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Rather be riding my bike
Old 11-27-2008, 06:42 AM   #1
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Rather be riding my bike

Just found this site a few days ago, so I have been slowly sifting through the threads looking for things that will help me out. This could be a little long winded….

I’m in a situation at 51 where it finally hit me in the last 6 months that I might be able to call it quits from teaching by the summer of 2010 or 2011 after 27-28 years. I had been single all my life until I married a local gal here in England almost 2 years ago. At that time I figured I would be retiring here in another 7-8 years or so. We bought a house to move into and then last year it hit me that if we moved back to the Spokane area (I’m originally from a small town called Castle Rock in WA) in just a few years….we could retire SOON. That was my downfall, since then I have been a bit fixated on retiring. We both would prefer to retire here since I can live in either place comfortably, but the house market (even with the downturn) is a lot more expensive here. So last summer we bought a house outside of Spokane that we are currently trying to rent out. After reading a number of the threads so far….it looks like most of the posters have a LOT more money than we do. I am in a US Govt job working for the military, but our pensions don’t do much for us (although better than no pension). At this time the Pound exchange is also killing us. We have the house here that we still owe almost 200,000 Pounds on and my wife has about 70,000 Pounds in a savings account. So we are sitting about like this….

IFFFF things go our way…and they offer VERA again next year (retire summer 2010 at 53)…I think we could move back to Spokane, fix the house up and buy a new car (only 1) etc etc and still have at least $500,000 in money from the savings, TSP, house eventually sold here (probably rent out for a couple of years until the market comes back a bit) etc. I would get an immediate pension (do you pay tax on the pension?..I thought I read where you do) that would be about $16,000+ a year before tax. The SS annuity would kick in 3 years later at 56 which I can only guess at the amount, but from the blogs I have read it is less than most people think it will be…but I would hope that would bring in another $700 a month. We both wouldn’t mind picking up a part time job for the 3 years or so until this extra money comes in. We both live rather cheaply and I can only drool at the really big pensions/accounts I read that other people have. I figure most months we could easily live on $2000 with a yearly estimate of from $35,000-40,000 to live comfortably. I will keep the reasonable health benefits from the current job. I have an estimate of $14,000 or so for the S.Security and a finance guy I have talked to said my wife (even though she is British) will be eligible for spouse S.Security which would be 50% of what I would get. My worries….my pension will not be inflation adjusted until I hit 62 (8-9 years).

If this is all just a fantasy for my wife and I….I would sure appreciate one of you folks taking a hammer upside my head to get me back in the real world. Working an extra couple of years is the smarter thing to do, but that isn’t my strong point….. I haven’t lived in the US for very long since about 1980….so I am slightly clueless on how much you really need to live on.

I guess to make all this even shorter…is retiring possible? I have played around with the FireCalc a little bit and it seems to give a fairly positive result.

1. $500,000 eventually in savings etc
2. At least $1000 a month take home from the pension
3. $700 a month from 56 to 62 from SS annuity
4. A little over $1000 a month from SS at 62 to 64 for me.
5. At least $500 a month SS for my wife at 62+

Now I need to get back and start reading some more of these threads since I have the next couple days off….Happy Thanksgiving……

Fred Hicks
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Old 11-27-2008, 06:56 AM   #2
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Welcome Fred, you will find a lot of information as well as cameraderie here.

You could probably do it on a couple thousand a month...my folks do, but it is a pretty slim living. And factor in the trips back to the UK to deal with property and see her relatives, and the tab is not cheap. Also, I'm wondering what the "SS Annuity" is...never heard of it. Is that something from the UK?

Good luck. Make sure you figure your expenses, not forgetting the costs of an international marraige (I'm in the same boat, different continent). Then run your numbers thru FIREcalc...link is on one of the bars below, check and see what the calculator says.

R
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Old 11-27-2008, 08:06 AM   #3
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Welcome,
Keep reading, you'll find a lot of helpful people here.
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Old 11-27-2008, 08:25 AM   #4
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I was figuring that most months we could get by on $2000, but I was allowing $3000+. We really do live cheaply most of the time (we are really boring). The costs for electricity etc in the Spokane area is still pretty reasonable compared to most areas. We do have to allow a trip back to the UK once a year, but that is just for the plane fare since we would be staying with her parents. Once we are here for a few weeks, it wouldn't cost much more than just being at home in Spokane. The SS annuity is something I would get with the early retirement offer from the school system. You get the immediate pension/annuity based on years worked/pay, then at 56 there is what they call a SS supplement I believe.....they base the pay on what you would get for SS at 62 and then whack away with some other numbers to get a percentage of the SS. That goes away at 62 when you are eligible for regular SS. If at 62 we could put the SS off for a couple of years then that would be even better since she is able to get the spouse SS based on what I get. I wouldn't mind picking up a little part time job for a couple of years at first...if for no other reason than to meet some more people. After shoving the numbers through the FireCalc and who knows how many other sites.....they almost always come back saying we can do it. I have contacted a financial guy that a buddy of mine who just retired uses in Spokane....waiting for an update from him now...but it seems doable. Working for another year or two doesn't seem to change the retirement numbers very much even though I can easily save 30K+ a year...even on a teachers salary. The US govt pays our housing, so it is a great deal if you are a teacher.

Damn.....time to vacuum before my wife gets home from work, she doesn't get the day off.
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Old 11-27-2008, 10:36 AM   #5
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If you can sell the house in England for more than what you owe on it then I think you should do that first. Then you should be fine. Good luck
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Old 11-27-2008, 11:52 AM   #6
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Yep, my situation has a bunch of little things built in that can swing either way.
1. Bought the house here in England when I thought I would be living here for good (although not in this house), in which case the market swings wouldn't make much difference. With hindsight....instead of staying in this house for at least 7 years and then moving into something else....total of about 4 years and the downturn is killing us twice (also should have just rented if I knew I was leaving this soon). The house prices are down a little, but the Pound going down really whupped us. We will be leaving before the house prices come back very much. This is a well off area and the prices haven't gone down much. Bought the house for 277K Pounds and put about 30K Pounds of improvements into it. Owe a little under 200K....would be lucky to get about $130,000 back on selling now (not happening). By next Spring if the Pound stays where it is (oh please go up!) that would be $150,000 or better. The Govt is technically making my mortgage payments for me.....so in another year+ I would owe a little less and the market should be about ready to start inching back up again (2 years from now). The only way we would get close to our money back would be to wait another year or two after that before selling. But then you have the stress of renting (and not living in the country) over just taking the money and putting it into the market as it's is coming back up.

What I am praying for is a slight rebound in the Pound by Spring 2010 and then it might just be worth selling anyway to avoid the hassle. But everything I read seems to think the UK is going to get the worst of the recession over here in Europe.

Anyway......I have until next October before the big decisions need to be made. My mortgage needs re-doing at whatever rate it is then....I will also know whether the early retirement offers will be going out again. If they don't offer VERA, then I can't quit until they do....or another 5 years from now.
2. My wife had 4 kids with her ex. The youngest (a girl) is in her first year of Uni. How her life goes over the next year or two could change things.

Ahhh, sometimes there are just too many decisions out there.......I like a nice quiet simple life.
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Old 11-27-2008, 01:06 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 1924F4mandolin View Post
Yep, my situation has a bunch of little things built in that can swing either way.
1. Bought the house here in England when I thought I would be living here for good (although not in this house), in which case the market swings wouldn't make much difference. With hindsight....instead of staying in this house for at least 7 years and then moving into something else....total of about 4 years and the downturn is killing us twice (also should have just rented if I knew I was leaving this soon). The house prices are down a little, but the Pound going down really whupped us. We will be leaving before the house prices come back very much. This is a well off area and the prices haven't gone down much. Bought the house for 277K Pounds and put about 30K Pounds of improvements into it. Owe a little under 200K....would be lucky to get about $130,000 back on selling now (not happening). By next Spring if the Pound stays where it is (oh please go up!) that would be $150,000 or better. The Govt is technically making my mortgage payments for me.....so in another year+ I would owe a little less and the market should be about ready to start inching back up again (2 years from now). The only way we would get close to our money back would be to wait another year or two after that before selling. But then you have the stress of renting (and not living in the country) over just taking the money and putting it into the market as it's is coming back up.

What I am praying for is a slight rebound in the Pound by Spring 2010 and then it might just be worth selling anyway to avoid the hassle. But everything I read seems to think the UK is going to get the worst of the recession over here in Europe.

Anyway......I have until next October before the big decisions need to be made. My mortgage needs re-doing at whatever rate it is then....I will also know whether the early retirement offers will be going out again. If they don't offer VERA, then I can't quit until they do....or another 5 years from now.
2. My wife had 4 kids with her ex. The youngest (a girl) is in her first year of Uni. How her life goes over the next year or two could change things.

Ahhh, sometimes there are just too many decisions out there.......I like a nice quiet simple life.
If you have 4 kids in England, maybe it would be best to find a way to stay in England?

I know you are familiar with life in rural WA, but is your wife? Can't think of many (non-lethal) things worse than a homesick spouse going into retirement. For her, and for you.

Ha
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Old 11-27-2008, 01:40 PM   #8
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Well....kind of 4 kids from the ex husband. 3 of them are older and on their own....just the daughter who is still under our wing. My wife has been to WA the last couple summers and seems to be ok with it......although she freely admits there will be a little homesickness etc. I grew up in W WA and it took me a year to get used to the Ellensburg area when I went to college. I have since lived in England for over 10 years, Germany for 10 years and Okinawa for 5 years....so pretty well any place is good for me. The house there in Spokane is already paid for....just waiting for us. To live here..ouch on the expenses. The house we live in cost approx. $560,000 at the time we bought it. We can buy 2 or 3 nice houses in the Spokane area for that. Working another 7 years or more would be required to even think about living here.....at least gas is under $6 or so a gallon now....I think....I get it cheaper on the base where I work so I don't buy it in town. The house we bought outside Spokane would literally cost closer to a million dollars here in Harrogate (cost us $205K). Still...no easy answers and nothing I can do until at least next October but plan ahead and find places to stick money. Really need to find some good mutual funds or something pretty quick.
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Old 11-29-2008, 11:26 AM   #9
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Welcome to the forum . Several of the members live on that amount . You can search for a cost of living topic and see what others live on . I could live on less but I spend a lot of money on traveling to see my daughter . That you may have to factor in especially if your wife gets grandchildren .
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Old 11-29-2008, 12:01 PM   #10
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Oh god.....don't mention G Kids. Even my wife would just as soon not see any. We both are just pretty boring people who are more than happy to putter around the house...yard....I would golf if I have the money. Lots of other teachers I work with don't save much of any money. I can understand why.....easy to travel when you are already in England/Europe. I did some of the touristy things when I was younger, but it doesn't do much for me anymore. I just took my wife on a couple hour walk through the Dales near Pateley Bridge this morning. Cost?....a little bit of gas to get out there. Scenery? gorgeous(see below). I also ride my bike (a recumbent to save my butt+hands) out in this area when the ice is not around.

If I take a look at most of the retirement calculators.....I could retire as early as next year at 53 with a VERA from the Govt. We wouldn't be rich, but we would have enough money to fly back to England every year and probably have about $3000 a month to live off (house paid off already in Spokane). If you start throwing in a lot of traveling and buying toys (I do like an occasional toy like the new bike) then you need more money. But the bottom line for both of us.....would we rather keep working or live cheaply and stop working.....neither of us hesitated in saying we would rather live cheaply. I can easily save $30,000+ a year without trying on this job....another lady I work with who makes more than me just can't seem to save anything.

Bottom line.....I am making excuses trying to talk myself into retiring next year. Whether it is the smartest thing to do.....well.......I keep reading things that are on this site and others and actually am looking for things that will shoot holes in my plans. The latest calculator I tried today (Ameritrades wealthruler).....I couldn't quite get things into it the right way. But Firecalc and a bunch of others seem to be online for getting out in the next year or two.
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Old 11-30-2008, 10:58 AM   #11
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Try living for a year on what your retirement income will be if you do retire. Also bear in mind what you're going to do all day - lots of threads on that. Everybody's different, some enjoy volunteer work, I chose to go back to work about 30 hours/week for "play money" like a new motorcycle and other frivolous nonsense, others cringe at the thought of ever working again and can fish/garden/fly a kite forever, DW is going to school to finish a BA she started 20+ years ago.

The key is (for us anyway) once the basics plus (insert your comfort number here) are paid for with a retirement income you have lots more options. You have the freedom to decide what to do with yourself.
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Old 11-30-2008, 11:45 AM   #12
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We haven't actually kept really close track of our bills.....but they are somewhere around $1000 a month including food, utilities, health insurance etc. Quite a few months that is all we spend. When we retire I will be putting my wife on my health insurance so that will go up (she is on national health here in the UK). I haven't bought a new "toy" in a year......and I am starting to twitch a little bit for a new bicycle. This time of year I can't ride to work that much because of ice and high winds...thinking about buying a 3 wheel trike. Toys are where I waste money. Once our house is fixed in Spokane (that means fixed to my wife's taste)...unless there is something unexpected that comes up we can get through most month on less than $2000 pretty easily. When I read threads where people have lost hundreds of thousand of dollars in this latest downturn and they are not sure if they have enough money to retire....I wonder how much they burn up every month. There is no way I will know for sure whether I have enough to do until that time....I think I do. Both my wife and I are good at the simple things and just puttering around. If I do go next year (summer 2010) at 53 I probably will sub teach a few months in the Winter just to get that extra "toy buying" money and to get a social group of people going. Bit of a golfer as well, so if I can afford that I will join a club and try to temper my competitive side with that. I have a good buddy that just retired a little over a year ago....he was like me and just ready to go......now he is bored and looking to pick up a coaching job which will work great for him. Pick up a little money and give him something to do a couple hours most days.

Thanks to all who give me any advice.....I really do like all the info I can get. Now if I can figure out the perfect ratio of stocks/bonds/property etc.. for retirement.........

Just for the heck of it....a pic of the cottage I gave up renting in the Dales when I got married....marriage is well worth it, but I sure miss that place...
Fred
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