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Old 01-26-2009, 01:24 PM   #21
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It has been my personal experience that when a job changes your personality for the worse its time to move on. It dosen't sound like you could move to another department but perhaps you could. If you took the promotion how much longer will you stay? You also have some unexpected leverage now, it seems like they are really going to need you. Ask yourself if there is anything they could offer that would make you think about staying? If the answer is yes, I would holdout for whatever that may be, If they don't sweeten the offer and I could afford to leave, then so be it.
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Old 01-26-2009, 01:32 PM   #22
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Hi Janet, I'm glad to see you here!

I assume it would take at least a few years in the new position for the increased salary to materially affect your pension -- is that correct?

Your plan to move to Florida sounds perfectly reasonable to me.

I'll be interested to hear what you decide -- if I had to guess I'd guess you're out of there sooner rather than later. If so, have a great retirement!

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Old 01-26-2009, 03:44 PM   #23
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Let's see - to try to answer the last few questions...do I want the job? Not really. As crass as it may seem to some, for me the attraction is all about the money. And the pension is based on the 3 highest salary years, so 1 year would make a little difference, but it would take 3 to make the most impact on the pension calculation. For any of you that may not be familiar with government jobs, there usually isn't a whole lot of wiggle room on what your salary will be. A 2 grade bump, which is what this would be, just drops you on the salary scale at 2 levels above your current level. Someone coming in from outside would have much more leverage in negotiating salary than someone already there.

Honestly, I know in my heart what I want to do. I'm just nervous about it. A very little background here; I was a single parent raising 3 kids alone for most of my adult life. Their father took off when they were all still very young, and we pretty much never heard from him again. It was tough, and I had the added burden of having never gotten a college degree. At that time I was in an entry level clerk position. I took night classes, and worked hard, and finally got to a point where I didn't wake up nights in a cold sweat wondering how I was going to pay the rent. I bought a little townhouse, got my kids through school and out on their own, and now I am in a position where I can do a little traveling, and I don't really want for anything. I'm terrified about being poor again. And I'm not sure that is a realistic fear - my rational side knows I can handle it. It's the emotional side that I'm sparring with right now.

Sorry for the Dr. Phil moment...
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Old 01-26-2009, 04:55 PM   #24
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Let's see - to try to answer the last few questions...do I want the job? Not really. As crass as it may seem to some, for me the attraction is all about the money. And the pension is based on the 3 highest salary years, so 1 year would make a little difference, but it would take 3 to make the most impact on the pension calculation. For any of you that may not be familiar with government jobs, there usually isn't a whole lot of wiggle room on what your salary will be. A 2 grade bump, which is what this would be, just drops you on the salary scale at 2 levels above your current level. Someone coming in from outside would have much more leverage in negotiating salary than someone already there.

Honestly, I know in my heart what I want to do. I'm just nervous about it. A very little background here; I was a single parent raising 3 kids alone for most of my adult life. Their father took off when they were all still very young, and we pretty much never heard from him again. It was tough, and I had the added burden of having never gotten a college degree. At that time I was in an entry level clerk position. I took night classes, and worked hard, and finally got to a point where I didn't wake up nights in a cold sweat wondering how I was going to pay the rent. I bought a little townhouse, got my kids through school and out on their own, and now I am in a position where I can do a little traveling, and I don't really want for anything. I'm terrified about being poor again. And I'm not sure that is a realistic fear - my rational side knows I can handle it. It's the emotional side that I'm sparring with right now.

Sorry for the Dr. Phil moment...
Janet, you are a real success story. Getting from where you were, to where you are, with three kids dependent on you no less (!), was a tremendous accomplishment. I am so impressed.

I can see why you would be uneasy about retiring, given your background. Really, your feelings are justifiable and valid.

One positive thing that I learned about being poor (yes, there IS one positive thing! ) is that you know you have been there and you know that you know how to deal with it, and how to pull yourself out of that situation.

An accomplishment such as yours can be a foundation for feelings of self-confidence and determination that can see you through. Dr. Phil would say to find an anchor - - some object, perhaps, that reminds you of those times when you were determined and successful. Then when your confidence sags, that anchor can help you. OK, OK, all this "anchor" stuff is something I got from Weight Watchers but it is useful for the slender as well.
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Old 01-26-2009, 05:04 PM   #25
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Janet, you are a real success story. Getting from where you were, to where you are, with three kids dependent on you no less (!), was a tremendous accomplishment. I am so impressed.

I can see why you would be uneasy about retiring, given your background. Really, your feelings are justifiable and valid.

One positive thing that I learned about being poor (yes, there IS one positive thing! ) is that you know you have been there and you know that you know how to deal with it, and how to pull yourself out of that situation.

An accomplishment such as yours can be a foundation for feelings of self-confidence and determination that can see you through. Dr. Phil would say to find an anchor - - some object, perhaps, that reminds you of those times when you were determined and successful. Then when your confidence sags, that anchor can help you. OK, OK, all this "anchor" stuff is something I got from Weight Watchers but it is useful for the slender as well.
That's very kind of you, but please don't be impressed. We all live with the choices we make, and most of us figure out a way to make it work.

It is nice to have a forum like this, though. Just talking about things helps make the options a little clearer. Thanks for listening! And hopefully I'll be able to return the favor for anyone else who needs to vent.
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Old 01-26-2009, 05:19 PM   #26
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This is a decision only you can make. I would caution about getting caught up with the Jones. By that I mean, reading this board and thinking ER is just something you have to do. For me, I would rather retire at 55 with a larger check, than 52 with a smaller check. This is going to boil down to how you feel, and what you need. As others have suggested to people trying to make this decision have been counseled to see if you can get a couple months off. (How much sick time do you have) Try it out. Take the longest vacation they will allow before taking one of the new positions. Then set you date, at least in your mind, and work towards it. Of course if the new position is not offered, Decision made!

The bright side of going three more years is that there may be a change in National Health Care that may affect you.
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Old 01-27-2009, 12:11 PM   #27
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Welcome Janet......congratulations on having a choice....many people do not have that. I thrive on change.....so I would suggest that you hang up your towel and start the next phase of your life. It is not hard living on 1/3 of your income....I am doing it right now and saving as well!
It all depends on what you want to do.....don't keep working because it is all you know. As for the raise and the promotion....for me, there is no amount of money in the world for me to go back to conventional work. You have said that you are burned out....maybe it is time for you to think about what you want to accomplish for yourself the remainder of your years.
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Old 01-27-2009, 02:11 PM   #28
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Janet,

Unless I missed it, you didn't say whether you have "invested assets". No need to detail them here if you do. You indicated that you had a house. You are considering using that asset to purchase a property in a lower cost area. Your reservation is that your monthly income will be cut by 2/3. I don't know what the difference between cost of living is between your current life and your proposed "new" life, but I can't imagine any move within the US would make up for that significant a reduction in income.

But, if you have other assets in addition to the house, why not calculate how much they could increase your monthly income? I'm sure by now you've read all about the so-called 4% rule. Keep in mind, at your tender age and with potentially 40++ years to live in retirement, 4% is way too much of a withdrawal IMO, but YMMV. It's a place to start.

In any case, my suggestion would be to really do the homework and math and see if you will be able to survive with any semblance of a life after your retirement. You may also need to decide if it's worth living a very, very modest life to escape the situation you find your self in now.

Alternately, you could "choose" to lower your stress at work. I sense that your stress level is somewhat self "inflicted". You "care" too much. You care too much for your clients, you care too much for your subordinates and you care too much what your bosses think about your work. My suggestion: Coast! Relax! Stay another year or two or three. Build up your assets and THEN leave.

Full disclosure - I could not follow this last suggestion myself. I bailed out when I found myself in a somewhat similar situation. My advantage (I think, based on your not mentioning significant assets) is that I had a good 401(k) balance as well as other resources. My 1/3 pension (non-cola'd by the way) would never have allowed me to live the way I desired in RE, but my assets made it possible.

Best of luck to you as you struggle with this decision.
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Old 01-27-2009, 02:37 PM   #29
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Janet, I recently joined this forum also. My situation is very similiar to yours: a State government employee for almost 32 years, age 56 and wanting to retire. I was promoted after I retired and over a 2 year period, my income has increased by more that 20k - I have used this increase to increase my asset base.

My situation is compounded by Florida's Deferred Retirement Program that allows a 30 year, retired person to draw their retirement while continuing to work. The DROP account accumulates for 5 years (or however long you stay in up to 5 years) at 6.5%. Makes for a nice chunk of change at the end of 5 years. I feel confident that I would be fine financially if I retired. Just keep thinking that the DROP $ I leave on the table would be so nice to have - for travel, to help my son and any future grandkid(s).

I live in Tallahassee, Florida. It is unlike Central/South Florida in that we have actual seasons with leaves changing color, etc. The Gulf of Mexico is 20 miles, as the crow flies, from my house. When looking at Florida as a retirement location, you might consider Tallahassee. Welcome. Please let us know what you decide to do.
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Old 01-27-2009, 03:52 PM   #30
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You indicated that you had a house. You are considering using that asset to purchase a property in a lower cost area. Your reservation is that your monthly income will be cut by 2/3. I don't know what the difference between cost of living is between your current life and your proposed "new" life, but I can't imagine any move within the US would make up for that significant a reduction in income.
The biggest difference would be in not having a mortgage payment. If my house were paid off, I'd probably stay here. But even though I refinanced about 10 years into my loan from a 30 year loan to a 15 year loan, I still have a few years left and that's the biggest drain on the budget.

From what I can tell, with the Homestead exemption there won't be much difference between the real property taxes in where I live now and where I'm considering moving. Insurance would be higher, but the lack of state income tax makes up for that. Electricity rates in my area have jumped dramatically, and even though I just installed a higher efficiency heating and cooling system, my electric bills have tripled in the last 2 years - especially the heating bills. I doubt I would need to use the heat much where I plan to move.

Other than the COLA pension and my house, I don't have a lot of assets. Some, but not a lot. I have a little bit in a 401k (I guess I still have some in there - I've taken a hit on that just like everyone else), but I wasn't really counting on it as income. I have a little bit of savings, but some of that will go to retire some debt, so I will be pretty much debt-free once I pull the plug. I'll still have a little bit put aside; maybe a few months of expenses. Not much more than that.

Worst case scenario, I could probably find work. If you haven't figured it out, my field is in tax - mainly state and local business taxes. But I have experience in preparing individual federal and state tax returns, too. I could always work from January to April doing taxes if nothing else.
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Old 01-27-2009, 03:55 PM   #31
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Janet, I recently joined this forum also. My situation is very similiar to yours: a State government employee for almost 32 years, age 56 and wanting to retire. I was promoted after I retired and over a 2 year period, my income has increased by more that 20k - I have used this increase to increase my asset base.

My situation is compounded by Florida's Deferred Retirement Program that allows a 30 year, retired person to draw their retirement while continuing to work. The DROP account accumulates for 5 years (or however long you stay in up to 5 years) at 6.5%. Makes for a nice chunk of change at the end of 5 years. I feel confident that I would be fine financially if I retired. Just keep thinking that the DROP $ I leave on the table would be so nice to have - for travel, to help my son and any future grandkid(s).

I live in Tallahassee, Florida. It is unlike Central/South Florida in that we have actual seasons with leaves changing color, etc. The Gulf of Mexico is 20 miles, as the crow flies, from my house. When looking at Florida as a retirement location, you might consider Tallahassee. Welcome. Please let us know what you decide to do.
That sounds like a pretty neat program. Maryland doesn't offer anything like that.

Thanks for the invite! I may have to check out the panhandle. I've mainly focused on the gulf coast between Ft. Myers and Crystal River. But I haven't ruled out Jacksonville, either. That's where my father is from, so I'm a little more familiar with it.

I guess I haven't ruled anything out, yet!
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Old 01-29-2009, 05:59 PM   #32
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It sounds like the job will be more stress no matter how things turn out. You get a promotion, but then have even more responsibility for increasing case loads. State budgets are not going to get better, so you'll have less to work with.

I think that with your auditing background you'll be able to get a job. However, there is a lot of competition for jobs now. With your record, though, I think you will succeed in the job search.
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Old 01-29-2009, 07:43 PM   #33
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I took the advice of REWahoo and dex and ordered both books (Work Less, Live More and How to Retire Happy, Wild and Free). I think I already know what I'm going to do; maybe I just needed a push in that direction. I appreciate the input from everyone. I will definitely be following this forum - great advice here!
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