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Asymptotically approaching retirement
Old 06-02-2014, 04:20 PM   #1
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Asymptotically approaching retirement

Like a lot of people on this board, I'm struggling with deciding precisely when to pull the trigger on RE. I really enjoy time off, but I also want to stay involved with a new product line we started a couple years ago. Here's my approach.

After achieving FI a few years ago, I checked with my employer about part-time work. The policy was surprisingly flexible. We can keep our benefits for anything 50% or above.

So I dropped back to 80% then, and with the approval my boss, started at 50% this week. Today was a day off. This approach allows me to get the extra time off while maintaining an income stream and staying involved at work.

Has anyone else tried this? If so, what were your experiences? Any advice?

(For the record , I went bicycling and helped an elderly relative this morning, and this afternoon it's movie time. Those neglected projects will have to wait a little while longer.)
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Old 06-02-2014, 04:26 PM   #2
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Sounds good, but one of the first things you'll have to learn is to gauge your audience.

"Asymptotically" happens to be one of my favorite words, but you might be surprised at how many will have to look it up.
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Old 06-02-2014, 04:54 PM   #3
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Maybe not on this board - there seems to be a high percentage of STEM geeks here.

I quit when I was ready. Working less than full time wouldn't have worked for my role.
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Old 06-02-2014, 05:20 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Sand Pounder View Post
Like a lot of people on this board, I'm struggling with deciding precisely when to pull the trigger on RE. I really enjoy time off, but I also want to stay involved with a new product line we started a couple years ago. Here's my approach.

After achieving FI a few years ago, I checked with my employer about part-time work. The policy was surprisingly flexible. We can keep our benefits for anything 50% or above.

So I dropped back to 80% then, and with the approval my boss, started at 50% this week. Today was a day off. This approach allows me to get the extra time off while maintaining an income stream and staying involved at work.

Has anyone else tried this? If so, what were your experiences? Any advice?

(For the record , I went bicycling and helped an elderly relative this morning, and this afternoon it's movie time. Those neglected projects will have to wait a little while longer.)
I would have liked this, assuming the bold.

I thought about suggesting to my boss that I'd go 50% hours at 50% pay (even a little less than 50%). There were some issues:

1) I wasn't excited about next project in the queue.
2) My employer had a defined benefit pension plan that was a significant part of my comp as I got older. The benefit amount would freeze when I went part time ("highest consecutive months" formula).
3) There was no age-related penalty for retiring before 65.
4) My employer was providing the same health insurance subsidy to early retirees as it provided to active workers.

When I put 2-4 together, it turned out that my extra, after-tax income from staying on the job was pretty small. Way to small, considering 1.

If I had more "modern" benefits of all 401k and no retiree health, I'm sure I would have pursued the part time. (As it turned out, I did a little consulting after a couple years off and that was nice.)

I think part time as an alternative is a fine idea, I hope that more employers become open to the idea.
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Old 06-02-2014, 05:23 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by braumeister View Post
Sounds good, but one of the first things you'll have to learn is to gauge your audience.

"Asymptotically" happens to be one of my favorite words, but you might be surprised at how many will have to look it up.
Not here.
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Old 06-02-2014, 05:31 PM   #6
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Sure I did this starting about 6 or 7 years ago. I've been part-time ever since until last week when I was fired. It has been pretty clear for a while that my heart wasn't in it any more, so I asked to be let go instead of retiring. My colleague simply quit and did not get a severance package.

One issue is that severance package is based on current pay and not all those years of full-time pay, so I should've switched back to full-time just before getting let go.

And I get to do consulting work for my former employer, too.
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Old 06-02-2014, 05:59 PM   #7
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An asymptotic approach means you will never quite get there, never be able to sing the song "J'arrive" (I Arrive) by Jacques Brel.

Oops! Wrong song for the occasion...
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Old 06-02-2014, 07:27 PM   #8
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I offered to go part time, and was assured this was possible, but I was kind of pushed by our medical director to pull the plug completely. It seemed to matter little to upper management or even our director that when my colleagues fill in on my days off they do a very half-assed job. The nursing staff is flipping out that I am leaving but I've decided it's not my problem anymore. The bean counters already want me to quit so they can replace me with 1.5 nurse practitioners. Since I would have lost benefits anyway and will need to buy insurance for the family, it made sense to have the significant tax break pay for my health insurance instead of my sore feet and high BP.

I noticed that while he said part time was fine, immediately when I dropped even one day a week I was regarded by the company and some colleagues as a second class physician.
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Old 06-02-2014, 07:29 PM   #9
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If I do this, it'll be because I'm worried about filling the extra time. But I've got a lot more time to read all of those threads while I accumulate!
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Old 06-02-2014, 08:02 PM   #10
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This (partial retirement) is popular in Sweden. Maybe do some googling?
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Old 06-02-2014, 08:14 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by braumeister View Post
"Asymptotically" happens to be one of my favorite words, but you might be surprised at how many will have to look it up.
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Originally Posted by NW-Bound View Post
An asymptotic approach means you will never quite get there
"Asymptotically" is hyperbolic.

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Originally Posted by LOL! View Post
One issue is that severance package is based on current pay and not all those years of full-time pay, so I should've switched back to full-time just before getting let go.
Ooh, good point. Perhaps I'll keep my ear to the ground and go back to full if it gets dicey.
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Old 06-02-2014, 08:16 PM   #12
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.... After achieving FI a few years ago, I checked with my employer about part-time work. ...
Everyone is different, but I think many of us find that once we feel reasonably comfortable that we are FI, we really want near 100% of our time to ourselves. Hey, I can clearly understand wanting a little more cushion, few of us are that securely in the FI range, and if the work is interesting and not too stressful, it would be worth considering. But then, are you really FI?

If it works for you, that's great. But don't underestimate the fantastic feeling of being near 100% free (there are still plenty of things in our personal lives that demand or warrant our attention, and nagging things like taxes and other legal requirements).

-ERD50
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Old 06-02-2014, 08:43 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by ERD50 View Post
Everyone is different, but I think many of us find that once we feel reasonably comfortable that we are FI, we really want near 100% of our time to ourselves. Hey, I can clearly understand wanting a little more cushion, few of us are that securely in the FI range, and if the work is interesting and not too stressful, it would be worth considering. But then, are you really FI?

If it works for you, that's great. But don't underestimate the fantastic feeling of being near 100% free (there are still plenty of things in our personal lives that demand or warrant our attention, and nagging things like taxes and other legal requirements).

-ERD50
+1
If you have a job that allows you to completely switch off in your head when you leave, then maybe partial time is doable. But I agree with ERD50, that feeling of being 100% free is far different than being part free. When in your head, some part of you is always thinking about w*rk, which part of you is really free? And there are enough of those nagging things like taxes etc he mentioned. I have been a consultant for over 30 years, and even when I was working only part time, my mind was somehow switched to w*rk mode near 100%. Even now in my 2nd month of retirement, feeling completely free, my wife says I always seem to be rushing about. I guess years of indoctrination will take a while to excise. I don't think there would be any way for me to decide on a percentage other than 100% and zero. Right now I choose zero, I have had enough 100%
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Old 06-02-2014, 08:53 PM   #14
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+1
If you have a job that allows you to completely switch off in your head when you leave, then maybe partial time is doable. But I agree with ERD50, that feeling of being 100% free is far different than being part free. When in your head, some part of you is always thinking about w*rk, which part of you is really free? And there are enough of those nagging things like taxes etc he mentioned. I have been a consultant for over 30 years, and even when I was working only part time, my mind was somehow switched to w*rk mode near 100%. Even now in my 2nd month of retirement, feeling completely free, my wife says I always seem to be rushing about. I guess years of indoctrination will take a while to excise. I don't think there would be any way for me to decide on a percentage other than 100% and zero. Right now I choose zero, I have had enough 100%
As I mentioned in a different thread, I am currently working 3 days per week and I can attest to CaliforniaMan's statement. If you can switch work off when you leave the office then part-time is a genuine improvement. It was pretty easy for me, I never checked office email between 5:00 PM Friday and 8:00 AM Monday. Now those boundaries are 5:00 PM Wednesday to 8:00 AM Monday. I am sure this bugs the boss, who is known for emails time stamped 11:00 PM Saturday night. The thing that she doesn't seem to get is that NOTHING we do is time sensitive.

However, I will admit that when the 100% retired date arrives it will be a dramatic improvement from the current status.
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Old 06-02-2014, 09:05 PM   #15
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I've been part time since 2001. For one year, after my eldest was born, I worked 60% - 3 day weeks. That was awesome. But then when I wanted to transfer to a different group at a different site I had to bump up to 4 days a week. I've been doing that since.

Part time helps with work/life balance.

As far as being able to turn work off when you leave - for me it was harder when I had days off interspersed with work days. Now I have Fridays off - and trust me - I turn it off when I leave on Thursday evening.

If I could go back to 3 days a week I probably wouldn't be desperately weighing my options of when to give notice.
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Old 06-02-2014, 09:29 PM   #16
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+1
If you have a job that allows you to completely switch off in your head when you leave, then maybe partial time is doable. But I agree with ERD50, that feeling of being 100% free is far different than being part free. When in your head, some part of you is always thinking about w*rk, which part of you is really free?
I feel ya, on the 100% free feeling. I started noticing that I got a trapped feeling back in high school. I had a part time job working at a veterinary clinic, from around 4:30-7:30 M-F, and 9-1:30 Saturday. Well, I remember Spring Break my senior year, I didn't go anywhere, so I just stayed home. I'd goof off and do fun stuff during the day, but always had that nagging feeling, because I still had to go into work at 4:30, so it put a bit of a damper on things.

From 1996-2001 I worked a second job delivering pizzas in the evenings. At my main job, I got all the federal holidays off. However, many of them still felt wasted, because even if I was off at the main job, I usually had to go in and chauffeur pizzas around that evening, so again it sort of put a damper on things, and the whole day seemed a waste, even if I found fun things to do earlier on.

As I started getting back on my feet financially, and was able to start phasing out the second job, I noticed that instead of cherishing the extra free time I had, all it did was make me hate the time I spent there, all the more. Initially, I delivered Mon/Tues/Thurs/Fri/Sat, but dropped Tuesday after awhile, and eventually Monday. I'd appreciate the extra time for a bit, but then I started getting used to it, and then start hating the remaining time I had to work.

I felt so free when I was finally able to quit that second job! But now, it feels like the main job is holding me down. Fortunately though, they're pretty flexible with time off, even just taking a few hours off here and there. So, while that does help, I do admit I'm looking forward to the day I can just be 100% free.

However, I'll probably do it in baby steps at first. Our company lets us work as little as 30 hours per week and still have health insurance and other benefits. So when that time comes, I might do that first, and then if I'm comfortable, just quit cold turkey.
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so, how's this work?
Old 06-02-2014, 09:50 PM   #17
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so, how's this work?

Working in engineering and manufacturing most of my career, there's been less than zero's chance (in hell) of working part time. In fact, most of the time it has been 55+ hours per week to "keep your lousy, stink'n job, you knucklehead". Travel on weekends for Monday meetings, late nights too numerous too count and now with all the outsourcing, meetings day and night just to talk to the overlords or their favorite (cheap labor) minions.......

So, tell me now, after it's too late(for me), what career path(s) allow all this great part-time work? If I even mentioned my thinking about part-time (or worked less than 50 hours per week), at my age, I'd be cashiered immediately, if not sooner. They might wait to next months RIF, btw.

I'll be insanely jealous no matter what, since My momma wanted me to be a dentist. she was always much smarter than me.
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Old 06-03-2014, 12:01 AM   #18
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You might want to check out a similar thread I initiated about six months ago...

What does downshifting really look like?
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Old 06-03-2014, 12:09 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by Sand Pounder View Post

So I dropped back to 80% then, and with the approval my boss, started at 50% this week. Today was a day off. This approach allows me to get the extra time off while maintaining an income stream and staying involved at work.

Has anyone else tried this? If so, what were your experiences? Any advice?
Yes. When DH retired in 2010, I semi-retired and changed to working very part-time. I actually intended to also retire fully and when I went in to resign I was giving the option of the part-time work and decided I would do it as long as I enjoyed it. I found my work extremely stressful at the time, and liked the idea of being able to do the part of my work that I liked and only doing it part of the time.

The initial plan was that I would be in the office 1 day a week and would be available to do some stuff from home. Basically, it was expected to work out to about 8 hours of actual work a week. Over a couple of years it ended up being closer to 12 hours a week and in 2012 was closer to 14 hours a week (by then I had been asked to come in the office 2 days a week).

By the middle of last year, I had moved farther away from the office and coming in two days was a very long commute. So, about a year ago I said I was going to retire completely. I was asked if I would stay on and work entirely from home. I agreed to do it and have been doing it since then. By now, work has really dwindled down to a few hours a month.

On the positive side. I've been able to do the parts of the work that I always enjoyed, while not doing any of the work that I found stressful and didn't enjoy. It has been nice to know that I could walk away any time. Looking back on the last 4 years, while the money wasn't a necessity, it was also nice to have and has increased our discretionary budget.

On the negative side, as time has gone on it has been clear that I'm not seen in the same light as before. That is, the powers that be really don't have to try to keep me happy. Also, now that I am not coming into the office at all I am more out of sight, out of mind.

The one piece of advice is to get absolute clarity on what the expectations are for your work. Sometimes people who are supposed to work half-time end up being asked to do extra work and then don't get compensated for it. I knew I didn't have to worry about that, because I was only interested in working part-time if I was paid on an hourly basis. I was asked what I wanted when I left and I asked for enough money per hour that I would be happy if raises and bonuses dried up eventually.
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Old 06-03-2014, 02:31 AM   #20
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Really it depends 100% on the relationship between you and the employer and how much the company perceives they 'need you'.

I'm likely looking at a similar situation. My date is JAN 2016 and a substantial 'end of the rainbow' payout, which in addition to the current stash will allow a comfortable ER at age 60. Now the feelers are going out on what happens after JAN 2016, would I be willing to stay on and under what conditions and geographical home base. Aka, the asymptotically approaching retirement scenario. I do enjoy the job and have a very good relationship with the CEO so find myself tempted. The downside is that with the new marginal tax rates, plus the additional 3.8% ACA tax on investment income - it seems I am working not so much for myself but for the Treasury Department.

Eighteen months before the 01 JAN 2016 date - a lot could happen in the meantime - so staying non committal for now.
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