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51 and Not Retired Yet...
Old 01-08-2018, 03:10 AM   #1
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51 and Not Retired Yet...

It's been almost 10 years since I've started a post on this board, although I think of y'all from time to time. I was hoping to retire by 50, but then I realized that if I waited till 55, I would have SO much more benefits.

So why am I back on the board? Because like many of you, I've gotten to the point where I can't stand my job - I actually really like my manager, and I'm well-compensated; it's the clients (and their ungratefulness), the system, the tasks, the politics (mostly the politics), the long hours, which all creates the STRESS that I can't stand. The stress affects my personal time (for example, two weeks when I had to deal w/a difficult client, who I know was purposely being difficult or reading that unpleasant email on Friday right before I log off that ruins my entire weekend - that would be this past weekend). Now I know how you all feel! My, how things change over time!

If I wait another 3.75 years and retire when I'm 55, I get the following benefits:

- retiree medical benefits: my husband and I get a total of about $135,000 to use for health premiums (the plan includes spousal benefits)

- I would get approximately $2,000/month in pension

My understanding is that if I leave prior to my turning 55, I will lose both benefits (I already have enough years of service), so the dilemma is whether I can endure the stress for that long or not. My manager has been "shopping" my client group and my projects with my co-workers, but no surprise, no takers! If I stay with the company, I will need to figure out what to do: look for another job internally, "force" my manager to give my client group to someone else, etc.

Meanwhile, I was curious to see if anyone else had walked away from future benefits, how did that decision come about, and whether it was worth it. Any advice/encouragement would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
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Old 01-08-2018, 03:48 AM   #2
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Hang in there and wait for the benefits to kick in at 55. You can't underestimate the ever increasing costs associated with healthcare.

You've probably been employed there for a significant amount of time. Don't let anything run you away and make you lose important benefits that you've worked so long and hard to achieve.
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Old 01-08-2018, 03:59 AM   #3
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Passed on estimated salary and benefit of well over 1 million to retire at 55 rather than planned date 3 yrs later. Came about when wife has serious health scare combined with I no longer enjoyed job and firecalc showed high probability of success even at 55 retirement. Taking early retirement was well worth it to me. No regrets at all!!!! Your 2000 per month pension is huge. If firecalc shows you need it, I'd say stick it out. If not, go enjoy life outside work.
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Old 01-08-2018, 04:03 AM   #4
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If you give up the pension and the medical beni's how does that affect your RE plan? Does FIRECALC still say you are good to go?
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Old 01-08-2018, 05:47 AM   #5
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I stuck it out to max the benefits, but my situation was less taxing than yours. Quality of life is very important. It sounds like you may have discussed this with your manager. If not, say that things have to change or you are gone.
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Old 01-08-2018, 07:27 AM   #6
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Are you sure you loose your pension if you quit before 55? I would double check HR on this.

Retiree medical, my Megacorp used to have this, then they decided to get rid of it, retroactively. It is not something you can really count on.

Rule of 55, may or may not be important to you. Find out if your company supports the 401k penalty free withdrawals for separation of service at 55.
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Old 01-08-2018, 07:33 AM   #7
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You can't ever get these 3-4 years back. As others have said, if Firecalc or whatever you use tells you that you're fine, I'd leave today. Life is too short. You never know what tomorrow will bring. If, on the other hand, the numbers aren't there yet, then you would need to work longer regardless of the work situation.
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Old 01-08-2018, 08:08 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by retiringby50 View Post
If I wait another 3.75 years and retire when I'm 55, I get the following benefits:

- retiree medical benefits: my husband and I get a total of about $135,000 to use for health premiums (the plan includes spousal benefits)

- I would get approximately $2,000/month in pension

My understanding is that if I leave prior to my turning 55, I will lose both benefits (I already have enough years of service), so the dilemma is whether I can endure the stress for that long or not.

Meanwhile, I was curious to see if anyone else had walked away from future benefits, how did that decision come about, and whether it was worth it. Any advice/encouragement would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
It is indeed a dilemma. You need to ask yourself if you can afford to walk away from those terrific benefits or not.

If you can't afford to walk away, then your decision is pretty simple. You need to find a way to tolerate things for less than 4 years. I will tell you that when the end is in sight, it becomes easier to shrug off the foolishness and not take problems home with you (at least that was my experience). Perhaps a transfer to another group would re-energize you for the duration.

If you can afford to walk away (because you are already financially independent), then you get to decide how long you can stand working. Remember, you don't need to decide on 4 years today - you can choose to hang in a month at a time.

When I made the decision to retire, I chose to stay for another 6 months to help my team through a big project and try to soften the political blow for them on the other side of the project. I put up with a lot of crap from the company during those months. But knowing that I was soon to be out of there made it possible to ignore most of the noise.

When I finally announced my retirement, I felt great about it. I left some stocks and bonuses on the table. But I knew I was done with that job, and I could afford to ignore any "one more year" incentives.

Oddly enough, I was called after a few months to ask if I would come back and help out. I agreed to consult with them on a part-time basis for 2 days per week. Without all the political nonsense and administrivia, the work was actually a pleasure - all fun! I worked 16 hours and never took any home. I did that for about a year. I'd do it again if asked.
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Old 01-08-2018, 08:10 AM   #9
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I have a few tips if you stay..

Use every single day of vacation and personal days...just book it and go.

Long hours,start to shorten them bit by bit I bet the sky won't fall in.

Try to take a minute and see if you are self-imposing pressure on yourself to do everything perfectly, perfect isn't necessary unless you are a heart surgeon.

Difficult clients? Demanding is one things, rude and abusive is another. Have you been putting with unacceptable bullying behavior from some clients. If so go to a superior, go to HR start to document this and ask for some changes.

Start a countdown clock to 55, the number of workdays minus vacations. the number will be high but it will go down. Ninety days from now ask yourself if you are feeling better.

The 100K + broken by years you need to stay isn't a huge deal, but you would have the 100K plus almost four years of company health care..that's a bigger deal.

Check in to the pension rules that's what you need to know for sure. Perhaps you just won't be able to draw the pension before you hit 55, however if it's no pension, I see others here saying it's only money but the HC money and pension bring a lot of security to early retirement.
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Old 01-08-2018, 09:12 AM   #10
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Stay and repeat the following phrase often during weekdays, especially on Friday: "NOT my circus, NOT my monkeys".
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Old 01-08-2018, 10:50 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by pjigar View Post
Stay and repeat the following phrase often during weekdays, especially on Friday: "NOT my circus, NOT my monkeys".
Then add " I earned these benefits and I'm going to get what I earned"!!

I was in the same boat at 61 and had to get 15 years in to get my pension and partial healthcare. I balanced my wife's illness with work just long enough to get my 15 years. Retired 6 months after hitting 15 years. I never regretted staying long enough to get what was mine!
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Old 01-08-2018, 12:13 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by retiringby50 View Post
...If I wait another 3.75 years and retire when I'm 55, I get the following benefits:

- retiree medical benefits: my husband and I get a total of about $135,000 to use for health premiums (the plan includes spousal benefits)

- I would get approximately $2,000/month in pension

My understanding is that if I leave prior to my turning 55, I will lose both benefits (I already have enough years of service)...
I am confused about the part I bolded. If you have enough years of service that your pension is vested, then how can you lose it if you leave before age 55? It seems more likely that you won't be able to collect at 55, but you would be able to collect at 62 or 65. I have a pension like that, where if I had kept working at megacorp, I could have collected the pension at 55, but since I quit, I can't collect until 62.
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Old 01-08-2018, 03:37 PM   #13
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I am confused about the part I bolded. If you have enough years of service that your pension is vested, then how can you lose it if you leave before age 55? It seems more likely that you won't be able to collect at 55, but you would be able to collect at 62 or 65. I have a pension like that, where if I had kept working at megacorp, I could have collected the pension at 55, but since I quit, I can't collect until 62.
I will double check with the company, but I think you have to be both at least 55 AND have 10 or more years of service to get your pension at the time you leave.
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Old 01-08-2018, 03:46 PM   #14
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I will double check with the company, but I think you have to be both at least 55 AND have 10 or more years of service to get your pension at the time you leave.
Right. If you quit now, you would not get it when you leave, but you would still get it later on. You don't lose the benefit altogether, which is what you seemed to be saying in your original post; it is just delayed.
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Old 01-08-2018, 03:59 PM   #15
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I'm in a similar situation. I have enough saved to retire now if I want to be frugal in retirement. But I don't want to be frugal in retirement. In my case, I'm not working toward some lump sum bonus like healthcare or or pension if I stay X years. For me, it's simply a very well paying job. The longer I work, the more I can save for retirement. Each year that I work equates to about $1k per month of extra money to spend in retirement.

But I really don't like my job. To keep myself going, I simply tell myself that today, I'm going to do the best job that I can to the point that it doesn't make me miserable. At this point, I'm really FI, so when all I have to give isn't enough for the company any more, then they can terminate me and I will go enjoy my retirement. I took a pretty good butt chewing from an unreasonable client last Friday. I decided to do what I could to resolve the situation and no worry too much about it. If I can't make them happy, then maybe it's just time for them to move on to another company. If I lose the client and my employer thinks I deserve to be fired for it, then they can FIRE me. This attitude makes my job a lot less stressful. It's just a job. It's not my life. If people aren't happy with my performance, then so be it.

As an aside - I don't do a bad job. I do my job better than most of my colleagues, which is why they give me the difficult accounts. I'm just tired of being the guy that they turn to when there's a problem, while my lesser talented colleagues get the easy projects because that's all they're capable of.
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Old 01-08-2018, 04:26 PM   #16
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I am in a similar situation. I have 3 more years (2 years 11 mo ) till I hit 55 and can take my full pension unreduced. For me that will be about $7.3k/mo. If I leave before then I still get the pension, but not until I turn 65. So if I left now I leave about $900k on the table assuming I live to 65.

When I first posted here about 6 mo ago I was bored in my job but still planning on staying the 3 more years. Since that time I have joined a new project and the job is much less trying. I'd say continue to try to do what you can to make your work situation more bearable so you make the next few years! Sounds like you have your manager on your side trying to help which is great!
Good luck!
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Old 01-08-2018, 04:37 PM   #17
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As others have said...do you have enough assets to FIRE, and maintain your desired standard of living? If so, then bail! I'm working 2 years longer than planned to boost my annual retirement spending by $25K, and since my job isn't that stressful, it's likely worth it (assuming no health issues).
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Old 01-08-2018, 05:23 PM   #18
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Quote" As an aside - I don't do a bad job. I do my job better than most of my colleagues, which is why they give me the difficult accounts. I'm just tired of being the guy that they turn to when there's a problem, while my lesser talented colleagues get the easy projects because that's all they're capable of. " Unquoted. Totally agreed but don't like it too. On the other hand, not agreeing " Use every single day of vacation and personal days...just book it and go.

Long hours,start to shorten them bit by bit I bet the sky won't fall in. and Count Down to 55, etc" Work and stress will not go away after vacation, reality they will wait after you come back and accumulate and compounded. Besides, even if co-workers help, it is not helpful you will not be "liked". Counting down just make time goes even longer too. I think a better way out to find another position in the same company that allows you to keep the benefits if possible
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Old 01-08-2018, 08:12 PM   #19
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You guys and gals are the best! Thank you so much for your suggestions and encouragement. All of it is just what I needed to hear. My husband and I went to the Fidelity financial planner today (we had a scheduled appointment as I have all of my 401(k) there), who did a comparison between sticking it out and quitting now. While she is using conservative numbers, it does show a shortfall around age 85. I'm not worried, but staying seems like the most prudent thing to do.

IVINSFAN: thank you (and others) so much for the tips. I get 20 days of vacation, plus 5 days unpaid time off, so that's 25 days. In addition, we get 13 holidays, so that's 38 days gone. The long hours ARE definitely sometimes because I'm a perfectionist. And I have said to myself about my client group, what I do is not brain surgery. No one is going to die if I don't do something today vs. tomorrow, but everything is a big deal or an escalation situation. Sadly, this client group is internal... so these are fellow employees making my life miserable. I was just speaking to a peer who is in a different part of my department but has also supported both my former and current clients. She assured me that she has never heard anything negative about me and that's especially why she comes to me with questions. I'm definitely feeling like the person who has never gotten a complaint before but suddenly can't do anything right.

My manager is supportive; she knows I let things bother me and has told me not worry about it, also reminding me that it's not life or death. However, unless she comes up with something outside the box, I don't see how things will change. I will also take a look at other openings in the company, which I've never thought of doing before.

Thanks to everyone who mentioned about the pension. I will check to see if I will lose the pension and/or the retiree medical benefits. I don't mind waiting to get the pension or possibly even losing the retiree medical benefits, but losing both IS a lot. At least I'll know just in case things get worse.

In the meantime, barring anything health related or any other negative personal stuff, I'm going to stick it out. Counting down the days to October 1, 2021! My birthday present to myself when I turn 55 is turning in my resignation.
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Old 01-09-2018, 11:35 AM   #20
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My advice about the bullying or tone of clients is just as valuable if it's an internal issue. There are lines people can't cross. If the comments don't cross these company standards consider perhaps you are taking them a little too personally and too much to heart. I know from experience when you are stressed you sometimes read too much into others comments and ideas, make it personal when it's not personal.
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