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Where to go from here?
Old 11-06-2011, 01:14 PM   #1
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Where to go from here?

Hi, glad I found this site. It appears many of you have given a great deal of thought about some of the things I am struggling with at the moment. It is not any easy answer though.

I am 53 and plan ER in 2 years after a 30 year career that has been great but is ending due to mandatory retirement age looming. I have a pension of about 70K no bills, and a decent portfolio, invested mainly in tax sheltered retirement accounts. My problem is what to do and where to do it? I would like to work perhaps 2 years before total ER to help with college costs for my son who enters college in 2012. I have lived outside the States on and off but really need somewhere that I can get a fresh start. I have a house on the West Coast, currently leased out, but it does not seem like an ER home. I am engaged in the search for a 2 year contract postion that I could do and am considering a last bit of service by going to Afghanistan, primarily for the work. I think I will have a problem with the transition from career to ER. I have been out of the job market for so long that I have no idea who I could consult with to overcome temporary job search frustration, and age bias issues.

I am a bit of a mess in the future planning area. It has been suggested that I consider a career transition or career counselor to aid in this, but to be honest I have a hard time picking one cold off the internet - especially as it may be a nice website created by a guy in a dark room somewhere.

I have done some reading, Ernie Zelinski books, and the great book by Jack Bogle, as well as 'What color is your parachute in retirement" but I guess I need one on one assistance. Playing golf or working at something basic is just not interesting. Something where I could meet interesting people would be ideal.

Anyway, any thoughts would be sincerely appreciated. I have already learned much by reviewing other postings.

Malcolm
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Old 11-06-2011, 01:47 PM   #2
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Hello and welcome. Have you thought about volunteering ?
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Very conservative with investments. Not ER'd yet, 48 years old. Please do not take anything I write or imply as legal, financial or medical advice directed to you. Contact your own financial advisor, healthcare provider, or attorney for financial, medical and legal advice.
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Old 11-06-2011, 03:30 PM   #3
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Welcome Malcolm2,

You could always buy rental property. Lots to do, so you'll never be bored; meet all kinds of people, many with suggestions for filling your idle hours; and volunteer work galore (see post by obgyn65 above), a few want to live in your property for free. It's worked for me for years.
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Old 11-06-2011, 03:32 PM   #4
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Welcome. The good news is that with a pension of 70K and a good portfolio, you don't necessarily need to pursue an equivalent job to the one that you are retiring from. That leaves you the freedom to work at essentially anything that you want to, purely for the job satisfaction.

I used to think it would be fun to "work" at Home Depot after I retired from my real job, but soon realized that I was having way too much fun to be tied to a schedule. So, my advice is to cast a wider net.
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Old 11-06-2011, 05:26 PM   #5
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Welcome...if you must continue to w*rk, I would suggest registering your name with a few temp agencies, assuming there are any with no fee paid by you of course. You can stick with the same field or even be creative in what you might want to attempt.

Volunteering is wonderful. I've done a variety of volunteer gigs since I FIREd almost 5 years ago, ranging from driving disabled vets home (DAV) and driving vets behind the VFW color guard in a parade, to helping out with food prep/cooking, party setup and operations, and table bussing (Legions and private clubs).
I've met so many new people and get great exercise. Never a dull moment...
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Old 11-06-2011, 06:57 PM   #6
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Malcolm, I would say that you need to spend some time deciding what you really want to do with your time in retirement. I imagine that like most working people, you have not spent unstructured time doing a bit of navel-gazing to decide what you would like to try doing. My wife is a career counselor by trade and I think that a career counselor might be helpful, but first I would spend some time just thiking creatively without any boundaries. If you decide to find a counselor, call a few and see if you can find one you would be comfy talking to.
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Old 11-09-2011, 01:44 PM   #7
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Thanks for the welcome all. My problem is that my job has never seemed like work, more like an adventure that I was paid for. I understand the need for transitions and changes but I have a hard time imagining myself stepping out of the fast lane just yet.

I feel still 25 and have been living my dream. I will say that I have learned that each forced change is really an opportunity and I hope to make the best of it. I may go back to finish up another degree just because it interests me. I just need to find something that will get me up in the morning. I don't think that volunteering, however noble, will do that for me.
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Old 11-09-2011, 02:12 PM   #8
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Can you bypass the mandatory retirement rules? Perhaps you can retire and be immediately re-hired as a consultant?

Or, if you really want to have something to do, challenge the whole concept of mandatory retirement, especially at such a young age.

When in doubt, sue!
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Old 11-09-2011, 04:39 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Malcolm2 View Post
Thanks for the welcome all. My problem is that my job has never seemed like work, more like an adventure that I was paid for. I understand the need for transitions and changes but I have a hard time imagining myself stepping out of the fast lane just yet.

I feel still 25 and have been living my dream. I will say that I have learned that each forced change is really an opportunity and I hope to make the best of it. I may go back to finish up another degree just because it interests me. I just need to find something that will get me up in the morning. I don't think that volunteering, however noble, will do that for me.
My bolding...I am personally finding that my Engineering skills are easily transferable to all sorts of volunteer w*rk. Attention to detail, defining specs, optimizing processes, detecting operational faults, w*rking to completion, etc etc. I am used to being in charge of projects and holding positions, but these days in FIRE, I am forcing myself to NOT take the reins and be a grunt. It is very mind expanding.
I am not pushing you personally to do volunteering, just trying to present a different view. "Out of the box" is my specialty.
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Old 11-09-2011, 05:27 PM   #10
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Reading between the lines on your OP I'm thinking I know what you do for a living (If I got it right, the number 1811 will mean something to you). If I got it wrong, well, oops, my bad.

What's not clear to me from your original post is are you looking for something because you need the money, are looking to continue on in the same type of work because it's what you do/have always done, or are you looking to transition into making a more dramatic change in the next stage of your life?

Five years ago, when I joined this forum, I had similar questions. My situation then was a little different in that my kids were younger, and being dad had become my primary occupation. Now that the youngest is a college freshman our situations are more similar, although I've had six years away from work to gain some perspective.

Regarding an AFG tour - after a brief experience of being a paid adventure tourist I decided it wasn't for me. Whenever I need reminding a former co-w*rker is a big dog over such missions at State, and he goes to enough funerals to call me back to reality. (If we were better friends, and he could swing me one of the cush gigs in Brussels, I would be down in a moment - but we're not that close.) I think I wanted to go because they were offering a sweet chunk of money, and I think I was struggling a bit with being useful and such stuff. There was a little macho zaniness going on, and I was believing that if I had a little swing and a little hang that I would be over there doing the good work.

Ultimately I decided that I was hanging on to something I should have been letting go of. It was my job, and I was really good at it, but it was time to let it go because it didn't define me.
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Old 11-09-2011, 07:56 PM   #11
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Nice post, Leonidas.

Malcolm2, one suggested addition to your reading list: Work Less, Live More by Bob Clyatt. I have several more years at the salt mine, but I enjoyed it's "how to" format and practical advice. I've seen good reviews and recommendations from those close to your situation.
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Old 11-10-2011, 12:11 PM   #12
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Nice post, Leonidas.

Malcolm2, one suggested addition to your reading list: Work Less, Live More by Bob Clyatt. I have several more years at the salt mine, but I enjoyed it's "how to" format and practical advice. I've seen good reviews and recommendations from those close to your situation.
Thanks to both of you for the comments. The recommended book is on the way to me, looks interesting.
Leonidas, my son will be a freshman also, but we have money put away for that, so I really don't need the money in AF. Thought it might be a challenge. As far as holding on to something - well said, something to think about. Bottom line is I am too young to not be productive and also feel that I am wasting good earning years even though I could get by without the money.
Another thing, is that most of my outside friends will continue to work until their early 60's, and I wonder if I will lose the point of reference with them?

M
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Old 11-10-2011, 09:01 PM   #13
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M,

You might benefit by a slight change of perspective. Instead of considering this 'retirement', consider it 'financial independence' and start from there.

Think in terms of "What would I do, if....".
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Old 11-11-2011, 05:33 AM   #14
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Malcolm, I would say that you need to spend some time deciding what you really want to do with your time in retirement. I imagine that like most working people, you have not spent unstructured time doing a bit of navel-gazing to decide what you would like to try doing.
+1 on this.

Take some time off. From everything. Like some others I didn't have anything planned to go to, and cast around for a while practicing not doing much more than taking up space. Some excel at this but it didn't work for me.

Tried fishing, that's okay, but not all day every day, and it's no fun for me in winter. Helped a friend build an airplane, neat project but eventually it was finished.

A few years ago on a whim I sent in a response for an advertised job opening and for now that works for me. It has easy hours, a short commute, low BS level, and virtually no paperwork. The bulk of the unplanned-for income goes into savings for now (hardwired in both of us I suppose) but we have loosened the purse strings more than we otherwise would have.

But I continue to look around at other new stuff to do, the latest being photography. While the technical stuff (ISO, aperture, shutter speeds, etc.) is easy for me I've always had difficulty with the artistic end of it. "Seeing the light", color, composition, patterns that may make a good photograph, and things like that.

But for the first time in my life I find I'm starting to "get" that stuff, although admittedly it remains on the hazy edge of consciousness. I'm taking some classes in the subject, and the astonishing thing is that I'm enjoying it!

So it may take a while to figure out "Where do I go from here?" I still don't know but I'm making good time.
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Old 11-12-2011, 01:12 AM   #15
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Perhaps make two lists. On the left, things you enjoy doing in life....laughing, comedy, wine tasting, antiques, whatever.

On the right, skills you have such as leadership/mentoring, dealing with ambiguity, data analysis, whatever.

Then try to think of areas where the two fit together and you might just find a few ideas. Good luck.
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Old 11-12-2011, 09:26 AM   #16
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Ed, and Dave,

Good thoughts. I am making my list today (both of them)!

As far as taking time off to do nothing, not sure I know how to do that. I have achieved financial independence in that I have no bills and a guaranteed income that exceeds expenses. Last month I made the last mortgage payment. However I have always been goal focused and frankly the thought of having no plan and looking for hobbys is of little interest, but perhaps will be in another ten years or so.

This is another one of those things in life that should come with an instruction manual. Going with the flow seems to be against my task and problem orientated focus that defined me since I was a kid.

Maybe I will head over to the 'Life After Fire' forum and look around a bit more. Seems there could be en entire site dedicated to this issue - and probably is somewhere.

I appreciate all the thoughtful responses!

M
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Old 11-12-2011, 10:00 AM   #17
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M,

You might benefit by a slight change of perspective. Instead of considering this 'retirement', consider it 'financial independence' and start from there.

Think in terms of "What would I do, if....".
Yes (I agree) ...
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