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Too chicken to jump....
Old 08-20-2013, 03:28 PM   #1
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Too chicken to jump....

Wasn't sure if this belonged on Young Dreamers... since I hope I'm closer to the "life after FIRE" group.... I turn 52 next week. My absolute done-and-out is my 55th birthday.

But I am done/over/stick-a-fork-in-me about my job NOW.

I took a week off work last week and had a great time - super busy, doing all the things I enjoy doing... taking to dog for walks on the beach, working in the garden, catching up on chores. (Yes - even that was fun because I wasn't time crunched.)

It was great. I imagined how it would be to do that full time. Then Saturday came and I realized I needed to hurry up and get the rest of my chores/stuff done because I had to go back to work. It started to feel compacted/stressed like most weekends - trying to get all the non-work stuff in before work takes over. By Sunday evening I had that familiar sense of dread in the pit of my stomach. Monday morning I literally hurled dreading the work day. It's not good when you throw up thinking of going in to work.

I got through the day. But I keep thinking more and more about how much it's not enjoyable anymore. I have a boss that hates me. (and it's mutual). My coworkers are great, and appreciate my work... but my boss is a miserable man who chooses to make his underlings suffer. (He's going through a divorce and I'm sure that contributes to his general grumpiness/mean spirit).

I'm borderline FI for retiring now. My contingency funds are almost there. But not quite. I might not be able to fund the kids colleges as well as I hope. But - if I include full SS (based on earnings stopping today), and if there are no unexpected gotcha's... I could go.

One of the problems is I'm a worrier. And reading threads about having 36x or 40x annual expenses makes me think I'm no where close to ready. I read about people having pre-paid funds for their next car, etc.. I have an emergency fund, and my "nest egg"... lot a lot of contingency funds.

Firecalc gives me 100%. Fidelity RIP lets me go to age 91 before I run out of money. (Dad died at 77, mom died at 67, brother died at 48... I probably won't make 91). So I'm close... but there's not a lot of safety margin... I don't have double the firecalc 100% or whatever like some folks. If I can stick it out to age 55 I'll be closer.

The other thing keeping me here is the hope of a severance package. My division was recently sold off to a small company that took on serious leverage to buy us. They are cutting costs like crazy to get costs down so they can pay back their debt. (The debt/earnings is worse than Greece). They've gone through the first round of significant cuts - but we suspect there's another round coming. I'd be entitled to a few months severance pay if I get laid off... don't want to leave that on the table. With unpaid PTO - I'm looking at 6 months income if I get cut. That would help fill the contingency funding.

In the past 18+ years I've survived 3 acquisitions, 2 spin offs, and one corporate split. All have come with significant layoffs... and I've survived them all. Now I'm ready to go. I've told a different boss (my former boss - who's a peer to my current jerk boss.) that I'd volunteer for any future rounds and he let the director of our department know. But this last time no one from our group was cut. I'm hoping this seed will grow into a severance package... in the meantime, I show up, work hard, and hate being here.

I don't want to get a new job... That would be stress I don't want... having to prove myself all over again, learn new systems... My engineering niche is pretty specialized so I'd have to really stretch to get a new job and that sounds too much like w*rk. I just want to be at home to raise my boys, be a good wife, and call it a day on the career.

This job is literally sapping the joy from my life. But I'm too chicken to quit.

If anyone has any positive thoughts to send out there - send them to the layoff gods that I be chosen for the next round of layoffs.
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Old 08-20-2013, 03:37 PM   #2
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If you are puking at the thought of showing up, it is time to go. How many years do you have left before taking the dirt nap? Think you will regret spending 10% of your remaining time being tortured every day?
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Old 08-20-2013, 04:04 PM   #3
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Rodi,

Have you included your accrued Social Security into your calculations? This can make a huge difference. I have a thread somewhere here where I showed folks how to figure out what they have already accrued if they quit today (hint set last years wages to 0 in the Social Security's estimator).

-gauss
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Old 08-20-2013, 04:06 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rodi
I keep thinking more and more about how much it's not enjoyable anymore. I have a boss that hates me. (and it's mutual). My coworkers are great, and appreciate my work... but my boss is a miserable man who chooses to make his underlings suffer. (He's going through a divorce and I'm sure that contributes to his general grumpiness/mean spirit).
Truly awful bosses like that who take it out on their underlings have a bad habit of being promoted upwards and sideways to a position where they are out of the way. Mine was moved like that, and was no longer in my chain of command after 2006 or I might have gone nuts waiting for retirement.

It doesn't sound like you have much longer before you are completely ready to retire. Is there any possibility of part time work for the same organization, or telecommuting? Maybe one of those would lessen the stress a bit during these last working days.
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Old 08-20-2013, 04:16 PM   #5
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But I'm too chicken to quit.
Interesting story, though not uncommon in general nowadays. There must be a reason you're "too chicken to quit" - it's not just a financial decision, so having others reanalyze your numbers probably won't make a difference. Some people are comfortable with a 75% probability of success, some can't bring themselves to retire until they reach 200% - both are "right" answers for their situations and personal makeup.

I don't presume to speak for others, but when I retired just over two years ago, I had almost no reservations whatsoever - and no regrets since. If I'd felt "too chicken to quit," I wouldn't have pulled the trigger, that simple. And though I read thousands of posts here before retiring, most variations on "just do it" - it was and had to be my decision.

You're the only one who can know when it's your time, you'll have little doubt, and it won't really be a number that puts you over the (retirement decision) threshold IME.
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Old 08-20-2013, 04:32 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rodi View Post
...
But I am done/over/stick-a-fork-in-me about my job NOW.

...

By Sunday evening I had that familiar sense of dread in the pit of my stomach. Monday morning I literally hurled dreading the work day. It's not good when you throw up thinking of going in to work.

...I'm borderline FI for retiring now. My contingency funds are almost there. But not quite. I might not be able to fund the kids colleges as well as I hope. But - if I include full SS (based on earnings stopping today), and if there are no unexpected gotcha's... I could go....

.... And reading threads about having 36x or 40x annual expenses makes me think I'm no where close to ready. I read about people having pre-paid funds for their next car, etc.. I have an emergency fund, and my "nest egg"... lot a lot of contingency funds....

Firecalc gives me 100%. Fidelity RIP lets me go to age 91 before I run out of money. (Dad died at 77, mom died at 67, brother died at 48... I probably won't make 91). So I'm close... but there's not a lot of safety margin... I don't have double the firecalc 100% or whatever like some folks. If I can stick it out to age 55 I'll be closer.....

...They've gone through the first round of significant cuts - but we suspect there's another round coming. I'd be entitled to a few months severance pay if I get laid off... don't want to leave that on the table. With unpaid PTO - I'm looking at 6 months income if I get cut. That would help fill the contingency funding....

...
This job is literally sapping the joy from my life. But I'm too chicken to quit.

If anyone has any positive thoughts to send out there - send them to the layoff gods that I be chosen for the next round of layoffs.
I have highlighted what I consider the most significant things in your post. I think that if it was me saying them that I would be quitting very soon either immediately or wait no more than a pre-determined period of time to quit (maybe end of year or January - if you think they are unlikely to do layoffs in December but might do them in January).

In fact, 3 1/2 years ago I felt very much like you did in terms of not liking work. One difference is that my boss is a great guy. It was the stress of the work not the people driving me. But, I was miserable. In my case, (no chance of a layoff), I did decide to go ahead and quit. DH and I talked about it (he was also retiring), and we felt that the retirement planner results were good enough and that we had some flexibility to adjust if things went south. That is, our budget wasn't a particularly frugal one and we felt that there were areas we could cut if we really needed to.

Most importantly, we had to decide whether it was more important to us to retire a few years earlier and have that time and no stress recognizing that if things really went negative we might have to readjust versus deciding to work longer to have more money.

Obviously there is a balance here. I wouldn't have said retire with a 50% Firecalc success rate but we were between 95% and 100% depending upon what spending we projected. In our case, it was complicated because we had several years of high spending coming up that would actually reduce our portfolio (kids at home with college starting soon).

When I went in to resign, btw, I ended up being asked to stay on very part-time. For 3 years I worked 1 or 2 days a week and just recently I've made it even more part-time (just working out of my home and not in the office at all). That has provided some bridge to me. 3 1/2 years later the numbers look good. Firecalc puts us at 100% for the most likely spending we want to do and we still remain willing to adjust later if need be. DH has never regretted retiring and I've never regretted going to my very part time schedule and I don't think I will even if we have to make any adjustments later on (and the odds are that we won't).

I understand the being chicken but going for more certainty has its risks too. If you work 3 or 4 more years you can't get those years back and the stress may have very adverse effects on you.

As far as hoping for a severance package, while I wouldn't say that you shouldn't hang around for a short while to try for it I don't think the amount of money would be enough to drive the bus too much. I would think it is likely a nice to have but not an essential.
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Old 08-20-2013, 05:05 PM   #7
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Hey Neighbor!

You really need to start thinking about what this job is doing to you mentally and physically. Stress to the point of throwing up is not healthy, and may be shortening your life span. Isn't that a scary thought?

What about looking into a part time job in a field that might be more fun? I'm sure it wouldn't replace your salary, but maybe it could help a little bit with the funds?

I'll be praying to the layoff gods for both of us, but I hope you think of another way to be comfortable in leaving.
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Old 08-20-2013, 05:08 PM   #8
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The problem with waiting for a layoff or severance package is that it is entirely outside your control. Focusing on and hoping for that will only leave you helplessly at the mercy of your workplace (which you are already). It sounds like you get overwhelmed with anxiety sometimes (you're a worrier, you throw up at the thought of Monday). Anxiety feeds on preoccupation with things that are outside your control, like a layoff.

You might benefit from some EAP counseling. But my main advice would be to stop waiting for something like a layoff or severance package and instead take control of the situation yourself. Make an exit plan that depends only on your actions. Work towards it. Forget about waiting for a layoff or severance package -- that is outside your control, and focusing on it only keeps you in a helpless, powerless position, and it is fuel for anxiety. Taking control will be an anti-emetic.
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Old 08-20-2013, 05:12 PM   #9
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....I might not be able to fund the kids colleges as well as I hope. .....
Would your kids be eligible for more financial aid based on your income if you were not working? I retired after DD was through college (which I paid for) but I always wondered about that. Might be something to explore or perhaps others have experience with this.
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Old 08-20-2013, 05:50 PM   #10
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I think another factor is how your health in general is. If you are not very healthy and believe the job is a major factor, consider this. You will never get these years back if you stay. But if your health is good and you are dealing with the stress well, you may want to stay for awhile. Just some thoughts.
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Old 08-20-2013, 05:55 PM   #11
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Rodi,

Have you included your accrued Social Security into your calculations? This can make a huge difference. I have a thread somewhere here where I showed folks how to figure out what they have already accrued if they quit today (hint set last years wages to 0 in the Social Security's estimator).

-gauss
I include both mine and DH's SS in my calcs (based on earnings if I stop working now.)

DH is due to retire in Jan. Which is coincident with our paying off our mortgage.
I think I'll stick it out till at least then. And hopefully W2R is right, and my boss will be promoted out of my way.

Thanks guys.
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Old 08-20-2013, 06:42 PM   #12
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But I am done/over/stick-a-fork-in-me about my job NOW.

By Sunday evening I had that familiar sense of dread in the pit of my stomach. Monday morning I literally hurled dreading the work day. It's not good when you throw up thinking of going in to work.

I just want to be at home to raise my boys, be a good wife, and call it a day on the career.

This job is literally sapping the joy from my life. But I'm too chicken to quit.

.
If you are that sick of work, it is time to compose your exit strategy ASAP. Factor in only the things that you can control. Doing the "what ifs" will only make you miserable since these are not within your control. Once you have a concrete plan and you are in control, implement it. That is the way an engineer does things - objectively, not subjectively. You can always find a way to reduce expenditures if it means spending less time in the sandbox that is home to a pack of nasty fire ants.
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Old 08-20-2013, 07:06 PM   #13
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To the OP : many of us feel the same way. This is why I keep coming back here - to communicate with like-minded worriers.
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Old 08-20-2013, 07:30 PM   #14
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DH left mega corp life and works with me on our home businesses and takes classes at night for a lower stress job he can do part time.

For him to leave the mega corp job we cut our expenses by about a third with stuff we no longer needed or missed (landline, disability insurance, life insurance, no more commute costs, etc.), we should pay zero income taxes for the foreseeable future (the business income can be offset by expenses and retirement account contributions), the kids should get financial aid for college going forward (most of the assets are all in FAFSA exempt asset classes - house, business under 100 employees, retirement accounts), we are working to get the max health care subsidies and what we do pay will be a tax deductible business expense, with cutting our expenses we no longer needed to save for retirement, and we had a few pensions we took early.

DH realized he was pretty much working at a mega corp job for nothing these past few years. We are sorry we didn't go over the budget and think through all the angles like how to legally pay zero income taxes, get the pensions early, and qualify for financial aid years ago. Maybe you could find some similar savings / tax breaks / financial aid eligibility to exit your current job sooner rather than later and make retirement or semi-retirement work for you.

We have the same lifestyle we did before except for the part where DH works and commutes over 60 hours a week for a high stress job.

This is a useful article on how to legally pay zero income taxes -

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000...332473366.html

Actually with college tax credits I think this year we will net $1K.

This is a good site on getting financial aid -

http://www.finaid.org/fafsa/maximize.phtml
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Old 08-20-2013, 07:35 PM   #15
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If you are that sick of work, it is time to compose your exit strategy ASAP. Factor in only the things that you can control. Doing the "what ifs" will only make you miserable since these are not within your control. Once you have a concrete plan and you are in control, implement it. That is the way an engineer does things - objectively, not subjectively. You can always find a way to reduce expenditures if it means spending less time in the sandbox that is home to a pack of nasty fire ants.
Well said. Create a exit plan in which you control your destiny, and be prepared to pull the plug as a backup plan. Exit plans usually work out for the worker when the company knows the alternative is the worker quitting
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Old 08-20-2013, 08:01 PM   #16
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Sunday night dread - check

Vomiting in the morning before work - check

The first post of this topic really hit home for me. I think I could probably hold on until 2015... maybe.
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Old 09-04-2013, 11:14 PM   #17
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I was where you are now about 2 years ago. I was 48 and realizing that no way I'm going to make it to 55 for that full pension. Everyday was drudgery, the bosses where fine, the work was fine, but I just needed to be my own man - I needed my complete freedom.

After a long 3 week vacation around the holidays then I enjoyed everyday so much that when I returned to work that Monday, that night riding my bike home from work I vowed that I'm giving my notice on the 4th of July, appropriately independence day - which was in 6 months.

I got my mindset and watched the shadows as I rode my bike everyday, knowing that when the sun is directly is overhead and I don't see my shadow at lunchtime, I'll be free.

I didn't care about severance pay or a full pension, I set my date and that was that.

But the most glorious event occurred... there were rumors about voluntary layoffs. I volunteered even before it was official and they accepted. 6 months severance, allowed me to take off 3 months and return to finish up thru December on work that I really enjoyed, and gave me a full pension as if I worked until 55 (which I start collecting at 55).

So with the uncertainties of your business environment that you mention, there may be opportunities to take advantage of. Keep your ears open. For me, the downturn of the economy was the most important component of my FIRE.
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