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Suffering from Burnout - Can I FIRE?
Old 04-17-2006, 04:51 PM   #1
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Suffering from Burnout - Can I FIRE?

Here it goes,* I'm a Senior Engineering Manager at large electronics company age 46 and suffering from extreme job stress and burnout(major depression, daily stress headaches, blood pressure up etc)*

I have $750K in liquid assets in 401K's, roths, and taxable brokerage accounts, $500K equity in real estate($130K left on the mortgage), and another $250K in semi liquid assets.* Despite the fact I drive a BMW, I am actually very fiscally conservative (I still have the 1984 truck I bought after graduate school) and have no debt of any consequence.* Kids college already paid for.

I already own all the toys I need ( and my wife would say many more than I need),* Do I have enough, given some restraint and proper financanical management) to leave the stress of the corporate world behind?

I understand there are no warrenties expressed or implied on any responses
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Re: Suffering from Burnout - Can I FIRE?
Old 04-17-2006, 05:03 PM   #2
 
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Re: Suffering from Burnout - Can I FIRE?

What are your living expenses per year? Are you going to sell your house and downsize? Do you have to go it alone on Healthcare? Any Pensions besides Social Security? Any Kids? Does the wife work?

We can provide better answers, if you provide a little more info.
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Re: Suffering from Burnout - Can I FIRE?
Old 04-17-2006, 05:11 PM   #3
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Re: Suffering from Burnout - Can I FIRE?

50K actual living expenses, could be easily dropped to 40K. Wife will continue working part time (~30K)with benefits for another 10 years. I'm eligible for company retiree insurance after that and before medicare.

2 kids out of house, college already paid for. We will either sell and downsize(but not anytimesoon) or reverse mortgage @62

Thanks,

Bob
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Re: Suffering from Burnout - Can I FIRE?
Old 04-17-2006, 05:36 PM   #4
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Re: Suffering from Burnout - Can I FIRE?

"I'm a Senior Engineering Manager at large electronics company age 46 and suffering from extreme job stress and burnout(major depression, daily stress headaches, blood pressure up etc)"

I would suggest that you consider other options before RE. You are not in a good place to make a good decisions - IMHO (of course).

First look at your options to decompress and get out of the place where you are. There are many if you are willing to speak up for them. I don't know your company but I can think of:
1. Take all your vacation time and think.
2. Take a leave of absence
3. Seek out help from the health services available at your company.
4. Seek out perfessional help.

Burn out is a very real and tangible affliction. It affects your mind and body; do not take it lightly.
You can always leave your job.
In some ways you are in a power seat. You have the option to stay or go. Think of it that way and some of the pressure may be relived.
Take your time.
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Re: Suffering from Burnout - Can I FIRE?
Old 04-17-2006, 05:51 PM   #5
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Re: Suffering from Burnout - Can I FIRE?

Well Here's how I look at it. You have ~$1M in assets that can be used to generate income. Using the 4% safe withdrawal rate you can take out ~40k for the duration (before taxes). If the wife adds another $30k then you are set for something like a 50k (after tax) lifestyle.

Or sell the house and move somewhere inexpensive and enjoy the good life now. Maybe a year or three off will change your mindset. Maybe you could re-engineer yourself as a forest ranger (or whatever) and have a more sane lifestyle.

For me, although my job is not too stressful anymore, I found that once I reached that financial stage where I no longer needed to work to pay all my bills that my mindset changed. It wasn't so stressful to go into work anymore. The big boss wasn't such a jerk anymore. The co-workers were more tolerable to me. The boss and the co-workers didn't change but my attitude about work sure did.

Maybe a mindset change would do you wonders too.
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Re: Suffering from Burnout - Can I FIRE?
Old 04-17-2006, 06:11 PM   #6
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Re: Suffering from Burnout - Can I FIRE?

bluehero, i don't know how old your kids are, but you may have some unexpected expenses down the road, such as weddings/honeymoons, or want to help them with a downpayment for a house, or grandkid related expenses. you don't want to have to dip into your principle to cover these. additionally, i don't know where you live, but if it's a state with no property tax cap, then if values rise, you could take a hit. an extra 2-3k in annual property tax may not seem like much but if your net income is 40k then it is. also remember that the bmw you have will wear out at some point and will need to be replaced. i would feel much more comfortable if you built up a few hundred thousand more. a lot of folks on this board make lifestyle "sacrifices" in order to make early retirement work on ~ 40k, you need to think hard about whether that will work for you. maybe you can look into another job or position that would be less stressful, but still provide income for a few more years.
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Re: Suffering from Burnout - Can I FIRE?
Old 04-17-2006, 06:27 PM   #7
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Re: Suffering from Burnout - Can I FIRE?

Blue, it sounds like you could afford to take a year or two off anyway. Your environment sounds so toxic that getting the hell out might be a great idea. If you do decide to go back to work, I bet EE's can always find work.

Because of your age I assume to retire you'd have to use rule 72t to get penalty-free access to your retirement funds -- you need to make sure you can produce a cash flow that will work.

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Re: Suffering from Burnout - Can I FIRE?
Old 04-17-2006, 06:42 PM   #8
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Re: Suffering from Burnout - Can I FIRE?

++++Third Glass of wine warning here++++
I know the question asked is about money but, as a long term member of this board I do not beleive that that is the the quesition that needs to be answered. Or as a good philosopher said: "You may not always get what you want but sometimes, you get what you need."

When I found this board I asked a similar question. The responses got me to thinking and helped me.

I think we owe it to bluehero to dig a bit deeper. That is why I posted my opinion. I would like to ask Cut-Throat to weigh in to this aspect of the discussion because I think he and others have been around enough to see the real question being posed. I do not believe it is about finances.

I also draw on other experiences I have had in my life. I have spoken with people who are in major crisis in their lives and they do not see it. People in trouble need help in identifying the issues in their life and then finding the solutions. Who has not been there where a someone with an objective viewpoint has not sceen their issues with a clear and simple view.

I could be wrong and this could be my 4th glass of wine.

Jump in!
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Re: Suffering from Burnout - Can I FIRE?
Old 04-17-2006, 06:57 PM   #9
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Re: Suffering from Burnout - Can I FIRE?

Quote:
Originally Posted by bluehero
Here it goes, I'm a Senior Engineering Manager at large electronics company age 46 and suffering from extreme job stress and burnout(major depression, daily stress headaches, blood pressure up etc)
I was in that same situation at age 45. I popped a few pills for half a year and made a fairly dramatic work change (from HR to IT). I was still a manager so many of the factors that previously led to stress were still present but the new field and perspective change gave me a new lease on life to the point where I actually liked most of my work life (despite a continuing habit of waking up in the middle of the night worrying). At age 56, the ER picture was solid and I happily pulled the plug. I never wake up at night now.

The poster who suggested taking some time to get perspective on your current situation was right on. This is not the sort of decision to make on one of those days when you wake up and just can't go to work - stay home sick for a few days instead.

Don
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Re: Suffering from Burnout - Can I FIRE?
Old 04-17-2006, 07:08 PM   #10
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Re: Suffering from Burnout - Can I FIRE?

I'm probably echoing what others have said, but I would find a way to get away from your workplace, either an extended vacation or leave of absence. *I would focus on resting, getting some exercise and seriously examining what you want to do with the rest of your life. *You can do this by discussing your innermost feelings with a trusted friend, family member or perhaps a professional therapist. *See if you can come up with some ideas on paper. *

Dex makes a great point... it's worth digging in deeper to see how your stressful situation came about and what it is you really, really want from life. *It will likely take some time and some stretching out of comfort zones. *

You've got a lot going for you and you can generate a lot of good options with some thoughtful reflection. *Only you can come up with the answers but some that come to mind are leaving your job and doing something less stressful and more fulfilling while your wife works PT. *Maybe you could teach at a nearby community college, for instance. *You could let the nest egg grow for a few more years and then downsize the real estate, perhaps go RE in a less expensive, relaxing place. *That's just one of many possible options I'm sure.

Hope this goes well for you. *Best of luck.

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Re: Suffering from Burnout - Can I FIRE?
Old 04-17-2006, 07:23 PM   #11
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Re: Suffering from Burnout - Can I FIRE?

I believe that this board has matured a lot in the last 12-18 months. If this same situation presented by the OP had been presented back then, many would have said, "Oh yeah, groovy, man, go for it. If things get tight you can always dig grubs"

Ha
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Re: Suffering from Burnout - Can I FIRE?
Old 04-17-2006, 07:31 PM   #12
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Re: Suffering from Burnout - Can I FIRE?

Quote:
Originally Posted by HaHa
I believe that this board has matured a lot in the last 12-18 months. If this same situation presented by the OP had been presented back then, many would have said, "Oh yeah, groovy, man, go for it. If things get tight you can always dig grubs"
Ha
Definately my 4th glass of wine - this is a special ocasion.

I agree with Haha.

See ya'll tomorrow.
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Re: Suffering from Burnout - Can I FIRE?
Old 04-17-2006, 07:33 PM   #13
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Re: Suffering from Burnout - Can I FIRE?

What they said, take a break, take a vacation, and maybe think about a job you've always wanted to try, and do that for a while. *It may only be enough to pay the bills, and not sock away more, but it will keep you from pulling on your nest egg, and let compounding do it's thing. *

Also, if you've taken a break/vacation, and you get back and are sure you are done with work, period, then set a date, say, six months out that you are going to retire, and start getting things in order. *Tell your boss, get work ready for it, and see how you feel as the date gets closer.

EDIT: Rock on Dex! Blue, don't use Dex's method to cope with your stress, you should only drink to celebrate!
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Re: Suffering from Burnout - Can I FIRE?
Old 04-17-2006, 07:45 PM   #14
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Re: Suffering from Burnout - Can I FIRE?

Quote:
Originally Posted by HaHa
I believe that this board has matured a lot in the last 12-18 months. If this same situation presented by the OP had been presented back then, many would have said, "Oh yeah, groovy, man, go for it. If things get tight you can always dig grubs"

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Re: Suffering from Burnout - Can I FIRE?
Old 04-17-2006, 07:57 PM   #15
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Re: Suffering from Burnout - Can I FIRE?

Bluehero;
Take a deep breath -- you found your way here and that is half the battle.

Don't go into this blindly or rashly. Most of us got to ER after a fair amount of planning, and hoping for it for a number of years. There are two sides to getting ready -- the financial side and the emotional/planning side. So if you need a break from the crisis, take that fast-- maybe a long vacation, a job change or a sabbatical, but don't call it ER until you've done more spadework.

I am biased, but I wrote "Work Less, Live More" to pull together a lot of resources for someone in your situation. You can find it at Amazon via the link on the bottom of this page. But you could also spend next Saturday (or heck, shut the office door and spend the next few days on the company's time) reading through a bunch of these threads here, asking questions, and getting a feel for how this all works.

On the financial side, you should be in good shape as long as your wife is working, and after that it could still be ok, but tight. Don't forget to add in some of the silent 'accruals' -- expenses like car depreciation, fund management fees and house maintenance things that crop up every several years that are easy to forget about in the annual budget. You could also do some part-time work a few years into ER that bring in a few thousand a year and that is actually fun. Right now I sculpt portraits of my neighbors' kids -- who knows what you might be able to do once you've had a few years out of the office.

On the planning side, you'll want to make sure your wife understands what you're thinking about and is supportive.

A lot of us have been in your shoes. There is a way out, but if you want to have the best chance of this working, follow dex and Ha's and the others' advice -- solve the short term problems first and then get to the long term lifestyle change things when thing settle down.

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Re: Suffering from Burnout - Can I FIRE?
Old 04-17-2006, 08:24 PM   #16
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Re: Suffering from Burnout - Can I FIRE?

I want to thank everyone here for your thoughtful responses. This is actually something that I have been planning/thinking about for a long time. I did in take 3 month sabatical last summer to try and sort things out, there are lso some serious family stresses related my eldest son that have added to the stress level. Much of my disillusionment, however is a growing moral rift I am having with drive for corporate profits and the impact that has on work environment. More and more, the focus is how to increase productivity(corporate euphamism for how can we reduce headcount) not grow the business or contribute more to the community. I'm just tired of my major contribution to society being my consumer spending.

I am not considering siting in the back yard watching the dandilions grow for the next 20 years, just getting out of the stab your friend in the back corporate rat race. I have run several successful businessess in the past, and currently run a music recording studio & record label (www.blueheronrecords.com) in my home for local artists that can;t afford to pay for studio time and I have a adjunt professor slot lined up for next fall at a local university.

I just guess I am seeking warm fuzzies and some kind of reinforcement that there is actually water in the pool should I get the guts to jump in :-)

Thanks!
Bob


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Re: Suffering from Burnout - Can I FIRE?
Old 04-17-2006, 08:59 PM   #17
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Re: Suffering from Burnout - Can I FIRE?

Bob/Blue Hero
I know the feeling of being sick of the corporate ratrace. I was in sales and then general management, and every month or every quarter was a new do-or-die set of numbers to meet. Great numbers last quarter only seemed to ratchet up the pressure to do even better this quarter. There was no lasting peace in it, at least for me, and I guess that is just the nature of the beast.

Sounds like you've done more thinking and planning about this than appeared at first. I like that you've already got other interests, like your recording thing, going on the side -- that could turn into a nice little side income stream if you ever needed it to. Take care of the beemer and hope the wifes' job keeps chugging, and this could all work fine. We love ER around here, we just don't want anybody jumping into the shallow end.
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Re: Suffering from Burnout - Can I FIRE?
Old 04-18-2006, 08:40 AM   #18
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Re: Suffering from Burnout - Can I FIRE?

Quote:
I believe that this board has matured a lot in the last 12-18 months. If this same situation presented by the OP had been presented back then, many would have said, "Oh yeah, groovy, man, go for it. If things get tight you can always dig grubs"
I agree.* I have seen some pretty recklass advice handed out in the past, such as the often "just retire, and figure out a plan later" advise we used to get from the genius that is JG.
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Re: Suffering from Burnout - Can I FIRE?
Old 04-18-2006, 11:13 AM   #19
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Re: Suffering from Burnout - Can I FIRE?

You have your act together at least as well as we did--and a similar financial stash, too. I greatly admire your recording business and lovely web site (one of my brothers and my nephew are musicians and my niece is a web designer) as well as the adjunct prof job you set up. (The students will call you Professor--they don't care about the distinction ;-) Consider setting your last work date (end of May perhaps?), and taking the summer off to blow off the work stress, cope with the personal stress, and get ready for teaching. What's the worst that could happen--you might decide to go back to tech mgt after a nice change of pace and perspective?

Best wishes for your happiness and new directions!
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Re: Suffering from Burnout - Can I FIRE?
Old 04-18-2006, 07:55 PM   #20
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Re: Suffering from Burnout - Can I FIRE?

bluehero,

What would you like to do?

Ed
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