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Old 08-28-2008, 11:34 AM   #61
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MasterBlaster,

Can you please point to the article that this chart came from?
Bernstein has written a number of articles. I can't remember which article that graph (that I kept) was part of.

His website is here:

Efficient Frontier

His book (The Four Pillars of Investing) is highly recommended on this forum

His articles on the retirement calculator from hell are very enlightening (in 4 parts)

http://www.efficientfrontier.com/ef/998/hell.htm

http://www.efficientfrontier.com/ef/101/hell101.htm

http://www.efficientfrontier.com/ef/901/hell3.htm

http://www.efficientfrontier.com/ef/103/hell4.htm

Bernstein is an achedemic specializing in Modern Portfolio Theory.
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Old 08-28-2008, 11:44 AM   #62
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One reason I like reading this forum is to get the personal perspectives of other people about why and when they plan to or did retire. I find these types of threads quite interesting.
Certainly my reason was not to have more fun. I never found work incompatible with having fun. I went about having some fun most of the time. My reason was that my work was a rael pain for me. It likely would not have been for another person, I think at least part of the problem was my attitudes.

If one is truly over the fence as you are, you can't really hurt yourself with any decision. Your "realistic" attitudes toward the fair sex should protect you from any fiscal hazards from that quarter.

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Old 08-28-2008, 11:45 AM   #63
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Looks like even Bernstein is on the bacon bandwagon. From the introduction to The Retirement Calculator from Hell:

"It turns out that if you have rotten returns in the first decade you will run out of money long before reversion to the mean saves your bacon in later years."

Yep. All bacon, all the time.
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Old 08-28-2008, 12:40 PM   #64
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Shawn,

You should definitely stick it out until you obtain low-cost medical insurance for life. That's a huge benefit, and it will be yours in a matter of months.

I'd speculate that your conservative stance is partly a response to the stress you feel at your job. In the run-up to tenure, which was exceedingly stressful, I felt much the same: a very strong need to accumulate savings and a need to maintain an almost absurdly-conservative financial stance that I've only recently relaxed.

However, I never quite felt dependency on the steady salary (in recent years), perhaps because it's not a very dominant source of my income at this point. But your salary is so good that it may be harder to imagine doing without.

If any of the above is true, you will likely be able to relax your outlook after a bit of time in retirement, as you see that you are not just surviving, but thriving.

Perhaps you could also benefit from some mental trick, maybe a form of a "mental buckets" approach in which at least one bucket is forcibly liberated from conservative financial paralysis. So, Mental Bucket 1 - your pension: Liberate yourself! Spend it on Denny's and bowling. Spend the 10k or more that's left over on some adventure travel or on friends and charity. Remember that the pension is on top of the 3 to 4%, or whatever you choose as an appropriate SWR, of savings and other income that you can spend. If you saved any of it, your "SWR" would be negative! Mental Bucket 2 - investment income: Dip into it for an occasional bigger adventure that especially excites you (Everest?), and use the rest to satisfy your emotional need to save and reinvest to supplement long-term growth. Bucket 3 - Any capital on top of the income: tucked away for your considered use when you realize that, yes, you have plenty and always will. Just an idea.
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Old 08-28-2008, 01:12 PM   #65
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Grep just described Lucia's Buckets of Money strategy. There are a lot of us who find that useful.
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Old 09-01-2008, 07:37 PM   #66
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What a great discussion! Wish it had been done so well (and all in one place) back when I went through the thought process of trying to decide when to pull the plug. Since it's too late for me, all I can offer is my own story.

At 51, my pension vested. At 56, it maxed out at about double the 51 option. Naturally, since I'm a great LBYM saver my NW increased dramatically year by year as well.

Clearly, I could have survived at 51 but I had dreams of something more in retirement than just survival. Additionally, I never "hated" my j*b for more than a couple of months at a time, and I had several multi-year periods when I actually enjoyed it.

I struggled with the exact questions and considerations you all have so eloquently expressed here. When, how much is enough, time vs. money, what then, etc...?

Finally, I calculated (as carefully as possible) what my "dream" retirement would cost and then went for that amount (with lots of safety factors thrown in). Even when I had "arrived", I still hung on because I found myself in one of those really "good" periods at wo*k. Then when everything went crazy at wo*k and my good assignments turned bad, I pulled the plug at 58 with just 3 days notice.

Long story short, I retired almost 3 years ago and moved to my dream spot and dream retirement. I now believe it was all worth it and that I made the right decision. But as I went through the process, it was torture. I found myself second guessing my second guesses. Depending upon the person, that may just be part of what we must go through when making such significant decisions.

So, I guess my advice is to decide what kind of retirement you want, decide how much it will cost and then don't work a day longer than you must to finance your dream.

(If you truly find yourself hating the j*b, forget my advice and pull the plug when you can survive!)

End of lecture.

Happy Lab*r Day!
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Old 09-02-2008, 07:15 AM   #67
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Grep,

Carl Klaus, Taking Retirement: A Beginner's Diary (2000), might be of some interest. It is the journal of a university professor experiencing conflicting emotions as he nears retirement.

I found it to be boring and self-indulgent, but perhaps your tastes are different than mine.

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Old 09-02-2008, 10:37 AM   #68
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Koolau: Thank you for your post. I wish my peak pension would be achieved at an earlier age, as yours was - it would make things easier on me.

In my first post, I alluded to issues with politics and the administration here...

In a moment of idle thinking, I looked at the schedule of promotion and merit reviews (every few years) I'd face over the next decade. These can be perfunctory, but are more usually opportunities for grandstanding and back-stabbing among colleagues and the administration. I found myself wondering how much of this I could evade, and at what cost.

Tenured Professors, even those in institutions in which tenure has been seriously watered-down, can survive in their jobs with relatively minimum effort, but it comes at a cost. Have you ever seen a flock of birds pick on one of their own? I've watched an outcast swan be repeatedly attacked, one peck at a time, by the rest of a flock. This bird had almost no feathers left and its time on earth was not long. Yet it still clearly wanted to remain part of the flock. This is life as a tenured Professor when the institution wants you out. You suffer many indignities and slights, yet there's never a push so great as to force you out (it would result in a lawsuit), and no purchase with which to push back. Most in this situation endure in quiet misery because their entire lives center on their position, and because leaving would feel like defeat.

I doubt I'd face the above, as I'm fairly successful and well-liked. But as I alluded in my first post, I have serious issues with the politics and abuses of power here. This is an administration that insists on winning at any cost, regardless of the means, since relentlessly winning is its very source of power. Any challenge on an individual's part, and certainly any victory, must be punished. Staying means submitting, as the personal cost of any challenge is made so extremely high as to be prohibitive. Merely staying, at times, therefore feels like defeat... but so does leaving because of it!

To stay, I must learn to live with this, yet it seems only a lobotomy would allow me that grace. Better, I'd find a way to turn enduring the politics, etc., into winning, but this goal seems petty at some level too. Even better, I'd find a way to rise above it, remove the distractions of politics and power, and keep focus on my own goals. I'm still struggling with this. At least, shortly, I'll have the option of leaving at any point.

Sorry for the rant.
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Old 09-02-2008, 10:43 AM   #69
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This sure sounds like a rough place!

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Old 09-02-2008, 11:24 AM   #70
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Most in this situation endure in quiet misery because their entire lives center on their position, and because leaving would feel like defeat.
That's truly pathetic.
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Old 09-02-2008, 11:44 AM   #71
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Grep I don't know whether this will help, but your rant is an accurate description of what it is like to work at some academic institutions. Makes one ponder whether getting tenure is really such a prize.
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Old 09-02-2008, 01:32 PM   #72
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I'm reading a disconnect between what sounds like a toxic environment and lack of appetite for weathering battle after battle on the one hand, and your ambivalence about leaving (despite ample finances) on the other hand.

Even if you can stick it out and emerge intact, why would you want to? Figure that one out and you'll know when to pull the plug.
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Old 09-02-2008, 01:39 PM   #73
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I'm reading a disconnect between what sounds like a toxic environment and lack of appetite for weathering battle after battle on the one hand, and your ambivalence about leaving (despite ample finances) on the other hand.

Even if you can stick it out and emerge intact, why would you want to? Figure that one out and you'll know when to pull the plug.
I agree. Maybe it's really the fear of the unknown...taking that step off the cliff. After all, no matter how much planning, reading, dreaming, questionning, whatever, you do before you actually retire, until you actually experience it, you don't really know what it's going to be like -- or if you you're going to be happy,
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Old 09-02-2008, 01:55 PM   #74
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There is fear of the unknown, to be sure, and I'd be giving up quite a bit of genuine value and satisfaction in my life. How will I do without the mantle of my position? How will I give up the perks and security of one more year? Will I leave with a bad taste in my mouth that will haunt me? What will I do instead? Will I (have enough to) not just retire, but to thrive and genuinely do as I please? These are just a few things that come to mind.
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Old 09-02-2008, 02:17 PM   #75
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How will I do without the mantle of my position?
Presumably you will speak the same language, eat the same food, enjoy the same hobbies, live in the same house, socialize with the same friends, etc.

I.e., nothing will change, other than perhaps a slight drop in prestige. And prestige is merely high regard in the minds of strangers (why should you care what strangers think?).

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Will I leave with a bad taste in my mouth that will haunt me?
Based upon the information provided in your previous posts, I suspect that the longer you linger, the worse the taste will become.

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What will I do instead?
Let's hope that you have enough intelligence and independence to choose your own pastimes, rather than requiring the artificial structure imposed by a workplace.

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Will I (have enough to) not just retire, but to thrive and genuinely do as I please?
No one can ever answer that question, if for no other reason than we cannot know with any precision our remaining lifespan or whether we will experience serious health issues.
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Old 09-02-2008, 02:30 PM   #76
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Old 09-02-2008, 02:34 PM   #77
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There is fear of the unknown, to be sure, and I'd be giving up quite a bit of genuine value and satisfaction in my life. How will I do without the mantle of my position? How will I give up the perks and security of one more year? Will I leave with a bad taste in my mouth that will haunt me? What will I do instead? Will I (have enough to) not just retire, but to thrive and genuinely do as I please? These are just a few things that come to mind.
Yes, those are honest and troubling questions. I have them, as well. The difference is that your current situation is unhealthy in several dimensions. Many on this board (selection bias) would advise leaving, seeing how it goes, and returning to a less stressful work if you want to or need to, based on prior posts by others.

Sounds like you have defined yourself largely by your work. Next you'll have a chance to celebrate your work, but grow in unrelated ways to fill the gaps. Just some thoughts.

Best wishes in your decision. You're not the first to struggle with these issues. Retirement decisions have proven to be much more complicated than I used to think.
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Old 09-02-2008, 07:20 PM   #78
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What will I do instead?
Professor:

I would encourage writing a book directed at the mass market describing your experiences in academia. Either as a thinly veiled novel or juicy autobio. Your articulate, if not eloquent, posts are a pleasure to read, and after reading your post #64, I was ready for the next "chapter." Honestly! esp. if you are at an Ivy league or other big name.
Then you could justify staying on as research collection.
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Old 09-02-2008, 09:40 PM   #79
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There is fear of the unknown, to be sure, and I'd be giving up quite a bit of genuine value and satisfaction in my life. How will I do without the mantle of my position? How will I give up the perks and security of one more year? Will I leave with a bad taste in my mouth that will haunt me? What will I do instead? Will I (have enough to) not just retire, but to thrive and genuinely do as I please? These are just a few things that come to mind.
I have a hypothetical question. Suppose drastic funding cuts caused higher powers (e.g., college president, board of trustees, regents, governor's office if at a state university) to eliminate your department, and along with it your position. This action would not be directed specifically at you (you're a well-liked faculty member bringing in your share of the research dollars). You're simply caught up in circumstance. A cog in a much larger wheel. And the decision to retire would no longer be yours. Would you be disappointed or would you feel a sense of relief?

If this scenario happened to me, I'd probably feel a sense of relief. I'm financially secure. I'm not going to starve. I'd certainly like to retire. But I'm also afraid of making the wrong decision - an irreversible decision. I don't want to regret giving up the perks that my job provides. So if the decision was made for me, I would not be able to blame myself. Instead, it would be karma, luck, God's will.

Does the prospect of future *regret* hinder the decision process? Just curious. Although everyone is different, it's not an uncommon human trait.
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Old 09-03-2008, 07:12 AM   #80
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Every job has its positive and negative aspects. There are some joys in an academic envionment, even one that is toxic.

Some students are genuinely interested in learning.
There is intelluctual stimulation in preparing/revising lectures, planning research.
Sucessfully conducting original research is the most rewarding and addictive activity of all.

Interestingly, academic administrators thrist for more and more research dollars, but don't seem to realize that the original independent thinking required for obtaining research grants doesn't thrive in a repressive environment.
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