Author Topic: Wading through uncertain times  (Read 3655 times)

Loren Ver

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Wading through uncertain times
« on: June 18, 2017, 01:08:16 PM »
I don't really have a specific question, mostly just venting my current situation.  Advice or guidance would not be unwelcome though :).

So DH and I have a plan to retire when I hit 40.  That's about 5 years.  I made the plan and I like the plan.  It is a good plan.  We have been doing this plan since we were in college.  My dad retired at 40-ish so I had a decent guide.

I am the main breadwinner making over double what DH makes.  I also get classy benefits like 401k and stock buys.  In 2016 our pre-tax combined income was over $100,000 for the the first time!  Our post tax savings rate has climbed to 50% (not including things like 401k and other pretax goodies).  The only debt is my remaining student loan at 1.88% interest (letting inflation eat that) and 12 years left on our mortgage (a small, low cost house). 

DH designed a wooden dragon guarding a treasure pile that I can update with more treasure as our stash grows.  Classy!  We are a simple people.

Things are good!

Then my company decides to go off and start merging with another company.  *sigh*
The close date is August.  The likelihood of my job being located here in the future is really really low.   :(. 
Now I am dealing with much uncertainty.  Not good for someone that structures their life to avoid uncertainty.  In the company I am an unimportant cog that has been there 9 years.  I will say I am known for being a good employee, I get hard stuff done, I am good to work with, and generally people like me.  This also mean I get a lot of garbage dumped on me since I actually get it done.

The things to consider:
We can live off DH's pay.  It would be tight but we can do it.  We picked our house assuming one low income so we'd be okay if something bad happened.  The savings rate would tank.  The current investments would keep growing, but retire at 40 would go bye bye. 

The company could offer me a job at the other location.  If I take it, DH will have to leave his job.  Him finding jobs he can tolerate is low, I am more flexible.  The new location has a higher cost of living.  The new place does not have our friends and family.  <--- this is a real hard one.
I've also been doing my job for 9 years so it might be time for a change.  So, I most likely will say no to a move, but if there is an offer, I'd like to see it.

They could offer me a new role that stays local.  This would be the most awesome.  I have been applying to openings, but nothing yet.

They let me go and I get 2 weeks pay for each year service.  Then I find something else to do.

They let me go and laugh at me as I walk out. I find something else to do.

I could find another similar job on my own.  I've been looking.  My company pays the best in the area.  If I do something similar, I will take about a 40% pay cut.  I figure milking my current role for as long as possible is best, especially if there might be a severance.  If they let me go, find another job.  It is only for a few years.

I could also find a new career path.  I currently work in the Sciences, but my true strengths are planning, organizing and getting things done (with an easy going personality and analytical mindset).  I don't need to work in science, even if science is the coolest.  I am good at helping people with their finances and future planning (I meet with people from work and help them plan their financial futures - LOVE doing this).  Not sure how to make my skills into an actual job.  With about 5 years left it seems easier to just be a cog and then walk away once I am done doing that. 

The new career path is where I spend most of my time thinking about.  I am not great at IT or computers, so those avenues would be out.  Sales also makes me sad, and the financial industry is almost entirely a sales industry.  Grr.  I am heavily considering starting a financial guidance business that does no sales.  That way you get the advice you need without feeling like you are being sold something.  Could be a fun side job.

But mostly I am just waiting to see what happens and watching all the rats jump ship!

LV




Hargrove

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Re: Wading through uncertain times
« Reply #1 on: June 18, 2017, 03:07:37 PM »
It's impossible to give great advice without numbers. Saving just under 50k a year for (some period up to) 9 years may mean your pay is irrelevant and you're just cushioning your FI number at this point anyway, so a pay cut for a job you're enthusiastic about might be just fine.

Whether your house appreciated or depreciated in value is also relevant. Whether you can just be SAH and take a kind of early FI/homebody approach may be just fine for your husband, too, or maybe that would drive one or both of you nuts? If your bills drop from not working (no commute, sell the second car, no more lunch dates) but you pocket 1/3 of a year's pay in severance in addition to working through the end of the year, you may be in a great position not to worry so much about the last 5 years. Most of your savings is in compounding now.

Loren Ver

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Re: Wading through uncertain times
« Reply #2 on: June 18, 2017, 03:46:29 PM »
Good point Hargrove.  Encouraging too :).

The stash is currently $490,000.  The goal is $875,000, at 4%, this gives us $35,000 per year to play with.  That is roughly what we are living on now plus the cost of employment.  We add about $3500 per month to the pile, my company adds about $270.   

Edit for house.  The house value has not changed much.  It cost us about $79,500 to buy and its worth about that much now as far as I have been able to determine (looking at comps near me). 

LV
« Last Edit: June 18, 2017, 03:48:36 PM by Loren Ver »

Hargrove

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Re: Wading through uncertain times
« Reply #3 on: June 18, 2017, 04:08:28 PM »
Good point Hargrove.  Encouraging too :).

The stash is currently $490,000.  The goal is $875,000, at 4%, this gives us $35,000 per year to play with.  That is roughly what we are living on now plus the cost of employment.  We add about $3500 per month to the pile, my company adds about $270.   

Edit for house.  The house value has not changed much.  It cost us about $79,500 to buy and its worth about that much now as far as I have been able to determine (looking at comps near me). 

LV

687,250. That's how much you have in 5 years (projected) without doing anything. 8 years gets you to 841,911. If you save another 25k this year, 722,313 is yours in 5 years, 884,866 in 8 years, if you save not a single dollar.

SO, you only need a job to cut the remaining 3 years of savings off that 8 year window if that's really important to you. If not, you're already done - go find a job you enjoy. If you need to cut the three years, in order to retire in 5 years instead of 8, then Saving 875,000 - 722,313 = 152,687/5 = 30,537 in savings needed a year.

If I had to take a flying guess that DH was making 30k and you were making 70k, I would venture another flying guess that you know you could trim the budget quite a bit if you could have survived on DH's income alone (living on 30k instead of 50k). If you do that trimming and make just ~40k or so and save the rest, you'll hit fire in 5 years anyway. If you do NOT do that trimming, you'll have to make closer to 60k, but it doesn't sound like that's crazy for you either. At your own projected 40% pay cut, with the trimming, you're actually still in line to fire on time.

All together, I think you're actually in a great spot to pursue whatever you might enjoy doing - just enjoy it more (without the trimming) to retire at 43, or enjoy it a little less and retire at 40.

Since your retirement goal may factor in no-work-costs, but is still a lower number than you're spending right now, you may want to practice spending less anyway so that retirement feels like a raise (when you stop spending for work) instead of a downsizing. Good luck!
« Last Edit: June 18, 2017, 04:12:27 PM by Hargrove »

Loren Ver

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Re: Wading through uncertain times
« Reply #4 on: June 19, 2017, 03:04:20 PM »
:D.

Thank you Hargrove, I really appreciate it.  Sometimes it is good to have someone else point things out. 

Less stress more live!

LV

spokey doke

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Re: Wading through uncertain times
« Reply #5 on: June 20, 2017, 10:46:42 AM »
I hate uncertainty too, and I'm a planner, so I understand you going through these exercises...BUT, you don't know what is going to happen with the new company and will just have to wait and see. Keep an open mind. 

In any case, you might reframe the situation from one of uncertainty and anxiety to opportunity and excitement.  You have lots of options and the security of your stache, your lifestyle  and resourcefulness, and your abilities and reputation.  Have some fun checking out the new location before deciding it would be bad, including opp's for your DH.  Keep checking out the options for employment where you are.  Consider what you want to do after 9 years of the same thing in the same place...embrace it all

homestead neohio

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Re: Wading through uncertain times
« Reply #6 on: June 20, 2017, 11:19:47 AM »
I've been on a VERY similar journey for the past 1.5 years.  I was planning to just work for enough years to hit a target FI number, then stop.  Acquisition by megacorp leads to uncertainty.  Uncertainty turns into layoff with lots of notice, relocation offer is entirely unattractive and I get to decide what is next for me in my LCOL area near family and friends.  Feel free to check out my journal, link in my signature line below.  I started it 9 months ago after a site closure announcement.

Hargrove gave some good advice that is similar to what we're doing.  We embarked on a 2017 "freedom" budget to see if we could trim our FI number down, turns out we can.  I've looked into doing lower-paying jobs I would like which include learning skills I value, instead of doing science cube job I'm no longer excited about, but am good at.  Turns out I can work to cover expenses for a few years and the stash continues to grow until I hit that FI number.   I declare myself done maximizing income doing a job I'm tired of.  For me, this will be a step towards FIRE, even if I'm still working, because I'll do something closer to home that I enjoy and aligns with my values.  I consider it Semi-FIRE or downshifting and a sizable existing stash makes it possible.

spokey doke has good advice on reframing.   You are on an adventure.  Even if you company does close the site, it is an interesting experience you can choose to participate in, or something you can walk away from.  Weigh the options and decide what you want to do and make it happen.  I'm amazed at how stress free the changes have been so far.

I'll just add that uncertainty is everywhere, and certainty is largely an illusion we perpetually create, and that requires a lot of energy.  You are not in control of your employment situation and that is ok.  If you can embrace this instead of using your life energy to convince yourself of something you already know is not true, you'll have made progress.  You've done a great job saving up which can provide a lot of security if things fall apart for your current job.  They are not falling apart at this time, you are just more aware of some uncertainty which was always present, but having that security is awesome.

This can be a beautiful dawning of new opportunities.  For me it was a kick in the pants to find ways to make good changes happen sooner.  Congrats on living below your means and saving so much.

Laura33

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Re: Wading through uncertain times
« Reply #7 on: June 20, 2017, 12:09:07 PM »
First, I'm sorry.

Second, while I know this doesn't help at all now, this is a good learning experience for you.  The reality is that control is an illusion; all of our lives are subject to the whims of forces beyond our control.  Anything from "I could get run down going to get DD this afternoon" to "holy crap, I have the winning Powerball ticket."  When you actually feel comfortable and safe, that is when you are in fact most vulnerable -- because now you have pinned your happiness on attaining a specific outcome, and so a threat to that outcome is in fact a threat to your long-term happiness. 

The real key to longer-term happiness is to learn to be comfortable with uncertainty.  And you do this by jerking your mind away from fixating on specific pre-determined outcomes and focusing instead on what you do actually control:  you.  So what can you do now in response to this uncertainty?  You can cut your budget and see what living on your partner's salary feels like.  You can investigate other jobs in the area.  You can talk to a career counselor or someone else to help you define what you're good at and what you can enjoy.  You can talk to a therapist for ways to manage your stress.  You can focus on proper nutrition and sleep and exercise and other self-care.  You can think about entirely different options and paths that you ignored when you were entirely fixated on your chosen plan.  You can remind yourself that you always, always have choices -- some are better, some are worse, and even if none is exactly what you'd prefer, you have the power to evaluate and choose the best one for you.  Etc.  And you can remind yourself that you have skills and knowledge and value and a supportive spouse, and you will get through this. 

The reason this is a good thing in the long-term is that everyone has things go off-track at some point.  How bad would it be if you made it to, say, 70 or 80 with everything going as planned, and then get hit with something serious?  It would likely just knock you out, because you had no opportunity to build those "dealing with adversity" muscles, no chance to learn that you don't need a specific outcome to be happy.  When you get blindsided by something or thrown off-track, and you get through it, you earn more confidence in your own ability to handle whatever curve balls life throws at you down the road.  Which makes you stronger in the end, because you know your happiness is in your own hands, not vested in some force outside your control.  And that is the only true control we have.

Schaefer Light

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Re: Wading through uncertain times
« Reply #8 on: June 20, 2017, 01:05:10 PM »
Laura offered some good advice above related to only focusing on those things which are within your realm of control.  I can understand why you're stressed out right now, but trust me when I say you could be in a much worse situation.  You've already got a nice nest egg built up, and you still have your husband's income to pay the bills.  And even more importantly, you have his love and support in whatever may happen to you.  Given what's happened to me over the past 19 days, I'd gladly pay someone $100k or more to be in your situation.  I won't get into my situation too much, but there are much worse things in life than the possibility of job loss and maybe having to work a few more years before retirement.  I probably wouldn't have said that last month, but what I'm dealing with now has been an eye-opening experience.  Try to be grateful for all the good things in your life and find comfort in the knowledge that you've already saved waaaaaay more than the average couple. 

Loren Ver

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Re: Wading through uncertain times
« Reply #9 on: June 21, 2017, 06:37:56 PM »
Thank you all so very much!

I love the voice of reason I am getting here.  At work it is all just different forms of panic from people and it just keeps building (especailly as more people jump ship).  I was giving the power of decision over to my company and that isn't where it belongs.  I had a feeling if I posted my concerns I'd get some sympathy, some solid advice, and then a little kick in the butt!

I do feel much better.  I've even taken on on a biking challenge and have been cranking out rides with a coworker on our new crazy schedules. 

Things really are good. 

Sincerely - Thank you.

PS Schaefer Light - I hope things get better for you

edit - i can't spell

Schaefer Light

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Re: Wading through uncertain times
« Reply #10 on: June 22, 2017, 06:15:28 AM »

PS Schaefer Light - I hope things get better for you


Thanks.  Me, too.