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Greetings from stressed out lawyer trying to wind down
Old 03-26-2007, 11:00 PM   #1
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Greetings from stressed out lawyer trying to wind down

I'm a 50 year old lawyer in Arizona. After 25 years of stressful law practice, I'm just now seriously considering my retirement options. I've run multiple calculations through mutilple retirement planning calculators, including FireCalc. I'm no longer relying on potential lottery winnings as part of my calcualtions. I still have two kids in college and have some a small balance on a mortgage to payoff. Those obligations (sorry kids . . . didn't mean to call you an obligation) will be satisfied in a few years. I can see light at the end of the tunnel. However, I have some questions and concerns I hope I can get answered in this forum.

I'm wondering what it is like to go from a 50 - 60 hr/week high stress job to retirement. I think I'll need to wind down in phases. I'm not able to sit still in one place very long. My wife and I have a shared/fractional home in Mexico we visit 6 weeks a year and we have been trying to learn Spanish for 2 + years. I'd like to go to Mexico for 3 - 6 months as a volunteer to teach English as a foreign language. I think that would help us become truly fluent. It would also allow me to give something back to the Mexican people I've thought about spending part of my future life in Mexico, perhaps Manzanillo or Guadalajara area. Any comments or suggestions so far?

I've lived in one state all my life and would like to spend 2 or 3 months at a time living in other parts of the country or world. The places on my list include NYC, Washington DC, Colorado (Summit County), Italy and Costa Rica. Any suggestions on how to find comfortable but reasonably priced housing for that type of thing?

Finally, many retirement planning calculators suggest you need 60% - 70% - 80% of your pre-retirement income for retirement. That seems high for me. I use Quicken for my home finances so that has helped me figure out my monthly expenses minus college, mortgage, dry cleaning ,etc. etc. Any suggestions on the best way to calculate income needs in retirement? Any surprise expenses you didn't anticipate in retirement?

Thanks in advance for your thoughts, suggestions and advice.
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Re: Greetings from stressed out lawyer trying to wind down
Old 03-26-2007, 11:35 PM   #2
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Re: Greetings from stressed out lawyer trying to wind down

Welcome to the board, caracol. We've never found a workable retirement plan that includes a lottery here, either.

Quote:
Originally Posted by caracol7
I'm wondering what it is like to go from a 50 - 60 hr/week high stress job to retirement. I think I'll need to wind down in phases. I'm not able to sit still in one place very long.
You may be surprised at how well this works out. Everyone who's worried about the first few weeks of ER has spent the first few weeks of ER wondering what the heck they were worrying about.

In general, you'll spend the first month (maybe two) catching up on a career of chronic fatigue-- sleeping late, sitting on your butt, taking naps, maybe starting a workout plan, maybe taking an interest in projects around the house. Perfectly normal. It's not advisable to try (or even plan) to repaint the house, relandscape the yard, clean out the entire garage, or write the Great American Novel. Those accomplishments can all wait for the third month.

If you haven't already read Ernie Zelinski's "How To Retire Happy, Wild, & Free" and/or Bob Clyatt's "Work Less, Live More", you can read them during the first couple weeks. Until then you can respond to all interrogators with innocuous phrases like "Well, I certainly think I've earned this retirement, luck had nothing to do with it", "Whatever I want to", and "I'm not sure, but you can check back with me in a few months".

Quote:
Originally Posted by caracol7
My wife and I have a shared/fractional home in Mexico we visit 6 weeks a year and we have been trying to learn Spanish for 2 + years. I'd like to go to Mexico for 3 - 6 months as a volunteer to teach English as a foreign language. I think that would help us become truly fluent. It would also allow me to give something back to the Mexican people I've thought about spending part of my future life in Mexico, perhaps Manzanillo or Guadalajara area. Any comments or suggestions so far?
There are a few posters on this board who've done just that. You might also check out Billy & Akaisha Kaderli's website section on their Mexico years (http://www.retireearlylifestyle.com/MEXICO.htm) and even download their CD.

Quote:
Originally Posted by caracol7
I've lived in one state all my life and would like to spend 2 or 3 months at a time living in other parts of the country or world. The places on my list include NYC, Washington DC, Colorado (Summit County), Italy and Costa Rica. Any suggestions on how to find comfortable but reasonably priced housing for that type of thing?
The difference is that now you have the time to search for long-range bargains, off-season rates, & last-minute fares. You can be much more flexible about how long you stay and what type of accomodations you use. For example, during our last DC trip we stayed at a U Street B&B that was near a Metro stop in the middle of everything. Ran ourselves ragged in a week without a car and had a wonderful time. We were overwhelmed with choices by Googling "Washington DC B&B" and found several that fit our criteria. The Kaderlis also have a lot of suggestions on "living local". Other posters on this board will have plenty of advice, and you can search old threads with your destinations as keywords.

Your comment is ironic-- spouse & I have lived all over the world and now we just want to stay around home for a while...

Quote:
Originally Posted by caracol7
Finally, many retirement planning calculators suggest you need 60% - 70% - 80% of your pre-retirement income for retirement. That seems high for me. I use Quicken for my home finances so that has helped me figure out my monthly expenses minus college, mortgage, dry cleaning ,etc. etc. Any suggestions on the best way to calculate income needs in retirement? Any surprise expenses you didn't anticipate in retirement?
That's journalistic sound-bite crap based on an old 1980s study concluding that work-related expenses were as much as 20% of one's income.

You're doing it the correct way-- budgeting your expenses and matching them to your portfolio through FIRECalc.

One of the bigger ER "gotchas" is budgeting for replacing things-- rising healthcare/property taxes, a new roof, new appliances, a new vehicle, a kid's wedding, a fantasy vacation-- you get the idea. One poster has put up an extremely detailed budget including capital expenses. (http://early-retirement.org/forums/i...12220#msg12220) There's also the "How much did you spend" threads:
http://early-retirement.org/forums/i...?topic=12138.0
http://early-retirement.org/forums/i...?topic=11335.0
http://early-retirement.org/forums/i...95713#msg95713
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Re: Greetings from stressed out lawyer trying to wind down
Old 03-26-2007, 11:38 PM   #3
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Re: Greetings from stressed out lawyer trying to wind down

The big issue with early retirement is health insurance, availability and cost. See if you can work with your firm to bridge to Medicare at least.

Making a plan with your spouse is very important. Remember you will have been busy away from home, now you two will be needing to share that space more. That is a BIG adjustment for her. The two of you need to plan together, maybe plan out two years at a time but dabble in various activities until you find a passion.
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Re: Greetings from stressed out lawyer trying to wind down
Old 03-27-2007, 03:27 AM   #4
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Re: Greetings from stressed out lawyer trying to wind down

I'm in the process of winding down. Done it by steps, and seems to be working out very well. Keep your key clients but stop taking new clients. Over a few years that will slow you down a bit as the cases work there way out of the system. Then start to farm the work out either to associates or partners. After a few more years, you'll be at a normal pace and wil find the idea of leaving the practice completely an appealing idea.
Tio z
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Re: Greetings from stressed out lawyer trying to wind down
Old 03-27-2007, 06:16 AM   #5
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Re: Greetings from stressed out lawyer trying to wind down

Welcome Caracol7. DW is in a situation much like yours. She has started backing down a bit and plans to drop her practice in about two years. She too worried about whether she would get bored with "nothing to do" but my example has reassured her. I went directly from a high stress job to work free overnight and have never been happier.

The other posts have already pointed it out but I will reiterate, the "80% rule" is ridiculous. If you are able to ER in your early fifties you have been saving a lot. Once you deduct your savings, your high tax rate, and, possibly, your mortgage payments, you begin to see that your actual spending is way down there. Go through all of your check ledgers, CC bills, etc for a year or two to get a feel for the reality. Don't forget to look around for infrequent expenditures - cars, roofs, major appliances. bath remodeling, etc and figure that in as an annualized expense. Google retirement expense check lists and review a few to see if they catch anything you forgot. And finally, bump up your travel budget by a lot -- you sound like you may need to.
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Re: Greetings from stressed out lawyer trying to wind down
Old 03-27-2007, 06:58 AM   #6
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Re: Greetings from stressed out lawyer trying to wind down

Guys - look at the avatar.

Well done .
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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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Re: Greetings from stressed out lawyer trying to wind down
Old 03-27-2007, 08:29 AM   #7
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Re: Greetings from stressed out lawyer trying to wind down

As I recall, a caracol is a snail- so OP must be winding down already, or he believes in "fake it until you make it".

Ha
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Re: Greetings from stressed out lawyer trying to wind down
Old 03-27-2007, 09:05 AM   #8
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Re: Greetings from stressed out lawyer trying to wind down

Welcome Caracol7!

I made the ER decision seven months ago. I had most of the same questions and anxieties you have mentioned. It got better for me pretty quickly.

ER doesn't have to be permanent. I can always go back to work if I decide I can't handle it. I haven't run out of money, either. My planning was better than I thought it was. Net worth is actually higher than it was when I ER'd. Of course, the market has bee favorable. The unstructured time has been a real gift. I am not bored. I have friends and activites to keep me engaged in life.

This forum has been very helpful to me.



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Re: Greetings from stressed out lawyer trying to wind down
Old 03-27-2007, 09:35 AM   #9
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Re: Greetings from stressed out lawyer trying to wind down

Welcome,
I retired five months ago.All my fellow nurses told me I'd be bored to death .So wrong ,I haven't been bored at all .I really enjoy life at a slower pace .Plus the opportunity to travel when and for how long I want is really appealing .
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Re: Greetings from stressed out lawyer trying to wind down
Old 03-27-2007, 09:42 AM   #10
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Re: Greetings from stressed out lawyer trying to wind down

Congrats on your plans to spend time in Mexico teaching and helping folks!

And Caracol is an awesome Maya site in Belize--I would love to spend time there or Tikal, helping the archaeologists learn more about the amazing Mayan heritage that so many push aside nowadays in favor of Hispanic heritage.

I would be interested in learning of your plans to teach/assist there--will it be through some organized group or will you be doing it on your own, through your own connections in Mexico?

Thanks and congrats again on winding down!

Sarah
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Re: Greetings from stressed out lawyer trying to wind down
Old 03-27-2007, 10:49 AM   #11
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Re: Greetings from stressed out lawyer trying to wind down

For extended travelling you may want to explore www.sabbaticalhomes.com or other homeswap organisations or look for homesitting opportunities.
Often it is not necessary to makt the swap from both sides.

I have not done it yet but might open my home for www.servas.org members.
www.hospitalityclub.org might also be useful.
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Re: Greetings from stressed out lawyer trying to wind down
Old 03-27-2007, 02:33 PM   #12
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Re: Greetings from stressed out lawyer trying to wind down

Sarah- -


I would go through an organization for my teaching trip to Mexico. These organizations charge a fee, but the fee often includes the room and board. They may make arrangement to have you live with a lcoal family or you might be in an apartment. I had a friend who lived with a local family in Guanajuato, and he loved it. Even considering the fee and travel expenses, I would spend less in three months in Mexico than I would living at home. Volunteer teachers spend about about 4 hours a day in class so you have plenty of leisure time. Even as a volunteer it helps to have a TESL / TEFL certificate. Companies like Oxford Seminars offer programs to get your certificate. If you are interested in learning more, you might want to check out websites such as globalvolunteers.org, transitionsabroad.com or volunteersabroad.com.
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