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Checking out at age 40? Start a new career?
Old 01-04-2013, 02:50 AM   #1
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Checking out at age 40? Start a new career?

I don't have enough to retire with a net worth of $400k.
Annual expense is $30k.

I'm having a hard time going to work everyday and I spend a lot of time thinking of work when I'm at home so I don't get to relax at all.

Anyone else checked out at age 40 without enough to retire or start a new career? Been at the same job for 15 years and it was very enjoyable until they made me manager 5 years ago. Let's just say I wish I never had any ambition and I would still be happy with my job. The politic and back stabbing, ass kissing as my manager is way too much for me
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Old 01-04-2013, 04:34 AM   #2
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I was a manager at a Big Six firm (back when there were Six of them) and reached a point where traveling 50 weeks a year and being on stage from dawn past dusk became unacceptable. However, I had other skill. I took a step back - yes - but it wasn't a step back to the beginning, and it surely wants a step away from working. That's simply not the right approach imho.

I see three good paths forward, from such a scenario. First, the path I took: Capitalize on the skills I already had, and the credibility I am able to exploit from my current career to jump into a new career, not quite laterally, but definitely not down to entry level. In my case, I was an international management consultant, with a specialization in software development and IT operations, so with some homegrown skills in programming, fostered by the experience from developing internal applications - work that I assigned myself as manager - I was able to start a second career at a pretty senior level. (Software developers are notoriously poor when it comes to understand customer requirements, so having a software developer with such strong business experience was quite advantageous for my first employer in my new career.)

Incidentally, I also gave myself an out - something which I feel is good though not essential. After a long time as a management consultant to software development companies I rationalized that it would be good for me to get some hands-on experience in the discipline that was the focus of what I was providing advise. For the first several years of my second career, I could have easily jumped back if I wanted, at a senior manager level very likely, simply on the strength of having gained such unique insights. If you can arrange something for yourself akin to what I arranged for myself, you'd be in the very best position, I would think. (Full disclosure: I never went back to management consulting.)

A second good path forward would involve finding a volunteer opportunity that would be quite a rich, personally-fulfilling experience, but also throw of loads of non-specific professional development gains. I don't know how young you are, but back when I was young, there was something called the Peace Corps that provided such opportunities. Like my own situation I described above, it provides you substantial "cover" for why you stepped away from what you were doing - a practically unassailable explanation that not only explains the detachment but also afford you some significant measure of admiration for doing so.

It doesn't need to be quite so exotic though. My church association, right now, has a job req out for something related to what I do, but at a much lower level position from what I do, making less than half what I'm making now. If my working environment was as oppressive as you make yours sound, and I just had to get out and take a "break" for a while, and/or if I wanted to jump from what I'm doing into the kind of development that this job opportunity represents (a side benefit), I could use that job almost as a training opportunity (with almost half-pay). I would effectively be getting out of the high pressure rat race, since the expectations for such a low-level job would be so far lower than for my current, high-paying job (at least for someone with my skills). I could then jump back into the rat race later, without any concerns about prospective employers considering my "downtime" as anything other than an admirable trait: Giving of myself for a few years, practically volunteering my time.

A third good path forward involves leaving the working world to go back to school for a new degree. (Though, to be fair, that's pretty expensive.)

The point of all this is to highlight how doing what you wrote, literally, i.e., "checking out" or starting over from entry level in another career, both are sub-optimal. Even in a situation such as you're describing, you still need to be thinking about what's best for your future.

I hope this helps.
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Old 01-04-2013, 04:42 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by comicbookgujy View Post
I don't have enough to retire with a net worth of $400k.
Annual expense is $30k.

I'm having a hard time going to work everyday and I spend a lot of time thinking of work when I'm at home so I don't get to relax at all.

Anyone else checked out at age 40 without enough to retire or start a new career? Been at the same job for 15 years and it was very enjoyable until they made me manager 5 years ago. Let's just say I wish I never had any ambition and I would still be happy with my job. The politic and back stabbing, ass kissing as my manager is way too much for me
Why not take up a serious and absorbing avocation? Seriously. That's one way to cope with increased pressure at work.
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Old 01-04-2013, 09:30 AM   #4
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It happens. My wife just started a "second" career in ministry a year ago, when she was 43. It helps that I have a steady job and health insurance lined up, but it's still possible. I hope to be able to pursue something else in another year or two once her situation is stable and secure, so I can follow my dreams as well. Go for it!
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Old 01-04-2013, 09:40 AM   #5
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I did not, but in retrospect I kinda wish I had. Probably would have worked longer (not a bad thing in itself IMO) and enjoyed my career(s) more. Hindsight is a wonderful thing...
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Old 01-04-2013, 11:21 AM   #6
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I agree with the comment about pursuing a hobby to help you switch off and relax. Looking into different career is a possibility too.

Perhaps if you begin to plan your ER, that will help to make your current job more bearable. Start playing with the numbers - how much you are saving, and estimating future returns to figure out when you'll have enough. If you're keen to ER, you might also think of ways you could trim your living expenses (if you want) so that the ER date moves up a bit closer. These kinds of exercises can act like a light at the end of the tunnel and give you a reason to put up with the job you have now.

Forum members often mention it here but just in case you didn't know about it, have you checked out Firecalc?
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Old 01-04-2013, 04:03 PM   #7
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It sounds like the OP simply needs an opportunity to clear his/her head and think. Throwing out the proverbial baby with the bathwater is not something one should do when burdened by job stress.
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Old 01-04-2013, 05:14 PM   #8
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Comic book guy, I am about there with you. My job is more intermittently than constantly stressful, but I have just had enough of the nonsense and staring at the cube walls is slowly driving me insane. Like you, my assets won't quite support me. I think that making drastic life changes without a clear head is a bad idea. I would try to take a week off to unwind and think about things. You really have a few options:

- Stay the course (ugh).
- Stay in a similar line of work, but go to another employer. If your employer is simply acting like everyone else, this may be no improvement, but it might be worth a chance.
- Figure out an alternative line of work. This will take time and thought on your part, but may be a possibility depending on your skills and background. However, things may be no better in another line of work.
- Semi-retire. Find something less stressful that you can do part time or for part of the year, possibly supplementing your income with small portfolio draws. I think that this strategy may be more viable once we get to 2014 and you have more certainty in healthcare insurance availability. I may be trying this myself. But you might also have a tough time making ends meet on part time or contract work.
- A complete jack move. If you have no kids or spouse, you have way more flexibility. Split for a low cost third world place where you could be the equivalent of a well-off retired person. Live out of an RV, moving locations in the National Forest every 2 weeks. Spend 6 months a year in North Dakota (or another remote shale energy boomtown short on labor) doing well-paid work and then go mooch around the beach the rest of the year. Think creatively, but if you can do this with minimal draws on your nest egg it can grow.

If you bail on your current career, do so in a manner that allows you to come back in a year or so if things don't work out as you had imagined. If nothing else, a year long sabbatical exploring alternatives for the next few decades of your life would not be a bad thing.
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Old 01-04-2013, 05:31 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by comicbookgujy View Post
Been at the same job for 15 years and it was very enjoyable until they made me manager 5 years ago. Let's just say I wish I never had any ambition and I would still be happy with my job. The politic and back stabbing, ass kissing as my manager is way too much for me
I'm also 40, and have been in the same field (IT in my case) for 17 years. Like you, I had the opportunity to move into management, but I enjoy doing hands on work and dislike managing people, so I declined and chose to remain a technical grunt. I'm pretty happy with that choice. I think had I moved into management and stopped doing hands on work, I'd feel the same discontent as you as I despise politics and boring meetings.

If it's not too late for you, can you find another position in the same field (either within or outside the company) that is non-management?
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Old 01-05-2013, 06:58 AM   #10
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I would not do this. I am very risk averse.
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Anyone else checked out at age 40 without enough to retire or start a new career?
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Old 01-05-2013, 09:39 PM   #11
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Hey dude, feel your pain. I'm 37 and have around the same net worth. Make a good salary and I just don't want to start over again but nor do I want to keep doing this for 20 years. My plan is to accelerate saving and hopefully in 8 short years I'll have enough to transition to full retirement or go way of consulting via recruiters. I am also a manager and have a staff of 8 mainly temperamental females and report to a meddling CFO. I hate managing people - would much prefer doing the work myself.

I think my main issue is I picked the wrong profession (accounting). I realized this about six months post university. It was a big investment though time and $ wise so it's very hard to start over. Honestly, I'd rather be a truck driver. When I tell people this they think i'm nuts.
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Old 01-06-2013, 10:07 AM   #12
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It was a big investment though time and $ wise so it's very hard to start over. Honestly, I'd rather be a truck driver.
Haha! I felt nearly the same way about 3 years into my legal career. The study of law was enjoyable, but the actual practice was a different animal.

Quote:
Originally Posted by brewer12345 View Post
- Stay the course (ugh).
- Stay in a similar line of work, but go to another employer. If your employer is simply acting like everyone else, this may be no improvement, but it might be worth a chance.
- Figure out an alternative line of work. This will take time and thought on your part, but may be a possibility depending on your skills and background. However, things may be no better in another line of work.
- Semi-retire. Find something less stressful that you can do part time or for part of the year, possibly supplementing your income with small portfolio draws. I think that this strategy may be more viable once we get to 2014 and you have more certainty in healthcare insurance availability. I may be trying this myself. But you might also have a tough time making ends meet on part time or contract work.
- A complete jack move. If you have no kids or spouse, you have way more flexibility. Split for a low cost third world place where you could be the equivalent of a well-off retired person. Live out of an RV, moving locations in the National Forest every 2 weeks. Spend 6 months a year in North Dakota (or another remote shale energy boomtown short on labor) doing well-paid work and then go mooch around the beach the rest of the year. Think creatively, but if you can do this with minimal draws on your nest egg it can grow.
When I got fed up in my first career, I tried staying the course (ugh is right), then I tried a similar line of work with a different employer, but found the tedium and depression were even worse. Then I tried your third choice, an alternative line of work. I'm now 3+ years into a new career and couldn't be happier. The best irony is that I'm now better off financially, and in a better position to FIRE, than I would have been had I stayed with the law.
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Old 01-06-2013, 11:33 PM   #13
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Haha! I felt nearly the same way about 3 years into my legal career. The study of law was enjoyable, but the actual practice was a different animal.



When I got fed up in my first career, I tried staying the course (ugh is right), then I tried a similar line of work with a different employer, but found the tedium and depression were even worse. Then I tried your third choice, an alternative line of work. I'm now 3+ years into a new career and couldn't be happier. The best irony is that I'm now better off financially, and in a better position to FIRE, than I would have been had I stayed with the law.

Just curious - what did you get into?
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Old 01-07-2013, 04:24 AM   #14
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This thread really resonates with me. I'm 51 and going through some serious work burn out. I'm very close to being able to ER, but I want to have a good cushion and if I stay 3.5 years longer in my job I'll get really good retiree health benefits. Thats all that's keeping be there right now. If health insurance wasn't linked to employment I think you'd see far more people making employment changes as they got disillusioned at work and the possibility of ER approached.

I'm actually thinking of leaving my job and relocating to work back at NASA. I'd loose the retirement health benefits and have the hassle of renting out my home and living in a rental apartment, but I'd be able to do a few more years of fun work. I have to balance work satisfaction with the loss of ER health benefits and the inconvenience of relocating.......or I could just sell up and move back to the UK where the equity from the sale of my US home and the lower cost of living would mean I could ER now......at least I have choices.
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Old 01-07-2013, 06:22 PM   #15
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Just curious - what did you get into?
I joined the Foreign Service.
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Old 01-10-2014, 12:52 AM   #16
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Hey dude, feel your pain. Honestly, I'd rather be a truck driver. When I tell people this they think i'm nuts.

Wow that's my preferred second career too lol
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Old 01-10-2014, 01:52 AM   #17
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Wow. Didn't even remember posting this almost exactly one year ago!

It's one year later and net worth went from $400k to $500k thanks to the stock market and saving $40k a year.

Job situation is still the same, except I can say I can confirm I'm 100% checked out. I still work hard and care about my work, but I don't care about career advancement or moving up the corporate ladder. Co-workers are the same. Nasty, backstabbing bastards. I learned to ignore them, but it's still hard to ignore.

Haven't decided on a 2nd career yet. This one has burnt me out.


Going to try to tough this out for 5 more years and I should have about $800k by then. Not sure if I can make it another year. Thought about quitting and finding part time work, then I added up the # and it didn't make sense to work for the next 50 years part time when I can make the same amount in the next 5 years full time
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Old 01-10-2014, 09:42 AM   #18
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I can really relate to this post. I too made the choice to move from an individual contributor to product & people manager when I was 37. It would turn out to be a very bad career choice, but at the time it seem like the right progression for my job career at my MegaCorp... At first it was okay and I did good work and even enjoyed it most of the time. Twelve years flew and I woke up to realize that I hated what I was doing and getting zero satisfaction from my job. I felt like I had no options. It would have been extremely difficult to go back to individual contributor since what we do is highly technical and the learning curve was just too steep for a 49 year old. I was just burned out. I blame myself for falling asleep at the wheel. Just because they keep promoting you and giving you big raises does not mean you will be happy. Not sure I would have even woke up from my career nap if I did not have the means to retire early at age 49. As humans I think we tend to adapt to our situation not matter how bad it is. My colleges at work and even friends could not understand why I would leave such a high paying job especially in a bad economy at age 49. They thought I was crazy. Thanks god I started to save early and LBMM or I would still be stuck there hated every day I woke up.... No regrets.... After 8 months in ER I now realize it was the "type" stress that made me leave. There was always stress at work to hit deadlines and make sure your stuff work right the first time. As an individual contributor you have a lot more control of this "type" of stress and you can use it to be very successful and even get satisfaction completing a task on time. But once I choice the management career road the stresses became out of my control. Dealing with incompetent upper management and people performance issues just became too much. The daily frustrations just built up and the BS bucket was overflowing. The only thing I had control of was to leave... So I did....

So my advice is if you are in a similar situation is to really re-think your 5 year plan. 5 years may fly by but the damage to your physical & mental may not be worth reaching the $800K goal. At 40 you are at that age were companies still consider you marketable. As you get closer to 50 you will find it very difficult to find compatible paying jobs. If you need to work past 45 you might be better off finding a job now (even with lower pay) that you can wake up every morning looking forward to going into...

Just my 2 cents...
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Old 01-10-2014, 12:28 PM   #19
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Wow. Didn't even remember posting this almost exactly one year ago!

It's one year later and net worth went from $400k to $500k thanks to the stock market and saving $40k a year.

Job situation is still the same, except I can say I can confirm I'm 100% checked out. I still work hard and care about my work, but I don't care about career advancement or moving up the corporate ladder. Co-workers are the same. Nasty, backstabbing bastards. I learned to ignore them, but it's still hard to ignore.

Haven't decided on a 2nd career yet. This one has burnt me out.


Going to try to tough this out for 5 more years and I should have about $800k by then. Not sure if I can make it another year. Thought about quitting and finding part time work, then I added up the # and it didn't make sense to work for the next 50 years part time when I can make the same amount in the next 5 years full time
Damn ComicBookGuy!
We're are in identical situations. I'm completely checked out in my job. I don't have enough to retire quite yet, but plan on going another 5-7 years and should be able to then. Worse case, get some part time work.

The people are what make my life miserable. And it pains me to say that because I'm quite the people person and love being around people. However, these are not people. These are lying, backstabbing parasites that would drown you and your entire family to get a "good job" from their manager. My manager went as far as to promote two of my colleagues this week as a move to try and motivate me. All it did was make my life more wonderful, because now more is expected of them and they have to deal with the bureaucracy and politics.

Let me do my five years. I'll have the mortgage paid and enough in savings to leave. I'll not cause any problems and ride off into the sunset never to be seen again.
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Old 01-10-2014, 01:42 PM   #20
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I changed careers in my forties and it worked out okay. I switched careers after we had kids as I wanted something I could do part time or from home.

I worked in IT so I just went back to school to learn whatever was really new and no one else knew how to do. If you learn some skill that few other people know, at least relative to demand, you can probably do contract work and/or have your own business.

If I was starting over today I would go back to school again to learn something like app development or some other high demand, digital nomad skill - something that pays well, you could do from a lap tap, and yet live some place, sunny, warm, scenic and low cost.
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