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Is your time worth a sacrifice in living standard?
Old 10-08-2014, 07:22 AM   #1
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Is your time worth a sacrifice in living standard?

Here is an interesting dilemma I have as DW and I have ramped up our preparation in anticipation of ER in the next 5-7 years. I'm 50 now, ditto DW, and as morbid as it sounds, my family history tells me that though I will fight like heck to stave it off as long as possible, Alzheimer's and heart disease is on my horizon. My dad and his mom both showed signs of dementia in their early 60's; she died at 66, my dad lived only a few years longer. My mom also had bad health and also died in her mid 60's.

We are very, very fortunate that DW's former job gives us health benefits for life so that is not a concern and with her pension, an annuity, our 401(k)'s, SS, no kids, and no debt, we should be in terrific shape from 59.5 on.

My concern is the next several years. I feel like I would be willing to sacrifice a higher current standard of living if I could stop working now at my job which is stressful and completely unfulfilling and causing me to lose my hair. That rather than working and socking away as much as possible for later, I would be buying time now so I could have the freedom of doing more of the things I love which are not extravagant. (movies, reading, beach, some volunteering and time with DW is all I need to be happy. I dread having a huge nest egg and then getting sick and die and never be able to enjoy the freedom that I was working so hard for; just like what happened to both my parents. If we were very careful, we could probably both stop working in a year or so.

DW's family lives forever but with her pension & SS, and other lifetime income, she will be A-OK financially when I am gone. It's tough to talk to her about this because she refuses to believe that this happening to me is even a remote possibility. And I feel guilty that I am even thinking about this; that she will prefer to work longer, to maintain a higher standard for both of us, and think me selfish for not.

So the question is how much are you willing to sacrifice for the luxury of time? Sorry for the length of this but I am curious if anyone has thought about stuff like this.
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Old 10-08-2014, 07:31 AM   #2
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Why all or none? Find part time work, possibly within your current employer? And since your afraid of a big nest egg you might not get to use you should treat yourself and DW to something you would both enjoy now. European vacation?
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Old 10-08-2014, 08:23 AM   #3
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Is your time worth a sacrifice in living standard?

I think what you are really describing is the "OMY syndrome" that so many of us have experienced. It's a trade off. Do I keep working for one, two, three or more years for more money or retire now and enjoy what I have worked for, while I can.
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Old 10-08-2014, 08:23 AM   #4
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There are degrees of sacrifice.

Speaking for myself - I would not be willing to go back to the budget of my college days - living in sketchy neighborhoods with unpleasant roommates because it was all I could afford...

That said - as a new retiree - sacrificing some material things for freedom seems like it's worth it... I am frugal in my food shopping, I mend my clothes rather than replace them, etc... and I have the freedom to not go to work every morning. That is worth it.
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Old 10-08-2014, 08:56 AM   #5
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We found that with more free time we were really able to slash our expenses - reviewing the budget line item by line item, more time to comparison shop, lower our energy bills, drop the landline, get prepaid cell phones, cook healthier food from scratch, etc.

We took our pensions early, lowered our taxes, no longer have to save for retirement because of lower expenses, cut out megacorp job and commute costs, work part-time from home at hobby jobs and it has worked out great.

If you have not read Your Money or Your Life yet, that is a good book on the topic, as is Plentitude by Juliet Schor, also author of The Overworked American and The Overspent American.
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Old 10-08-2014, 09:37 AM   #6
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1) Your heredity is not great, and statistically that is not great but I think you are putting too much faith in its effect on your individual longevity. For example my parents BOTH had serious bouts with cancer when they were much younger than I am now, and I have never had cancer at all. My father had multiple heart attacks in his early 50's, and I am 67 with no heart issues other than high blood pressure (which is under control). There are a lot of factors contributing to your health other than heredity. Go to a reputable doctor regularly and do what he tells you to do, and you may improve the future on your horizon.

2) Yes, time to me is worth a moderate sacrifice in living standard. I have some slack in my budget and I devote a lot of my income to discretionary spending that isn't strictly necessary right now. That could go. I would be perfectly happy with the entertainment choices available on a minimal budget.

3) Time is NOT worth enduring worries and insecurities about where the necessities of life are coming from. By this I mean the next meal, healthcare, a roof of some kind over my head, and so on. Who cares if the meal is hamburger instead of steak, but I want to know it is there for me.
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Old 10-08-2014, 09:58 AM   #7
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I will be retiring in 20 weeks. My budget assumes only a wee bit of travel and some local entertainment expense. Most of the things DH and I enjoy are low cost - nature trails, reading, golf and swimming at the coummunity facilities (included in our HOA of less than $100 / month). I will be sacrificing the option to take some really awesome trips to start enjoying my freedom sooner rather than later.

We also downsized from a 3000 sq ft home to a 1500 sq ft home, but that is not a sacrifice - its a blessing to not have to maintain the beast any longer !

I think the real question is "will you regret what you are sacrificing" .... when you look back in 10 years will you say "gee, if I had only worked one more year I could have put $x away for fill in the blank"
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Old 10-08-2014, 10:14 AM   #8
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I haven't retired yet but am working up the plans. My way of thinking is if the # work out so that you are likely good baring some disaster that none of us can predict, OMY makes no sense. You can always find ways to get money if need be but your time, however long, is fixed. My Mom is my reason. She was lucky that she retired early and got 10 good years before have 10 really bad months and dying of ovarian cancer. Had she not retired early she would have sacrificed those good years which in retrospect were beyond priceless

The reason I am still working you ask, I have not confirmed the numbers (I think we are ok) and have not convinced the boss (my wife) 100% yet. Nearly there. There are a few things to wrap up that make sense to do while working (we are in mid remodel, I probably need my knee scoped again...) that make sense to do while getting a salary and not drawing on savings. I am not anticipating OMY, but a few more months to finish these things off
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Old 10-08-2014, 10:15 AM   #9
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You could always do what I've done in my repetitive OMY-ing. I've safely amassed enough for twice my basic living expenses with a 95% FireCalc confidence. My basic living expenses are very comfortable and also include a reasonable vacation budget. With my surplus, I hope to upgrade foreign travel for a few years.

I should have retired three years ago. If not the day my FIL passed away, it should have been the end of the year. I have definitely been working for my grandchildren since then.

I am definitely going to resign 5 January 2015.
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Old 10-08-2014, 10:16 AM   #10
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I am definitely going to resign 5 January 2015.
Sure you are!
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Old 10-08-2014, 10:23 AM   #11
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I ask the same question over and over these days. Should I quit my stressful job now so that I can enjoy my life with less money in my retirement fund? The question (and this forum) has helped me pull in my retirement date from end of 2016 to any time now. Seems like your family history suggests you should error in favor of retiring earlier given a chance. If you decide to quit now, please do have a list of things you always wanted to do but couldn't. And be willing to live happily with a lot less if you must - my worst case to best scenario budget goes from $60k/year to $120k/year. My 2 cents.
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Old 10-08-2014, 10:27 AM   #12
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You could always do what I've done in my repetitive OMY-ing. I've safely amassed enough for twice my basic living expenses with a 95% FireCalc confidence. My basic living expenses are very comfortable and also include a reasonable vacation budget. With my surplus, I hope to upgrade foreign travel for a few years.

I should have retired three years ago. If not the day my FIL passed away, it should have been the end of the year. I have definitely been working for my grandchildren since then.

I am definitely going to resign 5 January 2015.
2B or not 2B ... Seems like you are in denial of being a perennial OMYer . I will take bets for which one (me or 2B) retires first. I have a feeling that I will win the bet.
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Old 10-08-2014, 10:34 AM   #13
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Why not set yourself a goal of living longer?

I have the same situation with my family history. So, instead of sweets, sitting on my butt and thinking I'll die young, I excercise, eat lots of veggies and have already outlived my Mom and catching up on my Dad who died of diabetis because he didn't know better. Average life span is growing and your's can grow as well. Now, when you retire is another question......you need to work it out with your wife so that the both of you have a compatible lifestyle......money isn't the only issue.....and, only the two of you can have an honest discussion and then agree on money, health, time spent issues. Yes, you can work part time, find another job or retire......your choice but you have to live with your wife.......and you two have to enjoy your time together sharing common goals. Good luck with all......and, Good Health!
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Old 10-08-2014, 10:41 AM   #14
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I think the real question is "will you regret what you are sacrificing" .... when you look back in 10 years will you say "gee, if I had only worked one more year I could have put $x away for fill in the blank"
Your question turns out to be relatively uncommon. What I see far more often is "gee, I wish I had retired sooner since all those financial concerns I had were a waste of my time."
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Old 10-08-2014, 11:01 AM   #15
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2B or not 2B ... Seems like you are in denial of being a perennial OMYer . I will take bets for which one (me or 2B) retires first. I have a feeling that I will win the bet.
I am not in denial. I freely admit I have been doing it. When I first joined the forum in 2006, I had calculated that I had enough for a decent retirement. I was FIRE ready and my original name was Soon2B.

Unfortunately, MIL broke her hip and FIL was diagnosed with Alzheimer's which would have made me a full time caregiver to them. I requested a change to 2B when it was obvious I was going to keep on keeping on.

Following my FIL's death in Oct 2011, I have had no reason to keep working. Fortunately or maybe unfortunately, my job is very low stress and not very demanding. I usually only come in 4 days per week. I am paid a small fortune IMHO for what I consider very easy requirements. I consider myself a border line slacker. The scary part is I'm considered one of the more dependable people in meeting goals and having the required quality of work.

As for which one of us retires first, you better be leaving soon. My resignation date is set in stone. I will transition off any project I'm on but not go on for more that a few weeks.
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Old 10-08-2014, 12:40 PM   #16
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As expected, you all have responded with the thoughtful and learned advice that got me hooked on this site in the first place. I thank you all.

I think when I hit 40 I began to realize that justifying buying all the "stuff" because I worked so damn hard was utter foolishness. To be able to spend more time with DW enjoying very simple pleasures instead of fancier trips and restaurants is not much of a sacrifice. Of course, as also noted by someone's response, and already taken to heart, I am doing everything possible to fight back against my family medical history.

Now wouldn't it be ironic that by retiring earlier and having more time to live a healthier lifestyle, my lifespan increases so much that I run out of money. I think I could figure out a way to live with that.
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Old 10-08-2014, 01:23 PM   #17
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Ir probably depends on your job, but for me doing knowledge type work, sitting inside at a PC or commuting 60+ hours a week, just doesn't seem like a healthy life.

I'd rather work part-time and have my mornings free to hang out laundry, make home made soup and go for a hike so I can get some sunshine, exercise and not sit inside an office building on my butt all day long. Last night I cooked up kidney beans I bought in a bulk bag from a warehouse store and let cook overnight in a non-electric thermal cooker. Today I froze some and used the rest to make soup with leftovers and cheap but healthy veggies like onions glazed in olive oil, carrots, cabbage and potatoes, which are also cooking in the non-electric thermal cooker.

The cool thing is that many of the activities you can do with more free time are healthy as well as frugal, so it cuts down on how much money you need in total retirement funding. Just cutting $1K a year from your annual expenses means needing $50K less in total retirement funding over a 50 year retirement. Using drying racks provides me with a little more sunshine and exercise and shaves $40 off our energy bill each month. Over 50 years that is another $24K off our total retirement funding.
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Old 10-08-2014, 01:35 PM   #18
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I think it depends on how much reduction in living standard and does it reduce your living standard to a point you would be unhappy. For DH to retire when he did and me to semi-retire when I did, we recognized that there would be some reduction in living standard.

BUT, we had a high living standard/high income at the time and a lot of that was really convenience stuff because we were working a lot of hours. We spend now much less than we spent then but I don't actually perceive any reduction in living standard. We don't eat out as often (but still eat out 2 or 3 times a week) and don't take as many vacations (but we aren't big on vacations and have done some) and we downsized (but to a 3000 SF house from 4500). So, all of this has been totally painless and almost unnoticeable.

On the other hand, as Rodi says, I wouldn't want to go back to when I was in school and living in an apartment and was always broke.
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Old 10-08-2014, 02:44 PM   #19
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I have a very low stress job so it made sense to stay on for awhile and I cut back to 6 hour days, ( I have vacation and personal time to make up the 2 hrs. per day so I still get paid for full employment), for the next 18 months and then will either retire or I have the option to stay on part time at 30 hours a week and continue to get paid family health insurance so it will depend on what Obamacare does starting in 2016. If my job was a high stress position I would have left at the beginning of this year.
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Old 10-08-2014, 07:48 PM   #20
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I think when I hit 40 I began to realize that justifying buying all the "stuff" because I worked so damn hard was utter foolishness. To be able to spend more time with DW enjoying very simple pleasures instead of fancier trips and restaurants is not much of a sacrifice.
Yes, you've hit the nail on the head. I think a lot of folks contemplating ER struggle with these same thoughts. And I think that the "sacrifices" most folks are talking about are not really major sacrifices at all to many of us (certainly not like going back to sharing an apartment and eating bad food during college days). Sacrifices for many of us would be giving up an extended international trip or something along those lines. To me, that's not a sacrifice at all (but if international travel in retirement is your main goal, then maybe it is for you). In my case, early retirement actually provided more time for me to seek out good deals on the things I typically purchase, so I've saved money in that area, freeing up some funds for other things (like travel) that I wasn't counting on being able to afford. So, it all seems to work out in the end. And the health benefits of retiring are priceless, for me anyway.
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