Author Topic: Not Financially Savvy Nurse looking for Advice  (Read 3231 times)

wimpygirl

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Not Financially Savvy Nurse looking for Advice
« on: December 22, 2017, 04:57:44 PM »
Not financially savvy but wondering if I am ready to retire and would appreciate any advice for my current life course.

Hey, my name is Kate and I am a 46 year old nurse who is really, really ready for a life change!  I am looking for financial advice to make sure I am on the right track.  I own a house in the woods and have zero debt.  I am also pretty frugal.  I am outdoorsy, love to mountain bike, kayak and listen to music for fun.  I make necklaces and bracelets, like to garden and make herbal medicines.  Unless I indulge in travel, I live off between $800-$1000 a month, so usually less than $12,000 a year.  (I read Your Money or Your Life when I was 25 and have been keeping track of every penny like a boss.)

  About a year ago, I decided I really (really!) disliked my job and wondered about taking a sabbatical.  I have worked as a nurse since I was 20 and feel like nursing is draining my soul!  Knowing nothing about money or investing, I started educating myself about the 4% rule, read all of MMM's posts, and read JLCollins' book.  From this self-education, I surmised that I could actually retire early and needed to save $300,000 to live off.  Luckily I had already amassed about $170,000 from haphazard contributions to my hospital's 403b.  Over the last year I have put additional savings into a Vanguard VTSAX
fund and started a Roth.  Now I am at about $295,000.

What do I do now?  I am planning on working another couple months to
reach the $300,000 goal and stashing the rest (probably $15,000) in my
checking account to live off of for the next year. Eventually I will start a Roth conversion ladder when I get that figured out.

My question is: Am I missing anything?  Does this sound like a reasonable plan to educated financial folks?  I realize I am cutting it close with only $300,000 invested but I am hoping that I can always go back to work as a nurse if needed.  And, who knows?, I may even enjoy working part-time after I take a little break!

Looking for any input/criticism that anyone is willing to give me.  Thanks so much!

ElleFiji

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Re: Not Financially Savvy Nurse looking for Advice
« Reply #1 on: December 22, 2017, 05:00:38 PM »
1) your life is awesome. I will try to be you with a little cabin and my herbs when I grow up.

2) @Stingray @Meadow Lark @Bracken_Joy

3) I love that we can magically summon people.

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: Not Financially Savvy Nurse looking for Advice
« Reply #2 on: December 22, 2017, 08:11:02 PM »
You're badass. I do worry that your expenses will outrun your stache if you have a health problem, though. Your woods life could become impractical at a stroke.

Hotstreak

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Re: Not Financially Savvy Nurse looking for Advice
« Reply #3 on: December 22, 2017, 10:17:46 PM »
I'm worried you might be overlooking some detail or expense.  Your 800-1000 includes property taxes and insurance, health insurance and out of pocket, setting funds aside for home repair, car replacement, etc?  Will you not be traveling at all?


After 26 years as a nurse your financial picture includes a paid off house and $300k invested.  It seems like you should have a lot more money saved if you've been frugal that whole time.  What did you used to do with your money in the 1990's and 2000's that you no longer do?  Are you sure you don't want to go back to those old spending habits?

Playing with Fire UK

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Re: Not Financially Savvy Nurse looking for Advice
« Reply #4 on: December 23, 2017, 01:19:14 AM »
You can absolutely afford a sabbatical. Unless you have a reason to work the few extra months you can stop now.

Have you seen this MMM post?

There are things that you love to do that might make you some money; the markets might be kind to you; and you are open to working part-time at a later date yes? Go now and be free, take a break. Keep your certification current if that is a thing you would need to work part-time.

wimpygirl

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Re: Not Financially Savvy Nurse looking for Advice
« Reply #5 on: December 23, 2017, 06:34:53 AM »
Thanks for the comments and encouragement.  Thank you Hotstreak for bringing up some valid points.  I have NOT always been so frugal and used to have a "city life" for most of my twenties.  Those days I blew a lot of money eating in restaurants and going out to bars and concerts.  I also traveled a lot and bought expensive outdoor gear.  Thankfully, I am still using the gear!

I will continue to evaluate what my financial needs could be.  I still believe that riding my bike through the woods and eating rice and beans for dinner will keep me happy for the remainder of my life.  Although, it is true that a major home repair or if my car calls it quits would definitely impact things.  Hopefully, I can be flexible.  Again, thanks everyone for the feedback!

MicroRN

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Re: Not Financially Savvy Nurse looking for Advice
« Reply #6 on: December 23, 2017, 07:41:24 AM »
Your life sounds fantastic.  I wouldn't be comfortable with $300K for FIRE, but you have so much nursing experience you could easily take a sabbatical and find a job later.  My only concerns would be health insurance and keeping your license active.     

You could even put in your notice now, take a year or two off, and then get a low hour per diem job somewhere just to keep yourself current.  Or maybe you'll find something else you want to do when you have the time off to think about it.  I think you will want some form of future income, though you may not need a huge amount. 

meadow lark

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Re: Not Financially Savvy Nurse looking for Advice
« Reply #7 on: December 23, 2017, 08:56:42 AM »
Hello!  (Thanks for summoning me, Fiji!). I am also an RN (married to another RN) and we just retired in June. I was 42 and she was 55. 
Do it!  Hit $300k and request a leave of abscence for however long you can get it.  (If you don't get it, just quit).
We also retired with a smaller than optimal stache ($865k IIRC) but I am willing to go back to work if I have to. 
Because DW was 55 when she retired, we have access to her 403b without penalty (cool loophole so you don't have to wait until 59).  How many years of living expenses do you have in the Roth?  One option I am considering, is to take a job when I am 54, convert my current 403b to the new hospital's plan, then retire at 55.  (If it turns out I want access to it 4 yrs early.  It may not matter.)
Also, I would encourage you to put 1-2 yrs living expenses in something safe, like cash or bonds, and leave it there unless there is a down turn. 
  Another option - work enough to make $12k (takehome) a year.  Choose your least favorite months to be at home.  Then either pick-up a short-term contract in your town, or go visit CA for a couple months.  We are talking about the possibility, after my dogs pass, of us spending the summers in CA while I do a 12wk contract, and not working the rest of the year. 12 wks should cover our yearly living expenses.  (And several years for you!)
  I may never have to go back to work - but these are my contingency plans.
You will probably never have to go back to work.  But you have a great safety net!

Also, you sound really cool and if you ever end up in Louisiana, PM me!

Bracken_Joy

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Re: Not Financially Savvy Nurse looking for Advice
« Reply #8 on: December 23, 2017, 09:43:24 AM »
Hello! Another summoned RN here. Soul being (moderately) sucked out =P Less so since I dropped to part time!

That's one option I would encourage you to consider- go to PT and lengthen your time to retirement so you aren't miserable in the meantime. This can be a surprisingly effective way to hate work less. Plus I feel like it helps the transition in people used to working very hard- although it's clear you have plenty of hobbies and interests to go to, so it's not like you'll be twiddling your thumbs bored!

Re: the expenses. Have you accounted for healthcare costs in there? That's the big unknown IMO, since you won't be covered by you work plan anymore.

(I would love to hear more about the herbal medicines you make. I also love gardening, and have a decent size herb bed... which barely gets used. Whoops. If you come to Oregon, send me a PM!)

wimpygirl

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Re: Not Financially Savvy Nurse looking for Advice
« Reply #9 on: December 23, 2017, 11:21:24 AM »
Thank you fellow RNs for the input! 

I have been contemplating both of your great ideas. The idea of part-time work seems like it would keep me feeling stable while also allowing me more time to pursue my interests and what I consider my REAL life's work/purpose.  The idea of travel nursing and working one 12 week assignment a year sounds fabulous but I am wary of change and that would produce a lot of anxiety for me.  (I've been in the same ER for 17 years!)  So I am still contemplating the travel nurse gig.  Although it sounds like a great option for you Meadow Lark!

As far as travel nursing, I should also mention that my husband is a whitewater raft guide and works seasonally in Southern Oregon/Northern California so I have considered travel nursing near him (and possibly near you Bracken_Joy!)  Sorry...I did not mention hubby earlier because besides owning our house together and splitting utilities, we are pretty much "free agents" as far as expenses.

Side notes for Bracken_Joy:
Right now I am roughly guessing that I can get health insurance for $300/month.  (That may be a naively low guess.)  So that would still keep my spending at $1000/month.
I enjoy making herbal tinctures to promote happiness and reduce stress.  Also, salves for wound healing as well as lip balms. :)

Bracken_Joy

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Re: Not Financially Savvy Nurse looking for Advice
« Reply #10 on: December 23, 2017, 12:01:20 PM »
It depends on region, but right now husband and I are on a healthcare exchange plan. Husband and I are both healthy, late 20s, and we pay $850/month for our premiums. No idea what'll happen later too, with health care doing what it is. So anyway, $300 might be a low guess!

Travel nursing can be a great option. My mom is a nurse and did that for a while in my dad's early semi-retirement. Worked well for them.

If you've been at the same ER for 17 years, I do wonder how much is burn out. Nursing is sooooo multi faceted. That's part of why I went into the field- because there's always somewhere you can work, with someone else, etc. So maybe consider a change of scenery on that front. We're in one of the few careers that you can virtually change your entire career without going back to school. And frankly... I can't imagine being in an ER for 17 years and NOT losing faith in humanity and feeling like at the end of the day, I'm not really making a difference. There are so many structural problems and readmissions and all that... I feel like that would just be crushing.

(I know I'm doing a terrible job convincing you to retire! Haha. Sometimes I don't fit on this forum ;) Sometimes retiring IS the answer. I just want to be sure you don't throw the baby out with the bathwater on a career that CAN be very purpose driven because of frustration with your current work reality. If that makes sense! Although you do sound like a good candidate for "lean FIRE," and one of the nice things about nursing is it's pretty easy to reenter the workforce in some capacity after a few years sabbatical. )

wimpygirl

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Re: Not Financially Savvy Nurse looking for Advice
« Reply #11 on: December 23, 2017, 12:28:53 PM »
Thanks for the kind and thoughtful advice, Bracken_Joy.

You are right.  Probably, I am just burned out at my current ridiculous, soul-sucking job!  My sister has said: "Surely there is a doctor's office or clinic where you would love your job."  You are both right.  Honestly, I feel partly stuck there because I make about $40 an hour and can't imagine making this rate elsewhere except as a travel nurse. (Or by moving to NYC to work in a busy ER...yuck!)

I think I may just need a breather to figure it out.  It is difficult to look for other jobs while I am still working full-time.  As usual, my mind processes slowly before I am able to lock on a decision that lasts.

Bracken_Joy

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Re: Not Financially Savvy Nurse looking for Advice
« Reply #12 on: December 23, 2017, 12:39:15 PM »
Thanks for the kind and thoughtful advice, Bracken_Joy.

You are right.  Probably, I am just burned out at my current ridiculous, soul-sucking job!  My sister has said: "Surely there is a doctor's office or clinic where you would love your job."  You are both right.  Honestly, I feel partly stuck there because I make about $40 an hour and can't imagine making this rate elsewhere except as a travel nurse. (Or by moving to NYC to work in a busy ER...yuck!)

I think I may just need a breather to figure it out.  It is difficult to look for other jobs while I am still working full-time.  As usual, my mind processes slowly before I am able to lock on a decision that lasts.

I see the $40/hr thing but... you'll make $0 per hour if you volunteer somewhere and have THAT be life affirming, so personally I view my lower wage work as the pay I'm given plus my "volunteered rate" to work with a vulnerable population. I hope that makes sense... I do some mental gymnastics so I feel more like I'm volunteering rather than working, because I've elected to do more purpose driven work (medically fragile children, home health). So rather than seeing another job as a $10/hr loss or whatever, maybe see it as "I'm donating $10/hr to this vulnerable population" or "I'm "paying" $10/hr to work a lower stress job." I don't know if that helps at all, but it helps me, so I figured I would mention it =) Just because you CAN make more, doesn't always mean you SHOULD.

Plus you would make no more money at all if you weren't working. Why have the wage be the driver? The whole point of FI is so that you can live the life YOU want without having to be beholden to the paycheck. If you want to work, then work, fuck the money, it's for the meaning =)

MrThatsDifferent

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Re: Not Financially Savvy Nurse looking for Advice
« Reply #13 on: December 23, 2017, 12:42:56 PM »
As long as you sort your health insurance out, you should be fine to have a sabbatical at least. Nursing is always in demand, you can get a job almost anywhere in the world. Congrats and good luck!

SpareChange

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Re: Not Financially Savvy Nurse looking for Advice
« Reply #14 on: December 23, 2017, 01:08:10 PM »
Hi wimpygirl! How few hours can you work and still get health insurance through your employer? I'm an xray tech working in a hospital setting, and my current plan is to get to about 300k and go down to 16 hrs/wk. I can still get insurance at around $90-$100/mon. 403b match as well. Just a thought. I think Bracken_Joy is on to something with the ER burnout too.     

2Birds1Stone

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Re: Not Financially Savvy Nurse looking for Advice
« Reply #15 on: December 23, 2017, 01:21:39 PM »
You seem to be in a wonderful spot!

I will pile on to take a year off and figure out whether part time or contract work makes sense upon your return.


mustachemountain

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Re: Not Financially Savvy Nurse looking for Advice
« Reply #16 on: December 26, 2017, 09:05:04 AM »
another vote for your awesomeness!

as others have said, the big thing to keep your eye on is healthcare and then second unexpected expenses.

like you, i didn't contribute enough to my 401k as i went along (i'm 53 and have a similar amount in). no need to beat yourself up over it. it sounds like you realise you might need to work at least part time in the future if only for the health benefits and maxing the 401k. that's a reality check that most people would fail, so kudos to you for that! but a sabbatical right now sounds overdue! just keep up with the health insurance...i've known too many people who didn't have that one figured out, and it cost them dearly.

and as someone else noted, having cash on hand is important- i dont have a steady job so i am accustomed to having a cash stash to see me thru slow times. but if one has always had a regular paycheck it might be a tough adjustment to life without one...

best of luck!