Author Topic: One week left to decide: can I retire at 55?  (Read 3455 times)

jenonajrny

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One week left to decide: can I retire at 55?
« on: June 06, 2021, 03:28:02 PM »
I'd really like to give notice this week in order to work my last day the day before my 56th birthday. Been w/employer 19+ years. Loved it until about 3 years ago when I was put in a bad position with no support, which triggered a 3-month medical leave. After I returned, nothing was improving, so last year I took a 20K/yr pay cut in order to switch to a new department, in a lower-level position. Honeymoon period was fine, and I love the people I work with now and how they operate, but I'm still miserable.  I was trying to make it to the end of October when I'll hit 20 years of service and will be eligible for reduced pension.  I don't think I can do it -- my health, home and relationships are suffering immensely, in some ways irreparably. Do these numbers indicate I'll be okay if I quit work this month?

Age 55, single, no kids.

Current income -- this is kind of guestimate-y as I've modified retirement contributions a couple times this year, but this is annualized for current withholding/contributions.
Gross pay
82300
taxes
12000
pre-tax retirement (403b/457b/required 6% to pension)
34938
other withholding
1200
Roth IRA
7000
Net pay
27162
Interest and re-invested dividends
1100

Expenses - I've tracked my expenses for >10 years, and it has bounced up and down, always within the 30-40k range, with 2 exceptions: my highest spending year was $41k in 2010 (bought a car) and lowest year was $26k in 2020.  Spending this year through May is averaging $2018/month as I'm under-spending in some of the categories listed here, and some show expected post-covid/post-work increases.
MonthlyAnnual
Expenses
Mortgage (PI/no escrow)
324
3888
HOA Fees (includes flood and hazard insurance)
225
2700
Tax (200) and HO6 Insurance (30)
230
2760
Home maintenance fund
125
1500
Phone/internet/water/electric/pest control
204
2448
Car - gas, maintenance, tax & tags, insurance, repair fund
180
2160
Groceries/hba/paper goods/alcohol
450
5400
Medications/co-pays/coins
50
600
pets - food, meds, routine vet, misc
160
1920
pets - major medical fund
50
600
Non-essentials: entertainment, clothing/shoes, travel, household furnishings, electronics replacement, charity, membership fees, restaurants/bars, misc - each category ranges from $15 to $120 / month
420
4800
Estimated RE additions
Health Insurance till age 60
150
1800
Dental/Vision (insurance and/or self-pay?)
100
1200
Income Tax
352
4224
TOTAL EXPENSES
3020
36000
Essentials-Only Expenses
2600
31200
Post-RE Income
Pension (gross) starts year 5
2692
32304
SS (75% of FRA est) starting year 11
1901
22815
or SS (75% of age 70 est) starting year 14
2300
27600

Liquid Assets
638k
Cash
41k
Bonds
6k
Investments (100% equities)
42k
457b (70/30 target fund, adding 2k/mo)
15k
403b (52k cash, rest in index funds, adding 500/mo to Fid Balanced Fund)
364k
Roth IRA (95/5) (maxed thru 2021)
170k
Edited to add: I'll have immediate, penalty-free access to both the 457b and 403b accounts under the Rule of 55.

Home value
150k
Mortgage
69.8k

- Only debt is mortgage: Refinanced 2016 for $78,000.  30-year 5/5 ARM at 2.5%, expected to re-set to 2.75% in November ($16/mo increase is reflected in above budget). Next re-set will be in 2026.
 - Car is 2017, with 11,500 miles on it. I expect it to last at least another 15 years -- and I expect I'll actually start driving it once I'm no longer working. (My commute pre-covid was 5 miles round trip driving, or 2 miles round trip walking.)
 - If I quit before end of October, I'll be a few months short of 20 years of state service, which means I'll have to wait until age 60 to claim my pension. If I quit at the end of October, I'll have 20 years and be immediately eligible for my reduced pension, but would likely wait a 3-4 years anyway since the payout would go up ~7% per year.
 - Pension is state employees system, 90% funded last I checked, so I'm fairly confident in its stability/reliability.
 - Plan to do ACA for health insurance until I claim my pension. At that point, I'll also be eligible for health insurance, currently at a cost of $50/month for 80/20 plan, or $0/month for 70/30 plan. The state seems committed to always having a $0 premium option available for retirees, though obviously the quality of that option could decline. At 65, Medicare becomes primary insurance, state plan becomes secondary.

Biggest fears/challenges/potential wrenches-in-the-plan:
1) Housing: My current home is becoming increasingly flood-prone and I really need to get out of here ASAP, before we flood again. First problem is, because of my current burnout, my home has a lot of repairs that need to be done, like yesterday. I'm guessing the cost could be anywhere from $3k to $8k. On the plus side: I currently have 3.3k in my home maintenance/repair fund.  Second problem is, I have absolutely no idea where in the world I want to live long-term.  I don't hate the area I'm in now, but don't want to be here forever. I'd like to be near family, but I can't take the winters where they live.  Third problem, I have a cat who has never known any other home and can't stand to go anywhere else.  I can't just throw him in the car and travel around the country, scoping out potential new places to live. Then the obvious fourth problem, if I want to buy will I be able to get a mortgage? Or have enough to pay cash, if neccesary?

2) Lack of social/support network: Being Autistic, I find establishing and maintaining friendships to be extraordinarily difficult.  TBH, I even have trouble maintaining acquaintances, lol.  I feel like I can do better at this (have been better in the past) once my work is not sucking up every bit of my energy. But bottom line, due to distance from family, having no children myself (though lots of neices and nephews), and no real friends locally (despite having been here for 20 years), I sometimes end up needing to pay for assistance with many things that most people would just call up a friend or family member to help with. That has the potential to become seriously expensive as I get older and need more help. 

I think these two things--and the unknown but potentially huge related costs--are my biggest obstacles to pulling the trigger on RE.  I've tried out several of the calculators/planners discussed on this site. I've used Fidelity's planner the most -- it's the easiest for me since nearly all my accounts are there and they know my exact AA.  In all of the calculators, I can push my spending up to  ~$45-$50k before things start to fail, so I feel I've got a decent amount of flexibility for emergencies.

So I think I should be okay to quit RIGHT NOW, but would appreciate hearing what others think.  Again, my primary question: Would it be a mistake to put in my notice this week?

Other questions:   
 - Any holes or red flags in my budget?  Even though I know my expenses to the penny for the last 10+ years, I feel like I've got to be overlooking something!
 - How much should I let the Housing and Social Support fears rule my decisions right now?  Are my fears overblown, or should I be knuckling down for another 10 years of work, or somewhere in between?

Oh, boy, this is a long one. If you're still here, THANK YOU for reading my very first MMM post! :)
« Last Edit: June 08, 2021, 07:41:56 AM by jenonajrny »

Life in Balance

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Re: One week left to decide: can I retire at 55?
« Reply #1 on: June 06, 2021, 06:07:37 PM »
Looking at your numbers, in my opinion, you're good to go.  It looks like you really only need to cover your expenses for five years before your pension kicks in and covers almost 90% of them.  You should be able to easily do that and still have enough money left to cover the missing 10% until social security kicks in. 

One thing:  Have you priced ACA plans yet in your state?  I'm not sure what state you're in, but I budgeted $200/month for my silver plan (now $109 with covid relief bill) and then an additional $125/month to cover the annual max out-of-pocket.  That's with claiming income of $25,000 so that I am under 250% of the poverty line and am eligible for cost-sharing.  If I were claiming an income comparable to yours, it'd be much higher.   Hopefully, your state offers better prices. 

Dee18

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Re: One week left to decide: can I retire at 55?
« Reply #2 on: June 06, 2021, 06:13:54 PM »
It seems like you can afford to quit.  I would just double check that you will get the health insurance if you retire before the 20 years.  That would be great.  (None of the pensions where I live provide health insurance unless you meet the minimum 20 or 25 years.) To me it seems like your finances are not the limiting factor.  Instead, the hard part is the unlimited choices.  Like you I am trying to decide where I want to live now that I am not tied to a job.  I'm subletting a place for the next 3.5 months to "try out" a different city that is 1300 miles from where I now live.  But I don't have a pet to consider. 

If you have vacation accrued you might want to take some of it just so you can make a plan for your first few months of retirement.  For the social aspect I think the best way to meet new people is to decide what activities you want to do and then join a group for that. 

Good luck and let us know what you decide!

lhamo

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Re: One week left to decide: can I retire at 55?
« Reply #3 on: June 06, 2021, 06:37:47 PM »
Are you eligible for FMLA leave?   If so it might be worth talking with a doctor to see if they could recommend you take some due to the burnout.  If you could use FMLA and PTO to stretch to your 20 year point you would have a lot more flexibility, even if you decide to defer taking the pension a bit longer.

I personally would vote for at least trying to move closer to family if they are not all in HCOL areas.   If you enjoy spending time with your nieces and nephews maybe you could do some PT child care if any of the families need it.   That would be a way to provide a little bit of cash to supplement your other sources while you are building the relationship with the family and trying out living in those areas.

MrThatsDifferent

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Re: One week left to decide: can I retire at 55?
« Reply #4 on: June 06, 2021, 07:10:30 PM »
Are you eligible for FMLA leave?   If so it might be worth talking with a doctor to see if they could recommend you take some due to the burnout.  If you could use FMLA and PTO to stretch to your 20 year point you would have a lot more flexibility, even if you decide to defer taking the pension a bit longer.

I personally would vote for at least trying to move closer to family if they are not all in HCOL areas.   If you enjoy spending time with your nieces and nephews maybe you could do some PT child care if any of the families need it.   That would be a way to provide a little bit of cash to supplement your other sources while you are building the relationship with the family and trying out living in those areas.

Iím going to second this. Look, financially youíre fine. You basically need $200k to live off to hit your pension payout in 5 years, you have that 3x over. Once your pension hits you only need to draw $4-10k/yr to cover the gap until SS. Youíre good.

However, October isnít that far away, and youíre so close Iíd try to go until then just to preserve the option of accessing your pension if you need it sooner for any reason. It just gives you more options. In the meantime Iíd use all the vacation leave and sick leave based on mental health and stress that you have. Also, perhaps consider investing in a therapist to talk through some of your issues and concerns and to help to prepare you for your new life as a retired person.

jenonajrny

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Re: One week left to decide: can I retire at 55?
« Reply #5 on: June 06, 2021, 07:39:29 PM »
Looking at your numbers, in my opinion, you're good to go.  It looks like you really only need to cover your expenses for five years before your pension kicks in and covers almost 90% of them.  You should be able to easily do that and still have enough money left to cover the missing 10% until social security kicks in. 

One thing:  Have you priced ACA plans yet in your state?  I'm not sure what state you're in, but I budgeted $200/month for my silver plan (now $109 with covid relief bill) and then an additional $125/month to cover the annual max out-of-pocket.  That's with claiming income of $25,000 so that I am under 250% of the poverty line and am eligible for cost-sharing.  If I were claiming an income comparable to yours, it'd be much higher.   Hopefully, your state offers better prices.

Thanks for the feedback!  Thankfully, it's actually just the 4 years I need to cover before the pension kicks in. I probably won't be going anywhere for a couple years at least, while I fix all the problems with my home and maybe do some short trips to a neighboring state that I'm considering moving to. While I'm still in this area, if things get too tight I can probably get some time-limited work for the state (I've been checking the job postings for temp/PT/super-low-stress work at both my University and state government), which would not only help cover expenses but also add service credits to my pension. However, I'm going to try to commit to not even consider working for at least a year.

I have priced ACA plans for my county/state.  My estimated AGI for this year is 46k if I work the full year.  I think it will be closer to 35k, maybe.  Based on that, the handful of plans that look good to me would be 180/mo for this year, but the next few years I should be able to manage my income and that cost drops to 120/mo.  I really need to do more research on this. I probably don't have enough budgeted for it, but I do have a particular mental bucket of money that I'm considering my medical back-up fund in case of poor planning.

MaybeBabyMustache

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Re: One week left to decide: can I retire at 55?
« Reply #6 on: June 06, 2021, 07:45:04 PM »
Are you eligible for FMLA leave?   If so it might be worth talking with a doctor to see if they could recommend you take some due to the burnout.  If you could use FMLA and PTO to stretch to your 20 year point you would have a lot more flexibility, even if you decide to defer taking the pension a bit longer.

I personally would vote for at least trying to move closer to family if they are not all in HCOL areas.   If you enjoy spending time with your nieces and nephews maybe you could do some PT child care if any of the families need it.   That would be a way to provide a little bit of cash to supplement your other sources while you are building the relationship with the family and trying out living in those areas.

Iím going to second this. Look, financially youíre fine. You basically need $200k to live off to hit your pension payout in 5 years, you have that 3x over. Once your pension hits you only need to draw $4-10k/yr to cover the gap until SS. Youíre good.

However, October isnít that far away, and youíre so close Iíd try to go until then just to preserve the option of accessing your pension if you need it sooner for any reason. It just gives you more options. In the meantime Iíd use all the vacation leave and sick leave based on mental health and stress that you have. Also, perhaps consider investing in a therapist to talk through some of your issues and concerns and to help to prepare you for your new life as a retired person.

I agree with these two PP. You are so close to October. If you consider vacation, sick days, company holidays, and any other unpaid leave options, how many working days will you have to work for? Would calculating how much extra flexible income you'll have by working that short amount of time help? I also agree with the feedback of talking to a therapist, to help you get through this phase, but also plan for a healthy retirement.

jenonajrny

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Re: One week left to decide: can I retire at 55?
« Reply #7 on: June 06, 2021, 09:58:53 PM »
I just lost a post regarding a question about the eligibility for HI w/<20 yrs. I was hired early enough that I only need to have 5 years of service to be eligible. They changed it to 20 years a few years after I was hired.

Regarding trying to stick it out until October: I totally agree, and there is nothing I like more than increasing my options, which that would definitely do.  I cannot use sick leave to get there, however. I will actually have 19.5 years of service at the end of October, but I also will have 6 months of unused sick leave at that point, and I get service credit for that.  So, using sick leave between now and November 1st just extends the time that I have to work in order to get to 20 years.

When I took the $20k pay cut last year, I also had 12 weeks of vacation and bonus leave accrued. I took a 30-day break in employment to force those 12 weeks to be paid out at my 102k salary.  Meaning, when I started the new position I was back down to 0 hours of vacation.  (Sick leave can't be paid out, but does get restored if you are re-hired within 5 years.) I now have 3 weeks vacation banked. My plan, if I quit this month, is to use that vacation so my official last day would be mid-July. If I don't quit, I've got an Excel worksheet that I update daily that calculates the number of actual work days (total days minus holidays, weekend, vacation) between now and end of October.

Also due to taking the 30-day break in service, I was considered a new hire (even though I'd been w/my employer 18 yrs at that time), and therefore had to go on probationary status for one year.  I am not eligible for FMLA until that year is up in a couple of weeks. I am definitely planning to talk to my doctor about certifying a FMLA request, and discuss whether she'll support me applying for ST disability.  I'm not feeling very optimistic about this, as she seems to just want to throw more medications at the problem.  But that's a whole other can of worms I was trying to avoid in this discussion. If I can get FMLA and/or disability, that would be a huge help financially, but I need to know if I will be able to make it without those.

Thanks so much for your responses, everyone! I truly appreciate you taking the time to help me out!   Its midnight here, so I'm off to bed. Back tomorrow!

MrThatsDifferent

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Re: One week left to decide: can I retire at 55?
« Reply #8 on: June 07, 2021, 06:20:20 AM »
That all makes sense. Youíve got 4 months. If it were me Iíd work on my thinking about work. Iíd de-prioritize work as much as possible. Do the least possible, keep the day to the minimum hours and not think about work for a second when the work day ends. Meanwhile Iíd put all my energy into working out life after October. Youíre so close to the end, you can do this. Youíve got FU money and a defined end date. Someone brings something that stresses you out, just say no. Theyíll figure out another way. Be respectful and try not to burn bridges but protect your mental state.

Rdy2Fire

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Re: One week left to decide: can I retire at 55?
« Reply #9 on: June 07, 2021, 06:21:03 AM »
Another +1 for sticking it out.

If you run the numbers of days, which i haven't, I'd say it's about or under 100. Between a couple holidays, maybe a half day or day off here or there you can probably get that down if you can't get a leave. Maybe take those 3 weeks vacation and stretch them over the number of days to cut down your work week (1 day a week) or just take a week a month and you'll be there in no time.

youngwildandfree

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Re: One week left to decide: can I retire at 55?
« Reply #10 on: June 07, 2021, 08:28:06 AM »
You can do it! As others have said, try to prioritize your mental health as you finish the race. Can you schedule time in the day were you go take a walk/have some coffee/close your blinds and listen to music? You deserve to take breaks. If your industry is project based, can you break your current projects up into bite size pieces so you feel like you are accomplishing things as you move toward the finish line?

Life in Balance

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Re: One week left to decide: can I retire at 55?
« Reply #11 on: June 07, 2021, 09:17:56 AM »
With the added details about sick leave and vacation days, I'd lean strongly toward you quitting now.  It sounds like your mental and physical health are suffering.  Your pensions and SS will more than cover your expenses and your savings are more than enough to bridge the gap, even if you do not have the 20-year health insurance coverage.  You've won the race!!

Dee18

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Re: One week left to decide: can I retire at 55?
« Reply #12 on: June 07, 2021, 09:25:24 AM »
Since you have the health insurance in 4 years either way, I would go ahead and calculate the difference in your pension at 60 if you quit now versus if you work 4 more months.  I suspect the difference will be very small. 

KungfuRabbit

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Re: One week left to decide: can I retire at 55?
« Reply #13 on: June 07, 2021, 12:29:59 PM »
I'd join the others in saying is there a way you can "senior slide" into October?  I mean, 4 months is not a long time, taking a lot of vacation / sick days / temporary leave could burn through that fast.

But yea, your pension alone covers your listed base expenses, and throwing on social security you are covered and with a buffer.  So, 4% of your current assets is about $25k, so depending on the market over the next 5 years your net assets could / will likely drift down over 5 years, but by the time you get your pension it should be trivial.  After your pension kicks in, if you just stop re-investing dividends you should be all set.  Once Social Security kicks in you might as well go for some lifestyle inflation because at that point you'll just get richer and richer over time. 

That's the amazing thing about pensions honestly.  People with good pensions don't really NEED any savings at all, since a good pension and social security can cover you easily.  My company dropped their real pension years before I joined, so I don't have one.  But I listen to some of the ~60 year olds talk about money, and its sickening really - blowing money on boats / RVs / cabins because they have a guaranteed LARGE income stream for life and don't need to stress about it at all. 

As far as moving and the house, I can't comment on the details of your cat, but in general sounds like moving would be a good thing.  However, given you are not sure where you want to move I certainly wouldn't jump into buying a house - there is nothing wrong with the simplicity of an apartment or even a monthly Air BnB until you make your decision.  Also, you don't say where your family lives, but I wouldn't discount moving there.  I live in Minnesota, so unless they are even worse than that (Fargo ND?), winters really aren't THAT bad once you get used to everything and adapt a bit.  But being close to family, and your array of nieces and nephews, can help TONNNNNNNS with your happiness / mental health / support system - going to one of their softball / soccer / dance events is totally free, enjoyable, stress reliving, and simple, doesn't get more Mustachian than that. 

bacchi

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Re: One week left to decide: can I retire at 55?
« Reply #14 on: June 07, 2021, 12:59:12 PM »
Yep.

Show up late and make up for it by leaving early. It'll take them a while before you're put on an "improvement" plan and then you'll have a few months to improve.

FIRE 20/20

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Re: One week left to decide: can I retire at 55?
« Reply #15 on: June 07, 2021, 05:13:51 PM »
It looks to me like you not only have enough, but you have more than enough.  Given that - plus what you said about your mental health, lack of ability to get FMLA, lack of PTO, etc. - I would definitely quit now.  4 months isn't that long, but it sounds like you'd experience significant suffering to have even more than more than enough.  More than more than enough isn't worth the suffering in my opinion. 

I do have a couple of questions though.  Many pensions do not continue to adjust for inflation once you start to take it.  Do you know if yours does?  If your pension will be fixed (i.e. no inflation adjustment) after you start to take it then it will gradually erode in real value.  That actually shouldn't be too much of a problem for you because even if your pension didn't exist you have just about enough to make it work.  I ran the Rich, Broke, or Dead calculator with your numbers excluding the pension, and you just barely have enough to have a 0% chance of failure.  (Note:  Just because a calculator gives you 100% chance of success doesn't mean you do - but you probably understand that already). 

Here's the calculator with zero pension and taking S.S. in about 11 years:
https://engaging-data.com/will-money-last-retire-early/?spend=36000&initsav=638000&age=55&yrs=30&stockpct=80&bondpct=18&cashpct=2&sex=1&infl=1&taxrate=0&fees=0.3&income=22000&incstart=65&incend=85&expense=0&expstart=50&expend=70&showdeath=1&showlow=1&show2x=1&show5x=1&flexpct=0&spendthreshold=100&mort=ss

If you play with the numbers you'll see that just increasing your spending to $37k a year gives you a small chance of failure, so you're just barely at 100% chance of success with those numbers.  But again that excludes the pension entirely.  If you look at your pension as your safety buffer, it's already a GIGANTIC safety buffer even if it doesn't adjust for inflation after you start taking it.  If it does adjust, then it's really huge.  Given that - quit this week!  Don't sacrifice your mental health to have more than an already gigantic safety buffer!

My second question is if you have enough accessible money to get you to 59 1/2.  I don't know the rules on 457b and 403b accounts, but if they're like a 401(k) you can't touch them before 59 1/2 without penalty.  My guess is that your cash, bonds, investments (~90k) plus your Roth contributions is close to or more than the ~$180k you'll need to get to 59 1/2, but that's not clear from your numbers. 

Biggest fears/challenges/potential wrenches-in-the-plan:
1) Housing: My current home is becoming increasingly flood-prone and I really need to get out of here ASAP, before we flood again. First problem is, because of my current burnout, my home has a lot of repairs that need to be done, like yesterday. I'm guessing the cost could be anywhere from $3k to $8k. On the plus side: I currently have 3.3k in my home maintenance/repair fund.  Second problem is, I have absolutely no idea where in the world I want to live long-term.  I don't hate the area I'm in now, but don't want to be here forever. I'd like to be near family, but I can't take the winters where they live.  Third problem, I have a cat who has never known any other home and can't stand to go anywhere else.  I can't just throw him in the car and travel around the country, scoping out potential new places to live. Then the obvious fourth problem, if I want to buy will I be able to get a mortgage? Or have enough to pay cash, if neccesary?

I would take this one step at a time.  When you quit, whether this week or in October, this problem will be a lot more manageable.  The great thing about being FIREd without a home or friends keeping you in an area is that you have the entire world to explore!  Sell the house ASAP and move closer to family.  Give the winter a try and see how that downside compares to the upside of being close to family.  You might find that after a while you get used to the winter.  Or you might find you really can't stand it (or can't stand your family!).  But since you'd just be renting for a year you can fix that problem and try somewhere else. 
For the mortgage, I'm not an expert so take this with a huge grain of salt.  Once you have a steady source of income (pension or pension plus S.S.) you should be able to get a mortgage pretty easily.  A pension or pension + SS, plus substantial financial assets, plus excellent credit will make it easy for you to get a good mortgage.  I think you will have trouble trying to get a mortgage before your pension kicks in.  Just use that time to find where you want to live. 
For the cat, I can speak from experience that cats do adjust.  It takes a long time, but they do eventually adjust. 

Other questions:   
 - Any holes or red flags in my budget?  Even though I know my expenses to the penny for the last 10+ years, I feel like I've got to be overlooking something!
 - How much should I let the Housing and Social Support fears rule my decisions right now?  Are my fears overblown, or should I be knuckling down for another 10 years of work, or somewhere in between?


I don't see any holes.  If you've tracked your budget for 10 years then it's unlikely you're overlooking anything.  In addition, $36k / year is totally reasonable for a single frugal person.  Plus, the fact that you aren't too far away from having $32k / year coming in gives you a huge buffer.  It's clear that as long as you have the funds available to get you to the pension's start date you should be able to live comfortably if not extravagantly on just your pension alone - and you'll have something like $500k (depending on the markets) sitting available if it should turn out your spending is higher than expected. 

I would not let the Housing concerns rule your decision at all.  Other than your cat, you don't have anything tying you down and your house is prone to floods.  I would get out ASAP.  Being close to family could be a huge upgrade, if you can learn to survive the winters.  Or just moving someplace without flooding worries if being with family isn't worth the price of cold and snow. 
I also wouldn't let the lack of social support influence your decision.  It sounds like you don't have social support where you are so why would anywhere else be worse than zero? 

jenonajrny

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Re: One week left to decide: can I retire at 55?
« Reply #16 on: June 07, 2021, 06:42:49 PM »
Yep.

Show up late and make up for it by leaving early. It'll take them a while before you're put on an "improvement" plan and then you'll have a few months to improve.

Of all the comments about minimizing the time/energy I'm giving to work until I leave, this got the biggest laugh! :) I tried this and it didn't work. Over the past couple months there have been weeks where I got maybe half an hour of work completed each day. Then, a couple weeks ago I got my first annual perf review with a score of "Exceeding Expectations". Whaaaat??? I'm so confused.

jenonajrny

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Re: One week left to decide: can I retire at 55?
« Reply #17 on: June 07, 2021, 07:29:11 PM »
It looks to me like you not only have enough, but you have more than enough.  Given that - plus what you said about your mental health, lack of ability to get FMLA, lack of PTO, etc. - I would definitely quit now.  4 months isn't that long, but it sounds like you'd experience significant suffering to have even more than more than enough.  More than more than enough isn't worth the suffering in my opinion. 

Yes!!!  Four months is nothing. But I did a little googling this morning to try to find some good descriptions of autistic burnout (not the same thing as job/professional burnout) to try to help explain what I'm dealing with, how crippling it is, and how it is impacting every single area of my life. I sit at my computer 12 hours a day (still working from home) trying to get 2-6 hours of productive work accomplished. The guilt and anxiety are paralyzing and I have nothing left for anything else outside of work. Anyway, reading what is probably the best journal article out there now (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7313636/, if anyone's interested), I was reminded that I've been through this before, 20 years ago.  That time it lasted for 2-3 years and at one point I ended up in ICU for 3 days. This time it's been >3 years, but not as bad because this time I understand what's happening and why (I was finally correctly diagnosed w/ASD when I was on FMLA 3 years ago).  The longer I wait to fix this, the more at risk I am of not getting all of my normal functioning/skills back; the only way to fix it is to remove myself from the situation.

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I do have a couple of questions though.  Many pensions do not continue to adjust for inflation once you start to take it.  Do you know if yours does?  If your pension will be fixed (i.e. no inflation adjustment) after you start to take it then it will gradually erode in real value.  That actually shouldn't be too much of a problem for you because even if your pension didn't exist you have just about enough to make it work.  I ran the Rich, Broke, or Dead calculator with your numbers excluding the pension, and you just barely have enough to have a 0% chance of failure.  (Note:  Just because a calculator gives you 100% chance of success doesn't mean you do - but you probably understand that already). 

Wow, thank you for doing that! I've played around with that calculator a little bit, but not with those parameters.  To answer your question: Our pension does not have *guaranteed* COLAs. They used to give 1% to 2.5% annual increases almost annually. Since Republicans took over the state legislature 13 years ago, however, they've given I think one 0.5% and one 1% increase to retirees. So, yeah, great question! I've been running all my scenarios with the assumption that there will be no increases.


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My second question is if you have enough accessible money to get you to 59 1/2.  I don't know the rules on 457b and 403b accounts, but if they're like a 401(k) you can't touch them before 59 1/2 without penalty.  My guess is that your cash, bonds, investments (~90k) plus your Roth contributions is close to or more than the ~$180k you'll need to get to 59 1/2, but that's not clear from your numbers. 

Luckily, I will be able to take advantage of the Rule of 55, which means I can take as much or as little as I want from both the 403b and 457b penalty-free, since they are both sponsored by the employer that I am leaving. Requirements, IIRC, are >=55 when I sever employment and that I leave the funds in the employer-sponsored plan.

Huge thank you to you and others for all the encouragement and other comments. I need to re-read them and will try to reply more thoughtfully.  I've been sitting at my computer now for 14 hours straight, so I just can't do more today. 

MrThatsDifferent

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Re: One week left to decide: can I retire at 55?
« Reply #18 on: June 08, 2021, 01:55:36 AM »
Honestly, with what you described I would immediately take two weeks off of work. Just step away from work and the computer as much. Find a therapist to chat with and chill out. Use the time to think about what you want. If at the end you decide you canít wait until October then jet. Youíre in control and everything is set up for you. You will be fine. But take a break. Last year I was going through something and with a doctorís advice I took a two week break and it saved my sanity. Highly recommend.

FIRE 20/20

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Re: One week left to decide: can I retire at 55?
« Reply #19 on: June 10, 2021, 01:41:55 PM »
I skimmed through the paper you cited, and that skills loss section of the paper would make me very worried.  Do you think 2 weeks off as MrThatsDifferent might be long enough to help?  You have 3 weeks of vacation and it doesn't seem like a good idea to burn it all, but the severity of the negative outcome in this case seems as though you should do anything possible to avoid things getting worse. 
Given what's in that paper I am leaning even more strongly into my initial thought that you have more than enough and chancing a really bad personal outcome to have even more than that isn't worth it.  The only way I would try to make it through is if you are able to talk to your manager and find a way to make work manageable (really manageable!) until you hit your 20 years of service.  It may require substantial changes for your manager and co-workers, but in situations somewhat like this many managers are willing to do that.  It often takes months to fill open positions, so your manager may be willing to do more than you think.  But if they're not I would definitely quit ASAP. 

Please stay healthy and update us on what you decide. 

drcodes

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Re: One week left to decide: can I retire at 55?
« Reply #20 on: June 11, 2021, 10:24:48 PM »
My vote: Once you have 'enough' (which in my opinion you do) why spend more time being unhappy/ill at a job? At our age we've given enough time/energy/everything. When you are done you are done.
I do have one questions though - why one week left to decide/by your 56th birthday? (Happy Birthday!) You'd still be good to go under the rule of 55 if you quit after, if I understand it correctly. Is it just personal preference to do it before your birthday?
 

Model96

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Re: One week left to decide: can I retire at 55?
« Reply #21 on: June 12, 2021, 04:42:21 AM »
Impacts on your health sound really serious jenonajrny. To me it sounds like you should get to a doctor and get more time away from work immediately. I hope you still have some sick leave remaining and time to get as much advice as possible to help save your health.

jenonajrny

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Re: One week left to decide: can I retire at 55?
« Reply #22 on: June 13, 2021, 04:36:15 PM »
The "one week left" was if I gave 2 weeks notice so that my last day would be the day before my birthday (which is now < 2 weeks away).  For some reason saying I retired at 55 sounds so much better than 56!

But, I ended up not giving notice last week. If I was still in my old position at my old department, this would be so easy -- if fact I would have walked away 2 months ago when I first realized I didn't actually have to hit the 20 year mark if I was going to wait to claim my pension at 60.  But I like the people I work with now, and I'd be leaving them in a bad position.  We're nearing the end of a multi-year, $40 million research grant. Data collection ends at the end of this month, and >80% of our staff have already moved on.  I keep thinking, if I can be even minimally productive, that's 100% more help than my supervisor would have otherwise.  I've made a list of specific things I want to get completed before I leave, if possible.

A few other things factored into the decision to to give notice yet: 1) I'm still on probationary status until 6/22. I don't want to even mention FMLA, reduced schedule, etc, until after that point, just to play it safe.  I am considering asking them to let me use vacation to work only 4 hours per day for 8 weeks, then reevaluate what I want to do. 2) My next appointment w/my doctor is, coincidentally, also on 6/22. I want to ask her outright whether she'd support my taking leave and possibly short-term disability. As I said before, I'm not optimistic about this, but we'll see.  3) Waiting will give me a bit more time to get off my butt and get some needed medical appointments scheduled while I'm still on a plan with minimal co-pays.

I truly appreciate all of your concern and feedback. I've been seeing a doctor regularly for the past few years, since my prior FMLA. It was quarterly, but has been monthly for the past 6-8 months as things have gotten worse.  She also has encouraged therapy, but guys, I do not have the capacity to add one more person to my life that I have to talk to right now. There's no point. I would spend 2 days prior to a therapy appointment nauseated with dread of having to talk to someone. When the appointment came, I would automatically slip into "normal person" mode that I use to survive interacting with other humans on a daily basis with the sole goal of getting it over with--which would defeat the whole purpose. Yeah, it's not going to happen anytime soon.

Probably the biggest reason I didn't give notice was because I actually got a lot accomplished last week. This was partly because a few issues came up that required mostly tedious grunt-work to resolve, rather than any complex thinking and decision making.  However, it was also due to having a big weight lifted off me by you all confirming that I have enough, and if I want or NEED to walk away tomorrow I'll be fine. Again, thank you internet strangers!! :) 

ericrugiero

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Re: One week left to decide: can I retire at 55?
« Reply #23 on: June 16, 2021, 12:56:02 PM »
How much difference is there in your pension and/or healthcare if you retire tomorrow vs sticking it out until you hit 20 years?

You clearly have enough money if you continue to live frugally. But, if there is a significant difference it might be worth sticking it out for another 4 months.  If the difference is actually minimal, you really have nothing to lose and should retire ASAP. 

I agree with others who said you are probably better off renting for now. 

BicycleB

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Re: One week left to decide: can I retire at 55?
« Reply #24 on: June 22, 2021, 11:12:12 PM »
Sounds like you're making decisions and moving forward with your plans. I too think you have enough $ and will be ok.

My one caveat is to support the idea that you if you want a mortgage, you need stable income for that. I am FIREd but low income, cannot refi my mortgage. You still have plenty of options, though, so make the choices you want and move at a pace that works for you.

Finances_With_Purpose

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Re: One week left to decide: can I retire at 55?
« Reply #25 on: July 09, 2021, 02:49:59 PM »
Yep.

Show up late and make up for it by leaving early. It'll take them a while before you're put on an "improvement" plan and then you'll have a few months to improve.

Of all the comments about minimizing the time/energy I'm giving to work until I leave, this got the biggest laugh! :) I tried this and it didn't work. Over the past couple months there have been weeks where I got maybe half an hour of work completed each day. Then, a couple weeks ago I got my first annual perf review with a score of "Exceeding Expectations". Whaaaat??? I'm so confused.

Clearly you haven't watched Office Space.  You're only one pair of snazzy sunglasses and a couple of snide remarks away from a promotion. 

BicycleB

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Re: One week left to decide: can I retire at 55?
« Reply #26 on: July 09, 2021, 04:08:01 PM »
Bring more fish to the office!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=64eVSpmWNoU

Dicey

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Re: One week left to decide: can I retire at 55?
« Reply #27 on: July 11, 2021, 03:18:16 PM »
@jenonajrny, now that we're well past 6/22, how are you feeling?