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I'm Back to Work
Old 10-18-2008, 06:00 PM   #1
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I'm Back to Work

I left the work force back in early 2004 at age 39 and had enough invested (1.5 M) I thought to live the life of a retiree. The recent market downturn has led me back into the workforce. I also under estimated some expenses that have increased over the years (health ins., fuel costs, utilities, etc.) that made continued retirement somewhat uncomfortable. It's possible through significant cutbacks that our family could continue in the retirement mode but I felt more comfortable returning to a semi-retired mode (25-35 hour work week) now rather than being forced into working at some later date. Even with the reduced workload I still only anticipate working into my early 50s so I suppose I can still be an early retiree at that point.

So how has the last five years been? Great overall, however I did find winters somewhat depressing. Since the DW and I still have young kids at home in school leaving the Northeast for a warmer climate in winter wasn't an option. It also presented many awkward moments with families our age - How can you be retired at such a young age? I also felt at times like a lazy slug that I could be out making money even if it wasn't needed.

Call me insane but I'm actually looking forward to getting back to work. It is true what I had read somewhere that you can only spend so much time at leisure activities before you become bored. I wasn't really actively looking for work I just sort of fell into a job in my previous career that looked beneficial to both myself and my employer.
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Old 10-18-2008, 06:18 PM   #2
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We won't call you a traitor...

Not knowing your exact financial situation, many readers would wonder how that initial sum was not enough. Obviously, the market downturn has taken its toll. Apparently your children are still young, and you will need to provide for them.

If you do not mind your work, and obviously your ex-employer welcomes you back, then it will work out for you best this way. Best wishes.
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Old 10-18-2008, 06:20 PM   #3
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I think it is smart for you to get a job before the rise in unemployment makes it much harder to do so. With the experience of being previously retired, you will also know it's benefits and pitfalls, and that will make your second early retirement even more successful.
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Old 10-18-2008, 06:24 PM   #4
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Sounds like a good decision - especially with a family.
I'm guessing you will be a more energetic worker than those around you.
One suggestion for the future.
If you can - consider moving to the southeast - lower cost of living; better weather.
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Old 10-18-2008, 06:41 PM   #5
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I dont think its true that you have to become bored with too much leisure activities, but I do agree that it would be very tough to fully enjoy yourself and take advantage of the time you have to do these leisure activities, travel ect....while still having kids in the house.
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Old 10-18-2008, 06:44 PM   #6
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So did you go back to your old job? Something totally different?
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Old 10-18-2008, 08:01 PM   #7
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So did you go back to your old job? Something totally different?
Same line of work but with a much smaller company. Certainly much potential for growth if I decide that's what I want.

Utrecht: I agree, it's probably not so much boredom as it is much of our spare time revolves around our kids - not that we would want it any other way right now.

Re-retiring when the kids have moved on will likely provide a different outlook on retirement.
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Old 10-18-2008, 08:43 PM   #8
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Not very surprising at all, 1.5M would be great if you were single, but with a wife, and two or more kids, that number is pretty tight for retirement, especially considering that it needed to last for twice the length of a normal retirement.

I plan on retiring in my early 40s, but that is only on an inflation adjusted 50k/year, I don't plan on having kids, and I am frugal to an unusual degree. I cannot even imagine how expensive it would be to insure 4 or more people for many years with private health insurance, I am sure it is astronomical.
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Old 10-18-2008, 09:57 PM   #9
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Call me insane but I'm actually looking forward to getting back to work. It is true what I had read somewhere that you can only spend so much time at leisure activities before you become bored.
Good move. At least you got to experience the reality of early retirement and know what awaits you in the future.

With a young family, the ability to work, and the (completely understandable) need to produce some income, you're definitely heading in the right direction.

Out of curiosity - you mentioned that you plan to retire again in your early 50s. How much money in savings would be your target this time around? What will you do in the future to avoid the boredom?
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Old 10-18-2008, 10:09 PM   #10
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Hey, if you're looking forward to going back to work, then back to work you should go. Why not?
I'm looking forward to NOT going back to work, and hope to continue to enjoy that feeling too, conditions permitting.
To each their own.
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Old 10-18-2008, 11:45 PM   #11
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It is true what I had read somewhere that you can only spend so much time at leisure activities before you become bored.
To each his own, but perhaps it's only true for you about leisure activities and boredom.

Over six years, no boredom, and occasionally even a feeling that we take on too much at times.
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Old 10-19-2008, 07:53 AM   #12
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Good move. At least you got to experience the reality of early retirement and know what awaits you in the future.

With a young family, the ability to work, and the (completely understandable) need to produce some income, you're definitely heading in the right direction.

Out of curiosity - you mentioned that you plan to retire again in your early 50s. How much money in savings would be your target this time around? What will you do in the future to avoid the boredom?
Those are my thoughts at the moment - I have a young family and the ability to work in my field on a semi part time basis making 40-50K per year so why not try it? I'd rather work now while our kids are still at home than be required to return to work in my 60s doing who knows what. I wouldn't anticipate being able to jump back into my former career at that point having been out of it for 20 or so years. My stock/bond portfolio WAS 1.5M, right now it's hovering right around 1M.

I would think getting back to 1.5M in my early 50s would be the goal. By then mortgage is paid off and kids are in college. We also start collecting on an annuity at that point which will be equivalent to my work salary.

As far as boredom, that wasn't a daily concern it was primarily a winter issue. Without kids in the house and the ability to travel in the winter months in our 50s I see that as less of an issue in the future.
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Old 10-19-2008, 08:10 AM   #13
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Not knowing your exact financial situation, many readers would wonder how that initial sum was not enough.
Boy, I didn't wonder at all. I can't imagine that being near enough at such an early age, especially with a family. But it all depends on individual expectations.

Although I plugged in 1.5MM, 50K/yr expenses and 46 years and FIRECALC gave 100% probability - if you believe it.
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Old 10-19-2008, 09:01 AM   #14
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I'd be shocked if it took 10 years to get your portfolio from $1M back to $1.5M. You could put it all in CDs paying 5% and get over $1.6M with no further contributions.
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Old 10-19-2008, 09:15 AM   #15
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I'd be shocked if it took 10 years to get your portfolio from $1M back to $1.5M. You could put it all in CDs paying 5% and get over $1.6M with no further contributions.
I think OP meant 1.5M in today's dollars........ Reduce those CD yields by inflation and taxes and getting back to a real value of 1.5M in 10 yrs will be unlikely with a CD only portfolio.
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Old 10-19-2008, 10:25 AM   #16
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Hey, good luck with your plans. Nice that you could land a job similar to what you had before you retired. I don't want to go back, but I also know I couldn't find the same thing making anywhere near what I was making. But 8 more years and I will be bringing in the big bucks. From the SS office. I hope they include that 5.8% raise everyone just got.
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Old 10-19-2008, 12:13 PM   #17
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As someone who lives in the north east (I'm in NH), I can sympathize with the increasing cost of living. Auto/heating fuel alone is up hugely, as are other utilities. Food too. I'm sure everyone is feeling a similar pinch, but I do believe NE has much higher COL than a lot of other areas.
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Old 10-19-2008, 12:53 PM   #18
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It was very clear to my husband and me that one reason we felt free to retire so early was because we had no kids. If, like our peers, we had still had kids at home, we would have felt tied down to one location most of the year. I'm not sure we would have been ready to do homeschooling while taking the kids on extended travel. I also think we would have been much more concerned about present and future expenses - healthcare, future college, etc. due to the kids.

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Old 10-20-2008, 03:24 PM   #19
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I have a family, three high schoolers, and when I decided to RE my SO and I decided that a few things needed to be covered before I could. We wanted no debt, 5 years of living expences in laddered CD's. We also needed to agree on a budget and work with-in it as best as we could. Since the CD's gained 5%/yr we were winning, i.e. our budget was increasing faster then our spending. With that we also needed a diversified portfolio of stocks and bonds that would yield ~8%/yr. To fund our budget's going forward. We basically needed ~1.25mill to make the whole thing work.

The big difference is that you really have to pay attention to your $'s and be aware of your spending as the month goes on. Things are tight but we are making it.

I started to try to get a position at a college to give my kids free tuition. I did get a position and am back in the work force - but our budget and finance process has not changed. I went from a high stress high tech job to a low stress college job. All of my income goes into accelerating our year five CD ladder and then into our portfolio of 40% stocks and 40% bonds. For us this works.

The one area that really requires funding is health care - we live in MA and since it is required to have health insurance we would have had a family plan for less then $400/month, add another $100 for dental. That is not something that you want to skimp on especially if you have a family. But could drive a $40k budget to $50k.
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Old 10-20-2008, 05:47 PM   #20
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Thanks for sharing. $1.5MM would throw off about $60K at 4% SWR - which we'd find "challenging" - especially with family.

I understand being "neighborhood bound" with the young kids - a big chuck of my ER time I hope to be traveling - not "exiotic" stuff - but just bumming around the country.

Sounds like a great experience you'll be glad you tried - and I think "in and out" of ER can be interesting also.

Good luck !
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