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Ready to pull the trigger, I think
Old 05-06-2016, 01:15 PM   #1
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Ready to pull the trigger, I think

I'm 55, I have about 1.4 mil about equally divided among 401k, IRAs and taxable investments. My wife, also 55, is a public school teacher. Our plan was for us both to retire when she reaches the service requirement for full pension in three years. We have two children entering their final year of college in the fall, and one child who will be starting college in the fall. All the college costs are covered by other investments in 529 plans. They will all graduate debt free. We are all on my wife's health insurance plan.
For a variety of reasons my current job has become intolerable. Last year we spent about 75k, excluding college costs. My wife's take home is about 40k. Her pension should replace nearly all her current take home pay. She likes her job and plans to continue to work at least another three years, regardless of what I do. All the models, including firecalc, show that I can comfortably make up the 35k shortfall in income through age 95 from my investments. House is paid for. We do have a couple car loans at low rates, could pay one or both off if we needed to. Emotionally, I am ready to retire. I will have no problem finding things to do, even while my wife continues to work. Still, there are a number of unknowns, like post employment/pre medicare healthcare, and financial market volatility, that keep me from taking the plunge. Wife says she'll support whatever decision I make, but I can tell she is uneasy about leaving three years of my income on the table. So, how can we get comfortable with pulling the trigger on my ER?
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Old 05-06-2016, 01:31 PM   #2
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Just curious, you say your current job is intolerable. Can you give a few examples and maybe how long you've been at it and what kind of work you do? Cheers.


I'm the same age and have been at a Megacorp in "IT" for 15 yrs. Prior to that in Finance and Business Mgmt for 17 yrs (same company). For me it isn't the work so much it's my commute that is wearing on me vs the actual work I do. (Seattle traffic).
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Old 05-06-2016, 02:06 PM   #3
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I work in a small community bank, with over 30 years experience in the business. Regulations spawned by the financial crisis in '08 are strangling our industry, driving a lot of small banks out of business. We recently acquired one such bank and reassigned all of their back office people to "revenue generating positions", leaving me with double work in the back office and no extra help. Then my top assistant (one of two total, we are also a small shop) informs me she is having a baby, so that will be 8 - 12 weeks or more of maternity leave running shorthanded with double work, unless HR finds a temporary fill-in, which isn't going well so far. When I was younger, I thrived on this kind of challenge, but now I feel like I'm just too old to endure this level of stress everyday, especially when I'm looking to get out in a few years anyway. CEO's attitude is "you'll just have to work a little harder". My attitude is why would I kill myself so you can IPO yourself a golden parachute when you're ready to retire long after I'm gone?
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Old 05-06-2016, 02:53 PM   #4
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I can tell she is uneasy about leaving three years of my income on the table. So, how can we get comfortable with pulling the trigger on my ER?
Just a thought:
Have you run the calculators like FIRECalc and whatever projection methods you like using your portfolio with the three additional years of savings (and three less years of retirement) against what they would be if you retired now?

The size of the difference between the two should give you a good sense of how to proceed.
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Old 05-06-2016, 04:48 PM   #5
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I work in a small community bank, with over 30 years experience in the business. Regulations spawned by the financial crisis in '08 are strangling our industry, driving a lot of small banks out of business. We recently acquired one such bank and reassigned all of their back office people to "revenue generating positions", leaving me with double work in the back office and no extra help. Then my top assistant (one of two total, we are also a small shop) informs me she is having a baby, so that will be 8 - 12 weeks or more of maternity leave running shorthanded with double work, unless HR finds a temporary fill-in, which isn't going well so far. When I was younger, I thrived on this kind of challenge, but now I feel like I'm just too old to endure this level of stress everyday, especially when I'm looking to get out in a few years anyway. CEO's attitude is "you'll just have to work a little harder". My attitude is why would I kill myself so you can IPO yourself a golden parachute when you're ready to retire long after I'm gone?

Wow---that sounds stressful. I get your drift totally given your explanation and the history and current state of affairs. The "you'll just have to work harder" is hard to swallow I bet.

Our early out is 55 but I also wanted to work two more years (still have a mortgage). But yea doing more with less seems to be the common theme. I'm a non-exec so no real golden parachute but truthfully want to go out on my own terms vs. a buyout or on a stretcher.

From what you've described I'd say your health is worth a lot and given you are so close to being done yea.

I don't have what you do but am solo so that element isn't a factor.
$750K in 401K, $37K annual pension, retiree medical still there (keeping fingers crossed). If I paid off the house ($150K left) my expense would be about $60K a yr which includes a 10% buffer.

For me it's the Seattle commute like I mentioned above. My plan B is potentially PT contract work closer to home but yea 30+ yrs I'm not sure how marketable I am. Doubt Amazon HQ would take a look at a 55 yr old. Lol.
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Old 05-06-2016, 06:33 PM   #6
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Wife says she'll support whatever decision I make, but I can tell she is uneasy about leaving three years of my income on the table. So, how can we get comfortable with pulling the trigger on my ER?
This is the biggest red flag I see in your post. If you can tell she's uneasy this is probably not just financial, but how your dynamics will change when you RE before her. Have a plan for that so she sees huge benefits every day when she comes home (dinner, groceries, laundry, toilet cleaning, etc. - ALL YOU).

I think you're cutting it a big close, but don't have all your details.
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Old 05-06-2016, 07:16 PM   #7
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I share the same uneasiness about your wife maybe not being on board. The dynamic definitely changed for us, no way around it, when DH quit 3 years ago. But I really encouraged him to do it, so whenever things get iffy, I try to remember this was a jointly supported plan.

Other than that, I get your stress level must be astronomical. Is there any chance you can change jobs to a different bank, one that actually has enough staff to work?
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Old 05-06-2016, 10:36 PM   #8
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...I think you're cutting it a big close, but don't have all your details.
I don't think you're cutting it close at all. $75k spending - wife's $40k takehome = $35k, $35k/$1.4m = 2.5%... very modest.

And it won't change a lot after she retires and I presume that you have SS coming later on.

If you have Quicken, put you plan in the Lifetime Planner and do a what-if as if you retired now rather than later... I'm guessing that the difference between the two lines will be modest... and that is the price of happiness.
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Old 05-06-2016, 11:16 PM   #9
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This is the biggest red flag I see in your post. If you can tell she's uneasy this is probably not just financial, but how your dynamics will change when you RE before her. Have a plan for that so she sees huge benefits every day when she comes home (dinner, groceries, laundry, toilet cleaning, etc. - ALL YOU).

I think you're cutting it a big close, but don't have all your details.
I already told her I would be her "domestic goddess". Cooking, cleaning, housework would be a welcome change for me. I'm kind of a neat freak anyway and would welcome the opportunity to show what I could do around the house if I had the time. Also, I think my many years of teasing her about her having Summers off has instilled a little latent guilt in her. I know, I should be ashamed.

So, I do think wife's hesitancy is financial. She has always relied on me to manage the finances and says she's fine as long as we can maintain the lifestyle, not that there's that much of a lifestyle to maintain. Still, it's hard to get her to understand that there are no guarantees in that regard...too many variables no matter how well you plan.

As for cutting it close, I would add that many years of LBYM has resulted in a low maintenance lifestyle. I am quite content with a simple life. I have no interest in expensive toys or exotic vacations. Puttering around the house (about 20 acres to maintain), doing a little fishing (several world class trout streams within an hour's drive), playing a little golf (lifetime membership at the local club already paid for), and enjoying simple pleasures is about all I aspire to right now. I also currently serve on some local government committees and believe I could expand my commitment to public service in the community if I felt the need to contribute more to society.
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Old 05-06-2016, 11:30 PM   #10
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I share the same uneasiness about your wife maybe not being on board. The dynamic definitely changed for us, no way around it, when DH quit 3 years ago. But I really encouraged him to do it, so whenever things get iffy, I try to remember this was a jointly supported plan.

Other than that, I get your stress level must be astronomical. Is there any chance you can change jobs to a different bank, one that actually has enough staff to work?
As far as changing employers goes there are a couple complications. First, I am pretty high up the ladder, so not a lot of positions like mine available in a small town, and relocating is not an option. Second, in a small town, all the power guys, execs and directors, are pals and don't like to appear to be raiding their pals' shops for talent. It happens sometimes, but usually only after someone leaves their employer (voluntarily or otherwise). I do think I could find something else locally, probably not at the same level (which could be ok), but I would have to leave without another offer first.
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Old 05-06-2016, 11:31 PM   #11
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Just a thought:
Have you run the calculators like FIRECalc and whatever projection methods you like using your portfolio with the three additional years of savings (and three less years of retirement) against what they would be if you retired now?

The size of the difference between the two should give you a good sense of how to proceed.
That's a good idea, I'll try to do that.
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Old 05-06-2016, 11:48 PM   #12
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I don't think you're cutting it close at all. $75k spending - wife's $40k takehome = $35k, $35k/$1.4m = 2.5%... very modest.

And it won't change a lot after she retires and I presume that you have SS coming later on.

If you have Quicken, put you plan in the Lifetime Planner and do a what-if as if you retired now rather than later... I'm guessing that the difference between the two lines will be modest... and that is the price of happiness.
That was my impression as well. Yes, we both will qualify for SS, and by the end of 2017 two of the children should be out on their own with a good financial foundation (no student loan debt and $20k+ in savings bonds each, employable degrees, early childhood/special ed and occupational therapy) so I think there is good potential for required spending to decline. Two less cars to insure and maintain, clothing, food, etc.

I don't have Quicken, still hanging on to msmoney, if you can believe it, but I am going to try to do what you suggested though firecalc.
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Old 05-07-2016, 08:02 AM   #13
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I would agree with PB. Your SWR would be about 2.5% and only until you claim SS in as little as 7 years. What do you anticipate your SS will be for yourself and your DW, based on your quitting this year and your wife in 3? It may be worthwhile for you to model claiming at 62 vs waiting until FRA to determine the optimal claiming strategies.
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Old 05-07-2016, 08:28 AM   #14
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While I think our optimal claiming strategy is to wait until FRA, or perhaps DW to claim at FRA and me to wait until 70 (rather than 66), it is comforting to know that we have the option to claim anytime after we are 62 (two years from now) if investment results turn sour.
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Old 05-07-2016, 08:33 AM   #15
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... it is comforting to know that we have the option to claim anytime after we are 62 (two years from now) if investment results turn sour.
Yes, been there, done that.

Pulled the trigger in February of 2009 as a freshly-minted 62 year-old. Investment results were definitely "sour".
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Old 05-07-2016, 10:07 PM   #16
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OK, this stupid laptop of mine is forcing to retype my answer. My first just vanished for whatever reason.


Anyway, I think that your 3 years of misery at work will not have a substantial effect financially. Your retirement savings are already large and 3 years of contributions will not make a big bang. Well, yes it would LT, but you'll be in distribution phase so early that the latest contributions will not really have time to grow legs for sprinting. If you were in mid-career years and still building your investments, it would be different. Besides, your quitting will help your family's tax situation. Your DW's lower salary will have much lower taxes if you file jointly and thanks to favorable tax treatment of dividends and cap gains should result in higher bottom number. You could try to prepare a tax return without your W-2 and see how it turns out.


When you do you want to quit? It sounds you want to do it very soon. What about you time your resignation as soon as your assistant goes on her maternity leave? Perhaps the top brass would realize that you're too valuable and at least they would either provide you much needed help or not put pressure on you so you can complete your work at your pace, not theirs. This way you'd be able to work another 3-5 months before the assistant returns.
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Old 05-08-2016, 07:35 AM   #17
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Besides, your quitting will help your family's tax situation. Your DW's lower salary will have much lower taxes if you file jointly and thanks to favorable tax treatment of dividends and cap gains should result in higher bottom number. You could try to prepare a tax return without your W-2 and see how it turns out.


When you do you want to quit? It sounds you want to do it very soon. What about you time your resignation as soon as your assistant goes on her maternity leave? Perhaps the top brass would realize that you're too valuable and at least they would either provide you much needed help or not put pressure on you so you can complete your work at your pace, not theirs. This way you'd be able to work another 3-5 months before the assistant returns.
I did run the tax return without my W-2, taxes are lower, not enough to make up lost earnings, but it is a meaningful amount.

When do I want to quit? That's the dilemma right now. Before the changes in my situation at work I wanted to quit three years from now when DW retires. Now, I want to quit every morning when I get up and have to face going back to that place.

I requested a few days off here and there over the past few months that were carried over from last year...use them by April 30 or lose them. Boss said couldn't guarantee them and wouldn't extend April 30 deadline to take them. Was told "just try to squeeze them in when you can". Well, IMHO if you can't take the days when you want/need them, what good are they? I took the days when I wanted to anyway.

So I sent boss a vacation "schedule", not "request" for the summer. Never got a reply. First days off "scheduled" are week of June 6 (first week of DW's summer vacation). I expect to get pushback on actually taking those days. Whether that happens or not though, my current thought is to give two weeks' notice that when I go on vacation on June 6 I'm not coming back.

I've been getting up and going to work for 30+ summers and leaving DW at home. I want to spend the rest of my summers with her doing what we want to do. I feel like I have the finances in order. It would be nice to have a little more cushion, but it's not worth being carried out of there on a stretcher. I don't know that I want to be persuaded to stay.
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Old 05-08-2016, 08:05 AM   #18
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Now, I want to quit every morning when I get up and have to face going back to that place.
coverbridge - go for it!
We had a bridge that went from the parking garage to our building and those last 2 years were agony. I felt like I was walking on a death march on that short bridge every day. Looking back - that stress was not healthy at all.
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Old 05-08-2016, 08:08 AM   #19
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I stopped working on April 28. I am so relaxed. I no longer have to rush, or worry about having the time to get stuff done. I have ours of things to do, but knowing that I have lots of time in which to do them means that the list is not a mental burden. And no-one can tell me when I can and can't take vacation.

On my first day after work ended, Friday the 29th, a neighbour wished me a "great weekend" as he got off the elevator. I waited until the doors closed, then I laughed, and I laughed....
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Old 05-08-2016, 08:13 AM   #20
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On my first day after work ended, Friday the 29th, a neighbour wished me a "great weekend" as he got off the elevator. I waited until the doors closed, then I laughed, and I laughed....
priceless
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