Designing a Better Life At Age 40

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Starry Night
Posts: 2
Joined: Tue Jun 04, 2019 6:55 pm

Designing a Better Life At Age 40

Post by Starry Night » Sat May 23, 2020 12:10 pm

I was hoping to get insight from members who have faced similar circumstances either as the actor who was making a career change or family member who was impacted by the actor making the career change.

Issue
I am considering transitioning from a successful but highly stressful B2B tech sales career in a HCOL area to an encore career that is still yet to be determined and likely in a LCOL area to be closer to family sometime in the next year. My spouse would find infinite joy living by and raising our family near her parents and siblings. I would like to prioritize family over career. The stress from my sales career has burned me out, adversely impacted my health and strained my marriage. I have a very young child who my spouse cares for full time, and another child on the way.

Background
-Age: 39.
-Annual Compensation: 250,000-350,000 (Base + Variable).
-Debt: 0.
-Tax Bracket: 24%.
-Tax Filing Status: Married filing jointly.
-Fund Emergency: 50,000.
-Fund Vehicle: 30,000.
-Fund Retirement: 445,000 (Pension: 30,000; Roth IRAs: 200,000, and 401(K): 215,000).
-Net Worth: 525,000.

Assumptions
-That this is an appropriate time to transition to an encore career.
-That there will be less stress adversely impacting my health and straining my family relationships.
-That I will have more time to prioritize my family relationships.
-That I will be able to do something professionally with more meaning and that is more enjoyable but still provide an income.
-That I will be less likely to achieve my goal of achieving financial independence by age 55 by growing my retirement portfolio to 20-25 times my estimated annual expenses of 100K or 2M-3M through maxing out our Backdoor Roth IRAs, Mega Backdoor Roth IRA and 401(K).

Questions
-How accurate are my assumptions or is this a case of the grass is greener on the other side?
-How did you/your family member transitioning from a perceived more stressful career to a perceived less stressful career impact your/their: 1) family relationships, 2) professional career, 3) personal finances, and 4) happiness?
-Would you make the change again/would you recommend your family member make the change again?
-What other potential issues should I be aware of in making these changes?

veindoc
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Joined: Sun Aug 14, 2016 9:04 pm

Re: Designing a Better Life At Age 40

Post by veindoc » Sat May 23, 2020 12:32 pm

I did this. Right around the same age. We had more saved though. Enough for me to not worry that we couldnt handle expenses with one working spouse. Enough also to know that with compounding if we saved not a single dollar more, we would have enough for retirement. My father was also gifting my kids $15k per year into a 529, so that took college savings pressure off.

I don’t think you are there yet. Especially since you don’t know what you want to do. There is no doubt if my mind that people who work with lack of financial pressure in a field they love do better. It worked for me.

TheNightsToCome
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Re: Designing a Better Life At Age 40

Post by TheNightsToCome » Sat May 23, 2020 12:38 pm

I left cardiology at 41 yo due to burnout, and spent the next 2 1/2 years reading accounting and finance texts (because investing was my hobby). I didn't necessarily plan to start an encore career, but took an opportunity to work as a healthcare equity analyst at 44 yo.

I earned much less money as an analyst, but found the work pleasant with low stress. I could have continued, but left to earn an MBA (because that was more interesting at the time), and then started a solo RIA (which was less enjoyable than anticipated).

After a critical illness, I felt the urge to return to cardiology and I've been back in practice as an employee for more than six years now (after managing to negotiate a better lifestyle than I had in private practice).

I couldn't have continued in my private practice at 41. I was working at a frenetic pace sometimes from 6:30 a.m. til midnight, then back in the hospital in the middle of the night and/or taking calls all night long. So, I'm glad that I left.

It can work out well as long as you don't struggle to make ends meet. I think that's the key.

mdavis6890
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Joined: Wed Jan 27, 2016 12:19 pm

Re: Designing a Better Life At Age 40

Post by mdavis6890 » Sat May 23, 2020 12:55 pm

I think you're creating a false choice for yourself. A high-paying tech sales career can be hard on your family - but it doesn't have to be. I do this, earning at least as much as you do in B2B tech sales in a VHCOL area. I set family boundaries and have a relatively relaxed pace of work and ample time to see the wife and my four kids. My job IS very stressful sometimes, but then I sign off and go do other things with my family. My wife is also a full-time engineer at a startup. We set boundaries and make it work.

I think you should prioritize your family and move near your wife's relatives. But that doesn't mean you have to give up your job - everybody is learning how much can be done remotely. And even if you did end up leaving your current job, there's still HUGE demand for tech sales people who live basically wherever. You can make as much at a different company I'm sure.

I think this is one where if you zoom out a little bit you can have your cake and eat it too.

Good luck!

protagonist
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Re: Designing a Better Life At Age 40

Post by protagonist » Sat May 23, 2020 1:12 pm

My first rule of balancing home economics with personal bliss:

Make money. Don't let money make you.

If you are unhappy, find an alternative, take a chance. Even if it is a big one the risk of POSSIBLE failure is , to me, a better choice than accepting DEFINITE misery. And at least you have a fair buffer in terms of what you saved (and you are debt-free, plus if you are willing to live in a LCOL community you don't suffer from the keeping-up-with-the- Joneses curse). Just remember that you may have to be willing to compromise some aspects of lifestyle in the interest of financial security. In the long run you can be happy driving an old beater if you enjoy your work, whereas you will definitely be miserable driving a Ferrari if your work life (and/or family life) is unpleasant.

ps...I have no idea what an encore career is.

livesoft
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Re: Designing a Better Life At Age 40

Post by livesoft » Sat May 23, 2020 1:16 pm

Does your spouse work, or if not working, want to work?

In my late 30's I moved from a stressful job in a HCOL area to a less stressful job with higher pay in a LCOL area. I would say the grass was different, but not necessarily greener. Everything got better. Yes, I would make the change again.
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mars
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Re: Designing a Better Life At Age 40

Post by mars » Sat May 23, 2020 1:28 pm

I’m 40 and I just did this. I went from a career in law to a career coaching. I had been doing both for a long time and had been pursing and positioning for full time opportunities to coach. We had prepared for the corresponding drop in income and knew we had enough to cover what we needed.

I’d echo what an earlier poster said—seems like you need to figure out what this new career would look like and maybe see if you can start to try it out so that you can have a plan for the transition you want to make.

The transition has been great for us. Money isn’t really a stressor but the new career is still stressful. But it’s the kind of stress I welcome. The grass wasn’t greener, it was different and more rewarding to roll in.

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climber2020
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Re: Designing a Better Life At Age 40

Post by climber2020 » Sat May 23, 2020 1:37 pm

How long has your income been 250 to 350k? I ask because your net worth seems low for someone with such a high income.

Would the new lower income be enough to cover your current expenses and still leave enough to invest?

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Watty
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Re: Designing a Better Life At Age 40

Post by Watty » Sat May 23, 2020 1:53 pm

Starry Night wrote:
Sat May 23, 2020 12:10 pm
The stress from my sales career has burned me out, adversely impacted my health and strained my marriage. I have a very young child who my spouse cares for full time, and another child on the way.
Sometimes "you gotta do what you gotta do".

You might want to wait until the baby is born and things settle down but then you could do some heavy duty job hunting to see what sort of job you can find in the area you want to move to. Once you have a job offer you can then weigh the options more clearly.

When looking at the finances you also need to consider that divorce is very expensive, child support is expensive, and having a mental breakdown is expensive. And that is just the financial impact.

One thing that might help is to look up the income statistics about the area you want to move to. In most of the country you have afford an above average lifestyle with a lot less than $100K in income so you might not need a lot of income in your new job.

You also have enough in retirement savings so that if you can just let it grow for 20+ years you should also be fine with your retirement in a low cost of living area.

It would not be ideal but if you needed to you could also withdraw some of the money from your Roth account for a house downpayment in the low cost of living area. You can normally withdraw Roth contributions, but not earnings, without taxes or penalties for any reason at any age.

Starry Night wrote:
Sat May 23, 2020 12:10 pm
-What other potential issues should I be aware of in making these changes?
You net worth is not very high compared to your income especially. In a high cost of living area your rent and taxes are likely high but you need to figure out where the rest of the money went.

If you are spending a lot then it could be a shock to try to adapt to a middle class lifestyle in a low cost of living area.

You might find that even a lower paying job is still stressful. You might think that the person bagging your groceries has a low stress job but they have to deal with a boss, cashiers, customers, and likely a tight budget and they have little control over their situation. Often lower paying jobs can be surprisingly stressful. You could find that you are going from the fire pan into the fire by making such a big change. You might consider getting some counseling to help figure out what to do about the stress.
Starry Night wrote:
Sat May 23, 2020 12:10 pm
-That I will be able to do something professionally with more meaning and that is more enjoyable but still provide an income.
One thing to consider is if you have any customers in the area you want to move to. It could be that they would have a need for your knowledge and skill.

Most potential employers will understand why you might take a lower paying job in order to relocate to be near family and for your spouse.

l8_apex
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Re: Designing a Better Life At Age 40

Post by l8_apex » Sat May 23, 2020 1:59 pm

What about keeping your current job but relocating to a location that the wife would like? Have you talked to your employer about that?

Do you have some perspective on how much money the company makes from your contributions? Is it enough for them to be OK with you relocating and/or reducing your work hours/commitment?

You may find it to be quite difficult to just switch professions, but of course many people have done so. That salary puts you at the 98th percentile, so before you cut the cord with the current employer, I'd look for some way to keep that going. Or at least, stay doing the same work, but for a different company, where you can change the expectations and your location when you search + accept that new job.

From my slightly-related experience, simply going from working-in-the-office to remote from a different state changes the dynamic significantly. But in my case I went from managing a team of about 6 to being an individual contributor when I moved out of state.

And as others mentioned, you may indeed have some of the 'grass is greener on the other side' mentality going on here. It's difficult to think of any job that pays well yet is low stress.

sailaway
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Re: Designing a Better Life At Age 40

Post by sailaway » Sat May 23, 2020 2:06 pm

What are you basing the $100k expenses on? Your current lifestyle or your projected lifestyle?

I cannot recommend quitting your current career without an actual fall back plan, especially in the current economic situation. But I can highly recommend that you figure out what you would like to transition to and build a new life from there.

What kind of job would you like? How does one go about getting a job like that? What jobs are currently available in the area you want to move to?

How much house is important to your family? What other expenses? Ie, I don't plan to spend $30k on my next car, but you seem to. Is that a priority? What about vacations? Summer camps? What about your food bill (Grandparents have been known to feed entire families for weekends at a time; other families might encourage you to eat out more)?

printer86
Posts: 202
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Re: Designing a Better Life At Age 40

Post by printer86 » Sat May 23, 2020 3:07 pm

mdavis6890 wrote:
Sat May 23, 2020 12:55 pm
I think you're creating a false choice for yourself. A high-paying tech sales career can be hard on your family - but it doesn't have to be. I do this, earning at least as much as you do in B2B tech sales in a VHCOL area. I set family boundaries and have a relatively relaxed pace of work and ample time to see the wife and my four kids. My job IS very stressful sometimes, but then I sign off and go do other things with my family. My wife is also a full-time engineer at a startup. We set boundaries and make it work.

I think you should prioritize your family and move near your wife's relatives. But that doesn't mean you have to give up your job - everybody is learning how much can be done remotely. And even if you did end up leaving your current job, there's still HUGE demand for tech sales people who live basically wherever. You can make as much at a different company I'm sure.

I think this is one where if you zoom out a little bit you can have your cake and eat it too.

Good luck!
I completely agree with the above post. I too have been been in B2B sales for several companies since getting out of school in the 80's. During that time, I even managed a couple of company paid relocations to both high cost and low cost environments.

Several years ago, I decided that I wanted to return to lower cost location to accelerate our FI plans. I got the company to allow me to move without having to change jobs or assignments. I subsequently hit my number early this year at 55 and announced my plans to retire in the fall. My suggestion is to ask your company to let you move. B2B sales can be done from any area of the country with a decent airport.

Another suggestion is to find more work-life balance. In my 40's, I significantly upped my fitness routine. It's what got me thru the last 10 years of my career.

onourway
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Re: Designing a Better Life At Age 40

Post by onourway » Sat May 23, 2020 4:16 pm

I see no problem with you doing this, however like others, I’d prefer to see a bit more of a plan with 2 young kids in the house. You don’t currently have much of a buffer from which to draw to make this happen. What if you lived on approximately what your expected future budget would be for the next year and saved everything else? You should be able to save 1-2 years expenses in that time, and while you do it, figure out what kind of work you’ll do next, and start creating the framework to make that happen.

mathwhiz
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Re: Designing a Better Life At Age 40

Post by mathwhiz » Sat May 23, 2020 4:52 pm

Look into remote work options with your current employer for a lateral or other kind of job, even with a substantial paycut. The old rules are being re-written because of the pandemic. Just be honest and upfront when you finally decide you are doing this and say, I need to move closer to my wife's family, are there any options for me to stay employed as a remote employee? Worst they can say, is "no".

Stick5vw
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Re: Designing a Better Life At Age 40

Post by Stick5vw » Sat May 23, 2020 6:11 pm

A lot of good advice here. I did something like this last year and left a stressful job paying $400k a year and took a career break. (Which may now last longer than I planned because of covid...)

My two cents:

Where are you thinking of moving and into what job/field? Without more detail the plan does seem to be a case of “grass is greener” IMO. The level of savings feels low (I saved c$1.3mn when I left) but perhaps the math will work depending where you move and what you do.

Try to make the current job more tolerable first - you may well do this already but look at how you manage time, delegate, set/pursue goals, align stakeholders, communicate etc. Can you now do more work at home instead of commuting/travel and get some time back? Making some tweaks can quickly change your flow and clear up some pain points. This is what I wish I had done first. What about an internal transfer to a different less stressful role within the company?

May I ask, Is the pressure point indeed work or home life? Things started to go downhill for me after the birth of our first kid 3 years ago. No doubt the baby was stressful (lack of sleep, both parents sick often, stressed out wife etc) and that spilled over into everything. Can you get a nanny to help your wife out? Pay for a cleaning service, pre-prepared meals etc? At that income you can buy some time back and will be even more key with another kid on the way.

I’d suggest you grind it out another year or two and shore up your finances and then consider making the jump if still not resolved. I’ve enjoyed the break but for better or worse underestimated how much value I derived from working in a “prestigious” industry/firm. Yes the job was stressful but you may miss it (and esp the $$) more than you think.

Equally if the job really is killing you, there is no shame in walking away. That is the choice I made but in hindsight believe it have been avoided if I’d addressed some issues earlier. Burnout is real - but make sure that’s what it really is, so you take the right next step.

sd323232
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Re: Designing a Better Life At Age 40

Post by sd323232 » Sat May 23, 2020 7:08 pm

Considering your salary and your networth , you have a very expensive lifestyle. Is your family ok with you taking lower paying job and downgrading lifestyle? I mean, i know alot of people who went to a lower paying job only to comeback to high stress, high paying job back because their spouses realized, husband spending more time at home = lower paycheck. There could be a reality check here.

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