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Half-timers speak up
Old 11-19-2005, 10:28 PM   #1
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Half-timers speak up

I have a question I thought of while looking at the results of the pig poll. All of you who are working half time: When did you feel comfortable enough to ratchet back the hours and why? Once you worked fewer hours, did it change your mind about early retirement? Or do you consider yourself retired?

I went to half time a year ago. I had been researching early retirement for a few years. I was feeling overwhelmed by juggling my work life with my family--I have two school-age children, one with a learning disability. When we received a substantial inheritance (about $650,000), I was tempted to quit entirely. However, I didn't feel that our investments were sufficient, so I requested and received a reduction of work hours instead.

Now I feel like I can work on for another 10 years, until I am eligible for full retirement benefits at age 58. Most weeks I work four 5-hour days a week, plus I get almost 6 weeks of vacation a year. I now have sufficient time to volunteer at my kid's school, run errands, visit the gym, go to the doctor, whatever I need. And for the first time in about 25 years, I have time for my self.

My husband works full time still. He feels like he can hold on for another 7 years until he is 58 and eligible for the full retirement package. He's glad that one of us had the time to do the household stuff.

Anyway, I consider myself semi-retired. If my investments hit $1,000,000 before my retirement date, I would feel secure enough to fully retire, but for now, work is no longer so onerous.
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Re: Half-timers speak up
Old 11-19-2005, 11:51 PM   #2
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Re: Half-timers speak up

Quote:
Originally Posted by LRS
I have a question I thought of while looking at the results of the pig poll. All of you who are working half time: When did you feel comfortable enough to ratchet back the hours and why? Once you worked fewer hours, did it change your mind about early retirement? Or do you consider yourself retired?

I went to half time a year ago. I had been researching early retirement for a few years. I was feeling overwhelmed by juggling my work life with my family--I have two school-age children, one with a learning disability. When we received a substantial inheritance (about $650,000), I was tempted to quit entirely. However, I didn't feel that our investments were sufficient, so I requested and received a reduction of work hours instead.

Now I feel like I can work on for another 10 years, until I am eligible for full retirement benefits at age 58. Most weeks I work four 5-hour days a week, plus I get almost 6 weeks of vacation a year. I now have sufficient time to volunteer at my kid's school, run errands, visit the gym, go to the doctor, whatever I need. And for the first time in about 25 years, I have time for my self.

My husband works full time still. He feels like he can hold on for another 7 years until he is 58 and eligible for the full retirement package. He's glad that one of us had the time to do the household stuff.

Anyway, I consider myself semi-retired. If my investments hit $1,000,000 before my retirement date, I would feel secure enough to fully retire, but for now, work is no longer so onerous.
Welcome to the semi-retirement club. In this club, there is synergy in that more than half the stress time is replaced by fun time, even when your work load is cut in half, and that makes it all worth the cut in income.

I never got such an inheritance. but it doesn't make a difference where it comes from, as long as it's legal. Consider it a bonus to help you get to your destination much faster.

At semi-retirement, you may have found your sweet spot. You may also be at the point where you just have to earn enough to pay for all your expenses, even though you may not be saving anymore. In the meanwhile, your current portfolio grows until it reaches at least 25 times your annual expenses, at which point you can cut the cord.
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Re: Half-timers speak up
Old 11-20-2005, 12:01 AM   #3
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Re: Half-timers speak up

I only work 1/4 time. I retired completely in March 2003. But I guess I didn't get it right. After 6 months I let myself be talked into this position where I work about 2 or 3 weeks per month, 3 days per week, 6 hours per day. I pick the weeks, days and hours. The work rarely gets in the way of other things I want to do, and it is also very rewarding sometimes. So far, it works for me.
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Re: Half-timers speak up
Old 11-20-2005, 05:14 AM   #4
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Re: Half-timers speak up

Quote:
Originally Posted by LRS
I have a question I thought of while looking at the results of the pig poll. All of you who are working half time: When did you feel comfortable enough to ratchet back the hours and why? Once you worked fewer hours, did it change your mind about early retirement? Or do you consider yourself retired?

...for now, work is no longer so onerous.
I'm working about 1/4 time at this point in the law practice and 1/4 time on working on property so I think that qualifies as 1/2 time so I'll answer the questions.

When the kids finished with their education, were on their way, employed and on their own, I felt an enormous weight off my shoulders and was able to cut back on full time employment. At that time (couple of years ago -- my how time does so relentlessly move!) I made a decision to cut back significantly in work and did so, although because of the nature of the practice, it actually took 6-12 months to get to 1/4 time.

The second question is a good one. Yes, cutting back did change my view of early retirement, although it is still an option. Being able to cut back has enhanced the enjoyable part of work (the challange, contact with people I like, etc.) while almost eliminating the negatives so that I no long need to get out, to retire early.

I do not consider myself retired, I do consider myself part time.

Work is no longer onerous. I still might retire a some point,
(mainly so we can travel for months rather than weeks at a time) but don't feel the need to.

It's worked quite well for me, for now.
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Re: Half-timers speak up
Old 11-20-2005, 07:28 AM   #5
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Re: Half-timers speak up

LRS,
You won't find a huge number of part-time advocates here but there are definitely some. I think you are spot-on with your approach, especially if you can find a way to "sort-of" enjoy the work more, or at least not hate it. DW and I are not ER'd but part timing is certainly part of our plan. Actually DW is already 75% time and enjoys it.
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Re: Half-timers speak up
Old 11-20-2005, 07:39 AM   #6
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Re: Half-timers speak up

I too am working part time but am ambivalent about it. I paired down my clients to the very best of the best. For the most part I am enjoying the work I am doing. Also it is good to have the benefits like health insurance. BUT I do not like going to work. I find I procrastinate much more now that I have less to do. So I go into the office and take 6 hours to get 2 hours of work done. Not good.
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Re: Half-timers speak up
Old 11-20-2005, 08:31 AM   #7
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Re: Half-timers speak up

Martha-

For me going in to the office is the most distasteful part of work. And yes, the habits accumulated during many years of dragging myself to a place I don't want to be are sometimes dysfunctional. I'm planning a transition to a solo practice with a home office. Can't say for sure because I haven't tried it yet, but it sure sounds a lot better to me. Here's a blog on solo practice with some helpful info: http://www.myshingle.com/

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Re: Half-timers speak up
Old 11-20-2005, 09:07 AM   #8
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Re: Half-timers speak up

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Originally Posted by rapoole
Martha-

* * *For me going in to the office is the most distasteful part of work.* And yes, the habits accumulated during many years of dragging myself to a place I don't want to be are sometimes dysfunctional.* I'm planning a transition to a solo practice with a home office.* Can't say for sure because I haven't tried it yet, but it sure sounds a lot better to me.* Here's a blog on solo practice with some helpful info:* http://www.myshingle.com/

rapoole
I would say one of the most important things to do in a solo practice (especially in a home office) is to make a "TO DO" sheet for yourself and get into the habit of getting at least one thing done a day, or if you need to make a certain amount of money, make sure you bill (or accrue) at least the minimum you need for the day. It's too easy to keep putting off until tomorrow things you may not absolutely need to do today.
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Re: Half-timers speak up
Old 11-20-2005, 09:08 AM   #9
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Re: Half-timers speak up

LRS,
As my handle, ESRBob, stands for early semi retirement, I can't dodge this one. I think it can be a great option to give you an extra dose of confidence and financial security, as well as some tasty tax benefits (contribute to Roth, for instance, or deduct self employment expenses).

What I've found is that you might start off getting a big thrill just by being able to do your old job part time-- lots of new time and freedom and a decent income. After a while, though, you realize that you've got new interests that you're really enjoying, and that (I hope it's not the case for you), your old work world starts to feel toxic or beside-the-point given your new perspective. At that point you might feel better working at something else part time, even if you get less money from it, or (depending on the financial situation) give up paid work completely.

But if you define 'work' as something that engages you, demands some level of commitment and delivering the goods from you, and keeps you connected with other people, then many types of activities, paid or unpaid, would qualify. By this broad definition, my view is that ERs should probably all be 'working' as a way to keep us from going to seed. (e.g. becoming widebody experts on the daytime TV shows). Gerontology studies are real clear on the fact that seniors who stay active and mentally engaged in this sort of activity live longer and are happier. Any financial benefit could just be considered a bonus, or could be the deciding factor that lets you walk from full-time salaried work some number of years earlier.

This is one of the themes developed in Work Less, Live More that makes it different from some of the more traditional early retirement books that have been published in the past.

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Re: Half-timers speak up
Old 11-20-2005, 11:23 AM   #10
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Re: Half-timers speak up

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Originally Posted by ((^+^)) SG
I only work 1/4 time.* I retired completely in March 2003.* But I guess I didn't get it right.* After 6 months I let myself be talked into this position where I work about 2 or 3 weeks per month, 3 days per week, 6 hours per day.* I pick the weeks, days and hours.* The work rarely gets in the way of other things I want to do, and it is also very rewarding sometimes.* So far, it works for me.* *
I guess I didn't asnswer the questions, plus some of the other posters have brought up topics I could comment on.

I really consider myself retired now, since I will walk away from the 1/4 time gig in a heartbeat if I ever find it distasteful. I do not need the money or the benefits. I did not choose to cut back my work from full to part time, but chose to retire. Only later did I go back to work part time for my own entertainment.

I do find the work enjoyable now; and I was really burned-out and turned off to engineering prior to retirement. I am very productive in my 1/4 time effort. A lot of time engineering tends to drag you into a mode of firefighting the problem of the day. Once that begins to happen, attention is pulled away from longer term issues which only makes firefighting more likely to be required in the future. It's a downhill spiral. Working only 1/4 time means I can't possibly contribute significantly to the fire of the day. Instead, I come in and take a look at the progress and direction, then focus on avoiding the next problem. It has been very satisfying for me and the folks I work with.
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Re: Half-timers speak up
Old 11-20-2005, 12:29 PM   #11
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Re: Half-timers speak up

SG,

In my branch of engineering, it is hard to get part-time employment. I have known better men than I who have tried to get it. There is a strong trend to make us all contractors (very limited hiring for staff positions), and we wind up working overtime right up until they lay us off. It is more common to work only part of the year, but the successful cases that I have seen have leverage with their old employer.

I figure that if I want to work part-time (hell, even if I want to work in my town), I will have to leave the profession entirely and take a service job (you want fries with that?).

Ed The Gypsy,
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Re: Half-timers speak up
Old 11-20-2005, 12:39 PM   #12
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Re: Half-timers speak up

I used to refer to myself as "early retired" whenever I was pressed to put myself into a catagory, but over time my wife began to insist that I *was "semi-retired" since I never seemed to be not working at some venture that brought in a few bucks. So I changed my status to "semi retired".

I have worked at a series of part-time or temporary positions over the last 3 years or so. I will start a new part time job in about a week as I got tired of my temp job that required a 15 mile/20 minute commute. *My new job not only pays more and has better benefits, but it requires a 3 mile/ 5 minute commute.

I now place great value in the option of being able walking away from any job that I may have in a heartbeat for any old reason that I can come up with. *They need me more than I need them. Talk about power!

I just work at these jobs to cover our expenses and fund 2 Roth IRAs to the max each year. This allows us to not dig into our retirement savings which will, of course, insure that the accumulated DB and DC plans will last even longer than we had assumed.

As mentioned in a previous post, I may change my status from semi-retired to part-timer. 8)
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Re: Half-timers speak up
Old 11-20-2005, 12:43 PM   #13
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Re: Half-timers speak up

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ed_The_Gypsy
SG,

In my branch of engineering, it is hard to get part-time employment.* I have known better men than I who have tried to get it.* There is a strong trend to make us all contractors (very limited hiring for staff positions), and we wind up working overtime right up until they lay us off.* It is more common to work only part of the year, but the successful cases that I have seen have leverage with their old employer.

I figure that if I want to work part-time (hell, even if I want to work in my town), I will have to leave the profession entirely and take a service job (you want fries with that?).

Ed The Gypsy,
Still taking a job away from a Canadian.
I think you need to think outside the box more and not limit your options so much.
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Re: Half-timers speak up
Old 11-20-2005, 01:20 PM   #14
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Re: Half-timers speak up

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I think you need to think outside the box more and not limit your options so much.
Point taken. More creativity is called for.

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Re: Half-timers speak up
Old 11-20-2005, 01:51 PM   #15
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Re: Half-timers speak up

Thoughtful responses.

What I noticed about my job when I first reduced my hours is it became fun and interesting again. I feel just about zero stress when it comes my workload. Part of the reason is thatI am no longer so invested in my job. I really can quit if I want to. I don't wake up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night wondering what my boss thinks of me, or whether I am working hard enough, or getting enough done. I don't care if I get a* "good" instead of "excellent" on my performance appraisal. It really doesn't matter.

Nor do I suffer from cold panics over whether my frequent absences from work (due to taking care of my kids) is going to affect my performance appraisal. For one thing, no matter what happens, I can always fit 20 hours for my job into a week, even if I have to come in late. My workplace is extremely flexible about employees coming in late or making up hours on different days.

I used to come to work so overwhelmed with worries about my private life that I couldn't focus on my job. I would spend a lot of sleepless nights worrying over how little I was getting done and if anyone would notice. Now, if I'm having a tough day, I have the flexibility to come in at a different time or day. I am actually more productive than before.

All the same, I am looking forward to retirement. Now that I've had a taste of freedom I am eager for more. I am developing interests and hobbies now that I want more time for. For instance, now that I can use my bountiful leave for something other that attending to my childrens' needs, I am going to spend the summer in Mexico studying Spanish. Travel is my one vice and I intend to do a lot of it.

My half time income allows us to both travel and save, so we are not touching the investment income until after retirement. I'm feeling pretty happy about my situation.
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Re: Half-timers speak up
Old 11-20-2005, 06:37 PM   #16
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Re: Half-timers speak up

After I moved across the country, I started working part time from home--the hours varied over 3 years from 32 down to 5 or so a week. At first it was fabulous, but over time, I felt more and more out of touch and emotionally disconnected from work. When I reduced my hours to 10 a week, my employer needed to hire another editor. Once I stopped reviewing everything, I rapidly became increasingly out of it in terms of staying on top of company technology, industry technology, and developments in documentation and technical editing. I was planning to hang in till 2006, but I bugged out entirely a few months ago. I'm glad I did...I didn't realize how much work stress I was still carrying, even at 5-10 hours a week. Now I volunteer 5 hours a week at the hospital--no stress at all! All I have to remember is when to show up!
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