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Old 10-29-2011, 04:29 PM
 
Location: Wisconsin
22,054 posts, read 45,482,649 times
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Sounds to me like the health insurance of $1,043/mo. is the figure that is giving pause. Not factored into all of this is the govt pension, which no doubt has a COLA. So, you are not stuck w/$44k plus SS (which also has a COLA) til the day you die.

I was forcibly retired on a lot less, with a mortgage, a minuscule pension (after 26 yrs) with no COLA. 55% of my retirement income is from SS, rental income 30%, pension 15%. Not counting RMDs from retirement funds, as those go for property taxes.

I would kill (almost) for a $22k/year pension (half yours) with a COLA. I do have more than you in retirement savings (which is why I have a mortgage). But, as a single person, in these times with depreciating real estate values, am glad I have the nest egg. Very comforting, as opposed to a depreciating, illiquid piece of real estate.

First year I was retired, I was sure I was on the way to the poorhouse. Got busy cutting wasteful expenditures to the point I now have about $15k/year discretionary, about 60% of which will be needed for deferred home maintenance for a few years (I have a really big house). But at least, I'm in the black.

It takes a while to adjust, but things do fall in place. Toxic work environment can wreak havoc in many subtle ways. One shuts down too much over the years, as I learned once I no longer worked. Felt really, really unwell instead of free and happy - for about a year. Went to a holistic practitioner and got back on track. More or less went through a catharsis after retirement.

You don't have anything to worry about financially. Hard to swallow that $1,042 health insurance nut, I know. But, it is best to take that step and move on. It will all work out.

You are so much better off than many.
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Old 10-29-2011, 11:33 PM
 
Location: Northern Wisconsin
9,425 posts, read 8,189,183 times
Reputation: 16434
All I can answer is what I would do if I was in your situation. I'd be gone and not work one more second in that job than I had to. Going to work to a job you hate isn't worth it. Even though it has hurt me financially, I have in several cases quit jobs just because I couldn't stand it. The problem with too many Americans is that every decision ends up being based on money. That's silly. I've been happy with a good income and I've been happy struggling. The money I had or was making made no difference at all.
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Old 10-30-2011, 05:14 PM
 
Location: Florida
4,749 posts, read 4,079,162 times
Reputation: 4727
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Venerable Bede View Post
Sorry for the length of this post, but it began as an "essay to myself" as I pondered a possible retirement at 62 in a few months. For those who are willing to wade through the 1,000 words, I'd be curious to know whether you think my decision is a no-brainer or whether you see any issues that I don't. Thanks for any feedback.

My current job situation as an in-house lawyer for a county government is demoralizing and depressing. My job consumes my life from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. (including preparation and commuting time), five days per week. I drive 37 miles each way on the interstate. Upon my arrival, I have nothing or virtually nothing to do, day after day. Often I have zero work; most days I answer an e-mail or two and perhaps a phone call or two, but this seldom takes more than an hour or two in total. Not more than two or three times a year do I have a project that is actually interesting and makes use of my analytical and writing abilities, and those projects seldom require more than a few hours of my time.

This situation has existed for nearly four years. (I’ve been here 15 years.) I used to be quite busy and heavily involved in all activities because the former head of my department referred almost everyone and everything to me, but this has absolutely dried up since the arrival (election) of my new supervisor 3+ years ago. My new supervisor is extremely political and publicity-hungry and keeps me uninvolved and under wraps. When I’ve gently suggested that I’m not busy and would welcome additional work, he cheerfully tells me to “enjoy it while it lasts.” The county administration is delighted to be able to ignore me because they are an “ethically challenged” group and I am intelligent enough to see through their schemes and not afraid to point out the illegalities. Just observing their shenanigans and hearing about them from my lower-level clients is quite demoralizing and depressing in its own right.

Despite all this, I'm one of the highest paid employees in the county government at $109,000. The situation is so extreme that I no longer even feel good about receiving my paycheck.

The county government center is three miles outside a tiny rural town with close to nothing else to do in the vicinity. I’ve wracked my brain for things to do to occupy my time, from exercise programs to novel writing to home budgeting, but none of this is really comfortable in an office environment. I’ve now surfed the Internet and contributed to various message boards until I’m sick of it.

The only reasons to stay here would be financial – the income, continuing to grow my 457 plan, continuing to grow my state pension and Social Security, and not having to spend the $1,100 per month on health insurance that I’ll have to spend in retirement. I’ll be 62 and eligible for Social Security in four months. At that time, I’ll be in better financial shape than I had anticipated being after making some bad decisions earlier in life: Social Security of about $21,000, defined benefit state pension of about $44,000, very conservatively invested nest egg of about $140,000 that produces 3.5% interest, paid-off house in excellent condition and zero debts. My little 40 mpg car will be two years old with about 40,000 miles on it, and I’ve been stockpiling retirement clothes to such a degree that I probably won’t have to buy any for 15 years. So basically, an income of $69,000 for my wife and me with no debts or family obligations. I’d obviously be in even better shape if I continued to work one to four more years, but I find this prospect so depressing that even one more year seems like more than I could bear.

I have numerous interests and no fear of being bored in retirement. These include physical fitness, hiking, photography, golf, puttering around our little 70-year-old house, and extensive reading in the areas of theology, philosophy and metaphysics. My wife is from Belarus and has only been here with me for three years, so I also want and feel an obligation to spend time with her and show her around the country. My wife and I are both extremely fit and active, and one of my key retirement goals is for both of us to quickly return to the level of fitness we were in not that many years ago. We’re also both very religious and trust that a higher power has been and will continue to be looking after us.

It seems to me that my income will surely be adequate for ten years or so, especially since our health care costs will be reduced when I turn 65 and my wife will begin receiving a percentage of my Social Security (35%) when she turns 62. There is no guaranteed COLA increase with my state pension, although the trustees can declare an increase under the right conditions. My hope is not to tap into my $140,000 nest egg at all and allow the interest to accumulate unless there is a real need. Our “fail safe” plan if we ever find ourselves in a real bind is to move to Belarus, where my wife has a daughter and a large family and owns a tiny apartment in downtown Minsk. $69,000 in Belarus would make us close to “rich.” I have no objection to this and am actually more enthusiastic about it than is my wife. My real hope is that after 3-5 more years here she will be ready to return to Belarus even if we aren’t in a real bind.

I’m very tired of the legal profession and the "system" in general and would prefer not to work at all after I retire. If I do work, I’d like it to be something completely different – even Wal-Mart sounds more appealing right now, although my real talents are in the areas of writing and analysis. The only thing I have on the horizon right now is a possible full- or part-time teaching position at a nearby law school. If I chose to go this route, which I’m only mildly enthusiastic about, I’d delay taking Social Security as long as the teaching job lasted. I’ll know whether I’ve landed this job a couple of months before I turn 62.

So this is my “dilemma” in a nutshell: To continue the daily grind here for a few more years solely for financial reasons, paying whatever personal price this entails, or embark on a new life now even though my financial situation might be precarious if I live to be 85? (I have little family data to go by - my parents were both alcoholics who died early, but my brother is now 73 and my sister is 71. My wife is less of a concern since I have $500,000 in life insurance in place until I’m 71, her brother in Belarus is quite successful, and she remains eligible for free health care and social services in Belarus.)
I read your post but not the answers. Unfortunately I think a lot of the tax payers money gets spent poorly. This is a good example. But the fault is not yours and if you leave your replacement might not contribute any more services to the tax payers than you do.

You did a very good job of making a case to retire. I would go for the retirement but I am not sure you have enough money as I do not know your life style (are you currently spending what your retirement income will be or are you spending more?) and how secure your retirement income is. The 140,000 is not very much money in terms of the number of years you and your wife may live. Livening into your 90's is not unlikely. I think you need to hire a good fee only financial planner to evaluate your situation.

I would try and see if you could not get the elected officials to let you give legal advice to the tax payers on the problems they are having. Something that could benefit the people that pay you.

At any rate I would not quite without making sure I had enough assets to last me through age 100 and unexpected medical problems etc.
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Old 10-30-2011, 07:40 PM
 
174 posts, read 264,010 times
Reputation: 389
Quote:
Originally Posted by rjm1cc View Post
I read your post but not the answers. Unfortunately I think a lot of the tax payers money gets spent poorly. This is a good example. But the fault is not yours and if you leave your replacement might not contribute any more services to the tax payers than you do.

You did a very good job of making a case to retire. I would go for the retirement but I am not sure you have enough money as I do not know your life style (are you currently spending what your retirement income will be or are you spending more?) and how secure your retirement income is. The 140,000 is not very much money in terms of the number of years you and your wife may live. Livening into your 90's is not unlikely. I think you need to hire a good fee only financial planner to evaluate your situation.

I would try and see if you could not get the elected officials to let you give legal advice to the tax payers on the problems they are having. Something that could benefit the people that pay you.

At any rate I would not quite without making sure I had enough assets to last me through age 100 and unexpected medical problems etc.
I realize this is one perspective, and I appreciate all input, but it represents what I have come to call the "paralyzing financial paranoia" perspective. I woild sell my soul to the Devil before I would spend $1 on a financial planner, fee-based or otherwise. As an attorney, I unfortunately have an insider's perspective on the "expertise" of many types of "professionals," including my fellow attorneys. My perspective is that 97% of them are unqualified clowns - for the financial advice industry, I'd up this to 99.999%. I'm confident that I can do a better job of analyzing my situation than any planner - and I, more than any planner, am likely to give appropriate weight to the subjective and non-financial factors that, IMO, axxount for about 80% of any retirement decision. As stated in one of my other posts that you apparently didn't read, my attitude is that if I actually live to 80 or 85 and run out of money, society can figure out what to do with me. I have neighbors on either side of me, both of whom are 84 and both of whom are in better-than-average shape for their ages, and they both urge me "Enjoy yourself now, because what we have can barely be called living." It seems to me that relying on financial planners, and trying to make sure you won't outlive your money even if you live to be 100, is an almost sure-fire way to guarantee that you'll never believe you have enough, never retire, and die in your cubicle. But I will have to admit, this does seem to be the prevailing attitude - I believe that the segments of society that condition us to think this way have done a phenomenally good job.
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Old 10-30-2011, 10:18 PM
 
2,655 posts, read 3,504,776 times
Reputation: 7067
Good luck to you. Enjoy your early retirement with your wonderful pension. I agree with enjoying life while you can. My father was hit by a taxi when he was 65 and my mother died soon after suddenly of cancer. You never know.....

My wishes for you, and for us?

I would love it if you could start gathering information now, to deliver to the ombudsman/newspapers/superiors/public about whatever misdeeds you are witnessing in your offices. If you are really leaving, why not? You would be doing good service for us all. Your story does anger me, and is another example about why there is so much frustration with our government offices.

I am also a big fan of trying to give back a little. Your expertise and training are invaluable. Try volunteering at legal aid clinics if you can. It can be extremely rewarding, and you can have an incredible life-changing impact on people's lives. You'll wonder why you didn't do it sooner!
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Old 10-31-2011, 09:34 AM
 
Location: Baltimore, MD
3,858 posts, read 4,364,449 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sfcambridge View Post
Good luck to you. Enjoy your early retirement with your wonderful pension. I agree with enjoying life while you can. My father was hit by a taxi when he was 65 and my mother died soon after suddenly of cancer. You never know.....

My wishes for you, and for us?

I would love it if you could start gathering information now, to deliver to the ombudsman/newspapers/superiors/public about whatever misdeeds you are witnessing in your offices. If you are really leaving, why not? You would be doing good service for us all. Your story does anger me, and is another example about why there is so much frustration with our government offices.

I am also a big fan of trying to give back a little. Your expertise and training are invaluable. Try volunteering at legal aid clinics if you can. It can be extremely rewarding, and you can have an incredible life-changing impact on people's lives. You'll wonder why you didn't do it sooner!
Unless OP wants to leave the practice of law other than through voluntary retirement, not a good idea. He is an attorney and subject to rules of confidentiality, etc. Best to leave his employment with his license intact.
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Old 10-31-2011, 09:40 AM
 
2,655 posts, read 3,504,776 times
Reputation: 7067
Quote:
Originally Posted by lenora View Post
Unless OP wants to leave the practice of law other than through voluntary retirement, not a good idea. He is an attorney and subject to rules of confidentiality, etc. Best to leave his employment with his license intact.

I have to say, I disagree with you. He did not imply that everything he was seeing in his office would involve client privilege. There are also ways to report things discretely, even anonymously if necessary. To jump to the conclusion that he would lose his license, is kind of random. He is retiring, remember.

Lenora, it is attitudes like yours that allows fraud to persist and flourish. Haven't we seen enough of this, in both the public and private sectors? Aren't many of us suffering now because of it?

Just my thoughts. Too many of us are just trying to take the easy road in life.
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Old 10-31-2011, 10:22 AM
 
Location: Baltimore, MD
3,858 posts, read 4,364,449 times
Reputation: 7134
Quote:
Originally Posted by sfcambridge View Post
I have to say, I disagree with you. He did not imply that everything he was seeing in his office would involve client privilege. There are also ways to report things discretely, even anonymously if necessary. To jump to the conclusion that he would lose his license, is kind of random. He is retiring, remember.

Lenora, it is attitudes like yours that allows fraud to persist and flourish. Haven't we seen enough of this, in both the public and private sectors? Aren't many of us suffering now because of it?

Just my thoughts. Too many of us are just trying to take the easy road in life.
You can disagree all you want, it doesn't change the facts. I am assuming you are not an attorney as you equated privilege, which relates to the rules of evidence, with confidentiality, which relates to rules of professional conduct. Sure he could try to report things anonymously. Of course, that would also violate the rule of confidentiality and would subject him to disbarment if he were caught.

My conclusion is not random. Every state in the union has the same rule regarding confidentiality. No attorney in his or her right mind would release confidential information to the media.

The risk is too great. If disbarred, he would not only be prohibited from engaging in the practice of law, including volunteer positions, he would also be precluded from teaching in a law school. (Indeed, when I was serving as a full time professor in a paralegal program, I had the privilege of having an adjunct professor fired when I learned he was disbarred.) Even if I were retired full time, I would NOT jeopardize my license by improperly violating my clients' right to confidentiality.

Hopefully the OP will address this issue and put it to rest.

Last edited by lenora; 10-31-2011 at 10:24 AM.. Reason: typo
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Old 10-31-2011, 11:14 AM
 
2,655 posts, read 3,504,776 times
Reputation: 7067
Yes, I meant confidentiality. You are correct.

The OP was suggesting a much higher level system of corruption and practices, to my read. Of course, we will see if he responds. But before you recommend he simply quit and only think about protecting himself, perhaps there is a way to do something right about crimes he has been witnessing for years while still maintaining his professional ethics. It is possible, you know, in many circumstances. I think you are speaking too broadly when all I am doing is suggesting he do the right thing, if he is strong and able enough to do it.

Your post says a lot.
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Old 10-31-2011, 11:33 AM
 
174 posts, read 264,010 times
Reputation: 389
Quote:
Originally Posted by sfcambridge View Post
I have to say, I disagree with you. He did not imply that everything he was seeing in his office would involve client privilege. There are also ways to report things discretely, even anonymously if necessary. To jump to the conclusion that he would lose his license, is kind of random. He is retiring, remember.

Lenora, it is attitudes like yours that allows fraud to persist and flourish. Haven't we seen enough of this, in both the public and private sectors? Aren't many of us suffering now because of it?

Just my thoughts. Too many of us are just trying to take the easy road in life.
Actually, sfcambridge, you are correct to a considerable degree. The attorney's obligation of confidentiality does not extend to "everything that happens within the walls of his employer," but only as to those matters on which he (or at least the legal department) is consulted for legal advice - and even then, not necessarily if they involve the commission of a crime. Most of what I have observed and heard about are the sorts of petty incidents of unethical or arguably illegal behavior that you see in every government environment (and many corporate ones) where there is little regard for ethical conduct; they just eventually drain you of energy and enthusiasm if you if you do have higher standards. However, our office did refer for investigation by the state attorney general a few years ago a matter into which I had put a great deal of work and which seemed pretty clearly to involve actionable misconduct for personal benefit by some high-level managers. The case that we assembled was meticulous, but it went nowhere. I remember my boss, who had been here 20+ years, telling me that he had decided to retire prematurely because "I just can't work in this environment anymore." Anyway, this was a classic case where we had not been consulted for legal advice and had no obligation of confidentiality.
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