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Parr0thead98 11-16-2011 05:51 AM

Nearing the End of a Military Career
 
Hi all. I'm approaching the 24-year mark in my career and starting to wonder "what I want to do when I grow up" as we like to say in the military. I am very glad I found this forum as well as Nord's blog and book/reading list. Honestly, not much on early retirement at local libraries...go figure.

I'm at what I consider the pinnacle of my career. I'm an O-6 that's not in the rat race anymore for further promotions. I'm in a command billet with an O-7 boss who gives me complete reign, just update him when I think necessary. This job will take me to my 25 yr point. Military pension at that point will be around $6,100/mo or $73K/yr.

Up until a few months ago, I had been planning on just taking another assignment and planning for a second career/full-time job after the military. However, something keeps nagging at me as I don;t feel any excitement when I think about that option. I can do it, definitely, but is that what I really want??

My dread is any assignment after this one will be a mental letdown...after running your own organization for 3 yrs and then to go to the "land of cubicle dwellers"...really??

Assets wise, not flush right now, but rapidly building. Have approx $60K in TSP (gov't 401K), 1 rental property with a solid $40K in equity if I had to sell it today, it c/f $140/mo free and clear ($200/mo after tax deductions), 2 cars paid for, live in base housing, and 2 mos ago, have started socking away $4,500 mo after running across this forum and other blogs.

Have 2 school-age kids, but the Post=9/11 GI Bill will take care of their college costs for the first 2 yrs each. We've explained they will need to pay for the other 2 yrs like thier Mom & Dad did when they went thru college!

Options, options, options. At least now, I'm realizing I have them!

braumeister 11-16-2011 06:10 AM

Welcome, and congratulations on getting properly prepared. That can be a very wrenching mental exercise.

As a retired (21-year) O5, my experience might be instructive. The first thing I did was to do a lot of research in the base library to figure out what I wanted to do after hanging up the uniform. Eventually I found a career field that suited my talents and personality well, and had a good outlook (a high need for it, with good hiring prospects). I found it easy to get a good job in my preferred location with a small company.

As a 25-year O6, I think you should set your sights higher than that, and you probably have an excellent chance of getting a good executive level job that would suit you better.

Of course, that's assuming you want one. But a few years of that, along with a LBYM lifestyle, could provide you with all the nest egg you need.

justplainbll 11-16-2011 07:05 AM

Are you eligible for military sponsored advanced training / education?

Ed_The_Gypsy 11-16-2011 08:16 AM

Nords, you are having an impact on the world! The line is forming!:dance:

Ed_The_Gypsy 11-16-2011 08:20 AM

Parr0thead98,

Somehow I think you have been preparing mentally for a while.

Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville :: Jimmy Buffett Tour Dates, Margaritaville Restaurants, Song Lyrics and more!

FinanceDude 11-16-2011 08:32 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Parr0thead98 (Post 1131108)
Hi all. I'm approaching the 24-year mark in my career and starting to wonder "what I want to do when I grow up" as we like to say in the military. I am very glad I found this forum as well as Nord's blog and book/reading list. Honestly, not much on early retirement at local libraries...go figure.

I'm at what I consider the pinnacle of my career. I'm an O-6 that's not in the rat race anymore for further promotions. I'm in a command billet with an O-7 boss who gives me complete reign, just update him when I think necessary. This job will take me to my 25 yr point. Military pension at that point will be around $6,100/mo or $73K/yr.

Up until a few months ago, I had been planning on just taking another assignment and planning for a second career/full-time job after the military. However, something keeps nagging at me as I don;t feel any excitement when I think about that option. I can do it, definitely, but is that what I really want??

My dread is any assignment after this one will be a mental letdown...after running your own organization for 3 yrs and then to go to the "land of cubicle dwellers"...really??

Assets wise, not flush right now, but rapidly building. Have approx $60K in TSP (gov't 401K), 1 rental property with a solid $40K in equity if I had to sell it today, it c/f $140/mo free and clear ($200/mo after tax deductions), 2 cars paid for, live in base housing, and 2 mos ago, have started socking away $4,500 mo after running across this forum and other blogs.

Have 2 school-age kids, but the Post=9/11 GI Bill will take care of their college costs for the first 2 yrs each. We've explained they will need to pay for the other 2 yrs like thier Mom & Dad did when they went thru college!

Options, options, options. At least now, I'm realizing I have them!

Keep Nords book close by. Sounds like you are on a mission to build up investments. Can you live on the pension while you look at options? A good friend on mine retired after 25 years and got a very good job with the CDC.........

Parr0thead98 11-16-2011 05:47 PM

Finance: yes, I believe we can just live off my pension, but I printed out my last 6 mos of bank transactions to total it up for sure. I feel we can easily do it if I pause the $4,500 svgs/mo until I decide what I want to do next. And, honestly, that spending/expenses estimate also includes some pretty sweet vacations ea year. So, I want to analyze my "needs" expenses and separate them from the last several months of "wants" expenses.

I also just bought "Extreme Retirement" book that Nords recommended.

JustplainBill: yes, I could take more schooling, but I think my brain is full of classroom knowledge! I should mention I also have my certification in Program Management which is directly relatable to "the outside." But I keep thinking about a corporate job and I'm just not getting excited...does that make me a bad person?! lol

The good news is my wife is along with me on this "life after the military" journey too. I actually made up a PowerPoint briefing for her the other day, outlining 3 COAs for retirement. Yes, I r a PPT Ranger, sir! She luved it because it actually forced me to organize the many thoughts boucning around in my head.

I am soooo glad to have found this forum as I was truly feeling like the weirdo around base. "What do you mean you're thinking of retiring, sir? What are you going to do next?" I just feel weird right now because after I ran the estimated numbers for my briefing to CINC Home (wife), I realized that we are very comfortable living the lifestyle we have and maybe I should just focus on a bridge career that just make up the difference between my retired pay and my active duty pay + allowances. And there should be lots of jobs in THAT pay range!

Ed_The_Gypsy 11-16-2011 07:43 PM

Sounds like beach time comin'.

Nords 11-18-2011 09:23 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Parr0thead98 (Post 1131420)
Finance: yes, I believe we can just live off my pension, but I printed out my last 6 mos of bank transactions to total it up for sure. I feel we can easily do it if I pause the $4,500 svgs/mo until I decide what I want to do next. And, honestly, that spending/expenses estimate also includes some pretty sweet vacations ea year. So, I want to analyze my "needs" expenses and separate them from the last several months of "wants" expenses.
I realized that we are very comfortable living the lifestyle we have and maybe I should just focus on a bridge career that just make up the difference between my retired pay and my active duty pay + allowances. And there should be lots of jobs in THAT pay range!

Welcome to the board, PH!

Once you get a handle on your expenses vs retirement income, you have choices on how you want to make up the difference... by working for pay or by cutting your spending. I doubt you'll find it worth hanging around for the 26 YOS pay raise, and the assignment officer might come up with an ugly one.

I should point out that when you get to terminal leave the job offers will start coming from old battle buddies (whether you're seeking a job or not). And six months after you retire, another round of civil-service job offers will start rolling in. Usually the implicit assumption in their offers is that they're doing you a favor-- they figure you're spending more than your pension and you're bored out of your skull. You could no doubt negotiate something part-time or temporary and decide if you really want to do that.

But you might find that you're perfectly happy living with in your pension!

lhamo 11-18-2011 09:43 PM

If there is a cause or an issue that you are particularly passionate about, you might consider going the non-profit management route. Salaries aren't high, but the work can be meaningful, interesting, and not too onorous if you are in a solid and functional organization. Maybe something related to veterans or military families? Just a thought of another option to explore if you aren't ready to fully retire yet. I work in the non-profit sector and while I have had my personal ups and downs for the most part I have found it to be a good place to be professionally.

lhamo

Parr0thead98 11-19-2011 05:20 AM

Thx all. Glad to be on board! Have ETAPS seminar in 3 weeks and started working on my first-ever resume yesterday since that's part of the seminar. Thx for your thoughts, Nords...reading your book right now :-)

utrecht 11-19-2011 06:15 AM

A PowerPoint presentation for the wifey? Mine would never let me live that down.

Parr0thead98 11-21-2011 05:45 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by utrecht (Post 1132293)
A PowerPoint presentation for the wifey? Mine would never let me live that down.

She actually loved it! She liked how she could read at her pace, compare the 3 options I laid out...was pretty humorous, I must admit :-)

OK, I'm getting a bit paranoid...I'm wondering if I'm getting some "signs" sent my way or if I'm just reading into daily things because I'm so focused on whether or not I should retire in 19 mos. I think these events have always been going around me, it's just now I've opened my eyes to see them!

This weekend, I ran into one of my former Sr NCOs who I retired back in June. He was running his wife's booth at a craft show this weekend and loving it! He said," Sir, you gotta try this retirement thing out, it's awesome."

Then, no religious statements intended here, but at church yesterday, I usually read the bible during mass as I find Catholic mass a little on the drier side. I flip open the good book at random...right to Ecclesiasties. This section talks about how life is short, so enjoy it as your time on earth is "useless" and the world will continue to go on without you when you pass. Wow!

Then last night while saying our dinner prayers, my son says," and thanks for letting Dad be around to enjoy time together." OK, somebody hand me a tissue after that one!

Spent yesterday watching my Bengals lose a close game (but I am impressed with how well they played) and researching schools/real estate in the area we would retire. I am surprised at the # of short sales avail in some of the "rich neighborhoods"...looks like the Joneses had trouble keeping up!

Nords 11-21-2011 01:41 PM

1 Attachment(s)
Quote:

Originally Posted by Parr0thead98 (Post 1132832)
This weekend, I ran into one of my former Sr NCOs who I retired back in June. He was running his wife's booth at a craft show this weekend and loving it! He said," Sir, you gotta try this retirement thing out, it's awesome."

This is how it works in the Marine Corps:

friar1610 11-25-2011 01:54 PM

I was in the OP's situation in the early 90's. I was finishing a command tour in New England (where I wanted to retire) and was planning to retire from there and remain in NE. The only problem was that there was a big recession which was hitting NE particularly hard. I got to thinking: why would anyone want to hire me without any private sector experience when there are all these guys my age who have had as much private sector experience as I have had in the Navy? So I opted for "one more tour" and went to the greater DC area for a job in a Defense Agency where I had both staff and line responsibilities and which was really a very good and enjoyable job for me for the first two years. The third year wasn't as good as things had changed organizationally. So one day after I had been to a particularly bad meeting, I walked over to the Navy admin office and put in my retirement papers. (This wasn't as abrupt as it sounds as I had been thinking of retiring for a while and had been saving like crazy so I could when I wanted.)

What I really wanted for a "second career" job was something that was unrelated to the military but which would use my experience which, I suspect, is roughly similar to yours. I felt that if I could get a job that would pay me enough to make that salary plus my military retirement pay equal to what I was making as an O-6, I would be happy. I was not successful in finding such a job although and ended up, as many in my situation did, working for Beltway Bandits. The pay was pretty good but I never did really enjoy the work that much. I managed to save/invest quite a bit during those 6 years between Navy retirement and early retirement (at 58) and that, plus the pension, has made retirement quite pleasant.

Here are my major takeaways from my experience:
- If you do opt for a second career, particularly if you go for the big bucks, try to keep your lifestyle as it was as an O-6 and save the rest. I’ve seen lots of my contemporaries with the O-6 pension take high paying jobs with BB’s and then go out and buy the McMansion, (after all, the wife “deserves” the dream home/kitchen after all those years of base housing) the BMW and the second home on the Outer Banks. Then they’re trapped into staying with the BB indefinitely.
- I was surprised how far just my Navy pension went. (I had planned to take 90 days off between Navy retirement and getting a job; it turned into about 110 days, so I had a chance to see what it was like living on just the pension and it wasn’t that tough.
- If you decide you want to retire for good early, bite the bullet and take the BB job for as long as you can stand it and rack up all the savings you can. If you decide you want a true second career, work really hard at finding something you will want to get up and do every day because you’ll be doing it for more than just the bucks. (And, who knows, you might start with a BB and decide you really like it and then you’ll have a good salary plus and enjoyable job.)
- Volunteer work is a good way to split the difference between working and being retired (albeit you don’t get paid.) When I retired for good, I spent 2 years “working” 2 days per week, 6 hours per day doing adult literacy tutoring. I really enjoyed it, found it rewarding and it was just enough to keep me interested but not overtaxed. (I’ve since moved to a new area and haven’t been as successful in finding satisfying

Best wishes to you in whatever way you decide to go.

Parr0thead98 11-27-2011 06:43 AM

Friar: Thanks for the very useful words, and sharing your experience! If I had to guess right now, your recommendation about working for a BB for a few years is probably the route we'd take today. As you said, sock away the $$ for those few years.

Nords: in our house over Thanksgiving, we've been discussing parts of your book, pgs 118-120, about rediscovering who you are, and esp the changing dynamics in a family. My wife and I have been discussing me retiring in 19 more mos and how I would want to take on more of the household responsibilities as that would only be fair. I've been doing laundry and dishes most of this 4-day break and she commented, "boy, if this is what retirement's going to be like, I'm ready for you to retire now!" (see, my Jedi mind trick is powerful, lol).

On the laundry front, I used to joke w/ people that every 2-3 years, I'll throw a new red towel in w/ a load of whites just to remind the wife that I don't do laundry! Now I'm Mr Fluff-n-Fold!

Wife and I have been discussing my wanting to retire w/ our school age kids. We've also been spending a ton of time online looking at schools and nearby real estate until our eyes got blurry!

Since my last post, I've been running #'s and gave her "our" threshold on house price to stay within our means and not have the mortgage eat up a huge chunk of the retirement check. I explained to her my view that we were mitigating our risks of being out of work in our new location because we could cut back but still have a roof over our head and food on the table w/ just my pension.

Friar, your advice is right on point for us. A few years ago, we bought a small lot in a gated/24-hr-guarded golf community w/ homes from $450K - $8M...the McMansion w/ the large order of fries too! We thought that's what we wanted, but realize that I'd have to get the big $$ job w/ the associated hours and travel...no real change, in other words. Now, we realize that we just need a reasonable house near the right schools for our kids w/ room for half the neighborhood kids to play at our house :-)

Yesterday, while going out for the Christmas tree...which, by the way, a poor way to figure out just how high your base housing ceilings are would be to buy the biggest tree you find and declare "oh sure it will fit, we have high ceilings." My daughter is concerned there's no room for the star on top and what Christmas tree doesn"t have a star? I'll be on the ladder this morning, trimming the top down enough to fit a star....Any-hoo, while tree shopping, the wife and I were actually discussing a timeline for how this would work, going on terminal leave in 2013, using our 10-days permissive TDY over that Spring Break to go house hunting vs our usual big vacation, and putting in an offer on a house w/ the closing being right around the time my terminal leave would start.

I mentioned to her yesterday, the thought of retiring in 19 mos doesn't scare me as much as it did just a couple of months ago...I think we could actually do this! It's been the ordering/reading of a couple of books, actually sitting down and running #'s on expenses and projected expenses, and then just talking about it as a team. I'm feeling pretty excited vs scared now. Thx to the folks on this board and esp Nord's blod & book, I realize that folks have been doing this for years, but you just don't find a lot of info in your library or on TV.

OK, sun's coming over the trees now, taking a my coffe outside to go enjoy it...this time of year, still dark when I go to work....

target2019 11-27-2011 07:17 AM

Un-employment is high, and that will affect you in trying out with the large bandits. I toil in one, and the downsizing pressure is enormous. But...consider what happens in this environment. The opportunity for small business is rising. The large bandits give way to the small bandits. For instance, I am billed to the gov't at $150/hr. My pay + benefits is less than $50/hour. When the gov't wakes up, the services contract for my talent will go to the small business services firm for $100/hr or less. I will get slightly more pay, but less benefits in that scenario.

With your pension and medical coverage, you can afford to take off a year, but start looking at the short term (1-3 months) contracting jobs out there. You can easily find one if you are near a base. If you have MBA, then you can call shots.

JDARNELL 11-27-2011 08:47 AM

If you are retiring you will get 20 days PTDY. I used these in conjunction with 103 days of terminal leave for a nice long break. I bit the bullet and returned as a GS worker while my marketability was still good. Its all about networking and people you have worked with knowing your capabilities. I am hoping for the RIF so I can leave due to the "system" and not hose my co workers as I have known for many years. Any how, Entire check is going to pay off the house. So if I am able to stay I have a 5, 7, 10 yr plan centered around vesting, vesting plus 2 yrs building cash, 10 yrs in order to be able to draw FERS early if needed.

JDARNELL

Nords 11-27-2011 10:32 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Parr0thead98 (Post 1134682)
I mentioned to her yesterday, the thought of retiring in 19 mos doesn't scare me as much as it did just a couple of months ago...I think we could actually do this! It's been the ordering/reading of a couple of books, actually sitting down and running #'s on expenses and projected expenses, and then just talking about it as a team. I'm feeling pretty excited vs scared now. Thx to the folks on this board and esp Nord's blod & book, I realize that folks have been doing this for years, but you just don't find a lot of info in your library or on TV.

You can do this. As we're occasionally reminded by others on this board, the COLA pension and Tricare have dumbed down the process quite a bit. Considering all the other things you've encountered during a military career, this is a speed bump... but this time you're the driver.

Please keep us posted, and let me know if you want to share your story on the blog or in the book! The blog also lists a ton of websites for your spouse (some of which she may already be familiar with) to help everyone through this transition.

To add to JDarnell's employment comments, you should let your contact network know your relocation plans. If you're firm about ending up in a specific location then they'll tailor their (unsolicited) job offers to that area. If you're open to suggestions then let them know that too, and they'll pelt you with even more unsolicited job offers. No need to be coy. And once you get settled in your new location and meet more people, the job offers will continue to roll in from unexpected directions. Despite what your supervisors have written in your OERs, military veterans really do have skills that businesses are seeking. After nine years I'm still getting queries from employers who apparently don't surf.

I should add that no matter how supportive your kids are of your retirement, it's still a bad idea to drive by the school bus stop with your longboard strapped to the roof rack. I don't want to get into how I learned that.

Leonidas 11-27-2011 11:13 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Nords (Post 1134763)
I should add that no matter how supportive your kids are of your retirement, it's still a bad idea to drive by the school bus stop with your longboard strapped to the roof rack. I don't want to get into how I learned that.

Yep, I heard former Sec of Labor Richard Reich talking about how he retired from the government to spend more time with his teenage sons. He learned that just because you suddenly have a lot of free time to spend with your kids does not mean that they want to fill their free time with dad.

The fact that the money all came together at one moment was the spark behind my decision to go for early retirement, but ninety percent of the motivation for retiring was to make up for all the time I was off making the world a safer place while my wife and kids did their own thing. You have to be careful about throwing too much change in their lives just because you threw off your chains.


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