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Any experiences with a "bridge job" to retirement?
Old 10-04-2013, 02:08 PM   #1
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Any experiences with a "bridge job" to retirement?

Hello again all; still a relatively new guy here just trying to take in all in.

In pondering early retirement, but more importantly getting the heck out of my current job, this question has sometimes occurred to me: Could I trade down to something less stressful, but still making enough to pay the bills, not touch any of my assets so that they keep growing, and still be in a good spot to retire early?

As I indicated in my first introductory post, my wife and I are 53 and -- in a perfect world -- would like to early out around age 55-56. We've got about $700K in assets; my wife will get a pension.

But beyond my personal situation, I'm really just interested in hearing if anyone has pursued this strategy and how it worked out.

Have a great weekend.
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Old 10-04-2013, 02:12 PM   #2
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I did it in a different sense - I went to part-time with the same employer. It was a win-win. I was in a less demanding, less stressful role and my employer was able to retain my skills, experience and relationships in the firm and with our clients. I was part-time for ~5 years prior to hanging it up for good.
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Old 10-04-2013, 02:52 PM   #3
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I did it in a different sense - I went to part-time with the same employer. It was a win-win. I was in a less demanding, less stressful role and my employer was able to retain my skills, experience and relationships in the firm and with our clients. I was part-time for ~5 years prior to hanging it up for good.
DW went half time with her same employer. She likes it, though she wasn't particularly stressed out. Now she's having to get used to not being at the center of everything at work.
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Old 10-04-2013, 03:14 PM   #4
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DH did that just this year. He just turned 57 and I am 55. He left mega corp and the "benefits " behind to pursue working part time consulting. It is much less stressful yet keeps him engaged doing the kind of problem solving he used to enjoy with the old job.

He is MUCH happier . The reduced income allows the nest egg to grow basically untouched and gives us tax advantages like writing off health insurance above the line. (We have to buy our own. ) It also allows us some flexibility should stuff get really crazy - especially with insurance costs .

We both think DH is also happier working part time (purpose , activity) than if he had retired cold turkey. The old job was 24/7 and an abrupt stop would have been a huge shock for both of us. ( I told him if he was going to reorganize and boss me around my kitchen he better be prepared to do the grocery shopping and cooking too. )

The plan is to tapper off as we get more secure with this change and adjust to living off the portfolio. Right now his problem is too many work commitments. No more new jobs until next spring! His calendar is too booked . He has been told he is in danger of flunking semi-retirement. Hopefully he will take my suggestion of raising his daily rate . That might slow down all the demand . (He has a hard time not helping those who need him. ) I am biased but I always feel he under estimates his worth. But then he is priceless..to me.
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Old 10-04-2013, 03:21 PM   #5
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I sort-of did it as well. In 2010 my then-employer let me go and I presumed I was retired. I then got another j*b November 2010. Wasn't my dream j*b but paid a tidy sum to bridge me to my planned ER of early 2013.
I kept my eye on the prize, stayed out of all office politics, and gave my notice this past February. I now continue to w*rk for them 2 days per week, as a telecommuter. It turned out to be a great deal for both of us. As of now, if it's my choice I'll stick with this 'til end of 2014. Or, maybe not.......
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Old 10-04-2013, 03:29 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by pb4uski View Post
I did it in a different sense - I went to part-time with the same employer. It was a win-win. I was in a less demanding, less stressful role and my employer was able to retain my skills, experience and relationships in the firm and with our clients. I was part-time for ~5 years prior to hanging it up for good.
I did more or less the same thing. I was already working part-time (20 hours per week) but that had become too annoying, especially for the commute. In 2007, I asked for and was able to get my hours reduced from 20 to 12 and the number of days reduced from 3 to 2. I was working mainly on one big, important project which nobody else in my division could do while being available to be everyone's "answer man" for a few days a week.

I knew at the time that I might not be satisfied with this new part-time arrangement and that in fact came true. I also hit my "magic number" of company stock value when the remaining pieces of my ER plan fell into place in late 2008. I then retired at the end of October.
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Old 10-04-2013, 03:56 PM   #7
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I lost my federal job back in March. After doing the math/analysis (and with support from fora like er.org!), I concluded I was FI, and could and would retire. What has actually happened since then is an unanticipated and continuous stream of short-term consulting offers. So I decided I would try that out to see how I liked it -- making me technically semi-ER I guess rather than full ER.

Anyway, so far, I really like the arrangement. Having the additional (unexpected) income has been great in alleviating any residual anxiety I might have had about living off my investments in retirement. I find it's also giving me psychological 'permission' to splurge on expensive travel that I've done this year and already have planned for next year -- a real priority for how I want to spend time.

As for the work itself, it is much lower stress as it focuses strictly on the more interesting technical/substantive parts of my profession, with zero of the politics/bureaucracy etc. Since these are a lot of discrete, separate, shorter jobs, I can also fit them in conveniently into my schedule with very little disruption to the things I want to do. And given that it's consulting, every job has an *end* (the best thing about it)!!

I've had to set very clear limits for myself, however, to make this work and simultaneously retain both the benefits of additional income as well as the gift of a lower stress lifestyle. I calculated that working 25-30% over the course of a year would provide enough income so that I would not have to tap into investments at all (I also have a small pension and federal health care, so have some 'base' income besides consulting). I'm happy to say I've held firmly to that, turning down as much work as I'm accepting. I also decided I would concentrate the small jobs over a few months over the course of the year, instead of spreading it out, so I would have at least 5-6 months of completely unadulterated time to do what I want. I decided I will do this through 2014 at least, and then reassess how I'm feeling about it. Maybe I'll continue, maybe I'll reduce the time working even more, or maybe I'll hang it up entirely.

So this way of structuring the 'bridge' is working out great for me -- I think because I have so much control over the terms (both time and content). Unlike some other posters, I would definitely *not* like to work part-time for a single employer over the full 12 months of the year -- I think there would be too much risk of getting pulled into 'regular employee' stuff that I don't want at this point. If you're not yet FI, and you can set clear limits as others have suggested, though, I think it would be a great thing to go for.
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Old 10-05-2013, 07:56 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pb4uski View Post
I did it in a different sense - I went to part-time with the same employer. It was a win-win. I was in a less demanding, less stressful role and my employer was able to retain my skills, experience and relationships in the firm and with our clients. I was part-time for ~5 years prior to hanging it up for good.
I also took this approach several years ago, working Monday-Thursday. Fortunately, my company is pretty flexible about part time, though it is used mainly by mothers of young kids. I originally did this to have more time for my various volunteer activities and organizations. Since then I have replaced some of those volunteer activities with assisting the in-laws and FIRE planning. These days, after an undesirable job change within the company a couple of years ago, not working Fridays has helped reduce the job depression. I am biding my time and so looking forward to ER.
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Old 10-05-2013, 08:54 AM   #9
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Exactly My Path

That's what I did 4 months ago and it has been a great transition. I went from stress & travelling too much at Mega Corp to teaching at the local university. Believe me, I analyzed the heck out of that decision and so far have no regrets.
  • The hardest part was leaving behind the big check since I'm paid much less than my open market value. But I'm rationalizing that I'm working half as hard for half the pay plus benefits.
  • One advantage is that it has allowed us a glide path on reducing spending. We now spend below the new pay and will not touch the nest egg until I want to go from down-shift to full ER. I fear that I might have been more anxious if we shifted to full drawdown mode.
  • Another is that I enjoy teaching and like to stay current to enable future consulting, if desired. I'll take full advantage of professional development opportunities and should have 10% of my time paid to learn.
  • Also it is nice to have be in a position where I can leave whenever desired. I have no career ladder to climb, just providing good instruction and enjoying the experience.
  • The best part was that my first trip to an airport in 6 months will be for vacation!
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Old 10-05-2013, 12:33 PM   #10
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We cut the fat our of our budget, got interested in sustainable living, took our pensions early, DH left the megacorp world and we both work at home on a couple of hobby businesses.

I think we will just keep going like this. If our current businesses ended I would probably go back to school and work on a third career, start another business, get a masters degree and work on research projects, work at a nonprofit or something. I am not really happy not having some kind of major life purpose, so why not do that and make money, too. I just want to be able to work at something low stress that I find interesting.
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Old 10-05-2013, 03:38 PM   #11
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I don't consider my (usually one morning a week) postal gig to be a "bridge", but merely something to do. And it's really low-stress (except for the waking up at 6:30 AM part), in part because I don't feel pressure since I don't need the j*b. I do what I can but I won't kill myself or put up with a lot of BS to keep it. Fortunately it's a really small town and the people have been really nice.

That said, I've learned a lot about myself since being whacked by Megacorp in April. One is that it's been easier to embrace "simple" and tightwad frugal living than I expected. All I have to do is remind myself that the cost of more stuff and a higher lifestyle is being forced back into w*rking more than I want to.

Still, we have our own challenges; my current flexibility relies on my wife's ministry career and her desire to continue it; as long as we have that we should be OK. Worst case if that isn't enough, we can start pulling maybe 2% of my portfolio a year through 72(t), but I'll try to avoid that if we can. I will have a puny pension from my first Megacorp, about $650 a month starting at age 65 in 2030 (not COLA'd), which beats a sharp stick in the eye but who knows how much that will buy in 2030 and beyond?

In a perfect world, I'd find someone that needs IT/desktop/network support maybe 10-15 hours a week, with hours I can usually control. But the good news is, I don't have to take things out of desperation until I find it. I can take a lot of pitches, even for years, and wait to swing at a fat one.
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Old 10-06-2013, 12:18 AM   #12
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I went PT with the same employer. I got a ton more respect as the laws of supply and demand kicked in. I became a limited resource thus valued much more.
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Old 10-06-2013, 07:34 AM   #13
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I've heard of an odd job, a lube job, a nose job, and a h*nd job, but never a bridge job. What's it like?

I actually have gone the opposite direction and taken a higher stress job overseas to top off the portfolio tank before RE. The stress is a lot higher, but so is the pay. Depending on how heavy the BS bucket gets, I will be here anywhere between 3.5 and 5.5 years before hangin' 'em up. I may take some consulting jobs after I retire, but only a few weeks a year the way I'm thinking about it now.

That said, I think your idea for a lower stress job to ease you into retirement both emotionally and financially is a great idea if your numbers support it.
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Old 10-06-2013, 08:47 PM   #14
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Did it earlier this year when the stress of the job got to me enough that I realized I needed to make a change, AND I realized I was probably at FI if the calculators' assumptions are right. I took a title cut and pay cut, but it was a job that offered interest and challenge. So far I am happy and energized, feel very appreciated, and everyone who knows me sees it!!! And my health has improved so I know it was the right thing to do.

I consider it a bridge-job since I expect to stay a minimum of 1 year, a maximum of 2 years. I've never taken a job before planning such a short stay...

However, it took a bit to make the decision. Not so easy to take a title cut and pay cut since a career path could be hurt by such a move, but since my career will end in the near future, I finally made the decision to just DO IT!
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Old 10-06-2013, 09:26 PM   #15
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I have been throwing the idea around of suggesting part-time gig with either current employer or a couple long standing "if you ever are looking for a change" type offers. I already telecommute full-time so would be fairly agreeable situation.

IT industry remains fairly poach-rich environment as far as personnel are concerned so I'm hoping that is some usable leverage.
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Old 10-06-2013, 09:26 PM   #16
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I went PT with the same employer. I got a ton more respect as the laws of supply and demand kicked in. I became a limited resource thus valued much more.
+1. It's not so bad working part time for my employer of 30 years. Nothing new to learn. And I work when and ( most of the time) where I want. But there's rumblings that they want me to be available to provide guidance after my expected ending date of 4/1/2014. It may be ok if I don't have to go to the office unless I want to.
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Old 10-07-2013, 11:26 AM   #17
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Thanks everyone; there's a of lot valuable experiences and opinions being shared here. It does give me some confidence that my objective is doable with the right planning and timing. Thanks again.
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Old 10-07-2013, 12:18 PM   #18
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Interesting discussion, something that I have been thinking about too. In addition to my full time job, I have a "hobby business", I make and sell parts for 50+ year old cars. Have been doing it for 10 years now, and I love it. Very small, niche business, but I am known worldwide within a certain circle of enthusiasts as the "go to" person when these parts are needed. Volume is small enough that no "real" business wants to get into it. But the income is like a roller coaster, I go months without anything, then wham, several thousand rolls in.

And it's ALL play money for me. I have 3 vintage cars now (had 4, sold one that I had for 10 years in 2011 and made $5k off of it) and have paid $400 for a horn button and $128 for a coat hook. I could not possibly justify that out of our house account. Last fall I did really well, and my wife and I went to Grand Cayman for a week of scuba diving and dining, all on my hobby business.

All sounds grand, maybe the perfect "bridge" job... except for one thing. Today I feel no stress with it. Zero. Because I don't have to do anything with the business. And I like it that way. I'm sure I always will do something, but I like knowing that it won't/can't control me (I've become more "stress averse") as I have gotten older. The thought of it becoming a "have to" thing is bothersome.

I plan to retire at 55, in 3+ years, my wife will work maybe 3-4 years beyond that. So we potentially could benefit from a bridge between my 55 and 62-ish... although right now, the spreadsheets say that it will not be needed. But I am giving it some consideration. I think if I were to put a pretty small flow of maybe a grand a month into the house budget that my wife would feel a little better about me having retired and she is still working.....
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