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Taking partial early retirement?
Old 05-12-2011, 03:40 PM   #1
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Taking partial early retirement?

Does anyone have experience with kind of partially early retiring?

I'm 61 and my wife is 56 and already retired. 2 of our 3 kids have degrees and excellent jobs. #3 just finished his sophomore year of college.

Financially, we're pretty much FI. Health insurance, however, is a big issue because we're in Florida and it is way expensive.

Our thoughts have been for me to work about half time next year, and take a lot less pay, but keep the benefits going. I'm in a small law firm and like most small law firms, we haven't done well in the last year or two.

I wonder what it would be like if I started working 4 days a week next year for the 1st quarter or so, and then half the time or less during the 2d and 3d quarters? We have a house in the NC mountains and we could pretty much split our time between here and there.

It is hard to know if that will work. I'm concerned I won't be productive enough to make it worthwhile to the lawfirm and I'm also concerned that once I get a taste of that much freedom, I won't want to come back and work. And since it is a personal service business, will there be any demand for part time personal services?

Has anyone tried that for a year or two, working half time or so?
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Old 05-12-2011, 03:53 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by 67walkon View Post
I'm concerned I won't be productive enough to make it worthwhile to the lawfirm and I'm also concerned that once I get a taste of that much freedom, I won't want to come back and work.
As to the first part: if your work is valuable, it seems it would be worthwhile to the firm to have you as much as you're willing. As to the latter, why is that a problem?
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Old 05-12-2011, 03:59 PM   #3
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Yes, I worked 1/2 time for the last 2.5 years before retiring. I focused better during those 20 hours a week than 40 so the productivity drop-off probably wasn't that much. I loved having more time to do stuff I wanted, so I didn't mind working as much, knowing I wasn't stuck in it for a full day or a full week. It was a good fit because my project was drying up, but someone was still needed for support. There were only one or two times where I had to extend my hours more than a day or two to work on an urgent problem. Had it happened too often, I'd have just told my boss he needed to have someone else available, or else I'd leave.

If you're talking a few weeks on then a few weeks off, that may be more difficult, but not at all impossible if you've got someone to cover your clients. If you have some flexibility to finish a case before taking time off it'd probably go better.

I thought it was an ideal way for me to transition into retirement. I kept benefits and some income flowing in to put myself solidly in FI, and got to practice having more leisure time. Some can cut the cord with no issues, but this way worked well for me.
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Old 05-12-2011, 04:06 PM   #4
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Many have done this for a variety of reasons with a variety of results. I went part-time rather than full retirement because of the great recession. I finally cut the cord in 2009.

Main observation was that when I was working part-time, work became really annoying. Before then, I liked my job and now that I no longer work, I look upon those decades with considerable pride and sense of fulfillment. Part-tiime - not so much. It seems that once I was mentally committed to FIRE, it was hard to do it half-way.
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Old 05-12-2011, 04:12 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Rich_in_Tampa View Post
Main observation was that when I was working part-time, work became really annoying. Before then, I liked my job and now that I no longer work, I look upon those decades with considerable pride and sense of fulfillment. Part-tiime - not so much. It seems that once I was mentally committed to FIRE, it was hard to do it half-way.
We tried to tell you but you just wouldn't listen.

Nice that you finally saw the light.

Experience is definitely the best teacher.
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Old 05-12-2011, 04:35 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 67walkon View Post
Our thoughts have been for me to work about half time next year, and take a lot less pay, but keep the benefits going.
Quote:
Yes, I worked 1/2 time for the last 2.5 years before retiring. I focused better during those 20 hours a week than 40 so the productivity drop-off probably wasn't that much. I loved having more time to do stuff I wanted, so I didn't mind working as much, knowing I wasn't stuck in it for a full day or a full week.
67: I would jump at the chance to continue on part time like 20 hrs/wk, just not in the cards in my line of work. Best of luck no matter what you decide...
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Old 05-12-2011, 05:12 PM   #7
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It is definitely a personal decision. I retired from my position as "the boss" to be a peon part time employee at same place, 3 hours a day and love it. Only a few minutes away from work and still get summers off. Works for me, but I'm only 47. You mentioned "pretty much FI". Is that modesty, or do you have concerns you have enough? If that is the case you run the risk of using your new found free time, just worry all the time if you will have enough money in ten years. You can always quit again. If you wait too long to go PT , you risk losing your "in" to a PT job. On the other hand life is precious. If you knew you only had a year or two left to live would you want to work PT?
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Old 05-12-2011, 05:21 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by 67walkon View Post
It is hard to know if that will work. I'm concerned I won't be productive enough to make it worthwhile to the lawfirm and I'm also concerned that once I get a taste of that much freedom, I won't want to come back and work. And since it is a personal service business, will there be any demand for part time personal services?

Has anyone tried that for a year or two, working half time or so?
Yes, I semi-retired a year ago as an attorney. I still work about 1/4 time. I typically go in the office one day a week and then do some work at home. In my case, it was fairly easy to do since there was an attorney at the firm who really wanted me to be available to work on specific matters as needed.

I found that I enjoyed doing the work particularly without any of the stress of working full time. I have a lot of flexibility as to when I work so I like that.

In my experience the success of this depends on having someone who is willing and able to funnel work to you to do that doesn't require a lot of ongoing extensive time commitment.
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Old 05-12-2011, 06:29 PM   #9
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We tried to tell you but you just wouldn't listen.

Nice that you finally saw the light.

Experience is definitely the best teacher.
Yeah, the constant jabbering, thoughtlessness and total lack of understanding of my situation only added to my confusion. After a while I just stopped reading your posts.

Indeed, I'll never forget your gentle touch and sensitivity in helping me through those tough times. I don't know how I would have made it without you.

But seriously, folks (and the above is pure sarcasm in case you missed the emoticon), pre-retirement part-time work issues seem to be about how well your diminished job makes you feel. Assuming you really are financially ready, a good solution for those so inclined might be to try the part-time thing see how it goes. Little to lose.
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Old 05-12-2011, 07:08 PM   #10
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ESR is part of the cornerstone of my plan. While I have many years to go, I had always planned on dropping to approximately 20 hours a week (around 55 y.o.) just to keep health insurance, keep adding to IRA/401k, and living expenses. This, coupled along with absolutely no debt and I should be golden. Now if some type of universal/affordable healthcare comes along in the meantime, I just might have to re-evaluate the plan.
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Old 05-12-2011, 07:30 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rich_in_Tampa View Post
Main observation was that when I was working part-time, work became really annoying. Before then, I liked my job and now that I no longer work, I look upon those decades with considerable pride and sense of fulfillment. Part-tiime - not so much. It seems that once I was mentally committed to FIRE, it was hard to do it half-way.
This is exactly what I'm going through. I absolutely loved my job when I was working full-time and seriously considered setting myself up to do the same thing from home after my layoff, but can't quite get interested enough. I was very driven when employed, but no longer feel the need to do this line of work anymore - full-time or part-time.

Getting up in the morning and deciding what I want to do after I've had my coffee and oatmeal is much more enticing now.
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Old 05-12-2011, 07:54 PM   #12
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I started the path into semi retirement about 6 years ago when I cut my hours back to 30 hours/week. My reason for the cut back at the time was that my son was ill and I had to care for him.
The small company that I work for was in financial trouble about 2 years ago and I was asked to cut my hours back to 19 which is usually Monday - Thursday mornings. I hung onto my full time hourly rate. I also live in Florida and insurance is the big factor in deciding to stay. I have a software development job and I am 58 and have been doing this for 35 years.
Semi retirement has been very workable and enjoyable. I have one daughter just out of law school and a son who will be entering his senior year in High School.
I will probably stay with it "one more year" until my son is out out of HS and then
work out some type of hourly arrangement and start to wind things down completely. I really used to like my work, however, now I just show up and complete my projects.
You really have to watch the clock and leave when your day is over and not try to be some hero to please Victor, Howard,Joe or the "company".

You should try it out. I am sure that it will work out just fine. You will be wondering why you did not do it sooner.


Good Luck
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Old 05-12-2011, 11:00 PM   #13
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67 - walk off the plank - you won't be disappointed. Get the health care issue covered and you're home free. I've been doing 3-4 days a week for the last few years in an engineering co and all is well so far. The key is developing ways to generate billable hours while not at work. Get staff to cover some of your work and maintain contact with staff and clients.
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Old 05-12-2011, 11:39 PM   #14
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Can't hurt to explore the possibility.
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Old 05-13-2011, 10:44 AM   #15
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Make sure that you meet the minimum number of hours per week to qualify for buying the health insurance benefit. I am 57, "retired" (on disability), and my wife is 56 and works 30 hours per week (three 10 hour days), the min for med ins. Her benefit plan has a 3/4 time req for buying the med ins ben. In reality, she works about 40 hours per week with the extra 10 hours being done at home over the web. We both have medical problems - mine being far more severe than hers - and we can't afford even the remote possibility of her getting laid off and us losing our med insurance. So we suffer the "abuse" of working a few hours a week at home for "free." She likes her job. I like the benefits of her job.

Mike D.
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