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Did you OLY?
Old 08-20-2020, 04:06 PM   #1
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Did you OLY?

Reading the thread about abrupt retirements got me to wondering how those who retired before they reached their number, or their planned retirement date, feel about that decision. If you EER'd (early, early retired ), do you regret having done that? It seems like many here say they wish they would have taken the plunge sooner. Is that because your estimates were very conservative and you're finding you have more money than you anticipated?

And I expect there are some who jumped early and wish they hadn't (although that group might not be as active on an ER forum). If you fit that category, would love to hear your thoughts as well. Why should you have toughed it out longer? More money/security? Maybe you just acted rashly and didn't leave your career the way you would have liked? Other?
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Old 08-20-2020, 04:13 PM   #2
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I retired at 52 when I reached my number. I am glad I retired when I did. It was the right decision. I enjoyed ER very much. Looking at my numbers now, I realized that I was very conservative and that I could have retired sooner but no regrets overall.
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Old 08-20-2020, 04:19 PM   #3
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I reached my magic number in the summer of 2008, just after I turned 45. I retired at the end of October that year, despite the falling market. (The falling market was actually a great boost to the start of my ER because it presented me with a huge buying opportunity, something I have been enjoying the whole 12 years.)
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Old 08-20-2020, 04:22 PM   #4
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I retired on exactly the right day. Neither sooner nor later.
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Old 08-20-2020, 04:47 PM   #5
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My big dilemma is I feel pretty comfortable I could pull it off now in my upper 40's if I stay in my cheaper area of living. My dream has always been San Diego but I think that takes another 3 to 5 years of working in a job a hate. A career transfer not possible at this stage but hoping work from home becomes permanent as it makes it a bit more tolerable.
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Old 08-20-2020, 04:50 PM   #6
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My original plan was to call it quits in March of 2020 at age 55. But in January 2018, I got a bad case of the flu, and could barely get myself to a doctor. In February 2018 three close friends died within weeks of each other, and they were all younger than me. In March 2018 I decided I was done.

I missed a lot of stock vesting and bonuses that would have paid for a second home. But I still manage to keep my withdrawal rate under 2.5%, so financially I am fine. The last two years have been amazing, and I am glad I didn't trade them for more money.
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Old 08-20-2020, 05:41 PM   #7
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I definitely OLY'ed about 10 months ago.

Three years ago I got laid off. With lots of notice and generous severance, and during a booming job market, so financially it wasn't too worrisome.

I had figured I was 5-10 years away from my number, but the big change made me reevaluate.

I had been discounting Social Security and a defined-benefit pension entirely, so my number was based on a 4% rule of just my retirement savings. I decided 55 and 62 were close enough now (I'm 50 as of this posting) that I would allow myself to include them in planning. And I was closer than I thought.

So during my long leadup to my actual layoff I vacillated between trying to find a position within the company, to leaving early and walking away from the severance, to taking the money and then getting another job, to trying to early semiretire.

I finally intended to semiretire figuring I'd need to make some money. I think at the time I intended to work just enough to cover expenses, so really I guess it was coast FIRE even though I kept calling it ESR. But it was a bit of a sudden change in plans without much thought put into it, and before my severance ran out I jumped at another full-time job offer reporting to an ex-coworker that I respected.

I didn't regret going back to work; in fact it was the most fulfilling rewarding job of my career. But I still worked 40+ hours/week and got 2 weeks of vacation a year, and that wasn't really what I wanted anymore.

And come to think of it, I didn't calculate the impact of Social Security and my (non-COLA) pension until a few months into this job when I was lamenting the lack of freedom working full time, or even working on a regular schedule.

So *that's* when I started really thinking about retiring for real. I still expected to need to generate about $10k/year of income to hit the 4% rule, but it's possible I wouldn't need to depending on how the market were to go. Also, my "fail" state is having the pension and SS for at least double the poverty rate, so "not surviving" is totally survivable, if we don't allow for the pension and SS getting killed off somehow.

So I made sure I stayed at least a year at my best job ever and started looking for an opportunity to exit, and I did it during a reorg. The reorg didn't negatively impact my group; in fact my team were superstars and gained members and responsibility. But it was a big change, a lull between big projects with deliverables, so I jumped.

Some of the ideas supporting OLY'ing include the increasing likelihood of death each year (not me personally, but average individual survivial), that in my 50s I'm still young and able enough to go make money, and that if I have to go back to work and can't make as much, I don't have to (make as much; it's ok to make less if I'm proactive in not letting my portfolio bleed too much). And that if I make it through my 50s without a money scare then I'm probably in the clear for the rest of my retirement. SOR risk is mostly an early-years problem.

I'm not going to wait until I lose all my money, SS gets repealed, and my pension fund collapses due to fraud or something before taking corrective action.

But I am kind of hoping to get lucky and not have to worry too much. I'm not planning to look for any sort of work in the foreseeable future, but I am head-faking towards blogging and/or YouTubing, but I talk about it a lot more than I publish anything.


It's only been 10 months, and pretty much my worst fear played out as within a few months the stock market took a big dive due to the pandemic. Also, the pandemic has impacted my plan to sell my house, move & rent, and spend down the freed equity. So I'll actually be tapping my IRAs before the end of this year for expenses. (I'm paying the 10% penalty because SEPP makes little sense in my situation.)

So I retired, the market crashed then recovered, but given the reduced GDP I don't really expect this recovery to stick, and instead of living where I want to with the equity of my home (tax-free) and traveling where I want, I'm stuck (by my own choice in how I approach the pandemic) in my commuter house in a too-hot climate with little safe opportunity for travel.


I don't regret it one bit, for one second.


Edit: I should add that at the job I left, everyone is doing fine and allowed to work remotely during the pandemic. And my manager contacted me mid-pandemic to say hi and casually mention that she has two more job openings if I know anyone who's looking. I can't say that during the turmoil of the pandemic, the markets, and my impacted plans I never considered going back to work, if for nothing else than to pass the pandemic but also to cement my finances, but no, I'm not doing that. And I definitely had the opportunity and probably still do.

Edit 2, after reading the following post: I also tried & succeeded to retire a little before I turned 50, so I can always say "I retired in my 40s."
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Old 08-20-2020, 06:36 PM   #8
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I retired five years ago. At age 50.

My original goal number (net worth) was higher than what I retired at. I retired with between 60%-80% of my goal numbers.

I was starting to suffer from my work. It was literally killing me. It involved tons of international travel, skipping over many time zones, constantly. I flew about 200-250 thousand miles a year. For close to a decade.

Definitely caused health issues - afib being the main one for me. I started by taking a sabbatical in Sept 2015, but six weeks after it started, I had a big pulmonary embolism (for those that use reddit - details here: https://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/c..._died/da6ee0p/). Stopped my heart twice that day. Took a long time to recover. A really long time.

If it happened while I was working, I wouldn't be here. I would have been on a stage doing a presentation in China or India or Ireland or <insert country of your choice here>. Instead it fortunately happened as I was walking into the hospital for a procedure. That saved my life.

I ran the numbers for months before pulling the trigger and retiring/taking the sabbatical in 2015. While my original number would have been a nice "fat fire" as they call it, my 60%-80% number is very comfortable.

And if I hadn't done it, I wouldn't be here.

I'd say "go for it" if the numbers all work out.

It took my wife longer to be comfortable with the number, but she has been in retirement with me for the last 1 years, 8 months. It's been great.
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Old 08-20-2020, 06:44 PM   #9
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i tried to go at 50 but couldn't get the employer's approval for the early early pension. went at 55 instead and have never regretted it. just started my 16th year of retirement last week.
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Old 08-20-2020, 06:56 PM   #10
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The US Navy booted me out at my 20th anniversary, and gave me my pension. I had no option to stay on Active Duty any longer.

My choice to live on my pension and move out rural to live on a farm was a good decision, made nearly 20 years ago.

I retired at 42, and I now 61.
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Old 08-20-2020, 10:25 PM   #11
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What about TFY (Two Fewer Years)?? We hit our bare minimum number in 2014. We, well, DW really wanted to be at our "comfort" number, at least putting in another 2-3 years. Instead, I pulled the trigger in 2015 after returning from a assignment that reeked worse than an outhouse in July. Six years later, we are now very close to our comfort number.

If we continue this slow growth for another 3-4 years, we'll be starting Medicare and will have left behind most of the Sequence of Return Risk. Might have to start Blowing More Dough! So far we've been lucky in the market and thankfully, healthy.


Honestly, health and time are more important than money at this point. Still, I can only say this because I think I have enough. Ideally, I would have retired at least 5 years earlier, but I wasn't in a position to do it financially. I wish that I had saved more sooner! Can't re-write the past though, and I'm very happy with how things have turned out almost 6 years into retirement.
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Old 08-21-2020, 02:39 AM   #12
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In retrospect, we were a little too early. DH was 62 and I was 56. He fully retired and I was going to work 1 day a week for my employer for an undetermined period of time. That part worked out OK. I worked 1 day a week for a year or so and then worked 2 days a week. I got tired of driving to my office when we moved where it was over an hour long drive and went in to resign and was talked into working from home on a very part time basis. I did that for about 6 years and that was OK.

We actually had "enough" when we did all this. But, there were a lot of unexpected things that happened. One of our children took about a year and a half longer to graduate college than we had thought would happen (this child was starting college right after the retirement). That child also changed majors several times so ended up with more total hours than typical for a bachelor's degree. And of course there was added cost to college living expense.

The another child had a mental health crisis, was diagnosed as bipolar and needed lots of therapy, several hospitalizations and much assistance. We had good insurance which was nice but co pays were steep and some treatment (for specific therapists) was out of network. We routinely for several years met the Out of Pocket Max. It added up.

When DH retired we could continue his health insurance. The subsidy for retirees was good at the time, but over the next few years it was reduced substantially and premiums more than tripled. At one point even after DH was on Medicare we were pay close to $20k a year in insurance premiums not counting his Medicare premiums. When DH retired the cost for a retiree was far less than this.

We had various house related bad things happened. We sold a house during the huge down turn. There was other house related stuff that ended up costing us a lot of money.

Anyway...it is 10 years later. We are OK. We are both on Medicare now which really helped a lot on the medical stuff. We are in what we feel is our downsized retirement home that we don't plan to sell. Right now, Firecalc basically says that if we stick to our future budget that we are fine.

But, I don't feel we have as much wiggle room as we thought we would have. If we both live for another 10 years in good health and there are no disasters (other than normal economic recessions, etc) then we will be fine for the long term. OTOH, if one of us dropped dead tomorrow then the survivor might need to sell the house because of the drop in income that would occur if either of us died (our SS's are similar, mine is slightly higher but not by much. So the loss of one would be a blow).

Now, we are both in good health so there is no reason to think anything will happen any time soon to either of us. But good health is never guaranteed.

It is hard to look back and know what we should have done. At the time, I was under extreme stress of a very demanding career. I am not sure I could have continued working the more than full time schedule I was working. DH didn't really hate his job. He probably could have easily worked until, say, 65 without much angst. But, I didn't really feel it was fair to ask him to work if I wasn't going to work full time given that he is several years older than I am.

Without a doubt, financially, it would be much easier if we had both just continued to work full time another 2 or 3 years. But, I am not sure if I could have made it through that time.

But, we did what he did. At the time my position was that I would rather live a bit more modestly and retire earlier than keep on working a very stressful job for another several years. DH agreed. And, that is still true. If some of the negative things hadn't happened that ended up costing big dollars, I wouldn't have any second thoughts at all.
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Old 08-21-2020, 09:11 AM   #13
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Wow, great stories - thanks all!

@Katsmeow, your story really hits home, and I think it's the type of situation I worry about the most. If everything goes well in the first several years, I'm sure DW and I will be fine. If only one or two things go poorly, we'll likely still be fine. More than that, and it would probably get more dicey. So the question becomes, how many very bad events can/should one prepare for? And how does one balance the likelihood of multiple bad events occurring against the upside of freedom? Everyone has their own barometer, of course.

Nice to hear that, despite the events you've encountered, you seem to still be content with your decision.
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Old 08-21-2020, 09:27 AM   #14
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It’s only been 5 weeks for us but already I can’t assign a value to sleeping with no alarm clock, having no commute or meetings, and looking at a calendar that is mostly voluntary commitments and mostly blank. The best I can estimate so far is “priceless.”
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Old 08-21-2020, 10:01 AM   #15
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We never had any children, but I can see the value of waiting until they are safely out and on their own. One less risk factor. I can also see waiting as necessary to get solid retiree healthcare if that is something that is available. That's what I did, and it makes a big difference in our financial security.
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Old 08-21-2020, 10:09 AM   #16
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I did jump out at a pretty early age and there was *some* trepidation about it, even though all the figures (and Fire Calc) said "DO IT!" Now, 5 years later I can say without a doubt that I am VERY happy that I punched out when I did. As a bonus, I don't have to run a blog, publish e-books, or do some other side hustle get a job. Do I miss it? Uh...NO. Most days I wake up with about half a dozen things I would like to get done and on most days I *might* get 1/2 of it done...so w*rking a j*b would make it even worse.
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Old 08-21-2020, 10:51 AM   #17
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We definitely jumped the gun, but I can't see how we could have done it any differently. Lots of second-guessing could be done. But my wife hasn't worked (not counting a brief spate of dog-walking) in nine years. I worked 'real' jobs for maybe three years since then, including completing my pension plan vesting. We've spent six years in Mexico and one year living in a pop-up tent/traveling. We're now back in the States in an RV full-time.

We *should* have done things in a different order - got me vested first, saved back more money. Then we could have retired in 2013 or so and never had to work again, but that's just hindsight. That's what I *would* change, if I could, but in all honesty we have no regrets.
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Old 08-21-2020, 07:26 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by intent View Post
Wow, great stories - thanks all!

@Katsmeow, your story really hits home, and I think it's the type of situation I worry about the most. If everything goes well in the first several years, I'm sure DW and I will be fine. If only one or two things go poorly, we'll likely still be fine. More than that, and it would probably get more dicey. So the question becomes, how many very bad events can/should one prepare for? And how does one balance the likelihood of multiple bad events occurring against the upside of freedom? Everyone has their own barometer, of course.

Nice to hear that, despite the events you've encountered, you seem to still be content with your decision.
With the benefit of perfect foresight we would probably have done it a little differently. But, we didn't have that. And, I am content with it all. That balancing the likelihood of multiple bad events v. the benefits was key to us. We did have the ability to adjust. In our forecast budgets we always had a lot of slack in them. So I always knew we could adjust if need be. Even if DH or I were to to suddenly widowed, there would still be a choice. Keep this house and adjust the budget significantly or move and adjust it less. I'm OK with that trade off.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gumby View Post
We never had any children, but I can see the value of waiting until they are safely out and on their own. One less risk factor. I can also see waiting as necessary to get solid retiree healthcare if that is something that is available. That's what I did, and it makes a big difference in our financial security.
I was 40 when my first child was born. If I had waited before they were out on their own fully DH and I would have worked another 8 years and he would have retired at 70. We thought at that time we had waiting long enough. We had one child in high school and the others in college. Just some of what happened after that wasn't expected.

On the retiree healthcare, I think the thing to remember is it can change. DH's company did provide good retiree health insurance with a very generous subsidy. In 2011 the first full year after DH retired and I semi-retired, our health insurance with a great PPO that covered us and our kids was $328 a month. Two years later it went to $993 a month. In 2014, it went to $1392 a month. By 2018 (the last year before I went on Medicare), the combined premium per mo for us and 2 kids was $1598 (which includes DH Medicare premiums)! All of those costs are net was after the retiree subsidy. So we went from $3936 a year in 2011 to $19176 in 2018. I had planned for increases in premiums but that definitely exceeded my planning.
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