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Yearning to get out of Dilbert-World
Old 02-23-2010, 12:36 PM   #1
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Join Date: Feb 2010
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Yearning to get out of Dilbert-World

Hi from NC, y'all.

I've been an advertising copywriter for nearly 30 years. For the past 10+ years, I've been an e-commerce copywriter for a huge apparel company. I love what I do (when I'm actually allowed to do it). But, for my entire 10 years here, I have reported directly to a micromanaging control freak who has made my working life miserable and mega-stressful. She's not a bad person--quite the contrary--but she has serious, classic, textbook-case control issues. It's a sickness, and it's not her fault, but the bottom line is that she is impossible to work for. A number of very talented creative folks have left the company because of her--including one who actually let HR and upper management know exactly what the problem was, in vivid detail. Still, nothing happens. There is virtually no way I will ever stop reporting to her as long as I am here. (Long story short: I am really entrenched in a particular team, and so is she.)

I am very seriously considering early retirement, in order to escape an increasingly soul-destroying situation. I don't think I would want to retire completely: I love the e-commerce field, and I would love to keep my hand in it via freelancing.

Here is our situation: Husband and I are in our late 50s. Our house (which we had built 20 years ago on 18 acres) is paid for. Our cars are paid for. We have no debt. We pay off our credit card every month. Husband is very frugal. We have never had a six-figure HHI, yet we have been saving for decades, so we have about $650,000 salted away in government-backed instruments (in our 401K and IRAs). Our house and land are probably worth another $200K or so (conservative estimate). (There hasn't been a huge amount of housing inflation around these parts.)

Husband is already retired. An ex-teacher, he homeschools our two teenage sons. Older son recently aced the PSAT, and colleges are clamoring for him. We hope one of these institutions will offer him lots of $$, LOL! In any case, NC has excellent public universities, with fairly low tuition for in-state students, so, if worse comes to worst, we could go that route.

We plan to continue living in our current house as long as we can -- at least till we're too decrepit to climb the stairs! Right now we're both in great health.

Our main concerns right now are putting the kids through college without thereby blowing our hard-earned savings; and getting affordable health care to tide us over until we're eligible for Medicare. (My current employer offers health insurance, dental, and a vision plan; in retirement, of course, we would not expect to be able to afford anything remotely as rich as that.)

Do y'all think it is safe for me to retire soon? Seriously, I'm not sure how much longer I can hold onto my sanity in my current job situation.

Thanks!!!

Young58
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Old 02-23-2010, 01:28 PM   #2
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Welcome, and here's hoping things will be looking up for you.

Have you used some of the many calculators like FIRECalc that are designed to help you determine whether your retirement is financially feasible? That would be my first suggestion.
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Old 02-23-2010, 04:37 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Young58 View Post
Hi from NC, y'all.

I've been an advertising copywriter for nearly 30 years. For the past 10+ years, I've been an e-commerce copywriter for a huge apparel company. I love what I do (when I'm actually allowed to do it). But, for my entire 10 years here, I have reported directly to a micromanaging control freak who has made my working life miserable and mega-stressful. She's not a bad person--quite the contrary--but she has serious, classic, textbook-case control issues. It's a sickness, and it's not her fault, but the bottom line is that she is impossible to work for. A number of very talented creative folks have left the company because of her--including one who actually let HR and upper management know exactly what the problem was, in vivid detail. Still, nothing happens. There is virtually no way I will ever stop reporting to her as long as I am here. (Long story short: I am really entrenched in a particular team, and so is she.)

I am very seriously considering early retirement, in order to escape an increasingly soul-destroying situation. I don't think I would want to retire completely: I love the e-commerce field, and I would love to keep my hand in it via freelancing.

Here is our situation: Husband and I are in our late 50s. Our house (which we had built 20 years ago on 18 acres) is paid for. Our cars are paid for. We have no debt. We pay off our credit card every month. Husband is very frugal. We have never had a six-figure HHI, yet we have been saving for decades, so we have about $650,000 salted away in government-backed instruments (in our 401K and IRAs). Our house and land are probably worth another $200K or so (conservative estimate). (There hasn't been a huge amount of housing inflation around these parts.)

Husband is already retired. An ex-teacher, he homeschools our two teenage sons. Older son recently aced the PSAT, and colleges are clamoring for him. We hope one of these institutions will offer him lots of $$, LOL! In any case, NC has excellent public universities, with fairly low tuition for in-state students, so, if worse comes to worst, we could go that route.

We plan to continue living in our current house as long as we can -- at least till we're too decrepit to climb the stairs! Right now we're both in great health.

Our main concerns right now are putting the kids through college without thereby blowing our hard-earned savings; and getting affordable health care to tide us over until we're eligible for Medicare. (My current employer offers health insurance, dental, and a vision plan; in retirement, of course, we would not expect to be able to afford anything remotely as rich as that.)

Do y'all think it is safe for me to retire soon? Seriously, I'm not sure how much longer I can hold onto my sanity in my current job situation.

Thanks!!!

Young58
Hi Young-

I might have missed it, but your husband as a retired teacher should have a good pension and health care for you both.

Without that, I think you need another good job, or some way to survive your current one. Can he go back to work as a teacher?

Incidentally, most FAs would likely suggest you forget about paying your kids' way through college. That is what scholarships and student loans (on their signatures only) were created for.

Ha
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Old 02-23-2010, 06:13 PM   #4
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You have a lot of juggling to do but most of the elements look to be covered: you own your home, you have some financial assets, your husband presumably has family medical care covered, he has some kind of pension. As to kids college support, DW & I are big believers in education (she is retired school teacher) and we saved enough to cover regular state school for our 2 boys. Youngest is in college and we are not sure what to do about what looks to be a 5th year of college which we did not budget for. He does work part time at college. Anyway, there are a lot of good, affordable state colleges and if your income looks low enough then there may be some financial aid. There are a lot of scholarships and there are part time jobs and as a last resort-loans.
You may want to consider cutting back to part time and seeing how that goes financially and energy wise. I really don't care for part time work, I wanted a clean break, but it works for a lot of people, look @ Work Less, Live More by Bob Clyatt who sometimes posts here.
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Old 02-24-2010, 06:58 AM   #5
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Need more info....

Does your husband draw a pension and if so how much of your annual expenses does it cover?

Does he have health insurance?

Many colleges and universities offer tuition remission for their employees. My wife found a job at my daughters college and they write off her 25K tuition charge each year. So if you are still willing to work but just do not want to work for that High stress situation then consider finding a job at the University your child wants to atten if they offer tuition remission. Often the pay is quite a bit lower for these positions but when you figure in the tuition benefits it is well worth it.
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Old 02-24-2010, 07:50 AM   #6
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Numbers are important:
What was your household's spending of last year?
How much of that would go away or increase if you retire early?
How much is covered by DH's pension?
When would your retirement income start?
How much more would it be if you continue working? (sometimes the financial difference between leaving now and leaving later is not as big as we imagined).

Explore scholarship rules: some of the people here have reported that the chance for scholarships increased if parents had low income.
Also, working through college is not a bad thing, esp. if the kids have learned early that they would have to come up with part of the cost. They might value the education more than if it is served on a silver plate.

Are any good bye deals floating around at your employer? Keep your ears open. It would be too bad if you leave now and next month they offer something to some people.

I have some former co-workers freelancing now. The only thing that they regret is not having started it earlier.

But the most important issue IMO is to make sure that DH and kids understand why it is best for you and for them if you leave soon.

Good luck!
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Old 02-24-2010, 05:15 PM   #7
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Welcome to the board. A lot of us have been in your shoes at some point or the other in our careers, and have used it as the impetus to drive towards ER

You need to educate yourself on what it takes to ER.

Please browse through the Early Retirement FAQ thread
Early Retirement FAQs - Early Retirement & Financial Independence Community

.
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Old 02-26-2010, 08:54 AM   #8
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Young58,
Welcome to the board. Your post says you work for the Megacorp apparel giant in Germanton, NC. Since there is only one in that town, and I worked there for 12 years, I think I have a good feel for the situation. Apparel companies in NC have been under extrordinary pressure for years and have been whittled down to brand management import companies. Those changes create a lot of pressure and can create a toxic work environment. I left the company 9 years ago (I now work in Mooresville), but I still live in Winston-Salem. On the positive side, you live in a GREAT place. As you indicated, it is a wonderful place to live and raise a family. That is why we stayed in W-S while I work and comute.
Sometimes while working at that Megacorp it is natural to become embroiled in the struggle and lose sight of the fact that there is life outside of the company. I felt like a frog in a pot of water as the temperature was turned up over the 12 years I was there. However, I can assure you... there is life outside! God is good.


Even though I like the company I work for now, I still think about Early Retirement every day. I'm sure you will find a lot of help at this forum, if you want it. I'd like to offer a few insights, even though they may seem obvious...
  • FireCalc is your friend! Suggest you run scenerios to answer your financial questions.
  • NC has great public colleges. Probably the best deal around.
  • Health care is a great unknown. If you can get that covered with your husbands teachers retirement, it will go a long way to help meet your goals.
  • You are both to be congratulated on saving $650k in financial assets. Have you also kept track of your expenses? Assuming a 4% SWR you can count on $26k/year. Will pensions be enough to cover rest of your expenses?
  • Obviously the big concern is the time period between now and when Social Security kicks in. Also, college expense is a clear obstacle. You may detect disdane from some board members about covering college expenses. I do not feel that way. I am a big supporter of educations and want to pay it forward (if possible).
I am still about 3 or 4 years away from FIRE, but I find this forum helpful to plan and find encouragement. I hope you will find the same.
Regards,
Worker Bee

PS. Pull for the Tar Heels. They need the help this year, more than ever!
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