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Howdy 53 and hate my job.
Old 06-07-2011, 04:33 PM   #1
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Howdy 53 and hate my job.

Well, sorry to be so negative right off the bat! I have been exploring this forum for a bit and it seems there are quite a few helpful and knowledgeable folks.

I'm working at a great old company in a dead-end job and I've been here about 25 years. Had a better job after college but was laid off, then sold real estate then went to this job where I had been employed in college.

The pay here is just over 50K and it has great benefits. However the firm is mainly for professionals in a field where I don't have that degree (but I do have a minor in that and worked in this industry in my first job in a more professional capacity). I have no interest in going back to college to earn one of those degrees cherished here.

I wanted to retire early anyway and have been building up to that for many years, very intensely in the past 13 years. The problem is that my boss does not seem to think I am qualified to do anything, won't give me any work but expects me to roam around the company and find some other sort of duties. I have two college degrees and a few of the support staff who have real duties and contribute around here barely got out of high school. I don't know if it's a personality conflict or that he knows something about my personal life or what...anyhow I can't seem to make any headway with him and I've been trying for 4-5 years. He won't give me any assignments then excoriates me at job reviews for not doing anything!

Well, as I said I have built up quite a bit for retirement over the last couple of decades:

I have ten single-family rental properties and all but two are paid off (small mortgage balances on those two). Two of the paid-off rentals are basically non-performing (high taxes and insurance) as I break even - one is worth about $175K and the other about $300K. Selling the second would incur a large tax bill as I have owned it for 30 years almost.

In a good year I can probably clear around $50,000 per year on all these properties.

I have a home which is paid off and the guest house out back is rented and the amount covers my insurance, property taxes and utilities.

I have a small lake cabin on three lots worth around $100K. Needs work.

I have taxable stocks worth around $300K and the dividends pay around $8,500 per year - I would dedicate this towards health insurance.

I have a 401K worth about $425K and a Roth IRA worth about $17K

About $15K in the bank for emergencies.

I am 53, was planning to pull the plug at late 55 in 2014 and hopefully get health insurance at that point (pre-existing condition - HBP and take cholesterol meds).

I don't think I can take too much more of this and I am wondering if you think I can do it now. I have a real estate broker's license and I would probably go back into sales but I don't want to go overboard with that. Would rather dabble as in take new clients every so often as I am extremely knowledgeable about the area where I live and it's popular.

So what are your thoughts good people?

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Old 06-07-2011, 05:30 PM   #2
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The typical response here to that kind of question is to ask what you plan on spending each year. Obviously whether you have enough depends on how much you need/want to spend.

Do you have a spouse? Kids?

Do you get medical insurance through your job? If so, will you go on COBRA? What happens after it runs out?

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Old 06-07-2011, 06:37 PM   #3
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I'm not the typical responder, they will be along shortly.

Two thoughts. One, retiring now will give you a chance to fix up that cabin that needs work. Two, the HBP and Cholesterol problems may just go away once the stress of the job you hate is eliminated.

My suggestion is stop trying to figure out IF you can do it and start figuring out HOW you can do it. Where there's a will...
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Old 06-07-2011, 07:54 PM   #4
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I had a boss tell me once that there are three things that people need in their jobs to be happy; good compensation ( being paid fairly for what you do), chemistry ( getting along with your boss ), and job content. None of those are working for you and it's just a matter of time, especially if you do not like your boss.

There are a lot of questions I could ask to qualify your situation but the gut feel is do it. To clear 59k/yr out of investments one would need a massive portfolio, about 2 mil. Your salary is 50k so it's not like you will have to tone it down.
The critical question, I suppose, is how do you feel about those properties? Is there consistent demand?

In any case, congrats on building a strong net worth on a modest salary.
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Old 06-07-2011, 08:23 PM   #5
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It does not sound like you are happy at the job and you need a change. I was at the same job for 20 years and made good money but I was glad to move on. I think 20 or 25 years at any one job is enough.

Figure out if you want to retire or you just need a change.
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Old 06-07-2011, 08:39 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by WestLake View Post
I don't think I can take too much more of this and I am wondering if you think I can do it now.
So what are your thoughts good people?
Hi Westlake! I'm certainly no expert but I wanted to post some thoughts. First of all.. I am very impressed that you were able to accumulate 10 rental properties and pay off the mortgage on 8 of them as well as pay off your home making a modest 50K/yr! What that tells me is that you are very smart with your money and have obviously done pretty well given your situation. You say that you are now making about 50K annually from all the rental properties. Is this sufficient to live off of? You still have the stocks that you say generate dividends that would cover your healthcare expenses and you still have over 400K in your IRA that you could hopefully leave alone and let grow for the time being. So the ultimate question is.... is 50K/yr enough for you? If you think you might need slightly more, as you pointed out, you can dabble as a RE agent for some side money and if you really don't need to generate a whole lot of income from it.. it'll be relatively stress free and it sounds like you like real estate anyways (i do too BTW). Worst case... you can dip into the 401K from time to time and in about 9 years you'll have SS to help out a bit too!
There are still a lot of pieces missing that play a role. Are you married? Does your spouse have any income? Do you have any kids? If the answer is no to these questions then it gets a whole lot easier to answer yours! Good Luck!
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Old 06-07-2011, 08:55 PM   #7
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I've been at my job for 18+ years and walked in the door with more education (masters) than anyone else in my organization. Unfortunately, like you, it's not in the area where the org focuses. I told my boss early on that I didn't want to be in the same role I had then but guess what... here I am. I can't complain about the pay or bene's but am missing the two other aspects that mexico mentioned... chemistry and content. I'm into my third boss since I've been here and the new one is a micromanager and we will NEVER have any chemistry. I, too, have things lined up to cover my needs, including for work, when I pull the trigger but may wait until Jan 2012 to go. I'd don't know if your post is questioning your mental or financial readiness but it sounds like you're ready on all fronts. For me, even though I'm sick of it, giving up that routine/habit of so long will be hard but I'm working on getting psyched to JUST DO IT!

By the way, is Westlake any indication of where you're located?
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Old 06-07-2011, 09:36 PM   #8
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As others have said, the missing piece is your expenses.

You have considerable assets (10 rentals, your home, a lake cabin, stocks and retirement funds) and limited debt (two small mortgages). You don't mention SS or pensions or whether you have any family.

At the risk of over simplifying, if the expected return on your investments is higher than the aggregate of your expenses (including health care) and a safety margin, then you've got the financial capability to walk.

If it was me, I'd want to do the following:

1. track expenses for a while and adjust for expected changes in retirement

2. have more assets allocated to cash + short term debt securities - I'm aiming for two year's worth - so you have a buffer for those times when your investments don't perform

3. speak to a tax adviser to see if there is anything that can be done to reduce the tax hit on the non-performing properties. Even if there isn't, if you're not making any money out of them, you may still be better off selling and investing the net proceeds elswehere

4. make sure you have plenty of things to do post retirement (fix up the lake house etc) - you need to retire to something

5. if you have a spouse make sure that he/she is fully on board with your plans.

Good luck.
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Old 06-08-2011, 05:31 AM   #9
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Welcome to the forum.
Congrats on dedication to saving for a better tomorrow.
From a risk perspective, you are overinvested in local properties.
If your costs are around $50/year and you are at the end of your rope...
pull the plug. You should be fine. But if not, you still have the option to semi-retire and be a part-time Realtor.
Good luck!
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Old 06-08-2011, 06:42 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by FreeAtLast View Post
Figure out if you want to retire or you just need a change.
I would agree.

I retired from mega-corp after 28+ years, but then again I was a bit older than you (59) and knowing that I was prepared (both financially and emotionally) for retirement made it a bit easier for my transition to "my next life".

It might be that you just need a change in what you are doing. At your age (and in this job situation) you may not match your current earnings, but it might be a "split" - lower earnings with higher day-to-day job satisfaction.

Good luck to you, regardless of your decision in the matter.
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Old 06-08-2011, 07:54 AM   #11
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You need to figure out how much you need to live on including healthcare. Possibly you could move out of that job into new FT or PT work. If you could do part time you could concentrate more on your properties and your health.
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Old 06-08-2011, 12:58 PM   #12
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Thanks for all your responses. I have been quite frugal and I was able to pay off the rental problems quickly (well over the last 30 years) by buying them on short notes - 5 to 7 years. Just coming off the last 7 - year note so there has been a lot of forced sacrifice.

More facts - single, no kids and I forgot to say I also have sleep apnea and use a CPAP. Have had some anxiety problems but have been doing much better with that in the last couple of years.

All the rentals are probably worth $1.5-$1.7. So you can see my yield (about $50K per year) is a little low with the two properties where I just break even.

Another good thing about the rentals is that they are in an area of teardowns for new homes so the value is in the land.

I think that in retirement selling a bit of real estate I would rectify the non-performing properties by selling them myself and doing a 1031 while scouting out the best deals - maybe a four or eight plex.

I don't know exactly how much I need - as I said I have had insurance estimates (yes I could get COBRA for 18 months) of about $800 per month so my stock dividends should just about cover that. The rent from the guest house covers my utilities, taxes and insurance on the main house. I once came up with a travel budget of about $2,000 per month while imagining a dream retirement. I've traveled quite a bit already and gotten some of that out of my system.

As I have been frugal and maxed out 401K, I've never really lived on $50K. I would like to live on more in my retirement. My luxury quirk would be a meal every so often at an expensive restaurant and being able to check into some of the world's best hotels on a short-term basis.
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Old 06-08-2011, 04:55 PM   #13
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“Oh, you hate your job? Why didn't you say so? There's a support group for that. It's called EVERYBODY, and they meet at the bar.”

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Old 06-08-2011, 05:10 PM   #14
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I think you have done very well for your self, especially in real estate. You mentioned the $300K rental property on which you would owe a bundle of tax if sold. How about a Starker Exchange? That would get you out from under the tax burden and allow you to start with another investment property. How about considering moving into that property as your personal residence for a couple years and then sell it. Just a few thoughts.
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Old 06-09-2011, 11:01 AM   #15
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Holy shmoly - a job with very little boundaries or expectations? Sounds like a dream job to me. Find a few projects (areas to improve), come up with a plan, and go at it. A lot of people would be happy NOT to have micromanaging supervisors. It sounds like there's a communication problem w/ the boss -and that makes for a very unappealing work setting. There's got to be more than just quitting.
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Old 06-09-2011, 08:43 PM   #16
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Sounds like your are going to quit/retire. You have nothing to loose by trying other things first like talking to the boss, asking for a department transfer. Take a leave of absence.
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Old 04-02-2016, 09:49 AM   #17
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UPDATE: I can't believe almost five years have passed since I posted this. Finally got a different boss last summer and thought things were better - until I was fired last week.

I'm in much better shape financially as it's booming here and the value of my real estate has gone up substantially and I have continued to max out 401K and Roth.

What I'm finding hard is the shock of being fired after almost 30 years and giving up that routine, even if it was unsatisfying and stressful.

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Old 04-02-2016, 10:17 AM   #18
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Thanks for updating this thread, WestLake and all the best! I know getting fired after 30y must sting like hell, but I hope you are at least getting some sort of severance package out it, so there might be a ray of light...
i have just FIRE'd myself (no severance ) and have one week to go, so I'll be joining you shortly in the realm of "fixed income"!
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Old 04-02-2016, 10:23 AM   #19
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Having gone through the experience of being fired, I became aware that the agenda of the person doing the firing is what led to the experience. Do everything you can to get over feeling something was wrong with you and move on. I felt bad and scared for awhile myself. But I retired 20 years later, the same year the bully did. Only I was 55 and he was 70.

If you are in a financial position to retire, great. If not, you probably have the resources to reinvent yourself.

Remember 5 years ago you wanted to quit. Now the quitting was handed to you instead.

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Old 04-02-2016, 10:26 AM   #20
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Very interesting thread WestLake! So after 5 years, and you were nearly retired then, are you now?

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