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Interesting choices for last career chapter
Old 08-13-2007, 10:44 AM   #1
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Interesting choices for last career chapter

I may be faced with an interesting choice in a few months regarding my last career chapter. Any insights would be appreciated. My priorities are more time to travel including visits to see the distant kids and grandkids, losing the weekend and night call (both choices accomplish that), and I'm still a bit shy of my retirement financial goals. So here's how it breaks out:

Choice 1: Bigger job, a bit more money, but I'd negotiate a .9 FTE so I get Wed, Thu, and Fri off once a month. I'd probably do this for a 1-2 years, then out, FIRE mostly funded. Pluses: more travel time for family visits, more money, fastest track to true FI. Minuses: big job, usual stress (though I'm one of the fortunate few who handles stress OK), usual hassles of the commute, early/late meetings. Semiretirement? Barely, but a bigger cushion sooner.

Choice 2: More focused less "important" job, go part-time (.5 FTE), work 2.5 days a week; would have to do for at least 3-4 years to meet FIRE goals assuming the opportunity remains available. Pluses: leisurely lifestyle sooner, lower job stress. Minuses: lower income, longer obligatory work plan into the future. True semiretirement.

Either way I'd likely pay my own health insurance - my current plan provides guaranteed continuation insurance on my own nickel after retirement in any location, whereas the new plans are with a different employing entity and are standard COBRA when you terminate. So I'm paying on my own (essentially trashing the health benefit under the new position ) just so I have something certain when I early-retire down the road.

What to do if this choice should come to pass?
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Old 08-13-2007, 10:48 AM   #2
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This seems like something that only you can decide. Do you want to take the pain all at once in as short a time as possible. Or do you want to spread it out over time.

Either way the integral of the pain is the same.

My personal opinion, of which you and everyone else is/are entitled to...

Is that you should enjoy the ride. If you hate working long and hard then it definitely isn't worth it.
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Old 08-13-2007, 10:57 AM   #3
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Either way I'd likely pay my own health insurance - my current plan provides guaranteed continuation insurance on my own nickel after retirement in any location, whereas the new plans are with a different employing entity and are standard COBRA when you terminate. So I'm paying on my own (essentially trashing the health benefit under the new position ) just so I have something certain when I early-retire down the road.
Well, this decision has at least as much an emotional component as a financial one, but I have financial questions-- is either choice worth giving up the current situation? Would part-time significantly reduce your spending, thus lowering the required size of the FIRE portfolio? Is this a symptom of "just one more year" syndrome?

As for the emotional side, part-time seems better than trying to gut it out full-time. But that's my perspective from the full-time experience.
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Imho
Old 08-13-2007, 11:01 AM   #4
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Imho

I'd say go with Choice 2. I'd take the free time if I could - anytime. If it works out, good, otherwise, you could always go back (but going back may be tougher - life's a b**** with all these choices, isn't it?).

Choice 2 gives you a taste of what "full" retirement will be like yet allows for making whatever adjustments you might want to make in your current path.

I think what you may be really asking is:

What gives you greater pleasure - your job or what you might do when you retire?

Only you can answer that.
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Old 08-13-2007, 11:10 AM   #5
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#1 for me. I would sacrifice a little more now for the fastest track to ER. Only you can decide though. Good luck.
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Old 08-13-2007, 11:18 AM   #6
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I have financial questions-- is either choice worth giving up the current situation?
In this case, Nords, both are improvements over the current job because there is no after-hours call. And even at .9, choice 1 will probably pay the same or a little more. Nice dilemma to have.

BTW, all options are with my current institutions so it's not about "taking a new job" somewhere else - all internal changes.
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Old 08-13-2007, 11:23 AM   #7
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I also vote for # 1 just losing the call will seem like going part time .
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Old 08-13-2007, 11:32 AM   #8
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Nice choice to have, Rich -- also a tough one!


I'd have a couple of questions:

1. How permanent is each choice? If you make either now and change your mind, can you change back later? If so, I'd take the 1/2 time gig and see how it goes.

2. How realistic is Choice 2? Can you REALLY limit yourself to 1/2 time?

3. Is there a choice 3 -- keep doing what you're doing, or is that going away?


My experience, fwiw:

I went to 1/2 time for six months a while back. On the up side, it saved my sanity. I was a lot less stressed and got to do several things I wouldn't otherwise have had the time for. I was burned to a crisp, and the time off allowed me to decompress and come back to full-time work for the final push to retirement.

That said, I realized that I really worked somewhat more than 1/2 time (for only 1/2 time pay!) in the end. The job expanded to fit the available time. (We are in entirely different industries, so this may not apply.)

What's more, my friends and my partner were still full-time and couldn't come out and play, so I didn't get out nearly so much as I'd expected. Also, I did many things alone. I'm an introvert so I like that, sometimes, but it's something to think about.

And finally, I never got to the point that I was entirely satisfied and could see myself working 1/2 time for years into the future. No matter what, job-related thoughts intruded into my free time, and I still longed for the complete freedom to do what I wanted, when I wanted.

Whatever you decide, the very best of luck!
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Old 08-13-2007, 11:34 AM   #9
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Nice choice to have, Rich -- also a tough one!
Great points, Caroline. Especially the one about FTE-creep. As in, "sure you're half time but Friday is the only day everyone else can make it to the meeting..."
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Old 08-13-2007, 11:45 AM   #10
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Either way I'd likely pay my own health insurance - my current plan provides guaranteed continuation insurance on my own nickel after retirement in any location, whereas the new plans are with a different employing entity and are standard COBRA when you terminate. So I'm paying on my own (essentially trashing the health benefit under the new position ) just so I have something certain when I early-retire down the road.

What to do if this choice should come to pass?
Rich, I can't remember how old you are. Also you didn't say what happens to your current health coverage when you qualify for Medicare. But if when you go onto Medicare your group insurance would wrap around, in effect replacing a Medigap policy, I would consider staying in your current job until you can retire from it. Medigaps are not cheap. But then, if you pay the full freight on your retirement policy it might not matter.

If this sounds just awful, then you will know that you are really a bit more tired than you thought!

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Old 08-13-2007, 11:46 AM   #11
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In addition to FTE creep, and the other points, how do the actual w*rk tasks compare? Option 1 has stress; option 2 is more laid back, but which fits your own style? Do you tend to go at things full tilt, regardless or do you adjust with the flow? For some people having the higher demand makes the time go faster and would feel nuts doing less for longer.

Also, is there a difference in the relative amount of patient time versus administrative time? I recall you greatly prefer the former.
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Old 08-13-2007, 11:58 AM   #12
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Rich, I can't remember how old you are. Also you didn't say what happens to your current health coverage when you qualify for Medicare.
I'm 58. The health insurance is all about availability after retirement, right on up through Medigap. I pay, they play. But that beat's getting shut out from insurance after retirement and before MC.
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Old 08-13-2007, 12:16 PM   #13
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Me, I'd go for Choice #1.
1...to 2 years, and make it happen in 1.

If really 1 year, to me I'd rather tough it out for 1 rather than another 3.
Especially since it's already a reduction in stress/time + once a month a long stretch off. That stretch alone could rejunivate you so that the three weeks minus call/weekends is already to you, relatively speaking, like semi-retirement.

The issue I'd have with choice #2 is I'd be conflicted mentally...am I working or playing? I can't seem to do both at once and enjoy either. I do not think I would enjoy three years of semi-retirement as much as 1 year pseudo-retirement + 1-2 years full retirement. That's just me.

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Old 08-13-2007, 12:17 PM   #14
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I would go with Option #1 because it is easier to manage scheduling that 4-5 hours a week as a morning or afternoon off. Plus you can experience: sleeping in and having that leisurely coffee on the patio, or the afternoon at the beach, all essential components of ER.

And, if it were me, the lesser job would bother me because:
1) I am wasting my time, or
2) Others will view it as a demotion, or
3) Scheduling all that time-off can be onerous, or
4) You miss out on key stuff being away so much, and
5) It will take longer to ER.
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Old 08-13-2007, 12:51 PM   #15
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Choice 1: Bigger job, a bit more money, but I'd negotiate a .9 FTE so I get Wed, Thu, and Fri off once a month. I'd probably do this for a 1-2 years, then out, FIRE mostly funded. Pluses: more travel time for family visits, more money, fastest track to true FI. Minuses: big job, usual stress (though I'm one of the fortunate few who handles stress OK), usual hassles of the commute, early/late meetings. Semiretirement? Barely, but a bigger cushion sooner.

Choice 2: More focused less "important" job, go part-time (.5 FTE), work 2.5 days a week; would have to do for at least 3-4 years to meet FIRE goals assuming the opportunity remains available. Pluses: leisurely lifestyle sooner, lower job stress. Minuses: lower income, longer obligatory work plan into the future. True semiretirement.

What to do if this choice should come to pass?
Rich, if I read you right, this is an idea right now which may come to negotiation. Is Choice 1 an administrative positiion, e.g. VPMA? If so, whatever the nominal FTE, you will be working your butt off and carrying a blackberry. You say you don't get stressed out, but if you are reporting to the CEO and responsible for corporate performance and physician leadership, all bets are off. Of course it could be an intermediate "big" job such as postgraduate program director. Only you can decide whether this job truly can be left behind when you go on your monthly trips.

Choice 2 is subject to FTE creep unless it is clearly defined, e.g. clinics on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday ONLY, and no committee work. Probably less stressful, but can your ego handle it?

What about Choice 3: fill in for other people's vacations?

or Choice 4: consulting work, e.g. medicolegal or project work (For $$$$ I will help you set up your hospitalist program)

Meadbh
(anticipating similar choices in the future)
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Old 08-13-2007, 01:45 PM   #16
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...(anticipating similar choices in the future)
i see what you mean. Great observations, Meadbh.

It may be open for negotiation in the next month or two. No senior position can really establish boundaries - you do what needs to be done, but that's true of both options.

I'll PM you so as not to bore the others with more detail.
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Old 08-13-2007, 04:58 PM   #17
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I would also vote for Option 1.

For two years, I worked 0.6 FTE. It turned out to be pretty difficult because 1) It was hard to schedule meetings, and I missed many meetings where I was expected that fell on my days off, 2) I was out of the loop on projects/fun stuff, 3) the workload was more than 0.6 FTE, 4) my boss and coworkers took me less seriously because I was part-time. If you are in a high enough position #4 might not be an issue, but I would guess it will more or less have an influence. With Option 1 you'll still have some regularly scheduled extended time off and hopefully plan enough fun to balance out the stress of w*rking.
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Old 08-13-2007, 05:11 PM   #18
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Rich, I like number 2. The grandkids are growing up so damn fast, and you've got that nice new rig and the open road calling....

Plus a review of your retirement financial goals -- maybe there's just a little painless trimming that would get you to RE sooner than you think.

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Old 08-13-2007, 05:27 PM   #19
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Rich, my personal preference would be option #2, but based on what I've learned about you (at least the virtual you ) on this forum I suspect you would do better choosing option #1. As others have said, you would likely be working much more than the agreed option #2 part-time hours so you might as well strap on your flak vest, go for option #1 and do your best to reach FI sooner rather than later.

But what do I know...
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Old 08-13-2007, 09:20 PM   #20
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I think option # 1 is the best.

It would be the pits to go for the 2nd option only to think one year later....man I've got three more years to go...
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