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Retire At 55? Any Regrets?

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Not sure if this is OK in this forum. I am wondering if anyone comfortably (financially) retired at 55 with tax deferred savings and a pension and ended up regretting it? Do you wish you would have stayed in teaching? Our district is offering to "age out" teachers that are 55 with 30 years in. They will pay into the state retirement fund so a teacher can retire at 55 with a pension as if they stayed until 57. One negative is 2 years of no 403b contributions, in addition to no salary. Has anybody done this?

 

Bill

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Bill

 

My wife retired last year at 53 with no such incentive and she doesn't miss it. I am retiring this June and I doubt I will miss it. Much depends on your personality and interests. If you actually enjoy teaching and will miss the contact with co-workers and students then I would suggest staying in it a while longer. If on the other hand you dread going into work and find the job stressful and no longer fulfilling, I would definitely take the offer and look into doing something different part time. The other issue is money. How much have you actually saved? If you have a healthy nest egg on top of your pension then it sounds like a good idea to me . On the other hand if you are iffy on the amount you have saved and have debts to close out then I would try to hang in there a few more years, pay off your debts and try and maximize your savings.I know people who regretted retiring because they felt lost after working for many years. I see it all the time. Others love their freedom from the get-go. It the finances part of it looks good then you should evaluate the personal -social -emotional side of it to before taking the plunge.

 

Let us know what you decide.

 

Tony

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Not sure if this is OK in this forum. I am wondering if anyone comfortably (financially) retired at 55 with tax deferred savings and a pension and ended up regretting it? Do you wish you would have stayed in teaching? Our district is offering to "age out" teachers that are 55 with 30 years in. They will pay into the state retirement fund so a teacher can retire at 55 with a pension as if they stayed until 57. One negative is 2 years of no 403b contributions, in addition to no salary. Has anybody done this?

 

Bill

Regretting it because she misses teaching or because she retired without enough money saved?

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bk10 - As Tony said, It really depends. I know that it is hard for some to go from 75 mph to 0. One way to stay a bit connected and have lots of available time would be to see about being an adjunct through a nearby college of education. They are often looking for retired educators to supervise. The money is not great but it's something and it could be a good bridge from teaching to whatever is next down the road.

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I agree that it depends on the individual. If you have a strong desire to do something else with the rest of your life, then go for it. If not, and you still get satisfaction from your job, then maybe there's not much reason to leave your career two years early.

 

I retired from teaching early at 56. There was nothing extra added to my retirement, just a lowering of the age (from 60) and number of years required (from 25). The retirement system wanted to save money by hiring younger, less expensive teachers to replace older, expensive teachers. Very few of my fellow teachers took advantage of short-lived program (for a variety of good reasons). We were willing to forgo the added income for the rest of our lives, in exchange for the freedom to pursue another life (sailing in the South Pacific for 15 years). Was it worth it? Yes, we have absolutely no regrets. I think we all have to find a balance between money (security) and time (to follow other pursuits).

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What is the percentage of salary when you retire and what about healthcare would be my only questions??? If healthcare is covered by pension system and say percentage is 75 percent then The way I look at it is I would be going to work for 25% of My money. If you loved teaching that much you could always retire draw the pension and then go and find a teaching job at a Catholic school.

 

Rich

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A bigger "regret" I have seen are teachers who are visibly burned out and cannot retire because they have not saved anything, just putting in their pension formula time or do not have healthcare in retirement.

 

LAUSD teachers have health care coverage during retirement and as I understand it only 4 districts in California have this benefit. It is a big deal.

 

Still I have seen LAUSD teachers who cannot retire. I recall at our investment workshops. I approached this teacher sitting with canes on each side of the chair. I thought she was retired, so I asked her what she thought of the workshop. I don't remember what she said because I am still shocked by her response. She told me she was still working. I am telling you, she could barely get up off her chair with her two canes! Holy crap! This may be an unusual example, but the fact that I met such an unfortunate teacher might mean it is more wide spread than we think.

 

We older teachers need to tell the younger teachers to start saving, so that you have choices when you get older. One is what the OP asked about retiring at 55.

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Any regrets.......I am assuming that if someone chooses to retire early that they have the financial resources to do so, or have specific plans to change careers. I believe that teaching and education becomes part of our "identity" after so many years. How difficult is it to change that dynamic - That we are somehow defined by our profession? 20 years ago I think (I could be wrong) that some teachers stayed on because of the love and joy of it. But, in recent years and for many reasons, teachers "head for the hills" as soon as financially possible. This is where I am at. We have saved-saved-saved and been wise with our finances over these 30+ years. BUT, I actually still like going in every day. Our district will offer to pay up front so teachers at 55 have no actuarial reduction. That means retire at 55 with a pension like you are 57. Are we crazy not to take the deal and retire from teaching when we can? One thing I DO know about the retirees I meet is that after 6-12 months they look 10-15 years YOUNGER than the day they retired.

 

About advising younger teachers to start saving - See my post "Getting Things In Order" where I wrote:

 

Another thing I do: Touch base with all new teachers in our building and explain what a 403b is and the importance of starting early. Then I use my closing line to motivate them: "$30K of savings (my wife and I) per year for 30 years. You do the math." They usually knock me over running to the phone!!!!!!

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bk10s,

Good post. The primary point of this thread is that you have choices to retire or not. A few of us understand it that's why we saved from a younger age, and to encourage our young colleagues to start now.

 

I too could have worked a year or two longer, but I didn't and never regretted it. But I was 61, not 55.

 

Steve

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bk10 - As Tony said, It really depends. I know that it is hard for some to go from 75 mph to 0. One way to stay a bit connected and have lots of available time would be to see about being an adjunct through a nearby college of education. They are often looking for retired educators to supervise. The money is not great but it's something and it could be a good bridge from teaching to whatever is next down the road.

Ha, I think I could "adjust" to the time but I could be wrong.

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bk10s,

Good post. The primary point of this thread is that you have choices to retire or not. A few of us understand it that's why we saved from a younger age, and to encourage our young colleagues to start now.

 

I too could have worked a year or two longer, but I didn't and never regretted it. But I was 61, not 55.

 

Steve

Your story CONTINUES to be amazing Steve! The fact that you started late and still did it is what is really fantastic.

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Any regrets.......I am assuming that if someone chooses to retire early that they have the financial resources to do so, or have specific plans to change careers. I believe that teaching and education becomes part of our "identity" after so many years. How difficult is it to change that dynamic - That we are somehow defined by our profession? 20 years ago I think (I could be wrong) that some teachers stayed on because of the love and joy of it. But, in recent years and for many reasons, teachers "head for the hills" as soon as financially possible. This is where I am at. We have saved-saved-saved and been wise with our finances over these 30+ years. BUT, I actually still like going in every day. Our district will offer to pay up front so teachers at 55 have no actuarial reduction. That means retire at 55 with a pension like you are 57. Are we crazy not to take the deal and retire from teaching when we can? One thing I DO know about the retirees I meet is that after 6-12 months they look 10-15 years YOUNGER than the day they retired.

 

About advising younger teachers to start saving - See my post "Getting Things In Order" where I wrote:

 

Another thing I do: Touch base with all new teachers in our building and explain what a 403b is and the importance of starting early. Then I use my closing line to motivate them: "$30K of savings (my wife and I) per year for 30 years. You do the math." They usually knock me over running to the phone!!!!!!

You are right about a growing number of teachers heading for the hills. To many, another profession might feel like retirement because of the drop in stress level. Thanks for sharing your story.

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