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Leaving the rat race is in the crosshairs...
Old 06-24-2016, 02:41 PM   #1
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Leaving the rat race is in the crosshairs...

Leaving the rat race is in the crosshairs, having a hard time pulling the trigger.

Background: 15 years ago, I was on target to retire at 58, or at least work part time and enjoy the good life. Course was set and everything looked good... except for a couple unplanned events. My wife was diagnosed with stage III breast cancer and ended up receiving SSDI in 2005. I still had a good job/income, so was able to stay on target. In 2008, the economy tanked. I was laid off and unemployed for several years. The housing market collapsed. I was underwater on two rental properties and unable to sell. Had to tap my retirement to pay for health insurance/care, to keep the roof over our heads and provide the best life I could for my wife. I mortgaged my future to do this -- I don't regret this at all. In 2011, I found employment making a decent salary within the VA medical system.

After 8 years of too many surgeries and constant chemo, my wife died in 2012. I fought a very difficult battle towards recovery, both financially and emotionally. In 2014, I fell in love again and married a wonderful lady. I tell her she is my gift and extremely thankful for the blessings in my life.

My gift [new wife] retired last year after being a nurse for 44 years, she receives $50K annually between her SS and pension. I will turn 62 in September and if I take SS and my pensions, I will bring in $42K for a combined annual income of $95K. Investments are $700K [60/40] and $50K in cash. Annual expenses are $70K, not including taxes and healthcare. SS and retirement will cover all expenses. I'm vested within the VA system and can take healthcare with me when I retire at cost. My wife will start Medicare this year. Her mom left a nice inheritance and she will receive $100K (this is not included in the $750K).

No mortgage, no debt. Not planning on withdraws from investments until RMDs kick in. I have run firecalc and other retirement calculators - with 0 failure rate. Met with a FA from Wells Fargo just to confirm our projections - he felt everything was on target.

We do plan to relocate to the Ponte Vedra area in Florida in the next two years - which will reduce our tax burden. There is a considerable amount of discretionary spending in the $70K expense budget - could live very comfortably on $50K - so we could tighten the draw strings. If needed, we could withdrawal 1% to 1.5% from the investments.

I do not like my job - I'm middle management and the bullshit/culture at the VA is unbelievable. I'm thankful for the opportunity the VA gave me at a time when nothing was available. My guestimate is upward of 30% of the employees could not survive outside the walls of the VA. Employees have a greater chance of dying then being fired from their jobs due to poor performance. In many ways it's a welfare state.

My hesitation to retiring is due to my life imploding previously. I feel my first wife and I did everything right - except a perfect storm capsized our dreams. I've been given a new life and a beautiful lady to spend it with. Part time work is always a possibility. I have enough interest outside of work that I'll have no problem staying busy.

I realize tomorrow is promised to no one. At some point, you have to say enough is enough and I think have enough.

If you've read this entire note - thank you. Appreciate any and all comments. The reality is OMY or two, does not change the financial landscape.

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Old 06-24-2016, 03:17 PM   #2
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Sorry to hear of the curve balls life has thrown you. It sounds like you have enough income, unless your expenses are unusually high. As you said, good health is not guaranteed, so that leads many of us to jump as soon as we can afford it.

Yes, I have achieved work / life balance.
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Old 06-24-2016, 03:18 PM   #3
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Looks to me like you're good to go.

Some things to consider are: Some Important Questions to Answer Before Asking - Can I Retire?
I heard the call to do nothing. So I answered it.
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Old 06-24-2016, 06:45 PM   #4
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The stars are lining up for you. Put it all behind you, and enjoy moving to Florida. You're going to a very good place, and the weather is just great.

Congratulations on your ability to follow your dreams.
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Old 06-24-2016, 07:00 PM   #5
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Dear Wye,
My condolences on the loss of your wife, and also best wishes in your new marriage.
I also lost my wife to cancer, and some time later, found a new life with a wonderful lady who was also widowed.
She had a small pension from her husband, and survivor's SS. I was fortunate not to be out of work when the economy tanked.
I worked to keep our medical insurance, and after she passed, I worked because I had nothing else to do.
I can understand your reluctance to pull the pin, as my new wife has just been diagnosed with a heart problem. Fortunately, we are on Medicare, so it should work out.
All I can do is wish you the best
Retired Jan 2009 Have not looked back.
AA 95%/0/5
WR 2% SI 2SS & 2 Pensions
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Old 06-25-2016, 07:08 PM   #6
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Not sure what your role was in the VA system, but with Jacksonville being such a big military city, there is a big VA presence here. If you were on the healthcare side, there are also four major hospitals and Mayo within 15 miles of Ponte Vedra so if you wanted or needed to work there are plenty of places available.

Hopefully, you can just enjoy your retirement. It sounds like your first wife was a lucky lady to have a husband like you to walk with her. And it also sounds like you have been blessed with another wonderful mate to enjoy retirement with.

Ponte Vedra is a great area, it won't disappoint. I hope our paths cross here on the First Coast. God bless!

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Old 06-25-2016, 07:35 PM   #7
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To build on what beanctr said-

If you are not mentally ready to retire, I would look into a similar position within the Jacksonville VA system. It might provide a bit of a soft landing into the new location. Move sooner rather than later. You will establish FL residency prior to retirement. Your SS will continue to increase, and you can always pull the plug without being invested as much in the new job.

The numbers look good. If you are tired of working, hang it up and enjoy the new area!
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Old 06-25-2016, 07:37 PM   #8
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I hope this question won't seem insensitive, but feel I have to ask it: If you had had the financial resources 10 years ago to spend more time with your first wife, and less time working, would you have done so? Cut back on work to spend more time enjoying life with her while she was still healthy?

You never know what curveballs life will throw at you, but one thing is sure -- each day we have less and less time on this planet to make the most of what we have been given. Don't let fear of what might happen keep you locked in a job you do not enjoy. You have a great financial cushion. Retire and enjoy your time with your new wife. That is the best gift you can give to her, yourself, and your first wife.
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Old 06-25-2016, 08:10 PM   #9
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First off, Kudos to you for working through all the difficulties and for being such a support to your wife when she needed you. Glad to see you're enjoying much better fortunes at this time. Past scars can haunt you and make it difficult to trust your current "good luck", but it sounds like you are on solid footing now. I'm glad, you deserve to enjoy all the things you've worked for.
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Old 06-26-2016, 08:26 AM   #10
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So sorry about your wife's death and your unemployment but life is giving you a second chance at happiness so go for it .
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Response to lhamo
Old 06-26-2016, 05:57 PM   #11
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Response to lhamo

Originally Posted by lhamo View Post
I hope this question won't seem insensitive, but feel I have to ask it: If you had had the financial resources 10 years ago to spend more time with your first wife, and less time working, would you have done so? ......

Not insensitive. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

I actually decided to take a leave of absence from my job to care for my wife and spend time together while her health allowed some travel and time together. This was a year prior to the recession.

The economy tanked and I was laid off. I was well-networked within my profession and thought I'd have no problem finding a new job. That was not to be -- I was out of work for 30+ months.

My wife was an amazing lady, she taught me how to face a horrible/terminal disease and be thankful for the blessing of every day. She was my high school sweetheart and we were together since we were both 15. We had 43 years together. She was my best friend.

One of the smartest things we did was to attend grief counseling with a wonderful counselor for most of the time my wife was ill -- I continued with counseling for 16 months after she died. One the greatest gifts my wife gave me was the blessing, no make that an order to find someone to take care of me after she was gone. My wife knew I needed someone to love and would not survive alone. She was right. I thank God and my wife for the blessings in my life. I feel my wife was playing matchmaker from heaven.
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Old 06-26-2016, 06:26 PM   #12
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I've often heard that a man who remarries soon, and happily, after his first wife passes, is a testament to a fantastic first marriage.

I think what Ihamo is trying to say is, you've got a second change on many fronts now - why wait any longer. Understandably your history provides many reasons to be cautious, but another year or two won't alleviate that. You know the numbers, and you know they look good. Best of luck to you both.
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Old 06-26-2016, 06:48 PM   #13
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I'm very sorry to read what happened to you and your family. Of course you're gun shy who wouldn't be? Maybe look at things differently?

You said:
"your second wife was a gift."

You're right she is. Maybe your gift would love to spend more time together. Your story also tells the value of quality time.

You know:
"how little an additional OMY means in the big picture"

So once again time > money.

You lived through what I'm sure was a nightmare. It was a perfect storm. Perfect storms don't generally hit the same way twice. It's natural to be up tight on big changes, sometimes it's a leap of faith.

Best wishes to you.

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