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Would Like Some Advice
Old 11-14-2007, 05:57 AM   #1
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Would Like Some Advice

Okay. Without going into all the details, here is my situation.

I am single, no kids, and turn 50 next month. I live on the east coast, and am presently in a very volatile work environment. It has some very attractive aspects, but suffice it to say that the stress/frustration level has gotten fairly high. It is a job which is by definition, not stable. But my boss, who in many ways is a good guy, has become personally unstable as well - and has the potential to blow our whole operation up at any time and take all of us who work for him down with him.

My plan has been to ER at 55, at which time I would qualify for a defined benefit pension that would be about twice what it would be if I walked away now and then claimed what benefits I have already earned once I've reached that age. So sticking around (if possible), while unpleasant, would make a pretty big financial difference in my life from age 55 until death. So I've been grinding on, more or less taking it a day at a time for some time now, hoping that the situation would stabilize and that I can get the last 5 years that I need in one way or another.

This week another possible job has come to my attention in the San Diego area. It is with another work unit in the same employing outfit, so my defined benefit retirement clock would continue to keep rolling. It would be no more secure than my current position, but promises to be much more sane and pleasant.

The downsides: It would involve a pretty severe pay cut, it still may not get me the last 5 years I'm looking for either (and would take me away from an existing network of contacts that I could otherwise use if I didn't take this particular job), and while it would put me in an area which I find desirable, it would put me on the other side of the country from all of my friends and family.

I respect the opinions of most people who post here, and since I may be too close to the situation to objectively view things, I would appreciate any feedback folks might want to provide.

Thanks.
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Old 11-14-2007, 07:11 AM   #2
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Tough call.

I value proximity of family and friends over j*bs, and don't like major disruptions, so I wouldn't go, but that is really not asking all of the questions.

Are there potentially other opportunities with the same company that could come along in your current area in the next five years?
Any possibility of addressing current boss' unstable condition with his boss?
Will the pay cut in west equal a decrease in living expenses?
Is the likelihood of the j*b disappearing due to the companies' health, end of contract without renewal or to changes in broader economic factors? (eg likelihood that you will need current contacts)
Are there strategies you can take to reduce how the current insanity impacts you?

I am sure others will be along to add to this list.
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Old 11-14-2007, 08:09 AM   #3
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Okay. Without going into all the details, here is my situation.

I am single, no kids, and turn 50 next month. I live on the east coast, and am presently in a very volatile work environment. It has some very attractive aspects, but suffice it to say that the stress/frustration level has gotten fairly high. It is a job which is by definition, not stable. But my boss, who in many ways is a good guy, has become personally unstable as well - and has the potential to blow our whole operation up at any time and take all of us who work for him down with him.

My plan has been to ER at 55, at which time I would qualify for a defined benefit pension that would be about twice what it would be if I walked away now and then claimed what benefits I have already earned once I've reached that age. So sticking around (if possible), while unpleasant, would make a pretty big financial difference in my life from age 55 until death. So I've been grinding on, more or less taking it a day at a time for some time now, hoping that the situation would stabilize and that I can get the last 5 years that I need in one way or another.

This week another possible job has come to my attention in the San Diego area. It is with another work unit in the same employing outfit, so my defined benefit retirement clock would continue to keep rolling. It would be no more secure than my current position, but promises to be much more sane and pleasant.

The downsides: It would involve a pretty severe pay cut, it still may not get me the last 5 years I'm looking for either (and would take me away from an existing network of contacts that I could otherwise use if I didn't take this particular job), and while it would put me in an area which I find desirable, it would put me on the other side of the country from all of my friends and family.

I respect the opinions of most people who post here, and since I may be too close to the situation to objectively view things, I would appreciate any feedback folks might want to provide.

Thanks.
From what you have said, the new job pays less and is no more secure than your present job, and would take you away from your family, friends, and employment networking folks.

Suppose whichever job you take evaporates on you in a year or two. I think that in that case, you would be in a better situation with the old job in the old location, probably? You would not be left high and dry in a strange city where you know nobody, with a high cost of living.

Now, suppose whichever job you take continues until ER. You would be making a lot more money with the old job, so it might be worth putting up with the stress. It's only five years and realistically, you can probably make it through five years, even if they are unpleasant years, don't you think?

So, I am leaning towards staying put. But really, the only person who can really make this decision is you. Maybe there is a third option out there somewhere.
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Old 11-14-2007, 08:15 AM   #4
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My plan has been to ER at 55, at which time I would qualify for a defined benefit pension that would be about twice what it would be if I walked away now and then claimed what benefits I have already earned once I've reached that age. So sticking around (if possible), while unpleasant, would make a pretty big financial difference in my life from age 55 until death.
If it were me in that situation, I would gut it out for 5 years. Think of it this way, assume your expected lifespan is 80 years. Quit your job now and you might have 30 years of difficulty. Put with with 5 years of crap now and you might have 25 years of comfort.

How about getting into a serious hobby now that takes 5 years to get right, so when you retire you can jump in with both feet? That will make the time go faster and be more pleasurable. Like going to college again, just putting up with crap now for future benefit.
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Old 11-14-2007, 09:24 AM   #5
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Strictly my guesssopinion?
I would not take up a new job given the paycut even if it means a potential improvement in work conditions.

The way I am seeing it is: work for 0 to 5 yrs for a potential doubling of pension. However, since you are not all that happy where you are, I'd say work as long as you can stand but plan as if you are quitting/retiring tommorow - assuming any time between 0 to 5 yrs accrues prorated benefits/pension according to the time you put in.

In that case I'd say you have a "no lose" situation for which you have (can) plan and are ready for.
Just my opinion. Hope you will decide whats best for you and what you are comfortable with.

Good luck.
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Old 11-14-2007, 10:09 AM   #6
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i'd cut out now and turn my life into an exotic adventure as i am lazy and grief intolerant.
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Old 11-14-2007, 10:15 AM   #7
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1. You say the job is unstable. What are the chances that you'll gut it out for 4.5 years only to lose the job? That would be unsettling.

2. If you quit now what would a 4% withdrawal rate give you per year?
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Old 11-14-2007, 11:05 AM   #8
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Glen12: If I hated going to work and only needed 5 more years.....I would quit and find something else....like lazygood4nothinbum, I don't like grief either.
I would try to crunch the numbers and see if I get out now....it's too vague and like TromboneAl....what if you worked there 4 years and 11 months and they let you go....that would suck!
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Old 11-14-2007, 11:20 AM   #9
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After reading your post and the advice rendered, I think I would come down on the side of staying where you are---more pluses there for you.

There have been some good additional questions asked: from years 0-5, do you continue to earn prorated additions to your pension. That is, in 5 years you say pension is double than if you left now, so in 2-1/2 years is it 50% more, in 3-3/4 years is it 75% more compared to leaving now?

If so, I'd say, yes stick it out where you are as long as you can.

And like others said, think if there are third or fourth alternatives.

Your immediate boss seems to be "the problem"----does it necessarily have to be "if he goes down, the whole ship goes down"? Is there someway that prediction might be altered, some way the staff's fates can be cut separate from that boss's fate?
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Old 11-14-2007, 02:37 PM   #10
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Thanks for all the great insight. My head (dull headache and all) mostly says to gut it out. My "get the hell out" insinct tells me to go.

In answer to a couple of questions, my defined benefit pension does indeed go up the longer I am here - but not proportionately. That is to say crossing the 20 year line makes a BIG difference.

I am purposely being a little obtuse about my particular work situation in order to protect the innocent (mostly meaning ME!). But if I was either let go or the "ship goes down" before then, I would be in a better position to get picked up in some capacity in the same employing organization if I stayed where I am. On the other hand the San Diego operation probably has a better chance of staying in operation until I hit those twenty years.

The way we are set up, each work unit is almost like an independent small business. So if the boss goes, so do the employees who work for him. You can try to get picked up in a new work unit, and many do.

But I have a hard time seeing this particular individual staying around as long as I need to, and I have a harder time seeing myself staying with him that long if I could - even though I know with the right attitude adjustment and 'one day at a time' mentality you can do alot more than you think.

I could FIRE now if I needed to, but it would be FIREing at a significantly lower living standard than 5 years hence. If I took the pay cut now (and if the San Diego gig lasted 5 years), it would be like 'semi-FIREing'....I would live off the salary there, but my saving would probably end...any increases in net worth would be as a result of investment income and interest. The bigger payoff would be the higher pension in 2013.

The hope would be a less stressfull/more happy situation in the meantime.
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Old 11-14-2007, 03:35 PM   #11
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Any chance this is just temporary insanity with your boss? Maybe he's going through a tough time and will straighten up? Can you talk to him about your concerns?

In a lot of situations I don't see transferring across the country necessarily as being out of contact with everyone. With the internet and cheap/free long distance, in many cases it is not hard to keep in touch. I've seen a few people bounce back and forth between the coasts. Whether this is likely in your company is something you have to answer.

Reminds me of something I heard once--5 years is not a long time if you're the King of Siam, but it sure is if your hand is slammed in a car door.

Just some more things to think about.
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Old 11-14-2007, 03:39 PM   #12
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5 years is not a long time if you're the King of Siam, but it sure is if your hand is slammed in a car door.
That's great!

Could be tempoarry insanity...but temporary has been lasting a long time, and has been heading in the wrong direction.
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Old 11-14-2007, 04:27 PM   #13
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As several have mentioned 5 years isn't a really long time but to be RIFed at the cusp of retirement would be a major bummer. As other have mentioned I would look for a more stable position in another business unit closer to home, if there is one, first. For heaven's sake do not communicate that you may retire in 5 years.

You know your employer and the terms of its retirement plan, if you took the San Diego position is there any prospect of raising your pay after a year or two... or a promotion? IMHO it would be better to have a job for 5 years at lower pay than to be scrambling when you are so close to retirement.

Don't buy a home in San Diego, rent. Maintain your personal and professional relationships that you have now. After you retire return to your current community.
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Old 11-14-2007, 04:28 PM   #14
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That's great!

Could be tempoarry insanity...but temporary has been lasting a long time, and has been heading in the wrong direction.
Any way to slip some lithium in his coffee?
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Old 11-14-2007, 08:01 PM   #15
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The way we are set up, each work unit is almost like an independent small business. So if the boss goes, so do the employees who work for him. You can try to get picked up in a new work unit, and many do.
glen12,

Can you try to get picked up in a new work unit while still w*rking in your current unit? Sounds like your boss is the problem that you may be able to do something about, as moving does not make your prospects more secure...
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Old 11-14-2007, 08:37 PM   #16
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I worked for a nut case he almost drove me crazy ... I cut and run after agonizing over the loss of potential income. My reality is it didn't matter that much, to me, financially. Be sure you are worrying about the right thing.
Not telling anyone your plans to retire at fifty-five is a good idea, strange ideas come up when the powers that be get the idea your not going to be around for ever, like letting you go because your not loyal or sincere about your career and other such crap.
Who says you have to hang close to your family and friends? Your family is your family whether your in the same town with them or on the coast. Just how close are you to these friends? If they have something to do with work most likely they will forget about you faster than your ego would like. If they are life long friends they will still be friends when you move. There are new friends to make where your going. These days staying in touch is not problematic. People move all the time for their career, health or whatever....it just isn't that big a deal.
Then again I have always been a Gypsy, I will break camp hitch the horse up to the ol' Gypsy wagon and head down the road just because the wind changed, never been in a town I couldn't leave, many a town looked better looking over my shoulder than being there. I don't see any reason to stare at the same scenery month after month year after year on and on till your staring at the same four walls in an old folks home in the same town you have been staring at for all your life, I would call that a living death.
The bottom line if it were me I would have nailed that job on the coast and been there and signed up for surfing lessons Run wild baby while you still can run .....
Just the Gypsy in me
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Old 11-15-2007, 09:18 PM   #17
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As several have mentioned 5 years isn't a really long time but to be RIFed at the cusp of retirement would be a major bummer. As other have mentioned I would look for a more stable position in another business unit closer to home, if there is one, first. For heaven's sake do not communicate that you may retire in 5 years.

You know your employer and the terms of its retirement plan, if you took the San Diego position is there any prospect of raising your pay after a year or two... or a promotion? IMHO it would be better to have a job for 5 years at lower pay than to be scrambling when you are so close to retirement.

Don't buy a home in San Diego, rent. Maintain your personal and professional relationships that you have now. After you retire return to your current community.
I agree with Brat. I moved serveral times; most of them away from family and friends. I eventually moved back to an area I liked and where my family settled. The increase in my net worth made it worthwhile; but, my parents missed out on a lot of stuff with my kids and that still haunts me today. It was mostly unavoidable since my chosen career took me away from home but the lost contact time between my kids and my parents was time never regained.

Sometimes FIRE requires some sacrafices and we have to live with the concequences.

Do what YOU think is right.
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Old 11-15-2007, 10:21 PM   #18
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Some of us who are high-mileage early retirees have seen a lot of employment disasters. It shouldn't happen, but discrimination on the basis of age still exists [can't give details but my previous employment was the basis of more than one decision in this area]. When you are on the cusp of retirement play it safe. Keep your thoughts and plans to yourself, keep out of the line of fire.
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Old 11-15-2007, 10:32 PM   #19
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I worked for a nut case he almost drove me crazy ... I cut and run after agonizing over the loss of potential income. My reality is it didn't matter that much, to me, financially.
I also worked for a nut case for three years. I remember humming "We shall overcome" going to sleep at night. He was fired and all the five direct reports moved upward to greater success partly because we kept the ship afloat during his tenure.
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Old 11-16-2007, 12:00 AM   #20
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I think one must make an analysis of the business unit and the problem manager. If the business unit would be a problem to corp even if the key person were functional corporate is more likely to rid itself of the entire unit than not. Business decision, no harm no foul.

Many years ago there was a well known corporation who steered employees who they viewed as marginal to projects that were doomed. End of project, by-by employees.

IMHO OP should leave the business unit unless it performs a critical function. Where he goes depends on the options available.
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