Should I stay or should I go?

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sparrowhawk
Posts: 6
Joined: Sun Jun 21, 2020 10:35 am

Should I stay or should I go?

Post by sparrowhawk »

Hi there,

Hope you're all doing ok.

We wanted some advice / thoughts (validation?).. I'm 50 in Sept and my wife is 45 in Dec and we're based in the UK. We've been working towards FIRE but the pandemic is making us wonder if i could stop working now though we've not reached our "number". I read about the difference between ERE and E-ER yesterday on another post here which helped a lot in terms of reframing how we could approach this.

I'm a part time bank nurse currently on furlough though not willing to go back to work (the unit isn't currently open but its likely to open after August/Sept) till we feel comfortable, (if at all) due to the possible risks as my wife has asthma.. and as a bank nurse I could just not take anymore shifts. I've been hoping to leave for a while anyway (various reasons.. I've had enough of nursing after 25 years in healthcare and also the pressure alongside having IBS though I do work in a nice unit) and the pandemic has highlighted this further alongside my approaching fiftieth birthday. My nursing re-validation is next due in Feb 2021 so if I don't return / do this that will close the door on nursing anyway.

We live in the South East and are child free and have a mortgage free 2 bed house in which should be worth at least £220k. We currently have £62k in a Vanguard Life Strategy 60. I can draw an NHS pension from 50 of £2k per year plus a £6k lump sum. I also have a v small Nest pension with my employer currently worth £350 approx. We have about £11k in cash accounts with some interest, which we're keeping there due to the current circumstances.

My wife plans to work for at least five more years. She's been working part time at a university on a zero hours contract for ten years providing student support. She usually gets the hours she needs, but we're aware this may change this academic year with the impact of the pandemic. She gets paid £32 per hour and works about 20 hours a week term time and usually sees some students in the breaks too and her gross salary is approx £16k a year. This amount of hours suits her best as it can be very draining work mentally. She has been paying into her work pension since September 2016 (she pays 11%, the uni 21%) and till March 2019 the pension forecast amt for her to get in ten years when she's 55, is £750 a year plus £1.5k lump sum plus £1k in a different part of the pension.

We usually live on £12k a year. Till March this year I was earning about £8k and my wife £16k so we lived on half of £24k and saved half. Now we've dropped expenditure even more, like most people right now and imagine we'd be spending more like £10k this year or less...

I have 3 years NI contributions still to make for the full state pension (2 partial years recently I could top up) and my wife has 5 to go which all being well with her work, she'll get.

There are also £150k houses in areas we like nearby that makes us think we could downsize too, to release some capital from our £220k house after fees.. Maybe releasing £50k+ as a conservative estimate. There's also ok looking flats around here from around £100k though not sure if the ongoing additional expenditure of ground rent and negotiations of freehold repairs etc would be the best way forward financially and otherwise. We're in a fairly rural area now so moving could mean we get rid of the car taking annual costs down further too.

Our current £62k, plus £50k from a move could generate approx £4480k per year plus the £2k NHS pension a year totals £6480 a year at 4% SWR (not taking into account my wife's hopeful future earnings/ pension). I think with the additional push we could get our costs down further to get close to this. We're both introverted homebodies now and enjoy lots of 'free to do' things in our spare time, especially as we're living near the sea which is great in the summer. We're both on the same page in terms of our thinking on money/freedom/ERE.

So, we're realising no one can tell us 'yes' you can do this though the 'pulling the trigger' thread here helped a lot. We're both willing to pick up other things as needed to fill the gap to state pensions but I'm particularly not really wanting a proper job anymore (most other jobs around here would be minimum wage which is why I've stayed in nursing so far).. We've had a lot of useful help from MMM but being at the lower end of living costs ERE feels more in line with our thinking...

Look forward to any constructive feedback / suggestions...

Thank you! :)

ertyu
Posts: 909
Joined: Sun Nov 13, 2016 2:31 am

Re: Should I stay or should I go?

Post by ertyu »

You guys sound fine. Also don't discount the option of renting out the house and going to live abroad for 5-10 years.

Adamski
Posts: 30
Joined: Wed May 29, 2019 8:35 am

Re: Should I stay or should I go?

Post by Adamski »

I am about the same age, in the UK, child free and mortgage free, and am also thinking of pulling the plug. Maybe its with the lockdown!

The decision is totally yours and what feels right to you. Couple of thoughts, after a break, you can supplement your retired income with some part time work which suits you. I'm thinking of finishing end of year then taking a year off, then getting something part time or contract.

I'd try to delay taking the NHS pension, as I believe you'd take a hit if take it at 50. Your wife's £32 per hour is an excellent rate, and could she keep that going with support from you? Its a little tricky as to be honest you sound like you don't have big funds which is why I suggested p/t work. cheers

sparrowhawk
Posts: 6
Joined: Sun Jun 21, 2020 10:35 am

Re: Should I stay or should I go?

Post by sparrowhawk »

ertyu wrote:
Mon Jun 22, 2020 9:38 am
You guys sound fine. Also don't discount the option of renting out the house and going to live abroad for 5-10 years.
Cheers ertyu... We have thought about that but for a few reasons we're planning on staying UK based for now.

sparrowhawk
Posts: 6
Joined: Sun Jun 21, 2020 10:35 am

Re: Should I stay or should I go?

Post by sparrowhawk »

Adamski wrote:
Mon Jun 22, 2020 10:52 am
I am about the same age, in the UK, child free and mortgage free, and am also thinking of pulling the plug. Maybe its with the lockdown!

The decision is totally yours and what feels right to you. Couple of thoughts, after a break, you can supplement your retired income with some part time work which suits you. I'm thinking of finishing end of year then taking a year off, then getting something part time or contract.

I'd try to delay taking the NHS pension, as I believe you'd take a hit if take it at 50. Your wife's £32 per hour is an excellent rate, and could she keep that going with support from you? Its a little tricky as to be honest you sound like you don't have big funds which is why I suggested p/t work. cheers
Hey Adamski!

Great minds think alike huh? :) I think the lockdown has made a lot of people rethink things, hasn't it?

Your plan sounds cool.. a year off before getting back to things sounds like a good plan. I think for me p/t work after the dust has settled and / or all being well with wife's work continuing, it will be workable. We'll hold off on the NHS pension as long as we can. I guess there's just a lot of unknowns at the moment, which is the same for everyone.. that and taking the final step to stop nursing which is hard after all this time even though I want to.

Thanks for your thoughts and all the best with your endeavours!

horsewoman
Posts: 419
Joined: Fri Jun 07, 2019 4:11 am

Re: Should I stay or should I go?

Post by horsewoman »

Minimum wage work is often not so bad if one does it voluntarily or treats it as a side hustle/hobby. The pay is not much (obviously) but in most cases there is very little responsibility (which makes walking away easy) and for a few hours a week most jobs are somewhat enjoyable.

sparrowhawk
Posts: 6
Joined: Sun Jun 21, 2020 10:35 am

Re: Should I stay or should I go?

Post by sparrowhawk »

horsewoman wrote:
Mon Jun 22, 2020 12:27 pm
Minimum wage work is often not so bad if one does it voluntarily or treats it as a side hustle/hobby. The pay is not much (obviously) but in most cases there is very little responsibility (which makes walking away easy) and for a few hours a week most jobs are somewhat enjoyable.
Agreed. It was more just that till now it would have meant halving my hourly rate which I'd always ended up not wanting to do. I kept thinking that if I was going to carry on working I might as well keep nursing but the idea of a simpler job is definitely becoming more appealing, for the reasons you mention.

nomadscientist
Posts: 170
Joined: Fri Mar 13, 2020 12:54 am

Re: Should I stay or should I go?

Post by nomadscientist »

You have:

- half your current spending covered
- using an "optimistic" withdrawal rate
- assuming a profit from a hypothetical house sale
- at such a low level that you have no slack
- without fully funded state pension

I consider this move very risky.

If you can move to a house in a much cheaper area like less desirable part of Northern England and release more like 150k from the sale, maybe not so risky.

Frita
Posts: 495
Joined: Thu Mar 15, 2018 8:43 pm

Re: Should I stay or should I go?

Post by Frita »

Is there a different line of nursing work you could shift into that would pay well but be a nice change? I know people who have switched to public school nursing and public health who enjoyed getting away from hospital shiftwork.

At least in the US, age discrimination is a real thing that kicks in around 50. It is impossible to go back once done, so I’d be 100% sure. Would part-time or short-term contracts be an option?

classical_Liberal
Posts: 1658
Joined: Sun Mar 20, 2016 6:05 am

Re: Should I stay or should I go?

Post by classical_Liberal »

Welcome to the forum sparrowhawk. If my understanding of bank nursing is correct, the US analogy is contract travel nursing. Working on a unit short term to meet staffing needs, then move on, correct? I’ve been a US nurse for 7
years, traveling the last 5. It’s not my first career, but I do understand how you could be sick of it after 25 :D

I’ll echo what nomadscientist wrote. From a purely financial standpoint your plan seems a bit risky. However I’m a huge fan of the middle ground. Like you seem to realize e-er vs a productive ERE is a huge difference. One doesn’t need to be FI yo make changes, particularly given your relatively low spending requirements. Assuming you’re happy at that level and have been able to reproduce this spending for a few years, there are so many options to make a few pounds here or there. Check out Jin+Guice or horsewoman journal for a couple of people who’ve successfully been doing this for quite some time.

Personally, I went down to half time last year, only working 6 months. It’s a materially huge lifestyles difference and I’m still accumulating. Don’t know if that’s an option you could make for yourself?

Back to the e-er vs ERE, I’ve found that at 44, I still need some form of “job” to help interact with the world. I’m not sure how UK culture is, but in the US having the connection to some type of job really helps me stay in touch with peers, and helps avoid some existential angst that comes along with too much free time. Knowing I have to work sometimes helps me use the time I don’t work better. So in some ways I think the semi retirement road is better, even if you think it won’t be now. In any event it’s worth a try, even if you switch to a less stressful part time job/career.

ertyu
Posts: 909
Joined: Sun Nov 13, 2016 2:31 am

Re: Should I stay or should I go?

Post by ertyu »

OP did say they do not intend to leave the UK, but for the sake of completeness I would like to point out that this plan is not financially risky if a person with the same numbers decided to engage in geoarbitrage.

saving-10-years
Posts: 537
Joined: Thu Oct 31, 2013 9:37 am
Location: Warwickshire, UK

Re: Should I stay or should I go?

Post by saving-10-years »

From what you say you have the option of turning down work as and when it appears and don't have to decide until Feb 2021 when you need to re-validate. Perhaps you can use this time to think about things you might want to do in healthcare (where your experience is an advantage) rather than continue to work in the NHS in current role. For example how do you feel about health education? Or private nursing? Or answering phones on helplines? Contact tracing? Could these provide a small (and maybe even not so small) income that leverages your experience/qualifications while you still can point to yourself and say 'qualified nurse' yet does not put you back on the frontline?
Or can you rent the second bedroom (either B&B or to a weekday lodger?) Crafts hobby? Gardening skills?

This also lets you see how things will work with your wife and her role. As someone on zero hours she may lose out if universities need to find work for people on permanent contracts who are now underemployed with students off campus. The incentive to invest in supporting students online may make her work redundant (e.g. if she is currently someone who supports students with dylexia via Disabled Student Allowances create a need for the university to provide online help for those not on campus, meaning they now need both options? In which case will the on-campus option go?). There may be less on campus students also. Of course she could be someone who is working online already and that may expand (great news).
Our current £62k, plus £50k from a move could generate approx £4480k
This is based on getting 4% net from an investment of £112k and I assume you want this with no/low risk? I am not sure where you are getting this from but would like to know more (I am also in the UK).

Wishing you the best of luck. Thinking ahead and being frugal are your secret weapons.

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Egg
Posts: 187
Joined: Sat Oct 04, 2014 10:59 am

Re: Should I stay or should I go?

Post by Egg »

On the basis of your wife working enough to cover your expenses anyway, sounds like you're okay as long as it's all smooth sailing. Your wife's job is integral to that calculation.

The question, I guess, is are you comfortable with what happens if she loses her job? Again, with your low level of spending, you could likely pick up enough work to cover both of you. Falling that, you could cover a decent chunk of your expenses with one or both of you on jobseekers' allowance.

All in all, I think the risk of you starving any time soon is low. You'd have a good while of the warning lights flashing to work out how you wanted to address your financial deficit.

On your figures, I don't think you could say with any confidence that you'll never have to work again, but it wouldn't be crazy to act as if that were the case for now, and then play things by ear.

Fiddle
Posts: 67
Joined: Tue Aug 02, 2011 11:14 pm

Re: Should I stay or should I go?

Post by Fiddle »

If you feel like you've had enough of nursing and know 12k is what you need to meet your needs, I think you're in a strong position.

When I needed a change i implemented a semi ere plan. Taking several months off a year but I worked 8-12 hrs pw during the summer at a local campsite for £10ph and for 8weeks upto Christmas for a delivery company on a guaranteed contract of 8x40x12.5ph if the hrs were there to be worked or if I went home early because there was no work. What I'm saying is as long as you're genuinely honest to yourself that you will/can take up casual work if you need to earn a bit extra, you'll likely be good.

Also, if you have some spare funds, how about putting it into a sipp to get the +25% tax relief?

I would look into the implications on JSA of having large accessible savings for instance if you downsized.

I would definitely make all the N.I contributions necessary to qualify for the full state pension.

sparrowhawk
Posts: 6
Joined: Sun Jun 21, 2020 10:35 am

Re: Should I stay or should I go?

Post by sparrowhawk »

Hi All, OP and wife here. Thanks for all the advice and encouragement you given, we've got lots of food for thought. We're cautious by nature, so will take our time ploughing over the figures a few more times and looking into some of the kind suggestions given, before deciding our next move. When that time happens we'll post the info on what we've done.

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Egg
Posts: 187
Joined: Sat Oct 04, 2014 10:59 am

Re: Should I stay or should I go?

Post by Egg »

Fiddle wrote:
Tue Jun 23, 2020 4:13 pm
I would look into the implications on JSA of having large accessible savings for instance if you downsized.
Fair point, but situation sounds like contributions based JSA ('new style' JSA) would be available in the first instance. OP is way over threshold for income based JSA (£16k atm) so the fun would stop after 6 months.

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