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advice on cutting the umbilical cord
Old 10-22-2013, 12:35 PM   #1
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advice on cutting the umbilical cord

Hi folks.

I'm planning on ER in 3 years, assuming no major market downturn. I will be 50 at that time.

I'm in my peak earning years, and I still enjoy my job (most days ). Also, once I leave my job, as an older software engineer, I may have trouble getting back into the profession if a bear market forced me to start working again.

I've done all the planning and firecalcing to know we're in good shape financially. I could probably retire today, if I really had to.

For those folks that had similar thoughts before walking out the door - how did you deal with these issues mentally?

Thanks.
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Old 10-22-2013, 12:41 PM   #2
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I boil it down to 2 questions:
1) Do I like my job? If the answer is yes, then why the rush to retire?
2) If I'm not working, what will I be doing? If there is something you REALLY want to be doing other than working and you are ok financially, then do it.
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Old 10-22-2013, 03:15 PM   #3
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I haven't done it yet, and I'm sure you'll hear from others who have, but for me, my mental process would probably go something like this:

1) Will I be able to sleep at night if the market tanks? If yes (due to an appropriate asset allocation, then go to 2).

2) Do I know what I will do all day? (That's easy - travel, hike, bike, play with the dog, volunteer more than I can do now, spend more time cooking and reading, etc...)

Getting past #1 is the harder part, for me, but I know people who can't answer #2 very well, and those are the people who say they can't imagine retiring early -because they imagine sitting in a bathrobe in front of the TV all day.
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Old 10-22-2013, 03:18 PM   #4
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Sorry folks, I must've phrased my question poorly.

When you don't hate your job and you're making good money, how to stop the thoughts of "just one more year of income, to pad things a bit"?
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Old 10-22-2013, 03:28 PM   #5
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Lol! You have just hit on one of the forum's most longstanding discussion topics. Just search for "one more year".
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Old 10-22-2013, 03:28 PM   #6
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I went half-time at age 50. My spouse continues to want to work full time and with kids in school, we will not be pulling up roots soon. So while I am still working, I have a home base from which to journey out on vacations.

Thus my suggestion is to ease into retirement and see if you can cut back your hours and take lots more vacations. If you don't hate your job, you will soon see that it will become less of a focal point in your life and should have no problems changing focus.
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Old 10-22-2013, 03:29 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by mrfeh View Post
Sorry folks, I must've phrased my question poorly.

When you don't hate your job and you're making good money, how to stop the thoughts of "just one more year of income, to pad things a bit"?
OK, how about this? Think about people that you have known that died young, before they ever got a day of retirement. Think about how every day that you work will be once less than you can enjoy in retirement. Think about the fact that you just don't know when your number will be up - it could happen tomorrow on the way to work.

Cheery thoughts, no?
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Old 10-22-2013, 03:38 PM   #8
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Sorry folks, I must've phrased my question poorly.

When you don't hate your job and you're making good money, how to stop the thoughts of "just one more year of income, to pad things a bit"?
Maybe I'm the outcast on this BUT, from my perspective, if you really love what you're doing and are making good money doing it, I think you need to first list the reasons that you "want" to take early retirement.

Once you complete that list, it'll be a matter of simply making the decision as to whether you'll love the items on that list (assuming they're financially realistic) more than you love your job.

If the answer to that question is "yes," you're ready to go. If you're answer is "not sure," I think I'd suggest waiting until your answer is "yes." And if the answer is "no" ... well, that'd be just stupid!
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Old 10-22-2013, 04:51 PM   #9
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Sorry folks, I must've phrased my question poorly.

When you don't hate your job and you're making good money, how to stop the thoughts of "just one more year of income, to pad things a bit"?
I was in the same boat as you. I was FI, but still enjoyed my job and also enjoyed the money and financial security that came with it.

My decision to pull the plug was principally based on 1) seeing too many obituaries in the paper of people in the range of my age (you never know how much time you have left), 2) having "enough" so for all intents and purposes my work efforts were incrementally going to benefit DD and DS and charity and 3) just wanting to do different things with my time and have fun.
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Old 10-22-2013, 07:03 PM   #10
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I am also an older software engineer. My plan is at age 55 to take 6 months off (travel, etc), then probably go back for 2-3 years at 4 days a week - most likely a reduced role/base salary. I think the extra day off a week will make a difference and make a few more years possible.

My goal has always been to be able to retire at 55. I may work if I want to, but I want the choice. If I can't get the leave of absence, or the part time gig, or like being retired, then I will most likely just not work.

So the 4 days a week is my compromise between one more year and ER.
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Old 10-22-2013, 07:38 PM   #11
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Sorry folks, I must've phrased my question poorly.

When you don't hate your job and you're making good money, how to stop the thoughts of "just one more year of income, to pad things a bit"?
I did not hate my job (most of the time), but I was a bit bored with it.
For me it was a case of being able to identify more things that I wanted to do outside the office than inside the office and recognising that the remaining years of my life are not only a finite quantity but also that my physical and mental ability to do some things will deteriorate as I age.

Put differently, I believed that I would end up having more regrets if I stayed than if I FIRED.

The three conditions I set for myself before pulling the trigger:

1. rock solid finances - I chose to w#rk for one extra year to reduce the risk of having to look for a j*b or cut back on lifestyle later in life;

2. DW being fully on board and not feeling like she had to continue with her part time job because I had FIRED;

3. having meaningful things to do immediately upon FIREing - I did not want to go from having the stimulation of my office to a situation where I had nothing to stimulate me and substantially reduced human interraction (and this from an introvert).

I am now 23 days into my new life and my confidence that I made the right decision increases with each passing day.
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Old 10-22-2013, 07:48 PM   #12
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I did not hate my job (most of the time), but I was a bit bored with it.
For me it was a case of being able to identify more things that I wanted to do outside the office than inside the office and recognising that the remaining years of my life are not only a finite quantity but also that my physical and mental ability to do some things will deteriorate as I age.

Put differently, I believed that I would end up having more regrets if I stayed than if I FIRED.

The three conditions I set for myself before pulling the trigger:

1. rock solid finances - I chose to w#rk for one extra year to reduce the risk of having to look for a j*b or cut back on lifestyle later in life;

2. DW being fully on board and not feeling like she had to continue with her part time job because I had FIRED;

3. having meaningful things to do immediately upon FIREing - I did not want to go from having the stimulation of my office to a situation where I had nothing to stimulate me and substantially reduced human interraction (and this from an introvert).

I am now 23 days into my new life and my confidence that I made the right decision increases with each passing day.
Your response resonates with me, from the boredom to the introversion to the desire to do things while of sound mind and body.

Thank you.
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Old 10-22-2013, 08:58 PM   #13
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What I did yesterday: Went to a local winery and painted outdoors with oils. I stood on a little bridge and painted a creek scene. The weather gods cooperated too and it was sunny with low 70's temperature. Since this was an annual pot luck, participated in a really nice lunch on the winery grounds with wine provided by the lady who runs the winery.
-----------------

So what is the point? The point is I never would have done this activity had I not (1) left my old well paid career behind, (2) started to wonder how to fill the hours, (3) did some drawing, (4) took some art classes at the local JC, (5) developed my own a skill set in oil painting, (6) joined a local plein air art group of nice, like minded people, (7) kept at it even while occasionally being discouraged by my attempts.

Until you really retire, it's generally going to be a leap of faith. I guess there are ways for some to partially explore ER ahead of a full dive into the pool.
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Old 10-22-2013, 09:28 PM   #14
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OK, how about this? Think about people that you have known that died young, before they ever got a day of retirement. Think about how every day that you work will be once less than you can enjoy in retirement. Think about the fact that you just don't know when your number will be up - it could happen tomorrow on the way to work.
This is what sealed the deal for me, to retire at age 54 1/2, at the first opportunity I had. That was 3 1/2 years ago now, and I have absolutely no regrets. You can earn more money, but you cannot buy more time. I've had so much fun and so many interesting experiences since I retired.......it has been awesome. You've worked hard to get to where you are now.....time to enjoy yourself.
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Old 10-23-2013, 07:36 AM   #15
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For me 50 was too young. I lost one of my best friends to a heart attack 3 years ago. My boss is breathing down my neck. I just paid off my last mortgage and I am amazed when I check the balance of my 401K and Roth.

At 55 1/2 I am raring to retire. The end is in sight!
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Old 10-23-2013, 07:47 AM   #16
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I was in the same boat as you. I was FI, but still enjoyed my job and also enjoyed the money and financial security that came with it.

My decision to pull the plug was principally based on 1) seeing too many obituaries in the paper of people in the range of my age (you never know how much time you have left), 2) having "enough" so for all intents and purposes my work efforts were incrementally going to benefit DD and DS and charity and 3) just wanting to do different things with my time and have fun.
Likewise, I'm sure. Wellll, maybe not the part about still enjoying my job, but definitely points 1, 2, & 3. See my tagline below.
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Old 10-23-2013, 08:58 AM   #17
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and those are the people who say they can't imagine retiring early -because they imagine sitting in a bathrobe in front of the TV all day.
That doesn't sound so bad to me, even though I love my jobs
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Old 10-23-2013, 09:22 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by mrfeh View Post
Hi folks.

I'm planning on ER in 3 years, assuming no major market downturn. I will be 50 at that time.

I'm in my peak earning years, and I still enjoy my job (most days ). Also, once I leave my job, as an older software engineer, I may have trouble getting back into the profession if a bear market forced me to start working again.

I've done all the planning and firecalcing to know we're in good shape financially. I could probably retire today, if I really had to.

For those folks that had similar thoughts before walking out the door - how did you deal with these issues mentally?

Thanks.
I left when the I could no longer say "I still enjoy the job (most days)".

For me, it was another change in CEO, with another big ego that had to be fed.

I was also getting older (59) and I saw the remainder of my life shrinking. I was thinking about all the neat things I could miss if I kept spending most of my waking hours at megacorp.

Someone did a poll on this a few years ago. "What made you finally walk out the door?". IIRC, the overwhelming majority pointed to some negative at work - new boss, changed job responsibilities, burnout, couldn't deal with corporate bs one more year, etc.
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Old 10-23-2013, 11:09 AM   #19
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In a twisted kind of way, I'm kind of glad I won't have the "one more year" question to wrestle with. I've grown to HATE my career (not just my job, my career), so no way on earth would I stick around for one more year if/when I can escape. I guess the decision's already been made for me
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Old 10-23-2013, 12:47 PM   #20
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There is no one answer to this question as you know already.

Reading books like The Joy of Not Working and Work Less, Live More helped me pull the plug, although I also was unhappy with my job for the last several years due to upper management issues. While there are a few aspects of w*rk that I miss, I am generally a much happier and satisfied person.

Good luck with the decision!
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