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54 and delusional
Old 07-29-2009, 10:19 PM   #1
Confused about dryer sheets
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 5
54 and delusional

Hi all,

I read through the FAQs and many of the one-more-year, quality-of-life threads. This place feels comfortable.

Here's where I'm at.

I've gone from feeling like I was at the top of my game last year to an $80,000-a-year employee who has maybe one more drop of blood and a half-pound of flesh left. I've taken 4 vacation days this year and will probably end up eating more days than usual by year's end. There were layoffs last January. Might be more. Work. Work. Work. 0 percent raise this year. Lucky to have a job. Pretty normal.

My biggest problem, I think, is about $30,000 in revolving debt that I can't seem to make a dent in. It gobbles up all my disposable income. I can't see "catching-up" on my 401k or contributing more than 6 percent.

Most of my debt piled up because of divorce and college expenses for my two sons. They're graduates now, looking for meaningful work and all that, but debt-free. A little was profligate, but I think I'm getting the picture about living the simple life and living below my means.

Here's where the delusion kicks in.

Next year, I could chuck it and access about $125,000 in the 401k and about $60,000 from the pension (said pension amount is net after the petitioner takes her cut). What if I took about $60,000 of that and rolled over the rest? I'd apply the money to the revolving debt, pay off the 2nd mortgage, fix up the house a little (new furnace, etc.), and be left with an $800 house payment as my only debt, which, unfortunately, I'll probably never outlive. I would be able to buy health/dental insurance for the same cost as a regular employee--about $150 per month right now.

I don't have any delusions about continuing to work as long as I can and delaying SS. I think I can make $40,000/upwards freelancing and with part-time work.

I'm feverishly tracking spending, budgeting, and setting up appointments with the tax guy and a fee-only financial planner, but I'd sure like to hear your inside- and outside-of-the-box thinking, too.


"You're not drunk if you can lie on the floor without holding on."
--Dean Martin

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Old 07-29-2009, 10:42 PM   #2
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
Join Date: Feb 2006
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Welcome aboard 54!

If you want to pay a lot of tax and leave yourself short at retirement it might work. Think and read about the LBYM steps you can take now. Can you ditch a car payment? Cut out cable & or cell phones? Are both sons out of school and living with you while looking for work? If they are the need to get a job till they can get a position. Do you brownbag lunch and get a fancy coffee? Can you get a part time job for weekend work for a few months? Have you got room for a house mate who pays rent? Try watching Dave Ramsey he has some really common sense ideas to get the debt monkey under control.

More folks will be along shortly to say hi, ask questions and offer suggestion. You can and will survive from the sounds of it, but may have a bit of pain for a while.

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Old 07-29-2009, 11:13 PM   #3
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Hi BeerDreams, and welcome. Just one comment, don't forget that at your age you will have to pay a 10% penalty on top of taxes on that 401k distribution. Good luck!
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Old 07-30-2009, 08:01 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by SarahW View Post
Hi BeerDreams, and welcome. Just one comment, don't forget that at your age you will have to pay a 10% penalty on top of taxes on that 401k distribution. Good luck!
Sarah, remember that if he terminates his employment in or after the year he turns 55, he can access his 401k penalty-free.

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Old 07-30-2009, 11:30 AM   #5
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$30K of debt for someone making $80K is not insurmountable IMO. What are the minimum monthly payments on a debt like that? A few hundreds $$$ a month? What worries me is that you say it gobbles up ALL of your disposable income. Either your expenses are too high, or you are paying mucho alimony to your ex.

Leave the 401K and pension alone and live like a college student for the next 1-2 years (you are a single guy now, you can do whatever you want). Keep expenses at a minimum, do away with anything unnecessary to your survival, and use the rest to repay the debt. If it doesn't hurt, you are doing something wrong. Yes, It's going to be tough, but hey, there's a bad recession out there and plenty of people are forced to make cutbacks. In a year or two, you can have a fresh start with still plenty of money in the bank for your retirement. That's what I would do.

BY the way, welcome.
42 y/o, married, retirement portfolio = 43 x annual expenses
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Old 07-30-2009, 12:19 PM   #6
Confused about dryer sheets
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Thanks fire dreamer and crazy connie,

When I get over this (hopefully) temporary insanity, I'll ask for group therapy on finding ways to cut back.
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Old 07-30-2009, 12:44 PM   #7
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As Firedreamer suggested, live like a college student. One living in poverty.

Also look at this site: The Dollar Stretcher

There is also a forum to that site, and these people take frugality seriously. We're talking about thinning shampoo with water, measuring toothpaste, making your own toothpaste, growing and canning your own food, making your own soap, sewing your own clothes, getting furniture at yard sales and dumpster diving. One family of six lives on $800 a month. So it can be done.
I heard the call to do nothing. So I answered it.
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Old 08-04-2009, 02:18 PM   #8
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Welcome! I'm sorry your job is onerous but, you know, a lot of people would really like to have one these days. I hope that you will start reading a lot about the economy before you decide whether or not to leave your job. Things are really dicey out there and could go either way. You don't want to be stuck out in the cold recession when you could have had a nice warm job to go too.
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Old 08-04-2009, 04:39 PM   #9
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See your family doctor. Get more exercise: walking cures everything, I've found.

I'd hang onto the job and the pension. Try to outlive the petitioner.
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Old 08-04-2009, 08:03 PM   #10
Confused about dryer sheets
Join Date: Jul 2009
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I appreciate all the good advice. I know where you guys are coming from and that you're sincere, but I was kind of amused by the "live like a college student" statements.

I'd like nothing better. Had a lot of fun in those days.

I was 11 when my mother died from leukemia (she was 30), but because of that I found out that I could receive some of her Social Security by dutifully going to college in the '70s. (Reagan and Friends put a stop to that kind of Welfare, subsequently.) I got paid fairly well for working on the student newspaper and also reeled in good paychecks from cooking in restaurants. I've never been able to match the feeling of security, mobility, and financial independence that I had in those days. It took me rather a few years in journalism after I graduated to catch up with what I was making from cooking alone. Maybe I should have paid more attention to trying to become a highly paid gasbag pundit than trying to make people's lives better.

Anyway, I can still cook pretty good, and I can still write pretty good, but--you know--print journalism and corporate life has become a hellhole. I'm probably immature and self-indulgent and way-too burned out to think straight, but I'm not rash. I think.

Thanks again for putting up with me...

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