Wanting an Uncomplicated Path towards FIRE


Will and I walk our dog Katie on this path at least once a day, and, really, right about now, we could use a straight and uncomplicated path like this one.  No decisions, nor offshoots.  Just flowers happily in bloom on either side.

It turns out that we’re not great with making choices because we fear–don’t others?–that we might make the wrong choice.  After all, having choices means that there are options.  That means that you are making a choice FOR a particular option and thereby choosing AGAINST the other option.  And, no, choosing both is untenable.

(As a side note, I did try that method once when we were on a cruise to Alaska.  At dinner one night I asked my server which he recommended between the crab legs or the lobster tail.  It being a cruise, they brought out BOTH main courses for me.  Since I cannot let good food go to waste, I ended up eating both.  Sadly, I didn’t learn my lesson then and found myself repeating the fiasco with the dessert choice.  I came back from the cruise seven pounds heavier and resolved never to do that again–both cruising, AND “choosing” both options.)

The problem is that our FIRE journey had been fairly straight-forward up to now.  Once we discovered wonderful personal finance blogs and the FIRE community, we never looked back.  We set up our Vanguard accounts, increased our investments, reduced our spending, and had a wonderful time living this new virtuous life of greater frugality.  We very much enjoyed seeing that countdown clock go down every day, and we even came up with ways we could lower that number even more substantially.  All was great!

Then we unexpectedly hit a snag in the form of a fork in the path we were walking towards.  I mentioned in another post that we might be retiring one year earlier or another couple of years later than we originally planned on.  Even more recently, I talked about the idea of taking a “gap” year.  It all has to do with whether or not Will is ready to face either an earlier retirement or a transfer to another (and more expensive) part of the country.

So, we are working out all the twists and turns:

Money: Right now, we have less than we planned to have for our original date of FIRE.  And, of course, that also means another year we have to fund without Will’s high-tech salary.  On the other hand, many people would claim that we do have enough to live on, just not enough for us to feel completely comfortable about it.  Is this just another manifestation of the dreaded “one more year syndrome”?

Health Insurance: In order to cover exorbitant costs of medical insurance these extra years without Will’s salary, I will need to continue to work another six years.  Or, we will need to find something reasonable with Affordable Care Act.  Right now, those prices–for our current income level–seem a bit high, and not something we wanted to pour our retirement savings into.

Boredom: I know Will is going to get bored if he’s the only one retired.  His friends are still working, many probably for at least another 15 years.  I will either need to work (for insurance–see above) or we will need to spend down some of our hard-earned savings.  While he has some bucket list items planned (bike across America–yay!), he knows that these items won’t cover 45 years of retirement.  What will he DO while he is the only person retired from work?

Sense of Self: Will is fairly progressive, but he lives in a society that is still patriarchal and has traditional perspectives about whether a husband should enjoy leisure while his same-aged wife is working full time to provide household income and insurance.  Will he suffer real or imagined slings and arrows of self-doubt once he actually retires?

Career Advancement: On the other hand, if he did take the transfer, he most likely would be advancing in his career, with a nicer title and more authority.  Presumably he would be earning more as well.  And, in any case, his salary will be higher (technically) to account for the fact that the new location has a higher cost-of-living.

Life Dreams: Lately we are turning over in our minds the idea that we are given this one life.  What should we do with this life?  Surely it wasn’t to sit in meetings 80% of our working hours?  Aside from bucket list items, shouldn’t there be larger goals we want to pursue?  And is it even possible to figure out what we want to do and where we want to go and who we really want to be when so much of our life-energy now is taken up with work?

As you can see from the progression of the posts over the past few weeks, we are gearing ourselves up this earlier-than-expected retirement scenario of Will’s.  It’s just not easy though to pull that plug…


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