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Retired Soldier ... so NOW.. maybe not...
Old 12-17-2013, 12:39 PM   #1
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Retired Soldier ... so NOW.. maybe not...

Yes Ladies and Gents,

I am a retired soldier. I did that at age 37. Now some 20 years later, I had hoped to be at least semi-retired and enjoying the remainder of my life. Well between my poor judgement in life (either picking a mate) or my profession and maybe BOTH, I am wondering if I will ever be able to retire.

Now, with the "Folks" in the National Capital deciding that I either "Wont fight for my EARNED benefits or figuring they will get the support of the 80% that NEVER serve, I may lose part (if not most) of my military pension.

So how do those of you that came from lower middle class professions (most of the US Military qualified for Public assistance while they were in the service) make it after you retire or semi- retire? I always planned on "doing" things.. I did NOT however plan on HAVING to maintain a 40 hour week job to my death.
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Old 12-17-2013, 12:52 PM   #2
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Well between my poor judgement in life (either picking a mate) or my profession and maybe BOTH, I am wondering if I will ever be able to retire.

....So how do those of you that came from lower middle class professions make it after you retire or semi- retire?
The obvious (and brutal) answer is "made better personal and professional choices, lived below our means, saved, invested and had a bit of luck which enabled us to support ourselves in retirement."

Did you just want to vent or is there some advice you are seeking from the forum?
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Old 12-17-2013, 03:57 PM   #3
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If you were much younger and about to retire from the military rather than like me having been retired for 20 years you would have something to complain about. As it is our pensions will be protected from any serious cuts.
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Old 12-17-2013, 04:22 PM   #4
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Let's see.....I served 4 years, combat during V/N, got out, went to college (paid my own way with $200/month G.I. Bill), got a job, worked for 30+ years, lived below our means, saved a lot and now we are OK.

I'm sure there are lots of other vets here that did it one way or another.
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Old 12-17-2013, 04:33 PM   #5
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I served five years, got out and then did what the Navy had trained me to do for a few years (operate a nuclear plant). Then I quit work, went to law school (paid in cash, in full) and started all over again at 33, with zero in the bank and certainly no military retirement pay coming in. The young wife and I worked hard, lived below our means, saved assiduously, and invested wisely. Now, 22 years later, we're on the verge of retiring for good.
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Old 12-17-2013, 05:20 PM   #6
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I believe I have at least some overlap with the original poster. Come from VERY lower middle class (low class actually but at least Papa had a steady if meager paycheck). Did the minimum 20 yrs in the military and left as an E-7. (Most enlisteds who retire, retire at E-7) About to celebrate 18 yrs out of uniform. I worked a Le Grande Total of 6 months after I left the Mil. I have had no problems living on my pension + "stash".

How did I do it? For most of the 20 yrs I was on active duty I lived, operationally speaking, on the verge of poverty. Banked as much as I could. Did several "remote" tours, bought little more than shaving cream & soap for 3 years. Never bought anything except the cheapest car I could find that I could trust to get me to work. Always lived either in the barracks while young or off base in the cheapest apartment I could find. Started investing in 1985.

What I DIDN'T have was a wife which seems to be a speed bump for a lot of people, but let's not kid ourselves. If I had had a wife that worked I'd have twice the money for half the work. If she wants to walk that's fine too but I get to keep half. I'd still be wearing the same sweat suit and T-shirt. Like everything else, it's basically a management issue
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Old 12-17-2013, 05:41 PM   #7
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While not military, I'm retired law enforcement so had many of the same issues including low pay, lousy hours, and people sometimes trying to kill you. And starting over almost from scratch at age 34-35 halfway through the career because of the divorce. (The ex wanted to live beyond our means. I saw no future going down that road.) When the dust settled I had a tad over $7k and everything I owned fit in the smallest U-haul truck available.

I'm gathering that one of the big issues preventing early retirement, or any retirement at all, is "lifestyle creep" as income goes up. LBYM is almost a mantra on this board, and it was my (and the 2nd DW's) lifestyle too. We did of course have some creep in there but not a whole lot.

Others with my same job and starting out at the same income I did made difference choices. A few are much better off than I am and many more are much worse off. Neither I nor DW will ever have to work again if we don't want to.

Other than being lucky enough to never get seriously sick or injured, luck had nothing to do with it.
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Old 12-18-2013, 05:55 AM   #8
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I think this situation applies to far more people than many people want to grant, and without any of the prejudicial assumptions about slothfulness, extraordinarily bad choices, etc. Having a pension itself is becoming rare, with our labor marketplace having changed from defined benefit to defined contribution models starting in the 1990s, to foster profitability over social security (with lower-case 's'es). Even with pensions, despite the narrative that may be drawn around them, things in our society aren't arrayed (anymore) to assure that working hard for 25, 35 or even 45 years will furnish the resources necessary to fund a 15, 25 or 35 year retirement (if they ever were so-arrayed). What you're seeking unfortunately takes some combination of good fortune and especial aptitude, again, despite protestations to the contrary.
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Old 12-18-2013, 09:11 AM   #9
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A mid-life facing up to reality, with no magic wand.
Probably a lot of paths to the retirement we want, but for me, a simple answer. Three choices:
1. Plan to work hard enough and long enough to support the lifestyle that is wished for.
2. Adjust to the lifestyle that will work with the amount of time and effort that is comfortable.
3. Win the lottery.

Though not by choice, we picked the second path.
It starts with a 100% honest assessment of the current financial situation. Real dollars... Income... Total assets.

Build a budget... Three budgets...
1. What you'd like. Optimal
2. What is reasonable. Nominal
3. What it would take if you lived out of your car. Austerity.

... budgets that are complete, not just housing, food, and lifestyle.... but detailed. Item, and three columns as above.

Whether retired, semi-retired, or working forever, the first step to ease the anxiety, is to face the realities. In a similar situation, at a similar age, we went from from wondering what the future would bring, to facing our own reality. Lots of numbers and soul searching then estimating what could work. Gone the world travel, the house in the country, the new cars, the better restaurants, fine clothes, and the twice a week golf game.

First nine years a squeeze and a learning experience, until Social Security, then a few more years to Medicare... but not unpleasant at all.

There WAS another choice... to build my own small business to the profitability needed to sustain a more expensive lifestyle.
tough choice, but 24 years later, never happier and never to look back.

... but it doesn't just happen.
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Old 12-18-2013, 09:49 AM   #10
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Sarge,
At this time the reduction in growth of your pension will take full effect when you are getting very close to 62. I think you will escape the effect.

At your 62 pension growth will go back to normal.

There is a lot to be angry about, I agree.
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Old 12-18-2013, 11:16 AM   #11
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Here is an article that discusses the cuts in military pension COLAs. I do not fully agree with the authors of the article but do think it is an interesting read. I am 61 years old and will not have my pension cut by these changes. The OP is apparently a few years younger and depending upon his age will be either minimally or not at all effected by the change. I do strongly believe that it is unfair that younger military retirees will be adversely effected by this budget deal far more than any other Americans. My pension is IMO a very sweet deal and along with ALL other government spending should be fairly adjusted downward a bit.

Here
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Old 12-18-2013, 12:35 PM   #12
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Having a pension itself is becoming rare, with our labor marketplace having changed from defined benefit to defined contribution models starting in the 1990s, to foster profitability over social security (with lower-case 's'es).
I suspect pensions, especially DB pensions which are already almost extinct, will prove to be a historical aberration born of the post-WWII euphoria and the rapid economic growth of the 1950's and '60's with it's accompanying exuberance. Pensions weren't all that common before WWII and aside from a subsistence floor provided by the likes of Social Security they will almost certainly go away again.
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Old 12-18-2013, 12:39 PM   #13
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That linked article sounds like talking points for the people that wrote the proposed legislation. I notice that most of the ideas in support mention "how well off they are", which really is not at all relevant to a pension obligation, while none mention that it is reneging on a promise, which is really the crux of the matter.
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Old 12-18-2013, 01:23 PM   #14
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I am not so sure that DB pensions are nearing extinction. The majority of government employees are still covered by them and the government employs a bunch of people. My extended family and circle of friends includes so many active and retired government employees that we have a very skewed view and see those without pensions as being outside the norm.
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Old 12-18-2013, 10:46 PM   #15
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That linked article sounds like talking points for the people that wrote the proposed legislation. I notice that most of the ideas in support mention "how well off they are", which really is not at all relevant to a pension obligation, while none mention that it is reneging on a promise, which is really the crux of the matter.
+1. Thank you. The "most have other jobs" talk makes it clear that some people have no idea what this issue is about.
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Old 12-18-2013, 10:57 PM   #16
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. My pension is IMO a very sweet deal and along with ALL other government spending should be fairly adjusted downward a bit./url]
I strongly disagree. That pension was part of your compensation, from a moral, if not actuarial basis, it is not new spending...that money was obligated once you met your end of the deal.

Changing the rules going forward for present service members is one thing (and that is what is being done on the USG civilian side of the house). This proposal is entirely different.

If there is a desire to reduce the pay of people to increase govt revenues, then do it the proper way: through the tax code.
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Old 12-19-2013, 09:45 AM   #17
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Yes Ladies and Gents,

I am a retired soldier. I did that at age 37. Now some 20 years later, I had hoped to be at least semi-retired and enjoying the remainder of my life. Well between my poor judgement in life (either picking a mate) or my profession and maybe BOTH, I am wondering if I will ever be able to retire.

Now, with the "Folks" in the National Capital deciding that I either "Wont fight for my EARNED benefits or figuring they will get the support of the 80% that NEVER serve, I may lose part (if not most) of my military pension.

So how do those of you that came from lower middle class professions (most of the US Military qualified for Public assistance while they were in the service) make it after you retire or semi- retire? I always planned on "doing" things.. I did NOT however plan on HAVING to maintain a 40 hour week job to my death.
I retired from Federal law enforcement with 25 years + 4 years of military time that I had to pay a big chunk of cash into the Federal pension system to claim. And yes, I've been shot at, worked nights & weekends, been transferred every 4 or 5 years against my desires, etc. Being a post-1984 FERS employee I already receive the minus-one-percent "diet COLA" being proposed for the military, so it's not unprecedented (and there's no provision for restoration of those increases at age 62 for me as the current legislation for the military proposes)

That said, I don't think it's right to do that for military folk already in the system. Were I you though, I wouldn't worry to much about this proposal anyway because I don't think it will stand as written - there'll be some flag-waving and patriotic outcry & it will be restored. The military community and defense industry both seem to always have a way of doing that. At age 57 you'll likely only take a small hit for just a few years since the legislation calls for restoration of the full COLA at age 62 if I understand it right (feel free to correct me on that if I'm wrong)

So how do I "make it" - I downsized my house/toys/life; have everything paid for; scrupulous budget planning; learned to invest a little bit; and worked a couple of short part-time gigs (decided I really didn't like to "work" anymore and wasn't really worth it to me since my private-sector earning capacity is somewhat limited due to the nature of my previous profession anyway

I also try to bear in mind there are private sector folk who worked hard all their lives, tied to do the right things, and had the rug pulled out from under their retirement and things are not all rosy for all of them either (corporate pension devalued, retiree health care downsized or taken away, investment losses, personal or medical issues/tragedies, etc, etc) and a lot of them take it in stride and manage.

You have to play the cards you are dealt best you can.
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Old 12-19-2013, 10:30 AM   #18
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Not a retired solder, though did my Army time from 67-70 as volunteer. My current pension for lifetime from a defined benefit plan is less than $30.00 per month. It does buy coffee and cover tips for a few days of the week.

The rest of my income is from defined contribution plans and investments over the years + social security, which I could not opt out of contributing to. Retired form doing anything useful for any employer at age 59.5

Held many types of j*bs, none that paid well, virtually all were for my benefit of learning different things and seeing the world.

You pays your money and takes your chances, and make the best of what is left. I never felt the anyone owed me anything, made my own decisions and always lived with the consequeces, still do.
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