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My Retirement Story at Age 45
Old 11-20-2009, 03:57 PM   #1
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My Retirement Story at Age 45

First time poster here, having searched for forums on early retirement.

I retired last year (October 31) at the age of 45. I worked for 23 years in the actuarial field, the first 16 of them full-time and the last 7 of them part-time. I had an awful commute from where I lived on Long Island (New York) to Manhattan for the 16 full-time years and to Jersey City (New Jersey) for the part-time years. My company became a for-profit company in 1997 and I took a big company stock payout (about 300k) last year, invested it in a high-yield (not junk) bond fund to generate enough money (along with my other considerable savings) to cover my expenses with room to spare. I have an IRA from my old 401(k) which has bounced back nicely in the last 12 months. It has nearly 300k in it and it is waiting and growing until I can tap into it in 14 years. I have a frozen pension waiting for me, too, at age 65. So, all I have to do is live off my dividends for 14 more years until the "reinforcements" start arriving. Even if I have to tap into principal in 10 years that is okay. I checked this out with a financial advisor. Playing with numbers is something I became very good at in my 23 years in the actuarial field.

I have been debt-free since 1998, having paid off the mortgage on my co-op apartment. I found a decent and affordable individual health insurance policy last year. I bought a new car (a Toyota Corolla) in 2007. My monthly expenses are both affordable and mostly predictable. I am single and am childfree, the latter my biggest reason for being able to retire.

The last 12 months have been great. No more alarm clocks, no more trains, no more commute, no more office stuff (I actually liked the work most of the time, though), no more lousy lunches in New Jersey. Even working two days a week from mid-2007 to my final week at the end of October, 2008, was an awful experience, mainly because of the tiring, annoying, and often sickening commute.

Once I began working part-time in 2001, I was able to reclaim my life. I resurrected an old hobby (at night, something I had no energy to do while I worked full-time) and began doing volunteer work in several area schools as part of the school Scrabble program. Otherwise, I come and go as I please, including spending time with my ladyfriend of 5 years.

I am enjoying the start of my second year of retirement and look forward to many more.
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Old 11-20-2009, 04:21 PM   #2
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Congrats and welcome scrabbler1! Enjoy and live long.
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Old 11-20-2009, 04:25 PM   #3
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45.....I'm so jealous! We have 17 months to go and will FIRE at 55!

Welcome- so many share so much..great resource
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Old 11-20-2009, 05:23 PM   #4
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OK, what is the hobby which is done at night?
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Old 11-20-2009, 05:40 PM   #5
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The hobby is square dancing, something I first did when I was a teenager. Stopped and started it in the 1980s, then had a 13-year layoff because I got home from work too late and too pooped to do it in the 1990s. Now been back at it for 8 years.
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Old 11-21-2009, 01:31 AM   #6
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I was trying hard to visualize a square dancing actuary (complete with Stetson and cowboy boots) and then I realized it makes perfect sense, because square dancing is all about numbers and precision

Welcome to the Forum!
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Old 11-21-2009, 09:39 AM   #7
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Welcome to the forum!

Quote:
no more lousy lunches in New Jersey
What's with that? There's plenty of good food in NJ!
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Old 11-21-2009, 10:04 AM   #8
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Welcome to the forum!


What's with that? There's plenty of good food in NJ!
Yes, I remember all those wonderful meals in the Port of Newark.
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Old 11-21-2009, 10:36 AM   #9
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I was trying hard to visualize a square dancing actuary (complete with Stetson and cowboy boots) and then I realized it makes perfect sense, because square dancing is all about numbers and precision

Welcome to the Forum!
Thank you.

No, I don't wear a fancy hat or cowboy boots. Other than our club's special events and parties, we don't wear anything fancy. I do wear a string tie with my button-down shirt. I have a stylish western shirt but its material is too heavy and causes me to overheat sometimes, so I rarely if ever wear it any more. I wear short sleeved shirts most of the time to my dances, even in the winter.

I agree that my (prior, YAY!) professional interest in working with numbers coincides with my interest in square dancing. One of the best members of my clubs is a CPA.
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Old 11-21-2009, 10:40 AM   #10
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Welcome to the forum!


What's with that? There's plenty of good food in NJ!
My office was on Washington Blvd. in Jersey City, near the Newport Centre Mall. The mall's crummy food court was the nearest source of a quick lunch. I sometimes walked about a mile each way to a pretty good pizza place on Columbus Avenue. I would even take the PATH train into Manhattan to get some really good pizza (Ray's or Caruso's). But the nearby food was bad and expensive.
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Old 11-21-2009, 10:49 AM   #11
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Welcome to the board, Scrabbler.
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Old 11-21-2009, 12:46 PM   #12
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You sound remarkably like a guest poster at ERE/Jacob :-)

Welcome!

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Old 11-21-2009, 12:51 PM   #13
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You sound remarkably like a guest poster at ERE/Jacob :-)

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Yes, that is me! I have been branching out lately.
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Old 12-08-2009, 06:41 PM   #14
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46 yrs old here - and seems that I explain FIRE everyday and feel guilty for it.

Good luck
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Old 12-08-2009, 06:42 PM   #15
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oops - I see my avatar needs to be changed.
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Old 12-08-2009, 06:44 PM   #16
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oops - I see my avatar needs to be changed.
Why? Are you no longer a loyal Tiger Woods fan?
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Old 12-08-2009, 06:56 PM   #17
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One summer I commuted from Huntington to Manhattan (LIRR). Man, that is tough. You've paid your dues and deserve to retire.
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Old 12-09-2009, 05:16 PM   #18
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Can you shed some light on what your yearly expenses seem to be?
I am similar to you in profile and, while i've made my own calculations, i'd be interested
to see what some real life values have been for similar individuals.

Don't feel obligated to reply if you don't feel like sharing (or figuring it out)...
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Old 12-09-2009, 06:39 PM   #19
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mh, I posted this in another thread about the ER budget but I will repeat it here. If you want to know more, ask and I will try to answer.

My retirement budget is about $20k for 2009. It will rise to about $21k for 2010. I retired in late 2008.

$6k for co-op maintenance (includes prop taxes, co-op's mortgage interest, and other common charges).
$6k for health care.

No debts since I paid off my mortgage in 1998.

My total dividend (mostly bonds but some from stocks) income (not the irregular cap gains income) is about $30k so I am still well ahead.
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Old 12-10-2009, 07:26 AM   #20
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Sounds like you have everything well under control. Good work.

$30,000 is not a large income, but with your low annual expenses you obviously have a very significant (50%) cushion. One thing I don't quite understand: your 300K high-yield bond fund generates a 10% yield? I wonder if that is sustainable.

Square dancing is so wonderfully dorky that you obviously have a good sense of yourself and are not overly concerned with what other people might think: which makes you an excellent candidate for ER!

Welcome to the forum.
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