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Earlier than I'd planned!
Old 06-06-2008, 05:09 PM   #1
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Earlier than I'd planned!

Hi,

Obviously a newbie here; this is an interesting group of forums. On to the specifics.

I retired officially last month, from a professor job. It's a disability retirement, unplanned. The details of the nightmarish battle with the employer is a book in itself; in the end, I decided to take a settlement (it paid for the atty.) rather than go to court. I couldn't see continuing to live with this confrontational situation in my life for another 2-3 years. Why would I do that to myself? Mental sanity is worth, well, it's priceless. BTW, I'm 52 yrs. old, my husband is 11 months older.

I was earning 50K, and have a retirement account of roughly 270K, in TIAA/CREF. My spouse is working at a different university, so income is still coming in--he earns about 60K. We live in the inland Pacific NW, and love it here! No kids, 2 dogs, 1 cat.

ER was a dream, and then it really did happen! I'm exploring state disability, employer disability, and Social Security Disab. as sources of income. At best, that will look like enough $ to pay the mortgage and the cars, but not much more. We've also taken out a LOC against the house, but haven't tapped it--we see it as a kind of absolute, creditors-at-the-door type of loan. I'm staying with my former employer's health ins. plan @ $450/month; my husband's plan doesn't cover the things I need to use. (I'm not complaining too loudly--I have a choice, and many, many people don't even have an opportunity)

So I'm looking thru this forum at strategies folks have used in "unplanned" ERs, at ways anyone uses to cut back, and other ways it might make sense to use my retirement $. I like what I see, and I like that it's moderated.

Thanks for reading!
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Old 06-06-2008, 09:27 PM   #2
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Sorry for the health issues that brought this on but welcome. Make the $ adjustments and enjoy life!

May I ask where you are? I used to live in Snohomish WA and commute into downtown Seattle.
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Unplanned ER, take 2
Old 06-07-2008, 11:40 PM   #3
Confused about dryer sheets
 
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Unplanned ER, take 2

Thanks for the welcome! Appreciate your comment about the disability--very kind. It doesn't keep me from a full life; my employer did not renew my reasonable accommodations (ADA thing to help workers), and so I couldn't do my job without them. On a snarky day, I think they wanted me out to get a new, younger person in the position; and on a good day--I'm glad to be out of there!

I live in Moscow, Idaho, just 11 miles from the Washington state line. It's south of Spokane. Being more specific and you'll be able to guess the employer with accuracy, and I'd rather not.

One issue I'm having right is figuring out what things, budgets, inflow of $$, outgo of $$, will look like in August, when the full effect of ERA will be more evident. I try to work out the magic number for what income I'll need, but I also know that there's enough in savings to get us thru July easily. In this partnership, I'm the one who easily cuts down on the daily expenses, and he's the one watching the bills but seems to deny the need for monitoring daily expenses.

Example: I have $20 in cash. We go to lunch, it costs $10, and he wants to use the charge card to pay the bill. I say no, let's pay cash. We do that and then later in the day I discover he's gone to the ATM to get $20 to replace the cash. When I say "we oughta wait till there's no cash between us to go to the ATM, or not spend." He says "$20 is the minimum that you can get from the ATM." (?)

I can see we're not on the same page on this, even as I write, but what do you do with touchy areas like this? I'm pretty skilled at framing and reframing comments so as not to get into the blame game. He's a psychologist, both good and tricky within the partnership.

Comments? Sound familiar to anyone? What have people done about relationship issues and unplanned ERs?
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Old 06-08-2008, 01:49 AM   #4
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...........

Example: I have $20 in cash. We go to lunch, it costs $10, and he wants to use the charge card to pay the bill. I say no, let's pay cash. We do that and then later in the day I discover he's gone to the ATM to get $20 to replace the cash. When I say "we oughta wait till there's no cash between us to go to the ATM, or not spend." He says "$20 is the minimum that you can get from the ATM." (?)

I can see we're not on the same page on this, even as I write, but what do you do with touchy areas like this? I'm pretty skilled at framing and reframing comments so as not to get into the blame game. He's a psychologist, both good and tricky within the partnership.

Comments? Sound familiar to anyone? What have people done about relationship issues and unplanned ERs?
So you spent $10 for lunch and you gotta eat and lunch has to cost something? Whether you paid cash for it or put it on the credit card is not really too important so long as you and your husband do not abuse the credit card. If I was not such a nice person I might say that it sounds like you are trying to be too controlling. I feel naked without some cash in my wallet and I imagine many other men are the same. Cut us some slack and let us be the way we are. My DW learned long ago to not let the little things I do bother her. She has to save her energy for the BIG mistakes I make.
Jeff
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Old 06-08-2008, 05:07 AM   #5
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My tool for budgeting and saving is tracking expenses daily in writing, as detailed as possible. IMO it makes no difference when to go to the ATM. Spending is the issue.
If you want to focus on budgeting and saving the forums at www.slnet.com are great resources, too.
Enjoy ER, sometimes the best things in life come unexpectedly.
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Old 06-09-2008, 08:56 AM   #6
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I understand his point. I like to have around $100 on average in my wallet (plus a little more tucked away for emergencies). Never could understand people that wouldn't even have a few dollars with them when we were out at lunch time.

We always pay off credit cards at the end of the month so tend to use them whenever it is appropriate just as a cash flow thing. Since we use several cash back credit cards that helps a little to. We don't us the cash in our pocket as a valve to regulate our budget but instead the fact that we are both cheap and tend not to buy things on impulse we don't need. All that said and the fact that we have more floating cash in our pocket, we seldom charge anything below $20 and seldom get less than $100 out of the ATM.

Jeb
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Old 06-09-2008, 09:09 AM   #7
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Piano, welcome to the board. You have been through a lot and it sounds like you are still recovering from the shock of it all.

In that temporary frame of mind, I would suggest that you just take a deep breath, don't sweat the small things (I use convenience charging on my credit card all the time, always pay the monthly balance in fulll, for example). It sounds to me like you're just a little more close to the "chicken little" than you need to be.

Let's look at the big picture. First, you're retired -- lots of neat advantages to that. Second, you have health insurance, no sure thing nowadays. Third, your spouse remains employed at a decent wage.

Why not focus your energy on educating yourself about finance. Books by Solin, the Boglehead book, the Wall Street Journal guide to finances, Lucia's Buckets of money, etc. are waiting for you at your local bookstore or library. Give yourself a homework assignment to read a few and see which feel best to you.

You're in a vulnerable stage. Postpone big decisions if you can. Don't let things undermine your relationships. Learn to meditate. Time will help a lot.

Anyhow, I hope you benefit from participation here. It contains a lot of collective wisdom, along with a dose of pure insanity.
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As if you didn't know..If the above message contains medical content, it's NOT intended as advice, and may not be accurate, applicable or sufficient. Don't rely on it for any purpose. Consult your own doctor for all medical advice.
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Old 06-09-2008, 09:21 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Rich_in_Tampa View Post
along with a dose of pure insanity.
Darn Rich - U talking about me, again ....

Anyway, welcome Piano13....

BTW, my son is on SSD (age 38; high level/function autistic). If you need any "advice" concerning SSD (if you go for it), I'm here. Just be sure to send me a PM; this kind of stuff should not (IMHO) be discussed in a public forum.

Take care,

- Ron
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Old 06-09-2008, 09:37 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by piano13 View Post

One issue I'm having right is figuring out what things, budgets, inflow of $$, outgo of $$, will look like in August, when the full effect of ERA will be more evident. I try to work out the magic number for what income I'll need, but I also know that there's enough in savings to get us thru July easily. In this partnership, I'm the one who easily cuts down on the daily expenses, and he's the one watching the bills but seems to deny the need for monitoring daily expenses.
If you pay $2 on a $20 ATM withdrawl you will have a hard time in retirement.

Instead of looking forward and trying to estimate you budget - look over your past history.

Go over at least one year of expenses - credit card, checking, cash and categorize them in one column. In the second column adjust them for your not working - less travel costs more leisure costs. Third column is the one you and your husband agree on. 12 next column are what you actualy spent.

If either of you have a problem with credit card spending; go to a cash system - no checks either.
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Old 06-09-2008, 09:46 AM   #10
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DW and I had an unexpected ER in 2002. She had more trouble adapting than I did. We started tracking expenses amd also created a financial plan. Also active portfolio management. Plus I took over MILs portfolio management.

We also got rid of all the extra credit cards, subscriptions and other superfluous expenses. We have added some back but grudgingly.

So far so good. Like others have said: Don't sweat the small stuff
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Old 06-09-2008, 03:25 PM   #11
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Speaking of ATMs. I have never used one in my entire life. I keep at least five hundred in the safe and replenish it with a trip to the bank as needed. The tellers there know me and say hello and to me that is infinitely better than dealing with a machine. It also seems to me to be counterproductive to go to an ATM for $20. My time is too valuable to waste much of it to get $20 of my money from an ATM.
Old fashioned Jeff
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Old 06-09-2008, 03:29 PM   #12
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Welcome ,
Sorry about your disability . I did not have a sudden retirement but I had the death of a spouse and the retirement benefits cut in half . It sounds like you don't really have a handle on how much you spend . Keep track of everything for at least a year and then you will know where you are and how to handle it .
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Old 06-09-2008, 05:06 PM   #13
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... In this partnership, I'm the one who easily cuts down on the daily expenses, and he's the one watching the bills but seems to deny the need for monitoring daily expenses.

Example: I have $20 in cash. We go to lunch, it costs $10, and he wants to use the charge card to pay the bill. I say no, let's pay cash. We do that and then later in the day I discover he's gone to the ATM to get $20 to replace the cash. When I say "we oughta wait till there's no cash between us to go to the ATM, or not spend." He says "$20 is the minimum that you can get from the ATM." (?)

I can see we're not on the same page on this, even as I write, but what do you do with touchy areas like this? I'm pretty skilled at framing and reframing comments so as not to get into the blame game. He's a psychologist, both good and tricky within the partnership.

Comments? Sound familiar to anyone? What have people done about relationship issues and unplanned ERs?[/QUOTE]


Familiar, yes, big time. But first, welcome; did you teach piano?

It took SO a while but now is used to seeing me record every credit card purchase in my planner. I do it mainly to reconcile the bill but it also gives a rough est. of monthly expenses and I can pull back if I over-spend by min-month.

The thing about keeping at least $20 in his pockets strikes me as a wild West kind of thing! My dad always told me to keep at least $40 on me in case I get mugged. Any less and the likelihood of not surviving the incident goes up. Someone here might have the official chart on that; I can see the headlines, "killed for 59 cents."
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Old 06-09-2008, 05:22 PM   #14
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...
One issue I'm having right is figuring out what things, budgets, inflow of $$, outgo of $$, will look like in August, when the full effect of ERA will be more evident. I try to work out the magic number for what income I'll need, but I also know that there's enough in savings to get us thru July easily. In this partnership, I'm the one who easily cuts down on the daily expenses, and he's the one watching the bills but seems to deny the need for monitoring daily expenses.

...
Welcome Piano! Good to have you here!

You have a lot of adjusting to do just getting used to the idea of being retired and that will take a bit of time -- no matter how ready you thought you might be for retiring.

That said, you have a cushion to see you through July at least. I suggest you start to track your expenses, particularly the little extras that just seem to happen throughout the day, to see where you can cut back. And, you do need to discuss finances with your husband to make sure that you're rowing in the same direction. But, if the bills are being paid and you're able to control the daily stuff, you're off to a good start!

Enjoy your retirement.
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Old 06-09-2008, 10:08 PM   #15
Confused about dryer sheets
 
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Thanks to you folks who took the time to answer my concern, and to welcome me! I do want to make use of this forum--there are some very astute comments all over this site.

To answer a few questions, make a few comments:

Yes, I used to teach. I still teach and learn every day, even if not in a formal job. I taught for 22 years, not counting teaching assistant positions.

All of you are right in that I AM still getting used to the idea of ER. The whole situation is still shocking to me, as it was not a happy parting. I will say I think about that aspect a whole lot less than I used to, so I consider that progress.

Also I thank folks for the kind reminder to lighten up on everything, esp. this irritation with my husband. You're right, the $$ is all the same pot. And yes, we do need to have a solid talk about the effects of ER. We've had snippets of good talks, but we need to put those and other concerns into one talk. Probably this week. Some of that is related to recency of the change, but that's not an excuse...

Cuppajoe--interesting signature. We roast our own coffee in the summer. The entire street gets to smell roasting! Green coffee beans are half the price of roasted, and keep in the basement for up to 2 yrs. It's fun!

So I have looked back at expenses over the months. We've also kept food receipts for a month to see what goes on there. We don't go out much--I've found that in this rural area, we both cook better than the restaurants here do. I found that going into the organic grocery was frighteningly more expensive than the other groceries. We'd go in for one item, get that, and then get, uh, a few more. Also discovered in our spending that buying large sizes from Costco needs to be well thought out. We saw the waste we had from not finishing a bulk food item (frozen ravioli, last time). Better to buy what we will eat.

I'm in progress of collecting receipts for a month. It is enlightening. I'm curious to see the monthly picture at the end of this one since the weekly pictures are so useful.

So, I'm trying a few things suggested here. Here's another question: I know how stupid it is to start drawing from my retirement, really not wise. What I can't figure out (an example of my ignorance) is that if you set up systematic withdrawals, and then you find that you don't need any more withdrawals for a bit, is it possible to opt out of the money and leave it to grow again? I hope that's sorta clear.

Thanks again.

piano13
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Old 06-10-2008, 08:08 AM   #16
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What I can't figure out (an example of my ignorance) is that if you set up systematic withdrawals, and then you find that you don't need any more withdrawals for a bit, is it possible to opt out of the money and leave it to grow again? I hope that's sorta clear.
Once you start a SEPP on an IRA you have to continue for 5 years or until age 59.5 (whichever comes LATER). But you don't have to spend it. You can invest it somewhere else.
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