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Scared to pull the plug
Old 12-26-2013, 02:53 PM   #1
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Scared to pull the plug

Scared to pull the plug.
63yo dentist. Work 3 days/wk. Annual take home $213K before taxes. DW nonworking. $2M in IRA. $2M in equities. $525K in RE (not including home this is worth $750K in California.) Plan to move to Mountains in Utah as soon as we get the guts. We are generous with our 3 children who have had some obstacles in life, and still need some $ help here and there. Both of us came from lower middle class homes, and are careful with our spending, even at this time in life. We do believe in giving back, and do charity dentistry in Mexico when we can. So this is our life. Inexplicably, cutting off the earned income seems incredibly difficult to execute. We thank others on this site from whom we have learned lots.
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Old 12-26-2013, 02:54 PM   #2
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I meant: SCARED TO PULL THE PLUG
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Old 12-26-2013, 03:04 PM   #3
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Welcome to ER.org.

You're not unusual. Most people go through a stage where they're afraid to pull the (retirement) plug, it can last weeks, months or (many) years. Pulling the plug is usually largely irreversible, so it's not something you want to do with doubts.

Do you enjoy your work? If yes, or more yes than no, then you probably shouldn't 'pull the plug.' Contrary to the beliefs of some, being able to retire (FI) is not in itself a reason to retire. Work is not always something we need to escape from. If you don't really have something better to retire to, it would probably be a mistake to retire...

If you're in reasonable health, you still have plenty to time to enjoy retirement one day.
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Old 12-27-2013, 11:08 AM   #4
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Hi MOLAR. Welcome to the Forum.

I just retired at 63 this year. Live in Virginia and am moving to the Colorado mountains. I'll be building a cabin next spring. I did all the planning and found that my normal expenses were well within my available retirement income. The costs involved in the move have been more than I expected (son didn't graduate from college on time), but I am really happy with the retirement. I didn't find the cut in income to be a problem because I had plenty of cushion and a good idea of my expenses.

Good luck with your decision.
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Old 12-27-2013, 11:48 AM   #5
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I think it is mentally hard to give up an income and go from saver to spender.

It has helped me to have a detailed, year by year plan with expenses and income so I can see that the numbers all work out. I look at mine every day. It still seems a bit surreal to not actually have to work any more. The spreadsheet helps make it seem more real.
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Old 12-27-2013, 12:24 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by MOLAR View Post
Scared to pull the plug.
... Inexplicably, cutting off the earned income seems incredibly difficult to execute.
No, it's not at all unusual. It's tough even for us who, due to circumstances more than planning, did it in phases stretched out over 10 years by me going part-time first, then wife retiring fully, then I quit.

So, for people who have to stop earned income abruptly, I can see how hard it is. As hard as pulling teeth, as a friend of mine liked to say. And he was talking from a patient's viewpoint I think, as we were engineers and not in the dental profession.
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Old 12-27-2013, 12:35 PM   #7
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Molar (BTW, I like your screen name once you explained what you do for work),

Change is hard, particularly if you are earning good $ and don't hate what you do.

I was in a similar spot - earned good $ working 50% part time and didn't hate my job - I just didn't like the constraints my job put on my life. It is incredibly hard to give up that steady paycheck.

For me it boiled down to not knowing how much time I have left (we are both in good health but you can pick up the paper and see obits for people our age or younger every day) , just wanting more freedom with my time and believing that I had "enough" and any additional work was just padding our kid's inheritance.

Best thing I ever did. I love being able to do what I want any day (or not do anything at all). I'll admit to periodic spots of boredom, particularly in the winter when I can't golf, but it doesn;t take a lot of effort to find things to do.
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Old 12-28-2013, 02:28 PM   #8
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Welcome Molar. I think to gain comfort in your plans to pull the plug, you couldn't be on a better forum!

I happen to be reading "What Color Is Your Parachute For Retirement" right now and it seems to be helping a little with my angst over the same question you're facing. The book lays out a whole bunch of things to think about. Since I find that most of the topics are things I've thought about and have come to terms with, it's making me feel better about the switch.
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Old 12-28-2013, 05:12 PM   #9
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Thank you for directing me to the book. I appreciate it and I will pick up a copy.
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Old 12-28-2013, 06:31 PM   #10
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Thank you for directing me to the book. I appreciate it and I will pick up a copy.
If you're interested in reading more, I'd also recommend How to Retire Happy, Wild & Free by Ernie Zelinski and/or Work Less, Live More by Bob Clyatt if you want to further explore the (sometimes overlooked) non-financial side of retirement. My local library had both...
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Old 12-31-2013, 11:58 AM   #11
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Working 3 days a week for 200k a year is a nice setup. But, don't kid yourself. A 63 yo retirement is not early retirement by any stretch of the imagination.

There is nothing wrong with working into your 60s or 70s if you love your work. But if there are any significant things you want to do with your life other than dentistry, you are running out of time. When your or your spouse's health goes south, that is all she wrote.

Think long and hard if you want to spend your remaining healthy years doing what you are now doing.
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Old 12-31-2013, 12:42 PM   #12
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Working 3 days a week for 200k a year is a nice setup. But, don't kid yourself. A 63 yo retirement is not early retirement by any stretch of the imagination.

Any retirement before full SS is an early retirement.
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Old 12-31-2013, 01:59 PM   #13
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If you're interested in reading more, I'd also recommend How to Retire Happy, Wild & Free by Ernie Zelinski and/or Work Less, Live More by Bob Clyatt if you want to further explore the (sometimes overlooked) non-financial side of retirement. My local library had both...
Molar,

I can second the recommendation for both of the books Midpack suggested. Perhaps one more, Portfolio Life, by David Corbett. I am still not far away from your situation. You seem in great shape to make the jump.
Good luck!
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Old 12-31-2013, 04:14 PM   #14
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Scared to pull the plug.
63yo dentist. Work 3 days/wk. Annual take home $213K before taxes. DW nonworking. $2M in IRA. $2M in equities. $525K in RE (not including home this is worth $750K in California.) Plan to move to Mountains in Utah as soon as we get the guts. We are generous with our 3 children who have had some obstacles in life, and still need some $ help here and there. Both of us came from lower middle class homes, and are careful with our spending, even at this time in life. We do believe in giving back, and do charity dentistry in Mexico when we can. So this is our life. Inexplicably, cutting off the earned income seems incredibly difficult to execute. We thank others on this site from whom we have learned lots.
Welcome to the forum. I am building a cabin in the Mountains of Colorado next summer for retirement. The mountains aren't overly expensive unless you plan to live on at a ski resort (not a bad idea). My DW's family live in Utah, they all live comfortably on lower middle incomes. With the difference in cost of living between California and Utah I would think you would be quite comfortable on a 3% SWR in retirement, but you know your expenses better than others.
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Old 12-31-2013, 04:22 PM   #15
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Picture yourself on your deathbed. When someone asks you if you have any regrets, what do you think the chances are that you will say "Yes, I wish I worked longer"?
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Old 12-31-2013, 05:04 PM   #16
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Do you need some pushing? From a financial point of view it would be nice to have a few years prior to SS to take advantage of 0% capital gains. You can use that time to sell securities with gains or make some Roth conversions. I retired from dentistry at 52 with the knowledge that I could go back if I wanted to. But now I realize that I could not work for someone else, so I'm done with it. Good luck!
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Old 12-31-2013, 05:56 PM   #17
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Any retirement before full SS is an early retirement.
My sentiments exactly.
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