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58 year old prof undecided on retirement
Old 02-15-2014, 11:27 PM   #1
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58 year old prof undecided on retirement

Hi, I've been reading posts on this and other early retirement sites for a while now, but haven't seen anything that matches my situation. I'd like to get some help with my situation from those of you with more experience and wisdom than I have.

I am 58, married and have two grown children who are on their own (mostly!). I love my job and always thought I would work until I was 65 or 70. However, my employer has offered me one year of salary to retire now. Normally, I would not consider this, but am starting to have some progressive health problems. These are not life threatening, but could be disabling.

I've always wanted to see the world and live in other countries. My doctor has told me that if I want to do this, I need to do so now. On the other hand, if I am disabled, there is nothing I would rather be doing than what I do now at work. I could retire now and maintain my current standard of living. However, I always wanted more than this - I wanted to occasionally fly first class and stay in luxury hotels. I also want to leave a nest egg to my children.

Have any of you been in a similar situation? If so, what did you do and how did it work out? If you are retired, what is your perspective on this? If not, what would you do?

Thanks in advance for your insights on this!
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Old 02-15-2014, 11:43 PM   #2
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Let's just say that your appetite for travel and leaving a nest egg is covered. If you've been reading here a while, you know that most of us do that analysis many times over and many ways before we are convinced (some are never convinced, hehe). But, say that's covered. Then I'd say you'd need to have your spouse firmly on board for how you want to spend your time. The only other thought that comes to mind is that I wouldn't worry too much about getting back into the work that you like doing. If you've got enough money saved, you can go pro bono, and nobody is going to turn away someone with awesome experience who loves what he's doing so much he's willing to do it for free.

And welcome to posting here!
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Old 02-15-2014, 11:47 PM   #3
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Welcome to the forum and I'm sorry that you are having to make this sort of decision.

Are you in a position to take a year or two off, then return to work? Would you be able to negotiate some kind of sabbatical? I'm guessing not, if your employer is offering you an incentive to retire, but it was the first thought that sprang to mind.
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Old 02-16-2014, 12:07 AM   #4
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Welcome to the forum and I'm sorry that you are having to make this sort of decision.

Are you in a position to take a year or two off, then return to work? Would you be able to negotiate some kind of sabbatical? I'm guessing not, if your employer is offering you an incentive to retire, but it was the first thought that sprang to mind.
A leave of absence might be possible, but then I would forfeit the one year salary early retirement incentive. That may be worthwhile, though, since I could always continue working for many years thereafter.
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Old 02-16-2014, 04:46 AM   #5
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navigator, I'm also a professor and of a similar age. My plan is to keep working for awhile yet. My university is also offering a one year salary retirement incentive this year and a lot of faculty and staff opted for it. However, the university tends to offer the same package about every 3-4 years, so I'm quite sure I can catch it in a few years when I decide to call it quits. Does your school offer it periodically? You may not be able to predict exactly when it will be offered again but you can check out the past history with HR and make a reasonable calculation.
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Old 02-16-2014, 05:37 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Navigator View Post
Hi, I've been reading posts on this and other early retirement sites for a while now, but haven't seen anything that matches my situation. I'd like to get some help with my situation from those of you with more experience and wisdom than I have.

I am 58, married and have two grown children who are on their own (mostly!). I love my job and always thought I would work until I was 65 or 70. However, my employer has offered me one year of salary to retire now. Normally, I would not consider this, but am starting to have some progressive health problems. These are not life threatening, but could be disabling.

I've always wanted to see the world and live in other countries. My doctor has told me that if I want to do this, I need to do so now. On the other hand, if I am disabled, there is nothing I would rather be doing than what I do now at work. I could retire now and maintain my current standard of living. However, I always wanted more than this - I wanted to occasionally fly first class and stay in luxury hotels. I also want to leave a nest egg to my children.

Have any of you been in a similar situation? If so, what did you do and how did it work out? If you are retired, what is your perspective on this? If not, what would you do?

Thanks in advance for your insights on this!
Flying "first class" & staying in "luxury" hotels is over-rated, IMO.

How much do you want to leave your children ... and why? Do you have any amount already you can set aside for that? Maybe you could just give it to them now?

If it were me ... I'd do it.

(What does your spouse want, btw?)
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DH Has Been In Your Shoes
Old 02-16-2014, 06:15 AM   #7
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DH Has Been In Your Shoes

DH was diagnosed with a debilitating condition 30 years ago. But he loved his work, was good at it, and he wanted to do it for as long as possible. Starting about 20 years ago, the doctors said he qualified for full SSDI and they would fill out the paperwork for him. (I kept hinting to him, wouldn't it be nice if he could stay home and enjoy life and, maybe (?), take good care of himself?)

He still wouldn't quit. FINALLY, 2 years ago he retired with 28 years service, and SS put him of disability upon his first application. So that was nice........but his pension and savings also fully enhance our quality of life.

That's the good news. Now the down side.

I still wish he would have quit maybe 5 years sooner. It is very difficult for him to travel......and we do love to do that together. He is unable to do some of his old hobbies that he loved, due to physical impairment. If he had quit sooner, I think he could have had more fun during those extra years (IMHO).

Nonetheless, ER has been 100% "worth it." Would not trade this freedom for extra $.

Re. your teaching: if your finances were "set," would your dept. bring you back to teach 1 or 2 classes as an adjunct? I know the $ can't compare to what a tenured prof. makes, but it might be a way of enjoying the best of both worlds?

It sounds like you could be in a win/win situation.....

Best of Luck!



(FWIW, you might find my post helpful in the thread "How do you get the Courage?")
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Old 02-16-2014, 08:10 AM   #8
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Take the money and run, travel for a year or two and then decide wether you might try to find some part time work (you probably won't). I've taken ill health retirement at 52 but my husband still works full time. I've already been on a cruise and am planning a 26 day around the world trip in the summer (the most time hubby can manage). My medical condition may decline over time but now not working my energy levels feel great (I can pace myself so much better). I'm not quite sure how I managed to keep going as long as I did.
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Old 02-16-2014, 08:14 AM   #9
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A leave of absence might be possible, but then I would forfeit the one year salary early retirement incentive. That may be worthwhile, though, since I could always continue working for many years thereafter.
Only you can make this decision ... but, if it were me, given what little I know about your situation, I would pursue the 1 year leave of absence. My first year of retirement we traveled fairly extensively to 5 different countries. I learned that one can see and experience a lot of the world in just 1 year. Then you can see how much you love it and go from there. After 1 year, you may decide to permanently leave your job or you may check "travel the world" off your bucket list and be happy you lived your dream. If you do not do this, you may always reflect back on your life wondering what would have been.

In the big scheme of things, is missing out on the 1 year incentive that important? If you are considering a permanent leave, then it is probably not. So the downside is little compared to the upside.
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Old 02-16-2014, 08:46 AM   #10
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navigator, I'm also a professor and of a similar age. My plan is to keep working for awhile yet. My university is also offering a one year salary retirement incentive this year and a lot of faculty and staff opted for it. However, the university tends to offer the same package about every 3-4 years, so I'm quite sure I can catch it in a few years when I decide to call it quits. Does your school offer it periodically? You may not be able to predict exactly when it will be offered again but you can check out the past history with HR and make a reasonable calculation.
Hi Marita40,

Our university has offered this package for several years, but are ending it due to financial problems. They claim this is the last time it will ever be offered, but I suppose they could offer it again.
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Old 02-16-2014, 09:16 AM   #11
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Take the deal...try retired life out. If you don't like it I'm sure your skills should be able to land you another teaching job.
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Old 02-16-2014, 09:22 AM   #12
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Flying "first class" & staying in "luxury" hotels is over-rated, IMO.

How much do you want to leave your children ... and why? Do you have any amount already you can set aside for that? Maybe you could just give it to them now?

If it were me ... I'd do it.

(What does your spouse want, btw?)
What you say about "flying first class and staying in luxury hotels" being over-rated is probably true, but having scrimped and saved all my life I would still like to try these, if only once. Perhaps this does not require so much money, just enough for a one-time splurge.

As for my children, leaving them a nest egg gives them some security in an uncertain world. Also, if they manage their money well, they can pass this on to their children.

My wife and I go back and forth on retirement, with the big fears being not enough money and boredom.
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Old 02-16-2014, 09:43 AM   #13
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DH was diagnosed with a debilitating condition 30 years ago. But he loved his work, was good at it, and he wanted to do it for as long as possible. Starting about 20 years ago, the doctors said he qualified for full SSDI and they would fill out the paperwork for him. (I kept hinting to him, wouldn't it be nice if he could stay home and enjoy life and, maybe (?), take good care of himself?)

He still wouldn't quit. FINALLY, 2 years ago he retired with 28 years service, and SS put him of disability upon his first application. So that was nice........but his pension and savings also fully enhance our quality of life.

That's the good news. Now the down side.

I still wish he would have quit maybe 5 years sooner. It is very difficult for him to travel......and we do love to do that together. He is unable to do some of his old hobbies that he loved, due to physical impairment. If he had quit sooner, I think he could have had more fun during those extra years (IMHO).

Nonetheless, ER has been 100% "worth it." Would not trade this freedom for extra $.

Re. your teaching: if your finances were "set," would your dept. bring you back to teach 1 or 2 classes as an adjunct? I know the $ can't compare to what a tenured prof. makes, but it might be a way of enjoying the best of both worlds?

It sounds like you could be in a win/win situation.....

Best of Luck!



(FWIW, you might find my post helpful in the thread "How do you get the Courage?")

It is really helpful to hear what your experience was. If we could only peer into the future and see what it holds, these decisions would be a lot easier. BTW, does your DH also wish he had retired earlier?
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Old 02-16-2014, 10:32 AM   #14
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....
I've always wanted to see the world and live in other countries. My doctor has told me that if I want to do this, I need to do so now. On the other hand, if I am disabled, there is nothing I would rather be doing than what I do now at work. I could retire now and maintain my current standard of living. However, I always wanted more than this - I wanted to occasionally fly first class and stay in luxury hotels. I also want to leave a nest egg....

Doctor's orders--go. Heed your doctor's advice; doubtful it was given lightly.

I hope your children would tell you to spend your money on yourself.
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Old 02-16-2014, 10:50 AM   #15
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If 5 years from now you are no longer able to travel with your spouse, will you (or she) regret it?

If so, then go. If not, then stay.
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Old 02-16-2014, 10:55 AM   #16
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Navigator, after watching a couple of my peers die without warning, a couple of others faced with your sort of situation, and the general tendency of people to become less able as time goes by, I'd opt for the lump sum and go do the traveling you so desire to do Now. You know you have a short window of opportunity, a lot of us are dealing with it as a 'what if'. It would be slam-dunk to me.

I don't know what aspect of 'proffing' you like most, but when I did it, the most enjoyable part was the classroom teaching. If that's your sweet spot at work, part-time adjuncting (as opposed to the recently villified full-time version) is very rewarding with none of the office/academic politics. I spent a year as dept chair, and I had a stable of reliable folk who did specific classes, and some were retired and using the teaching gig to support the travel habit.
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Old 02-16-2014, 01:41 PM   #17
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If you retire from this job, how hard would it be for you to find part-time teaching work in another college? Can you do research in your field without access to university facilities (labs etc.)?

If you have interests outside of work and are have a sense of curiosity about the world, I think boredom doesn't have a chance. Every day (well, almost) I wonder where the day went.
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Old 02-16-2014, 02:49 PM   #18
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Because of health concerns I'd go, spend the time traveling and enjoy now what might not be possible later. Life is too short go see the world
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If I were you, I would Listen to the doctor!
Old 02-16-2014, 03:22 PM   #19
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If I were you, I would Listen to the doctor!

Take the payout, and spend the $$ on traveling with your wife and treat yourselves to the experiences you want. Your profile states that scuba and biking are your passions....indulge yourself while your health is still good. Would your children rather have X amount of dollars after you are gone or would they rather see their parents having the time of their life together while they still can? It is an adjustment to go from scrimping and saving for years and then switch to spending money on yourself. Talk openly with your wife about your options.

I was diagnosed with cancer at 56. Boy, did that change my perspective! Although I loved my work as an educator, once things settled and my health issues were resolved I retired at 59, just a month and a half ago. I am heading out for my first trip this week, have planned my dream trips for this summer and early 2015. I am so happy with my life. I figure if I miss teaching down the road I can always pick up a class here or there, do tutoring, etc.

Good luck with your decision. Let us know how things are going.
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Old 02-16-2014, 10:44 PM   #20
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Take the payout, and spend the $$ on traveling with your wife and treat yourselves to the experiences you want. Your profile states that scuba and biking are your passions....indulge yourself while your health is still good. Would your children rather have X amount of dollars after you are gone or would they rather see their parents having the time of their life together while they still can? It is an adjustment to go from scrimping and saving for years and then switch to spending money on yourself. Talk openly with your wife about your options.

I was diagnosed with cancer at 56. Boy, did that change my perspective! Although I loved my work as an educator, once things settled and my health issues were resolved I retired at 59, just a month and a half ago. I am heading out for my first trip this week, have planned my dream trips for this summer and early 2015. I am so happy with my life. I figure if I miss teaching down the road I can always pick up a class here or there, do tutoring, etc.

Good luck with your decision. Let us know how things are going.

Thanks for sharing your experience healthandfun. I do envy you going on all these dream trips, but hope they are everything you wanted. As you suggest, I am discussing things with my wife and children. I find, though, that it is not so easy to pull the plug on a career that has lasted for decades. How did you handle the transition?
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