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How do/did you prepare for ER?
Old 04-29-2006, 02:05 AM   #1
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How do/did you prepare for ER?

Hello Everyone--

As I am moving closer to ER I began to think back about my own preparations and wondered what they rest of you did/do.

I paid off my house and put in a swimming pool to help keep arthritis at bay and to help with low impact exercising. We have also joined a health club. We have paid off both cars and have installed many new appliances in the house--new furnace & AC, garbage disposer, water heater, etc. I am changing my glass-paned front door to a solid wood for privacy & security and installed a pvc fence around the backyard to replace the termite-riddled wooden one.

I am getting wife's caps done since I won't have dental ins. We have bought some casual clothes including shorts, knit shirts and deck shoes--on sale of course. We are stocking up on items on sale--wine, detergent, toothpaste, soap, shampoo, etc. And the credit card is paid in fiull each month.

We are trying to be smart and sensible.

The Professor
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Re: How do/did you prepare for ER?
Old 04-29-2006, 08:00 AM   #2
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Re: How do/did you prepare for ER?

Professor-

Good subject for discussion. Last year we (DH) put new vinyl siding on our 20 year old house, replaced decks with trek-dek and vinyl railings. Roof was replaced a few years ago so that's fine. When we are finally free we will do interior projects to get inside back up to par (we will have more cash avail after ER). We will actually enjoy most of that as it will be a no pressure situation and help keep us out of trouble! I also look forward to a very serious purging of junk in attic and closets. So, question for those of you who HAVE ER'ed - did you actually get around to doing your to-do list? (Hope that's not a high-jack of this thread??!! :)

My other prep has been to try and get better educated about investing - hence, my joining this board which is SO helpful and full of lots of good info.

Does sending kids off to college count as prep??

Jane
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Re: How do/did you prepare for ER?
Old 04-29-2006, 08:53 AM   #3
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Re: How do/did you prepare for ER?

Hi Jane--

Yes to getting the kids through college AND paying for the wedding for any daughters. We found that when that is done and the house and cars are paid, the amount of $$$$$ freed up is amazing.

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Re: How do/did you prepare for ER?
Old 04-29-2006, 09:29 AM   #4
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Re: How do/did you prepare for ER?

Well my wife is retiring from teaching in the next couple weeks. Most of her time has been spent sorting out a remarkable collection of "school stuff" (r), unbelievable amount of stuff. She is throwing out and giving away a lot, maybe we'll see the inside of the garage again.

As to home improvement, that is one of the things we have been waiting to do in retirement.

Based on our age/circumstances I will be retiring about the time younger son starts college, but everything else is paid for.
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Re: How do/did you prepare for ER?
Old 04-29-2006, 10:11 AM   #5
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Re: How do/did you prepare for ER?

Paying off the mortgage was definitely a biggie for us.* We did some renovations on the house that we wanted to do, and we feel that anything major is "done" for now.* I left the cleaning out/purging process for after ER, when I'll have a whole lot more time.* eBay, look out!

And yes, we got all of our major dental work done, not that there was a lot of it.* But in our last visit to the dentist, we told him to take a long look to be sure there was nothing ready to go bad.* DH has dental, but it isn't as good as mine was.
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Re: How do/did you prepare for ER?
Old 04-29-2006, 11:41 AM   #6
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Re: How do/did you prepare for ER?

Prior to retirement hubby and I each had LASIK done while he was still working and we could take advantage of flex spending.
We maxed out our ROTH IRAs while we still had earned income.
We had the front yard professionally landscaped. (roof/siding replaced a few yrs earlier)
Paid off a vehicle. (still have a monthly mtg payment that amounts to less than 10% of our net pensions)
We paid cash for two new ATVs, a trailer for hauling and a moped.

Post retirement we did some heavy duty cleaning out/organizing of the entire house/basement/garage.
We're selling one of the motorcycles.
Hubby found a part-time job that he likes which gives us the earned income we need to max out our IRAs again.
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Re: How do/did you prepare for ER?
Old 04-29-2006, 11:47 AM   #7
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Re: How do/did you prepare for ER?

Downsized my house and paid cash for it.
Accumulated as much cash as I could as a buffer.
Had all of us get physicals, go to the DDS and have eye exams with new glasses for 1 kid.
Got a newer car with 15K miles on it. Selling the older one that has 64K miles on it.
Got individual health insurance with the same carrier as my group insurance with the former employer.

What I didn't do is realize that wisdom teeth for the boys needed to come out at some point. Just had the 1st kid's out yesterday. $1600 cash for all the visits, extraction and Rxs. Next son will probably be sometime this year. Oh well, that was the only thing I missed.......So far.

It's been 10 months and so far so good.
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Re: How do/did you prepare for ER?
Old 04-29-2006, 12:30 PM   #8
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Re: How do/did you prepare for ER?

Option A: Start living on the approximate amount of rertirement income that you feel that you will be receiving. For example, if you are currently making $100k but your retirement income will be $40k annually, start living on a budget of $3333.33 per month now and park the difference in your emergency fund or MMF.

This will give you a pretty good idea if you can exist comfortably on $40k or not. If you realize that you can not live on $40k, then you will have time to figure out what option B is.
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Re: How do/did you prepare for ER?
Old 04-29-2006, 01:51 PM   #9
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Re: How do/did you prepare for ER?

It's more "what you won't be able to do at work anymore" than "what you can do in ER". In no particular order, here's a long list:

Does your company offer free career/personality assessments? If possible go through the exercise of investigating what your interests have become. It's a free brainstorming session on "What will you DO all day?" You might discover that you want to pursue another career field (hopefully not!), that your personality type has changed, or that you need to explore a half-dozen hobbies you haven't thought of in years.

If possible, go to your company's retirement briefing at least two years in advance and then do it again a year out. People will wonder what you're thinking (sometimes that's all the justification you need!) and the exercise will focus your planning. Your second attendance shouldn't produce any surprises or changes of heart.

Max out all the company's medical/dental benefits. It's best to start on this step a year out. That includes physicals, bloodwork, cleanings, and even prescriptions. Have every medical issue examined & resolved (or at least documented) since it may affect future insurability (and military disability). I even knew veterans who decided to have their last pregnancy on the military dollar. The rounds of medical bureaucracy-- consultations, referrals, physical therapy, and other treatments-- could take months.

Think about how you want to do your exit before everyone else does the thinking for you. Classic maneuvers include keeping all plans secret until the bonus checks have cleared, providing the absolute minimum notification, announcing that your departure will take place at the worst/best time of the year, widely publicizing your final day and then leaving a day early, and refusing to mark the occasion with any ceremony. Whatever decisions you make, announce them when required and then (this is important) stick to the plan. Don't change your mind because people will start thinking that you're indecisive, coy, or canceling your ER. The only exception to changing the plan would be if you decide that it's worth changing your mind for large wads of cash.

Don't submit your retirement request until the deadline. At least one ER on this board was already privately planning to retire when, unaware of his intentions, the company offered him a lucrative buyout.

Are you planning to move to a new location? You could stay on in the area for months after ER or you could move the day after you ER. Both will take a lot of advance planning (and the latter a day or two off work for the packing & shipping). Military veterans are notorious for moving the day after their retirement ceremony-- because things just weren't complicated enough already-- but it's probably better to negotiate your ER benefits so that you don't have to compound that busy final week with a household move as well.

Make sure you have all the gear that your job is entitled to. The person who takes over your job may balk at doing so until they have the tools they need. This might be a great opportunity to obtain the cool gear-- a new computer, a Blackberry-- whatever would attract your sucker relief to your job.

Make sure that all the gear you're responsible for is actually present. Then, wherever possible, make sure that it's under your personal control or locked away or transferred to someone else's custody. If you've been sharing locked storage with someone, segregate your stuff or lock it up separately wherever possible. Nothing sucks worse than spending the week before retirement looking for "missing" objects.

Make sure all your administrative records are straight. This includes you pension record, your 401(k) contributions, sick/vacation time, training required & completed, and certifications. You may or may not need any of it, but that's not the point. It's far easier to get these things fixed while you're still in the office and darn near impossible to fix after you give up your keys.

Let your family vent. Talk about any lifestyle changes, budget changes, and domestic chores. You may "know" that you're getting rid of the housecleaner, but your spouse may have other plans. You may think that your kids will want you to spend more time with them, but they may just see you as a chauffeur with a wallet. Small kids may be very afraid of change. Teenagers may be too busy with their own selfish lives to even think about yours, let alone care about it. Talk about what you're going to do with your "me time", too, so that you can at least negotiate a chauffeur's contract. Your parents, siblings, in-laws, and adult children may have expectations of your behavior that are dramatically different or even wrong. You don't have to live to their expectations but you can start letting them down in easy steps.

Chew through a couple planning calendars. Map out all the vacation time, sick time, seminar/training days, and personal days to make sure that you don't leave anything on the table. There will be days when you will have to be in the office for an important meeting or event, but you can't sell back all of those benefits. Pay attention to important family dates, too.

If you're in a position to do so, find out who wants your letter of recommendation or your commendation, and then write it. It's also a great way to knock off the fence-sitters. I spent over six weeks writing recommendation letters for people who'd been "meaning to get around to it" and who were only motivated by my impending departure. We inspired two new officer candidates who are still on active duty.

Do you need letters of recommendation from your bosses? If so I'd have to ask why you're ER'ing in the first place, but it's possible that you'll need an employer letter of recommendation for renting an apartment, getting a mortgage, or joining some other organization.

Try not to get sucked into any travel or other expenses in the quarter before you ER. It's that much more work to track expense reports, travel claims, reimbursements, or other paperwork-- both for you and for the exhausted HR staff who are trying to finish up your ER processing.

Planning a celebration? Make the reservations early. You don't want to spend your last month scrambling for space, a caterer, music, balloon animals, or whatever. You also don't want to compete with a wave of buyouts or layoffs. If you're collecting plaques or certificates or other mementos then try to get them weeks in advance. It's amazing how quickly those necessary ceremonial components pile up and then slip past their deadlines.

Stealth exit? Then agree to a lunch with your peers and perhaps one more lunch with your bosses. Don't get sucked into an evening/weekend event. Whenever possible try to defer the inevitable. I had a "farewell" lunch a month after my ER; everyone had a great time looking for changes and catching me up on the latest gossip.

Whenever possible finish all your "final" processing the week before. If you're planning a big celebration exit then you won't have to waste valuable planning time over at HR signing paperwork. If you're planning a stealth exit then when you show up on your "last" day (everyone thinks it's tomorrow but you know it's today) you can get the final things done as early in the morning as possible. You go to lunch, you don't come back, and no one notices for at least another workday. It's even better if you can do those "last" things at a local restaurant or other offsite meeting location.

What can the company do for your spouse/kids before you're outta there? Make sure you take care of their medical/dental/personal needs-- including dermatology, orthodontia, school sports physicals, scholarship applications, company internships, or other programs.

Can anything be converted? This isn't just about COBRA but also life/disability insurance and other benefits. If you don't convert within the window then you'd have to start all over-- possibly at greater expense, too.

I've heard of employees who make maximum use of available "free" office equipment, especially high-speed copiers. Others attempt to restock their homes & vehicles from the Office Depot catalog. My advice in this area is-- get a life. Kinko's is cheap and scanners are even cheaper. It's not worth risking a retirement delay pending litigation just for the chance to steal files, copy a bunch of books, or sneak home that computer equipment.

If you want debt then max it out. Apply for a mortgage or a HELOC (a great source of emergency funds) and as many credit cards as you think you'll need. You won't be able to list a salary on an application after this.

While it's best to acquire debt before you shed your job, it's not necessarily the same for possessions. Things you desire may not seem so vital when you have more leisure. You may not want to take care of more "stuff". In ER you have much more time to shop for bargains.

What can you do with company stock or options before you ER that can't be done after? Is it worth doing? What about Net Unrealized Appreciation treatment of your options?

Look at estimated taxes, especially if you're getting a lump-sum payment. You may have to send in more money, adjust your withholding amount, or shift to the dreaded annualized income method of estimating your taxes.

This is going to seem like a dumb statement, but make sure that you have enough cash for the next three months. Your pension check may not start up until the beginning of the month following your retirement. Your 401(k)/IRA rollover may hit a bureaucratic delay. You may be getting a humongous credit card bill for all the celebrating you did the month before.

Make sure your home answering machine can record a half-dozen messages a day during your first week of ER. If your outgoing message is work-related then change it. You might want to consider de-listing your phone number or changing it completely!

In the month before your final day, decide how you're going to respond to the following questions:
- Can you stay a couple weeks (months/years) longer?
- Can you go part-time?
- After you're gone, where can we reach you with questions?
- Can you come in for lunch next week?
- We're looking for a volunteer to...
- Hey, you're retired! Can you help me with...
- We know you retired last month, but we need you to come in to take care of...

Don't be rude or crass. This is a great opportunity to tell your bosses & co-workers what you really think of them as you exit the smoking rubble, but it's not a classy way to behave. It's also an admission that you were unwilling to deal with the issues when you were working with these people, and you don't want to make things worse than they already are for your workplace friends. Focus on your new life, not your old scores.

However, once you're out of the office, there's nothing holding you back from blowing the whistle to higher authority-- especially if all your pension benefits are delivered in a lump sum. Hold off before taking this step, however, because the whole issue may seem trivial with a few weeks of rest & a new ER perspective.

Don't go over the top. You may be surprised at the number of jealous bosses & co-workers at your ER party. Self-centered people won't celebrate your ER-- they'll feel sorry or envious that it's not their ER. They won't compliment you or ask what you're going to do the first day-- they'll say that they wish they knew how to invest for ER like you did.
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Re: How do/did you prepare for ER?
Old 04-29-2006, 02:17 PM   #10
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Re: How do/did you prepare for ER?

Since I knew I'd be relocating. I spent the 2 yrs prior to retireing running data looking for a nice place to retire based on my list of what I considered importrant. ie deomograpcs, population, transportation, unemployment rates (Who wants to live in a place where everybody else is out of work?) medical/educational stuff, crime rates, ect.

Got lots of Chamber of commerce data. This was in the 19995/96 time frame when the internet was just starting to be a resource people could tap into. So, that was pretty good timing. Then after the list was narrowed I subscribed to their Sunday paper for a while so I could get to know the place a little better.

The money thing, debt, etc was a done deal and needed no further attention
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Re: How do/did you prepare for ER?
Old 04-29-2006, 03:51 PM   #11
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Re: How do/did you prepare for ER?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nords
Have every medical issue examined & resolved (or at least documented) since it may affect future insurability
if an unresolvable medical issue were found, would doing so make that issue uninsurable when seeking independent insurance coverage? would it be better to get the new insurance first before discovering anything new?
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Re: How do/did you prepare for ER?
Old 04-29-2006, 08:13 PM   #12
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Re: How do/did you prepare for ER?

Quote:
Originally Posted by lazygood4nothinbum
if an unresolvable medical issue were found, would doing so make that issue uninsurable when seeking independent insurance coverage? would it be better to get the new insurance first before discovering anything new?
Geez, I was just talking body & fender work. But you're probably right.

For example if a knee joint can be healed through acupuncture, physical therapy, or some other treatment then do it. If it can't be healed, then at least get it documented for insurance or disability purposes. This is a big deal for military veterans (disability pensions) and it may be a workman's comp issue for civilian employees. The reason I suggest it is that the company may be responsible for fixing the problem (and paying for it) even after you retire.

If you know you have some condition that's going to make you uninsurable, and no insurance company knows about it yet, then you're playing a heckuva high-stakes game. The new insurance company might do their own independent testing and bust you anyway.

You'd be getting the new insurance before the old lapses, so I guess that you'd want to ensure that you're insured by the new insurer before you discovered your "new" problem. However you might also be delaying treatment of something that could kill you (or worse, permanently disable you) while you're waiting out the insurance switch. I don't think there's any generic advice to cover this situation.
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Re: How do/did you prepare for ER?
Old 04-29-2006, 10:28 PM   #13
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Re: How do/did you prepare for ER?

Lordy Nords - that was one comprehensive list!!!!

The year was 1999. One thing we did was sell a bunch of high-flying tech stocks we had invested in "for fun" a few years earlier. This went to our "travel fund" to let us splurge on travel in the first couple of years of retirement.

Not a bad idea that.....if you can, set aside some extra money for some extravagant play or a nice new toy when you start retirement.

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Re: How do/did you prepare for ER?
Old 04-29-2006, 10:32 PM   #14
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Re: How do/did you prepare for ER?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nords
Geez, I was just talking body & fender work.*
thanx. i think that's good reasoning. i'm generally very healthy guy--hardly even ever catch colds. just wondered, from reading your post, if i should have everything checked while i have cobra with no deductables or get new insurance and just wait for anything to show on its own get checked then. i like the overlapping coverage idea. i think another poster mentioned that as well. definitely now i will do that. thanx again.
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Re: How do/did you prepare for ER?
Old 04-29-2006, 11:42 PM   #15
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Re: How do/did you prepare for ER?

Quote:
Originally Posted by audreyh1
Lordy Nords - that was one comprehensive list!!!!
I have a lot on my mind. That list pretty much built itself.

The military's transition seminar tells you all about how to get a job-- including a disability screening for the civil service's disabled veteran's hiring preference-- but there's not much info on how NOT to get a job. And once your shipmates retire they don't hang around the coffee machine teaching you how to approach your retirement screenings & paperwork. So this is my attempt to promulgate the tribal knowledge that I picked up during my retirement. Don't even get me started on making sure that all the important career info is on your discharge papers.

Here's an interesting veteran's benefit: California passed a law a number of years ago (which may have been changed, I don't know) offering 100% scholarships to disabled veterans.

Unfortunately the bill didn't specify the degree of disability. So just about every vet who was going to live in CA obtained a discharge screening stating that they were "0% disabled". Since they had a disability certificate, they were eligible for a college scholarship. One of my shipmates got his entire civil engineering degree for not much more than the cost of his textbooks. Of course he had to live in CA to do so, but is this a great country or what?!?

Speaking of dental cleanings, that same shipmate had a terrible fear of dentists and visited them as seldom as possible. As he approached retirement he was informed that his processing would go no further until he was cleared by the Navy's dental clinic. (At that point I think he was less than three months from his terminal leave.) So he finally dragged his quivering butt into the dentist's chair where his worst fears were realized-- six root canals. One every two weeks for three months!

Plan ahead & start early. It's hard enough if you're motivated. If you're in denial then it's impossible.
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