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Old 07-09-2017, 01:19 PM   #1
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Hi -- I'm NEW & Trying to Plan for Retirment

Just turned 56 and I hope to be able to work for 10 more years. Husband lost his job in 2010 at age 52 and has been unable to find direct hire work since then. So we have had at least every year since then half a year of unemployment with him.

I'm currently saving my max in my 401K, I have 2 kids to get thur college and have only about 208K in our 401K for retirement as we had to use husbands 401K to live on for a few years after he was downsized.

We will have one pension that will give us $15K a year and one that will give us $1,200

What can we do know to save more? Husband currently has a contract job till September and then I will have to reduce my 401K contributions due to paying all the bills again. He has not contributed to a 401K since 2010.

I have suggested selling our house to have less costs. I looked on the SS website and I would get $2,500 per month & husband would get $2,000
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Old 07-09-2017, 02:01 PM   #2
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Welcome sugarcubesea! Sounds like you and your DH have a difficult financial situation. In terms of saving more, there are really only two ways: earn more, or spend less.

Ideas:
- Could one or both of you (and the kids) take on additional part-time work? Even if DH can't find consistent employment in his preferred line of work, there are jobs out there to help pay the bills so you can save for retirement.
- You say you have 2 kids to put thru college - most folks here would say at your age you should be focusing on saving for retirement and not paying for most of their college expenses.
- Tracking every $$ you spend for a year can be very helpful at identifying non-essential expenses that can be cut or reduced. There are a number of threads here with ideas for this as well.

If you haven't found them already, we also have a helpful list of things to think about in preparing for retirement:

Some Important Questions to Answer
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Old 07-09-2017, 02:21 PM   #3
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- You say you have 2 kids to put thru college - most folks here would say at your age you should be focusing on saving for retirement and not paying for most of their college expenses.
I agree with this. The kids, if they have to, can and will find other ways to get to college. You don't have that option for retirement because you don't have the time left that they do. The kids can go in the military, get scholarships, work full time and go to college part time, or go to a community college for the first two years and perhaps get a "bootstrap job" with an AA degree that will pay enough to get them through the next two years of school. If they want a degree bad enough, they will find a way.

The "semi-adopted" (long story) daughter of a family member went into the Navy partially for that reason and she just got back from Bahrain.
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Old 07-09-2017, 03:00 PM   #4
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I agree with this. The kids, if they have to, can and will find other ways to get to college. You don't have that option for retirement because you don't have the time left that they do. The kids can go in the military, get scholarships, work full time and go to college part time, or go to a community college for the first two years and perhaps get a "bootstrap job" with an AA degree that will pay enough to get them through the next two years of school. If they want a degree bad enough, they will find a way.

The "semi-adopted" (long story) daughter of a family member went into the Navy partially for that reason and she just got back from Bahrain.
Walt and MB are spot on about YOUR retirement and your KIDS college. You have very few years to secure your retirement; your kids have ample time to figure out a way to pay for THEIR education (many examples listed). While actually paying for many things today (education and medical care come to mind) seems entirely out of fashion, it can be done.

Your DH is finding employment opportunities limited /lacking and the day will come (soon) when you either can't, or don't wish, to work.

Your ~$200K (at present value w/4% WR) will add about $650/mo to your retirement. While not a kingly sum, it ain't chicken feed.

Best wishes and I hope things work out. But please research advice on college $$ or retirement $$ in later years. I think you'll find strong consensus on the best difficult choice.
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Old 07-09-2017, 03:15 PM   #5
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Ditto on the welcomes, Sugarcubesea! This is the best place to come for sound, practical advice on retirement prep, because it features lots of people who have successfully done it. (That would NOT be me, not yet at least. I've still got a couple of years to go.) I'll offer some encouragement that some of their stories mirror yours, where they had some tall hurdles to overcome.

But with patience and wisdom they got through the trials and today they share their inspirational lessons with us. And did I mention that it's FREE!

OTOH, living isn't free. Food, shelter, insurance, toothpaste, aspirin... all those things cost some money. It isn't possible to know when you can RE until you know how much you'll need. However, the first step in managing expenses is to identify them. If you haven't already been doing it, start tracking your spending. Know where every nickel goes. The more exact you can make it, the better your plan will be.

Also, don't underestimate the knowledge and insight that YOU will be bringing to this board! I look forward to reading your posts along our common journey.
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Old 07-09-2017, 03:48 PM   #6
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What does your husband earn for 1/2 the year? Would he be better switching vocations to earn more for the whole year, or lower his asking price so he can work all year and produce more income although at a lower rate? Case in point, my neighbor has been out of work for 5 years this spring that passed. He is a graphic artist. I think he threw around the 30 and hour range. he picks up maybe 4 weeks a year work.So the math is $30 x 40 hrs x 5 weeks= $6,000. My mother about 4 years ago told him the supermarket was hiring (i assume minimum wage) 8 x 40 x 52= 16,640. thats 50k he didnt earn. Im sure your numbers are way different but I was showing a real life example.
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Old 07-09-2017, 04:40 PM   #7
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Hi, Sugar,

Welcome to the ER forum. This is the best place to ask and learn information. Folks do not sugar coat here and it's all for free.

You do not mention ages of your kids. They're probably of age to earn some money themselves to help you with expenses. Do you pay for their own clothes and phone bills? Either they can cover such expenses themselves or limit spending to a minimum or quit spending altogether on such stuff. This is just one of the examples. You shouldn't promise to pay for their education either. They can get loans (hopefully at reasonable rates) or a scholarship perhaps but nobody will loan you money for retirement.

It looks like that you must work hard to stay afloat until you're both of FRA because your SS benefits sound not too shabby.

Also assess if it's better to sell your house or maybe consider renting a room or two for students. You say you live in Ann Arbor after all.
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Old 07-11-2017, 05:36 AM   #8
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Hi, Sugar,

Welcome to the ER forum. This is the best place to ask and learn information. Folks do not sugar coat here and it's all for free.

You do not mention ages of your kids. They're probably of age to earn some money themselves to help you with expenses. Do you pay for their own clothes and phone bills? Either they can cover such expenses themselves or limit spending to a minimum or quit spending altogether on such stuff. This is just one of the examples. You shouldn't promise to pay for their education either. They can get loans (hopefully at reasonable rates) or a scholarship perhaps but nobody will loan you money for retirement.

It looks like that you must work hard to stay afloat until you're both of FRA because your SS benefits sound not too shabby.


Also assess if it's better to sell your house or maybe consider renting a room or two for students. You say you live in Ann Arbor after all.
My kids are 18 and 21. I'm looking to sell my house next year to downsize
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Old 07-11-2017, 05:39 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by sugarcubesea View Post
Just turned 56 and I hope to be able to work for 10 more years. Husband lost his job in 2010 at age 52 and has been unable to find direct hire work since then. So we have had at least every year since then half a year of unemployment with him.

I'm currently saving my max in my 401K, I have 2 kids to get thur college and have only about 208K in our 401K for retirement as we had to use husbands 401K to live on for a few years after he was downsized.

We will have one pension that will give us $15K a year and one that will give us $1,200

What can we do know to save more? Husband currently has a contract job till September and then I will have to reduce my 401K contributions due to paying all the bills again. He has not contributed to a 401K since 2010.

I have suggested selling our house to have less costs. I looked on the SS website and I would get $2,500 per month & husband would get $2,000
At his age of 60, I don't think he will have much success in changing vocations, as we don't have the money to send him back to school. He is in Finance / Accounting. If he could just find and retain a direct hire job for 5 years we could be doing so much better.
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Old 07-11-2017, 06:30 AM   #10
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It sounds like you are on track for a full retirement age retirement. It's hard to say without knowing your expenses.

If your husband has not worked since 2010, other than sporadically, he does not want to. There are plenty of things a person can do to make extra money. It may not be his career field, but anyone with an ounce of ambition would be able to find work.

As an IT person who mowed grass, plowed snow, did handyman work, sold items on eBay, etc. to make extra money, I have no sympathy for someone that cannot find a job. I have even hired people, and found that far too many people do not like to work. If your serious about saving money, pick up a side gig that pays.

Do not reduce your 401K contributions. Live with the money you make. Eat red beans and rice if you have to, with hot dogs mixed in for special occasions.

Downsizing seems to be a must here. A lower standard of living is probably warranted. Children can be on their own for College and get grants. Community college is certainly a first choice, over a full 4-year college.

It's only when you get the fire in your belly to quit work, that you get the ambition to do what it takes.
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Old 07-11-2017, 07:22 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by sugarcubesea View Post
Just turned 56 and I hope to be able to work for 10 more years. Husband lost his job in 2010 at age 52 and has been unable to find direct hire work since then. So we have had at least every year since then half a year of unemployment with him.

I'm currently saving my max in my 401K, I have 2 kids to get thur college and have only about 208K in our 401K for retirement as we had to use husbands 401K to live on for a few years after he was downsized.

We will have one pension that will give us $15K a year and one that will give us $1,200

What can we do know to save more? Husband currently has a contract job till September and then I will have to reduce my 401K contributions due to paying all the bills again. He has not contributed to a 401K since 2010.

I have suggested selling our house to have less costs. I looked on the SS website and I would get $2,500 per month & husband would get $2,000
Things to consider:
- have a long talk with your kids. Explain your financial situation and that they may need to take out their own loans. You cannot get a loan for retirement.
- If your husband is only working 1/2 a year, he needs to find himself a paying job for the other half of the year. There are plenty of jobs out there for folks who are willing - doing taxes, landscaping, perhaps a supermarket. It's not clear why he has had so much unemployment for the past 6-7 years. Earning something is better than earning nothing.
- Your SS numbers - are they for FRA? If so, run the numbers to see what would happen if you waited until 70. You would be getting a higher benefit for life (at the cost of not receiving anything for a few years).
- If you sell your house, would you downsize to a smaller home? Or rent? Do you have a mortgage? How much equity?
- Some folks work part-time in retirement.

Overall, you need to assess what income you need in retirement to get by. Then you can compare that to your estimates of what income you'll actually have. That will help you determine when you might be able to retire.
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Old 07-11-2017, 07:47 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by sugarcubesea View Post
At his age of 60, I don't think he will have much success in changing vocations, as we don't have the money to send him back to school. He is in Finance / Accounting. If he could just find and retain a direct hire job for 5 years we could be doing so much better.
I'm not sure what "direct hire job" means.

If he can't find a consistent job, then it might be time to resolve yourself to the fact that he was in Finance / Accounting and move on to something else.

There's no need to pay for school - plenty of jobs exist that would be better than sitting around unemployed for half of each year.

Where I live, plenty of folks 60 and older work for supermarkets, hardware stores, warehouse stores, etc.
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Old 07-11-2017, 07:58 AM   #13
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It sounds like you are on track for a full retirement age retirement. It's hard to say without knowing your expenses.

If your husband has not worked since 2010, other than sporadically, he does not want to. There are plenty of things a person can do to make extra money. It may not be his career field, but anyone with an ounce of ambition would be able to find work.

As an IT person who mowed grass, plowed snow, did handyman work, sold items on eBay, etc. to make extra money, I have no sympathy for someone that cannot find a job. I have even hired people, and found that far too many people do not like to work. If your serious about saving money, pick up a side gig that pays.

Do not reduce your 401K contributions. Live with the money you make. Eat red beans and rice if you have to, with hot dogs mixed in for special occasions.

Downsizing seems to be a must here. A lower standard of living is probably warranted. Children can be on their own for College and get grants. Community college is certainly a first choice, over a full 4-year college.

It's only when you get the fire in your belly to quit work, that you get the ambition to do what it takes.
Sugarcubesea, I concur with Senator. When my first post military career contract job ended I tried ER. For those 8 months I umpired baseball games (150 games/yr @ $65/game), reffereed volleyball matches (30 matches @ $115/match) and worked the door at a local bar for $75 one night per week. I turned down gig at the local auto salvage yard and another gig delivering auto parts for the local Fischer auto parts store. Plenty of volunteer gigs have side perks like free food, etc... Where there is a will there is a way. 10' if not 100's of ways to make some $. Your husband should be able to utilize at least of few of those. Good luck. It can be down. Hope it all works out for you and you can ER.
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Old 07-11-2017, 08:13 AM   #14
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I don't think your situation is all that dire. Sure, it would be nice to have more savings at this point. But your combined SS is $54K/yr. Two pensions take that up to $70K. Work a few more years with a target of getting savings up to maybe $400K and that will provide another $16K/yr (4% WR), taking the total to $86K. Lots of people here live on far less than that.

Lots of unanswered questions though, like what age were those SS figures for? What age can you collect the pensions and are they COLA'd? What are your current expenses? How much are you planning to help with college expenses? Do you enjoy work or are you mentally ready to retire soon? Sounds like your husband already is.

I guess if I were in your situation, I'd be looking at all these details very carefully and developing a plan for retiring at, say, 62. Plan out the timing and amount of income streams each year and then ask yourself if that's enough to support your desired lifestyle.

I also think it's critically important to build a bottoms-up projection of spending after you retire, including how that will change over time. I've found that many people over-estimate how much they actually need based on some percentage of working income, and then under-estimate how much spending goes away after they stop working with no change in lifestyle.

Put this all together and I think you'll feel better that you at least have a sufficient handle on the details so that you can decide on current actions with more confidence, like whether to downsize the house, or what level of support you can provide the kids for college without jeopardizing your own future.
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Old 07-11-2017, 11:21 AM   #15
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52 and with a background in Finance/Accounting? Is there more to this story? The hard truth is your DH has spent most of his 50's..which should be prime earning time..under or unemployed.

Are you planning to use the rest of the 401 money to pay for college? I don't see how you have the funds to help your kids thru school, how are you funding the 21 year old?You inferred that your income alone can't pay the bills, since you had to deplete your DH 401 to get by moneywise.
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Old 07-14-2017, 11:44 AM   #16
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I don't think your situation is all that dire. Sure, it would be nice to have more savings at this point. But your combined SS is $54K/yr. Two pensions take that up to $70K. Work a few more years with a target of getting savings up to maybe $400K and that will provide another $16K/yr (4% WR), taking the total to $86K. Lots of people here live on far less than that.

Lots of unanswered questions though, like what age were those SS figures for? What age can you collect the pensions and are they COLA'd? What are your current expenses? How much are you planning to help with college expenses? Do you enjoy work or are you mentally ready to retire soon? Sounds like your husband already is.

I guess if I were in your situation, I'd be looking at all these details very carefully and developing a plan for retiring at, say, 62. Plan out the timing and amount of income streams each year and then ask yourself if that's enough to support your desired lifestyle.

I also think it's critically important to build a bottoms-up projection of spending after you retire, including how that will change over time. I've found that many people over-estimate how much they actually need based on some percentage of working income, and then under-estimate how much spending goes away after they stop working with no change in lifestyle.

Put this all together and I think you'll feel better that you at least have a sufficient handle on the details so that you can decide on current actions with more confidence, like whether to downsize the house, or what level of support you can provide the kids for college without jeopardizing your own future.
#1

You will have an above average retirement income with your pension and social security. Run your expenses without children Lower taxes no fica no children to support. Should be fine.
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Old 07-15-2017, 07:26 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by Mdlerth View Post
Ditto on the welcomes, Sugarcubesea! This is the best place to come for sound, practical advice on retirement prep, because it features lots of people who have successfully done it. (That would NOT be me, not yet at least. I've still got a couple of years to go.) I'll offer some encouragement that some of their stories mirror yours, where they had some tall hurdles to overcome.

But with patience and wisdom they got through the trials and today they share their inspirational lessons with us. And did I mention that it's FREE!

OTOH, living isn't free. Food, shelter, insurance, toothpaste, aspirin... all those things cost some money. It isn't possible to know when you can RE until you know how much you'll need. However, the first step in managing expenses is to identify them. If you haven't already been doing it, start tracking your spending. Know where every nickel goes. The more exact you can make it, the better your plan will be.

Also, don't underestimate the knowledge and insight that YOU will be bringing to this board! I look forward to reading your posts along our common journey.
I have always had a budget and I'm pretty good at sticking to it, occasionally a sale will warrant me going off, but the savings to buy staple items are worth it in the long run. Thank you for the nice welcome to the boards...
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Old 07-15-2017, 07:34 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by joeea View Post
Things to consider:
- have a long talk with your kids. Explain your financial situation and that they may need to take out their own loans. You cannot get a loan for retirement.
- If your husband is only working 1/2 a year, he needs to find himself a paying job for the other half of the year. There are plenty of jobs out there for folks who are willing - doing taxes, landscaping, perhaps a supermarket. It's not clear why he has had so much unemployment for the past 6-7 years. Earning something is better than earning nothing.
- Your SS numbers - are they for FRA? If so, run the numbers to see what would happen if you waited until 70. You would be getting a higher benefit for life (at the cost of not receiving anything for a few years).
- If you sell your house, would you downsize to a smaller home? Or rent? Do you have a mortgage? How much equity?
- Some folks work part-time in retirement.

Overall, you need to assess what income you need in retirement to get by. Then you can compare that to your estimates of what income you'll actually have. That will help you determine when you might be able to retire.
I also have great difficulty understanding why he can not get and keep a direct hire job. He graduated from a prestigious school for his undergrad degree in finance/accounting. When he was laid off during the great recession, it took him 13 months to find a contract position and its been contract positions ever since. He had a direct hire job in 2015 that last a year and a half and then it took him 5 months to find another contract job. He is overweight and his confidence is gone
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Old 07-15-2017, 07:35 AM   #19
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I'm not sure what "direct hire job" means.

If he can't find a consistent job, then it might be time to resolve yourself to the fact that he was in Finance / Accounting and move on to something else.

There's no need to pay for school - plenty of jobs exist that would be better than sitting around unemployed for half of each year.

Where I live, plenty of folks 60 and older work for supermarkets, hardware stores, warehouse stores, etc.
A direct hire job is one with benefits, 401K and vacation time. A contract position is temporary and has no benefits.
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Old 07-15-2017, 07:42 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by Cobra9777 View Post
I don't think your situation is all that dire. Sure, it would be nice to have more savings at this point. But your combined SS is $54K/yr. Two pensions take that up to $70K. Work a few more years with a target of getting savings up to maybe $400K and that will provide another $16K/yr (4% WR), taking the total to $86K. Lots of people here live on far less than that.

Lots of unanswered questions though, like what age were those SS figures for? What age can you collect the pensions and are they COLA'd? What are your current expenses? How much are you planning to help with college expenses? Do you enjoy work or are you mentally ready to retire soon? Sounds like your husband already is.

I guess if I were in your situation, I'd be looking at all these details very carefully and developing a plan for retiring at, say, 62. Plan out the timing and amount of income streams each year and then ask yourself if that's enough to support your desired lifestyle.

I also think it's critically important to build a bottoms-up projection of spending after you retire, including how that will change over time. I've found that many people over-estimate how much they actually need based on some percentage of working income, and then under-estimate how much spending goes away after they stop working with no change in lifestyle.

Put this all together and I think you'll feel better that you at least have a sufficient handle on the details so that you can decide on current actions with more confidence, like whether to downsize the house, or what level of support you can provide the kids for college without jeopardizing your own future.
  1. The SS figure were for 66 & 8 months for husband and 67 for me.
  2. Pension amounts quoted above come in at age 65. Since my pension is for only $100 month I want to start that exactly at 65.
  3. God Willing, I plan to work till 67 if my company lets me. (thankfully I work for a Japanese company that values the mature worker)
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