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Re-organizing career
Old 07-29-2010, 02:38 PM   #1
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Re-organizing career

I am probably around 10-20 years from FIRE... in general we save about 25% of gross pay each year... it seems so far away, but believe it can happen. I am 37, wife is 36.

I have w*rked one job out of college. It was a "small" software company (3000 employees) and was a great place to work. Keg parties 1-3X per year out front, customers bringing their products (like Jeff Gordon's NASCAR) and showing them off at press events. In general the culture was relaxed, it was a place you wanted to w*rk and it felt like a second family and small fraternity as much as a corporation could.

A company that profitable gets bought out. I am on employer #4 now (same job, same people, 4th 401k, 4th company name...). Each time we got bigger and things are getting a little too formal for me.

I worked for Ford, worked for US government (as a contractor) and similar large companies prior to taking a job with this small CAD/CAM/CAE company in 1997.

I moved to current city single, and am now married with twin 2 yo boys.

Here is my dilemma- I believe its time to move on. I am faced with many issues which I have yet to resolve, and if you have any sage advice on any of these issues, feel free to chime in.

My roots are 400 miles Northeast of here. If I had to choose a place to live, I chose current location because of this job. I'd love to move to Denver or Colorado area, or back to Western NY where my most of my extended family live. Wife does not want to move.

My career choices are both infinite and limited at the same time. Most of my 14 years have been working with one software package or another. If I tried to get into same field, I could either work for a competitor (one is headquartered in Boston, the other Headquarters in France) or possibly one of those companies out of my house or regional office. I could try working for a customer, but more than likely they would be too big for my taste (customers for us typically are the big 3, aerospace companies, ship builders and similar).

My current city is short on job opportunities which use my particular software...

I have thought about changing careers altogether. I have a Mechanical Engineering degree but that is no longer my interest. In general I would prefer a job where I engage with people (sales or similar) and or deal with numbers or managing projects (I currently do project work, but do not manage projects). Part of me thinks I could work for a tax preparation/financial consulting type field, as I have lots of interest in this, but no experience.

Part of me says if I stay in current career track/industry, I can retire in 10-15 years. Part of me says if I find something I enjoy more, I could retire in 30-40 years even I took a pay cut and saved less. Part of me says move to where I can ski or do outdoor things, part of me says stick with family here.

In last 3 years 3 people close to me have died- two of them worked here, and one was a family member. They ranged in age from 32-50. I really believe I need to find out where I want to be, but feel so many things pulling me in so many directions, not sure which of those I should follow for sure.

One additional caveat- just found out wife hid 10k+ of credit card debt from me (for second time) so there is a part of me thinking some time apart might be better to get my head straight and figure out what I want.

Thx for reading, and looking forward to any advice.
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Old 07-29-2010, 03:20 PM   #2
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I know what loosing friends (especially at a young age) is all about. It can tear at your heart and fog your way of thinking. However, you must put the needs of you and your family first and plan for a long retirement and financial stability.

No matter what you decide to do in regards to a job, you'll be on shaky ground until you and your DW are on the same page. The two of you need to get together and talk about why she 'hid' the debt.

Time apart...well you know what is best. However, I encourage the both of you to get some type of counseling before you make that decision. Absence does not always make the heart grow fonder.
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Old 07-29-2010, 06:51 PM   #3
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Jimoh, I count at least 5 distinct dilemmas, which I'd say is too many to tackle all at once.

With your engineering background, have you and your wife listed possible solutions for each dilemma, and done the risk-benefit analyses together? I find that when I approach problems in a structured way with my husband, he comes up with more and better ideas.

Also, since you two are saving a very respectable (though, for FIRE, not excessive) percentage of your pay, I wonder why your wife would feel a need to hide her spending. Could it be she doesn't share your passion for FIRE? Have you asked her if she feels money is too tight for comfort at this savings level? I don't mean to dismiss the seriousness of one spouse hiding large spending from the other, it's just an idea.

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Originally Posted by jIMOh View Post
I am probably around 10-20 years from FIRE... in general we save about 25% of gross pay each year... it seems so far away, but believe it can happen. I am 37, wife is 36.

Wife does not want to move.

My current city is short on job opportunities which use my particular software...

Part of me says if I stay in current career track/industry, I can retire in 10-15 years. Part of me says if I find something I enjoy more, I could retire in 30-40 years....

One additional caveat- just found out wife hid 10k+ of credit card debt from me (for second time).
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Old 07-29-2010, 07:02 PM   #4
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Just a couple of comments.

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Originally Posted by jIMOh View Post
In general I would prefer a job where I engage with people
I doubt you'll ever be happy working from home, unless you travel a lot.

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Originally Posted by jIMOh View Post
One additional caveat- just found out wife hid 10k+ of credit card debt from me (for second time)
Say goodbye to FIRE, as long as you're with her and she's pulling this stuff.
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Old 07-29-2010, 10:34 PM   #5
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My wife does not have the desire to retire early, but does respect my wishes to max the Roths and deal with 401ks. The main change now is I am doing the checkbook- at some point about 10 years ago she started doing it, and I have asked to be involved more- now I will be paying bills each month.

We are also not using the cc anymore- we were charging normal expenses to them and I thought paying them off each month, but so I learned the hard way.

My goal is really FI and whether we stop w*rking when FI is reached who knows, but it should be a good milestone to reach.
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Old 07-30-2010, 12:01 AM   #6
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If you are going to be working for another 10 - 15 (or maybe 20) years, pick something you want to do like doing. Even 10 can be a long go if there is no parole.
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Old 07-30-2010, 11:39 AM   #7
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I know what loosing friends (especially at a young age) is all about. It can tear at your heart and fog your way of thinking. However, you must put the needs of you and your family first and plan for a long retirement and financial stability.

No matter what you decide to do in regards to a job, you'll be on shaky ground until you and your DW are on the same page. The two of you need to get together and talk about why she 'hid' the debt.

Time apart...well you know what is best. However, I encourage the both of you to get some type of counseling before you make that decision. Absence does not always make the heart grow fonder.
+1. This seems to me very good advice. Figure out the relationship dilemmas before making any other big changes. Good luck to you. There seem to be many questions on your mind.
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Old 07-31-2010, 06:28 AM   #8
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Yes, I agree. Pick one of those dilemmas and work on it. Don't try to do it all at once! With two small kids, it may be beneficial to work on some couples counseling.

Also, with this job market it is probably good to sit tight for a while.
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Old 07-31-2010, 09:03 AM   #9
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Yes, I agree. Pick one of those dilemmas and work on it. Don't try to do it all at once! With two small kids, it may be beneficial to work on some couples counseling.

Also, with this job market it is probably good to sit tight for a while.
I agree with the advice to work on the marriage first. I've been married for 33 years and know that if everything is good there, then everything else becomes easier to figure out.
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Old 08-01-2010, 08:49 AM   #10
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I agree with the advice to work on the marriage first. I've been married for 33 years and know that if everything is good there, then everything else becomes easier to figure out.
Hankster has 11 years on me, but wife must be on the same page about money, which is really about priorities. YMMV, but I would regard hiding $10k in cc debt as very serious. It's about honesty, character, integrity in the marriage.

As I tried to explain to one friend who didn't see the necessity of a budget: "A budget is not about money. It's about sharing. It's about putting your heads together and facing the gritty reality - 'these are the numbers we have to work with' - what are our priorities?"
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Old 08-01-2010, 12:06 PM   #11
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I agree with the others - - the marriage is the most important factor right now. If you aren't on the same page concerning spending your debt may escalate. While one spouse is LBYM'ing more and more severely trying to pay off the credit cards and save, the other spouse spends more and more putting the family further in debt. This is an unsustainable situation.

Ten years can go by pretty quickly. Maybe you can work with your management to change your present job a bit, and this could make it a little less tedious for these few years. Taking on a few new responsibilities and shedding others can put the freshness back into a tired old job for a while.
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Old 08-02-2010, 08:26 AM   #12
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Much of the debt was normal spending which was not paid off in the same month it was accumulated. Some was planned, like groceries and gas, and some was eating out lunches at work and similar (not budgeted expenses).

We have decided to switch from credit to debit cards, so when checking account does not have money, we stop spending. We have a written budget which has been used for about 12 years, for most part we do not spend outside of that, but lunches for work and ordering pizza were part of groceries, and that single line item went overbudget a few too many times.

The only thing wife did is she did not tell me she could not pay balance off (each month) for last 6-10 months.

I agree working on marriage comes first.
Thx for replies and emails
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Old 08-02-2010, 08:27 AM   #13
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While one spouse is LBYM'ing more and more severely trying to pay off the credit cards and save, the other spouse spends more and more putting the family further in debt. This is an unsustainable situation.
That's exactly why my first marriage ended. At the time we were in our late 20's - early 30's and I expected to be house poor. Everyone else we knew was too, and joked about decorating in "early poverty".

But five years later we were still living paycheck-to-paycheck and that was getting old. The coup de grâce came when she insisted on getting a loan to pay for a trip. I was not going down that road.

Two years later I was living under my own (slightly more expensive) roof and realized what a prima donna she was. But when you're up to your butt in alligators....
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Old 08-03-2010, 12:35 PM   #14
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The only thing wife did is she did not tell me she could not pay balance off (each month) for last 6-10 months.
This is really serious. I assume you're saying "only" because it's not like she has a secret gambling problem or some such, but for her to know that you were living beyond your means for so many months and not say anything is a big deal. And $10,000 worth? Wow.

It sounds like you've resolved the immediate problem with the switch to debit cards, which is great. But in combination with the other issues you listed in the original post, I agree that some conversations about goals and priorities might be helpful.
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Old 08-03-2010, 02:46 PM   #15
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This is really serious. I assume you're saying "only" because it's not like she has a secret gambling problem or some such, but for her to know that you were living beyond your means for so many months and not say anything is a big deal. And $10,000 worth? Wow.

It sounds like you've resolved the immediate problem with the switch to debit cards, which is great. But in combination with the other issues you listed in the original post, I agree that some conversations about goals and priorities might be helpful.
We do have similar goals, the issue is prioritizing and the degree to which the goals are funded

For example my priorities are

1) Financial Independance as early as possible (I list this as 12X expenses in bank and debts paid down to zero)

2a) Vacations
2b) Debt free


My wife's priorities would be

1) spend less than we earn
2) vacations
3) retirement saving to a moderate degree
4) debt free

3 and 4 might be reversed for wife


If we have 25k available to "play with"
8k to my 401k
5k to her 401k
10k to Roth
2k to vacations
wife might want more allocated to vacations than this list here...

but its tough for 2 reasons
1) increasing vacations by 1k required dropping 401k by 1250 or something like that
2) that line item is not in budget because of the 10k I just liquidated to pay down the debt (I might not even have the 10k for the 2010 Roths for example)

so part of issue is getting budget right, part of it is dealing with priorities and then attaching specific dollar amounts to them.
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Old 08-03-2010, 04:22 PM   #16
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My wife's priorities would be

1) spend less than we earn
Hmm... I have trouble reconciling this with her willingness to overspend.

From your description, it doesn't sound like there was anything special going on in those months that made the overspending "necessary". From your list of her other priorities, I wonder if there's a mild disagreement between you as to how much saving is too much, if it restricts your ability to have a pleasant time on the way to retirement.
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Old 08-03-2010, 05:07 PM   #17
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This is really serious. I assume you're saying "only" because it's not like she has a secret gambling problem or some such, but for her to know that you were living beyond your means for so many months and not say anything is a big deal. And $10,000 worth? Wow.

It sounds like you've resolved the immediate problem with the switch to debit cards, which is great. But in combination with the other issues you listed in the original post, I agree that some conversations about goals and priorities might be helpful.

+1 on this.... it IS serious that she was hiding such a major fact... Did she think it was going to get better And $10 grand OVER in just a few months is BIG spending.. sounds like there was another issue there... like overspending... and the interest rates were probably killing any good savings plan you had...
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Old 08-03-2010, 06:36 PM   #18
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Just out of interest, I am wondering whether your wife works or has any intention of going back to work at any time if she is not working?
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Old 08-03-2010, 09:12 PM   #19
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Just out of interest, I am wondering whether your wife works or has any intention of going back to work at any time if she is not working?
She works full time as an HR consultant
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Old 08-03-2010, 11:01 PM   #20
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Although I have not gone through the course personally, I know several couples who have found Financial Peace University to be tremendously helpful, both in terms of getting financial priorities in order and for getting on the same financial page together. Classes are offered all over the country and although many are held at churches, you do not need to be a church member to attend. Financial Peace University - daveramsey.com
Best wishes for financial harmony and FIRE!!!!
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