Leave career (fortune 200) and join the peace corps?

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Paul_
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Leave career (fortune 200) and join the peace corps?

Post by Paul_ » Sat May 26, 2018 12:59 pm

So my plan is to join the peace corps as a community economic development volunteer. This will be leaving my current position with a market leading fortune 200. The company has been very supportive in career advancement and allows a great amount of freedom in my work. For example, I worked project management and found some IP opportunities and they now have me sitting on an innovation board. I currently manage a territory of project managers and have a broad network of projects ranging from manufacturing to petrochemical refining. My P&L is around 25M/yr with lots of growth. The bad... burnout and compensation. My age is mid 30s for reference. I travel a legitimate 75-90%. Compensation is $76k+25% bonus (net 95). I have been promoted fairly fast which bumps into corporate policy max % increase in compensation. I have professional certification, AA (from military), BS (top 50 national university), and a MEM (engineering).

Financials
Checking - 8k
Savings (emergency) - 7k
Stocks - 72K
401k - 85k
rIRA - $15k
debt (auto@2.5%) - 5K
Total $182K
Assets -$25k (Truck and Travel Trailer)

So my motives for the peace corps is to recenter my career passion. I feel employees should strive for the best but also manage their own burnout. So I will be losing any real financial compensation for the next 2 years but I will be gaining a ton of soft skills in the volunteer experience (language, community involvement and organization, international development). I plan to shift some of my long term share holding to savings and max my roth IRA over the time. Are their any other items I should take advantage of tax wise during this period of very low income? I understand the basics of a backdoor roth, would this be the perfect opportunity to shift the 401k into my roth IRA?

The path for me after the peace corps is somewhat open. I plan to write a non-fiction book over my time of service, so that will be an interesting side project that could spark something. I could go federal with non-compete and military status. I could fall back into my current industry with a smaller company and higher compensation structure. Or I could start my own business (industrial sensors).

Any feedback on this idea is appreciated. Primarily financial strategy and career direction.
There are a lot of smart individuals on this forum so this is the first time I have laid out the idea for comment. Thanks

Yooper16
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Re: Leave career (fortune 200) and join the peace corps?

Post by Yooper16 » Sat May 26, 2018 2:19 pm

Do it.

We all have had an experience that we skipped on and left us wondering what would have been. This sounds as if it is one of those cases.

frisbeeaddict
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Re: Leave career (fortune 200) and join the peace corps?

Post by frisbeeaddict » Sat May 26, 2018 2:38 pm

I agree, sounds like a noble endeavor and even if it costs you in the long run it will provide positive experience and meaning, and from what I've been reading meaningful experiences are more able to sustain and buffer us through lifes trials than gaining 'happiness' which is obviously a moving target.

Sorry I'm not financially apt to know how to best structure assets during low income periods, though I know that directly out of bachelor's degree I did americorps for a few years and like you said gained soft skills helping at risk youth. I also learned how to live very frugally (more frugal than life in college lol) since as a federal employee it was legal to pay its below minimum wage if I remember correctly ( we were given a fair loan payoff at the end of service). Maybe Americorps is something you could look at as well if your not attached to a foreign assignment, assuming that program is still funded.

Good luck!

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Re: Leave career (fortune 200) and join the peace corps?

Post by livesoft » Sat May 26, 2018 2:40 pm

Nice post.

But you don't need no stinkin' feedback. You got it going. Good luck!
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Christine_NM
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Re: Leave career (fortune 200) and join the peace corps?

Post by Christine_NM » Sat May 26, 2018 2:56 pm

See this for Peace Corps compensation and benefits: https://www.peacecorps.gov/about/agency ... -benefits/

As you may know, you can save 10% of salary in TSP.

Not trying to push you out of your job or anything, but maybe you could do a Peace Corps blog and give us the link. (Not sure if feds allow blogging.) The Peace Corps was always an ambition of mine but I never got to do it.
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cfs
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Re: Leave career (fortune 200) and join the peace corps?

Post by cfs » Sat May 26, 2018 3:08 pm

I like it, and I like it a lot.

Thank you Mister Paul.

Good luck, y gracias por leer ~cfs~
~ Member of the Active Retired Force since 2014 ~

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Re: Leave career (fortune 200) and join the peace corps?

Post by sailaway » Sat May 26, 2018 3:42 pm

Christine_NM wrote:
Sat May 26, 2018 2:56 pm
See this for Peace Corps compensation and benefits: https://www.peacecorps.gov/about/agency ... -benefits/

As you may know, you can save 10% of salary in TSP.

This information applies to Peace Corps employees, not volunteers. The retirement information and health insurance are different for volunteers. Since volunteers are not contributing to FERS, it does not seem like the would be eligible for TSP. However, that is not explicitly stated on the website, just a link that discusses the ability to buy back FERS credit if you later become a federal employee.

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Re: Leave career (fortune 200) and join the peace corps?

Post by Christine_NM » Sat May 26, 2018 4:27 pm

Thanks for the correction, sailaway. Here's a replacement link with info on volunteering: https://www.peacecorps.gov/volunteer/benefits/ ... no TSP mentioned.

These look more like the benefits for volunteers I'd heard about years ago.
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'67Bosox
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Re: Leave career (fortune 200) and join the peace corps?

Post by '67Bosox » Sat May 26, 2018 7:29 pm

Paul:
Good luck. Sounds like a good time in your life to do something like this.
You asked: "Are their any other items I should take advantage of tax wise during this period of very low income?"
If you will be in a lower tax bracket while in the Peace Corps, have you considered a Roth conversion of the holdings in your 401K ?
Last edited by '67Bosox on Sun May 27, 2018 6:19 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Leave career (fortune 200) and join the peace corps?

Post by RadAudit » Sat May 26, 2018 7:38 pm

I know a number of folks who wish they had done something like this when they were young. They now regret not taking the chance back then. Go for it.
FI is the best revenge. LBYM. Invest the rest. Stay the course.

veindoc
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Re: Leave career (fortune 200) and join the peace corps?

Post by veindoc » Sat May 26, 2018 7:41 pm

I would retire the car debt before you leave. Can you make that happen?

desafinado
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Re: Leave career (fortune 200) and join the peace corps?

Post by desafinado » Sat May 26, 2018 8:03 pm

unless you have a very high value seat relative to your personal value add, i don't think you are being compensated fairly (95k on 25m??) so when you return from the peace corps go find a new job that pays better.

harrychan
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Re: Leave career (fortune 200) and join the peace corps?

Post by harrychan » Sat May 26, 2018 9:10 pm

My heart says go for it but my conscious tells me you aren't financially prepared to have no income for 2 years. You are behind in retirement and did I miss how you will fund your living expenses during your time in the peace corp?
This is not legal or certified financial advice but you know that already.

golfCaddy
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Re: Leave career (fortune 200) and join the peace corps?

Post by golfCaddy » Sat May 26, 2018 9:21 pm

Are you sure you are eligible for the Peace Corps since you are prior military?

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friar1610
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Re: Leave career (fortune 200) and join the peace corps?

Post by friar1610 » Sat May 26, 2018 9:59 pm

golfCaddy wrote:
Sat May 26, 2018 9:21 pm
Are you sure you are eligible for the Peace Corps since you are prior military?
My understanding was always that former military were fine but not if they had served in the intelligence field. (This also applies to civilian intelligence people.) The reason is that the Peace Corps needs to go out of its way to avoid any perception that it is being used as a front/cover for any foreign intelligence activities.

To the OP: good for you and good luck!
Friar1610

marielake
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Re: Leave career (fortune 200) and join the peace corps?

Post by marielake » Sat May 26, 2018 10:41 pm

If suffering from burn out, do it. Put your skills to good use in a developing country. It will be an experience of a life time, both good and bad.

I'm a former VISTA volunteer. We received a monthly stipend that was enough to live on, with little extra. From there, I made good contacts, lifelong friends and the start of long career. I believe it changed my life. More recently, my niece was in the Peace Corp in Central America. Between the food, hygiene conditions, language, remote area and cultural differences, she had a much more challenging experience. At one point, she had a serious case of dengue fever with limited health care options. So, be prepared for health care issues; its a big factor. She basically lived on the PC stipend, but did have a need to use her limited savings for local travel. When she came back, she had no trouble finding a new job--got hired on the spot, in an area with few job opportunities.

Financially, I'd advise you invest your funds wisely and, for the 2 year experience, forget your investments.

antheus
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Re: Leave career (fortune 200) and join the peace corps?

Post by antheus » Sun May 27, 2018 12:51 am

harrychan wrote:
Sat May 26, 2018 9:10 pm
My heart says go for it but my conscious tells me you aren't financially prepared to have no income for 2 years. You are behind in retirement and did I miss how you will fund your living expenses during your time in the peace corp?
Peace corps volunteers are given a stipend and housing/health insurance.

It would be a perfect time to shift your 401k to a Roth due to the fact your income and thus marginal tax rate will likely be very low.

As for whether or not to do the peace corp, I think that you really need to have a clear idea of what your goals are and how the peace corp helps you in achieving them. Romanticize it as little as possible, there are amazing things about immersing yourself in a 3rd world country but some pretty awful aspects as well. We all face burnout but make sure that you don't view the peace corp as an escape. See what opportunities are out there and make sure that there is one that advances you in a direction that you want to go. Best of luck with it all.

mac808
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Re: Leave career (fortune 200) and join the peace corps?

Post by mac808 » Sun May 27, 2018 4:25 am

Managing a 25m P&L at $76k base? If true, you're one of the most underpaid managers I've ever seen. Doesn't seem like you have much to lose.

Paul_
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Re: Leave career (fortune 200) and join the peace corps?

Post by Paul_ » Sun May 27, 2018 8:28 am

Thanks for the feedback and encouragement. Glad to see there weren't any major red flags. It looks like there were a few question brought up.

Prior military & Peace corps - Friar covered the eligibility. I was not intel so there are no conflicts in my scenario. There was actually a DOD sponsored program back in 2007 that offered early separation for troops transitioning to peace corps.

Peace Corps compensation & Retirement - The peace corps covers housing and provides a median local income stipend ($200-400/mo). There healthcare is covered. I plan to budget approx $15-20k to travel and supplement peace corps compensation. No retirement options, but if I went federal employment after peace corps I could count my military time (4.5yrs) and my peace corps service toward federal pension.

Paying off debt - I would not have any issues paying off auto debt. But my stock portfolio returns are doing better than 2.5%.

Retirement timeline - I don't have a solid cutoff date for when I plan to retire. If I am interested and committed to my work, I would not mind working into my early 70s. In return, this would allow me to pace 1-2yr sabbaticals every 10 years. Contribution to 401k and Roth are max and will continue to max while working. I try to save an additional 20% in taxable investments (stocks).

Current compensation - Yeah... I wont be walking away from much so that makes the decision easy on my end. My current role was a non-optional, non-negotiable promotion. I have added 1.3m to my books in the past 3 months and have a proposal out for another 8m kicking off in Q4.

Peace corps conditions - I am looking at east Europe for my volunteer region, these are primarily post soviet and have somewhat modern infrastructure (apartment with water and electric, medical). My research on the position places it around 40hrs a week with a lot of down time. You are assigned to one location so travel in minimal. In comparison; my current role has weekly air travel and 60-80hrs are common. I sold my house and snowbird in a travel trailer so my quality of life/expenses are minimal. I have been traveling 75-100% domestic with my current employer for over 5 years. Military wise I was stationed in S Korea, Japan, and Qatar over 3 years. The international and travel components of peace corps fall into my comfort zone.

rob65
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Re: Leave career (fortune 200) and join the peace corps?

Post by rob65 » Sun May 27, 2018 9:51 am

What are your plans for the car/truck while you are gone? Would it be easier to sell before you leave rather than deal with storage?

marielake
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Re: Leave career (fortune 200) and join the peace corps?

Post by marielake » Sun May 27, 2018 10:02 am

Lots of facts and figures, dollar and cents. A Peace Corp commitment takes heart and soul. I second this line below from antheus:

"Romanticize it as little as possible, there are amazing things about immersing yourself in a 3rd world country but some pretty awful aspects as well". Immersing yourself is key here. It is a 24 hour commitment to the community and not a 40 hour job.
Last edited by marielake on Sun May 27, 2018 11:51 am, edited 1 time in total.

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JPH
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Re: Leave career (fortune 200) and join the peace corps?

Post by JPH » Sun May 27, 2018 10:26 am

I encourage you to do it if you think the experience will have value to you. I would try to put a $ value on the difference this choice might have on your future net worth. You should do that just to be fair to yourself and to be sure you are making a fully informed decision.
While the moments do summersaults into eternity | Cling to their coattails and beg them to stay - Townes Van Zandt

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Re: Leave career (fortune 200) and join the peace corps?

Post by eddot98 » Sun May 27, 2018 10:28 am

I’m not intending to be a downer, but a coworker of mine retired and it had always been his dream to join the Peace Corps. He is a landscape architect and was hoping to get a placement where he could use his skills to assist people in planting and harvesting vegetables, etc. He had to wait months to get a placement and he didn’t get a choice where he was going. They were going to send him to Ukraine, this was pre-Russian invasion. His assignment was to counsel at risk youth, not what he was looking for, but he didn’t get a choice. The invasion happened just before he was to go, so it was scrapped. He had to wait months before his next assignment, which sent him to a very small village in Thailand hours away from any major city. He had no real defined mission except to assist in English language learning in the very small school. The language barrier was tough, he was the only Caucasian person for miles around, and he wasn’t accepted very well. His living conditions were not what we are used to; a hole in the floor was his toilet and it was flushed by pouring water down it with a bucket. It rained a lot. By the time he left, which was early on a hardship due to his father’s illness, he was somewhat accepted in the village, but he was so done with the experience.

Lots of other people he trained with had much better experiences, but be aware that he wasn’t given any choice in his assignment.

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Re: Leave career (fortune 200) and join the peace corps?

Post by mouses » Sun May 27, 2018 10:49 am

If I were thinking of doing this, I'd look carefully about where I'd be working and what I'd be doing. Also the safety aspects. Some pretty horrible things have happened to women volunteers.

If you're comfortable with that, I'd go for it.

An alternative, different in substantial ways but still very worthwhile, is volunteering occasionally for Habitat for Humanity. This would still leave you employed.

If you want the alternative culture experience, finding a job overseas perhaps in a different field is a possibility.

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Re: Leave career (fortune 200) and join the peace corps?

Post by JBTX » Sun May 27, 2018 10:59 am

This may be some interesting and relevant reading.

https://files.peacecorps.gov/multimedia ... Survey.pdf

Years ago I was talking to a co worker that had spent time in the peace Corp and he seemed to indicate it was a mixed experience. Of course that is one anecdotal and mostly irrelevant data point. In the survey most experiences seem positive.

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kramer
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Re: Leave career (fortune 200) and join the peace corps?

Post by kramer » Sun May 27, 2018 12:00 pm

I would look for a better and different type of job instead as an approach to avoiding burnout. Try to figure out what it is about your job that has burned you out (too much travel, management stress, etc). Because it sounds like you will feel the same after you return from a Peace Corps stint. You are behind in retirement savings. I would only do it if I was sure I wanted to work a full career (e.g., a typical retire at age 60 type of worker). I don't really see how the Peace Corps fits into your career development (although I do I understand that it helps you in certain ways).

When I first retired (early 40's) and moved abroad, I thought I would have to work in a community in order to be a part of it .... and so I seriously researched both teaching English and the Peace Corps. But I was mistaken, at least for the level of involvement I was interested in. In fact, in some ways it was the opposite, people that were teaching English were so busy with that that they lacked time for other things that could involve them.

So, I got really burned out in my late 30's and I decided to grin and bear it and continue in my career until I could retire (which was at age 41). Probably a better approach would have been to seek a different/better job when that burnout first started, even if it meant a pay cut and I probably would have if I the pay wasn't so good and I wasn't so close to FI. I did seek employment abroad with my Fortune 200 company at the time but the problem was that I wasn't really qualified for those types of positions and it was too late to retrain myself. Anyway, just recounting that for you in case it helps ...

PS: A book is a huge project that is often not rewarding ... in fact, several friends of mine were not happy about the experience (various book genres).

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Re: Leave career (fortune 200) and join the peace corps?

Post by HeftyLefty » Sun May 27, 2018 12:38 pm

RPCV here, and have tons of friends and even family who are also RPCVs. I echo the folks who said to think carefully about it, but overall I generally recommend people do it, if possible.

With the recent changes in the application process, you get to apply to specific countries - I didn't hear you mention a region you hoped for. But the continent/region/country/county will dramatically affect your experience. I'd recommend reaching out to RPCVs in the county you want to go to to learn more. Almost all of them have Facebook groups. Join one, say you want to be a PCV in that country, and ask if anyone is willing to talk. Many people will say yes, I promise. We're always happy to share.

There are certain windows outside of which it's very difficult to volunteer (if you have young kids, illness, a house, etc.). If youre in a window, I'd say do it now (given that you've done the research above). I cant count the number of people Ive met who've said they wished they'd done it when they were younger, put it off, and now cant.

Regarding finances: don't lose sight that the ultimate reason we want money is to be happy. If you can be happy without focusing on money, then do it. 2 years is nothing in the scheme of your financial life and youre already better off than most. And, at the risk of sounding pretentious, you'll learn truths about money while living in and among real poverty that no non-RPCV on this forum will ever truly grasp (I know how that sounds, but it's true).

You can manage your finances for the rest of your life. Dont get caught up in every if and maybe of negative monetary issues that could maybe, possibly, potentially happen. The money will work itself out in the long run, but the skills you gain, the unbelievably unique experiences, the relationships, the new ways you'll grow and become open to the world - I cant imagine what retirement contribution is worth that. Thousands of people make this work each and every year. How often do you hear RPCVs say they regret going because their Roth contributions were a little low?

That said, PC really is "the toughest job you'll ever love." You will hate it at times. You will get sick, a lot. There will be times when youre deeply lonely. It will be dangerous. You'll miss weddings, births, graduations. You'll be astoundingly frustrated. It has a burnout of its own. But for every nadir there's an equal and inverse peak. Happy to chat more if you have questions
Last edited by HeftyLefty on Sun May 27, 2018 1:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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TxAg
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Re: Leave career (fortune 200) and join the peace corps?

Post by TxAg » Sun May 27, 2018 12:43 pm

Sounds like you are child free so nothing is holding you back. Go for it!

As many have already said, take a chance so you don't regret it later. I wish I had taken a few chances in my 20's

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Re: Leave career (fortune 200) and join the peace corps?

Post by Jags4186 » Sun May 27, 2018 12:46 pm

Paul_ wrote:
Sat May 26, 2018 12:59 pm
So my plan is to join the peace corps as a community economic development volunteer. This will be leaving my current position with a market leading fortune 200. The company has been very supportive in career advancement and allows a great amount of freedom in my work. For example, I worked project management and found some IP opportunities and they now have me sitting on an innovation board. I currently manage a territory of project managers and have a broad network of projects ranging from manufacturing to petrochemical refining. My P&L is around 25M/yr with lots of growth. The bad... burnout and compensation. My age is mid 30s for reference. I travel a legitimate 75-90%. Compensation is $76k+25% bonus (net 95). I have been promoted fairly fast which bumps into corporate policy max % increase in compensation. I have professional certification, AA (from military), BS (top 50 national university), and a MEM (engineering).

Financials
Checking - 8k
Savings (emergency) - 7k
Stocks - 72K
401k - 85k
rIRA - $15k
debt (auto@2.5%) - 5K
Total $182K
Assets -$25k (Truck and Travel Trailer)

So my motives for the peace corps is to recenter my career passion. I feel employees should strive for the best but also manage their own burnout. So I will be losing any real financial compensation for the next 2 years but I will be gaining a ton of soft skills in the volunteer experience (language, community involvement and organization, international development). I plan to shift some of my long term share holding to savings and max my roth IRA over the time. Are their any other items I should take advantage of tax wise during this period of very low income? I understand the basics of a backdoor roth, would this be the perfect opportunity to shift the 401k into my roth IRA?

The path for me after the peace corps is somewhat open. I plan to write a non-fiction book over my time of service, so that will be an interesting side project that could spark something. I could go federal with non-compete and military status. I could fall back into my current industry with a smaller company and higher compensation structure. Or I could start my own business (industrial sensors).

Any feedback on this idea is appreciated. Primarily financial strategy and career direction.
There are a lot of smart individuals on this forum so this is the first time I have laid out the idea for comment. Thanks
Not trying to talk you out of this, but there are less drastic ways to get over burnout. You could look for a new job *now* and see how that works out for you in a year.

harrychan
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Re: Leave career (fortune 200) and join the peace corps?

Post by harrychan » Mon May 28, 2018 12:05 pm

antheus wrote:
Sun May 27, 2018 12:51 am
harrychan wrote:
Sat May 26, 2018 9:10 pm
My heart says go for it but my conscious tells me you aren't financially prepared to have no income for 2 years. You are behind in retirement and did I miss how you will fund your living expenses during your time in the peace corp?
Peace corps volunteers are given a stipend and housing/health insurance.
Thanks for the clarification.
This is not legal or certified financial advice but you know that already.

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