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Newby on the List--Can I retire??
Old 01-29-2006, 12:31 PM   #1
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Newby on the List--Can I retire??

I have been a lurker for sometime but more and more I am thinking about retirement.* *I have read lots of the posts and some ideas but let me provide some specifics in my situation.

My wife and are 58 and both have worked in professional positions all our careers.* About a year and a half ago we moved to a smallish town in the midwest, and she has not been able to find a full-time job, despite assurances from my current employer (higher education).* I think ageism as raised its ugly head!!* *I am really getting tired of the rat race and petty people.
*
We have no debts and everything is paid for (including house, car, etc.).* We have no children.

Our assets are approximately:

Retirement (TIAA-CREF):* *little over $1M for both of us
Savings Bonds (Mix of Series
* *E --or is it H?and I):* * * * $125,000 or so
Vanguard (mostly STAR
* *and some money market-
* *yes, I know too converative):* $130,000
IRAs (most now in TIAA-CREF)* * $40,000
CDs* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *$10,000
Bank Accounts:* * * * * * * * * * * * * * $15,000
Farmland* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *$500,000 est (with return about $30,000 before property tax and income taxes)

* *House:* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *$240,000

Our total assets are a bit of $2 M but, of course the house is not income producting.

The TIAA-CREF has a mix of stocks, bonds, real estate, etc.
The farmland is inherited and not for sale, but I consider it a risky investment...so I do not take a lot of risks in other areas.

Well, folks, you know more about my finances than my closest friends and relatives.* My biggest worry is health insurance and later long term care insurance.* Probably a question only I can answer is can a retire, enjoy life, quit risking my health over stress, etc.* Any thoughts recommendations.* Be kind on a newby now!!!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

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Re: Newby on the List--Can I retire??
Old 01-29-2006, 02:28 PM   #2
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Re: Newby on the List--Can I retire??

Welcome, bookman,

Your financial situation looks pretty good as a place to start, but early retirement seems to be a new idea for you. You need to take some time to become comfortable with the idea. Make some plans--make a several different plans--and talk about them with each other. Get used to the idea of taking care of yourselves financially. Figure out what you would like to do with your time.

Much of your assets are not very liquid. What are the restrictions on 'early access' to your TIAA-CREF retirement accounts? If they are like IRAs, you can set up an stream of payments the size of which is set by the government using the 72T rule. Off the top of my head, for your age today, it looks as if you could withdraw roughly $30,000/year immediately. That should give you a little feeling of security. You could live on the beach somewhere now or live where you want and get a garden variety job to make up whatever difference you need to feel comfortable.

If it was me, I would think about selling the house, investing the money and renting somewhere cheap, but that isn't for everyone.

Since you see the farmland as a risky investment, ignore it as an asset. Don't count it. Don't count on the income, either. Treat it as a windfall and put it away separately. Then take another look at your balance sheet.

You seem a little timid with respect to equities (stocks and stock mutual funds). You cannot afford to retire early without something to guard against inflation--equities. At least one of you could live another 35 years. If all you have is CDs and money market funds, you are going to run out of money someday. I suggest reading this little website from front to back:

http://www.coffeehouseinvestor.com/

Also, buy the little book he wrote. The message is simple but powerful. You can do it yourself. Also, read John Greaney's very helpful website:

http://www.retireearlyhomepage.com/

John has a lot (as in large amount) of good stuff there and has inspired us all (well, most of us).

I am guessing that you might be a target for an annuity salesman. Teacher-types usually are. If you are up to handling your own investments, you don't need an annuity. They are expensive. However, if you need one for emotional reasons, you can get pretty good ones from Vanguard. Don't run off and turn everything into an annuity, though. A small one could give you enough of a feeling of security that you can tackle equities without fear.

Good luck. You can do it.

Cheers,

Ed The Gypsy
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Re: Newby on the List--Can I retire??
Old 01-29-2006, 02:47 PM   #3
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Re: Newby on the List--Can I retire??

Bookman, one thing I do not see is any mention of living expenses. What would your living expenses be in retirement (lower taxes, no need to save, no work expenses, but likely higher entertainment and healthcare expenses)?

I see about $1.2 million in liquid assets, plus the farmland and the home. I would not count the home, unless you plan on downsizing. Do you net any income on the farmland? Looks like you could pull ~$48k from the liquid assets, plus whatever you net from the farmland. Your income taxes would be really low (probably in the 15% federal bracket).

You are in luck doing business with TIAA-CREF. They have a long history of doing right by their investors and for their core customers (higher ed, hospital, non-profit, etc.), they have some products that are unbeatable on price. They also tend to give pretty good advice. I would call them and ask what your options are if you choose to annuitize part or all of your account balances. Is the money in TIAA traditional fixed annuites, or CREF variable sub-accounts?

As you have guessed, the biggest expense variable is probably health insurance. The good news is that you only have to make it another 6 or 7 years on your own until Medicaid kicks in. You should probably start looking into what is available and how much it will cost, and this varies A LOT from state to state. To give you an idea, I got quotes on a policy where I live (NJ) and where my in-laws live (CO). In NJ, the policies started at $900 a month and climbed quickly. In CO, they started under $200 a month.
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Re: Newby on the List--Can I retire??
Old 01-29-2006, 04:03 PM   #4
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Re: Newby on the List--Can I retire??

To obtain information about health insurance options in your state, look at www.healthinsuranceinfo.net.

You can get insurance quotes through www.ehealthinsurance.com.

Health insurance pricing and coverage varies extensively from state to state. However, you do have some rights under federal law (HIPAA) when moving from your group plan, into COBRA continuation coverage, and then into an individual plan.
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Re: Newby on the List--Can I retire??
Old 01-29-2006, 04:40 PM   #5
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Re: Newby on the List--Can I retire??

Thanks for the thoughts.* There are more options through TIAA-CREF than I can comprehend regarding allocation of assets and how to set up payouts.* *However, I have an opportunity to meet with the representatives monthly and have been watching my investments there.* *

The farmland kicks off around $24,000 annually after property taxes, and then there are still income taxes.* The farmland is not liquid.* I do cash rent it so the income is some what steady. However, I still consider agricultural land not a great investment, but since it came down through the family I am keeping it.

The house is not income producing but also not a huge expense.* Taxes is about $3,000 a year.* It is a relatively new house so not much upkeep (now).* *Depending on the housing bubble (less here in the Midwest) I assume there will be some continued appreciation.* * *Also, it includes a small acreage, which will give me something to do in my retirement.* Of course, like the farmland, if I had to sell it at any particular time, I could get burnt.

Also,* thanks for the lead on the coffeehouseinvestor.* I will take a look at it.* I am hoping in retirement I will have time to manage my investments better.* So far in my career my work as occupied a lot of my time and I have been probably overly cautious (although careful to save and not spend) in investing.*

Yes, as probably will many professionals, I would not mind continuing to write and do some consulting, but I am just getting weary of the daily grind of meetings, unhappy staff, everyone wanting a piece of my time, etc.* *I have never had a lack of various interests outside my work---just time to pursue them.* *

The leads on health insurance are great.* *I get the feeling if I continue as I am, I will need health insurance more than I want.

Living expenses...gotta think about that for awhile.*

Anyway,* thanks for plenty of things to think about, and I welcome further thoughts.

bookman*
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Re: Newby on the List--Can I retire??
Old 01-29-2006, 05:04 PM   #6
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Re: Newby on the List--Can I retire??

Hey, Part-time is a thought. I see classroom faculty doing that late in their career. Teach a class or two they like and avoid committee work, etc. It is a little harder for administrator types like me. I would have to thnk about the trade-offs. Still have an income and some benefits but it probably would be a big drop in income and a reduction in flexibility without completing getting away from the hassles I want. Maybe I just need a winter vacation!!
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Re: Newby on the List--Can I retire??
Old 01-29-2006, 08:44 PM   #7
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Re: Newby on the List--Can I retire??

Bookman51...

It's not about how much you have, it's about how much you spend.* There is one poster who decided to take to the road on less than $1000 a month and is having the adventure of a lifetime. (http://vagabonders-supreme.net/BudgetInfo.htm) Then there are others who think you need millions of dollars in the bank.* Personally, I think it is an individual call--there is no set amount that determines if you will be happy, or secure, in retirement.

If you are worried about health issues, get some good insurance. Otherwise, don't fret over it..."Just Do It".

Good luck,
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Re: Newby on the List--Can I retire??
Old 01-30-2006, 09:34 AM   #8
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Re: Newby on the List--Can I retire??

Yes, you of course are right.* I looked at the site and I got to admire someone who can live on so little.* I just have to do some serious rethinking as to my priorities and lifestyle.* *And most of those issues probably do not relate to finances.* *No doubt I have my ego tied up with my job, and I have to do some thinking about what really makes me and those around me happy.* *
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Re: Newby on the List--Can I retire??
Old 01-30-2006, 10:31 AM   #9
 
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Re: Newby on the List--Can I retire??

bookman, you inherited the farmland, you have no heirs, so why are you keeping it?

You and your wife might consider teaching ESL overseas, Southern Europe, Asia etc, or you can get an extended Retirees Visa to Australia, your $US is about 30% higher?

You are at a great age to seize some changes, do it while you still have each other and your health.

Good Luck.

Oh yea, Yes, provided to live fairly frugally.
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Re: Newby on the List--Can I retire??
Old 01-30-2006, 04:53 PM   #10
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Re: Newby on the List--Can I retire??

We have heirs, just not children. Teaching sounds too much like work, although I know people who are teaching ESL overseas and love it. Don't mind work but I want to enjoy what I am doing...then it is not work!!
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Re: Newby on the List--Can I retire??
Old 02-03-2006, 09:39 AM   #11
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Re: Newby on the List--Can I retire??

How do you get that kind of return off farmland? We have about 50 acres and don't recieve much.
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Re: Newby on the List--Can I retire??
Old 02-03-2006, 10:51 AM   #12
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Re: Newby on the List--Can I retire??

I don't know how the quality of the land and what is raised on it compares with yours, but the short answer is that farmland is more than 50 acres.
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Re: Newby on the List--Can I retire??
Old 02-03-2006, 02:56 PM   #13
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Re: Newby on the List--Can I retire??

I reread my message, and what I meant to say is that the farmland I have is more than 50 acres. I did not mean to imply that one needed more than 50 acres to have a farm.
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Re: Newby on the List--Can I retire??
Old 02-03-2006, 03:05 PM   #14
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Re: Newby on the List--Can I retire??

Hi bookman51,

Welcome a-board! I got a chuckle out of "Can I retire??". You likely need to reposition some of your assets. You'll figure that out by seeing how others here have done it and picking a style that suits you.

If you're looking for someone to talk you out of retiring, this isn't the place

Best of luck!

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Re: Newby on the List--Can I retire??
Old 02-03-2006, 11:57 PM   #15
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Re: Newby on the List--Can I retire??

Can you put some of your land into reserve and get Ag payments? Before my wife's family sold their farm, they were getting about 10%
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Re: Newby on the List--Can I retire??
Old 02-06-2006, 02:48 PM   #16
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Re: Newby on the List--Can I retire??

Well, I did ask "can I retire" not "may I retire."* * *Sounds like I have to decide some lifestyle choices and check into health insurance.* *I am not worried about being bored.* I have to many things I want to do now and don't have time.* Thanks for the words of wisdom.
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Re: Newby on the List--Can I retire??
Old 02-06-2006, 02:50 PM   #17
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Re: Newby on the List--Can I retire??

For some of the acreage that might be a plan.* *It is a mix of dryland and irrigated land.* *For the dryland putting it in CPR might be a way to go.* Thanks for the thought.
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Re: Newby on the List--Can I retire??
Old 02-07-2006, 07:32 AM   #18
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Re: Newby on the List--Can I retire??

Bookman,

All I can say is that if you can't afford to retire, I can't afford to continue working, even with a second job! Depending upon you spending habits, I would be gone if I were you.

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Re: Newby on the List--Can I retire??
Old 02-07-2006, 07:39 AM   #19
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Re: Newby on the List--Can I retire??

Sure thinking about it, just have to get my mind around the concept of retiring.* *Started purchasing some of the books recommended on the list and thinking about some reallocation of assets.* Probably will not rush into it, but there is a comfort in knowing I probably could retire if I want to do so.
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