Hello, All


Recycles dryer sheets
Jun 1, 2003
I'm a 53 year old husband (for 33 years), father of 2, grandfather of 2, and am looking forward to ER in about 15 months. I'm a senior research and development chemist for a privately held chemical company. I've worked in the same facility for 29 years and have worked for 5 different companies thanks to the buy-out binge of the 1980s and 1990s. I graduated from college in 1970, attended grad school, and then worked for 2 years as a community college teacher in chemistry and physics. Also did some substitute teaching in math and earth sciences. I love chemistry as a profession but am tiring rapidly of the corporate scene. I used to think that the cartoon "Dilbert" was weird but am coming to understand that it is true more often than not. :(

I like to spend my spare time fishing for salmon and steelhead, making wine and beer, doing yardwork and gardening, bowling (202 avg), computing (build and maintain my own), target shooting / reloading, reading (especially history, Sci-Fi, and military drama), visiting friends and relatives, and traveling. I'm seriously considering going to half-time next year as a prelude to ER. That will allow me to have more free time, still earn enough that I won't have to dip into my retirement funds just yet, and work with the people that I know and care about at my company.

Would like to buy a boat when I retire so I can have more quality time with nature. My wife and I live in the Pacific NW and love it. We like the mountains, lakes, rivers, streams, and beaches mostly but also visit the desert areas. I used to hunt for deer and elk as well as phesants, quail, and ducks but have traded that in for fishing.

Would also like to take a shot at writing some Sci-Fi as a way of paying the Sci-Fi community back for all the years of pleasurable reading I have enjoyed from the work of others.

Might also take some classes in financial planning / investment advising so I can help others achieve financial freedom.

Am considering buying a motorhome and traveling around the US and Canada for a few years before settling down to a small Pacific NW coastal community.

Just found this web site and am enjoying the comments from the folks hereabouts a great deal. :D

Hello Ed! I am compelled to weigh in on your plans.
I have been where you are now, even to the
trading the hunting in for fishing. You have too much on your ER plate. Even if you stay healthy, age will take its toll and you will be forced to cut back on your
activities. I am going through this (age 58). I'm still
pretty active but have slowed way down and don't do
a lot of things I once enjoyed. On the other hand it
is not really a problem as there are so many options to choose from. In my case, the next thing to go will
probably be my motorcycle, but I can't see that I will
ever lack for ER activities.

Good luck!
Hello, John. It's good to hear from someone who is out there in the ER trenches! :D

It's entirely possible that I won't get to do everything I have planned but one thing is for sure... I definitely won't have any time for boredom.

That reminds me of something. Our son was about 10 years old at the time and my Mom was watching him while my wife and I went out for dinner. He came up to her and said "Gram, I'm bored." She gave him an exaggerated / shocked look and said "Grandson, only idiots are ever bored!". Although she was really just teasing him, she was also making a point: boredom is a sign of dehydration in the creative juices department. She followed this up with all sorts of activities that they were still engaged in when we returned home around 9 PM that evening. To this day, 18 years later, he ALWAYS has something to do. :D
Re. boredom and staying busy in ER, I recall that
after I retired my brother (3 years younger) asked
my folks "What does he do all day?" He was clueless.
I got a good laugh out of that. I am loaded with
projects, errands, chores, activities, hobbies from morning until night. Now it is true that I sometimes
choose to just loaf. However, I have never lacked for
something to keep me occupied. Not for one minute.
I can well imagine that, John. Good job!

As my Mom once answered this question, "I have so many things to do in retirement that I really don't know how I found the time to work all those years". ;)

There are folks out there who are totally comitted to their job... they literally live to work. While that is admirable in some ways, it leaves them in a position of never retiring and enjoying their free time. I have known a few people like this and they just can't live any other way. ER and even R are simply not in their vocabularies. Oh, well... different strokes and all that. I have no problem with anyone living the lifestyle they choose, so long as they do not harm others. If a person knows that ER is for them, as do many of us here, then they can plot their course. Those who live to work can do the same in their own way. The folks in the middle who don't know whether they will even like retiring are the ones who will have to make some difficult choices.

Ed, I agree with you that the best thing for most individuals, both financially and psychologically, is to ease into retirement by working part-time at a job where they can apply the skills that they have accumulated over their lifetime. Not coincidentally, that is also the best solution to the economic dilemma that the U.S. (and other industrialized countries) are facing as the "dependent" retired population grows in relation to the "working" population that must support them.

Having lived in the Northwest myself for awhile, and having travelled extensively throughout the West, it is apparent that people there have a more active, outdoors-oriented lifestyle than in other parts of the country. I'm not sure whether or not this increases their life expectancy, but I think that they are happier than the peole whose idea of retirement is sitting around in the sun someplace, waiting to die.

I have a degree in economics and am also looking into doing fee-only investment advising as a part-time business. By law, this requires becoming registered with the state securities commission -- which is fine. However, this also requires passing the exam that is given to stockbrokers, and it requires learning about all sorts of financial operations (such as options trading and the details of margin accounts) that no honest, intelligent financial adviser would ever recommend to a client. I find that to be rather ironic -- sort of like prospective police officers being tested on how to steal cars.
Hi Ted. I didn't exactly ease into retirement, although
I think it's a good idea. After I semiretired in 1993,
I worked part time for a CPA (I was originally an
accountant). I figured this would go on (part time work)
indefinitely. However, I quickly got an offer to go back
to work full time. It was a "Godfather" offer, i.e. one that I couldn't refuse. So, I worked full time for 2 years
and then talked my employer into letting me shift to
part time. That was a great set up. Alas, they decided
they really needed a full time person. I was flattered
when they offered me the position (again) but knew
I would be miserable and turned it down flat. After
that a little number crunching revealed I could retire
completely (Hooray!) My only mistake was not taking full advantage of my brief return to the world of work.
That was a major blunder.
Hi, Ted.

I'm very strongly considering going to half-time in January. Not sure how my company will react to the suggestion but we do have at least one other employee, an engineer, who is already doing this and it seems to be working out well for both him and the company. If so, then there is a good chance that I will be able to do it too. Although my employer can be pretty anal at times, one place where they do well is that they are very consistent in the way that they handle workplace policy. If I can work out the details, I will try to work on Tues-Thurs of one week and then Wed-Thurs the next. That will give me about 10-11 days of work each month instead of the usual 21-22 days per month. That would be good as it would give me the time to do the things that I'd like to do yet would still preserve my experience for the company. Hopefully, they will see it as a win-win situation. As usual, of course, the devil will be in the details of benefits, especially health insurance. I can understand receiving half of the full time benefits for working half time, but we would have to work out something better in the health insurance area. Because of my years of service, I am entitled under company policy to receive 50% of my healthcare insurance premium as a retirement benefit, so it would make no sense to receive that while still working. Maybe we can split the difference at 75%? I'll see if I can work this out so that it is reasonable for both myself and the company. I'm not greedy and I can definitely see their side of things.

I once thought that everyone should ease into retirement by reducing their work load by 1/2 a day starting 10 years before they would actually retire. If they were to retire at 60, for example, they would go to 4.5 days/week at age 50 and then reduce this by 1/2 day each year. Maybe that's too long a tapering off period but you get the idea. If a faster taper is needed, maybe cutting a full day per year would work better.

I notice that a lot of companies are getting much more creative in how they handle retirement. Job sharing, part time work, consulting work, mentoring, working from home, and other options are available to more and more people in the workforce these days. Most companies understand numbers pretty well and they don't like what they see coming in the near future. As the baby boomers start retiring en masse in a few years, the average experience of their workforce will be shrinking rapidly. That kind of experience cannot be replaced easily, since anyone who has it is probably retired or approaching retirement too.

Yes, in spite of our soggy winters, the Pacific NW is a pretty place with lots to offer in terms of outdoor activities: fishing, hunting, camping, boating of all kinds, hiking, wind-surfing, horseback riding, beachcombing, skiing (both water and snow), biking, and a lot more. There's nothing quite like staying at a nice beach resort, walking the beaches, enjoying the incredibly fresh sea air, and then enjoying a great meal of grilled salmon, cracked crab, shrimp salad, clam chowder, good NW wine, and a blackberry or strawberry tart ala mode and hot coffee for dessert. A restful night in a cozy suite with fireplace and seagull / surf serenade finish the day. :D

Yes, I understand that it would be considerable work to become a financial advisor. If I decide to tackle it, it will not be done lightly. I'm a pretty fair student when I want to be, so it is simply a matter of learning what I need to know to pass the tests and get the appropriate registration(s). I agree completely that there are a lot of investments that are completely inappropriate for most people, yet they are widely sold because they earn a fat commission and not because the investor really needs them. Some fellows at a very well known brokerage tried to sell my 75 year old mother an annuity of all things. This is almost always a terrible investment, yet the brokers were salivating over the 8.5% commission that they were hoping to "earn". Fortunately, Mom called me and we discussed this issue. I had collected several articles from the web and other on-line sources, which I emailed to her, that pertty much popped the annuity idea balloon. Much to my relief, she decided that an annuity in general was not a good investment for her and this one was particularly bad so she didn't buy it. While all this was going on, I talked her into leaving that broker and putting her money into some Vanguard funds that I recommended.

Options and margins are usually very inappropriate for most investors. I avoid them completely in my own investing program, as I consider them to be speculation and not investing. I suppose that one could tinker with them using not more than a few percent of their investment capital. Same for shorting a stock. All of these have their uses but for the average investor, like me, there are a lot of choices out there that are much better for the old sleep index as well as for the wallet. ;)

Hi, John:

That's an interesting story you have there. I'm curious as to how one makes a "God-father" offer to an accountant... did they use a gun? :D

Also, could you elaborate a little on your comment about "My only mistake was not taking full advantage of my brief return to the world of work. That was a major blunder"? What happened and what would you do differently? Just curious. Don't reply if this is more personal than you are comfortable discussing.

Hello Ed and all. I have lots of interesting stories, even
some I have not told yet. Anyway, I started out in
accounting but by my first retirement was no longer an
"accountant" per se......And, no gun was used.

My blunder was that even though I had thought it all
through and had it (ER) all planned, as soon as I got
an unsolicited offer and returned to work, I fell right
back into my old spending habits. I should have seen this as a great opportunity to pad my
ER war chest and save like crazy, knowing it was only
going to last a short time. Hindsight!

You and I have a lot in common, right down to having our mothers invest their assets with Vanguard rather than in "financial products" being hyped by "financial professionals."

A couple of things that I'd add:

1.  About the only annuities that I am aware of that have reasonable expenses in the accumulation phase are those offered by TIAA-CREF and Vanguard (through People's Benefit Life Ins. Co.).  As you say, even these are generally inappropriate for retirees, because they don't need the tax deferral feature.

2.  One way for employers to reduce the "price" of part-time employees is to not include vacation benefits.  I had an arrangement where I worked on a flexible, as-needed basis for a consulting engineering firm.  I didn't have vacation benefits, but took unpaid vacation any time that it was mutually convenient.  Many employers' group health plans require that employees work some specified amount (like 32 hours per week) to be eligible.
I'm not particular about benefits, as long as the hourly pay reflects my skill level.  When I advocate that people keep working into their older years, I am most definitely not suggesting that they do so at unskilled jobs such as parking lot attendants.  I'd also add that -- if a person is honest with their employer in reporting the hours that they work -- their output per hour tends to be higher than that of "full time" employees, since they spend less time on trivial or "make work" tasks.

3.  The rainy winter weather in the Northwest is a sort of blessing.  If it weren't for that, it would become populated like Southern California.
Hi, John:

Yes, saving is definitely a habit that should be cultivated early in life. I was blessed with parents who believed very strongly in hard work, saving, and to some extent investing. Although I learned a lot of good lessons about working and saving "for a rainy day", I pretty much had to learn about investing on my own. Not a problem, once I realized that saving was necessary but not sufficient for a comfortable retirement.

Unfortunately, neither my older Sis or younger Bro listened to Mom and Dad and have no chance at all for ER and perhaps not even R. I'm saddened by this but realistic enough to know that they had the same tools I had... they just did not apply them.

Another blessing in my life is a wife who is similar in financial outlook to myself and who has been a full earning partner in the "family business". Were it not for her earning power, saving habits, and encouragement with financial matters I would not be looking forward to ER in the not too distant future.

Yes, I agree completely about the Vanguard and TIAA-CREF annuities. They are relatively low cost, compared to most annuities, and have either minimal or no surrender charges. I think that an annuity can have a place as PART of a financial plan but also that their proper use is very specific to the individuals' situation. I see the "pros" splashing them around like a 1st grade finger paint class and many of them are sold to people where they are completely unwarranted.

Finding Vanguard when I did (mid 1980s) was a real stroke of luck. I liked their low cost approach to investing and the info that they provided was very helpful to someone just starting an investment program. I also tried some Invesco, Janus, and Scudder funds but I still have my Vanguard funds.

Because of Vanguard's high fees for their brokerage transactions, which is surprising in view of the low cost of their mutual funds, I opened a brokerage account with TD Waterhouse. That's worked well for the past 5 years but now I am moving to Scottrade because of TDW's increasing fees. I also had a problem with TDW in regards to a "lost" Roth IRA contribution. In any case, I'm moving our Roth IRAs and will move the rest if I like what I see.

I would expect to receive 1/2 of the paid vacation that I get now or 12.5 days. I would like to keep my schedule flexible, of course, so that both my and the company needs could be met. I can't see getting a higher wage per hour than I am getting now, so the benefits part of the package needs to be right for this to work. If not, then I will work full time for the next 15 months and then bag it completely.

Yes, our soggy winters provide us with "the gray curtain" that stops most sun lovers from flocking up here. It also fills our reservoirs, powers our dams, and keeps the forests green and lush. This makes for a much better view than the dead brown hills of So. Calif... oops, sorry, I mean the "golden" hills. :D
My son lived for years in Eugene, Oregon, my brother
in Vancouver. They both still rave about the area
long after they left. I have been there and (pretty
as it is), the "soggy winters" would be a major
turnoff. We need lots of sun and big water nearby.
Still focused on Texas or Florida. Warm weather,
big water, no state income tax, and (a personal
favorite) concealed carry allowed in both states.
Well, John, sometimes one must compromise in order to get most of those things. Washington state has concealed carry and I've had a concealed carry permit for the past 20 years. By state law, the local sheriff MUST issue a permit to any law abiding citizen who asks for one and who pays the cost of processing the application... currently $60. The permit it good for 5 years, so that isn't really as outrageous as it looks at first. They used to issue 1 year permits for $10, so the price is pretty close to where it was back in the mid-1980s.

Although we do get wet here, winters are mild considering how far north we are. We're at about the same latitude as NY City, yet average about 10-15°F warmer in winter and about the same cooler in summer. We rarely get snow below 1000 feet elevation, so if you want to play in the snow you usually have to drive at least into the foothills of the Cascades or the Coast Mountains.

Also, Washington has no state income tax and they do not tax pensions, which a number of states do. We have a sales tax but most food and all medicine is exempt. Here in Vancouver, we are a stone's throw from Portland, where shopping is good and there are many opportunities for cultural enrichment, nice restaurants, and world class healthcare (U of O Med School).

I grew up in Salem and went to college at Western Oregon State College and Willamette University. I've been to Eugene a few times. It's a nice area but the liberal crowd there is too rabid for my taste. :p

On top of all this, it is always possible to pack up and drive south for an occasional sun-break if the cabin fever gets too bad. We like to spend a weekor two in Las Vegas when it gets too nasty up here and the travel packages now available are pretty reasonable. My Mom moved up here from sunny San Diego and that's what they do when they feel the urge. PDX is also a very nice airport with national and international flights available to many US, Canadian, European, South American, and Pacific destinations... 8 hours to Hawaii... 2 hours to Las Vegas... less than 3 hours to Phoenix... 8 hours to London. :D

Best thing would be to develop a network of friends so that one could "visit" them when their weather is good and ours isn't and vice versa. ;)

Hello Ed. We already have a "network" in both Florida
and Texas and agree it helps a lot when considering
relocation. Eugene is very liberal and not a place
I would wish to reside, although my son is nearly
as "right wingish" as I am and he really liked it there.
Finally, re. flying, I don't, ever! Did all I care to and have sworn off for life. Another excellent decision.
Sounds good, John. You appear to have the situation well in hand. One thing that is critical is to visit a potential retirement location at various times of the year, as I'm sure you have. My cousin moved to Oregon based upon a couple of summer vacations there. After 5 months of rain, she and her husband picked up and moved back to CA. I could have told her that, had she asked before moving but she didn't. Oh, well. It takes all types. I'm sure that I would not like living in CA at all but she's into it. To each their own.

As to flying, I agree. The security bubbas have made flying such a pain in the rear that, with a few exceptions, I don't care if I ever fly anywhere again. My wife talks me into it from time to time though. We had a great trip to the UK in 2001 that we both thoroughly enjoyed. We're planning another trip to London and Ireland in 2004 and are looking forward to that. Other than a few select places, I don't really want to travel too far from home and definitely not too often. Once in a while it OK though but I would rather drive, if possible, than fly. The view is just so much better! :D

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