Author Topic: Am I spoiled or actually burned out? (Aka "Should I stay or should I go now...)  (Read 11950 times)

armysailor

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Hi and Happy New Year everybody.  Looking for some opinions on my current crossroads - what would you do given the decision to retire now or not, based on the facts below.  (Also, of course, I'm looking to hear about other pieces of this puzzle I may be missing or failing to consider)  Thank you in advance for your time...this community rocks.

Life Situation:  Currently in the military.  I'm 36,  and 6 years away from a full military retirement at age 42.   Although I'm quite good at what I do, I hate my job.  It is a meat grinder most every day.  I work 2 out of 4 weekends a month, so I have long stretches of no days off.  Deployments are behind me and are very unlikely at this juncture,. When I have time to reflect, my job is a soul crusher.   Question: Should I muscle through 6 more years of work for full retirement - If I do this, I'll never have to work another day in my life, will have more money than I ever need, and have full medical benefits for the rest of my life.   Or....

Retire NOW (10 months from now), and make a "semi-retirement" or "retirement with less" happen.  Details are as follows:

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I make about 80K after taxes and invest about 50K of that a year.  I live on roughly 2000-2500 a month.  (I invest about 5200 per month) I'm a mid-grade military officer, a Major, hence the decent income.

Roth IRA:  105K  - invested in USAA 2040 fund   (age 60)

Taxable Brokerage - 340K - Invested in Vanguard 2020 fund (this will be my primary tool for early retirement)

Sailboat Fund - 80K - Invested in USAA long term bond fund (yield ~ 3.5% - 4%)  (secondary key tool for early retirement)

I own no houses or other assets. 

If I leave now, I will remain in the Army Reserves and work a few days a month and a little in the summer and make about 1K per month after taxes.  So that 340 above +1K a month...will be what I have to work with.   

My combined active service and reserve service will net me a pension at age 60 of about 3500 per month (in today's dollars, inflation adjusted) and some medical benefits.  Combined with whatever my Roth IRA is at the time, I am confident that at age 60 I will be fully financially covered. Hard stop.

 **ALL i have to do is "bridge" from now, (age 37 next year), to age 59, with the above assets - not counting the roth.  Can it be done?  Should it be done?

The wildcard is rent/house.  I really, really don't want to waste money on rent...nor can I afford a home if I want to bridge with only 340K.  HENCE the "sailboat fund".   I'm a sailor, and am 100% down with living on a boat for the next decade or so and traveling the coasts of the US and Caribbean.  That 80K will cover the boat and maybe 1.5 years worth of living expenses and repairs to kick off my bridging strategy.  So I probably wont have to draw on my brokerage until...say age 38 or 39.   I live very cheaply. I don't own much stuff at all. (in fact, almost all can fit on a boat!)

Another twist - my parents and extended family are very close and I love them dearly, though they are aging.  I can store stuff at their house and even live there for awhile if I need to or want to. I really enjoy their company...they're awesome friends.  And some of the best days of my life are simply spent kicking it and cooking gumbo or fixing something around their house and drinking beer with my old man.  Between spending quality time with them, and sailing a lot, you can clearly see I have*high* retirement needs right?

Relationships - I'm single but open to relationships, though it's not required to make me happy.  Kids are off the table and not an option.

Lastly, I'm educated and experienced, and have my masters degree in business.  With the bridging strategy / early retirement comes time and space to kinda see what else is out there.   I am open to working again, though it will be A) on my terms  and B) be an awesome suppliment to the 340K and 1K army income a month. 

Do, or do not?  There is no try.
?

Exflyboy

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Interesting post!

Clearly you are well educated and articulate but I think you (please forgive me for the mini facepunch) are considering making a pretty dumb decision.

Thats OK I'm educated and articulated and have also made dumb decisions too..:)

I think you have to muscle through, 6 years to get a pension you can live off plus free medical and education benefits?.. You'd be nuts to walk away from that, especially as you only have $340k to live off and have no house.. i.e will have to pay rent.

So please take this off the table.. 6 years and be able to retire at 42.. Damn, I'd consider letting them put me in prison for 6 years to get that deal! Ok thats easy to say as I am well beyond FI..:)

OK so what can you do? Six years is a chunk of time after all.

Can you change your job? to something that by the time you have learned to get good at.. and get bored with, your 6 years will be over.

Can you take some education within your job to take your mind off the meat grinder?

Dee18

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+1 with ex flyboy.   Tricare alone is worth it.  You are so young it may be hard to imagine how expensive health care could be in your 50s.  Stick out the 6 years but do take leave as you accrue into enjoy spending time with your family, sailing for fun, etc. 

Yankuba

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Agree with the others - smart play is to gut it out for six more years

lizzzi

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My first thought was to say stick out the six years...it will go quick. I'm glad to see others are agreeing with me. If you really, really try to maximize your quality of life during the times you are not at work...and do everything you can think of to make work more bearable...it should help. The trick to getting through these federal, state, or local govt. jobs with the great pensions and benefits is to just...keep putting the years in...one day...at a time. Then you will be in  a great, advantageous position to do what you want with the rest of your life. I slogged it out toward a New York State retirement from a county public health nursing job...and boy, am I glad I hung in there.

Cassie

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There were times i was tempted to quit my government job but I am so glad I did not. It is so very nice to have a check every month. YOu will still be so young at 42 so I would definitely stick it out and you will have it made.  The healthcare is such a huge thing.  It is so expensive and often crappy if you have to pay for it. Find an interesting hobby etc to focus on and the time will fly by.  I would look at it like a prison sentence- I did that for awhile when I was pretty unhappy.

happy

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As someone who has downshifted for around 20 years I don't necessarily agree with the previous posters.  What you decide is a personal choice and depends on a few factors.

If you are a structured person who likes security, AND never working again for the rest of your life is important to you, then tend towards keeping the job for 6 more years.

Part of the decision is also just how soul crushing is it? In particular is it so bad it might affect your mental/physical health? If so getting out would seem a bit more of a priority.

If you are not phased by freewheeling and being a bit creative with job options and working on and off for your bridge period is OK for you, then opting out would seem the way to go.

You have 23 years to "bridge"…with only a smallish stash so I would be thinking more about a second job/career. I would be thinking of  something earning enough to pay expenses, whilst letting that 340k compound, at least for a few years ( maybe 5-10 of the 23 years).  You could choose something less pressured that you enjoy more since your needs are simple, that will mesh with army reserve work.

Finally, have you checked out Nords work on military retirement?  Since his military retirement Doug Nordman has run a blog ( Military Retirement) and written extensively on all the rules/regs etc etc.

Cassie

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Why would you even consider working for 23 years even p.t. to bridge the stash when you could continue for just 6 more and have it made. Really seems like a no brainier to me.

Jim2001

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+1 for the suggestion to suck up the final six years.  Price out health care and the true cost of maintaining a boat and it sounds like a pretty big challenge to make $340k last 23 years.

Or, look into a different government job that would bridge your years of service towards the full pension. If such an option exists, it would be a change from the soul sucking role you're serving and preserve your options for a full, early retirement.

Thank you for your years of service regardless of which direction you choose.

okits

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What things can you do now to make your life better, without quitting your job?  Are you unhappy-but-coping, or is it I'm-going-to-jump-off-a-bridge bad?  Something I would seriously attempt is making your current situation less damaging to you.  Therapy, hobbies, fitness, support group, career development, lateral (or downward) move, relocation, sabbatical, stress leave...  Whatever might apply in your case, perhaps consider it?

csprof

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What things can you do now to make your life better, without quitting your job?  Are you unhappy-but-coping, or is it I'm-going-to-jump-off-a-bridge bad?  Something I would seriously attempt is making your current situation less damaging to you.  Therapy, hobbies, fitness, support group, career development, lateral (or downward) move, relocation, sabbatical, stress leave...  Whatever might apply in your case, perhaps consider it?

+This.  I'm also not with the "stick it out" crowd - it's the conservative and safe answer, but maybe not the right one for everyone.

If I were in your shoes, I would:

(a)  Make a big list of all of the things you could try to do to improve your situation within the military, given the obvious financial upsides;

(b)  Start coming up with a more detailed list of job-like (part-time?  on your terms, certainly) things you could do to fill the income gap.  Troll the job posting boards, perhaps, and spot things that sound cool.  Maybe even feel some of them out.

I understand why most people are saying to stick it out, though:  Your stash isn't all that big yet, and you're young (he says, at three years older than you).  :)  I would definitely figure out a pretty solid plan before up and quitting.  At your current savings rate + compounding + increases to your pension, you've got relatively more upside in the next six years than most, relative to your income.

armysailor

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Wow!  Thank you guys so much for the awesome input.  I greatly appreciate this.  Here are some thoughts:

Exflyboy:  affirmative, facepunch received!  So...the only reason I'm considering this is because I am in a desperate position.  I cannot change my job.  It's not about "taking my mind off the meat grinder".  I am my job.  Exhibit A: I had to go in to work at 1am...(that's 0100 for us military types) for work.  Christmas. Day.  So I worked until dawn for Christmas, slept, then worked in the afternoon.  Had to cancel dinner plans and whatnot.  blah blah blah.      It wasn't my life or death, but others in harms way depend on my team to live like we do even if we are safe in the US.   So yeah.  I can't "downshift" or take night classes for a something that interests me.  In fact, I spend all my nights studying for certifications or for exams to further my qualifications.  So....I'm stuck in an "upwards spiral" of sorts.

Lizzzi:  I will do everything I can to maximize my "me time" and make work more bearable.  But it's tough.  See above.  My time is taken by further expansions in my job.  Another degree, certifications, etc.

Cassie: The reason I'm considering this is because it's not "only 6 years".  It's not just the math. It's my soul.  I'm stressed, my health is suffering, and I'm just realizing that since I've just recently locked in the pension at age 60 I may be able to do something else and also be ok financially, without the 6 years of hell. I'm losing sleep, I feel like shit, etc.  My body and mind are definitely being affected.  6 years is not a long time in the average human's life from an objective standpoint...but I've got only me and if I wreck myself there are no re-do's. 

Jim: There's unfortunately no way for me to transfer or get a different gov't job.  It's military only, and my career path is unique. 

Okits: I'm unhappy but *barely* coping.  I'm stressing and my health is paying the bill.  I don't get to see my family or friends. ( I visited my parents two years ago) but no I'm not like...suicidal or anything.  Jumping off a bridge is not an option.  I do have a few hobbies like celestial navigation, and sailing, and I workout, etc.  But it's just mildly distracting.  I do some kind of work daily.  Which sucks.  I cannot move or downward shift or take time off or I would have.  I would take a huge paycut in exchange for less responsibility in a heartbeat but that's not an option.  I will get one more transfer in the next 6 years...3 years from now. But it will most likely be into a position of *more* responsibility and stress...and will be of one that I have no choice in the matter.  Booo

To add to the stress:  the military promotion system is "up or out" and if I get passed over for my next promotion, I get a coffee mug and a handshake then they kick me out (albeit with honorable discharge of course)...no pension, nothing.  So I must, must, outperform my peers on next evaluations to make promotion to Lt. Colonel.  No questions about that.  Hence, the drive behind my performance.  Sabbatical/stress leave etc aren't cards in this deck.  Blech.

csprof: list is made and I'm checking it twice.  I've done my best to task organize my team to take some pressure off of me - which they support because they see me and know I need it. But there's no career type move that gives wiggle room really.  I'm in a tight spot. 

To fill the income gap...I need to do this.  I appreciate your recommendation.  It's something I haven't done so aggressively.  I also understand the reasons behind the "stick it out" votes. I do.   And my vote is among those.  But i'm reaching a fever pitch.  I've had two friends die recently.  One overseas on operation and one ex lady-friend of natural causes...which shook me.  I also have my own health which is sorta a cold water shower sobering glimpse of my own mortality.  Life is short and definitely not guaranteed to anybody.  So...maybe that was part of the motivation to even consider this move.

If I stick it out, I have no choices other than to keep sacrificing my life in a huge degree for my work.   If I bail, I give the gift of "choice" to myself while I'm 6 years younger.   

"Stick out" is perhaps a flawed term.  Because I'm a professional and my engagement in work is active...it's a moral responsibility to give everything I have.  I can't count days or view my job as "doing time" and put forth less effort.   Without discussing too much here...I think that's about as much as I can say. 
Anyway. 

I cannot thank you all enough.  I've read each of your posts a couple times and I'd like you to know that I appreciate each of them.  It's tough...I know nothing about you and your life or who you are.  Likewise you, of me.   But that is perhaps also one of the great strengths of this forum and the internet in general.

Thank you. 

Midcenturymater

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Totally muscle through the next 6 years. My own father was in the same position in the police. He was miserable the last 10 years seeing low level corruption and cops looking out for themselves.

But

At 55 he retired. He spent the next 15 years travelling Europe with their bikes and sailboat. I used to fly out to join them on summers and find them camped up on some beach in Greece or Italy living a pretty frugal but dreamy retirement of adventure and novelty.


But for 39 hours a week to get that ...then another 10 years on a kind of mini farm in rural France, tinkering about in his workshops, creating projects.....he did have to sell his soul for maybe 6 to 10 years.

He is 79 tomorrow in great mental health. I hope he has many more years. He has been retired more,years than he worked as a cop.

Suck it up. Find ways to make the job more meaningful. Ask for areas of work within your work that would be meaningful. Any mentoring is usually very rewarding.

The thing I have learnt is any work, even the meaningful work  becomes repetitive and so soul crushing to a greater or lesser degree. Your salary and saving rate is very high for a set hours job.

As long as that job is not making you ill, crack on, try to find the good and make the most of every hour you do not work!!

You are still in a position mAny would have their souls depleted for. Many get this for 40 years for less than $10 an hour. You have but 6 years left. Do the time. Connect with your inmates and get as much out of the sentence time as you can.

Midcenturymater

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Ok just read your last post and that dies change my view.

Only you know what a load this role is putting on you. We don't know how that is feeling for you.if it is affected thing your health that could be a deal breaker to be honest. I once did a job that put a huge stress on me and I carried on. Now looking back I was ill but my work ethic meant I took no time off with stress as so many of my colleagues did. But I do wonder how those three years have impacted my body. I do believe stress causes disease depending on your body constitution.

So if you feel deep inside you this job is costing you that, get out.

Just make sure this is not a temporary feeling that could be dissipated in another way like with anti depressants or falling in love!!!

That is what solved it for me. I fell in love with a great guy who taught me how to manage my stress a bit better. the 'role did continue to bring g me great stress about 6 months a year,ultimately I left when I got pregnant and never went back. I have not worked for over 6 years and whilst poor, I am so content and feel much healthier.

Thinking about it my dad sacrificed a two thirds final salary for just a third of his final salary....by not doing another 4 years which would have got him that 25 year service pension. And my dad is mmm without knowing it.

Yeah I think I have revised my opinion.

If this job could shorten your life start planning your out today. I will never put myself under the stress I had for 4 years ever again. I also lost a dear friend recently to cancer. We worked in the same area and we used to talk to each other about how to manage the stress. She was a non drinking non smoking 120 pound woman with no unhealthy habits. I often wonder if that stress let that cancer flourish in her body. She left a 5 year old daughter behind.

Nothing, no amount of money is worth severely compromising your health.

Get the hell out of dodge. Satre
said we seek out the people whose advice we want to hear. You will listen to the advice you want to hear on this thread. Then act on it.

MrMonkeyMustache

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You are saying that you are working hard on extra certificates to expand your qualifications? Is that really something you have to do if you are really not interested in building a career?

If you stop trying to climb upwards, will they fire you or will it just stop you from being promoted? The second option is not so bad. And if you plan on quitting, but you think refusing to do some extra work would make the job bearable enough to stay for a while longer, then refuse to do the extra work. The worst they can do is fire you, which is really not a punishment if you were going to quit anyway.

Doubleh

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I feel for your dilemma. Six years may not sound much but if you really are putting your health at risk it may be all too much. Part of the difficulty may be that you are seeing this as a binary choice - you either quit now or you must make promotion to see out the six years, and that seems to be contributing to a lot of the stress you feel.

But let's look at it - what If you are passed over for promotion in three years and let go with that coffee mug? Well in addition to the mug you'll have the approx 150k you will have saved, giving you almost a 50% uplift to your stache and taking you close to half a million dollars (over it including your boat fund). Does reframing the "worst case" in that way help to take the pressure off a little and make the current life more bearable?

Do you have access to mental health services or counselling? The situation you describe, supporting lives across the world but living in a normal us existence sounds like it would have some unique stresses, particularly moving constantly between the two worlds without the ability to decompress. I was reading recently about this being a real issue faced for example by drone pilots and because it's a relatively new situation the effects are poorly understood.

As a fellow would be sailor my gut is that your current funds are pretty tight to go now, but you could probably make it work particularly with your reserve income. If you need to get out that bad then I suspect you can find a way to do it. Do you hang out on cruisersforum.com? Plenty there are winging it with much less assets than people around here consider necessary. And you always have the option of part time or seasonal work to top up your income, maybe during summers living with your parents while you sail winters in the the Caribbean?

shitzmagee

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I'm in the same position as you, but 5 years younger, air force, and married with one child. The grind of my last job was definitely impacting my mental and physical health. I thought about getting out daily. Up or out combined with giving your all to support guys down range leads to a level of exhaustion that many people can't understand.

What saved me was a combination of three things. First I volunteered for a deployment. While going from one meat grinder to another doesn't seem like it would help, it breaks up the monotony and makes it easier to bare overall IMHO. I know the army deploys differently than the AF, but I also know there are still many individual positions on forward staffs that you could volunteer for.

The second thing deals with the morality of giving 100% all the time because the people you're supporting are in harms way, regardless of the impact on your health. I came to the realization that working myself to constant exhaustion was actually counterproductive. I was "dulling the sword" for minimal gain in the big picture. I throttled back enough to where the mission was still getting done and my customers and bosses were still pleased with my performance. Some may not agree with this morally, but it saved my sanity and I think Uncle Sam is better better off for it.

Finally, I applied for and was accepted into career broadening program. This short circuits your current PCS cycle and typically comes with less stress (or at least different kind of stress). For me, it's full time graduate school (we have quite a few Army Majors by the way), but you could volunteer for a host of career broadening opportunities to ride out a few years of your remaining 6.  ROTC comes to mind, or an Aide de Camp position maybe. Talk to your function and lookout for calls for volunteers from your personnel command.

It would be a shame to pop smoke so close to the finish line. The medical is worth it alone. Add an O5 pension on top of that...and you'll never have to stop sailing. I would only get out with 6 years left if I were truely on the edge of a breakdown with no options.

Best of luck!

Rural

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Do. Make a plan to make it through 10 more months and then take your coffee cup and your masters degree for later and go kick back awhile.


Six years is a larger percentage of your life if you stay than if you go... I know you know at least as many 40-year old old men as I do.

tomorrowsomewherenew

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We're a military family, and I would absolutely get out ASAP. You can do the reserves/guard if you want, in order to get the pension, but that's up to you. Get hooked up with Lucas Group or another recruiter and start looking for jobs. I am guessing you would also have hiring preference for government positions.

My husband is the service member. He's a few years younger than you, but is leaving the military in 2016. He has a job interview on Thursday. Don't let the Army scare you into thinking "Oh, you'll never be able to find something if you get out! How will you ever survive?!?" 

Midcenturymater

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Yes. Get out if you know it will break you. We watched a documentary about some war journalist last night and we both said....the military is lucky they keep getting recruits because it is a job where you at some point putting your life on the line or those of your colleagues and everyone is part of it even the civilian jobs. But don't put your life on the line mentally if the is another way...sometimes you can't say there is a way within the oath you are on. People give great suggestions in this forum,

Only you know really.
Thank you for all you do to keep your fellow humans safe...mostly...and for doing things most of us would never have the ability to so in an active conflict situation. I really believe military should get the maximum mental support. When I had my little mental health blips through stress at work I would say to myself before going into work.

It's not like I am a soldier and I have to shoot someone for my job or face being shot at.

Now on some level it sounds like you are a critical part of that kind of high stress situation.
I just had to help kids get an A grade to get into their fancy pants colleges and that weighed so heavily on me each year. ( I can spell but have a silly cell on autocorrect and it keeps sticking).
You are under stressful conditions. They are affecting you.

Think how you can somehow tweak the job to reduce the stress or move to another lesser paid job that won't make you sick. I feel for you too. I am glad you have great family relations as it can be very lonely facing this kind of experience alone, as I remember clearly. Everything is easier when you have a good person or good people around you supporting you.... So keep those connections strong. Maybe talk to those people about this. They know you in a way strangers like us don't!

Midcenturymater

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Ps...I am 42 and 36 to 42 has been the fastest years so far.....so there is that....but then I have not worked since 36 so easy for me to say that. But the years go so fast once you hit mid 30 s.
Oh to retire at 42. What a beautiful thing!

Tulip

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First, thank you for your service! Second, I agree with Rural.

I believe there is certainly a balancing act needed between thinking, life is short/live for today, and completely focusing on future planning. However, six years is a long time to be in a situation as you described, particularly in your second post. This is a difficult head and heart dilemma. Rationally, sure, add up the pros column and it may indicate stay...but not everything can be weighed so nice and neat. You are not making a rash decision, but are obviously putting time and diligent thought into the decision. I believe that you know the answer that is best for you. Trust yourself.

I do not post much, but I read a good bit on the forums. Yours was a thread to which I felt compelled to respond. This could be, perhaps, because I have just gone through a similar situation, though I am not in the military. Nice, stable job with good benefits, etc., etc.,...but I just couldn't do it for the next 8 years (so a little longer time frame than what you are mentioning). After a lot (did I say A LOT) of thinking, weighing options, I made a plan to exit. Is it riskier than staying? Yes. Am I regretting my decision? No. I finally realized that only I truly know what was right for me. Could I regret it in the future? Maybe, but I got to the point where I felt that I would regret more, staying than leaving. I sought wise counsel when considering the decision and weighed the pros/cons carefully, and it became apparent in my heart/gut what I needed to do. So, I'm making plans (to the best that those can be made :)). After trying multiple techniques as other posters have suggested (which are great!)...changing roles/job duties, really working to focus on the positives of the job, trying to capitalize on off-work time, working to have a better attitude, etc. I still felt that a change of course was needed. I believe if something is telling you to go after putting forth that due effort, then you should listen. You are obviously an intelligent, capable individual who has a good work ethic. Add some flexibility to that and you can make it. Will it always be sunshine and roses? Yeah, no, but such is life. Again, only you truly know your situation and your true feelings on this issue, but I just want to encourage you to trust yourself. Don't stay just because someone else is telling you to or because you "should" when you know/believe differently. You don't have to justify that decision; you are the one living your life day in and day out. This is the 2-cents input from an internet stranger :). Whatever you should decide, I sincerely hope the best for you. Thanks again for your service in our military!

Noodle

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Here's the thing--whatever you pick, you will be just fine. You're relatively young, no dependents, and not looking for an expensive lifestyle. It's just a matter of what you want your journey to look like. Among other things, would you really be happy with a totally unstructured life after retirement? If you think you're the kind of person who would want to work a bit anyway (albeit at work you like better under conditions you have more control over) maybe there's not a lot of point killing yourself to get to the point where you don't have to.

My specific advice at this point would be threefold:

1. Find some other people who are either recent military retirees or current military in a similar situation to talk to. The blog mentioned earlier on this thread sounds like a good place to start. We're happy to help all we can, but the military situation is so very different from civilian that there may be ideas or suggestions that we may not come up with, and that you are too exhausted and stressed out to see. Not so much "should I retire," which only you can answer, but further research into "is there any way to get through the last six more bearably?"

2. Read the book "Decisive" by Chip and Dan Heath. It's all about making good decisions, and also the traps that people fall into that cause bad decisions, especially when emotion is involved. One that is discussed is binary thinking, which someone has already pointed out upthread. It's a very quick and easy read.

3. I don't know exactly how military leave works, or how easy it is to schedule in your specific position, but if you can, after doing lots of research but before making a final decision, I would try to schedule a good block of leave. Actually go somewhere (maybe back home) but go somewhere you can relax and ponder--not just whether you should retire, but more thinking about what you want retirement to look like (not what it needs to look like to get you out earlier, but what your dream retirement would be). Then you can decide how badly you want it. From your posts, you just sound so exhausted and burned out...and I know that in those circumstances I personally get very narrow and focused in my thinking, just to survive. Once I get a chance to rest and regroup, I start to see a lot more possibilities that I didn't notice before. If nothing else, you want to make such a big decision in your best frame of mind.

Best of luck, and please update us...I hate hearing half a story :)

ulrichw

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Most everything has been said here - I have only a couple of pieces of input.

1. 42 is very young - and to be able to have the total financial freedom you talk about at 42 would be incredible. The alternative of "struggling" (intentional exaggeration) to make ends meet and having to limit yourself seems like another type of stress it isn't worth signing up for.
2. It comes down to whether you have uses for the extra money or not. For me, what you have now would be extremely limiting. Even though I believe i *could* live on that small an amount, there are many things I could and would want to do with more money. You've said (and I believe) that you can make things work with what you have now, but the question is, would you be able to experience more, help others more (if that's your wont), buy more cool toys with the extra?

You're clearly in a a position where you want to get out - all your communications seem designed to emphasize the negative aspects and justify a decision to leave. I just want to add my voice to those who are telling you not to throw something so valuable away. Can you get stress counseling? Can you re-evaluate the absolute nature of the "one and done" (i.e., do you have to outperform all your peers, or just enough of them to not get thrown out)?

Regardless of what you decide though - make sure you're determined to do so without regret - both options are viable, and I'm sure you'll ultimately be happy whichever one you choose.

csprof

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csprof: list is made and I'm checking it twice.  I've done my best to task organize my team to take some pressure off of me - which they support because they see me and know I need it. But there's no career type move that gives wiggle room really.  I'm in a tight spot. 

To fill the income gap...I need to do this.  I appreciate your recommendation.  It's something I haven't done so aggressively.  I also understand the reasons behind the "stick it out" votes. I do.   And my vote is among those.  But i'm reaching a fever pitch.  I've had two friends die recently.  One overseas on operation and one ex lady-friend of natural causes...which shook me.  I also have my own health which is sorta a cold water shower sobering glimpse of my own mortality.  Life is short and definitely not guaranteed to anybody.  So...maybe that was part of the motivation to even consider this move.

You've probably considered a lot of these, but just tossing some ideas around:  what about "weird" career moves?  I've seen a few majors spending time at DARPA, for example.  I don't know what the requirements are to do a rotation there, but it might be worth checking.  (DARPA does, of course, have its own big stresses -- but they're not physical.)  See if there's a way to do a rotation through one of the intelligence agencies, or find another way to spend a bit of time at the Pentagon and do something very different from what you've been doing?

In any event:  Good luck!  It sounds like a very important question you're pondering.

pbkmaine

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Do you have a mentor? Someone you can go to and say something like: "I am concerned that the stress is affecting my job performance, and that isn't good for anyone." In situations like this, I have always found it useful to get the opinion of a third party who knows what's going on. Even if there is a risk that revealing the stress will negatively impact your career, do you care, since you are thinking about leaving anyway?

11ducks

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It's my soul.  I'm stressed, my health is suffering, and I'm just realizing that since I've just recently locked in the pension at age 60 I may be able to do something else and also be ok financially, without the 6 years of hell. I'm losing sleep, I feel like shit, etc.  My body and mind are definitely being affected.  6 years is not a long time in the average human's life from an objective standpoint...but I've got only me and if I wreck myself there are no re-do's. 


This. Work isn't life. It's not worth your mental or physical health. I wholeheartedly vote to leave, and find a low stress job that'll cover your expenses (bar work, dive instructor) and let  your 340k build for awhile. It's just work, not life.

mozar

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I've quit jobs that were less stressful than the one you are describing. Maybe try for 3 more years, and check out mentally during that time until you get your honorable discharge. Future employers will understand that you got burnt out.
People who put themselves out there and keep trying always land on their feet eventually.

MonkeyJenga

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Why aren't you counting the Roth IRA?

The Roth, plus taxable, plus the extra 50k you'll save for the next ten months, equal 495k. Add the sailboat fund, and it's 575. 4% gives you 23k annually, which is almost enough to cover your spending, without even factoring in the 12k Reserves salary. Can that work for 20 years, until the pension hits? I would think so.

What are you spending money on now? Can you list everything out and evaluate whether you can go lower? Whether it's worth it to get out of the awful situation you're in?

armysailor

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Monkeyjenga - Great point.  I did not count my Roth.  I will only count my contributions, which I can deduct and get back without taxes and penalty.  That is about 60K of the 100 or so.   Add the 50K for next 10 months that gives me almost 500.  I will not count the sailboat fund...because that's for... the sailboat  :)    (Not all 75 of it.  Maybe a 15K boat, plus 15K earmarked for upkeep over 5 years.  )  I would not touch the Roth IRA earnings unless I was homeless and under a bridge.
So...your calculations are correct.  I am thinking I can net about 35K yearly.  But...it's no way near the absolutely secure defined benefit of a full time retirement 6 years from now.  Lots of unknowns and the world can change drastically in 23 years of bridged retirement.

I will post my spending shortly.   Great idea.  (preview:  My spending is roughly 1500 a month not counting rent...hence my desire to buy a boat to live on far less than 4% of my retirement kitty)

Pbkmaine - I do have a couple mentors.  Some Colonels from years bygone, some senior civilians, and of course parents and friends.  Their opinions are as varied as they come, and are shaded by their own experiences.  They listen, and let me talk, which is the most important part - letting me discover and learn from myself.   Mentors help, but they can provide no answer...the answer is within me, as Yoda would remind me.   Also, I value your input here.  Hence, my tending to this thread.  I thank you all again!

mozar - actually...that's a brilliant idea.  6 years to go.. 3 years until my promotion "makes or breaks me". I can continue to push myself to make 100% sure I score the next promotion, then, downshift mentally and emotionally. As long as I don't drop a ball or cause others to pick up slack on my behalf, I could sleep with a sound conscience.  Your short post is deceptively simple and I need to ruminate on that one for a bit.   Merci!

11ducks - there's a fear that I won't be able to get ANY work when I leave.  I don't know where this comes from.  What makes me think I'm so worthless to society?  Maybe the fact that I've never had to compete for jobs out there?  What if I get a job and it's terrible?  Well I would have the freedom and choice to leave to search again...with the kitty as a safety net right?   Hmm.

csprof - check and check.  I've done a broadening tour in England, I've studied outside my career path, I got my masters,...I've done a bunch of stuff.  But I'm stuck here for the next 3 years in this gig - no wiggle room.   Then the "final" tour of 3 years is a crapshoot.  But...point taken. That last 3 years could be easier. 

ulrichw - 1. Concur.  There will be stresses that exist in my state of semi-retirement that I hadn't experienced before.  Am I ok with those kinds of stresses? I do not know.   2.  I do *not* have uses for all the extra money I would make in the next 6 years and the bigger pension at age 42.    I really don't have any material things I want.  Maybe a new speargun. (I spearfish)  Maybe another used car in 5 years or so.   But I'm not the type of person that wants toys. I have all of the earthly goods I could possibly imagine wanting. And it can all fit into a pickup truck. ish.   Will I get to experience more?  That's a big question.  I acknowledge that semi-retirement could play out poorly and I could be limited in my ability to experience the world. Maybe.  It's something I would have to bake into my plan.  Buy a cheap RV.   Make visits to extended family throughout the country.  Ensure I embed with communities - whether sailing, traveling, writing, etc.  (online doesn't count).   But on the flipside there is no guarantee that full retirement will *enable* me to experience more.  "Can you re-evaluate the absolute nature of the "one and done" (i.e., do you have to outperform all your peers, or just enough of them to not get thrown out)?"  point taken.  As mentioned above, I may seriously look at myself and think if I have to give it 100% and sacrifice so much.  Most people don't. Why should I kill myself doing it?

Noodle - great questions.  Further research into the *nature* of the last 6 years and how I can function across that span of time is 100% a valuable investment of my time and energy. I will focus on that.  Awesome.  Thank you. As noted above, I may have to go for gold until I secure the last (required) promotion, then coast somewhat to the finish line.  A change in perspective may occur as the finish line gets closer.       I like your book recommendation, I'm going for it.  Just a note, I just finished Daniel Gilbert's Stumbling upon happiness.  Quite good.  Nutshell: we make poor choices about the big things in life because we don't know our future selves well at all and how/if they will be happy on the path you put them on.   Solution to that?  (which most people don't like hearing) is ASK PEOPLE who are in a similar path what they feel and how happy they are.  Fascinating read.     Military leave - it's not in the cards for me. The last year they locked me in, and told me the scoop.  I'm in this for the next 3 years.   We earn 30 days a year.   It rolls over each year, maximum of 60.  last year, come 1 october I had 85 and lost 25  :(    This year I may get to take a couple days, but will most likely lose this 30 that is earned also.  My next vacation WILL be a 60 day block between this assignment and the next.   Goodbye uniform, hello beard.  :)




ArcadeStache

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I can sympathize with being in a toxic and stressful work environment and the effect it has on one's mental and physical health. That said, if you only have 3 years left in this position, I say power through. Maybe get some counseling and use any leave you can manage to take.  Good luck.
« Last Edit: January 03, 2016, 06:13:39 PM by ArcadeStache »

armysailor

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You are saying that you are working hard on extra certificates to expand your qualifications? Is that really something you have to do if you are really not interested in building a career?

If you stop trying to climb upwards, will they fire you or will it just stop you from being promoted? The second option is not so bad. And if you plan on quitting, but you think refusing to do some extra work would make the job bearable enough to stay for a while longer, then refuse to do the extra work. The worst they can do is fire you, which is really not a punishment if you were going to quit anyway.

The qualifications and whatnot are not due to me wanting to do anything them or my current trade after military.  They can kiss my arse.  It's simply to ensure 100% that I'm top of the pile for the next promotion.   The military promotion system - if you do not get promoted, you get the boot.    They can't fire me, so that's good. But I've seen people who mentally and emotionally check out and shirk responsibilities - they have a special kind of hell that they can get themselves in to.   No thank you.  There's no such thing as "extra work" really. It's just "all of this work"  lol.  But perhaps there is a middle ground where I don't jump on hand grenades so often, metaphorically speaking. 

armysailor

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First, thank you for your service! Second, I agree with Rural.

I believe there is certainly a balancing act needed between thinking, life is short/live for today, and completely focusing on future planning. However, six years is a long time to be in a situation as you described, particularly in your second post. This is a difficult head and heart dilemma. Rationally, sure, add up the pros column and it may indicate stay...but not everything can be weighed so nice and neat. You are not making a rash decision, but are obviously putting time and diligent thought into the decision. I believe that you know the answer that is best for you. Trust yourself.

I do not post much, but I read a good bit on the forums. Yours was a thread to which I felt compelled to respond. This could be, perhaps, because I have just gone through a similar situation, though I am not in the military. Nice, stable job with good benefits, etc., etc.,...but I just couldn't do it for the next 8 years (so a little longer time frame than what you are mentioning). After a lot (did I say A LOT) of thinking, weighing options, I made a plan to exit. Is it riskier than staying? Yes. Am I regretting my decision? No. I finally realized that only I truly know what was right for me. Could I regret it in the future? Maybe, but I got to the point where I felt that I would regret more, staying than leaving. I sought wise counsel when considering the decision and weighed the pros/cons carefully, and it became apparent in my heart/gut what I needed to do. So, I'm making plans (to the best that those can be made :)). After trying multiple techniques as other posters have suggested (which are great!)...changing roles/job duties, really working to focus on the positives of the job, trying to capitalize on off-work time, working to have a better attitude, etc. I still felt that a change of course was needed. I believe if something is telling you to go after putting forth that due effort, then you should listen. You are obviously an intelligent, capable individual who has a good work ethic. Add some flexibility to that and you can make it. Will it always be sunshine and roses? Yeah, no, but such is life. Again, only you truly know your situation and your true feelings on this issue, but I just want to encourage you to trust yourself. Don't stay just because someone else is telling you to or because you "should" when you know/believe differently. You don't have to justify that decision; you are the one living your life day in and day out. This is the 2-cents input from an internet stranger :). Whatever you should decide, I sincerely hope the best for you. Thanks again for your service in our military!

Thank you for this articulate post.  You are correct - head and heart dilemma indeed.  The scales to measure the pros and cons of each path are not the same scales.  One measures head, one heart, and a third measures guts and trust in self and how well I may know my future self.  Hm.  But as previously posted, this may not be a "this or that"  I may be able to grind through some time, then figure out how to find the headspace to keep the final stretch in perspective and not view it as a jail sentence.   I am currently in the process that you speak of...of asking myself and others questions.  Thinking. Listening. Weighing.  I'm under no delusion that I need to listen to others...I agree it has to come within.  Ultimately I'm responsible for the decision.  I am captain of my own ship, ja? 

I'll reread your post again later after it ferments.  Your 2 cents is appreciated.  It's potentially very worth it  ;)


Stasher

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Never have I read a thread on these forums with such clear and intellectual discussion with genuine care for another person. Each respondent has shown a clear interest in helping and provide detailed replies rather than simple two bit response. Well done to all of you and I commend you, this is a wonderful community.

ArmySailor   ......
These few words below you spoke , of this entire discussion hit me the hardest and you are wise beyond your years, with this quote alone I feel a positive energy for you and know you will find the answer.

They listen, and let me talk, which is the most important part - letting me discover and learn from myself.   Mentors help, but they can provide no answer...the answer is within me, as Yoda would remind me.

UnleashHell

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If you bring the same thought process and analysis to your funds as you do to your military situation then what ever you decide will be the right thing. And you'll be fine either way.

how much work could you pick up using your knowledge? do you have to do it immediately if you do quit?

I lean towards quitting. you are giving up time if you stay - and you can't ever get that back.
You can always make more money if you need to.

Jouer

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I'm not sure what the best answer is for you. But I know this...

Assuming you come across in-person like you do online + masters degree + crazy leadership/strategy skills (deducted from what you've said you currently do)....any corporation in any industry would be happy to swoop someone like you up and pay them $$$$. Don't let the fear of the unknown seep into your decision making. I think you could kick some serious corporate ass!

AZDude

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If your numbers(and my math) are right, you can leave now and never work again.

340K + 80K * .04 = $16,800 annually in dividends/interest.
$12,000 per year in reserve income.

That is $28,800 per year, or $2400 per month.

You said expenses are about $2,400-$2,500 per month.

So yeah you can walk away and be happy. Especially given that you don't need this money to last forever, just until your pension kicks in. Plus, I fully expect someone like you can make a few hundred bucks a month doing whatever quite easily. Hell, a part-time job at the supermarket is going to pay ~$800 a month, putting you way over your needs, even if you are also paying rent(assuming you live in a reasonable cost of living place).

People here are often afraid of taking a risk. No risk it, no biscuit, as Bruce Arians would say...

Exflyboy

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I'm not sure what the best answer is for you. But I know this...

Assuming you come across in-person like you do online + masters degree + crazy leadership/strategy skills (deducted from what you've said you currently do)....any corporation in any industry would be happy to swoop someone like you up and pay them $$$$. Don't let the fear of the unknown seep into your decision making. I think you could kick some serious corporate ass!

So using the above post to point out that while clearly you are a kickass guy, it might be well to remember that you could find yourself in the same situation in the Corporate grind.. only that grind could go on for a lot longer, although admitedly probably not quite as intense as your Christmas Day experience.

I mention this because I too have been in situations where the job/commute/narssistic bosses etc was literally eating me alive. In fact I can think of three time where I had to muscle through while I formulated an exit plan to escape the misery.

My last job was an 80 mile one way commute and they required m to be on call 24*7 and yes they used to call me often in the middle of the night.

My case was a little easier because there was no pot of gold at the end so then F it.. leave, find something else...easy!

In your case you would effectively be FI (with your medical costs taken care of) in 6 years.. Thats a heck of a pot!

You could also get into the corporate world and find your not a great fit there either, I've known some military folks who are square pegs in round holes.. its not who thay are etc etc... Only now of course you will have to do something for a lot longer and no pot!

It is possible (but not easy) to change your perspective, I had to do this twice.. it lead to viewing the jobs as "not great but something I can do for now".. Before that I was miserable.

I suspect also your job IS important. I have a friend who was in a similar situation.. same rank as it happens doing IT work for people in place you'd rather not be..:).

One thing I do know.. If my life depended on somebody doing his job.. I'd sure like it to be depending on him!.. I suspect other feel about you the same way.

Do let us know what you decide..:)
« Last Edit: January 04, 2016, 02:50:38 PM by Exflyboy »

The Beacon

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Quit if you have to live in a true meat grinder for the next 6 years.   But is it a really a "meat grind" or has your tolerance for bullshit dropped to a new low?   If it is the latter, then change your attitude and stick it out.

BTW, I am 80% FI.  My tolerance for bullshit has dropped significantly over the years.  So sometimes I feel it is like a grinder too :(.  But it is still the same job I accepted years ago, nothing more or less.  It is all my mind messing up with me.

Roland of Gilead

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I vote sailing.   You can keep expenses low and still have the open ocean experience of a billionaire.

We left a $260,000 a year job at age 45.   If we worked another six years it is likely we could have had double the retirement income.

Still leaving open the option of future occasional work, but that is open to you as well.

esq

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When a person who comes across as you do; rock solid and tough (which you'd have to be, given your job description), says their soul is being crushed, it doesn't seem to be an exaggeration of any type.  In fact, people like you tend to underplay these types of things.

Makes me wonder, if you feel that way now and are not able to improve your situation, what will you be like in six more years of your soul being crushed?

I'd get out and go work pleasant jobs and hang out with my dad while he's still around. 

frugal_c

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6 years can be a long time if you hate your job, and given how much you are working it sounds like it's more like 8 or 9 years.  Throw in the uncertainty as to whether you will even be able to get promoted and make it to 6, that just further tips the scales away from staying.

It will certainly be tight but you can definitely get by with what you have.   I would think of the initial strategy of living off the stash and doing the reserves as temporary or a fallback until you find a better job.  Look for some type of employment which will at least cover the bills without you having to access the stash.  Any savings towards the stash would just be gravy.   All you really need to do is get through the next 5 or 6 years or so until your bridge is a bit smaller and your stash hopefully a bit bigger and you should be okay.  Given your relatively low expenses you just need to find a job that pays $35k+.  If need be you can take some classes to get you there and just do the reserve thing in the interim.

I would be tempted to try to think of that boat money as part of your stash.   However, you might also want to consider using it towards a property of some sort.  I have seen multi-suited places where you can essentially live for free if you make a largish down-payment and you're willing to live in one of the smaller suites, surrounded by your tenants.  You certainly have the time to pursue something like that and given that you are talking about living in a boat it doesn't sound like you are afraid to be unconventional.

Let us know how it works out for you.

lizzzi

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After reading the OP's post about the job making him overly stressed...affecting his health...and affecting his soul...I've been giving his situation a lot more thought. Also, my first husband was an Air Force pilot, and also had to deal with the "up or out" need for promotion or else. He did not make his promotion to Major, and that was a huge blow--but he got good jobs over the years flying corporate jets, and completed his Air Force career in the Air National Guard...finally retiring as a Guard Lt. Col. So I can relate to some of the pressure and worry that the OP must be under. You know, the OP sounds to me like someone who is going to do just fine no matter which path he takes. It is a hard decision, but perhaps he could get a short leave--go somewhere all alone and just vegetate...don't think about the decision--come back with a clear, rested mind...and just "go with his gut" and do whichever seems intuitively the right thing. That has worked for me in the past when I had to make huge, important decisions. I wish him all the best and hope he keeps us updated.

formerlydivorcedmom

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I walked away from a pension and took a pay cut because the job was killing my soul and I couldn't take it another day.

I talked about quitting for 3 years before I finally did it.  The day I was able to say "I hate this job and I wish I could walk away right now" WITHOUT feeling guilty was the day I knew I had to do it.

I wouldn't retire today and live on a sailboat with your income level, but I think you should be able to take a break and then find a different job doing something else in the civilian world.  Even if you only let your stash grow a few more years without adding much to it, I think you'll be okay.

My dad dreamed of living on his boat and sailing around the world.  Cancer caught him the month after he retired (at 55).  Find the balance between living your life, chasing your dreams, and being responsible.

dhlogic

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...
« Last Edit: April 06, 2017, 03:44:25 PM by dhlogic »

Nords

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Welcome to the forums, ArmySailor.  Now I'm going to have the Klash earworm stuck in my brain for the rest of the day...

Excuse me for a second while I discuss some of the earlier feedback of the rest of the posters, perhaps a few of whom should know better.

---------------------

You guys in the "suck it up for six more years" crowd are welcome to shadow ArmySailor for a few months.  (Deployments, hostile fire, and MREs are optional.)  At the end of that time I think you'll have a better appreciation for why he's posting to a financial independence forum about improving his quality of life.  There's a good freakin' reason why only 17% of the military stick around long enough for an active-duty or Reserve pension! 

He didn't save and invest all of this money to come here and be admonished to suck it up.  We can get that sucky advice at Yahoo! Finance or Motley Fool by the ton.  He's saved and invested in order to have choices, and now he's ready to choose.  He's here to learn how to use his frugality and his investments to redesign his life!

---------------------

All right, now back to the subject at hand.

Life Situation:  Currently in the military.  I'm 36,  and 6 years away from a full military retirement at age 42.   Although I'm quite good at what I do, I hate my job.  It is a meat grinder most every day.  I work 2 out of 4 weekends a month, so I have long stretches of no days off.  Deployments are behind me and are very unlikely at this juncture,. When I have time to reflect, my job is a soul crusher.   Question: Should I muscle through 6 more years of work for full retirement - If I do this, I'll never have to work another day in my life, will have more money than I ever need, and have full medical benefits for the rest of my life.   Or....
Been there.

It's possible that this tour will be followed by one that's full of happiness to go along with your challenge and fulfillment.  On the other hand, even if the next tour is full of unicorns & rainbows, you're probably reluctant to risk it being the same as (or worse than) the current tour.  Especially if you're getting a new CO/XO every 18-24 months.

The seniority numbers are also starting to tilt against you.  There are fewer billets for your skills, and more "management" instead of "mission execution".  The assignment officers want you to break out from the pack, so each tour requires a higher level of performance (from your team, too, not only from you) and a higher degree of sacrifice.

When the fun stops, you can't just grimly clench your jaw and gut it out to 20.  You're risking your physical, mental, and emotional health.  You're also probably getting to be tough to work with (to say nothing of "work for").

The answer is not to suck this up for another six years.  The answer is to leave active duty for the Reserves or National Guard. When we did this in our family, our quality of life took a huge leap that was worth far more than the estimated $750K we gave up.  15 years later everything's worked out fine and we have more money than we need.

There are some actions you can take now (along with composing your resignation letter).  No matter how much time you have left, apply for TAP now so that you can benefit from the transition info early enough to apply it.  You probably don't care about another advanced degree, but decide what you want to do with your GI Bill.  (Mariner's license to move sailboats & yachts from one port to another for their owners?  Some other merchant or Coast Guard advanced certification for teaching mariners or appraising boats?)  Start talking to the Reserve/Guard recruiters in your area (or the area where you want to live).

If I leave now, I will remain in the Army Reserves and work a few days a month and a little in the summer and make about 1K per month after taxes.  So that 340 above +1K a month...will be what I have to work with.   

My combined active service and reserve service will net me a pension at age 60 of about 3500 per month (in today's dollars, inflation adjusted) and some medical benefits.  Combined with whatever my Roth IRA is at the time, I am confident that at age 60 I will be fully financially covered. Hard stop.
Here's a sample calculation.  Let's assume that you retire tomorrow with exactly 14 years of service and accumulate six more good years in the Reserves (at 50 points per year) to retire at 20.

When you retire awaiting pay from the Reserves (instead of separating or discharge) you're assumed to be accruing longevity as though you were still on active duty.  Your High Three pension (at age 60) will be based on the pay tables in effect when you turn age 60 and at the years of longevity when you're age 60.  We don't know the pay tables in 2040 yet but we could use today's pay tables as a proxy, with your rank at O-4>38 for $7526.70/month. 

(Side note:  You'd actually have to calculate the High-Three average of that base pay, but we're already making a huge assumption that the 2040 pay tables will have the inflation-adjusted value of the 2016 pay tables.  O-4>38 seems pretty silly when O-4 pay tops out at 18, but O-5s do a little better (>22) and O-6s do a lot better (>30).  But again we don't know what's going to happen with the pay tables, so this approximation is close enough.  Just keep up with the rules changes and the pay tables as the years go by.)

On the day you leave active duty you have 5114 points.  Over the next six years of drills and ATs you accumulate ~75 points/year.  You get six good years (and your Notice of Eligibility) and you retire at 20 with 5564 points.  Your pension at age 60 (in today's dollars) would be:
5564 / 360 * 2.5% x $7526.70 = $2908/month.

You could make some reasonable adjustments to that number.  For example, it's quite possible that you'll pick up O-5 during the next six years, or you'll decide to do a some active duty for 30-179 days.  Maybe you'll mobilize for at least 90 days in an area that qualifies you to start your pension three months earlier than age 60.

I agree with your conclusion:  your pension and healthcare at age 60 will cover your expenses for the rest of your life.  The only challenge is bridging the gap.

**ALL i have to do is "bridge" from now, (age 37 next year), to age 59, with the above assets - not counting the roth.  Can it be done?  Should it be done?
You should count the Roth IRA, because (as you point out) you can withdraw Roth IRA contributions at any time for any reason without paying any taxes or penalties.  You'll lose the compounding benefit of the contributions, but it's a great way to fund the first few years of your semi-retirement.

I'm sorry that there's not a TSP balance listed among your assets.  You'd be paying less than Vanguard's expenses in the TSP, and a small fraction of USAA's expense ratios.  I'm bringing this up now because there's a chance that during your Reserve career you'll decide to put some of your income into the TSP (for the low expense ratio) and draw down the taxable accounts which have the higher expense ratios. 

The reason you want to use the TSP is the low expense ratios, and you can also tap the funds before age 59.5.  This post goes into the gory details of tapping TSPs and Roth IRAs.  Note that Reserve mobilization also gives you the "Qualified Reservist Distribution" exception which allows you to tap your Roth IRA.
http://the-military-guide.com/2014/03/20/early-withdrawals-from-your-tsp-and-ira-after-the-military/

I'm a sailor, and am 100% down with living on a boat for the next decade or so and traveling the coasts of the US and Caribbean.  That 80K will cover the boat and maybe 1.5 years worth of living expenses and repairs to kick off my bridging strategy.  So I probably wont have to draw on my brokerage until...say age 38 or 39.   I live very cheaply. I don't own much stuff at all. (in fact, almost all can fit on a boat!)
[...]
Another twist - my parents and extended family are very close and I love them dearly, though they are aging.  I can store stuff at their house and even live there for awhile if I need to or want to.
[...]
Lastly, I'm educated and experienced, and have my masters degree in business.  With the bridging strategy / early retirement comes time and space to kinda see what else is out there.   I am open to working again, though it will be A) on my terms  and B) be an awesome suppliment to the 340K and 1K army income a month. 
This is the main reason that you can draft your resignation letter tonight.  You may not have a 90% success ratio on a retirement calculator, but you have plenty of human capital ahead of you-- and you have enough of it now to have the freedom to choose your semi-retirement.

The thinking (and motivation and discipline and frugality) that got you to this point will serve you well over the next 24 years.  I doubt that you'll ever be bored, but you'll certainly explore many interesting (legal) opportunities for income.  You could even start a "Caribbean Sailboat Living" blog and (during the following two years) develop an income stream of at least $1000/month.  Teaching people to sail (or drive a trawler), test-driving gear for manufacturers in exchange for a blog post, writing an eBook, freelancing articles for magazines and websites... it's all compatible with a peripatetic lifestyle.  You can probably read a couple dozen sailing blogs and forums on the subject already, and that means they're desperate for content.  There's always room for one more writer.

Make your sailing home base near a four-star command.  (Oahu/PACOM, Tampa/CINCCENT, Norfolk... you get the idea.)  Choose a Reserve unit which supports a four-star staff, and then use your drill weekends & ATs to network for other gigs:  30-179 days of ADSW, a few months as a contractor, or even a federal civil-service career.  Or, during the Caribbean hurricane season, just take hot-fill 179-day orders to some command center in a desert.

Over the next couple of decades, "Plan B" will always be available:  put the boat in a shed, rent an apartment near a 9-5 job, commute by bicycle, maybe even get some roommates, and save up enough income to retire for a few more years.  But I don't think you're going to need that.
« Last Edit: January 09, 2016, 05:28:35 PM by Nords »

happy

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Nice post, Nords.
The magic word always works;)

Jim2001

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Nords,

  great post, great advice and thank you for your service.

Glad to read that there's a way to get out of active duty and still preserve the value of the 14 years of service towards the pension via the National Guard or Reserves.  I also love the idea of using the GI bill for a captain's license so ArmySailor can work on the water to help bridge until 60.

Cassie

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While it is a great idea for him to join the reserves I don't think you need to give people a hard time for saying "stick it out." He was asking the question and if he wanted to hear only those people that say "go" then he should have said so in the post but he didn't. He asked a question and I agree that those of us not in the military really don't know all the problems, etc.

SeanMC

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Such a great thread with good and respectful discussion.

Based on what you've said, I vote for burned out, not spoiled. 6 years is a long time to deal with that. Put me in the category saying that I agree with getting out. You don't need a lot of $, and your health, soul, and well-being *should* have a high $ value equivalent for you if you're comparing it as what you gain vs. lose!

I also would add - you do have many skills and things you bring to the table to be able to earn some extra $$$ along the way to soften the landing and deal with the bridge years. It's a mindset adjustment, though, when you have to create or find the opportunities instead of moving up within any one specific organization, let alone the military. But it can't possibly be more stressful.