Author Topic: Tips for not being anxious about ER?  (Read 4742 times)

Trudie

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Tips for not being anxious about ER?
« on: October 02, 2015, 02:45:05 PM »
Here's the lowdown:  I'm 45 and my husband is 54.  Our plan is to retire when he's 59 1/2 and we can tap his accounts.  All looks hunky dory and according to plan -- both with my spreadsheets and those of our (free) TIAA-CREF dude.  We just met with him two days ago and he had thrown all of our variables into the models, and budgets of $60K, $70K, and $80K in (assuming paid off house) and we're golden with our projected retirement date.

After he left I promptly hopped on my bike and went on a 2 hour ride.  I think I was elevated the whole time.  I knew we were in good shape, but there's something validating hearing someone else say -- with a great deal of confidence -- that you will not likely outlive your money.  And also, he didn't grill us like we were nuts about our plan.

Why, then, in the days since do I get anxious?  Our job at this point is just to stay the course.  I worry less about having the necessary nest egg on our trigger date, but more about what could happen to me between the ages of 50 and 65 (Medicare eligibility) if things go south.

Does anyone else feel this way and how do you counteract it?

Specifically, these are the things I worry about:
(1) ACA getting gutted, and then a key foundational piece of our plan is up in the air.  I'm a security-oriented person and the idea of having to beg for health insurance or not being able to get it freaks me out.
(2)  Something happens to my husband (for obvious emotional reasons), but also what if he would pass before I can tap my retirement accounts??
(3)  Having to go back to work.
(4)  Wanting to go back to work, but being obsolete.
(5)  Getting to ER and thinking, "I've worked for this for so long.  Shouldn't it be fun?"

I realize that a lot of these are late-night, unproductive musings.  And just to be clear, I don't love my job.  Several times a day I think about the joys of not working.  I very much enjoy my time "puttering" around the house, the library, on my bike, and training for races.  The whole thing about work is that it's a routine, and it's been my reality for a long time. 

I just feel like this next five years is about pushing through.  I suppose if something takes so much energy and headspace there's probably going to be a let-down when you get there, even if it's desirable.

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Re: Tips for not being anxious about ER?
« Reply #1 on: October 02, 2015, 03:04:31 PM »
First off (since you brought it up) - you are aware that there are several ways for you to access tax-advantaged accounts before age 59.5, right?  SEPPs, pipelines, etc.

now..
Quote
Specifically, these are the things I worry about:
(1) ACA getting gutted, and then a key foundational piece of our plan is up in the air.  I'm a security-oriented person and the idea of having to beg for health insurance or not being able to get it freaks me out.
(2)  Something happens to my husband (for obvious emotional reasons), but also what if he would pass before I can tap my retirement accounts??
(3)  Having to go back to work.
(4)  Wanting to go back to work, but being obsolete.
(5)  Getting to ER and thinking, "I've worked for this for so long.  Shouldn't it be fun?"

(1) - Health care will almost certainly change in some form, but it seems incredibly unlikely that you won't be able to afford decent health-care.  For starters, there's the "rule-of-the-masses' - the public won't stand for something that severely and negatively impacts a large percentage of the population.  For example, I don't believe that medicare could ever be repealed without something similar being offered because seniors would raise holy hell. 
Also - just remember that health care today at any level is far superior to what was available 50 years ago.  Put another way, even without any health care you are better off today than your grandparents were with the absolutely best health care plan.

(2) stay active and involved is my only real advice for the emotional side of things. Having a network of friends and relatives is the best method of coping with death.  As for accessing accounts - you can do that even if you aren't 59.5

(3) If you stay flexible the chance of being forced back into work seem small, especially given that you had a financial planner look over your plan.  That said, earning just 10-20% of your annual expenses can have a huge effect on the success rate of your savings.  For most this could be working just 1 day a week or a few weeks a year.

(4) Obselete doing what?  You might not be as competitive or even loose your credentials from your previous job, but that doesn't mean there are no other options available.  When you realize you don't need to earn nearly as much as you do now the possibilities are fantastic.

(5) This gets at what kind of person you are.  If your entire world and your sense of self-worth revolves around your job, then you should start addressing this now instead of waiting to get a non-work life until you are no longer working.  Do you have any hobbies, non-work friends or 'bucket-lists' now? 

Frankies Girl

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Re: Tips for not being anxious about ER?
« Reply #2 on: October 02, 2015, 03:14:56 PM »
You can "what if" yourself into an anxiety attack if you keep going on that path. I know, I've been there.

I am a serial worrier. I have always freaked out about the possibilities of something going wrong.

I retired this year and husband will be retiring next year, and we did this knowing our money had a whole lot less wiggle room than you have, and this was before this recent downturn, mind you. So we've lost a big chunk our investments at the moment and I should be freaking out and thinking about going back to work or discussion with the husband he can't quit next year (or ever!) If I was the me of last year, I would be in full panic mode right now.

But I am not that person any more. I realized that there are ALWAYS alternatives, solutions, patches to whatever life throws at you. And I'll adapt if we lose the ACA, or we lose half our portfolio, or whatever.

You are a smart, capable person - you'd have to be to have achieved what you have so far and to be on track for ER as well! Do not let the worry and anxiety derail your awesome plan and hopes and dreams. Assume the best, but prepare for the worst - you've done the preparation, so give yourself permission to think that the best is coming!

As far as your specific worries, they all have answers (at least this is what I'm thinking for my situation):

(1) ACA getting gutted, and then a key foundational piece of our plan is up in the air.  I'm a security-oriented person and the idea of having to beg for health insurance or not being able to get it freaks me out.
If we lose our health insurance, we pay out of pocket for it through the regular health exchanges. They existed before, and they are still around. Remember even MMM had insurance before the ACA. And we make sure to take good care of ourselves so we don't have as many sniffles and aches and pains in the meantime.

(2)  Something happens to my husband (for obvious emotional reasons), but also what if he would pass before I can tap my retirement accounts??
That's morbid. But I am a morbid person, and have made my husband aware of where things are and how to access things in the event something happens to me, and really that's the best anyone can do. If your husband passes away before 59.5... then you still access what accounts you need and pay whatever penalties are there. Paying a 10% penalty is not that bad and lots of people do it. As long as your investments are doing well, it's going to be a small amount anyway, and the chances of losing a spouse aren't so high as to believe this is absolutely going to happen anyway.

(3)  Having to go back to work.
That's our plan B, right after reducing expenses. Going back to work is not the end of the world. Might even be fun if it's just for a year or two to help a significantly depleted portfolio rebuild. But again, this is highly unlikely in your situation. You just have too large a cushion to lose really. I experienced serious burnout at my job. Leaving that place was the best thing I've ever done and I will never regret walking away. Even if that means I have to go find another job in 5 years, it was worth it.

(4)  Wanting to go back to work, but being obsolete.
Who says you need to go back into the same job you were doing? Maybe you take some classes in ER and discover you love doing something completely different? We are not defined by our careers - don't box yourself in like that. And also, why not consider that if you absolutely had to go back to work, get an easy and fun part time job somewhere. Because honestly you won't need to provide 100% of your living expenses from your back-to-work job anyway (that would take an epic country-wide financial meltdown that would probably mean you'd have much bigger things to worry about anyway).


(5)  Getting to ER and thinking, "I've worked for this for so long.  Shouldn't it be fun?"
You will enjoy it. It might take several months to a year to detox (I'm going on 7 months free and just now starting to feel really good and calm and happy) but it will happen. And you'll wonder why you ever worried you might be bored/sad about ER.

« Last Edit: October 04, 2015, 02:45:45 AM by Frankies Girl »

AllieVaulter

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Re: Tips for not being anxious about ER?
« Reply #3 on: October 02, 2015, 03:22:49 PM »
Remind yourself of your safety margins:  http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/10/17/its-all-about-the-safety-margin/

Work on an overall plan - not just a financial plan.  Remember, you're not retiring FROM work, you're retiring TO _____ (fill in the blank:  travel, volunteering, gardening, dancing, etc)

If becoming obsolete is a concern that won't go away - consider developing a skill that you can practice at any age.  You can teach classes at a local community college, consult, tutor, teach music lessons, write a book.  It doesn't have to be a lot of income, but just knowing that if the market tanks, you can earn at least the bare minimum to support yourself while the market corrects can make a huge difference. 

Reach out locally for a support group.  Start a book club, garden at the community garden, take dancing lessons...  Do the things that you enjoy! 

Gone Fishing

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Re: Tips for not being anxious about ER?
« Reply #4 on: October 02, 2015, 03:47:07 PM »
Drink more? 

Seriously though, I have been nervously excited for almost a year now, I know the feeling, 5 years of it might kill me. 

Budgets sounds pretty generous, have you looked at pulling the trigger earlier (not that it would help with the anxiety in the short term).  There are plenty of strategies to make work with the retirement account, so no reason to wait until 59.5 if you are happy with the numbers.   

Mother Fussbudget

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Re: Tips for not being anxious about ER?
« Reply #5 on: October 02, 2015, 04:02:51 PM »
Quote
Specifically, these are the things I worry about:
(1) ACA getting gutted, and then a key foundational piece of our plan is up in the air.  I'm a security-oriented person and the idea of having to beg for health insurance or not being able to get it freaks me out.
(2)  Something happens to my husband (for obvious emotional reasons), but also what if he would pass before I can tap my retirement accounts??
(3)  Having to go back to work.
(4)  Wanting to go back to work, but being obsolete.
(5)  Getting to ER and thinking, "I've worked for this for so long.  Shouldn't it be fun?"

Good investment plans, and bull markets often climb what the Wall Street regulars call "the wall of worry".  Worry is not necessarily a bad thing - it keeps you thinking about alternatives.  Your specific list should attract some feedback...  but I'd agree with Frankies Girl on practically everything.  My 2:
(1) Can't worry about it - but you can vote, and volunteer for candidates who think the way you think.
(2) The unexpected does happen - most of us plan with rose colored glasses, but we do well to plan for the worst, and hope for the best.  If your spouse pre-deceases you, his funds become available to you via the rules of an inherited IRA - a good article on that - including required minimum distributions is here .  If you're worried about whether you will out-live your money in this case, do another spreadsheet model, and in THAT version, calculate what your expenses will be in FIRE without your husband's expenses, but including his retirement savings to-date as part of your FIRE fund.  He should do the same calculation.  Again *IF* you're worried about this.
(3) Don't worry about going back to work - you're already doing what you can to make sure the probability of this happening is as low as you can make it.
(4) Second and third careers can be very rewarding.  Technical skills may go out of date, but good communication skills are always in need.  If this happens, you'll no doubt think outside-the-box, and come up with something with rewards beyond cash.  And these forums are a good place to get ideas.
(5) Fun and happiness are what you make of them.  An old friend tried to tell me YEARS ago some advice that I only really fully grasped 20 years later:  If you want to Be Happy...  BE HAPPY!   You have control over your own happiness.  Do things that add to your enjoyment of life.  Only YOU can define what those things are.  Do more of those things, and less of the things that feel like chores.  I read the book "Six Months Off" to plan and take a mini-sabbatical - you might try that and see whether you like the FIRE life.    But above all... Good Luck!  And worrying is okay, but don't worry to excess.

Trudie

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Re: Tips for not being anxious about ER?
« Reply #6 on: October 02, 2015, 06:52:56 PM »
Thanks for all the feedback, and keep it coming.  I find it reassuring to hear about others' experiences.

I love this site... people are so helpful with real world examples.

Best advice so far:  Drink More!  Haha.  Yes, I do like my vino.  A good friend of mine told me once that she knew it was time to retire when she hauled the recycling to the curb and heard too many empty wine bottles clinking around.

So, I do consider myself a person with interests.  These include:  reading, biking, running (I train for races and have done a marathon, several half marathons), cooking, genealogy, going to music concerts, watching indie films, gardening (although my interest has scaled back a bit in recent years), and following my favorite college sports team.  I'm somewhat of an introvert, but try to involve people when I can (on bike rides).  Because of my work schedule (very full time, involving a commute) I've found it difficult sometimes to involve people in my endeavors, but I try.

I would like to do more of all of the above.  At 45 I don't know if there are more marathons in my future, but I think there are running "adventures."  I think it would be amazing to run the rim of the Grand Canyon, or do half marathons in interesting places.  I'm so exhausted now though I can't think of training for another one at the moment.  In the last five years I've done more outdoor activities, and I enjoy being an active person year-round.

As with all of the above, I think I could probably adapt a little more and make the things I enjoy a little more social.  If I train for another marathon I'd like to do it with a team/running club.  I would like to grow more of my own vegetables, and I'm somewhat interested in the community gardening movement.  It seems there are always ways to foster the love of reading (and even indie films) at a public library.  I may volunteer there.

I think I am the opposite of some people.  I have a handful of co-workers I enjoy, but we are not social outside of work and I prefer it that way.    This is because we don't live in the same town.  I like it this way and think it is healthier; we're not getting together to bitch about the boss or griping about low morale (thus intensifying it).  I would like to spend more time nurturing the friendships I do have, though.

As for the professional stuff, right now I'm a CPA working for a private company.  I think when I hit the magic date I have no interest in ever reconciling another bank account, issuing financial statements, or cutting payroll checks again.  With that said, I am starting to think about side gigs involving my credential.  I have not worked much with tax at all (other than doing my own), but really enjoy it.  It's much more strategic and involves planning.  Financial accounting and audits are just cleaning up others' messes and reporting out on what already happened.  I have to take CPE anyway so I think in the next few years I'll try to load up on tax stuff.  At a minimum it will benefit me personally, and I may go to work for a firm for a tax season or two and see how I like it.

There are also lots of volunteer opportunities for people with my background -- everything from helping seniors with taxes to helping low-income folks get the earned income credit.  I'm not sure if I would enjoy it, but it is something I'm going to look into.

And sometimes I think it would be fun to work at a library, even part time... or volunteer.

I know I won't sit around.  Already I "practice" at retirement with my free time.  I don't think I'm awful at it.  Last Saturday, for instance, I biked down the big hill by my house, ran for an hour, hopped back on my back, went to the farmer's market and to the library (running into several friends along the way), then came home.  It was a beautiful day.

I probably should just calm down... there have been other times early in my life (graduate school) when I had more time than money and in my marriage when I was in transition and not working.  My recollection of all these times was that I really enjoyed the freedom.  I found things to do.  Eventually I felt the pressure to "get to work" but if I didn't have that pressure I think I'd adjust.

I think our budget is pretty generous, especially since we will pay off our house.  I think it's probably my way of compensating for anxiety... by creating a big buffer.

Keep the comments coming!

lhamo

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Re: Tips for not being anxious about ER?
« Reply #7 on: October 02, 2015, 10:16:25 PM »
You might want to consider purchasing a bit of extra term life insurance for one or both of you.  Especially on your DH, so that if something were to happen to him before you were 59 1/2 you would then have a bit of extra cushion that could help you delay tapping into retirement investments.  But as was pointed out above, if worse came to worst you could still access that money through 72t SEPP approaches, or withdraw principal contributions from Roths, or even just pay the taxes/penalties as needed.  But still, insurance is fairly inexpensive and might be worth the investment to give you greater peace of mind.

My DH is 10 years older than me so I do understand some of what you are feeling. But as with Frankie's Girl, I was getting so burned out/stressed at work that I decided to pull the plug early and am now semi-FIREd.  I'm doing some part time consulting that so far is going well.  But I'd be fine to give it up, too.  My projections have us ending up with more than 1mill in my accounts at age 100 even under worst case scenarios (high spending, low rate of return), so I think we're pretty good.  Once we sell our ridiculously valuable apartment, that is.  Nothing is certain until that cash is in hand. 

AllieVaulter

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Re: Tips for not being anxious about ER?
« Reply #8 on: October 02, 2015, 10:51:51 PM »
Trudie!  You sound like you're in a GREAT place!  Financially, socially, physically, mentally...  it's just your emotional state you've got to work on!  You and your husband are going to have a blast being retired! 

You've planned for what you can, you've made arrangements for what you can't plan for (CPE credits, life insurance), the rest is out of your hands.  Maybe you should try yoga or something to practice meditative techniques to let go of your worries.  Or, if you're Christian, study up on Matthew 6:25-34.  Or, you can find reassurance in your fellow MMMers who have faith in you.  ;)

MEER

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Re: Tips for not being anxious about ER?
« Reply #9 on: October 02, 2015, 10:54:48 PM »
I've worked part-time in a library. It was one of the best jobs I've had.

Trudie

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Re: Tips for not being anxious about ER?
« Reply #10 on: October 03, 2015, 12:50:04 PM »
You might want to consider purchasing a bit of extra term life insurance for one or both of you.  Especially on your DH, so that if something were to happen to him before you were 59 1/2 you would then have a bit of extra cushion that could help you delay tapping into retirement investments.  But as was pointed out above, if worse came to worst you could still access that money through 72t SEPP approaches, or withdraw principal contributions from Roths, or even just pay the taxes/penalties as needed.  But still, insurance is fairly inexpensive and might be worth the investment to give you greater peace of mind.

My DH is 10 years older than me so I do understand some of what you are feeling. But as with Frankie's Girl, I was getting so burned out/stressed at work that I decided to pull the plug early and am now semi-FIREd.  I'm doing some part time consulting that so far is going well.  But I'd be fine to give it up, too.  My projections have us ending up with more than 1mill in my accounts at age 100 even under worst case scenarios (high spending, low rate of return), so I think we're pretty good.  Once we sell our ridiculously valuable apartment, that is.  Nothing is certain until that cash is in hand.
lhamo - Interesting you should say this, because I brought up the subject with our TIAA-CREF guy.  He was going to get back to me on withdrawal "doomsday" scenarios.  Right now my husband has about $220K in term life insurance.  The plan when we fire, in which case we'd lose $100K of the employer-provided insurance, is to pay off the house with qualified investments.  He was going to check into SEPP options and annuitization, as well as the life insurance question.  At any rate, we'd be living in a house we own free and clear (most likely a low-upkeep condo or small house situation).  So it really is all about living expenses, which I would keep low.

Trudie

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Re: Tips for not being anxious about ER?
« Reply #11 on: October 03, 2015, 12:57:54 PM »
Trudie!  You sound like you're in a GREAT place!  Financially, socially, physically, mentally...  it's just your emotional state you've got to work on!  You and your husband are going to have a blast being retired! 

You've planned for what you can, you've made arrangements for what you can't plan for (CPE credits, life insurance), the rest is out of your hands.  Maybe you should try yoga or something to practice meditative techniques to let go of your worries.  Or, if you're Christian, study up on Matthew 6:25-34.  Or, you can find reassurance in your fellow MMMers who have faith in you.  ;)

@AllieVaulter - Thanks for the lift.  Funny thing is, I do go to yoga... but I'm like the most unflexible/stiff person ever to go to yoga classes.  I'm in a slow yoga class but last week was so frustrated at my inability to do the stretches that I was muttering bad words under my breath.  I think I may have messed with someone's "chi" and feel bad for that.  And, I am a practicing Christian so will look up Matthew ASAP.  Along those lines, I'm doing a nine-month spiritual formation experience right now and I do think it's helping to bring my life into focus.  I do not discuss retirement so much, per se, but invariably the discussion comes around to living with intention, simplicity, integrity; being of service to others.  I sometimes feel that in this phase of my life I am becoming more of my true self, stripping away that which does not work for me, and thinking a great deal about what it really means to "live."  I do think it will be transformative for me.

Trudie

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Re: Tips for not being anxious about ER?
« Reply #12 on: October 03, 2015, 01:01:07 PM »
I've worked part-time in a library. It was one of the best jobs I've had.

Good to hear.  I have a former co-worker who worked at a resort growing up.  He said he always liked it because people were happy when they were around.

I like the same about libraries.  People are generally there to relax, to read, to enjoy themselves, and to improve themselves.  I think that even re-shelving books or working in circulation could be fun.  It's interesting to see what other people read.

ShortInSeattle

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Re: Tips for not being anxious about ER?
« Reply #13 on: October 03, 2015, 08:05:53 PM »
Really good advice here. I'll add one thing.

We're rapidly approaching FI (and semi-retirement) and the closer we got to giving up our steady high paying jobs the more freaked out I felt. Running the numbers didn't help. I kept thinking we were making a mistake and surely we would regret our audacity. It was an emotional panic not a rational one.

Eventually I decided to trust myself and DH to deal with whatever would come our way. I trust our ability to adjust if things go wrong, or if circumstances change, or if we need more money.

There are no guarantees. You do your best to prepare, you decide when you're ready, and you trust yourself to adapt as needed. If you wait for certainty you wait forever.

So do you trust yourself to deal rationally with the uncertainties ahead?

SIS

Trudie

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Re: Tips for not being anxious about ER?
« Reply #14 on: October 03, 2015, 09:27:46 PM »


There are no guarantees. You do your best to prepare, you decide when you're ready, and you trust yourself to adapt as needed. If you wait for certainty you wait forever.

So do you trust yourself to deal rationally with the uncertainties ahead?

SIS

When it comes to stuff like this -- despite hand-wringing -- I usually am pretty rational.  But I also know that I am a "security-oriented " person and that sometimes holds me back from acting sooner rather than later.  When you get right down to it, security is really an illusion.  I mean, you do need to prepare but how can we know what curve balls life has in store for us -- rather we're working or not?

It's probably important to tell yourself, "This is going to work out, no matter what."  The truth is, life is a continued series of adaptations. 

I'm reflecting on how we can give our "adaptation muscles" a work out.  Sometimes these are simple habits, like eating at home more and putting off spending decisions.  Sometimes adaptation is involved in the simple decisions we make each day to put up with some inconvenience and do a little more sweat equity.

This site helps reinforce rationalism.  It's helpful. 

ShortInSeattle

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Re: Tips for not being anxious about ER?
« Reply #15 on: October 04, 2015, 06:38:11 PM »
I'm a security oriented person too. I can relate!

Turning off the money-spigot is so damn scary. Even if you can turn it back on again. :)

Trudie

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Re: Tips for not being anxious about ER?
« Reply #16 on: October 04, 2015, 06:51:46 PM »
I'm a security oriented person too. I can relate!

Turning off the money-spigot is so damn scary. Even if you can turn it back on again. :)

I'm working on alternatives for the money spigot; as a side benefit preparing for my "Plan B" may be impetus to cut the cord sooner.  At least admitting that I'm a security-oriented person allows me to address it head on.