to hiking to a book club to yoga. I use it as a social directory...and then pick-and-choose what activity I want to do on a given day. Most are either free or quite inexpensive, so I get to do a lot of things without spending a lot of money.

I can't say that I have "a passion"...but I do have a lot of interests and that's what I amuse myself doing.

omni
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Old 11-07-2010, 04:13 PM   #8
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BigNick, my total annual expenditure excluding morgage and investiment is $21K. Yes, I am cheap. But this will go up after ER because (1) health insurance (2) computer/internet/office supplies (3) parties and social events (4) shower in the morning, snacks and everything else I have been using at work will have to come from me. (I work at the univeristy). Since I will be spending more time at my home, I will want some improvement and more heating in winter.

But my main concern is social/psychological. None of my friends are planning to retire for a long time. If left alone at my home, I will be depressed after a few days...

Omni, thank you for all the tips. It's nice to know other are finding new activities and social lives. Very encouraging.

As for financial planning, I have been mostly just saving. Taked with a certified financial planner recently. Without knowing exactly when to retire, it is currently allocated to:

Non-qualified variable annuity $120K
Tax sheltered variable annuity $70K
Roth IRA $70K
Traditional IRA $50K
Employer retirement plan $ 160K
Brokage account $7K
Saving/Checking $14K

Plus rental income ($1200) and later social security (~$1500~$2000) will be my income. Actually, running my home has been too much a hustle. I want to move to an apartment and rent out my home, but can not find one that allows grand piano and a dog. I appreciate feedback from "regulars".
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Old 11-07-2010, 05:02 PM   #9
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Something to think about - you did not say if your lack of energy was due to no longer liking your job, or loss of energy in general. I feel that 51 is awfully young to have noticeably lower energy than you had, say, 10 years ago. If your mental and/or physical energy is low, and it's not just from being fed up with your job, then retirement may not cure the situation.

Just a thought, and not trying to read anything into your post...some of the forum members say they are healthier and have more pep, since leaving the workplace.

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I am a 51 year-old female, and thinking about retirement for the last 10 years. When I was younger, I really liked my job. As I get older I just do not have energy to continue.
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Old 11-07-2010, 06:43 PM   #10
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Amethyst, thank you for reminding me health issue. I have a heart problem (arrythmia) which cardiac cath could not fix. My cardiologist says this type of arrythmia does not kill, but I get easily tired and can not work the way I used to. Physical low energy was follwed by mental low energy. I have been 5' 6'' & 110 lb all my life and otherwise healthy. Just that athletic activities are out.

When I start looking into ER, most info I can find is about money. Glad to hear from folks who can comment other aspects of retirement.
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Old 11-07-2010, 07:38 PM   #11
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Don't let the what will I do all day bother you. DW and I ESRd three years ago and I am now wondering if I should go back to w*rk to get a break. We are busier than ever as the freedom allows us to schedule more and more things to do and I have a real tendency to over schedule!

you might want to talk to a health Ins agent and see if you can get health ins if you cannot stay on your employer plan. It is not easy to get unless you are in perfect health!
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Old 11-07-2010, 07:38 PM   #12
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Read the book by Zelinksy in this thread

An updated FIRE recommended reading list (with a military twist)
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Old 11-07-2010, 07:56 PM   #13
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I retired this year in Sept at 50 years old. It was a difficult decision and I can relate to your concerns, Sally123. 90% of my friends are my ex colleagues, I was feeling less committed at work though I did like the interaction with people and something to activate my brain. Improving my health (I have had a number of surgeries) and the fact that I know there is an interesting life during ER, made me decide to ER a couple of years earlier than may be ideal (by my family and friends opinion). I've found a routine I can settle on for my ER. I meet up with my ex colleagues for lunch about twice a week, go to the movies, golf, exercise regularly, volunteer work, read, participate in some forums, travel, cook, take up language classes, etc. I find my time passes so quickly and I enjoy it immensely. Healthwise, I have improved. I sleep enormously better, tone up and built some muscles which helps all those aches and bone density issues, my hair looks shinier, etc. So what more can I say? I don't know how I had the time to go to work in the past and am glad that I ER at 50 to allow myself some healthy years to enjoy ER time. I also found out that there were some things I thought I could do after ER at 50 but because 50 is not 30 or 40, there are limitations of what my physical abilities can handle. But I do not spend too much time regretting that and instead find new things that fit me now. I hope this sharing helps. All the best!
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Old 11-07-2010, 08:05 PM   #14
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Hi Sally, and welcome to the forum!

When I retired at 57, 20 months ago, I did have a list of things I wanted to do -- genealogy research, golf, travel, work on the house, a little volunteer work. I've done some of each of these, but less than I thought. But I'm as busy as I want to be, and my schedule includes lots of just relaxing, reading, and walking.

My life was really centered on work, but like you I was just getting tired of it. I was worried that I'd get bored and socially isolated. But I decided that those risks would probably increase the longer I waited. It hasn't happened yet.

I think eventually you'll reach the point where the retirement you can imagine looks better than the job you have, and off you'll go. I think you'll know when that time comes.

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Old 11-07-2010, 08:14 PM   #15
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But my main concern is social/psychological. None of my friends are planning to retire for a long time. If left alone at my home, I will be depressed after a few days...
Sounds like you will retire when your friends do and not earlier. But are you sure? Have you tried an extended vacation? Will the university let you take 3 or more months off w/o pay? If so, you might want to give a try.

Welcome, btw.


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(4) shower in the morning, ...
That's funny. I just did a extremely complex calculation to estimate the cost of a shower at home. Here in Houston, the result is 10 cents/shower, so I don't think it's going to make a big difference in your before and after retirement budget.
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Old 11-07-2010, 10:28 PM   #16
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Welcome Sally.

To me, it sounds as though you are perhaps not ready to retire, but are perhaps burnt out at your current job. Although you did mention some physical issues, could it also be that you are just tired of doing the same ol', same ol', day in and day out, with no change of scenery, responsibilities and challenges? Could it be that you need a sabbatical, or a career change?

That's just some stuff to think about. Someone earlier mentioned Ernie Zelinski's book. I think you should read that but also Bob's (can't remember his last name) book "work less, live more" about using semi retirement as a way to keep a hand in the game (support yourself financially) but have the time to do more of what yup want to do. I have been planning to punch out at the end of 2012, but certain circumstances are beginning to come together such that I may be able to do just that at the end of 2012 instead... my hand in the game, but have much greater control over my own time.

Good luck. Stick around, and let us know how it goes.

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Old 11-07-2010, 11:05 PM   #17
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One thing to keep in mind is that although we tend to have lots of opinions confidently expressed, they are not necessarily worth much to you or any other individual.

Listen most carefully to your own inner self, unless of course some glaring financial hole in your proposed program was discovered.

Ha
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Old 11-08-2010, 04:52 AM   #18
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One thing to keep in mind is that although we tend to have lots of opinions confidently expressed, they are not necessarily worth much to you or any other individual.

Listen most carefully to your own inner self, unless of course some glaring financial hole in your proposed program was discovered.
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Old 11-08-2010, 05:21 AM   #19
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Welcome Sally - My wife ER'd a year ago, your same age, and it took her about 6 months to transition to her new routine (near full time volunteer at a program for Christian women coming out of prison) but once she settled in she was so very happy. Now she just enrolled in a master gardener program thru a local university's extension program. She's a busy bee that's for sure.

I've never see her so happy and relaxed!
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Old 11-08-2010, 06:06 AM   #20
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Welcome Sally123!

I am five years older than you, widowed, still working and delaying retirement as much of my present social life revolves around work and work friends. I think your concerns are common to many of us. If I had any health issues, or if my job were stressful, or if I had any pressing family needs, believe me, I would retire. I live less than ten minutes from my office and have regular hours with no evening or week-end job demands so I really can't complain. The paid health benefits and the padding of my pension help to get me out of bed in the morning, and I find I like the structure of having somewhere to go Monday through Friday.

It sounds to me that you have a lot of interests and would have no trouble keeping busy. Good luck in your decision making.
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