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Old 12-02-2016, 03:17 PM   #1
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Hi thinking about it..

I am a 46 year old single lady in the very expensive state of Massachusetts. For most of my last 14 years with the Federal Government that I work for I had an abusive boss. When he left I thought things would be better and, in a lot of ways they are, but I realized to my horror... I HATE the job. I hate working with the same people... doing the same things and there aren't too many opportunities for change.

Also, last year, a co worker who had been put through so much while she was working there, reached 57, when she was going to retire and it all would have been worth it... and was diagnosed with Cancer in August and died in September. She never got her retirement. I don't want that to happen to me.

So I decided to consider retiring at the earliest opportunity no matter what. I believe this is at age 55 under early out allowance.

At this point I would expect to get 55 to 67 (67 is when I would take social security)
- 1900 per month FERS
- 1200 per month TSP
I also expect to have about 200,000 saved which I will use to draw from and also use the return as additional income.

- I also plan on working during this time 55 to 67 but in a part time or own company capacity.

- My expenses I believe will be about 2500 per month to 3000 per month. This includes a small mortgage payment $300 / taxes / condo fee .. and the other costs of daily living. I have no debt but the mortgage which I expect to be small when I retire.

- In addition I am considering moving to North Carolina (much less cost of living) but feel I should plan for staying here.

Am I was under estimating the costs to live? Right now I would say I spend about 3000 to 3500 per month on expenses and SOOO much of that is directly due to having to work.

Is this doable?
Thanks Sara
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Old 12-02-2016, 03:39 PM   #2
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Hi- Sara- welcome! 9 more years in a job you hate sounds horrific. Any chance of getting another federal job and finishing out your years somewhere else?
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Old 12-02-2016, 03:45 PM   #3
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Hi- Sara- welcome! 9 more years in a job you hate sounds horrific. Any chance of getting another federal job and finishing out your years somewhere else?
It is excessively unlikely. I am now in a job for 12 + years. That is my skill set. Not to mention there isn't anyplace within the workplace to go. Most of my workplace is the same job I am in. My new boss is a good and kind guy... but I am bored and annoyed by the same old problems. Not to mention the horrible public transportation.
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Old 12-02-2016, 03:53 PM   #4
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I know exactly what you mean- I am tired to death of my job, only my workplace is getting worse instead of better. I am having a hard time deciding whether I have burnout for my job or if I just completely want to retire. I would consider looking for other federal jobs- perhaps in North Carolina where you want to end up eventually anyway, even if they don't exactly match up with your skill set. I just hired a guy with a background in the steel industry to work for my company in finance. A good employee is a good employee.
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Old 12-02-2016, 04:03 PM   #5
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I know exactly what you mean- I am tired to death of my job, only my workplace is getting worse instead of better. I am having a hard time deciding whether I have burnout for my job or if I just completely want to retire.
I believe I have burnout for my job but being a Federal Employee I have to stay with the Feds until I retire of lose it. Once I "retire" I get the benefits but can work someplace else.

I have found nothing but doors slammed in my face in the Federal Government. It is really a bizarre place. They really don't want to have the best person in the job. They don't seem to like talent and usually the best jobs are reserved for their favorites.

Also, if I moved to NC before retirement my pension would take a hit as it is determined by my highest salaries which presumably will be based on Massachusetts rates right before I retire.
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Old 12-02-2016, 04:17 PM   #6
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Ugh. My sympathies for your situation- it sounds awful and completely foreign to anything I know. You seem to have thought it through and your plan sounds good. Will you still be able to get health insurance through the Fed after retirement or will you have to buy your own?
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Old 12-02-2016, 04:21 PM   #7
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Ugh. My sympathies for your situation- it sounds awful and completely foreign to anything I know. You seem to have thought it through and your plan sounds good. Will you still be able to get health insurance through the Fed after retirement or will you have to buy your own?

Yes. The thing is, for me, retirement locks in so many benefits. So once I retire I will get my pension - locked in until I die (though less the earlier I retire) and get my TSP (like 401K). Plus if you get "early out" authority they will also pay you money like 20 K to get you to leave early.

Does 2500 seem like a sane number for expenses for a single person?
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Old 12-02-2016, 04:27 PM   #8
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Welcome to the forum, and I can relate about the difficulty of finding a new federal job. DW had a federal job and when we moved to WV when I retired we both thought it would be easy for her to get a new job here (lots of federal agencies nearby because of Senator Robert Byrd). She always had outstanding evaluations, outstanding service awards every year and all that. Not to be, she applied at numerous places and was interviewed but never hired. I guess they just went though the required process and picked whoever they had already decided on.

In the end it worked out fine, the extra money would have been nice of course but we didn't really need it. And when her father needed a lot of help in his later years she was glad to not have a job.

Keep applying for anything that you think might be a good fit for you. You really don't know what they decision-makers are looking for so there is an element of a crap shoot in it. If you get ten "no" and one "yes" you won.
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Old 12-02-2016, 04:30 PM   #9
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There is an active thread about this (living expenses) right now under FIRE AND MONEY- What are your numbers or something like that. Pay special attention to W2R's response- she is a federal retiree i think. $2500 would be enough for me. My family of 4 lives on less than 4k/month (excluding taxes which should go down when I retire), but we live in a low cost area. You probably couldn't do it in MA, but could in NC. Check out the blogs Root of Good (they live in NC) and Mr Money Mustache for living happily on less
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Old 12-02-2016, 05:54 PM   #10
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You should just start tracking your expenses now, using something like Mint.com or just by hand in a spreadsheet. Build up a couple years worth of data, then you'll know how much it costs to live. You can even categorize which expenses will go away after you quit working.

Make sure to factor in health care, I don't know if your job gives retiree health care.
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Old 12-02-2016, 06:01 PM   #11
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Make sure to factor in health care, I don't know if your job gives retiree health care.
It does.

I have already done that and I seem to spend about 500 to 700 per month on working. This includes dry cleaning, expensive food out because am working, parking costs, new clothing, hair maintenance. I expect I could live on 2500 per month even here in MA.

But what I worry abut is the "unexpected" that I don't see as a necessary now but will turn out to be. What am I not doing now that I would need to pay for them.
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Old 12-02-2016, 07:10 PM   #12
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It does.

I have already done that and I seem to spend about 500 to 700 per month on working. This includes dry cleaning, expensive food out because am working, parking costs, new clothing, hair maintenance. I expect I could live on 2500 per month even here in MA.

But what I worry abut is the "unexpected" that I don't see as a necessary now but will turn out to be. What am I not doing now that I would need to pay for them.
Do you really spend $500-700/month now ?! I find it unbelievable especially in MA.
If the Fed will cover your health insurance, you are already in a great position. But what about Medicare? Will you need to buy it yourself or will you be able to stay on the Fed medical insurance?

Our neighbors are transplants from Boston, but I haven't had a chance to discuss their actual expenses before retirement and now in retirement (they're in their 70's now). If you hate horrible transport, then I have to tell that public infrastructure is not super in Charlotte, but it seems it's getting worse with on the roads...very congested and slow on I-77 in the mornings from 7am until 10am and then from 3pm till 7pm or so. Our neighbors are not thrilled and attempt to schedule all their appointments and do shopping between 10am to 2pm. I've heard the same from a few more retired people and totally agree. I wish I could do that but I'm chained to my desk, ech...
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Old 12-02-2016, 07:50 PM   #13
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Do you really spend $500-700/month now ?! I find it unbelievable especially in MA.
If the Fed will cover your health insurance, you are already in a great position. But what about Medicare? Will you need to buy it yourself or will you be able to stay on the Fed medical insurance?
No I think you read my post wrong. I was saying I spend a lot of money due to working. So if I retired presumably I would have lower cost of living.

Now I spend about 3400 per month and if I stopped working i bet I could make it comfortably on 2600 per month. So I would SAVE about 800 by not working.

The feds do cover the majority of my premium. What I pay now I would pay then. So like 20%. From 55 to whenever I am eligible for medicare I will have full private company health care just like I was working (I have blue cross blue shield). But when I become eligible for medicare it will become my primary insurance and blue cross will be the secondary.

Right now I take a train into boston and it is horrific. It is always late -causing my commute to be 2 hours or longer; plus I am always packed in like a sardine. If it is cold out, no heat, if it is hot out no a/c. And it just never changes.
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Old 12-02-2016, 08:09 PM   #14
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I am a 46 year old single lady in the very expensive state of Massachusetts. For most of my last 14 years with the Federal Government that I work for I had an abusive boss. When he left I thought things would be better and, in a lot of ways they are, but I realized to my horror... I HATE the job. I hate working with the same people... doing the same things and there aren't too many opportunities for change.

Also, last year, a co worker who had been put through so much while she was working there, reached 57, when she was going to retire and it all would have been worth it... and was diagnosed with Cancer in August and died in September. She never got her retirement. I don't want that to happen to me.

So I decided to consider retiring at the earliest opportunity no matter what. I believe this is at age 55 under early out allowance.

At this point I would expect to get 55 to 67 (67 is when I would take social security)
- 1900 per month FERS
- 1200 per month TSP
I also expect to have about 200,000 saved which I will use to draw from and also use the return as additional income.

- I also plan on working during this time 55 to 67 but in a part time or own company capacity.

- My expenses I believe will be about 2500 per month to 3000 per month. This includes a small mortgage payment $300 / taxes / condo fee .. and the other costs of daily living. I have no debt but the mortgage which I expect to be small when I retire.

- In addition I am considering moving to North Carolina (much less cost of living) but feel I should plan for staying here.

Am I was under estimating the costs to live? Right now I would say I spend about 3000 to 3500 per month on expenses and SOOO much of that is directly due to having to work.

Is this doable?
Thanks Sara
I'm assuming that you are under FERS based on your age but I'm not clear which "early retirement" is being discussed. If you are referring to the Minimum Retirement Age (MRA) + 10, you will have to be the MRA and have at least 10 years of service. Your MRA is age 57 if you were born 1969 or later. To get the pension at age 57, you would forfeit 5% for each year under age 62 (e.g., forfeit 25% of your pension) and you would lose your federal health insurance (FEHB). Alternately you can resign at age 57 but postpone your pension until age 60 and then resume both the pension and FEHB. This would be a 3 year gap from 57 to 60 where you would have to work to supplement any TSP withdrawals and find alternate health insurance.

But I think you may be referring to the Voluntary Early Retirement Authority (VERA) where your agency is downsizing or reorganizing and receives VERA from OPM, since you talk about a $20K buyout. This is a sweeter deal. You can retire at age 50 with 20 years of service (age 52 in your case) with no penalty or loss of FEHB and you can also get the FERS Special Supplement starting at MRA until age 62 (assuming it is still around in 6 years as it is often on the legislative chopping block). The supplement is similar to an early social security and subject to reduction based on any earnings. But to receive a VERA, you have to apply and your agency has to approve it and may only approve for jobs that are to be eliminated. My agency had several years of VERAs but it was not easy to get these approved unless they wanted to get rid of you or were trying to reward a favored employee (usually a manager). So unless your agency is different, I would not get my hopes up too much.

Also the special supplement is not available for the MRA + 10 (it may be available at age 60 for the postponed retirement - I'm not positive on this).

All of this is explained in the federal government retirement planning courses. I would try to sign up for one of these even if retirement is several years away as it will help you understand your options and plan accordingly. One of the things that they tell you in these courses is that the option to carry FEHB over into retirement is GOLD so best not to lose your FEHB if at all possible.

Good luck!
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Old 12-02-2016, 10:04 PM   #15
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But what I worry abut is the "unexpected" that I don't see as a necessary now but will turn out to be. What am I not doing now that I would need to pay for them.
I share exactly the same concern.

The friendly moderators on this board will send you links to helpful threads with FAQs, as well as the FIREcalc program which is useful for figuring the income side of the equation. You can get a reliable calculation of how much money you'll have available.

But the expense side presents more unknowns. A good starting point is to track your current living costs. A full year is minimum, three is better. You should be able to determine your baseline expenditures (housing, food, insurance, etc.).

There also will be nonrecurring costs like replacing cars/roofs/appliances, although you can handle these with reasonable guesses about their magnitude & frequency and spread them over your estimated length of retirement.

Don't forget that Uncle Sam wants a piece of your action. Your taxes will likely be lower in retirement, but don't count on them being zero.

Now comes the uncertainty. Once you FIRE you'll have time for those bucket list activities which elude us during our w*rking years. Climbing Aconcagua or running with the bulls in Pamplona aren't free. This area is a giant question mark for me as I approach retirement. My DW is looking forward to exploring a lot of Planet Earth when we RE. For myself, I can envision a wide range of potentially pricey hobbies. Realistically, will we take every trip, or buy every toy? Of course not. But when the question comes up, I don't want the answer to be always "no, we can't afford it".

My strategy, and I'm not entirely sure it's the right one, is to calculate our predictable living costs and then add an entirely arbitrary contingency factor of 50% on top. So if I thought I'd need 3000 per month, I'd make sure I have 4500.

Whatever you decide, welcome to the forum. I look forward to following your progress on these pages.
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Old 12-02-2016, 11:20 PM   #16
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One bright spot is that MA doesn't tax federal pensions.



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Old 12-03-2016, 07:05 AM   #17
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I think you may be referring to the Voluntary Early Retirement Authority (VERA) where your agency is downsizing or reorganizing and receives VERA from OPM, since you talk about a $20K buyout. This is a sweeter deal. You can retire at age 50 with 20 years of service (age 52 in your case) with no penalty or loss of FEHB and you can also get the FERS Special Supplement starting at MRA until age 62 (assuming it is still around in 6 years as it is often on the legislative chopping block). The supplement is similar to an early social security and subject to reduction based on any earnings. But to receive a VERA, you have to apply and your agency has to approve it and may only approve for jobs that are to be eliminated. My agency had several years of VERAs but it was not easy to get these approved unless they wanted to get rid of you or were trying to reward a favored employee (usually a manager). So unless your agency is different, I would not get my hopes up too much.
That is what I was hoping for. I am not sure how this works but this early retirement has been doing on in my place forever and with Trump coming in (who said he would try to encourage retirement) I think it might stick around. So far it seems a lot of people leave every year.

I did not know that the MMRA doesn't give you FHB. Thanks for that. Bummer but... If I stay until 60, I think my best window, I likely will have more saved.
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Old 12-03-2016, 07:13 AM   #18
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I'm assuming that you are under FERS based on your age but I'm not clear which "early retirement" is being discussed. If you are referring to the Minimum Retirement Age (MRA) + 10, you will have to be the MRA and have at least 10 years of service. Your MRA is age 57 if you were born 1969 or later. To get the pension at age 57, you would forfeit 5% for each year under age 62 (e.g., forfeit 25% of your pension) and you would lose your federal health insurance (FEHB). Alternately you can resign at age 57 but postpone your pension until age 60 and then resume both the pension and FEHB.
If she retires at age 57 she will be able to keep her health benefits. From the handbook you are eligible if:
  • you are entitled to retire on an immediate annuity under a retirement system for civilian employees (including FERS MRA + 10 retirements); and
  • you have been continuously enrolled (or covered as a family member) in any FEHB plan(s) for the 5 years of service immediately before the date your annuity starts, or for the full period(s) of service since your first opportunity to enroll (if less than 5 years).
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Old 12-03-2016, 12:37 PM   #19
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If she retires at age 57 she will be able to keep her health benefits. From the handbook you are eligible if:
  • you are entitled to retire on an immediate annuity under a retirement system for civilian employees (including FERS MRA + 10 retirements); and
  • you have been continuously enrolled (or covered as a family member) in any FEHB plan(s) for the 5 years of service immediately before the date your annuity starts, or for the full period(s) of service since your first opportunity to enroll (if less than 5 years).
My bad. The Fedsmith article I was reading was comparing immediate annuity to someone without 10 years but not clear on that point. You are correct. FEHB is available for MRA + 10 whether you take the annuity immediately with penalty or delay with no penalty (but FEHB is also delayed). The VERA is the way to go if you can swing it. Flexibility to retire before MRA and you can get the whole enchilada (annuity, FEHB, supplement at MRA, and a buyout).
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Old 12-03-2016, 01:51 PM   #20
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The friendly moderators on this board will send you links to helpful threads ...
Here ya go, this will help your planning:

http://www.early-retirement.org/foru...ml#post1399715
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