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Old 08-21-2008, 06:31 PM   #21
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Welcome, Grep.

You said you're eligible for retirement in a few months - meaning the end of Dec? Given the other comments I wonder if it makes sense to finish out this school year, which will give you a few months to see whether things feel easier when you know you can leave. Plan to take the summer off as well and see whether you can really do it (without worrying about grad students, or unofficially mandatory dept obligations). I'd think that would give you a good trial run. Only speculating, since I'm not retired yet.

Personally, getting the PhD was more than enough Death March for me - academia was never any place I wanted to stay. I don't usually disagree with haha, but "one of the only jobs that is almost always better than being retired?" I thought maybe that was a joke. Certainly I would say there's nothing crazy about wanting out. On the other hand, you seem to find at least some aspects of the job rewarding, and I definitely think you can have a good impact on students. I learned a ton from my grad school mentors and am very grateful for their presence in my life, even though I never wanted their jobs.
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Old 08-21-2008, 06:33 PM   #22
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Ha:

It doesn't really matter what you personally think of the author. He certainly has some valid points. Perhaps he went too far over the edge in the simple living manner for you to handle. But who are we to say what is best for someone else.

It seems the question is/was... should I live for now or trudge my way another 5 or 10 years to get more dollars. I just thought this little gem I posted above put all those extra dollars in perspective. The question really is ... What do I have to give up to get those $$. And how much extra crap do I really need.

So to answer your question directly, no I will choose my own life over your other choices.
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Old 08-21-2008, 06:43 PM   #23
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"Your Money or Your Life" was an eye-opener for me. I'd always lived that way, but the philosophy that the book espoused put it in perspective. The later chapters offering financial advice were far less valuable. Now, for better or worse, and mostly for the better, I'm past the point of being obsessively-frugal.

I'm not looking to ditch everything, and I won't be making any precipitous changes. Yes, I'm mostly looking for perspective. If I left my job soon, it would be after a year or more of soul-searching, still. And then another year for good measure, most likely!

By the way, mobility is limited in academic life, but moving is not impossible. There's an institution or two that I would gladly move to because of its environment and some people I know there, but all things considered things are o.k. here. I especially don't want to have to prove myself all over again somewhere else.
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Old 08-21-2008, 06:46 PM   #24
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I think there is a lot of truth to the comment that life as a tenured Professor (in a good department, with good colleagues...) can be better than retired life. Always? Emphatically no! Often? Yes.
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Old 08-21-2008, 06:52 PM   #25
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Ha:

It seems the question is/was... should I live for now or trudge my way another 5 or 10 years to get more dollars. I just thought this little gem I posted above put all those extra dollars in perspective. The question really is ... What do I have to give up to get those $$. And how much extra crap do I really need.

So to answer your question directly, no I will choose my own life over your other choices. It doesn't really matter what you persoannly think of the author. He certainly has some valid points.
I understand what you guys are saying. Partly this story just tripped my comedy switch. Also, years ago I turned my back on a sweet deal, and although I have enjoyed being retired, I think I can also see the advantages to the other path. I don't see it as only monetary, or even necessarily primarily as monetary.

But there is also a lot to be said for "more", since most of us are at a level where more would be meaningful. Many people who live in attractive coastal cities plan to move inland when they retire, or downsize mightily. Maybe someone lives in LA and plans to move. He might say, "I don't like LA anyway". What he means is that he doesn't like LA at his economic level. He doesn't like Alhambra or Huntington Park. But would he turn down Beverly Hills or Manhatten Beach or Pacific Palisades? If he were me, hell no!

I am condo hunting- what I could buy for $800,000 beats the hell out of what I could buy for one half or one third of that. The income off a $10mm portfolio would definitely not cause my utility function to top out, though I will clearly survive on much less, and I won't be forced out of a prime place to hunker down in the boonies. But I do watch my pennies a lot more closely than I would like. I see tradeoffs everywhere.

Ha
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Old 08-21-2008, 07:30 PM   #26
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Our circumstances are quite similar. In fact, you came to the same conclusion when you responded to my introduction post 1 1/2 years ago. Although I'm not a professor, I've been in a research-oriented field since finishing my Ph.D. in the early 90's. I write proposals, papers, and have my own research projects. I work with students and post-docs at my organization and elsewhere. Effectively, I have tenure. My current position is stable, as it comes with "base funding."

On the other hand, while the technical work is interesting, I really do not like my job. I may not have the politics of academia, but I do have the immense bureaucracy of government. What ridiculous policy are they going to implement next that will make my work environment even more miserable? How many more times will they reorganize in the next two years? Every day, from 8:00 to 5:00, it's hassle after hassle. The only time real work gets done is during the evenings, weekends, and holidays (and when I'm not posting here ).

On the financial side, I'm fine. I'll be eligible for early retirement next year when I turn 50. I'll have a pension (with a ~65% COLA) and lifetime medical benefits (its possible we are part of the same retirement system). My savings and other assets are about $2M. If I retire at 50, my pension will be about $40K. If I retire at 53, my pension will be $70K. If I wait until 60, it will be $150K. As you point out, that's a huge difference. It's the steep part of the curve (although admittedly smaller when taxes are factored into the equation). Together with my savings, my before tax income will be approximately $100K/yr if I retire next year and perhaps $250K/yr if I wait until 60 (todays dollars). And I'm a frugal person. Not including income taxes or my mortgage (which I may pay off when I retire), my annual expenses are only about $20K.

So should I retire next year at 50? While I'd be quite comfortable, I'd be even more comfortable if I wait until 53, or 55, or 60. How much is enough? Although it's alien to my current lifestyle, maybe I'll want that $2M house. Maybe I'll want the freedom to go back to school just for fun. Maybe I'll need to financially support my parents. I don't know what the future will bring.

And when I retire, there will be no turning back. My career has been a series of interrelated accomplishments, one built upon another. I have a big corner office and a modicum of clout. All this will evaporate the day I leave. I will not be able to return, or at least return to my present position and status. They will be gone. It will be an absolute decision.

There are many things I'd like to do in my life. Get back into peak athletic and competitive shape. Running. Bicycling. Trail running. Orienteering. Adventure Racing. Backpack the Pacific Crest Trail (Mexico to Canada). Summit Everest. While people can do these things well into their 70's and even 80's, younger is better. 50 is far from old. 60 is far from old, too, but it's closer than 50.

My job gives me money and a certain amount of esteem. It's the reward for decades of toil. And that reward gets substantially larger with every passing year. Should I give it all up and retire at 50? 51? 53? Wait until 60? It's not a straightforward decision.

Right now, though, my heart starts pounding when I see the Sierra's on a clear day. That's the type of place I want to be. So should I go for the instant gratification when I turn 50 next year, or should I continue to invest my career skills so I'll have more down the road?
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Old 08-21-2008, 07:34 PM   #27
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Ha:

You mentioned Beverly Hills, I just happen to know someone who was able to buy a small place in Beverly Hills. Just how happy do you suppose they were having all those upper income types rubbing their affluent lifestyle in their face.

When you get to Beverly Hills to be really happy you need one of those monstrous mansions with a few acres of landscaped lawn out front. You also need (at least) a 10 car garage filled with exotic and luxurious cars, domestic servants, and a membership at "the club". Then you would be happy .... But what if at the club, you didn't have your own private jet, like some of the others, waiting to wisk you to your French Rivierra Chateau. Only if you had that you would be happy...

Again, you just can't win this game. You will never have enough.

Yet compare what you have to most of the world. They think that you live "La Dolche Vita"
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Old 08-21-2008, 09:31 PM   #28
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Have you considered Part Time? This might give you the extra time that you need and still allow you to continue on as a professor a bit longer possibly increasing your retirement benefits. I have been working Part Time for about the past 3 years and I am now down to just about 4 mornings a week. I remain for the health benefits and to contribute to my 401k. I rather sit in the office 4 mornings a week and be able to spend a bit extra at this point in my life. I don't really look forward to going to work, however, once I get there I do not mind it.
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Old 08-21-2008, 09:59 PM   #29
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Ha:

You mentioned Beverly Hills, I just happen to know someone who was able to buy a small place in Beverly Hills. Just how happy do you suppose they were having all those upper income types rubbing their affluent lifestyle in their face.

When you get to Beverly Hills to be really happy you need one of those monstrous mansions with a few acres of landscaped lawn out front. You also need (at least) a 10 car garage filled with exotic and luxurious cars, domestic servants, and a membership at "the club". Then you would be happy .... But what if at the club, you didn't have your own private jet, like some of the others, waiting to wisk you to your French Rivierra Chateau. Only if you had that you would be happy...

Again, you just can't win this game. You will never have enough.

Yet compare what you have to most of the world. They think that you live "La Dolche Vita"
This may be how it would affect you, and how it affected your friends. But people are all different. I live in a small apartment on a street where the houses range from $1 million to $9 million. It has only good effects on me. Those people make everything look like a park, and they are mostly attractive polite people. They have nice lawn parties with string quartets which I can enjoy as I walk up the street. Maybe it is because I am no longer young, but I can fully enjoy collateral benefits.

I only mentioned Beverly Hills and the Palisades because many people like them. I would much prefer Redondo or Hermosa or Manhattan Beach. If one can't be happy on the LA coastal strip his happiness switch has different settings from mine.

I am aware that I have it fine; I am just saying that arbitrary money cutoffs will be different for different people. Some take $500,000 and head for Indonesia or the Philippines. Some want only a bungalow near a WalMart. These are all good; just not necessarily optimal for someone who is not exactly unhappy in a good job. 4% of $2mm is not trash, but it is not exactly a high life in a world where a couple consisting of two teachers or two cops may be pulling down from 150% to 200% of that

Some jobs are either exhaustingly demanding as to time and effort, or ridden with abusive and demeaning daily humiliations. But some are not. I clearly don't care what people choose to do. But I do know what I would do if I could go back, or what I would counsel a loved son or daughter to do. Also there is some value in a different idea, just because it is different. We know the usual ER board recommendation, from back in the JG days to now- "Just do it, you ninny!" "Come on in, the water's fine!" Read these things, then come back and read a while when the stock market has had a little slip- not a major smash, just a little slip. You'll see plenty different ideas then.

The other thing, which I believe applies to many single men is that unless you go around trumpeting your high net worth, once you quit your prestigious job you are just another schmuck in the eyes of a random woman who does not yet know how terribly special you are. What you used to do, however impressive you feel that it was, is definitely ancient history 3 months after your retirement. If you don't believe me, just go to a cocktail party and tell people how important you used to be. Essentially pathetic.

And if you have eyes for young pretty women, you had better have more than 4% of $2 million to spend, since your cash flow and net worth are not very impressive nor very cool to talk about. What registers with women is what you spend on them. I know that this doesn't apply to many wonderful and sincere women, but some single men just like feminine companionship and entertainment without a lot of folderol.


Anyway, feel entirely free to ignore my ideas, most people do and I don't consider myself an expert about anything. Part of the joy of this board is that if one can shun vulgar, profane or openly hostile statements he is fairly free to express whatever he believes or even what he doesn't believe.

Ha
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Old 08-22-2008, 12:26 AM   #30
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I'm not an academic - but come April 9, 2009 I will have by virtue of 25 years of toil in my very secure job earned the right to show up every day with "my walking papers in my back pocket." ER ready if/when I choose.

(Every year I stick around after 25 only increases the DB pension portion of my retirement package by $1k a year anyway)

But I'm going to stick around a little while after April 9 & have some fun with it all for a change - I think it might feel different going to work in that situation & I'm looking forward to the experience - I'd especially like to hear the opinions of any here on the forum that have been in that situation

Like an ER eligible colleague of mine tells me "I'm just 3 bad days in a row away from retiring" (He's been eligible for about 2 years now)
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Old 08-22-2008, 03:05 AM   #31
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Your current burn out feeling seems to be the kind that comes from having achieved an important goal. Been there....

Have you already done something to reward you for having achieved your goal?
When I forget this, it seems that I do not believe myself that the goal was worthwile or that I have really achieved it.

Your work life balance seems to have got lost in the Death March. Do something to find new balance now.
Before making drastic and irreversible decisions I would invest some time in exploring a variety of options. Like mentioned above, taking summers off to travel, lecture in fun environment or with interesting people, find out which parts of your job you really enjoy and how to do more of this - while letting the nasty stuff drop off.
Maybe even with professional help like coaching.
You can do that and you have every right in the world to tailor your job exactly as you like it to be. If then after reasonable time the fun does not come back, you may still retire. But take care, you may then still have the same burn out feeling, but now about ER....

Recently I have read "Last lecture" by Randy Pausch on how to make your childhood dreams come true. Which childhood dreams did you have? Now its time...
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Old 08-22-2008, 06:56 AM   #32
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Prof. This is a simple lesson ---

Time is Money

Which do you want more?

Up until now you have chosen Money. As long as you have Time you can trade it for Money. Once you feel you have "enough" Money, Time may or may not be available for procurement.

I cannot afford to waste my time making money. ~Louis Agassiz

Too much money is as demoralizing as too little, and there's no such thing as exactly enough. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic's Notebook, 1966
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Old 08-22-2008, 09:16 AM   #33
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I cannot afford to waste my time making money. ~Louis Agassiz
Odd choice of quotes! Like the OP prof, Agassiz had important work to do, and in spite of poor health he continued making expeditions and teaching almost until his death in his late 60s in the year 1873. Joe Dominguez he was not.

He was an astoundingly productive scientist and naturalist. His career shows that what he meant by the quote you gave, if he in fact ever said it, is that his work was very important per se, and not only as a means of getting money. Of course, it helped that like many scientists of the day he was born into a well to do family.

Ha
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Old 08-22-2008, 10:41 AM   #34
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Odd choice of quotes! Like the OP prof, Agassiz had important work to do, and in spite of poor health he continued making expeditions and teaching almost until his death in his late 60s in the year 1873. Joe Dominguez he was not.

He was an astoundingly productive scientist and naturalist. His career shows that what he meant by the quote you gave, if he in fact ever said it, is that his work was very important per se, and not only as a means of getting money. Of course, it helped that like many scientists of the day he was born into a well to do family.

Ha
I cannot afford to waste my time making money. ~Louis Agassiz

I think Agassiz had exactly the idea I wished to convey in that quote..... The OP's post is asking about staying or going as reference to how much $$ he will have to sustain himself. He has already demonstrated that in all probabilty he has "enough" to sustain himself now and could take the earliest retirement date.

If the OP is passionate about what he is currently doing, excited about his own "expeditions, teaching and production" and/or that is where his heart is then I would think his initial post would have asked very different questions. As is he said "I’ve finally reached a point where I am substantially free of the need to fight. There are rather few hurdles left in my career that I care to pursue."

The OP has said he has enough $$, therefore why keep trading his remaining time for more of which he has enough of versus following what he IS passionate about, whatever that may be?
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Old 08-22-2008, 10:59 AM   #35
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I cannot afford to waste my time making money. ~Louis Agassiz

I think Agassiz had exactly the idea I wished to convey in that quote..... The OP's post is asking about staying or going as reference to how much $$ he will have to sustain himself. He has already demonstrated that in all probabilty he has "enough" to sustain himself now and could take the earliest retirement date.

If the OP is passionate about what he is currently doing, excited about his own "expeditions, teaching and production" and/or that is where his heart is then I would think his initial post would have asked very different questions. As is he said "I’ve finally reached a point where I am substantially free of the need to fight. There are rather few hurdles left in my career that I care to pursue."

The OP has said he has enough $$, therefore why keep trading his remaining time for more of which he has enough of versus following what he IS passionate about, whatever that may be?
I believe that the quote was confusing when applied to Agassiz in the context of this discussion, without giving more historical background. But you have just done that, and I understand what you are getting at.

True also that not many peoplle retired or working are exactly passionate about much of anything. Read the "What Did You Do Today? thread for examples.

Oh wait, there is a man named Rob Bennet...

Ha
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Old 08-22-2008, 12:47 PM   #36
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Time is Money

Which do you want more?
I think it's much more complicated than this. Would the average early retiree spend a month working at McDonalds for minimum wage? Probably not. Unless they really needed the money or enjoyed the social interactions, the small financial benefit wouldn't be worth one month of a persons life. But what if the pay was a million dollars? In that case, few people would say no. Even if they had "enough," it would be difficult to pass up such an opportunity for an easy million. A month of time wouldn't seem like very much.

Money can provide additional freedom and independence. Even if one has enough for a modest but comfortable lifestyle, additional income can mean greater opportunity and control. It can mean less worry. I spend only 20-25% of my after-tax income (the rest going to savings), but I have a sense of contentment knowing that the flexibility is there to spend more should the need arise.

It's not the glamorous lifestyle that I seek, but rather the peace of mind. In that sense, there is never enough. So while I could retire today with a lifestyle substantially greater than my current standard of living, I'm in the steep earning stage of my career. I can earn a lot by working only a little, at least in relative terms. Do I want to give up this opportunity to spend a little more time to get a lot more money. It's a once in a lifetime opportunity, but granted, the cost will be years lost.
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Old 08-22-2008, 01:36 PM   #37
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I think it's much more complicated than this. Would the average early retiree spend a month working at McDonalds for minimum wage? Probably not. Unless they really needed the money or enjoyed the social interactions, the small financial benefit wouldn't be worth one month of a persons life. But what if the pay was a million dollars? In that case, few people would say no. Even if they had "enough," it would be difficult to pass up such an opportunity for an easy million. A month of time wouldn't seem like very much.

Money can provide additional freedom and independence. Even if one has enough for a modest but comfortable lifestyle, additional income can mean greater opportunity and control. It can mean less worry. I spend only 20-25% of my after-tax income (the rest going to savings), but I have a sense of contentment knowing that the flexibility is there to spend more should the need arise.

It's not the glamorous lifestyle that I seek, but rather the peace of mind. In that sense, there is never enough. So while I could retire today with a lifestyle substantially greater than my current standard of living, I'm in the steep earning stage of my career. I can earn a lot by working only a little, at least in relative terms. Do I want to give up this opportunity to spend a little more time to get a lot more money. It's a once in a lifetime opportunity, but granted, the cost will be years lost.
It is an interesting equation.... Time is Money .....

Of course if an opportunity arose where you could give up a bit of time for ALOT of money than it would make sense to give into that choice, if nothing else, to pass on a bigger inheritance or provide for some luxuries that otherwise were never dreamed of.

However, the OP was not asking about this. He clearly explained his situation at hand estimating that he currently had "enough" but ponders whether staying to get "more" (not a goldmine) was worth it.

I think the "steep earning stage" is at least proportional to the decline in "going power" that one has as they get older. (leaving out health declines all together) I've heard it questioned before rhetorically "why can't a person get some retirement years at the front end when they are young enough to enjoy the time?"

To be able to have sufficient resources AND good energy and health is what ER is all about to me. I feel like at 65-70 I am really going to be gearing down and heading for the rocking chair (my personal case) so if I could get out at 50 instead of 60 and triple my "active" years I'd be gone.
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Old 08-22-2008, 01:54 PM   #38
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It is an interesting equation.... Time is Money .....

Of course if an opportunity arose where you could give up a bit of time for ALOT of money than it would make sense to give into that choice, if nothing else, to pass on a bigger inheritance or provide for some luxuries that otherwise were never dreamed of.

However, the OP was not asking about this. He clearly explained his situation at hand estimating that he currently had "enough" but ponders whether staying to get "more" (not a goldmine) was worth it.

I think the "steep earning stage" is at least proportional to the decline in "going power" that one has as they get older. (leaving out health declines all together) I've heard it questioned before rhetorically "why can't a person get some retirement years at the front end when they are young enough to enjoy the time?"

To be able to have sufficient resources AND good energy and health is what ER is all about to me. I feel like at 65-70 I am really going to be gearing down and heading for the rocking chair (my personal case) so if I could get out at 50 instead of 60 and triple my "active" years I'd be gone.
So, do you by any chance have a pension?
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Old 08-22-2008, 02:08 PM   #39
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So, do you by any chance have a pension?
I got a couple coming.... Retired from the Air National Guard in 2006 (20+ years) so that will start at 60 and currently have 22 years in as a Federal Employee (age 40) so I gotta go 16 more years before I am eligible for my FERS pension. I will be hard pressed to stay if they offer me an early out after 50 though. (wishful thinking )
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Old 08-22-2008, 06:31 PM   #40
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It is an interesting equation.... Time is Money .....
One of my favorite ER "subjects" (and why I ER'ed!)
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