Lacking The Courage To Quit

Last week I wrote about what I was thinking. This week I’m writing about what you are thinking.

Many of you are lacking the courage to quit and are trying to figure out why.  I know, because you told me. Here’s an example of what you said:

“For those that are in the glide path toward retirement, what holds us back from pulling the trigger on retiring…either REAL or PERCEIVED?  I mean if the numbers make sense…why does it feel so hard to retire?  Sometimes I feel a little afraid and so what advice might you provide to answer those fears?”  – Craig

Thanks for your transparency, Craig.  Based on my inbox, you’re certainly not alone in trying to find the courage to quit. Today,  we’re going to examine why it can be so difficult to summon the courage to quit, along with some thoughts on what you can do about it.  

Why do so many people lack the courage to quit? What's so hard about deciding to retire? Click To Tweet

Lacking The Courage To Quit

In hindsight, it was a sadistic move. 

I asked 6,000 of this blog’s subscribers to e-mail me, and it seems almost every one of you did.  Fair enough, you were all trying to win those 4 free books.  I get it, and I appreciate your engagement.  I was the one who asked for 1-2 sentences about what was on your mind. But reading through thousands of emails?  I’ve got to admit I might not have thought that one all the way through…

In reality, I’ve savored every second of reading through that treasure chest of “reader telepathy”, and I’m making it last.  So many stories.  So many sincere questions. I’ll be chewing on this bone for a while, and I’m enjoying every bite.  Bear with me if it takes some time.  (Remember, I’m trying to stop hurrying…)

The thing that most upsets me is being unable to answer every email directly, a reality I trust you understand. Rather, and as promised when I announced the book winners, I’ll plan on weaving in some posts addressing the topics which appear most frequently.  Today’s the first such post, and I’d appreciate your feedback on the approach in the comments.


What’s On Your Mind?  The Courage To Quit

It seems the lion in The Wizard of Oz wasn’t the only one who is searching for courage.  Craig was far from the only reader who cited lacking the courage to quit as something they’re struggling with.  Here are a few more of the emails I’ve received on the subject (emphasis added by me):

“As one approaching retirement I stress over how much $$$ is enough?…If shortly after retirement the big drop comes and we lose 30 to 60%, it could crush our plans…so despite our advisor’s assurance we’re OK and ready, I still have concern.”  KC


“I’d like to read about the courage to walk away from a high paying job once you’ve reached financial freedom?  Maybe some input from readers who have done so and found more happiness doing something else….I get nervous about quitting a good job…even if I’m financially ready.”  CK


I am on the edge of retiring, and am just so unsure…how do you estimate the cost when you just don’t know?”  DL


I’m 62 and just about ready to take a leap away from a much loved job…to live near my grandchildren.  How do you let go of one love to exchange it for another higher good?…And how can you do your best to make retirement decisions that you won’t regret?”  S


“I think the main thing is fear of retiring even if you think your money is lined up and you have a plan.  I find myself thinking if I did one more year I would be in a better position…Am I alone?”  D


“I’d like to see an article that deals with how you mentally adjust to retirement and drawing on your retirement accounts…I was fortunate to retire early at age 56…but I’m having a hard time with the idea that I no longer have to save…and it’s ok to spend a little and enjoy.”  JA


“I have 75 days of work left!  It’s starting to feel uneasy leaving the regular schedule of work not knowing the routine of retirement.  Everyone asks, “What are you going to do?  Well, to be honest, I’m not sure!”  JA


What’s So Hard About Deciding To Retire?

Clearly, many folks find the courage to quit a struggle in their final years of work, even when they’ve achieved Financial Independence.  I get it.  I faced the same anxiety myself and made the decision to work One More Year “just to be sure.”  As mentioned at the time, the following were the reasons I cited for my own lack of courage:

  • Health Care Cost Inflation
  • Market Returns
  • “You’ll never make the $$ you’re making now”.
  • A friend said waiting OMY was the best decision he ever made.

Sound familiar?  I suspect many of you are worried about the same things I was worried about when I was in your shoes.  There are many variables involved in our “retirement equation”, and many of them are “unknowns”.   The future of the stock market, our actual spending in retirement and health insurance are legitimate mathematical factors that we can’t build into our equation with 100% certainty. 

Mix in the “softer” unknowns, such as whether or not you’re really going to enjoy being retired, what you’re going to do to fill your time, whether you’ll miss the challenge and friendships from work, how you and your spouse will do when you’re together all the time, and what will give you Purpose, and the list of “unknowns” continues to grow.

Uncertainty causes anxiety, and anxiety inhibits our courage to quit. So...what can we do about it? Click To Tweet

I don’t need to tell you about anxiety and it’s impact on your courage to quit.  You’re living it.  What really matters is what you can do about it, so let’s look some steps I’d suggest to help you find your courage.

Steps To Take To Find Your Courage

The Wizard made those poor folks in The Wizard of Oz commit murder in their quest for finding what they were searching for.  As we learned when Toto pulled back the curtain on the Wizard, however, there’s no such thing as a magical answer when searching for the courage to quit.  There are, however, some steps I’ve taken on my journey which have built confidence and gave me the courage to quit.  I encourage you to look through the suggestions below and apply those that seem best suited for your situation.


1. Get A Firm Grasp On How Much You’ll Spend

The bedrock of retirement planning is how much you’ll spend in retirement.  Unfortunately, it’s one of the unknowns.  To address this variable in our retirement planning, my wife and I decided to track every penny we spent for a year while we were still working.  It was a pain, but invaluable.  For the first time, we had a rock-solid foundation on what it cost us to live our lives, and it was well worth the effort.

Once we knew our current spending, we spent time thinking about the life we wanted to live in retirement and how that would impact our current spending reality.  For example, we knew we wanted to downsize from our “Big House” in the city and move to our retirement cabin in the Appalachian Mountains.  The equity we’d free up from the home sale would pay off our cabin mortgage, and we’d wipe out our mortgage payment.  We’d have lower utilities, taxes and insurance premiums.  We’d travel more, so we added a line to capture RV travel expenses (100 nights/year @ $40/night = $4k in campground fees).  We knew we’d be buying private insurance for 10 years, so we did some research on the costs, built in a buffer, and went with $2,500/month as our estimate, inflated at 5% per year.  We tended to “estimate to the high side” on most expenses, to build in a buffer for any unexpected surprises.  Taking a conservative approach increased our confidence that we wouldn’t overspend.

Knowing what’s in your spending assumptions is a fundamental step in finding your courage to quit, and taking the approach outlined above should address DL’s concerns on “how to estimate the cost when you just don’t know”

Tracking your spending and making realistic adjustments for retirement is the first advice I’d give to anyone struggling with finding the courage to quit.  If you’re ready to get started, click here to use my Spending Tracker.  (NOTE:  Click File/Make A Copy to create a personal copy, please don’t send me an email asking for access, I’m a bit behind on my emails at the moment….)

Related Post:  When Can I Retire?  (Step 1 – Spending)


2. Develop A Retirement Drawdown Strategy

Moving from “Accumulation” to “Withdrawal” is one of the biggest changes that comes with retirement, and it’s one of the biggest factors that impacts our courage to quit. Of course, a bear market is coming, and we’ll never know when those claws will appear. We should just accept the fact and quit worrying about it.  Markets go up, and markets go down.  It ain’t rocket science.  What matters is what we can do to avoid the very real Sequence of Return Risk, and that is an element we can control.  

In our case, we developed our Retirement Drawdown Strategy, which is a comprehensive plan for how we’ll drawdown our investments to fund our retirement expenses.  Rather than repeat our strategy, I’d encourage you to read the post.  The important thing was that we developed a plan, and that plan helped alleviate the uncertainty associated with moving into the withdrawal phase.  It’s also the process that led to our decision to implement the bucket strategy.

Related Post:  7 Strategies To Make Your Money Last Through Retirement


the bucket strategy

3. Consider Implementing The Bucket Strategy

As part of our Retirement Drawdown Strategy, we identified the bucket strategy as the means by which we’d create our monthly paycheck in retirement.  We felt confident that the “insurance” against Sequence of Return risk was worth the “cost” of having 3 year’s worth of cash on hand.  Also, we knew our ~3.5% Safe Withdrawal Rate would allow us to cover our conservative spending requirements (from Step 1). Both of these factors went a long way in helping us overcome our lack of courage to quit. 

If you’re like KC and the “concerns about a 30 – 60% market drop” are driving your lack of courage to quit, I encourage you to read the following posts:

Once you’ve implemented your system, recognize that it’s ok to spend your money.  To address JA’s concern about realizing “I no longer have to save…and it’s ok to spend a little and enjoy”, I’d encourage you to read It’s Time To Live Like No One Else, my post about moving from a lifelong saver to a retirement spender.

Related Post:  How Much Can You Spend Safely In Retirement?


4. Spend Time Thinking About Your Life In Retirement

This step should be #1, but I realize that most folks who lack the courage to quit are most worried about money, so I listed those first.  I could write many posts on this topic (indeed, I have), and find it difficult to summarize it’s importance in a few short paragraphs. You’ll find the majority of my upcoming book is on this very topic, and I hope you’ll read it when it comes out in April. 

For now, what’s important is the reality that the #1 factor between those who have had success in their transition to retirement vs. those who struggle is how much time they’ve spent thinking about what they want their lives to be in retirement.  The time spent thinking about your life in retirement while you’re still working is directly correlated to how smooth your transition to retirement will be.

Read that paragraph again.  It’s really important.

Below are some of the posts I’ve written on the topic.  Please read a few.  Did I mention it’s important?


Conclusion:  Do You Still Lack the Courage To Quit?

If, after implementing these steps, you’re still struggling with making the jump, realize there’s nothing wrong with deciding to live with the One More Year Syndrome.  As mentioned, there are definitely benefits associated with that path, and I have no regrets that we went that route for our retirement.  Rather than view it as a curse, recognize the blessing you have in being able to continue to work. After all, 60% of Americans are forced to retire earlier than they had planned. 

One word of caution.  Should you decide to work One More Year, don’t let it become one more year, then one more year, then one more year only because you lack the courage to quit.  Rather, decide today that you’ll work one more year, but then draw a line in the sand.  Pick your retirement date now, and put it on your calendar.  Start a countdown app on your phone, and make it happen.

Retirement is an amazing way to live life.

Don’t keep working simply because you lack the courage to quit.

84 comments

  1. The struggle is real… I did a post on this not too long ago and described it as when you get to to point that you ask yourself “What am I doing?”. Meaning, why am I still working. But getting to that point is still wrought with uncertainty and anxiety. I think it boils down to that fact that leaving a high paying job or a career that you spent maybe decades building is a once in a lifetime decision, and a huge one. Most folks don’t pull triggers like that easily, I’m one of them.

    1. Dave, you’ve hit the nail on the head as far as what I’ve experienced. I originally FIREd at age 58, then was hired back on contract full time for 3 months, laid off, rehired back 9 months later part time, and I am still working at age 61. So I only had really 9.5 months of actual ‘retirement’. Didn’t need to take anything out of retirement accounts as I was living off income from side hustles and cash from retirement buyout.

      Most recently, under stress from dealing with 2 sick parents and seeing the many things I need to do around my property, I am asking myself “what am I doing?” a lot. WHY am I still working? I tell myself little lies like well, I am in the middle of several projects and it’s not nice to bail in the middle of them… so I quit taking on new projects and am letting these remaining ones run their course to closure. Still stuffing the 401K and IRA to the max, am now living and saving 3/4 of my current income… which has basically been cut in half from original f/t rate due to p/t work.

      I have really good job flexibility which means I can take days off when needed for personal things.

      But still – what am I doing? At current balances, a conservative withdrawal rate should leave me with far more income than I am currently spending. Yet I am still holding onto this p/t gig while I wait for them to lay me off again… at which time the decision is made FOR me rather than BY me.

      I guess the answer is this current p/t gig is too good to pass up. But they are getting a great deal too as my employer gets to tap my 25 years of experience in their industry and pay a lower than market rate for extending me flexibility to WFH and work any hours I wish.

      1. Lynne, you’re blessed to have a WFH situation that works for you, until it doesn’t. Be brave, and focus on your priorities. Aging parents are a struggle for many of us, we had my mother-in-law (Alzheimer’s) living with us for 4 years. We decided to do it right, and have no regrets with our approach now that she’s gone. Tough situation, and I can appreciate why you struggle. Good luck as you sort through your decision.

  2. I’ve now experienced (ever so slight) regret over a) my decision not to retire yet, and b) to retire.

    A year ago, I could have retired but I guess I was suffering a little from one more year syndrome.

    Flash forward to today, I recently announced at work that I’d be retiring April 1. Of course, Wall Street must have gotten wind of this, and presto! Let the sequence risk be realized! Okay, probably not going to hurt me that much because I think I’m allocated properly, but you can’t help certain fears from creeping into your mind once the decision is made.

    1. I hate it when those spies from Wall Street listen in on our conversations. Fear not, this too shall pass. Enjoy your final 30 days, life is great on this side of The Starting Line (even if the market tries to instill some anxiety into our days. Slay that lion, and keep plenty of cash in Bucket 1!)

    2. Steve – can totally relate. Yesterday (2/28) was my last day at work, and watching the market plummet all week was gut wrenching to say the least – and the doubts (fear?) crept in big time! Why am I leaving a 6 figure income job when I can just bank more cash?

      So I did two things: 1) re-evaluated my reasons for wanting to retire early. Confirmed. 2) factored in a -20% RoR for 2020, followed by below average returns starting in 2021. I’ll still have enough money, but there will be less at the end for my heirs.

      No looking back now… Best of luck to you.

  3. Vert thought provoking post Fritz ! I guess a few years ago we ( before blogs etc) this topic didn’t get much play and it was kinda weird to hear about someone retiring before 65 and now we have so much more information but again it’s one of the major life decisions. I appreciate you unraveling all of the factors and decisions that need to be made prior to pull the trigger.

  4. “How many retirement calculators do you have to use before you realize that the numbers work in our favor?” That was the direct question my loving wife Ileana asked several years ago when I was seriously contemplating retiring early. Even though I had been a healthcare administrator in a highly stressful subspecialty of cancer care, I was afraid to take the leap. Except for being in awe of the dedication of my medical staff and the survivor drive of our patients, I found my job to be exceedingly stressful from the administrative side. I am always in awe of those who love their jobs, my wife included. However, I still faced uncertainly entering the unknown world of retirement. Fritz, candidly, you and your blog as well as a few others, have made this seemingly uncharted territory, not only discoverable, but a blessing in greatly reducing my anxiety about early retirement and I am sure of hundreds of others. Case in point is the ongoing market correction due largely to the Coronavirus outbreak. I have implemented your bucket strategy and I am not the least bit worried financially. I salute you for steering us in the right direction in making this great leap into retirement with your relevant and timely posts.

    1. Haha I did the same thing, used several different calculators in an effort to prove to myself the numbers were working in my favor.

      For me the one biggie is health care coverage. If living on low income it isn’t bad at all; however my going back to work p/t has screwed me over since I have been paying full $$ for premiums rather than the low amount I budgeted for. Which leaves me asking myself why I’m still working when I end up paying $9K/year in premiums for an $8K deductible policy. The ACA is only affordable if you are living closer to poverty line income amounts.

      1. Thanks Lynne, I will convey to my wife that I am not the only one using multiple calculators with the same result. Sorry about you paying a lot for coverage. It is a problem that should be addressed for at least those over 50 and retiring early. I am fortunate to be on my wife’s insurance while she works a few more years and I know the payment system where I can ensure that we are not taken advantage of for redundant tests, overcharging, etc.

    2. “…and I am not the least bit worried financially. I salute you for steering us in the right direction…”

      And that, my friend, is why I do what I do. Thanks for the encouragement.

      And, the answer to your loving wife’s question? 3 (plus a personalized spreadsheet)…

  5. Such a great article, Fritz. My situation is a couple of years away but it’s already got me constantly thinking about when the right time will be. Our passive income should cover our living expenses in roughly two years, which is very exciting. My liquid net worth won’t be to where I want it for more like 6-8 years, depending on the market between now and then. So when do I quit? Somewhere in the middle? Keep on keepin on until the liquid numbers are where I want? Who knows. I guess it’s a good problem to have.

    DJ

    1. DJ, you’re a wise man for thinking seriously about this stuff while you’re still “a couple of years away”. I suspect you’ll be rewarded for that “thought investment” when it’s your time to cross The Starting Line. And yes, it IS a good problem to have, and we’re truly fortunate to be dealing with these kinds of “problems”.

  6. Fritz

    I’m struggling with this exact situation at 60! Ready but afraid to go… I appreciate your insight with this post…it definitely helped me to solidify July 1 is my “drop dead” date before this job really does kill me! Reading this actually made me cry a bit. It’s been a “head game” I’ve played with myself for years now…and it’s exhausting. I feel it shouldn’t be this hard. But we know it is. Or maybe it isn’t? This post hit on so many fronts…Thank you for what you do!

    Aileen

    1. Aileen, I cannot tell you how inspired I am by your comment. Nothing better than having a “post hit on so many fronts”, at exactly the time a reader needed to hear the words. Embrace July 1st, your life is about to change for the better in so many ways! Thanks for allowing me to play a small role in it.

    2. Congratulations Aileen! I can tell from your response that you’re ready and you’ve got this handled. Enjoy your new found freedom.

  7. Fritz,
    great blog on the lack of courage to retire and I especially applaud your posts on spending time thinking about retirement. My wife and I have been blessed and funding retirement was not an issue so I retired March 31, 2019. What I had not done even though I had read your blog and several articles on the subject was make a decision or a plan as to what our retirement would look like. Like you, after spending 40 years in the Aluminum business it was hard to leave my work and work friends and turn to what? We have and can travel more see our grown children and grand kids more which is great and we love it but it just does not completely feel the void of the 6 to 6 work world I had left. Consequently, I started a consulting business, which is basically going back to work which seems to be sort of a cop our to retirement. Your thoughts?

    1. Todd, nothing wrong with starting a consulting biz if that’s what works for you. Each of us have different transitions to retirement, and we must decide for ourselves if “going back to work” is something that makes our lives better. The good thing is, once you no longer need the money, you’re free to change your mind at any time. Embrace that flexibility, and continue to change things up until you find the best life you can find. It’s a luxury few people have. Good luck on your journey!

  8. Nice article…I have a Starting Line date of 12/1/20 (signed agreement with employer). I’m excited and scared at the same time as I’m only 50 years old and need to deal with longevity risk as well as sequence of return risk in the next 10 years.

    I would like to see article(s) on strategies to get ACA health insurance subsidies. I will be income “poor” so Im hoping to qualify for ACA subsidies once I leave my corporate job of 26 years.

    Also, I’m in your neck of the woods having a retirement cabin in Blue Ridge mountains (Murphy, NC).

    1. Hey Neighbor! Congrats on locking in that starting line date, you’re going to love spending more time in these wonderful mountains! As for ACA subsidies, definitely a strategy many folks should pursue. May be something I’ll consider in future posts, though I’m not eligible for the subsidies and would have to study the topic extensively before providing any advice. Hope we get a chance to meet when you’re in the mountains. God’s country, for sure!

    2. I too will be income “poor” and will be looking at ACA for health insurance and the subsidies. I found great information from my companies insurance rep for how to navigate ACA and what income minimums to watch out for. Healthcare.gov allows you to run scenarios and get ideas of what plans are available.

    3. Plenty of resources out there regarding ACA. I signed up a month ago on Healthcare.gov and it was relatively painless. I got the full subsidies since I only worked 2 months this year, so my share for a high deductible, HSA qualified plan (bronze) is only $5.24 per month. That plan also gives me a $20 per month stipend to fund my gym membership!

      2 things I did encounter which were a bit of a surprise. 1) When first signing up, I had to make a choice (and pay the 1st month’s premium) by 2/15 for coverage to start on 3/1. Waiting an extra day to decide would have pushed me to 4/1. 2) As I was still working at the time, I initially put in my yearly salary when prompted (no subsidies), but then realized that entry needed to be reduced to how much my 2 months of income would be as I was leaving employment (voila! subsidies).

      1. thanks for information…the most complicated part is the income limits for subsidies is based on an adjusted MAGI…this is where it gets a bit sticky…I will be pulling income from IRA 72t distributions but have a lot of write offs….

  9. Great post as ever, Fritz
    Answering Eduardo’s comment above – you can never have too many spreadsheets! I analysed the figures, backwards, forwards, sideways, sad person that I am, and they all came up with the same answer – we could afford to retire, but like many others, we didn’t really believe it.
    Yes, I also had a bad dose of ‘you’ll never earn the big bucks again, keep going for a while yet’, but the more I thought about it – why was I doing it? Literally all I was doing was putting more in the bank, that my calculations said I would never need. Not even in 30 years. In the UK, we have inheritance tax, so when we passed, 40% would go to the taxman, not to mention the 40%+ tax that I was paying on my salary at the time….
    And yes, you are right, you do need Courage – I still remember writing my retirement resignation. Was I right? But it was a similar feeling to the one I had when I was having my first child (in the days before maternity leave, holding your job open etc). You have to have faith in yourself, and make that step. There’s a great bright different future out there….
    We are now nearly 9 fantastic years into retirement. Yes, we are not as wealthy as we might be, but we have more than enough. I would have lost 5 years of life, in favour of more money, certainly not the same enjoyment, improved health and travel experiences that retirement has blessed me with.
    And as for the recent market correction, who cares? As Fritz recommends, I have got my ‘buckets’ in place… I can wait years for the market to recover….

    1. Well said Erith! Your comment “Yes, we are not as wealthy as we might be, but we have more than enough. I would have lost 5 years of life, in favour of more money, certainly not the same enjoyment, improved health and travel experiences that retirement has blessed me with. is exactly how I feel. I’m trading money for time with myself, family and friends. A worthwhile trade in my opinion.

  10. Fritz, thanks again for sharing your journey and insights. I did decide to stay one more year in the work force after reaching FI because I was still chasing the next promotion and the next raise. Once it became clearer to me the next promotion and raise was still as unresolved as it was the previous year it accelerated my timeline to retire which I did last September. Now, looking back, its seems like such a trivial desire especially since I was commuting an hour each way fighting Seattle traffic, not exercising consistently, and stressed out working for a very demanding client. Five months later I’m exercising regularly, heart rate is down 10 BPM and my wife (retiring in June) have taken several great vacations visiting our kids. We’re also considering selling our house in few years and moving to cheaper housing somewhere. Would love to hear your thoughts someday if the pull of grandchildren would cause you to rethink your current living location.

    1. Tom, congrats on taking the plunge last September. I empathize with your perspective when you “look back” at the decision, amazing how much easier it seems from this side of the coin. We sound like we have a lot in common in our retirement lives, I have also been happily focused on regular exercise, and feel better than I have in years.

      As for moving someday for the grandchildren, it’s certainly possible. Our daughter’s family lives in your area (Joint Base Lewis McChord), and we enjoy having the time to visit them several times a year. Since our son-in-law is in the military, it’ll be a while before we have the confidence that they’ll stay in one place for long, but once they do settle we’d consider moving closer to our (only) granddaughter. The pull of family is real, and there’s nothing wrong with letting it influence your location in retirement.

  11. Fritz, Thank you for the post. We are going home to Washington today after a 6 week RV trip to Arizona and California in our new fifth wheel. While working my husband was self employed and we rarely left home for more than a week. We just retired in September at 63 and 61. We did OMY, our youngest got a job with health insurance so we decided to “just do it”. It is so freeing. We plan to do a big Roth conversion while on Cobra, then ACA until Medicare. Have set up regular deposits into our checking and have 3 yrs expenses in cash/cds. Really enjoy your posts. Thanks.

  12. Great article Fritz! I was fortunate to achieve financial independence a few years prior to losing my high paying job at 53. When I was called into my boss’s office and our HR rep was sitting there, I knew what was occurring. I decided to look for another position in my same field (mid level IT Management) for about 1 year and quickly learned of the challenges someone over 50 faces in finding an equivalent job in IT. Since I was already financially independent, i made the decision when I was 54 to stop the job search for a while. I struggled the first 2.5 years after losing my job in finding my way in retirement. It was not my choice at the time to retire. My wife was still working so a lot of travel was not in the cards as we had planned when we both retired. I decided in November of 2019 that I would take on a contract IT Project Management role when an opportunity presented itself. I started the contract job in December and within a few weeks was regretting that decision. I decided in late January of this year to resign after I determined that I missed my life of not working. It’s such a wonderful feeling to not have to work! My wife approached me at the same time that she too was ready to retire. I contacted my financial advisers to review our plans and that our draw-down plan was sound, and we decided to move forward with my wife retiring. Her last day at her position is tomorrow. We know travel is a key passion of ours and plan to take several short, last minute trips over the next several months as we adjust to both being retired. We have longer trips in the planning stage later this year and next. We are also looking to “right size” our home over the next couple of years and have contacted a real estate agent to help us prepare. I use the term right size because we will likely not save any money with our right sizing as we are looking to invest in a home somewhat smaller than we have today but in an upscale, active retirement community as a retirement community lifestyle and experience are appealing to us. It took me over 2.5 years to realize that I actually do not want to work any longer and to adjust to life in retirement. Now my wife gets her time to adjust, and I get to re-adjust as she will be around me all the time now. I feel change is good for us as humans and it teaches us new things about ourselves. Giddy up! Here we come retirement world! No regrets. We only live once and our philosophy now is to enjoy the lifestyle we worked hard to achieve and that God blessed us with.

    1. Her last day is tomorrow!!! Wow, exciting times for both of you. Your 2.5 years of “transition training” will come in handy for her. BTW, your comment that “I struggled the first 2.5 years after losing my job in finding my way in retirement” is not uncommon, especially for those who have an unplanned ending to their career. I write about it a fair bit in my book, and your comment resonated with me. A great example of why we should all strive for Financial Independence, even if we think we’re going to continue working. For many, the choice is not theirs. I’m glad to hear things have worked out well for you, and appreciate you sharing your story. Giddy up, indeed!

  13. Worked all the calculators, ready for one more year, then read a post by Doug Nordman (https://the-military-guide.com/author/themilitaryguide/ ). He retired from Navy same year I did, similar retirement pay, and lives in a high cost area, but I’ve been a sucker and worked for last 17 years, while Doug vacationed. Of course, KevG don’t surf. And I wasn’t the same kind of saver at the time. So I started thinking, I’m done May 2020 – when I then became one of those 60% retired prematurely. So far, I’m loving it. Biggest money challenge is that there remains some restrictions on withdrawals until Sep 2020 – things I could work around, but am trying to glide there without the effort.

    Biggest discovery was that the federal TSP is a bad place for my cash bucket, since withdrawals come from each subaccount in the same percentage as your holdings (if 10% is cash, only 10% will be from cash bucket). So I just pulled my 3 years from the TSP and am moving it to CDs, bond ladder. Great timing as cash came out last week – so I was able to redeploy remaining TSP cash into stocks after this week’s downturn. Yeah – stocks on sale. Not that it will matter long term – but good luck is, well, good luck.

    And I do have a part time job that is lining up after we move to western NC this summer. Or SC. Or GA. Or NJ (new grandbaby). The world is wide open.

    1. Kev, great to hear from you, and thanks for the link to Doug’s work. He’s a great guy, and a valuable resource for any military career folks evaluating a military retirement. And, he surfs in Hawaii, almost every day. Argh. Haha.

      Congrats on drawing your line in the sand for May 2020, interesting comments about the TSP withdrawal methodology (better lucky than good on the withdrawal last week!). Good luck in your move to NC/SC/GA or NJ. Sounds like you may be spending some time near my neck of the woods. If you do end up in the mountains, give me a shout. We may not be able to surf around here, but the rivers are gorgeous for kayaking!

  14. Well I love and hate the blog for starters. I’m 49 and happily married to my dream wife since 1997. I have 3 kids (one in Sophomore year at college, one starting next year, and one 12 year old that is awesome but really will slow down my retirement plans). I’ve been studying retirement for about 2 years now and have saved pretty well considering we live in a HCOL area and these kids are expensive. $1.2M Net worth including house (which is actually worth less than I bought it for 18 years ago if you can believe that). My problem is that I’m consumed with the idea of retirement. I don’t have an issues with dreaming up what it will look like … my problem is that I can’t get their quickly enough. I want it to happen so much faster. I make good money but hate my boss who’s awful to work for so I’ll be changing jobs soon. I love my job in sales and am good at it and treat my team and my customers very well and put them first. I’m sure I’ll be consulting with startups or something to give back and make a little passive income in retirement. The point of sharing is that I love the content … you’re giving me a lot of confidence … and I know that when my youngest is done with college and I’m finished paying for it (about 7 years I’d guess), I think I should have my house paid off, no debt of any kind, pretty healthy savings (I’d like about $2.5M in investments and $200k in cash for my bucket strategy) and my wife and I could live comfortably without having to worry about outliving our savings and doing the travel we’d like. RV’ing is definitely in the plans though I’m worried about finding safe and fun places to park the thing around the country.

    1. Grant, thanks for your kind words about my blog. I can relate with being “consumed with the idea of retirement”, my obsession started near the 50-mark as well. Fortunately, I only had 5 years to go at this point vs. your 7, but that’s really just splitting hairs on the macro issue. Hang in there. One suggestion…

      As difficult as it is, it’s best to try to put retirement out of your mind for a while and focus on enjoying The Present with your kids. They’ll be gone before you know it, and you’ll have the rest of your life with your dream wife to enjoy your retirement. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, one of my concerns with the hard-core FIRE folks (many of who I consider as friends) is that they get so focused on the goal that they forget the enjoy the journey. I’d encourage you to think about the same. All we’re given is today. Enjoy it to the fullest. Retirement will come, and you won’t want to look back with any regrets on how you got there. Thanks for stopping by, and best of luck on your journey!

      1. Great advice as always. Thanks and keep the posts coming … I’ll try not to let them and the calculators consume me. I do love to think about all the possibilities that retirement will bring. I’m running towards something versus running away from my work or boredom. Thanks to you and others I have a vision and a plan for what I want.

  15. You hit the nail on the head Fritz! It’s only human nature to fear the unknown, especially in a world that is changing so rapidly. I suspect the fundamental fear is “will I outlive my savings”. You’ve done a great job breaking this down and each of us can determine that we should be good.

    The next piece to the puzzle is what are we retiring to? Your post on “5 Keys to a Great Retirement” complements this perfectly. Keep up the amazing writing!

  16. I’m getting ready to pull the plug in June. I’m 60 and will use Cobra for 18 months. I’m a little worried about what the cost will be after Cobra runs out, but I do have the money to pay for it. It is however, hard to quit a $100K job. Took 38 years to get here, but I really do want to get out while the wife and I can still walk and see some sights. I have a nice pension coming, 60K to start with a 3% compounded kicker every year. Plus we’re going to get some SSI and wife has a small pension, about 2K per year. So, we may not even have to tap our investments, but it’s still hard to quit! Oh the dilemma! Need to talk me down Goose! Thanks for listening.

    1. John, congrats on drawing your Starting Line in the sand, you’re going to love life in July and beyond. I can relate to the health insurance concerns, but I think you’ll be fine as long as you’ve budgeted for it, which you have. It is, indeed, hard to walk away from a good paying job. Once you’ve done it, however, you’ll wonder why it was so difficult. No talking you down on this one. Prepare for takeoff….

  17. Fritz,
    Excellent post! Thank you for taking the time to write it. I feel it was written just for me. I am searching for a way to finally have the courage to retire. 

    I put it that way because I’ve saved all my life and hope I’m in excellent financial shape. I’m 60 years old and work in healthcare. Briefly, have saved over 4M in a conservative 30/70 stock to bond allocation. Maxed out SS (plan to defer till 70), 26k/yr pension (at 65). Expenses maybe 50 – 55k/yr. 

    So, what’s the problem? I just can’t retire. I do not like my job and it’s very high stress. Days off requests do not even get a response from the bosses. They just ignore the request. I feel like I’m a slave. I handed in two resignation letters in the past few years but in talking to the bosses I ended up staying. OMY leads to OMY leads to OMY.

    Yes, I think often what retirement would feel like. I have activities to do like visit family and friends, travel to beach towns and golf. I think I’d enjoy taking a long, slow trip driving up and down the east coast stopping at all the beach towns. But you can’t do these things everyday. I enjoy golf but I don’t want to do it everyday. It’s so frustrating that I can’t figure out why I can’t pull the plug on work.

    1. Fritz – thank you for writing this blog. Definitely touched a nerve (the noive).

      Francis, I wanted to retire to a beach – but feared that all the local stores would run out of rum within 30 days. But I might suggest that you find a local charity or non-profit, and get yourself on the board. You certainly have the means to cover your expenses. And if the cause is one you are truly interested in, they could become the benefactor of a legacy gift. By having a board position, you will be too busy to succumb to OMY. I might also suggest you don’t give your bosses too long – 30 days maybe.

    2. I did write it for you, Francis (and, in fairness, others like you). As for your comment of “I just can’t retire“, I’d respond with, “Oh, yes you can!”. You’ve saved well beyond what you need, now it’s just a matter of getting your head around the fact that you can (and probably should) pull the plug. If you really find yourself hating retirement (unlikely, but always a possibility), you can always go back to work. At least your job situation would be one of your choosing, and you’d be done with your idiot slave-owning boss. Walk away, Francis. Walk away. Keep me posted, I’m sincerely interested in where your journey leads. I’m glad I wrote today’s post for you (wink), I hope it helps you make up your mind. Thanks for stopping by.

      1. Thank you so much, Fritz for taking an interest in my (and others) struggles to pull the plug on work. I can’t wait to read your new book. The situation I’m in doesn’t make rational sense. The people I work with say I’m sitting in a jail cell but the door isn’t locked. Yet I stay in the cell. There are people at work who would love to be retired. Yet I stay in the cell. I have been told that I overanalyze things and I’m probably doing the same thing with retirement. Work gets worse and worse. Do more with less. No work – life balance. Days off requests ignored. After years of false starts I finally feel the winds changing to do it.

        1. Francis

          Do it! I’m leaving a sales career of 35+ years, (great career by the way)with all my “FU money” (JL Collins) intact! I too have been in the health industry for the twenty five years and it’s toxic. One day after I decided July 1 was my last day (at 60), that lead to my husband and I booking (deposit paid) a four month Around the World cruise!!! We’re leaving Jan 6 and are consumed with excitement!! Set yourself up with some things to look forward to and make the commitment (deposit). Your imagination will come alive with the possibilities waiting for your new “much less stressful” life! Just making the decision (and sticking with it) has made all the difference in my mental health. As Fritz said, you’ve more than enough. You may want to read the book “Die Broke”…my husband and I plan to do just that!!! Best of luck…get out while you still have “your” health.

          1. Thanks for your encouragement Aileen. Yeah, working in healthcare isn’t what it used to be. Most of it now is for profit and working conditions have greatly deteriorated. You gave me some good tips. I think I have issues in delaying gratification too much. For example, I keep cars a long time, probably too long. They I finally buy another car and I say to myself, I love the car, why did I wait so long to buy it? I am trying to not do that with retirement. What if I delay and delay and finally do it and love it. I’ll never get back those lost years. I’m 60, the years are creeping up, I’m missing out on activities with my friends, work is horrendous. Man, how many reasons do I need?

  18. At 59 I was afraid to quit a high stress but well paying IT job, even though we were OK based on several different retirement calculators. Had trouble trusting all the calculators, what is something really bad happens that they don’t predict??

    Then my mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer and I immediately quit to take care of her. Of course it was the right decision and I am very glad I had those last months with her.

    After she passed away got an offer to return to my job and I only considered it for a few minutes. I LOVE being retired. Love the time freedom, not having to rush through everything, time to pursue hobbies and new friends and travel.

    You can never get back time spent working. I am sure all of you have heard that no one says “I wish I would have spent more time at the office” on their death bed. My husband and I are looking forward to enjoying retirement for as many years as we can.

    Fritz, Thanks for the great blog!

    1. Debbie, sorry to hear about your Mom, but glad you were in a position to be able to quit to take care of her. A life with no regrets is a life well lived. Happy to hear you’re enjoying retirement, in spite of being “afraid to quit”. I hope Francis reads your comment. 🙂

      1. Fritz, I did read Debbie’s comment. Debbie sorry about your mom and thanks for your perspective. If seems like the time you took off for your mom ended up being an “enlightenment” of how the other side feels. And you liked it. Work hard, save, invest, delay gratification for a better life in the future. I understand this. But, there has to come a time where you act upon the groundwork you built or it was for nothing. My friends are nowhere near as financially secure as I am but you know what? They enjoy their life a whole, whole lot more than me and would never put up with the horrid working conditions I put up with daily. Today I’m off from work and I’m having a truly great day. No stress, doing things I want to do at my own pace. I need to resolve my inaction in retiring. Time is ticking away.

  19. Fritz, This post just what I needed at this exact time. Today I had my performance review at my job and at the end the discussion was about my future plans. I have been running the numbers with 2 separate modeling apps as well as my own spreadsheet for the last 2 years. I was thinking that I would work until 62 but started looking at the numbers at 56 and the models tell me that I could go at 58 which will be this July. I told my boss that I will talk with him in May and make a final decision about going this July. Still so nervous! Thanks for all of the great information. I will go click on some more of your links above.

    1. This post is just what I needed at this exact time.

      I’m hearing a lot of that sentiment in the comments on this one. You’re certainly not alone, and I’m pleased to know my words hit a sweet spot with many readers. Glad to hear you’ve broached the subject with your boss, that’s a major step in the process and one (in my humble opinion) best done sooner rather than later. Good luck as you finalize your timing, and thanks for giving me a small role in your journey.

  20. Excellent article as always Fritz. It just reinforces why I’m doing what I’m doing. Less than 100 days to FREEDOM and living like I want. I share your posts with a friend who is just beginning to contemplate taking the leap.

  21. I would caution everyone that life throws you some curveballs. Big reason I retired was to spend time with my Mom and an older friend. Both have now passed away and I find that I need to spend that time someplace since my wife still works at her job. Working part-time now and doing some volunteering. But things sure didn’t work out as I thought they would.

  22. It took me about seven minutes to decide to retire from the profession that I had loved beyond words from about twenty minutes after I first walked into a classroom. It’s true, I loved teaching; I said hundreds of times that “they are going to carry me out of the classroom.” Well, they didn’t.
    Two things happened when I was in my early 60s that changed the conviction. My wife and soulmate of forty-something years (now 59!) started what has turned out to be an eighteen year conversation with breast cancer and atrial fibrillation, and my own hearing loss (nearly ubiquitous in my family) reached a point that the classroom became a different place. My soulmate is still with me, much carved up and implanted with electronic devices, and my ears are filled daily with devices that cost about as much to make as an iPhone X (although they cost about ten times as much to buy) and are not very compatible with classrooms. Not to complain: both of us have plenty to do, starting with today’s not too unusual event of hosting three of our twenty-four great grandchildren!
    But the point about these two things, these events/circumstances that caused me to walk out of the classroom, is that they were compelling. There was something much more important than pedagogy! And, in the old athletic trope, my classroom legs were giving out. I was still near the top of my game, but everything good I could do as a teacher depended on my ability to make quick connections and keep things moving, and not even technology could replace what was being lost. How many athletes–and lawyers, and coaches, and priests–have stayed too long? I crafted the saying, “I decided that I wanted to quit when you were sorry I did, rather than wait until you wished I had.”
    All the rest is fluff. Fritz, God bless him (and I mean that), is the consummate planner, the scientist of retirement. Think of me as the maker of metaphors, the one who hears a story that must be told in a different way. Some of us can no more plan our way into retirement than we could devise a solution to climate change. Many things are above our pay grades, but all of us are capable of learning the Law of Holes: When you are in one, stop digging. The solution as to how to then get out might be a big challenge, but what’s life, without a purpose?

    1. John, what an amazing comment, thanks for your transparency and insight into the end of your career. Even though we’re known each other for years, I was unaware of the story. Thanks for sharing, your words provide great insight into the transition and value for the reader. Speaking of words, yours put mine to shame. You’re an amazing writer, and I’m proud to call you a friend.

      And…The Law of Holes? Sounds like you need to tee that one up as another guest post on The Retirement Manifesto! You know how I work…it’s an open invite, let me know if you’re interested. Hugs to Helen, your wonderful soulmate. BTW, I’ll be in Hillsdale next weekend, maybe we can grab a coffee with my Dad?

  23. Fritz – I have a question/ comment because I just read that one of your readers mentioned starting on COBRA. I heard the other day (for the first time) that a person could use their HSA to pay COBRA premiums which are typically 3x higher than the regular health insurance premium. Can you speak to this? Not sure if it’s true but if it is this could benefit your readers.

    1. DUSTY – URGENT – see Jennifer’s note below. Based on her comment, I investigated further and found this article confirming that HSA’s can NOT be used for private insurance premiums after COBRA expires. I made my first private insurance premium payment last month using my HSA, off to figure out how to unwind it.

      Thank you, Jennifer, for correcting me on this critical issue!!

  24. Fritz-Great post! As someone wrestling with when to quit after this week in the market it has caused me pause. I am currently executing the bucket strategy and have 1.5 years in cash and 6 years in bonds. Refilling buckets when stocks are up is a no brainer. What are your thoughts on refilling buckets in a down market? I prefer to have things automated but in these times I am not sure that this is the best idea outside of moving money from my money market to my checking account every month.

    1. I hope to never sell a stock in a down market, which is exactly the strategy behind the Bucket concept. I keep Bucket 1 full when stocks are doing well, but let it draw down when stocks are dropping. I would not recommend you “automate” the bucket refilling process, since by nature the refill process will vary based on what’s going on in the market. For more details, read my two posts on the bucket strategy:

      How To Build A Retirement Paycheck
      How To Manage The Bucket Strategy In Retirement

  25. Fritz – love your blog by the way – I thought HSA funds were NOT able to be used for private insurance premiums – only Medicare and COBRA. This is an important piece of my time table, so please clarify private insurance is a legitimate use of HSA funds!

    1. Jennifer, I am SOOO glad you left this comment! Based on your note, I checked it out and found this piece which confirms that you are correct! I must have read something about COBRA being allowed, and assumed it was ok for other insurance premiums. Thank you for correcting me on this critical issue! Much obliged!

  26. Retire OR not is uncomplicated you keep things simple!
    1. Do you like what you do?
    a. Yes – DO NOT retire for any reason!
    b. No – go to question 2
    2. Can you live off 2% to 4% of all your investable accounts?
    a. Yes – QUIT your job and retire OR find another job that interest you!
    b. No – keep on working and save more!

  27. I think we are the poorest people to read your blog. I’m more scared of working past the point that my health can handle it, but very concerned about health insurance. I guess I need to research the subsidies more. The hubs is 58 and I’m 51 and we plan to retire in four years regardless. We will both have to work part-time and are considering work camping. We still have one child at home that also graduates in 3 years. We do plan to relocate to something smaller and less costly. It won’t be a glamorous retirement, but we are very aware of our financial limitations. The prior recession hit our family hard as the hubs was self employed. Yet, we consider ourselves blessed to have reached a point where we can discuss retirement.

    1. I suspect you’d be surprised, Rebecca. The vast majority of folks our age are way behind on their retirement savings, and are finding blogs like mine when they realize they’re in a bit of a hole and have to figure out how to climb their way out. You’re looking at the right things, with the ACA subsidies, part-time work and downsizing all being legitimate levers you should evaluate as you figure out your retirement strategy.

      I hope my words help you on your journey, thanks for stopping by!

    2. Rebecca, I’m not rich, I don’t have multiple streams of income and I’m single. But I have enough to live conservatively with a paid off home and I’m healthy. Health insurance and related health issues are a gamble whether I retire at 55 or 75 so I’m taking the plunge at 55 to enjoy what I can. I too will be looking into ACA subsidies. Enjoy!

      1. Thank you Deb. That is our conclusion as well. Go now, while I still can physically go. Best retirement wishes to you as well!

  28. This is timely, I ran into a friend at the grocery store last week who had retired early from the same company, in fact he had worked for me there. He told me his wife had made him go back to work at another plant. She couldn’t take him being around and not doing anything. But the truth is he was miserable with not having anything to do. No hobbies and the only thing he and his wife share is a love of international travel, which is hard to do full time. My ultra wealthy bro-in-law also advised me not to retire when I told him I was getting out early a few years ago. He misses being the big dog over tens of thousands of employees, flying the company Gulf Stream to China and Russia and being “somebody”. He has very few hobbies, his hobby was his job. And then there is me, retired going on five years. I was a big dog in a Fortune 500 too so I also miss it badly now, right? LOL, not hardly. Life was good back then but it is decidedly better now. Yesterday I met with my new college president ( I chair a college board, as a volunteer) and participated in a Personal Capital webinar(they handle some of my portfolio). I also played tennis with a semi-retired buddy. Today I wrote and posted my blog, paid some bills online, did some engineering work and will play doubles tennis with my wife this afternoon. Oh we also went to a friends pond and caught a bucket of bass and bream and dined on fresh fish yesterday! My days are full of volunteer work, running, tennis, hiking, travel,pickle ball, fishing and some eight hours a week of engineering side gigging from home. Its simply a pretty great life because I have a spouse who is also an active best friend I share many hobbies with and I have other friends to do fun things with as well. Plus the small amount of work pays the bills so I don’t have to face a draw down strategy yet. We are all different but to me the recipe for retirement includes making some money, volunteering for things you believe in, having hobbies you love, getting out of the house to socialize with others and staying physically fit, oh, and being married to someone wonderful for 41 years.

  29. Fritz, as usual you write an excellent article.

    Mr. Wilson, you have described to a “T” how I feel about one of my jobs. “I decided that I wanted to quit when you were sorry I did, rather than wait until you wished I had.”

    A few things I did right….
    -put money away in qualified accounts every year
    -got away from high fee “advisors” (brokers) a few years ago (it amazes me how much difference this makes)
    -about 10 years ago began to add some different types of work (some, dramatically different) that allowed me to continue to enjoy working.
    -began to “taper” off (not possible for every career) several years ago. It made the last few years much more pleasant.

    The hardest thing for me was walking away from a job that, in theory, benefitted other people. I certainly felt a certain “societal obligation”.

    Thank you, Fritz.

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