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Stressed and Obsessed in Charleston, SC
Old 08-05-2011, 08:40 PM   #1
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Stressed and Obsessed in Charleston, SC

A little about me and the family. I'm 53 (turn 54 in October), married with a son who starts his junior year next week in college. My DW has a state job which offers a pension after 28 years of service. She has abouth 5 years to go but we can buy years of service to shorten that to 25 years. I am a mid level manager for a Fortune 500 company and I am eligible to retire at 55. My job is fairly stable however it is very stressful. To me, my bigger problem is I have become obsessed with early retirement to the point I spend too much time running different scenarios and "what ifs" through my brain. My plan right now is to retire at 56 on my 401K worth around $700K and of course the DW's pension. I'm looking forward to learning and sharing as much as possible from this forum.
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Old 08-05-2011, 08:44 PM   #2
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Welcome, neighbor. I think you'll find a lot of good info here as well as some like-minded folks.

As far as your plan, it may well be that once you bail on the pressure cooker job for a few years, something else may catch your eye anyway, and you can add some more to the retirement kitty.

You didn't mention the amount of the wife's pension, but running your numbers through Firecalc (and knowing with fairly good certainty what your costs will be in retirement for stuff like health insurance and the like) might also give you some ideas about the workability of your plan. Any other assets outside of the 401k? House paid off?

How about this weather, eh?
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Old 08-05-2011, 09:11 PM   #3
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The weather is hot and rainy right now. I've already ran my numbers on Firecalc and was pleased. We plan on having no mortgage when all is said and done. I won't go without a minimum of $800K in the 401K. We currently live off $60K before taxes and do pretty much what we want to do. Her pension will be roughly $16K per year. I just spend waaaay too much time thinking about all of this. Thanks for the response.
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Old 08-05-2011, 11:22 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by 02camp View Post
To me, my bigger problem is I have become obsessed with early retirement to the point I spend too much time running different scenarios and "what ifs" through my brain. .
That is an sickness that many of us have suffered through or are presently suffering through. There is no cure (other than FIRE).
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Old 08-06-2011, 12:22 AM   #5
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I just spend waaaay too much time thinking about all of this. Thanks for the response.
This board should help you with this. You will still be completely obsessed by early retirement, playing with spreadsheets, running Firecal etc., but you will have lots of social support for these activities.

Ha
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Old 08-07-2011, 07:46 AM   #6
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Thanks Packrat and Haha for the replies. Now that I have discovered and run Firecal, I may have to delay my plans by a year or two. The Fidelity calculator I was depending on is more optomistic than Firecal. Oh well, such is life.
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Old 08-07-2011, 07:54 AM   #7
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You should find comfort and less stress in the fact that you are progressing well toward ER and that your wife has a pension. Many are not as fortunate.
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Old 08-07-2011, 08:20 AM   #8
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If the job becomes too stressful, you could bring that timeline back down by cutting your expenses and / or taking on a period of semi-retirement with a lower paying, easier job.
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Old 08-07-2011, 08:39 AM   #9
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The Fidelity calculator I was depending on is more optomistic than Firecal. Oh well, such is life.
First of all - welcome to the board.

Secondly, if you are using Fidelity's "tools", make sure you are using the one that meets your needs. They have several, including MyPlan and Retirement Quick Check that are not for the detail oriented person (which, I believe is the type of person on this board).

I would recommend that you investigate the use of two FIDO "products", being "Full View" and "Retirement Income Planner" (AKA "RIP"). Of course, you need to be a FIDO customer (either via a regular investment account or a 401(k) plan through your employer) to use these tools.

The Full View software will be used to assemble your (and DW's) portfolio, but more importantly do a breakdown of your holdings, using a direct interface to Morningstar's software (AKA "M*") to actually analyze your holdings and calculate not only the worth, but also the breakdown (by holding type, by world region, etc.)

Most importantly, this is required as input to the RIP program in order to show how your (along with your DW's) holdings will impact your retirement income.

Secondly, when using RIP the first time around, you should spend a good deal of time using the retirement budget section to define your expected expenses in retirement, and modification year by year (or decade by decade, as I do for such items as travel expenses). It's a PIA in the beginning, but once you do you only need to update/modify it if major changes are expected to occur. BTW, to make this easier, just plug in your current expenses and reducing those items you expect to change in retirement (as a note/mortgage). You can change it along the way. I personally feel many folks don't use the RIP program since they see the expense module as too labor intensive. It really isn't. While you may not be able to state all your expenses in the future, you certainly know what they are now, and planning for a retirement with 100% of current expenses is a good place to start, IMHO.

Also, you should change the standard 90% C.I. to 95% (an option, which I won't go into here) to make your plan a bit more conservative. My feeling is if you make it as conservative as you can, and the plan "survives", you are probably OK for most of the situations that will result in a better than expected result.

BTW, I was part of a software upgrade user test team, so I'm aware of some of the "undercover stuff" of RIP.

Feel free to send me a message if you need help in using the FIDO tool(s).

BTW, I use RIP in addition to FIRECalc (and also VG's F.E. - which isn't worth much, IMHO) and have found that if you take the time to input all the expenses along with your holdings (using FV), your results will turn out a bit worse (and more conservative) than FIRECalc, which suffers since it does not provide for extensive expense nor current portfolio analysis. But hey, that's just my results (don't slam me for the FIRECalc comment ).
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Old 08-07-2011, 02:55 PM   #10
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Thank you Col. Klink and PMR for the respsonses. It is reassuring there are others who have and will take the same path toward ER as we plan. I feel I have already benefited from this forum after only finding it a couple days ago.
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Old 08-07-2011, 03:27 PM   #11
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Rescueme, thank you for your reply. I discovered an error in my inputs on Firecal which totally changed the outcome (GIGO). I did not click the DW's pension as yearly income but left it to default to reduced spending. Once I made that change, it showed a 100% success rate.

Also, I use FIDO along with Quick Retirement Check from Fidelity. Even looking at the poor market on QRC, Fidelity says my plan is fine. I have always felt Fidelity was fairly conservative with their calculator, when I negleted the proper click, I was shocked!

As far as retirement expenses, I make a decent salary plus bonus. The DW has a small salary but good benefits (State job). We live off my salary. The bonus $$$ (when and if there is any) and her salary go in the bank or to Clemson University (2 more years). So for retirement income, I use my salary as the baseline for the calculations. The last bit is right now, the mortgage comes out of my salary which will be gone after retirement. This will give us a bit of wiggle room for hobbies and travel or more expense cuts in case of a market downturn after we FIRE ourselves.

Thanks again for your response. It gives me added confidence we're traveling down the right path.
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Old 08-07-2011, 03:31 PM   #12
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Most of us are obsessed about our finances. Every once in a while we take a break and focus on bacon....

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