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Hello from a distance
Old 02-03-2010, 10:31 PM   #1
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Hello from a distance


I am 48 years old male living in Singapore. It’s a long way away from the typical post and I hope that my posting is still relevant. I am close to making a big leap into FIRE and would like to seek confirmation that I am fine to go

DW and I have 3 children (a boy at 17 and twins at 5). I am suffering from burned-out and I am fast losing interest in my job (used to be an aggressive corporate climber). I have been taking more time from work for trips with family and friends. Just return from a one-week trip from Bangkok with wife. Just great…. The downside is coming back to work.


I have grouped my assets in several buckets
1. Basic retirement fund (US$2.35 million) – I plan to draw 4% per year (US$95k/yr) from this account for my retirement spending budget. I have been tracking my expenses for the past 2 years and it was US$72k in 2008 and US$80k in 2009. For 2009, it includes US$11k for holidays. I plan to do more travel once FIRE and expect higher expense. But there isn’t a lot of headroom for the additional expenses. OTOH, I can reduce my basic spending down say 20% quite easily. There will be some taxes to pay as well. I can structured a tax efficient investment and will pay very little tax (say $5k)
2. Schooling fund (US$430k) – college is not expensive in Singapore and they are of pretty high standards. Other alternative is to send them to either UK, Australia or USA which will take more than the US$145k per child. On average, it is probably more than sufficient.
3. Gratuity and Retirement fund (total US$460k) – I have a gratuity fund from my previous megacorp as well as retirement fund (run by government of Singapore). I can access to these funds when I am 58 and 65 years old respectively. I see these funds as very secure and they would be used to top-up my basic retirement fund, if and when they run low.
4. Primary house – I paid about US$1.15 million and it is probably worth about 20% more today.
5. Investment apartment – paid US$500k for it and it also worth about 25% more today. Net rental is about US$15k/yr, which I do not plan to touch for now. We would like to pass them as part of our estate when we move to a better place but I am not against monetizing them if needed.
6. Debt – Absolutely ZERO. I do not believe in accumulating debts and have always LBYM.
7. Oh yes, I have 2 small money pots as well; a fun pot ($35k) which I set aside for..."fun spending". I intend to add to this pot any surplus that I have left over from my basic retirement budget at the end of each year. I have another pot for house maintenance (currently has $17k and I add $220 each month, which I treat as a on-going expense). House is pretty new but I know some expensive work is needed sometime in the future.

Other considerations

1. The work stress is getting to me and I noticed my bp has been creeping up in recent years (now about 150/100 without medication). I manage to exercise about twice a week and I would like to do more exercise but lack the time. Job also requires traveling and late night telecon.
2. I am getting good remuneration in my current job (total US$400k in 2009 plus another 50 to 100k in shares that is locked up for 3 years). I joined my current megacorp a few years ago and I am doing fine here, which make it difficult to leave. I have been given new responsibilities recently and been acknowledged for good performance.
3. Medical care is relatively inexpensive here. My 2009 expenses include some increased medical spending (did all the necessary treatment before FIRE!). Although they are covered by megacorp, I have included their full cost in my 2009 expenses. I also bought health insurances for all my family members, which covers major illness and medical treatment.
4. I develop several hobbies in the past few years partly in anticipation of my FIRE, which include fishing, travels with family s as well as with friends, reading, gardening, biking etc. I am also into investing my own money and have been doing it for many years now.
5. It has been my dream to retire early. I remember setting a target of retirement by 45 years old when I started my career. So I am sort of behind my target now. Having the twins somewhat makes it more difficult to retire by 45 but I would not have it any other ways. The twins are great and the thoughts that I can spend more time with them now really make me want to retire today!

The next step – my megacorp is restructuring now. Although I am have re-confirm in my current job, a few of my colleagues are not so lucky. I am thinking of not accepting the role and just leave (I am not entitle to severance as I do not have the sufficient length of service). I need to decide very soon. If I reject the offer, I can leave in May as I need to serve 3 months notice. My 2009 bonus is only paid out in March and technically I could lose it if I quit before then. My original plan is to quit in March but I feel bad about accepting the job now and then quit one month later.

1. Am I good to go?
2. Are there any things that I need to consider? Have I left out any thing else?
3. Should I work for another 1 or more years to build bigger buffers for my additional expense expected in RE.
4. If I am good to go, do I tell megacorp now and wait till March when my bonus is in?

I have been planning this for years. DW is supportive. As I am so close to FIRE, I am having some cold feet

Thanks for reading this long post and any help you can offer.
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Old 02-04-2010, 08:33 AM   #2
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melion, you sound good to go to me. You've monitored your expenses, developed a generous budget that has room for cutting if needed, have backup assets, covered healthcare and have a list of interests in retirement. I think you're better prepared, and in better financial shape, that most new retirees. I can't think of anything you've missed and I don't see a need to work three more years.

I'd wait for the bonus. You call it your 2009 bonus, which I take to mean you've earned it. If the rules require you to stick until March to get it, I'd do that. You didn't design the system, and you're not taking advantage of your employer.

"Comprehensive health insurance is an idea whose time has come in America." President Richard M. Nixon, February 6, 1974
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Old 02-04-2010, 08:52 AM   #3
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I had a boss that accepted a position after a merger. He left one month after accepting. No one higher up thought twice about it, they just passed the job to the individual that held the position in the other merging company. It did, however, have an effect on his subordinates. None of them survived the merger.
If it is after 5:00 when I post I reserve the right to disavow anything I posted.
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Old 02-04-2010, 10:07 AM   #4
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melion, welcome to the board.

I agree with others, I would say nothing and ensure you get that bonus. It may not be true to your ethics and I can understand the logic of your thoughts, however it is related to your performance in 2009 and you have earned it.

Financially, you seem to have your ducks in a row and you seem pretty well rounded as you have developed you hobbies. I think given your health concerns and the depth of planning you are right to call it quits.

I be a girl, he's a boy. Think I maybe FIRED since July 08. Mid 40s, no kidlets. Actually am totally clueless as to what is going on with DH.
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Old 02-04-2010, 10:37 AM   #5
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Welcome, melion.

I, too, considered an expected lump sum in my planning and I gave notice the day after I qualified for that year's benefit. Since you say you have cold feet, maybe waiting until March won't be difficult. When I was planning to leave, I needed some time to adjust to the idea that my plans would work. Keep us posted.
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Old 02-04-2010, 10:56 AM   #6
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You have earned it and you can easily play by the rules to get it.
Not taking it would look to me like making a donation to a huge corporation.

I would accept the offer, see how the next months go and if my interest in the job is not increased and the desire for ER is still alive after 2-3 months I would resign happy as a clam.

There are several threads here on financing the education of kids (incl. benefits of having the kid co-finance) and on having young kids while being ER. Have you already checked these out?

All the best to you and your family.
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Old 02-04-2010, 10:59 AM   #7
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Remember that your corporation is doing what is best for the corporation (and rightfully so); do the same for yourself.

And welcome to the boards!
“Would you like an adventure now, or would you like to have your tea first?” J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan
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Old 02-04-2010, 10:25 PM   #8
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Thanks for all your replies.

Having worked the numbers so many times on my own, there was a lingering doubt that I had missed something. It is reassuring to know that I am good-to-go.

Chris2008 – I have read all the postings that you mentioned. I do worry about not providing enough for my children if I will to RE. But I am really looking forward to spend more time with them.

Rustic – your are probably correct that they will not miss me much.

Yes, the bonus is for my 2009 performance and I have earned it. Although I do not feel good about it, I have just accepted the job to ensure my bonus is paid. For now, I have to sit tight and wait till March. It will be a looooong wait….
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Old 02-04-2010, 10:51 PM   #9
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I think you have it covered. Singapore's low tax rate and inexpensive health system make it a no brainer to me.

Are you a native Singaporian? (by the way I was just there this week)
Money's just something you need in case you don't die tomorrow.
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Old 02-05-2010, 04:11 PM   #10
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1. I think you're "fine to go". A 4% withdrawal rate doesn't seem excessive, and you have other assets that you can tap if need be. In the last resort, you can downsize your lifestyle a bit without feeling too much deprivation.

2. No, it sounds like you have done a good job of tracking your current expenses, anticipating future expenses, diversifying your passive income streams, and working out how you will spend your post-retirement time. That's about all anyone can reasonably do.

3. There is no right or wrong answer to this question, which is very common (see You will have to make your own decision.

However, as you are burned out, have lost interest in your job, suffer from stress, and lack the time to exercise sufficiently, I would vote to go this year. You can afford it financially, and putting it off may result in significant damage to your physical and mental health.

4. Notwithstanding 3, if your bonus will be a significant amount you might as well wait until March before giving the glad tidings to megacorp: that's only another 4-6 weeks, and the extra cash may help you with your "cold feet".

I note your comments about your unlucky colleagues. It is too bad about them, but presumably you were not responsible for their terminations and 'survivor's guilt' should not guide your actions. In any event, it is not as if your rejecting the offer of continued employment will make megacorp re-think the termination decisions ... it might seem like a dramatic statement to you, but no one is irreplaceable and large companies are expert at ignoring personnel developments like that.

P.S. Welcome to the forum!
"To know what you prefer, instead of humbly saying Amen to what the world tells you you ought to prefer, is to have kept your soul alive". Robert Louis Stevenson, An Inland Voyage (1878)
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Old 02-05-2010, 11:40 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Maurice View Post
I think you have it covered. Singapore's low tax rate and inexpensive health system make it a no brainer to me.

Are you a native Singaporian? (by the way I was just there this week)
Yes I am a native Singaporean but had lived in various countries for many years. I relocated back to Singapore a few years ago.

Thanks for all the other replies and I am grateful for your re-assurances.
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Old 03-13-2010, 10:19 PM   #12
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I am in!

I have finally handed in my letter! It did create a bit of fuss around the organisation which led to several meetings with very senior people in the megaorp. They made me an offer to stay on but I decided to reject it and stick to my RE plan.

Although I have been planing for this moment for a long time, my feeling is not somewhat different from what I had envisioned. I have a mixed bag of emotion;
- Yes, I am guilty of grinning a lot in the office and sometime in very inappropriate moment! And yes, my mind is constantly wandering and keeping my concentration (on work) is hard....
- Between my notice of resignation to megacorp and the last of the meetings with the senior management, the time was pretty stressful. Once that it was all finalised, there is a sense of calm. It is like deep inside me, I know that there is a right path for me.
- I have also a sense of excitement. The feeling I used to have, when I was young before going for a major holiday. I know the future will not be all fun and part of the excitement is because of the possible downside and the unknown.

Unfortunately I still have to serve my 3 months notice period. I have a few loose ends to tidy up and I am keen to put in my best effort help manage the important items during my remaining days. I owe it to the people in my team to do it. However if someone want to push magacorp bullshxt to me, it will be a different matter The positive news is that I will have a few more months to make the final prep to FIRE while still getting a paycheck.

Thanks for everyone for reading my post and especially to all of you who had given me advices. They were useful and I really appreciate all of them.
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Old 03-14-2010, 05:00 AM   #13
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Congrats Melion! I was just in Singapore this week with DW...took her to see the "Merlion" in your avatar.

Find Joy in the Journey...
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