Author Topic: Is there a case for delaying retirement?  (Read 5100 times)

lifepopsicle

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Is there a case for delaying retirement?
« on: April 07, 2016, 12:33:00 PM »
Hello friends, My husband and I are facing a crossroads and I'm hoping the community might have some wise advice to offer. We have been working for 7 years since graduating from college, my husband as a Software Developer turned tech lead and myself as a recruiting/sales/marketing ninja also in tech. Overtime we have built up good salaries and we are now saving about 60-70% of our income. He makes a bit more than me, but we are able to save his entire paycheck along with some of mine and still live the same great lifestyle often described by MMM. We are about five or six years away from early retirement with our current situation. Kids are probably a couple of years down the road.

The kicker - my husband is not happy in his job. Moreover, he's disenchanted with work. He likes mentoring and leading others but is bored out of his mind and when he does code, it's in a proprietary language created in the 70s. He can't snatch a job as a programmer at a cool agency or up and coming product company because he's not up to date with modern technologies. He isn't sure what he wants but he knows he is unsatisfied and missing something bigger. He has suggested to me/asked me if he might take some time away from work (maybe a year? six months?) to learn new technologies, dabble with things, and just figure out what he wants. Kind of like taking a year off to get a master's degree, except for free and without an overrated piece of paper at the end.

I get this idea and I want it for him, but it feels really scary to me. Not so much because we can't afford it, but because I don't want to slow our progress toward early retirement. I'm also afraid of those nagging what-if questions - what if he doesn't figure out what he wants? What if he never wants to go back to work? What if he just spends all the time playing video games? (I know, I should have more faith!) On the other hand, I generally feel like when something scares you in an exciting kind of way, you should probably do it. What do you guys think? For those already retired, are there hidden benefits to a year off? Please help :)
« Last Edit: April 07, 2016, 12:38:12 PM by lifepopsicle »

forummm

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Re: Is there a case for delaying retirement?
« Reply #1 on: April 07, 2016, 12:44:27 PM »
Could he learn something new or update his skills in his spare time? Could he get a different job that maybe pays less but would be more fun and open up better jobs in the future?

GuitarStv

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Re: Is there a case for delaying retirement?
« Reply #2 on: April 07, 2016, 12:56:34 PM »
I think taking some time off to learn a new skill is a great idea if:

- You know exactly what language you're taking the time off to learn
- You have checked the local job market and regularly see jobs offered for this language
- You have a study plan that you will stick to for five or six hours a day for the whole period of time
- You don't take more than six months off (a year long absence to dick around is harder to explain in an interview)
- You have some people at your current work who will be good references for future job seeking.

Once all that shit is in place, do it.  It'll be a long term benefit to your career.  If all that sounds like too much work/no fun . . . then taking the time off is probably not best for you.


(There's also a case to be made for doing the studying and learning after work hours.  It's less fun, but you don't take any risks this way.)

mozar

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Re: Is there a case for delaying retirement?
« Reply #3 on: April 07, 2016, 12:56:54 PM »
I think if you are worried about him following through, you should listen to yourself. It's not impossible for him to take a course to update his skillset and look for a new job while working, and you're right that taking a year off might not lead to anything. Can he take a month off? I'm also not sure that he is taking your concerns into consideration.

SKL-HOU

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Re: Is there a case for delaying retirement?
« Reply #4 on: April 07, 2016, 01:01:45 PM »
I would be scared too. Can he go down to part time and learn while working part time at the same place?

JoJo

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Re: Is there a case for delaying retirement?
« Reply #5 on: April 07, 2016, 01:12:25 PM »
So is the alternative to make him miserable for 6 more years so you can retire 6-12 months earlier?


Trede

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Re: Is there a case for delaying retirement?
« Reply #6 on: April 07, 2016, 01:32:14 PM »
I'm on the far side of the "husband hated his profession, needed to find himself" journey, so thought I'd chime in with my experience.  I married a just-starting-out attorney, but today he's six novels into his scifi writing career.  So, big swing, and it took years since there was a second non-starter career in between.  I can't tell from the original post, and your husband may not know, if his career switch is "different kind of programmer" or "different kind of life."  I suspect the possibility of the latter scares you more than the former?

There's no easy answer.  Yes, my early retirement is delayed a couple years due to his new trajectory.  But, it was also delayed by a couple years by my own bone-headed financial decisions of the past.  Today I count them the same, lessons of life and all that.  At the time, what I knew was that my husband was miserable, and we could live on my salary while he figured out a different path.  At the time it helped he had a second career target (which involved an extra year of schooling), but like I said that didn't work out (job market, but also I truly believe he wouldn't have been happy then either).  It may happen that way, and yeah, in the middle there I grew more concerned.  But, now on the other side, I wouldn't change a thing.  He's found his calling.  Sometimes I still wish we had the salary of his that didn't happen, because who wouldn't, and I'd be done.  But we're still better off the way it worked out if you prioritize happiness over the earliest retirement possible.

smalllife

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Re: Is there a case for delaying retirement?
« Reply #7 on: April 07, 2016, 01:40:30 PM »
Following (as someone in your husband's shoes at the moment, but without a related field I could move into).

@Trede: that was very comforting to hear.  My husband has offered once we hit a milestone in less than a year, but I feel guilty taking him up on it.

mozar

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Re: Is there a case for delaying retirement?
« Reply #8 on: April 07, 2016, 01:45:30 PM »
Sounds like Trede's husband had a plan, but the OP's husband doesn't. That would make me nervous.

lifepopsicle

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Re: Is there a case for delaying retirement?
« Reply #9 on: April 07, 2016, 01:55:16 PM »
These are all really great points. Many of you mentioned, can't he learn some of this on the side? And the honest answer is yes - he absolutely can. Can't we all if we set our minds to it? He has started diving into Python lately in his spare time - but his usual excuse is that he's so sick of working he doesn't want to come home and do more of it. The common theme seems to be around having a more concise plan, and I agree.

I think there are two things here:

If we follow this path, I need to push him a little more to come up with a plan and prove (through side work or other forms of demonstrating commitment) that he would execute.

There's a bigger question - does he want to be a different type of programmer or does he want to do something different altogether? The second is definitely more intimidating as Trede pointed out.

I also wonder if there is a common "burn out" phase that might occur when you're striving for early retirement. We've been in the game for about four years now, so almost half way there. Our lives are peachy but it's probably normal to start feeling sick of work when your goal is focused on retirement rather than building a career. Has anyone else experienced that?

Villanelle

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Re: Is there a case for delaying retirement?
« Reply #10 on: April 07, 2016, 01:57:08 PM »
I would tell him that I was on board with discussing it, but that if this he something he wants, he needs to come up with a specific plan.  Once he know what he wants to learn and how he will go about that (what programs or course, and how long they take and what they cost), some research on that job market to see if it is viable, and has a specific timeline, I would probably be willing to make this our plan, assuming the details were reasonable.  I'd probably also want some sort of timeline for work for return in a less than ideal scenario.  So if his learning place was 9 months, if at 13 months he had no job offers, he would agree to take other work until he got something in the new field.  I might also have a conversation about expectations WRT housework, he progressing through the study plan, etc.  If he's having trouble diving in to this in his spare time, he may have trouble diving in to it when it is sunny outside or when he's found a good book, or...

I think there's a lot of room for compromise on this one, but I wouldn't feel comfortable with so much of being just a vague "find my bliss" situation, with no direction and no plan.  If my husband wanted this, I'd be on board, but I'd need bot of us to know exactly what kind of ship it is we are boarding. 

deborah

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Re: Is there a case for delaying retirement?
« Reply #11 on: April 07, 2016, 03:10:39 PM »
I faced this sort of problem, and my solution was to take a holiday - two weeks off to work out what I wanted to do. It was the work of reframing the rest of my life. And it worked.

I made a list, before I took the holiday, of the things that were really bugging me, that were never getting done, and would help smooth my life after I went back to work. One of them was working out a better way to get to work and home again each day. Another was to work out what I would take to work for lunch. While I was on my holiday, I ticked all these things off the list, and they made work so much easier.

But there was also the "what do I want to do with the rest of my life" thing, that I gradually worked through while I was on holiday. This was more important to me, but I did both to ensure that I had something good to show for the time I had off - think of it in terms of short term and long term planning. The short term stuff meant that I had more time in my life to continue the long term stuff after the holiday.

It worked so well that I did it again a few years later.

mozar

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Re: Is there a case for delaying retirement?
« Reply #12 on: April 07, 2016, 07:31:27 PM »
Full disclosure I was feeling burnt out of my job because I was working 80 a week in 2012. I couldn't take it anymore so I quit with no plan. But I did have savings so I could pay rent. I was also very depressed. Quitting didn't fix anything. I was still depressed and had not resolved any questions for what to do with my life. I didn't start to feel like I had a plan or any direction until I got treatment for depression a couple years later. So maybe he's depressed? Not the "blues" but having trouble thinking through things?

If you're halfway how much would FIRE be delayed with just you working for the next 4 years? Can you cut back expenses? I'm wondering if he can quit and just be a stay at home husband, and not having to worry about whether he's bringing in money. He already has contributed quit a bit to the FIRE fund. Would he want to be a stay at home dad? I'm just throwing out ideas.

Quote
If we follow this path, I need to push him a little more to come up with a plan and prove (through side work or other forms of demonstrating commitment) that he would execute.

This is what concerns me the most. It sounds like he doesn't have agency in his life. Pushing might make him feel resentful. I don't know if he thinks its your job to push him or you think its your job to push him but don't do his emotional labor for him.

Rural

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Re: Is there a case for delaying retirement?
« Reply #13 on: April 08, 2016, 05:33:39 AM »
A year ago we did pretty much exactly this, though it was ten years into this career, and my husband is going back to school full time. It's been an adjustment, but the man I married is back, and that's worth any amount of money. I would not have wanted to make the shorter push to retirement with him so miserable - not worth it. And I say that knowing that there won't be any "early"to our retirements now.


But it does help to have a plan. He might find some of the coding MOOCs would give him a ready-made plan and some structure if he's too overwhelmed now to think it through clearly, and those are free.

ender

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Re: Is there a case for delaying retirement?
« Reply #14 on: April 08, 2016, 05:52:51 AM »
He can't snatch a job as a programmer at a cool agency or up and coming product company because he's not up to date with modern technologies

Citation needed?

This reads like your speculation and not the result of an actual job search. Has he actually been turned down at many companies and agencies?

I don't know if I can agree that this statement is true, considering I just made this transition from doing SAP stuff to a company working with languages that didn't exist 5 years ago.

Paul der Krake

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Re: Is there a case for delaying retirement?
« Reply #15 on: April 08, 2016, 05:56:32 AM »
I know for a fact that there are software shops in and around Raleigh that do not give a hoot about knowing language X or Y. Your husband should jump if he's miserable. Software is a seller's market right now.

lifepopsicle

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Re: Is there a case for delaying retirement?
« Reply #16 on: April 08, 2016, 09:20:48 AM »
Paul der Krake & ender, you guys aren't wrong about the software market in Raleigh.
I know for a fact that there are software shops in and around Raleigh that do not give a hoot about knowing language X or Y. Your husband should jump if he's miserable. Software is a seller's market right now.

I'm a technical recruiter for a software & design company in the area so I know the market well and that's where that statement comes from. I shouldn't have said *can't* - anything is possible. However since he's a tech lead he's barely coding now and when he does it's in ABAP (SAP's priority language) - he would struggle through a technical interview right now in most modern technologies. This doesn't mean he needs to take a year off though to get up to speed, which is what I'm hoping to help him see. He is very conscientious and often underestimates his own value and skill. Ender, I'd be curious what your technical interview was like if you didn't know the languages they were working in.

In terms of a larger view point, I really appreciate the comment posted by deborah suggesting a "holiday" to regroup and gain perspective.
I faced this sort of problem, and my solution was to take a holiday - two weeks off to work out what I wanted to do. It was the work of reframing the rest of my life. And it worked.
His job is inflexible in terms of part-time work and even general hours, but he could take a couple of weeks of vacation or a few weeks unpaid.

I also appreciate this from Mozar:
I don't know if he thinks its your job to push him or you think its your job to push him but don't do his emotional labor for him.
Some good food for thought.

ender

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Re: Is there a case for delaying retirement?
« Reply #17 on: April 08, 2016, 05:42:40 PM »
Quote
Ender, I'd be curious what your technical interview was like if you didn't know the languages they were working in.

Some companies will hire for "are you smart?" and "are you capable of doing a job?" and others will hire for "do you meet this checklist of boxes?"

You want to find companies looking for the first two, not the last one. Interviews for the former will focus more on your intellect and ability to learn. The latter will be... less good for someone in that situation. Unless he's a bad tech lead I think there would be opportunities out there -- if you look for them.

formerlydivorcedmom

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Re: Is there a case for delaying retirement?
« Reply #18 on: April 11, 2016, 10:51:44 PM »
Quote
Ender, I'd be curious what your technical interview was like if you didn't know the languages they were working in.

Some companies will hire for "are you smart?" and "are you capable of doing a job?" and others will hire for "do you meet this checklist of boxes?"

You want to find companies looking for the first two, not the last one. Interviews for the former will focus more on your intellect and ability to learn. The latter will be... less good for someone in that situation. Unless he's a bad tech lead I think there would be opportunities out there -- if you look for them.

Yes, this!!!

I got my current job without knowing the technologies used.  I was super-confident in my ability to learn the details, because I already know the basics (as does your husband, since he is a technical lead).  I did take a step down in title and a bump in pay, but in just 2 years I've been promoted to my old title and am making more than I was before. 

I got the interview not because of my skills, but because my cover letter hit directly on one of the company's core culture values (it's a hospital, and I mentioned that I wanted to work there because of the kindness that all the employees had shown my family years ago when a family member was a patient).   I then just had to impress the hiring manager that I had initiative and grit.

It can be a long and difficult process to find that right fit.  I had several interviews that were totally technical and left me extremely demoralized. 

If your husband can define what he likes best about his job, it will help him find what he should be looking for.  Is it a particular type of coding?  Database work versus application work?  Training?  Mentoring?  Processes?  Then he can tailor his resume to highlight those skills, and the right hiring manager will notice.

ender

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Re: Is there a case for delaying retirement?
« Reply #19 on: April 12, 2016, 05:56:18 AM »
If your husband can define what he likes best about his job, it will help him find what he should be looking for.  Is it a particular type of coding?  Database work versus application work?  Training?  Mentoring?  Processes?  Then he can tailor his resume to highlight those skills, and the right hiring manager will notice.

Adding to this, keep in mind he does not have to fit 100% of the companies he applies for or looks at - just one. Only one company has to be willing to hire him, even if he applies to 5 or 10 or 25.





zolotiyeruki

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Re: Is there a case for delaying retirement?
« Reply #20 on: April 12, 2016, 08:25:29 AM »
The kicker - my husband is not happy in his job. Moreover, he's disenchanted with work. He likes mentoring and leading others but is bored out of his mind and when he does code, it's in a proprietary language created in the 70s. He can't snatch a job as a programmer at a cool agency or up and coming product company because he's not up to date with modern technologies. He isn't sure what he wants but he knows he is unsatisfied and missing something bigger. He has suggested to me/asked me if he might take some time away from work (maybe a year? six months?) to learn new technologies, dabble with things, and just figure out what he wants. Kind of like taking a year off to get a master's degree, except for free and without an overrated piece of paper at the end.
The bolded part is what would have me most concerned, for two reasons:
1) the feeling of missing out can be extremely misleading, and smells of keeping-up-with-the-Joneses.  Yes, the startup world sounds sexy, but it's nowhere near as exciting as it appears on the outside.
2) he doesn't have a direction

I certainly sympathize with this:
Quote
He has started diving into Python lately in his spare time - but his usual excuse is that he's so sick of working he doesn't want to come home and do more of it.
I've felt the same way.

If I were in your shoes, I'd press him to figure out what he *really* wants to do.  "Bored out of his mind" describes how I felt at a previous job.  Is he actually busy all day doing boring stuff, or does he have a lot of down time at work, during which he could pick up on other programming languages or other skills?

Fuzz

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Re: Is there a case for delaying retirement?
« Reply #21 on: April 12, 2016, 07:35:18 PM »
What about one of those code or dev bootcamps? They are like 15-19 week sprints. He probably doesn't *need* it, but it would be fun, he'd rock it (because he already knows how to think in code), and he'd be with a bunch of excited people, and have some structured interviews at the end of it.

I say go for it. If he is miserable, don't stay. Life is short. Just be sure it's actually the job part that sucks.

spokey doke

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Re: Is there a case for delaying retirement?
« Reply #22 on: April 13, 2016, 08:36:12 AM »
Notes from the other side here, as I am in the process of quitting my cushy career that I find demoralizing, with my DW's support (moral and financial, as she will keep working her current job).

First, I agree with those who want to see a plan before jumping ship.  I've been burned out for many years and just wanted to quit and find something more meaningful, and my wife would remind me that that was not really a plan (at least not one she was comfortable with).  So I spent a few years considering options seriously, doing some training, and working on the small business plan that charts out and shows the feasibility of the next phase.  DW has been very supportive, but was much more comfortable with me not quitting until I had a complete, viable business plan worked out.

And when I am completely honest, DW was right to hold out for specifics, as I would have taken the opportunity to just quit and work on the house and garden and cook and read some good books and go skiing and never 'work' again.  I think her justified response would be 'seriously?!' - in part based on financial concerns, but more for concerns about my own satisfaction and sense of direction.

I'll also note that there was a really productive shift in mindset when I switched from just obsessing on how much I hated my job to 1. actually planning to quit in the future (and dealing with the consequences) 2. concretely pursuing something else that I'm interested in

Slow&Steady

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Re: Is there a case for delaying retirement?
« Reply #23 on: April 13, 2016, 09:16:56 AM »
We are taking a delayed retirement path.  My DH has health issues that are made worse by stress and heat, so a few years ago we decided that quality of life now is worth more than a potential early retirement. 

Two years ago he quite his full-time job to work part-time as a realtor and take on more of the kid/house duties.  We are still living (and saving) on mostly my salary as it takes a while to start making money as a realtor and even longer when not doing it full-time (when he gets a commission it goes towards extra debt payments and savings goals).  My only advise is to make sure you both have a clear understanding of what each person is going to be responsible for and how long the new arrangement is going to continue.  I highly recommend a cut-off date, such as the new adventure is not profitable after # months than a different path needs to be looked at.  I occasionally have some internal issues that we have to work though with what my expectation are vs his reality and he occasionally has his own internal issues with "not providing for his family".  I would recommend doing this before having kids as they throw a different wrench into things, one of my big struggles is seeing the amount of money going to daycare vs the amount of money his is making as a realtor are not always positive, him not working at all or him working full-time (at a different job) would be more monetarily beneficial than part-time most months.

Even though my post isn't entirely positive, I am not unhappy with our choice.  I would not want my DH to continue to work full-time at the cost of his health but I do feel that we could have been prepared for the internal challenges of one income.