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It's Official: I Have More Lives Than a Cat
Old 12-08-2008, 11:36 AM   #1
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It's Official: I Have More Lives Than a Cat

Another year, another round of layoffs. More than 5% of our work force was eliminated today.

I believe this is the 9th time in my career, going back to 1990, that I've been through a significant reduction in force. And so far, I've survived them all.

So I've burned through nine lives and now just been reborn in my tenth life.

I hate times like this. It just reminds me why we're setting up our finances in a way that has us dependent on employment for as short a time as possible. I hate this angst about our income stream every time the market tanks.
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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 12-08-2008, 11:48 AM   #2
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I hate this angst about our income stream every time the market tanks.
I'd like to be able to tell you things are much different once you cross over to "The Other Side". Unfortunately, that's not the case.
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Old 12-08-2008, 11:54 AM   #3
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It's difficult to see your co-workers laid off, Ziggy. I would imagine that you are probably thinking each time that the next time it could be you!

Congratulations on your tenth life.
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Old 12-08-2008, 12:09 PM   #4
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you are obviously a respected and valuable employee to keep on keepin' on. hats off to you and your employers for knowing quality when they see it!
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Old 12-08-2008, 12:18 PM   #5
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I'd like to be able to tell you things are much different once you cross over to "The Other Side". Unfortunately, that's not the case.
Ain't that the truth!

Although, at least when you are FIRE'd, you usually don't lose your entire income all at once, as you do when you lose a job. You also don't have the high fixed overhead, primarily mortgage payments.
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Old 12-08-2008, 12:25 PM   #6
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I'd like to be able to tell you things are much different once you cross over to "The Other Side". Unfortunately, that's not the case.
Understandable. I could see where it might be more stressful on the "Other side" (though you don't have to worry about job security like Ziggy has contended with so skillfully).

How much do you think the angst relates to the size of cash reserves and allocation as opposed to just the general angst we all feel as we watch our nest eggs shrink before our very eyes?

Not a particularly enjoyable spectator sport from either side, though.
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Old 12-08-2008, 12:27 PM   #7
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Sounds like good news/bad news. Congrats, Ziggy, I'm sure you are doing an outstanding j*b. Hope you don't have to do the work of three people.

I remember a giant company here, back in the '80s, that let 8,000 people go about this time of year. They send out a memo in advance suggesting that people not over-spend on Christmas because layoffs were coming.
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Old 12-08-2008, 12:33 PM   #8
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How much do you think that relates to the size of cash reserves and allocation as opposed to just the general angst we all feel as we watch our nest eggs shrink before our very eyes?
Both play a big role.
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Old 12-08-2008, 12:34 PM   #9
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How much do you think the angst relates to the size of cash reserves and allocation as opposed to just the general angst we all feel as we watch our nest eggs shrink before our very eyes?
I think it depends on several factors.

My mom, for example, is extremely secure despite an income less than $50K: she lives very simply (by desire), and the combination of Social Security and two pensions (a small one of her own and the survivor benefits from my dad's pension) is more than enough for her. She owns the house outright and has zero debt. She has to take about $10,000 a year out of IRAs for an RMD, but she never touches that for income, she just moves it from a Vanguard IRA to a taxable mutual fund account there.

Her income stream doesn't seem significantly threatened my market action or even yields paid out on savings since her income stream is dependent on neither. I'd imagine her greatest angst is feeling wondering if she may have to bail out some of her kids. Her main personal risk is inflation, and I've put a lot of her Vanguard IRA into VIPSX (TIPS) last week to help manage that.

For others who are more heavily dependent on stock-laden portfolios for retirement income, I'd imagine it's more difficult. And if you need a new job, sometimes it's harder for people "out of the job market" for a few years to find a job than for someone who has "fresh" experience and employment history.

One of the things I've decided is that I'm not going to retire until my portfolio can safely support me with no more than a 50/50 asset mix (and I'd prefer 40/60 after what I've just seen). I think more stock than that while retired would scare me just like the specter of layoffs.
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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)

RIP to Reemy, my avatar dog (2003 - 9/16/2017)
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Old 12-08-2008, 12:51 PM   #10
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My mom, for example, is extremely secure despite an income less than $50K: she lives very simply (by desire), and the combination of Social Security and two pensions (a small one of her own and the survivor benefits from my dad's pension) is more than enough for her. She owns the house outright and has zero debt. She has to take about $10,000 a year out of IRAs for an RMD, but she never touches that for income, she just moves it from a Vanguard IRA to a taxable mutual fund account there.
My mother lives by herself on less than $30K (small state pension+SS). She owns her modern 1600 sqft home, and once used the RMD from her IRA to buy jewelry! Did I tell people how low the cost of living is in AZ?

She is barely aware of the economic news, and definitely unaware of the stock market performance. It's better that way, since she would jump up and down with fear. I look after the IRA for her.
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Old 12-08-2008, 01:01 PM   #11
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Congrats Ziggy!

I hope I will celebrate with you soon... My wife's company has announced another round of layoffs for tomorrow (about 10% of the work will be handed out pink slips). It's going to be I think the 6th or 7th round for us since 2002. We survived all of them except one (and that one we couldn't dodge since the company shut down completely). Fingers crossed!

Quote:
I hate times like this. It just reminds me why we're setting up our finances in a way that has us dependent on employment for as short a time as possible. I hate this angst about our income stream every time the market tanks.
Me too... I am so sick and tired of the corporate world!
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Old 12-08-2008, 01:07 PM   #12
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Having survived through a few layoffs, I know what it feels like. There were also times when there were rumors the entire megacorp may go down the tube, or when it might survive but they might close down our division. Wouldn't matter how high they put you on the totem pole then!

Best wishes to all of you still working.
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Old 12-08-2008, 01:08 PM   #13
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good for you ziggy. i recall the horrible experience of having to reapply for my own job when my mcfortune5 re-engineered. i survived that. i'll survive this. that was more upsetting than this because then i didn't have as much in reserve and now i am still young enough to start a new career with plenty in reserve to make working life a lot more enjoyable than maybe it was in the past, or i could just take off and vagabond. now i have more options and more control and so therefore less angst.
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Old 12-08-2008, 01:16 PM   #14
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I just talked to my wife and apparently I missed a few rounds of layoffs:

2 rounds in 2002 (me. I dodged the first one, but I lost my job with everybody else during the second one).
1 in 2003 (wife)
1 big, scary round in 2004 (wife again; 50% of the workforce was let go)
2 in 2005 (wife) - 1 in her old company at the beginning of the year, right before she resigned and 1 at her new company at the end of the year.
1 in 2006 (wife)
1 in 2007 (wife. another big one, 50+% of the workforce was let go)
2 in 2008 including the one tomorrow (wife).

Conclusion: It's our 10th round combined tomorrow, and my wife's 8th. She survived the first 7, and hopefully will survive that one too.
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Old 12-08-2008, 01:21 PM   #15
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Good grief FD! I would just go back to the family farm and grow trees to harvest.
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Old 12-08-2008, 01:22 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by ziggy29 View Post
One of the things I've decided is that I'm not going to retire until my portfolio can safely support me with no more than a 50/50 asset mix (and I'd prefer 40/60 after what I've just seen). I think more stock than that while retired would scare me just like the specter of layoffs.
Yep, I'm "goin' to school" on this as well as I can during this recession. It's really helpful having people on this board covering almost any retirement scenario. Most of the tables and charts that I've read suggest that the optimal risk:reward allocation is anywhere from 40:60 up to 70:30.

Based on what I'm hearing here and elsewhere, I may be better suited to 50:50 or 45:55 (was pushing 60:40 a year ago, but somehow that auto-corrected ).
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Old 12-08-2008, 01:23 PM   #17
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Good grief FD! I would just go back to the family farm and grow trees to harvest.
Now that's a thought! That's my semi-retirement plan if all else fail!
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Old 12-08-2008, 01:33 PM   #18
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Ziggy, sounds like you'll be the last one there to turn out the lights--but your hatches sound pretty well battened down.
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Old 12-08-2008, 02:06 PM   #19
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I can emphasize. DW was "downsized" three times, although I've never had to deal with it - public safety positions are usually immune - but it was very depressing for her.
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Old 12-08-2008, 02:38 PM   #20
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Our layoffs never happened according to the managements memory. They would always be away on the morning they would call people in. I remember one time they had the police on hand as the president had been threatened by a VP.

THEN THERE WAS THE TIME WHEN ALL THE LAYOFFS WERE THOUGHT TO BE OVER BEFORE LUNCH. WRONG AGAIN!

I
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