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Let me get some input from the group here as to if my hopes/dreams are realistic.

I am a divorced 50 y/o retired military man ($1300/month pension from Uncle Sam) My kid is on her own. I own no real estate, have about $65K in my IRA, and about $25K in taxable stocks.

I am currently attending a vocational school to learn to do something I've always wanted to do... fix cars. I basically started over in many ways at my military retirement. I declared bankruptcy the same month I retired. The divorce didn't help matters either, financially-speaking.

The good news is that my newly chosen field is in great demand. If I relocate to Louisiana I can get the future employer to repay my student loans, help buy tools, and help with relocation expenses.

I was a commericial driver, but had to give it up. If the tornadoes and ice storms don't kill you, the bad food will. The doctor said that I was a heart attack waiting to happen.

Sometimes I feel the pull to return home (hometown in profile), buy a starter home for about $45K in a nice part of town and use the "surplus" to invest. Better the devil I know, instead of the devil I don't know location-wise.

I have been told by many people that this is a potential $100K per annum career, plus I'll have the know-how in how to repair cars, which can only help me no matter what happens in life.

The school has a national reach. They track average wage rates by state. MI is among the highest paying states, but with the lower cost-of-living. Beleive it or not, CA and MI pay about the same.

Being a sailor and a former commercial driver, I know how to live frugally. The goal is to be financially secure. Retirement will happen when it happens (age 62?).

Is it a realistic goal to get there by 62? One of my benchmarks for retirement will be having a house paid for. So that would mean a condo somewhere else (most likely) or going back home.

I could bellyache about fate and why I am where I am today, but life is what it is. Not much to be gained by ruminating over the past. You just gotta pick yourself up a move forward.

Feedback?
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<<Being a sailor and a former commercial driver, I know how to live frugally. The goal is to be financially secure. Retirement will happen when it happens (age 62?).

Is it a realistic goal to get there by 62? One of my benchmarks for retirement will be having a house paid for. So that would mean a condo somewhere else (most likely) or going back home.
>>


With twelve years, every minute counts. And it sounds like you aren't ready to start your new career now, and you aren't likely to be making $100,000/year out of the gate.


But the idea that retirement will happen when it happens is realistic. And supplementing retirement with some repair work when it fits in with your plans and schedules can be a great way to stretch and extend your savings.


A decision on whether and where to move is important. I'd spend a lot of time making a good decision on that one.


Seattle Pioneer
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OK, I'm confused. It sounds like you have a job opportunity in Louisiana, but you're thinking of locating to your home town in MI? Would the wages in Louisiana be $100K a year? Is there opportunity in MI for work making $100K/year? I noticed on Google Maps, if I'm looking at the right place, that your hometown is just north of Flint, MI which I keep hearing on the news is a depressed area (and, hometown of Michael Moore--sorry!)

According to www.salary.com base salary for a beginning auto mechanic is about $35K/year for my area (and it's a pretty high wage area). Maybe you could eventually pull $100K/year if you owned your own shop?

Anyway, let's just do this in baby steps:
1. Get trained in your chosen trade, and get the best paying job you can, in the lowest cost of living area you can.
2. Get out of bankruptcy.
3. Look into purchasing a home, if you want. You'll have to have good credit to do this. If you can't, there are people who have successfully lived frugally, retired and rented. The author of www.retireearlyhomepage.com has done this.
4. Retire when it's feasible to do so. If this doesn't happen at age 62, so what? If you're doing work you enjoy, just keep doing it as long as you can. Keep saving.

The fact that you have $1300/month from your military retirement, and will have about 12 years (at least) in Social Security wages will provide a nice little income stream for a frugal person. That, plus any savings you may accumulate should get you thru OK.

Good luck with your plans.
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I say it's absolutely possible with discipline. (Doubt you'll earn $100K/yr in a location that has houses in a nice part of town for $45K though). I entered the workforce full time at age 23 and may possibly retire at 38 if the stars align properly. If I wished to downscale my lifestyle, I could virtually retire now. I have enough assets today to pay off my house and bring in enough (at 4%) to pay my insurance, minor home maintenance, taxes and food. Now I'm continuing to work and save so I can better maintain my house, fund my healthcare, a vehicle, and have fun in retirement. Technically, typing this, I maybe I am FI already?

In your situation, you have a pension and significantly more assets than I started with at 23 and likely a higher initial earning potential than what I earned leaving college (my income rapidly increased during the first 5 years of my career but the rate of increase has slowed... I will likely hit 6 figures just about the time I FIRE myself). The child and the past life are "paid off" so you look in in good shape to me if you find a decent job and keep disciplined.

As a mental exercise, shave 30 years off your life... would you tell a 20/year old with $90K of investments and an inflation adjusted monthly trust fund payment of $1,300/mo (that will increase in another 15 years -social security) that he couldn't retire when he was 32? I would be pretty darn encouraged myself. As a single guy I could live off of $1,300/month if I chose too and save ALL of my earnings (minus the huge chunk the taxman would steal).

Good Luck.

FoolNBlue
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I'm confused. It sounds like you have a job opportunity in Louisiana, but you're thinking of locating to your home town in MI? Would the wages in Louisiana be $100K a year? Is there opportunity in MI for work making $100K/year? I noticed on Google Maps, if I'm looking at the right place, that your hometown is just north of Flint, MI which I keep hearing on the news is a depressed area
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Those figures include everybody, including the helper guys who just tape cars for painting.

The hourly rate is misleading. The job may pay you $16/hr, but if you can do a four-hour job in three, it gives you an hour to work on Job #2. A good tech can turn out over 100 billable hours a week in 40 clock hours. That is where the money is made.

Certain tasks (like frame) pay more since there is no text book to tell the insurance guy exactly how much to pay. It's largely a function of judgement and skill. If you can negotiate a 10 hour payent from the insurance company and do it in four, then that's more money in your pocket.

Also, mechanical/electrical work pays a higher rate per hour than body work. Hence, if you can straighten out the car's electronics, you get paid more per hour.

Before I came to this school, I did my research back home. The shops steal each other's techs, even in a high unemployment place like MI. I discovered that a good body man will NEVER lack for work, even in MI.

Yes, Bay City is about 45 mins north of Flint.
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>> Before I came to this school, I did my research back home. The shops steal each other's techs, even in a high unemployment place like MI. I discovered that a good body man will NEVER lack for work, even in MI. <<

Well, if nothing else this is a line of work which would seem pretty resistant to being offshored, so that's certainly an advantage.

Whether or not you make retirement at 62 I can't say...but if you enjoy the work and you remain physically fit enough to perform it, maybe you won't mind being on the job for a few more years after that. FIRE is a great thing, but failing that, the next best thing is a job you enjoy. Little is more demoralizing than a job you hate with no end in sight.

#29
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If I relocate to Louisiana I can get the future employer to repay my student loans, help buy tools, and help with relocation expenses.

My main question, have you ever lived/visited Louisiana. Coming from Michigan it would be a shock to the system on so many levels. Where at in Louisiana also makes a big difference.

I have lived here for 25 years. Wound up here because it was the last place my dad was stationed in his military career, stayed for school, med school, etc., but am now looking at getting far away from here when I retire. I make a good living here for my field and the cost of living is cheap but sometimes the place drives me nuts.

JLC
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My main question, have you ever lived/visited Louisiana.

Yes, I was a commercial driver. I have been there many times. I am in Houston right now. If given the choice between a MI winter and a Houston summer, it's a tough call. Both of them stink, in their own way.
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Well, if nothing else this is a line of work which would seem pretty resistant to being offshored, so that's certainly an advantage.

Part of my thought process was being able to pick up a few bucks on the side... "If you buy the parts, I'll do your brake job for $50" kinda thing.
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>> If given the choice between a MI winter and a Houston summer, it's a tough call. Both of them stink, in their own way. <<

True, but Michigan winters are a couple months shorter.

#29
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<<>> If given the choice between a MI winter and a Houston summer, it's a tough call. Both of them stink, in their own way. <<

True, but Michigan winters are a couple months shorter.

>>


I have vivid memories of what seemed to be the traditional Easter snowstorm. Ten or telve inches of new snow when all the sidewalks were already piled high.

It was like the beginning of a new ice age!


Still, spring did come, and a jolly nice spring and fall it could be.

Here in Seattle it's about 55 degrees, overcast and showers. It's like that with slightly higher or lower temperatures for the next nine or ten months.



Seattle Pioneer
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Doubt you'll earn $100K/yr in a location that has houses in a nice part of town for $45K though)

Let's crunch the numbers.....

$100,000/$16 hr = 6250 billable hours per year.

6250/50 weeks = 125 billable hours a week.

Keep in mind that billable hours are not the same as clock hours. The key is to become proficient and work hard.
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"If you buy the parts, I'll do your brake job for $50" kinda thing.

Why don't you move to, uh, Massachusetts? You know, somewhere near where I live..

"Jerry: Well, that's it. I'm going back to Putty. No move is worth this.
Elaine: Oh! You mean you don't care if he does the move anymore?
Jerry: Are you kidding? He can do every move I've ever done! Do you know what a good mechanic is worth? You can't compare that to sex."

cheers,
-progmtl.
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