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Golden handcufffs GRRR
Old 07-21-2007, 07:55 AM   #1
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Golden handcufffs GRRR

age 47
three kids, youngest 16
Overweight, overstressed executive
Leave at age 48 with dramatically reduced spending?
retire comfortably at 55
Affluent at 62?

Bad spending habits, good NW due to income

Supportive non-materialistic spouse
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Old 07-21-2007, 09:20 AM   #2
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Welcome Puravida

sounds alot like me...the overweight and overstressed executive part and golden handcuffs that make it real hard to leave,and of course the good supportive spouse (mine does have a slight materialistic bent, but not too serious and not all the time). We're both 45, have 17-24 months to go before the cuffs come off and DD (age 15) graduates HS, but what do we do when megacorp decides to add diamonds to those gold cuffs? Just gotta decide when enuf is enuf...affluence doesn't buy health, it only pays for the band-aids...seems to me that one of the biggest strains on health is the "overstress" and we all know the overweight part isn't good, and it is worse when combined with stress. One thing to think about is if the amount you are currently able to spend is adding to your happiness, or just to your short-term pleasure. If it really adds to your happiness, stick around for a while at megacorp. If not, hang for the year you mentioned, plan, save, pull the eject handle, and restore your health and happiness.

Good luck!
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Old 07-21-2007, 09:31 AM   #3
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a lateral move (new position elsewhere.. part time.. consulting) could fill in the gap until 55.

Start taking care of the bad spending habits ASAP. That's something w/in your control.
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Old 07-21-2007, 10:48 AM   #4
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Have you addressed the issue of bad spending habits, because if not, if they continue once you FIRE you could be doomed.

Admitting you have a problem is the first step, but if you can work out why you do it - ie. work stress you may be ble to rectify it.

If you are overstressed at 45, I would be looking to do something to reduce those stress levels. Stress combined with overweightness sounds like a heart attack waiting to happen. Do what you have to do to ensure that you get the opportunity to FIRE.
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Old 07-21-2007, 01:25 PM   #5
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More background,

Spending is at about 200K year, Income 250K -350K depending on bonus. Stock Options underwater for years. NW about 1.5 MM without Home Equity. 2 Kids education funded via 529s, 3rd kid in Grad school and on her own financially. If my plan was to work until age 62 I would be considered to be living below my means given our defined benefit pension and SERP (Supplemental executive retirement program) and 401K. If I left work next year I leave SERP on the table. (vesting in SERP is at 62). If we liquidated everything and we were on the street with the clothes on our back, I would still have less than 2MM. To ER at 48 would be "possible" with a dramatic change in lifestyle. I am from a modest background and my income has risen as my career progressed at Megacorp. Each relocation resulted in a larger house combined with a more expensive lifestyle. My wife stopped working nearly 20 years ago and is not a shopper. Expenses are driven by a large mortgage, taxes, 3 vehicles, teenage insurances, college expenses and savings. boat, golf, travel etc. This would all be ok if I was still enjoying my career, but I am not and it is wearing on me. Up at 5 and gone til at least 7 with significant travel to decidedly unglamorous locals can only be sustained if you enjoy / believe in what you are doing. I am probably in the midst of second guessing my long term goals and am in the midst of a classic mid life crisis. I did the sportscar thing ( I liked driving it, but hated people looking at me) and won't consider an affair since I have a better wife than I deserve anyway. My fear is that I am over glamorizing a slower paced, less consumptive lifestyle and may regret what I give up financially or that my self esteem has become entangled with success / competency at work.. My opposing fear is that if I continue at this pace, I won't live to see retirement and my widow will be rich.
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Old 07-21-2007, 01:51 PM   #6
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I think you are living the American Dream. Get some psychological counselling to see if you can reframe your current job. This would take 6 months. At the same look around at alternative executive positions. Sometimes just knowing you have viable options helps. I did both of these steps.

But, since you are obviously a smart guy, you know there are no easy answers. I got off the executive escalator when I was 42 because I saw the toll it was starting to take. And I could see that toll escalating with each new level.

But I stayed in the same company. I was able to become an intrapreneur and took a small national support center and turned it into a international profit center with 5x the staff. YMMV

BTW congratulations on marrying well. Make sure she know and supports each step along the way.
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Old 07-21-2007, 02:08 PM   #7
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puravida,

It doesn't sound like you really don't want to exchange la dolce vida for the pura vida. You are type "A" and you like the power and the money, but you are starting to realize you aren't immortal.

Quote:
This would all be ok if I was still enjoying my career, but I am not and it is wearing on me.
Maybe, but the rewards are too important to you yet.

Heed DangerMouse. If you ever get serious about ER, you will cut your spending first. Dump the megahouse, etc.

Quote:
...if I continue at this pace, I won't live to see retirement and my widow will be rich.
You don't really want to retire. You won't until you hit a roadblock of some kind.

Come back here after your first heart attack.
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Cutting Back? I'm still working on it.
Old 07-21-2007, 02:22 PM   #8
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Cutting Back? I'm still working on it.

My wife and I have decided to retire in a year--and we'll have to make some moderate lifestyle changes to make it work. Here's what we plan to do:
  1. Lower our travel budget. We've seen many parts of the US and world, and went on big trips regularly, "while our health was still good." So we think we can cut way back on that.
  2. Lower our output to support our children's education. All but one have graduated from college (two with MS degrees), but the one left has about two more years. I'm hoping her husband, once he's through with MD residency can help her more.
  3. Lower our output on furniture and home furnishings. We own two homes, one large home and one medium-sized recreation home but we've been putting out a lot of loot to furnish both homes well. We're essentially done with that.
  4. Lower our taxes. I'm still learning about this part of the equation. I hope our taxes go down significantly once we retire.
  5. Stop house-cleaning services. After we retire, won't we have time to clean our own home?
  6. Remove professional membership fees. Once we're retired, we really don't need to belong to our respective professional organizations.
We are also considering reducing our cars from two to one. Do we really need to vehicles once we retire? Maybe. We are also considering reducing our cell phones from two to one. Do we really need two cell phones? Maybe. (Maybe I'm not ready to make these kinds of sacrifices.)

I think similar changes here and there will allow us to enjoy our "early" retirement (for us it's only a couple years early) and live well.
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Old 07-21-2007, 02:27 PM   #9
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I can definitely identify with you...even live in same state and probably was in same industry. Left MegaCorp six years ago because I just couldn't take it anymore. Had what everyone thought was a fabulous job -- great pay, lots of travel (domestic and international), bonuses, stock options (also underwater for years) golden handcuffs.....

Also had a spouse who suffered a heart attack at age 48 and I was showing serious signs of stress -- overweight, not exercising enough, even a trip or two to the ER for stress related symptoms.

Finally decided that my health, happiness and longevity were worth more than the J*B -- so I talked to a trusted mentor inside and got some good advice that allowed me to negotiate my freedom exit. Yeah, I left some stuff on the table, but overall I was very pleased with the result.

Because, like you, I really wasn't mentally prepared for stepping off the train into full time retirement, I then moved into a much less stressful, but much more fulfilling position in a completely different field. I expected to be there for a year or two, but ended up staying for five years.

Now I'm fully FIRE'd and could not be happier or healthier. Every day is a blessing on this journey. My MegaCorp life is nothing but a (mostly) fond memory and I'm discovering every day what truly matters in life -- and it definitely isn't having the largest mortgage on the biggest house in the sub!

Take some time to think it through and make the decision that's right for you and your family. You'll get lots of good advice from the members here. But remember, there IS life after MegaCorp. Good luck.
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Old 07-21-2007, 03:21 PM   #10
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Wow.... spending $200K a year.... does not sound like LBYM....

And you will need a LOT more money to support a lifestyle like that... If you do not gut back by half... you don't have golden handcuffs, you have to keep working...

Join a gym and start working out a couple of times a week... eat a bit better and lose some weight... (I have just started)...

Find out where the big leaks are in the budget (but it sounds like McMansion and expensive cars)... plug the ones you can...

I know a guy at work who pays $200 for cell phones for everybody.. that is a lot when you look at it... pays over $100 for cable... these 'small' things add up when you start saying $2400 and $1200 per year...
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Old 07-21-2007, 03:40 PM   #11
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If you're not ready to decide, you could consider doing something in areas over which you have control - which would help you to feel better in the meantime:

Number 1. Do some work to "unhook" your identity from your work and the money it provides. Could be counseling, or reading/journaling, or a combination of such.

Number 2. Turn around the nutrition / fitness component. This can help you feel better while you're figuring things out. Well, eventually anyway. It can be hard getting started. You'll need to plan and gather support and resources to support your decisions.

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(pretty good handle on Number 1; working on Number 2)
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Old 07-21-2007, 06:13 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by puravida View Post
More background,

travel to decidedly unglamorous locals can only be sustained if you enjoy / believe in what you are doing. I am probably in the midst of second guessing my long term goals and am in the midst of a classic mid life crisis. I did the sportscar thing ( I liked driving it, but hated people looking at me) and won't consider an affair since I have a better wife than I deserve anyway. My fear is that I am over glamorizing a slower paced, less consumptive lifestyle and may regret what I give up financially or that my self esteem has become entangled with success / competency at work.. My opposing fear is that if I continue at this pace, I won't live to see retirement and my widow will be rich.
Those points are probably the key ones. Explore your options:
- change positions
- talk with a career coach
- take a sabatical
Any possibility of layoffs/restructuring and you volunteering for a spot - they sometimes bridge service to retirement age.

Play a couple of mind games:
If you won the lottery would you still work.
If certain aspects of you job changed would you still work? If yes, try to make it happen.

But you definately explore what you would do if you would RE before doing it.

But you hit it on the head - what is the point of all the money if you are not healthy enough or dead and can not enjoy it!
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Old 07-21-2007, 06:22 PM   #13
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My opposing fear is that if I continue at this pace, I won't live to see retirement and my widow will be rich.
It's always better to wait, financially speaking, for FIRE. If you are awaiting a time where continuing to work won't improve your finances in FIRE, you are chasing windmills. FIRE date is when the price of stopping is exceeded by the rewards of not working and embarking on a new chapter.

Since you were sincere enough to share that you are miserable, overweight, and over stressed with bad spending habits, in your shoes I'd do my careful homework as to the various scenarios (firecalc is a good start), opt for a change of lifestyle, rein in your spending, and start a new life about which you feel entirely different.

At least on this board, very few seem to regret going that route.
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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 07-22-2007, 09:33 AM   #14
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puravida, I just wanted to say thanks for sharing your story. It helps confirm for me that I made the right choices more than 10 years ago. Maybe you still have a chance to choose?
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Old 07-30-2007, 04:59 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by puravida View Post
More background,

Spending is at about 200K year
...
To ER at 48 would be "possible" with a dramatic change in lifestyle.
...
Each relocation resulted in a larger house combined with a more expensive lifestyle.
...
My fear is that I am over glamorizing a slower paced, less consumptive lifestyle and may regret what I give up financially or that my self esteem has become entangled with success / competency at work..
Well, I'd personally go for the least risky way of testing things out. The job is hard to replace, the home is much easier. You have a wife at home not working, and teens (so they don't need much home care). What does she do during the day? Her new job can be "sell the house and boat and extra cars".

I suggest you aim for retirement, but keep the job until you're downsized. Sell the home and move to a much more modest home (something you could afford on a 40k per year salary). Sell the toys, downsize the cars, etc. Use your large salary now to help pay for any costs associated with these moves.

This could all theoretically happen in a few months. Then you can see if you can stick to your budget, and if so, walk away. If the worst happens and you actually dislike having the small home, etc, you still have a job. Plus, once you have downsized, you can always take it a bit easier on the job. In most positions, people are surprised at how much they can downshift at their current position without the company crashing down around their ears.

What I think you want to avoid is dropping everything and running for the hills, or just waiting for the heart attack to push you along. Take the first steps and see how things go.
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Old 07-30-2007, 05:36 PM   #16
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Uh, I would be selling the mcmansion pronto.
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Old 07-30-2007, 08:55 PM   #17
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Puravida,

I was in a similar situation about 6 months ago... I made up my mind I was going to set my health as my number 1 priority in my life. I have had a complete checkup with my doctor (no surprises I knew I was overweight and had high blood pressure). I have since reordered my priorities but have kept my job (I decided to mentally semi-retire). I still do business travel (internationally) but it has been a lot of fun running in various countries. I stop meetings at 3 and go to work out . I have lost 45 pounds already and I am now running 30 miles a week. I feel fantastic, I have not dropped off on my job performance... as a matter of fact I think it has improved because I am so up when I am working with my staff it motivates them. I am not sure how much longer I am going to stay in my job (I am in a very similar situation.. every year I stay adds considerably to the nest egg.. so why stop?) Just try to look at the situation diffrently.. What is the worst thing that can happen you will live longer and probably be happier ?
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