Here's an email I recently received from a reader:
I am a 20 year veteran of a major city police department in the Northeast. My current base salary is 82,000/year. Between court time and voluntary overtime I usually make another 25-30 thousand per year. That also means that I work and average of 60 hours per week. The minimum I ever work is 50 hours but some weeks I work over 70 hours.
Due to my seniority I get 5 weeks of vacation and 2 weeks of personal days per year. I also have enough seniority to pick whatever shift I want with weekends off.
I have 5 children and a wife who makes about 12,000/year working part time.
I can retire now and have a chance to take a job with a University in my area. The pay is only 50,000 per year but I can begin collecting my pension right away which is 50% of my base pay or 41,000/year. There is no cost of living increase so my pension will be fixed at whatever level I retire at for the rest of my life. Between my new salary and my pension I will actually be making more as a base salary than I am currently. There isn't very much if any overtime at the new job so technically I'm taking a pay cut but I'll only be working 40 hours a week for the first time in 20 years.
The real benefit will be in two years when the oldest of my children graduates from high school. One of the benefits of working at the university is that my children get to go to school there free. Currently the tuition (without room and board) is 20,000/yr. Two years after my oldest child graduates high school my second child will graduate and for the next 12 years I will have two children in college each year. When that happens I'll be getting 40,000/year in tuition (at today's prices) free for my children. They would just be responsible for book and room and board (if they don't commute from home). The school is a major university so pretty much any major my children decide on will probably be offered at the school.
Some other considerations are:
1) At the new job, I won't have any vacation for the first year and 2 weeks per year after that with 10 personal days per year.
2) My seniority will also be low so I can't guarantee my shift or my days off so I could end up on the afternoon shift with Tuesdays and Wednesdays off for example.
3) Currently all 5 children are straight A students so scholarships are a possibility but due to my current income I don't expect much, if any aid if they don't get a scholarship.
4) I will have my mortgage paid off right around the same time my oldest would start college. I currently put 30,000 per year towards it to pay it off early. When I pay it off I could use that money to help pay towards the college bills.
I'm currently weighing my options but I would be interested in hearing your, and your reader's opinions on my options.
What's your advice for him?