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Why cant I pull the trigger?
Old 11-03-2004, 04:54 PM   #1
 
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Why cant I pull the trigger?

Hi:

I am married, aged 46, have 4 kids, and a great frugal wife.
I have 3.2 million dollars in stocks, bonds, and cash.
My house is paid for. No debt.
My job has gotten somewhat less enjoyable over the last few years. I had planned to ER, at age 46, but I am afraid to try it. Afraid I will miss working, or my relationship with my wife will be change. Concerned that some unforeseen event could land me in financial straits. Concerned I may get bored, or lose a purpose in life. In short, I am a worrier.
Any advice?

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Re: Why cant I pull the trigger?
Old 11-03-2004, 05:43 PM   #2
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Re: Why cant I pull the trigger?

Retirement can be a major life stressor. One cause is the change in family roles. Your wife has been the executive of your household, and no executive likes displacement. Re-define retirement! Start a journal with the goal of making a plan for the rest of your life.

Many major companies offer sabbaticals. The value in a sabbatical is that, often, your health insurance stays in place; when the sabbatical is up you are regarded as an employee for placement purposes, and if you really miss the work-world you can ask for an early return. The risk is that your employer may say they can't spare you, or there isn't a suitable position when/if you return. However, you are none the worse for exploring this option.

Are there things you told yourself that you want to do if only you had the time? Some families sail around the world while home-schooling the kids. Others go on a mission, some managers/professionals offer their services to a worthy (you define) organization or program. Find your passion. Enlist your family's support once you have identified your passion and have a plan. If you leave your current employment to follow your passion you will be amazed at the number of employers who will welcome you if you change your mind.
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Re: Why cant I pull the trigger?
Old 11-03-2004, 06:00 PM   #3
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Re: Why cant I pull the trigger?

Quote:
Hi:

I am married, *aged 46, have 4 kids, and a *great frugal wife.
I have 3.2 million dollars in stocks, bonds, and cash.
My house is paid for. No debt.
My job has gotten somewhat less enjoyable over the last few years. I had planned to ER, at age 46, but I am afraid to try it. Afraid I will miss working, or my relationship with my wife will be change. *Concerned *that some unforeseen event could land me in financial straits. Concerned I may get bored, or lose a purpose in life. In short, I am a worrier.
Any advice?
I don't give advice, but I will comment. Your relationship to your wife will change, as will your relationship to your kids. It may get better, or worse. But it will definitely change. How could it not?

Even with 4 kids, you probably have plenty money to retire. Most here would say you certainly have plenty.

But we are not talking about an inability to accept life saving surgery here. We are talking about a somewhat unusual and completely voluntary act, early retirement. Quite early, at age 46 with a large family. So I don't think you have to hassle yourself about why you are not doing it.

Maybe your intuition is telling you that for your individual self and your particular wife and family and job and everything that makes up your environment, you are not at this time sure early retirement is the best thing for you to do.

This board is dedicated to early retirement, so you can expect to hear the most positive aspects of it here.

Take your time. A job that was good enough to allow you to accumulate a a wife and 4 children, a paid for house and $3.2 milion in invested assets is a pretty good job to walk away from.

It is fashionable to pretend that we are not competitive, that we don't get ego gratification and maybe even testosterone enhancemnet from having these powerful positions.

But read some of the threads here. Do you see quite a bit of jockying for respect and position? Does it make you wonder if at least some of this comes from what was lost in ER?

Presumably you have it, and you will be walking away from a good bit of it if you retire.

Personally, I quit a good career only becaue it was driving me goofy. I would not have quit if my job were "somewhat less enjoyable", as you said.

Mikey

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Re: Why cant I pull the trigger?
Old 11-03-2004, 06:08 PM   #4
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Re: Why cant I pull the trigger?

Everything will change, just like it always does!

Manage the change.

Run!

Run!

Run off to freedom!!

My favorite line...you can always go back to work! If your old job people like you, they'll welcome you back, possibly with a raise. If you had your own biz, chances are you'll think of a better one while your feet are languishing on a footrest or stuck in a river full of trout.

More likely after 6-12 months of adjustment, you'll find your days so full of 'stuff' that you wont know how you ever fit a regular job in there and wont ever consider going back.

Looks like the money and everything else shouldnt be a problem, at least.
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Re: Why cant I pull the trigger?
Old 11-03-2004, 06:26 PM   #5
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Re: Why cant I pull the trigger?

Quote:
I am married, *aged 46, have 4 kids, and a *great frugal wife.
I have 3.2 million dollars in stocks, bonds, and cash.
My house is paid for. No debt.
My job has gotten somewhat less enjoyable over the last few years. I had planned to ER, at age 46, but I am afraid to try it. Afraid I will miss working, or my relationship with my wife will be change. *Concerned *that some unforeseen event could land me in financial straits. Concerned I may get bored, or lose a purpose in life. In short, I am a worrier.
Any advice?
If you're afraid of ER, then you're not ready to ER. You probably have more than it takes to ER, but you have to ask yourself why you want to ER. If you can't give yourself a good answer, then you know where you stand.

So what are you going to do, work until you're 65 or dead? If so, good luck, but I'm not joining you. Life is too short and I can think of thousands of things I would rather be doing than going to work, especially at a job I don't like.
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Re: Why cant I pull the trigger?
Old 11-04-2004, 07:50 AM   #6
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Re: Why cant I pull the trigger?

Quote:
Personally, I quit a good career only becaue it was driving me goofy. I would not have quit if my job were "somewhat less enjoyable", as you said.
I think this is a good point, and something that can easily be lost on these forums.

I think the number one motivator for ER is a job that causes you unhappiness, stress, not enough time to do other things you enjoy, doesnt allow you to see your family enough, etc. That suggests that there are some jobs that do allow for those things while still working.

Early retiring I dont think is the holy grail, in an of itself. I believe we are creatures that are meant to contribute to our environment/society, and that contribution can certainly come in the form of your job. Those eagerly wanting to retire simply desire for that contribution to be something besides what they get paid to do. I bet there are not many truly lazy folks that their #1 intent is to just sit on the couch and not move.

So far...... I like my job enough that I wouldnt quit it even if i had the opportunity. Its painless enough for me that i'd be willing to work, and endulge in the increased consumerism it'd bring for doing it. I mean, heck, i studied my ass off for years just to get this job. ... BUT, i cant be sure it'll always be that way for me, so i'm saving aggressively now so i have the option later to pull the trigger.

Once i reach the point of FI, then my decision will simply be, increase my consumption to match my earnings power or ER. I'll choose what i think will make me happiest.

Thesis: ER is not the automatically correct choice for everyone, even if you're FI.
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Re: Why cant I pull the trigger?
Old 11-04-2004, 09:28 AM   #7
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Re: Why cant I pull the trigger?

Quote:
Thesis: *ER is not the automatically correct choice for everyone, even if you're FI.
Couldn't agree more. There are plenty of wealthy people who continue to find work the most agreeable way for them to spend their time.

I envy them somewhat, because FI and a well paying career that one likes is a stronger position with fewer financial constraints than FIRE.

As an aside, I am amazed at how freely posters will give advice to "walk out that door now!" IMO, this is fundamentally different than sharing info about mutual funds, allocations or even attitudes toward risk.

Imagine someone walking into a psychologist's office and saying, "Hey, I have a wife, 4 kids, and $3.2 million, but somehow I can't quit my job..."

I think the psychologist would want to know just what makes this a problem!

Mikey
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Re: Why cant I pull the trigger?
Old 11-04-2004, 10:13 AM   #8
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Re: Why cant I pull the trigger?

May I offer that the opportunity to spend as much time as is desired with ones family and friends rather than a few hours here or there might easily exceed any "benefits" of a job? Catching your kids growing up, maturing and becoming adults in bits and pieces equates to a "problem" to me.

I suppose if I were involved with a family business that was really fulfilling and let us all work together in a manner that supported the family connectivity and cohesiveness, that would tip the scales.

Of course, if you already feel tense and/or discomforted with the amount of time you spend with your family and find the job a way to maintain some "away time"...

And again...Its not an irreversible decision. Twelve years ago I decided to leave my job and do nothing for a while. Had a really nice summer. Actually did a few consulting bits for a few days or a week here and there and ended up making as much money as I would have on the job in 1/10th the time and with very little aggravation. A few months later at the end of the fall I did a "wtf", drove across the country to hook up with an old girlfriend and spend a little time with her. Next thing I knew I got a cool job I liked, and eight years later I'd amassed enough money to quit working forever.

I keep on working, I miss out on that long summer sabbatical. I never move to a place that I like far more than where I used to live. I never get that job, I might never reach FI. And I never meet my current wife.

In my current ER state, I'm spending all my time doing what *I* want, on my schedule, and I'll get to see every minute of my kid growing up. I dont know if there was a "problem" there, but I like the solution...
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Try worrying constructively.
Old 11-04-2004, 10:58 AM   #9
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Try worrying constructively.

Well, it's a good idea to not quit your day job if you're concerned about ER. Or maybe you're more concerned by the thought of spending 24/7 with four kids!

Most of the board would cheerfully switch places with you, including us ERs with much smaller portfolios. You have this locked up by any analytical or financial standard. Qualitatively & emotionally it's even easier: what avocation possibly be more important or interesting than the opportunity to indulge ourselves with our interests, our families, and the rest of our lives?!? Especially when we don't know how much time we have left with them!

You seem to be the only remaining ER obstacle, and that's a matter of overcoming your programming. Trying to decide on ER while you're working is a vicious Vulcan death spiral-- you can't properly learn how to ER or what to do about it because you're too busy working. As everyone else has already said, the best remedy is experiential learning-- take as much sabbatical or vacation time as you can string together. Don't fill your leisure time with constructive activities and for gosh sakes' don't go on a multi-state family driving vacation or try to add a new room to the home. Just laze around and pretend that you're retired, then do whatever seems interesting to you (no doubt subject to spouse approval). If you get a multi-month sabbatical then the chances are well over 50% that you won't be going back to work.

Your spouse & kids may have already figured out how you should be spending your ER, and they may appreciate your providing them with more resources for their goals. That may not make you happy but at least it'll help you answer your "Work or quit?" question. (Heck, how many sports teams could you coach when you have four kids?!?) Read the lifestyle articles on Greaney's ER website if you haven't already (http://www.retireearlyhomepage.com/ and take a look at a couple of the millions of "You're Retired, Now What" books at your local library. Your spouse may welcome a discussion about her future career plans (now that you're home to take care of the kids!). Put together a budget if you don't have one. Forecast your spending for the next 10 years, including all those college costs you're going to have to bribe your kids to get them to move out. This board has several posts of extremely detailed lists of expenses and how to fund them.

FWIW, I still worry after over two years of ER (I'm 44). The difference is that now it's constructive-- I have the time to research those questions and to decide whether they're worth further worry. "No" far outnumbers the "Uh-ohs", and all the latter have been fixed. None of them have been anywhere near the significance of being able to spend my time with our kid, and hopefully that's the same for you.

So let us know when you're taking that work hiatus...

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Re: Why cant I pull the trigger?
Old 11-04-2004, 11:32 AM   #10
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Re: Why cant I pull the trigger?

Maybe try the gradual approach, if your employer will allow it. I downshifted to working 3 days a week at age 55. After a year of that I went to two days a week for a year. At that point the two days at work seemed like a rude interruption of the lifestyle I had come to enjoy so I stopped working altogether.

This approach gave me (and my wife) time to adjust to me being around the house more. It gave me time to try out a few things to see if I really wanted to pursue them (e.g. training to become a certified financial planner - gave that up after a few months). By the time I stopped working I had developed a satisfying daily routine.

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Re: Why cant I pull the trigger?
Old 11-04-2004, 11:49 AM   #11
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Re: Why cant I pull the trigger?

Blake,
It's like standing around at the edge of the pool -- swimsuit is on, you see the rest of us splashing around having a good time, but taking the plunge is very different from what you are doing right now. So take Nords' advice -- figure out how to dip your toe in the water and splash around a bit. There is really no way to know if you'll like ER until you've done it for awhile.

for what it's worth, my first year in ER was not really like my time now (4 years in) -- it took a full year before I got the hang of the new pace and schedule. My point is that things will change in your life once you ER -- you are right to be cautious.

It was easy for me, though, because I had been sick of work for a very long time. I had read Terhorst and spent 15 years thinking about ER. The mental prep was key for me. If you like your work and have no powerful incentive to bolt, then maybe just hang out for awhile. If you don't mind the Christian pov, you might read Bob Buford's books about HalfTime which could help you think about moving from 'success to significance' while still in your work, and develop a roadmap for a vibrant second half of your life.

Relationships change during ER, but in my case, they got better. My wife felt work was competition to her -- taking me away from family. Not every wife feels that way. Some really don't want the guy around messing up their own little 'ER with a working spouse' haven. Make sure you aren't subtly signalling 'the boss is coming home' to your wife -- you wouldn't be thinking about helping her improve her household management performance or asking questions about what in the world she does all day? That can put a real roadblock up for the currently stay-at-home spouse's support of your ER.

Are you on any non-profit boards? Do you have any high-maintenance hobbies? Any arts/skills you are itching to develop? Trips you have been yearning to take? An avocation you've buried since high school under an avalanche of career success? These can all be entry points into answering the question 'now, why did I want to ER, again?'

Don't rush it.

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Re: Why cant I pull the trigger?
Old 11-07-2004, 04:42 PM   #12
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Re: Why cant I pull the trigger?

When I read the title of this post I thought it was about one of my hobbies - shooting.
Ya'll gave some great advise but I think this was a joke posting.
I just don't buy it. 3.2m great wife, kids and everything paid for?

It is a sad life people lead when they need to have human interaction like this.
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Re: Why cant I pull the trigger?
Old 11-08-2004, 06:19 AM   #13
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Re: Why cant I pull the trigger?

I'm with Dex. $3.2 million, house paid for, frugal wife, no debt? I'd be gone in a heartbeat. And like others have said, you can always go back to work doing something if ER isn't your cup of tea.

If you've gone to the trouble of seeking out this web site, posting a question, and reading the responses, you're obviously mulling this over big time. Just try it. No harm done. You have plenty of financial resources to fall back on (and I hope, a supportive family to boot).
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Re: Why cant I pull the trigger?
Old 11-09-2004, 04:40 AM   #14
 
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Re: Why cant I pull the trigger?

Lol. This post is not fake. Thanks for the advice. Seems to be a lot of thoughtful people on this board.

My wife and I save a very high percentage of income. We both come from middle class backgrounds, and I only inherited $25,000 from my parents.

I suppose my job has become associated with my personal self. The core of my job is acutally enjoyable, but a couple of other factors associated with it make it very painful. Money was never the priimary reason I chose the occupation
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Re: Why cant I pull the trigger?
Old 11-09-2004, 05:13 AM   #15
 
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Re: Why cant I pull the trigger?

I never thought Blake's post was faked. It was just so far out there (compared to how I think) I was struck
speechless. A rare state of affairs, much prized by others

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Re: Why cant I pull the trigger?
Old 11-09-2004, 05:25 AM   #16
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Re: Why cant I pull the trigger?

Death in the family, divorce, and retirement - the top three emotional stressors - thought I read that many years ago somewhere.

Had I not been shoved out the door and 'discovered' ER - I wonder - would I be still at work trying to run up the size of my retirement pile? I can say - after 12 years - the waters fine.
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Re: Why cant I pull the trigger?
Old 11-09-2004, 07:44 AM   #17
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Re: Why cant I pull the trigger?

Quote:
I suppose my job has become associated with my personal self. The core of my job is acutally enjoyable, but a couple of other factors associated with it make it very painful. Money was never the priimary reason I chose the occupation
There's nothing that says that you have to retire when you are financially independent. If you still enjoy the core of the job is there any way that you can cut out the other stuff? Can you work part time just on that part and leave the other bits alone? I'm not fully FI yet but I could go years without working and it has already made the non-enjoyable parts of my job less bothersome - I mostly just ignore it or it doesn't bother me as much as it used to.
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Re: Why cant I pull the trigger?
Old 11-11-2004, 04:46 PM   #18
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Re: Why cant I pull the trigger?

Quote:
I'm with Dex. $3.2 million, house paid for, frugal wife, no debt? I'd be gone in a heartbeat. And like others have said, you can always go back to work doing something if ER isn't your cup of tea.

If you've gone to the trouble of seeking out this web site, posting a question, and reading the responses, you're obviously mulling this over big time. Just try it. *No harm done. You have plenty of financial resources to fall back on (and I hope, a supportive family to boot).
It never occurred to me that this post was fake: in fact I think this is a normal state of affairs for a large number of people out there, who unfortunately rarely come to our Board. Living in the NY area, in a town full of wall streeters, puts Blake around average for my peer group. I'd like to see this Board take his needs seriously and maybe we can widen out all our understanding of the ER demographic as a result.

Blake, the follow-on I wanted to mention is this: my moniker here is ESRBob, "s" for Semi-Retired, and as Hyper mentions, this could be a great option for you. Work can and should be satisfying, and I believe one should continue to do 'work', paid or unpaid, but hopefully very enjoyable (avocation, volunteer, or new skills) as long as possible. By 'skimming the cream' and doing only the funnest parts of your current work or discovering something related you like even better, you can make the transition to a great work-life balance.

'course there are plenty here who think I'm nuts and call me 'semi-working' bob and a sellout to the whole concept of ER, but I stick to my guns. A little work is a lot of fun when you don't need the money. Keeps the brain fresh, and is good protection against rampant taxes, inflation, divorce or who-knows-what in the years between your 40's or 50s and some far-off day when you pack it in for good.

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Re: Why cant I pull the trigger?
Old 11-11-2004, 07:00 PM   #19
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Re: Why cant I pull the trigger?

Quote:
'course there are plenty here who think I'm nuts and call me 'semi-working' bob and a sellout to the whole concept of ER
I don't think you are nuts at all.

My ER plan has evolved since I was a teenager. My original goal was to work as hard as I could and save as much as I could to retire at age 50. I don't know why I picked age 50, but at the time it sounded better than 65 and probably for the same reason Cool Hand Luke said he could eat 50 eggs, because it was a nice round number.

Anyway, as I got older and saw loved ones and goods friends dying at all ages from their 20's to 60's, it occurred to me that life is too short. It also occurred to me that I had miscalculated how much money I really needed to live a regular lifestyle. I was lucky enough to earn more than I anticipated and smart enough to know not to overspend.

So my ER plan evolved to what is is today: Start cutting down my work hours at age 35 until I get to a comfort zone. I found a significant stress reduction just going from 40 to 60 hours a week to 20 to 25 flexible hours a week and now under 20 flexible hours a week. At age 40, I plan on working an average of 5 flexible hours a week even though I should be completely FI by then. Even if all I earn is enough to max out my Roth IRA and my wife's Roth IRA, that will be good enough for me. I don't hate work as long as it doesn't interfere with the things I want to do in life just like I'm sure the work you choose to do doesn't take away from the lifestyle you wish to lead.
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Re: Why cant I pull the trigger?
Old 11-11-2004, 07:19 PM   #20
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Re: Why cant I pull the trigger?

Quote:

. . .'course there are plenty here who think I'm nuts and call me 'semi-working' bob and a sellout to the whole concept of ER, but I stick to my guns. *A little work is a lot of fun when you don't need the money. *. . .
Just prior to retiring and for about 8 or 9 months after I retired, I thought I would never want to work on anything related to engineering and engineering management again. I was pretty burned out and disgusted.

But now I work as much as 1/4 time for a couple of companies. One is a start-up and the other is more established -- but focuses on research and development of emerging technologies. I find this work very rewarding. Both companies are very appreciative of any effort I provide, and both are comfortable with the fact that I won't bend my schedule for them. My time comes first. I'm having fun and having a significant impact on both businesses.

If it stops being fun, I'll quit. But I don't think we have to appologize for enjoying the experience.
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