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Getting a little push back on "partial ER"
Old 12-15-2011, 01:53 PM   #1
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Getting a little push back on "partial ER"

Despite some unfortunate (but not devestating) financial events, my wife and I are in agreement that next year I'm not going to work full time. I shared the happy news with a couple of my partners and I'm getting some push back. My thought is that a "normal" work year for the younger guys includes 10 days of holidays like Christmas, New Years, July 4, etc., when the office is closed. I don't keep track of their "vacation time", but I think its typically 2 to 3 weeks. That means to me that "full time" is about 47 or 48 weeks a year. I've told them I want to reduce my compensation to 75% and reduce my time to 75% of 48 weeks a year, or 36 weeks. FWIW, I took 5 weeks vacation this year and received the same compensation as the other 4 partners. Fortunately, it was a really, really good year for me and my revenues were much, much higher than anyone elses. Next year, I think my revenues will be below the other 4, especially working part time.

We're discussing it. I'm hopeful it will work out that way for a year or two because the extra income would be nice.

It's like working part time, I guess. Anybody else do anything like this?
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Old 12-15-2011, 02:51 PM   #2
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Not I, but it is something that I wish was more of an option for people who want to "transition" from full-time grunt to semi-retirement to full retirement. Even if you don't need the health insurance that comes with full-time employment, too many employers want folks who demonstrate that work comes first -- so cutting back to part-time may be seen as a lack of commitment to your j*b. Can't have anything get in the way of living for your w*rk!

Best of luck -- interested to hear how it turns out. Going part-time is an option I'd like to have some day.
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Old 12-15-2011, 03:16 PM   #3
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If that would have been an option for me, I would have jumped at it! Seems like an ideal way to transition from work to retirement IMO. My options were keep working full time plus or zero time - so once FI was beyond any reasonable doubt in our view, I opted for cold turkey.

Best of luck, sounds like a great plan (I'm happy for you - and jealous).
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Old 12-15-2011, 03:57 PM   #4
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Fortunately, I'm a "boss" and basically a 20% owner. The problem is that we are in essence a small business dependent on the billable services rendered by the 5 owners/partners and a couple of associates. Times are tight in our profession, so everybody else is worried about the effect it will have on the bottom line for everybody.

But it does appeal to me to transition and keep the health and life insurance and car benefits. 75% next year, maybe a little less each year after that until everybody forgets who I am! Who woulda thunk it would be the least bit hard to stop working?
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Old 12-15-2011, 04:01 PM   #5
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But it does appeal to me to transition and keep the health and life insurance and car benefits. 75% next year, maybe a little less each year after that until everybody forgets who I am! Who woulda thunk it would be the least bit hard to stop working?
Do you actually keep the same level of health insurance benefits or will you have to pay some extra into it to compensate for your less-than-full-time status?

If it's 75% of the work for 75% of the pay but 100% of the health insurance benefits, I'm running out to sign up...
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"Hey, for every ten dollars, that's another hour that I have to be in the work place. That's an hour of my life. And my life is a very finite thing. I have only 'x' number of hours left before I'm dead. So how do I want to use these hours of my life? Do I want to use them just spending it on more crap and more stuff, or do I want to start getting a handle on it and using my life more intelligently?" -- Joe Dominguez (1938 - 1997)

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Old 12-15-2011, 08:14 PM   #6
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I did sign up.

I have been working part-time for a number of years, most recently 50% time. At our firm, everything except health care is pretty much pro-rata, so at 75% one would get 75% of pay, 75% of FT vacation accruals, etc. Health insurance is the same as FT for anyone between 50% and 100%, and no health insurance under 50% time.

In my case, we have not advertised that I am less than full time (nor have we hidden it) and many of my colleagues and virtually none of my clients know that I am only 50% time.
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Old 12-17-2011, 03:39 PM   #7
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I would be willing to pay proportionately more for my health insurance, to reduce my work days per week from 5 to 4. But I have not approached my employer about it, since they try to get me to work 6 days a week as it is.
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Old 12-17-2011, 05:53 PM   #8
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I would be willing to pay proportionately more for my health insurance, to reduce my work days per week from 5 to 4. But I have not approached my employer about it, since they try to get me to work 6 days a week as it is.
Few employers want people who don't live for their work these days. Some talk about "work/life balance" but it's a smokescreen to look like they care. There may some workplaces (mostly privately held, I'll bet) where they do care a little bit, because they don't have shareholders threatening to fire them if they don't treat their employees like disposable commodities so they can squeeze out every last cent in the earnings report.

If I could cut my working hours by 40% -- say three days a week -- sure, I'd take a 40% pay cut and pay an extra 40% of my health insurance burden. But there's no way they'd ever accept that. It doesn't "own" me enough...
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"Hey, for every ten dollars, that's another hour that I have to be in the work place. That's an hour of my life. And my life is a very finite thing. I have only 'x' number of hours left before I'm dead. So how do I want to use these hours of my life? Do I want to use them just spending it on more crap and more stuff, or do I want to start getting a handle on it and using my life more intelligently?" -- Joe Dominguez (1938 - 1997)

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Old 12-17-2011, 06:33 PM   #9
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Fortunately, I'm a "boss" and basically a 20% owner. The problem is that we are in essence a small business dependent on the billable services rendered by the 5 owners/partners and a couple of associates. Times are tight in our profession, so everybody else is worried about the effect it will have on the bottom line for everybody.

But it does appeal to me to transition and keep the health and life insurance and car benefits. 75% next year, maybe a little less each year after that until everybody forgets who I am! Who woulda thunk it would be the least bit hard to stop working?
67-

Like others, I'm rooting you on and hope this works out for you. I work for a MegaCorp, and would like to make the transition to retirement by working part time for a few years.

Since you're an owner/partner in the firm, can't you just treat your transition like any succession plan? By that, I mean have a clear plan to transfer your work over a period of time to the other partners and associates. That's going to have to happen eventually anyway for the health of the business, you're just doing it on your time table.
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Old 12-17-2011, 07:11 PM   #10
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During my last year of work I switched to working half time. I worked 5-8 hour days during my 2 week pay period. I gave my boss a 6 month notice that I would be leaving thinking he would get a replacement I could work with to make the transition easier. That never happened and a month before I was ready to leave he asked if I would stay on longer. My response was 'only if I could switch to half time'. He agreed and I stayed on for an additional year. My employers share of healthcare was cut in half. My retirement pension in based on years of service and 'high 3'. They still used my full time equivalent salary for the last year 'high 3' but I only got credit for 6 months.
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Old 12-17-2011, 09:14 PM   #11
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Fortunately, it was a really, really good year for me and my revenues were much, much higher than anyone elses. Next year, I think my revenues will be below the other 4, especially working part time.
We're discussing it. I'm hopeful it will work out that way for a year or two because the extra income would be nice.
It's like working part time, I guess. Anybody else do anything like this?
This sounds like Martha's last few years at her law firm. She got a lot of pushback from the partners when she announced her decision, but she's managed to work out an uneasy truce with them over all the details like licensing & insurance.

Part of the problem was that they thought she had no idea what she was doing and would just be jerking them around. They figured that (like them), she'd be bored in a few weeks without work and would come right back to full time. They couldn't imagine doing anything less than 40 hours/week, and preferred 50-60.

Martha's on the road right now and not reading the board regularly, so she might miss this thread. You should PM her.
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Old 12-18-2011, 10:27 AM   #12
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A few years ago, I told my supervisor that I would not work full-time anymore. See this link: Upcoming performance review... truth or consequences?

We mutually agreed to me working part-time and that has worked out well. I still contribute to the bottom line of the company which is pretty much all that matters to the company I suppose, so it is worthwhile to them having me around on my terms.

Another plus is that since I have more time to travel now, my employer sends me to nice places that I would normally be paying myself to go to. Instead, they pay for it and I add on vacation days.
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Old 12-18-2011, 11:10 AM   #13
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I shared the happy news with a couple of my partners and I'm getting some push back.
That's because the news is happy for you, not them. One of the things I learned, too late, from the w*rking world is that people who feel slammed by the rat race (i.e. most professionals) do not like to see a colleague or underling with a reduced burden. It makes their burden even more excruciating.
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Old 12-18-2011, 06:29 PM   #14
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I think the answer is that your revenues will fall short of your partners next year. If this year you took 5 weeks vacation, they took 2 or 3 BUT you brought in more revenue, most would feel you paid in enough to get the extra benefit.

Next year if your revenue is down, you cut your working weeks, do they feel that you are not carrying your share of the load? If so, you'll be getting push back.

Can you change your compensation to be a share of the total revenue? That way if you bring in 50% of their revenue, you get 50% of the income. On the other hand, if you bring in 85% of the income, you can get 85% of your income.

You're transitioning, some still work harder than most, others don't. The goal should be a negotiation that all consider fair.

let me add that I cut my base in half so I could cut my hours. Because the work is there, I never have been able to cut my hours much. All know I'm sort of being cheated but I've been there a long time, all want to be fair and John F. Kennedy once said, life just doesn't always work out fair.

All you can do is your best to work it out. Good luck on working it out with your partners, you'll all enjoy the future if you can.
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Old 12-18-2011, 07:04 PM   #15
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An uneasy truce is a good description. Right now, I just want to spend more time at our North Carolina home, working in the yard, growing veggies, hanging out and being less stressed. My partners want me to grind out hours, generate lots of billings and be a good trooper. My wife wants me to spend more time hanging out with her, which is a really, really good idea. The dog doesn't much care so long as he gets his walks.

It will work out. It's a bit of the LBYM thing, but I don't want to travel to exotic places, I don't want to be richer or whatever, I just want time to enjoy the simple things I like to do. I like to ride my road bike, I like to grow things, I like to work in the dirt, I like to read, I like to study the Bible and I like to just be with my DW. Most of those things don't take much money.

2012 will be a very good year.
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Old 12-18-2011, 07:29 PM   #16
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Anybody else do anything like this?
Yes, I started at 80% time and pay last year, and it's working out extremely well, thanks to a very accommodating MegaCorp and no benefit reductions. Cutting back on hours has dropped my stress level way down, and therefore probably added years of productivity to my career. With FIRE within reach and progressive income taxes, there has been almost no financial sacrifice.

I had been doing a lot of overtime, but somehow the expectation of a part-timer is less overtime. Not sure why it works that way.

OTOH, there is some resentment on the part of a few of my full-time co-workers. On my days off, others occasionally have to pitch in to help out on a task I had been working on. I check my e-mail when convenient on my days off so I can help out if a crisis arises, and that helps some.

All things considered, there's no question this was a good move for me.
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Old 12-19-2011, 09:46 AM   #17
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I had been doing a lot of overtime, but somehow the expectation of a part-timer is less overtime. Not sure why it works that way.
I think it's simple: There's little expectation that part-timers "live for their work."
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Old 12-19-2011, 02:44 PM   #18
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It's my hope that, as I become more financially independent, to start scaling back a bit and try a sort of partial ER.

Right now, I'm your typical 40 hour per week wage slave. I get 10 federal holidays, plus five weeks of leave per year. If I have over 200 hours of leave at the end of the year, they cash out the overage and cut me a check.

At the end of 2010, I had about 257 hours of leave, so I had 57 paid out to me. At the end of this year, I'll have about 95 hours paid out. Plus, this year I ended up working 79 hours of overtime.

If I wanted to start feeling a little more free, I could just start taking all of my vacation, rather than letting it pile up. And, instead of taking the overtime, I could always take time off during the pay period to offset it, if I wanted to.

Just doing that right there would give me an extra ~3 1/2 weeks of freedom per year, while still staying full-time.

My company will also let us cut back to as low as 30 hours per week, and still be considered full-time. Not sure if it would have to actually be 30 hours per week, or if I could make it 60 hours per pay period. That would be pretty sweet, to be able to work one full work week, but then just 2 1/2 days the next, and get a 4 1/2 day weekend every other week.
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Old 12-19-2011, 07:16 PM   #19
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If I wanted to start feeling a little more free, I could just start taking all of my vacation, rather than letting it pile up. And, instead of taking the overtime, I could always take time off during the pay period to offset it, if I wanted to.

Just doing that right there would give me an extra ~3 1/2 weeks of freedom per year, while still staying full-time.

My company will also let us cut back to as low as 30 hours per week, and still be considered full-time. Not sure if it would have to actually be 30 hours per week, or if I could make it 60 hours per pay period. That would be pretty sweet, to be able to work one full work week, but then just 2 1/2 days the next, and get a 4 1/2 day weekend every other week.
This sounds great. What's stopping you?
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Old 12-20-2011, 08:30 AM   #20
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This sounds great. What's stopping you?
Right now, I guess I just don't feel financially independent enough to start doing that yet. So I prefer taking the money from the overtime and vacation payouts, investing it, and getting to the FI part that much sooner.

For what it's worth though, in 2011 I've taken more time off than any time in my recent memory, so I guess I am coming around, a little bit. I took an entire week off back in June to go hit some amusement parks in Ohio, and then go to a classic car show in Carlisle, PA. And then in November, I took off a week and went to Aruba. And have taken a day off here and there.

In 2010, I did the amusement park/classic car show thing as well, but that time I got back home on a Tuesday evening, worked Wed/Thurs, and then Friday went up for the car show. So this time around, I just took the whole week off. Got back from Ohio on a Wednesday nite, did stuff around the house and chilled on Thurs, and then went up for the car show on Fri.

So, little by little, I am weaning myself off of work.
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