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Starting to feel the midlife crisis kick in @ 36
Old 05-23-2014, 02:35 PM   #1
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Starting to feel the midlife crisis kick in @ 36

Hey all,

I've been reading these forums enough that I thought I would introduce myself and perhaps memorialize the beginning of serious consideration for early retirement.

I am 36 and work in a fulfilling, but very high stress profession. I've been working my way up the ladder since I was 22 and am proud of where I am, but in the last year I have really started to feel a fair amount of burnout. The addition of a new immediate supervisor who displays some pretty classic soul-sucking narcissistic personality disorder traits has me reconsidering my plans and priorities for the future.

I have an aunt and uncle who pulled the plug and retired early in their 40's after an inheritance and they are the most blissed-out, stress-free people I know. Their lifestyle is what I crave.

I think my DW and I can get there, it's just a matter of how long it's going to take. I don’t think retiring in our 40’s is feasible, but the numbers start looking good once we are in our 50’s. The biggest mistake we have made is not funding tax advantaged accounts enough since we both have significant employer provided defined benefit pensions coming.

Here are our stats:
  • Married 36, 38yo respectively. We are trying for a baby, so perhaps one addition to the family.
  • Combined salary around $180K. We are nearing the top of our earning potential, but its very possible that we could be earning 10-15% more in a couple years.
  • Mortgage: Owe approx. $120,000 @ 2.5% interest which is scheduled to be paid off in 13 years at age 49.
  • Student Loans: DW got her Master’s a few years ago and owes approx. $36,000 @3.5% interest. Her payment is $250/month, so we are still 15 years out paying the minimum.
  • No other debt.
  • My pension: $120,000 (Non-COLA’d) at age 55, but I will have actually earned the maximum number of pension credits around age 52. At that point, the only variables will be final salary and what age benefits start (reduced by about 3.5% each year under age 60).
  • DW’s pension: $30,000 (COLA’d - govt) at age 60.
  • $50,000 in 401(k), 457 & Roth IRAs. We have stepped up our contributions and are on track for $25,000 this year and aiming for at least $30,000 in future years.
  • $85,000 in a low interest MMA for emergency fund and home improvement projects (considering reducing this a bit to help increase money going into our tax advantage accounts).
FireCalc and some of the other calculators indicate we are in good shape pulling the plug when I hit 55 with spending of upwards $120,000/year, but I would like to get out a little earlier if possible since we will be mortgage free before I turn 50 and I hit a pension wall at age 52.

We are dreaming of lots of travel and perhaps a move or 2nd home somewhere warm, so at least at first I think we are going to need some wiggle room for higher withdrawals, but I don’t see us keeping up that pace for the long term.

Anyway, it’s been quite helpful just typing this out, but I am certainly open to critiques, reality checks and other comments as we are really just starting to try and move everything in this direction. I look forward to being a more active participant as we keep moving forward.
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Old 05-23-2014, 03:19 PM   #2
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OK, I'll say it first...

What are your expenses? Is that $120K enough for you to actually live on? Could you live on much less and therefore retire much earlier? Spend a year tracking your expenses and then start on reducing them - sometimes reducing your outgo can do a lot!
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Old 05-23-2014, 03:42 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Maenad View Post
OK, I'll say it first...

What are your expenses? Is that $120K enough for you to actually live on? Could you live on much less and therefore retire much earlier? Spend a year tracking your expenses and then start on reducing them - sometimes reducing your outgo can do a lot!
Thanks Maenad. I suppose I should have more directly addressed spending, huh?. We are in the beginning stages of mapping out our spending now and trying to extrapolate that for down the road. We are a couple months into regular Quicken use and I am trying to fill in some blanks, but am not quite comfortable to throw out black and white numbers yet as I'm not sure we've got enough data to work with.

Based on what data I do have and what we spend today, minus mortgage, student loans and other expenses we don't anticipate being long term, I think we would be fine with $120K/yr as much of our other spending is discretionary (i.e. there is a cushion there - just still trying to figure how much of a cushion).
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Old 05-23-2014, 03:51 PM   #4
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Welcome to the forum, ivotedtoo. Here are some questions you may find useful Some Important Questions to Answer Before Asking - Can I Retire?

In addition, any thought of future lifestyle and spending must first consider this; the impact and difference is considerable.

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We are trying for a baby, so perhaps one addition to the family.
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Old 05-23-2014, 04:52 PM   #5
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One thing is almost certain - the fact that you are seriously looking at ER now rather than when you are 50 means you will get there sooner than most.

If your job is that stressful, assessing how much of it is due to new bad boss is important. With your DB pension, you are probably at a large enough firm that looking for a new position within the firm is realistic (nothing wrong with a lateral move, or even a step down - sometimes you can take a step down in responsibility and still keep your salary if not your title). It's a good way to recharge your batteries and possibly to pick up some new skills for the future. Just a thought.

Good luck!
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Old 05-25-2014, 07:25 PM   #6
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On face value, your decision seems simple. Do you want to live the blissful stress free life of your Aunt and Uncle in your 40's, or do you want to continue to chase the consumer driven life that 'needs' $120k pa to get by.

To me, your future is determined by your spending.
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Old 05-26-2014, 09:39 AM   #7
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Since you have a FIRE role model in the family - you should probably have a chat with them - it is one thing to get a big inheritance - but another to invest it and generate lifetime income
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Old 05-27-2014, 11:43 AM   #8
Confused about dryer sheets
 
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Originally Posted by MBAustin View Post
One thing is almost certain - the fact that you are seriously looking at ER now rather than when you are 50 means you will get there sooner than most.

If your job is that stressful, assessing how much of it is due to new bad boss is important. With your DB pension, you are probably at a large enough firm that looking for a new position within the firm is realistic (nothing wrong with a lateral move, or even a step down - sometimes you can take a step down in responsibility and still keep your salary if not your title). It's a good way to recharge your batteries and possibly to pick up some new skills for the future. Just a thought.

Good luck!
I am in a high stress environment regardless of coworkers, but the additional stressors of the new boss has been significant enough for me to pause to consider my alternatives. Were I not so invested in the company DB plan, I would probably look for employment elsewhere, but since that is not an option, I think a lateral move may be the way to go. I am in a kind of specialized field, but there are a few possibilities to explore internally.
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Old 05-27-2014, 11:47 AM   #9
Confused about dryer sheets
 
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On face value, your decision seems simple. Do you want to live the blissful stress free life of your Aunt and Uncle in your 40's, or do you want to continue to chase the consumer driven life that 'needs' $120k pa to get by.

To me, your future is determined by your spending.
Hi Sparkie... I think what you are describing is what we are going to be exploring in the next couple years. In my head, I am setting age 55 as a fairly achievable benchmark, but be shooting for earlier if the stars align as far as spending and investing in the next 10 or 15 years.
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Old 05-28-2014, 11:22 AM   #10
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Bad bosses come and bad bosses go during your career. I also agree a lateral move may be good for you. However, the bad boss may also be a current bump in the road and will be gone at some point.

Your nice pension and your wife's smaller future pension make a good income. So the question is once you know spending, how early can you retire and live off savings, until the pension, and then additional future SS income, kick in.

You can get out sooner than 55, if you save up and have some good growth of your savings between now and future until that retirement day.
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