FireLight 50 Plan


Recycles dryer sheets
Mar 22, 2004
This plan only applies to the 12 percent of Americans that live in the Golden State, at least so far, because my research is based on the California Counties Retirement Act of 1937. Not very new, but those folk were planning ahead. I expect there are similar programs in other states, but you'll have to do the investigating.

Here's the deal.

1. Find an Agency that has a Retirement plan governed by this act. Typical examples are Counties in CA. Lot's to choose from, there are 58 total. There are also some partner agencies in many counties that also play along.

2. Obtain employment and become an effective public sector worker in the field of your choice, or better yet, do an excellent job and over your career makes friends and influence people. Being ambitious is not a requirement, at least for the first decade or so.

3. Be content with a retirement withholding of about 8% over the life of your career. Your employer match (which you will never see if you ever choose to just cash out) is about 12%.

4. If you want to guild the lilly, you can further enhance your future benefits by socking away discretionary funds (tax free) in a 457 plan, with painless deductions from your pay in whatever amount you choose.

5. As you begin to approach age 50 get your ducks in a row by finally promoting to that higher paying job with real responsiblity you've been avoiding. Yes, the stress will be there, but it's only for a few years.

6. Retire at 50 or whenever you choose thereafter with your Inflation Indexed Defined Benefit Plan calculation based on your highest 12 months of salary, regardless of when they occurred, so if you did stress out and voluntarily demoted, you'd still get a benefit based on your "best" year. Know that your Medical benefits will be paid for life.

For best results begin the process before age 30. However substantially equivalent results can be achieved by a dedicated late starter if they are willing to ramp up the 457 contributions to make up for lost years of service.
It also highly recommend that you meet someone on the job, determine they are truely compatible, fall madly in love, and marry them, in order to double potential future benefits.

The typical calculation (and a few areas of the state have negotiated much higher formulas) is 2%/55. In other words at age 55 one would receive 2 percent of ones highest 12 months salary for each year of service. Obviously a bit less if your less than 55 and a bit more if you stick it out longer, but it gives you a general idea.

I'm only asking for a long term commitment to public service for a term of your choosing based on your FIRE comfort level. I'm personally planning (due to a late start in the planning process) ERing in 2 years at age 51. DW is already FIRE and waiting for me to catch up.

Can be done. No intense savings, no worry about market forces, painless contributions, great company matching, benefit that contains virtually no risk, colas and medical plan included. What's not to like?

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