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Hello from metabasalt
Old 03-30-2008, 02:26 PM   #1
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Hello from metabasalt

Hi,

I just wanted to introduce myself. I've looked at this forum off and on over the last year as I think about retirement/early retirement. As I'm about 59.5 and my wife is 60 I'm not sure if we'll be retirees or early-retirees. But the status of our industry and my own desires (less so my wife's) tend toward early retiree.

Both of us spent much of our early years working part-time and pursuing our own interests. For me it was primarily art. For my wife (I hate to speak for her, but I'm going to make an educated guess) I'd say it was being out in nature. In any case we came late to full time work in the publishing industry. That's also where we met. Since we were such late arrivals to full time work I never thought that retirement would be anything other than something we just didn't want to think about.

But a number of years ago I decided we needed to start investigating it a bit. Over time I've realized that we are actually in fairly good financial shape for retirement and possibly early retirement. A decent pension for both of us helps as well as the decision to max out our 401 contributions as best we could starting about 5 years ago. I think the fact that we live somewhat frugally now and also have lived very frugally in the past also gives me hope. I expect that at anytime we can cut at least 5-10% from our budget if we need to.

I'd say that for at least a year and probably longer I'm continually reminded of my younger days when I worked part-time and had much of the day free for art, reading, being outside or whatever.

I chose the name 'metabasalt' because it reminded me of my recent interest in geology. It's not a particularly scientific interest, just one of natural curiosity about the world I live in. Each day I find that I'm really more interested in being outside, engaging the natural world, either just through walking, birding (another fulltime hobby), reading about it, or through drawing and painting, and less interested in going to work.

I also realize, as I'm sure many here do, that a declining interest in work is not reason enough in itself to retire early. Well it may be reason enough, but I doubt that it will pay the bills! So I hope I don't sound too naive about our plans.

Well that's it. I'm sure I'll have many questions. I hope to start spending more time on the forums than I have in the past. You seem like a smart, friendly group that have made some smart decisions about your lives. I look forward to getting to know you better.

metabasalt
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Old 03-30-2008, 03:03 PM   #2
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Welcome. IMO this is the time to examine your financial situation and see what income you can expect to receive if you were to: severe employment completely; or, work part time. Next, set up a retirement budget estimating your expenses. Third, start implementing you new budget. (Make sure you have a safety net to allow for shortfalls in income and emergency expenditures.) After living on your "retirement" budget for about 1 year and making adjustments to it, you should have a good idea what you can or can not do.
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Old 03-30-2008, 10:11 PM   #3
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Thanks, packrat44.

I have a pretty good idea of our income: pension, severance, social security in 1.5-2.5 years, and withdrawals from our savings if need be. I've also tracked our expenses closely over the last year or more. With SS our income should more or less cover our expenses, though we won't be eligible for it until at least 1.5 years. But the pension is currently frozen, has no inflation adjustments and I always wonder about underestimating medical costs. I've used FireCalc off and on over last year and it always shows us able to quit right now, assuming that we get both pension and severance and that I haven't horribly underestimated our expenses.

My biggest concern is medical costs. We won't be covered by our pension but should be eligible for COBRA once we leave work. I read last week that we will be eligible for HIPAA once COBRA runs out but I really need to investigate that in depth. It's not the sort of thing I want to make a mistake about. Somewhere buried away in my papers is a COBRA cost estimate for my wife when she considered a buy out(no longer an option sad to say) a couple of years ago. I need to find that just to get some idea of what COBRA would cost even though I'm sure the costs have gone up significantly.

I think your idea of making an early retirement budget and trying to live on it for a year is a great idea. I know what we've spent in past and what I think will spend in future but I'm sure it's a good idea to actually force ourselves to do it. That does bring it less out of the realm of theory and into the realm of actually doing it. If we can do it, esp. some extra economizing, I'm sure it will make ER all the more possible and all the more tantalizing. Nothing like going from theory to reality.

One other uncertainty is part-time work. I think both of us would be happy to do some part-time work. We just don't know how likely it is that we could find work that we like, even at greatly reduced pay, given our age. And I'm working on my art as a business but don't know how much money I'll ever make from that. I'm hoping that I can but I really haven't tested it yet. It is something I hope to continue to devote more time to between now and when we finally do pull the plug. So many things to keep investigating............

Thanks again for your thoughts,

metabasalt
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Old 03-30-2008, 10:36 PM   #4
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Medical cost is the largest unknown. If you can get a hold of it you will be in good shape to know what you can or can not do.

DW retired last July. I retired 2 years ago this July. While there have been variations in some of the individual pockets of expenditures, our total yearly expenditures have been very close to the total projection.
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Old 03-30-2008, 11:19 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by metabasalt View Post
My biggest concern is medical costs. We won't be covered by our pension but should be eligible for COBRA once we leave work. I read last week that we will be eligible for HIPAA once COBRA runs out but I really need to investigate that in depth. It's not the sort of thing I want to make a mistake about. Somewhere buried away in my papers is a COBRA cost estimate for my wife when she considered a buy out(no longer an option sad to say) a couple of years ago. I need to find that just to get some idea of what COBRA would cost even though I'm sure the costs have gone up significantly.
I just went through this drill a few months ago. Your COBRA insurance costs will be set by the deal your current employer has with the insurance company or HMO, so your best source to find the 2008 costs will be to contact your HR/Benefits person at your employer.
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Old 03-31-2008, 08:04 AM   #6
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Thanks,

Though I think people know that I'm not thrilled with work these days I hate to advertise it by going to HR and asking what the current costs of COBRA is. I say this because there have been a lot of layoffs recently and I don't have much doubt that there will be more. So though I'm thinking of leaving I'd prefer to do it at the time of my choosing, not by being laid off. Still it would be good to know what the real current costs are and it looks like this is the best way to do it.

I'll need to talk this over with DW............... I guess when it becomes important enough to us we won't worry about how it looks to HR or what the consequences might be.

Quote:
Originally Posted by M Paquette View Post
I just went through this drill a few months ago. Your COBRA insurance costs will be set by the deal your current employer has with the insurance company or HMO, so your best source to find the 2008 costs will be to contact your HR/Benefits person at your employer.
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