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Newbie here, 38 and struggling with guilt from working too much
Old 05-02-2018, 02:46 PM   #1
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Newbie here, 38 and struggling with guilt from working too much

Hi all! I've been reading up on the FIRE community and I must say it is inspiring! My whole life I've been conditioned to work, work, work...I even only took two weeks maternity leave for my babies. I'm 38 now and I'm struggling with regrets of not having spent more time with my family. I really can't imaging working until 65 at this rate. I'd really love to hear more about the emotional side of the decision to retire early and how you handle it when people question why you would want to do it?

My situation is that I've worked at the same company since grad school (almost 15 years now). I'm drained and it is very stressful. I have a lot of responsibility and even when I do get vacation I spend part of it dragging along a laptop to work. We have three children and have made bad decisions regarding money. When we made more, we spent more - two house, expensive cars, student loans (mine), home improvements, daycare, the list goes on and on. We worked so much often times we'd find ourselves buying our kids stuff as a way to make up for the fact we spent so little time with them. That hurts so bad, I have immense guilt over this.

Over the last two years I've embraced a much more minimalist outlook. Fast forward to today, we have finally gotten our act together. All debt is paid off except for our house. My husband makes around 105K and I make 85K. My entire paycheck now goes into savings. My husband loves his job and will not retire until 55. At that age he will get a pension that will cover all our expenses. I'm struggling with quitting now or toughing it out another year or two to really pack our savings. Also, since I'm in my thirties many of my friends look at me like I'm crazy for wanting to quit a good paying job. I'd love to know your thoughts! I'm open to any feedback and suggestions. Thank you!
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Old 05-02-2018, 03:56 PM   #2
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Hi, Kdawn, and welcome! Forum members will need a lot more information to comment on your financial ability to stop working. Questions that immediately come to mind: Kid's ages? Husband's age? Current spending? Current retirement assets? Current non-retirement assets? Loans remaining? Retirement budget? Retirement goals (travel, etc.). Income from the second home? Will your husband's have health insurance after he starts his pension payments? College fund set up? So, you have to fund between now and your husband's age and 55 (guestimated at 17 years), but it looks like his salary covers your current expenses. Doesn't sound like there's much of an emergency fund; unknowns can happen (job loss, health issues, etc.). At this point, I would not quit the second job until I had at least the number of years of expenses until your husband turns 55 saved up. Even then, there is always a risk that pensions will be eliminated or reduced (both in the private and public sector), so even that's not entirely safe. As you read these forums, you'll notice that there are not a lot of risk takers here. Everything is calculated and forecast, usually with conservative assumptions.
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Old 05-02-2018, 04:04 PM   #3
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I believe the main and possibly the only reason I was able to Fire without a college education is because I remained single until Firing, if I had married early like in my 20’s most definitely I’d still be working.
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Old 05-02-2018, 04:12 PM   #4
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Work less.
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Old 05-02-2018, 04:20 PM   #5
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Hi HNL Bill! Thank you for your thoughts. Yes, looks like I did indeed leave out too many details. Our savings aren't as great as I'd like them to be since the last few years we've been plowing away debt. Here are the details:

My 401K - 150K
DH 457 - 50K
Kids 529s - 45K
Cash - 52K
Only debt is our house - 169K

Expenses:
169K mortgage (850/month, 400/month taxes and insurance)
500 a month utilities, phones, etc.
1200 a month food, entertainment, everything else misc.

Three kids - 8, 11, 15

Husband brings home 5600 after taxes/month
He is a firefighter and can retire in 17 years at 55 with pension and medical care. Pension has survivor benefits so I'll be protected.
We also have 1M life insurance policies on each of us if tragedy strikes. With his pay we can still save 1000-1500 month.

A few months ago we finally became debt free so now my whole paycheck goes into savings that we don't touch. I'm also finally maxing out my 401K. I currently make 85K.

I know we can live off of what my husband makes but I'm also thinking of maybe staying with my company and only working part time so that I can enjoy more time with my kids. I'm a stressed out mess most days and my husband tells me to quit constantly. My boss wants to make me part owner of the company and I fear it will consume more time that I don't have. Although, it will mean larger paychecks.

One more option is that years ago I started a side business doing something I really like - I know ridiculous because I was already so busy. If I leave my FT job I could do this side business in my free time and make around 1K without much effort. That could go straight to savings.

Maybe I tough it out until I'm 40 and that we we could stock away another 150K that we would need to touch?
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Old 05-02-2018, 04:25 PM   #6
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I believe the main and possibly the only reason I was able to Fire without a college education is because I remained single until Firing, if I had married early like in my 20s most definitely Id still be working.
For sure. Marrying young and having kids right away (when we were making very little) really strained the purse strings. I never want to carry debt again after finally releasing that burden. We still owe on the house but it's cheaper than rent in our area.
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Old 05-02-2018, 04:48 PM   #7
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These are my 2 cents. Your retirement assets (excluding 529s), less debt (the mortgage) = $83K. What happens if your husband is disabled prior to retirement? He has a high-risk job. Could you live on disability payments, which are likely lower than his salary? IMHO, you need to keep working at least until your youngest turns 18 . I'd aim for more work-life balance with your job, setting limits, so that you don't kill yourself in the mean time. Retiring at 48 is still young, and you will likely still have good health. Although I'm not a parent, I'm guessing your kids will be leveraging their independence soon, so staying at home to be with them may be partly a mute effort.
Good luck!
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Old 05-02-2018, 04:54 PM   #8
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These are my 2 cents. Your retirement assets (excluding 529s), less debt (the mortgage) = $83K. What happens if your husband is disabled prior to retirement? He has a high-risk job. Could you live on disability payments, which are likely lower than his salary? IMHO, you need to keep working at least until your youngest turns 18 . I'd aim for more work-life balance with your job, setting limits, so that you don't kill yourself in the mean time. Retiring at 48 is still young, and you will likely still have good health. Although I'm not a parent, I'm guessing your kids will be leveraging their independence soon, so staying at home to be with them may be partly a mute effort.
Good luck!
I appreciate the honest feedback! Yes, you are right, him getting hurt on the job - or off - is scary. It is nice to know that if something happens to one of us, the other's job can easily cover the expenses. I'm not going to make a rash decision and we will see how things play out. For now I'm going to push to take more time off and keep stashing our money in savings. It is because my kids are growing up that I'm feeling pain from all the lost time with them. I worked constantly and I'm jealous of my friends and sisters who stopped working to take care of their kids.
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Old 05-02-2018, 05:05 PM   #9
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Your husband will support you stopping now - that's great, and he plans to stay for a full pension, so you'll be set.

I would definitely start making plans to dial things back, if not to part time then to an end date. I don't mean to sound rude, but killing yourself with overwork in a HiCOL area for $85k is not a good deal. Not after 15 years on the job with a graduate degree. If you're going to work that hard, find a way to get paid much more. Can you try to negotiate down to part time for $60k and no less?
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Old 05-02-2018, 05:24 PM   #10
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Your husband will support you stopping now - that's great, and he plans to stay for a full pension, so you'll be set.

I would definitely start making plans to dial things back, if not to part time then to an end date. I don't mean to sound rude, but killing yourself with overwork in a HiCOL area for $85k is not a good deal. Not after 15 years on the job with a graduate degree. If you're going to work that hard, find a way to get paid much more. Can you try to negotiate down to part time for $60k and no less?
I love your answer, I don't think it was rude. Where we live isn't HiCOL, our RE taxes are a bit more than I'd like but houses 200K and less are easy to find. Most of the other fire families I know, the spouse doesn't work and they make ends meet just fine. It can be really hard on the spouse when the firefighters work 24 or 48 hour shifts. I'm sure my boss would figure out a way to let me go part time. I'd just have to stay strong to not get sucked back in...
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Old 05-02-2018, 08:33 PM   #11
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I'd really love to hear more about the emotional side of the decision to retire early and how you handle it when people question why you would want to do it?
Here's my story: Went to college, got a good paying job, living the American Dream. I did what most do - I spent the money I made, because hey, I worked hard for it right? Very large house, multiple cars, all the gadgets that I wanted. I'm divorced/single with a 14 year old daughter, by the way. Then I met two separate people who had very little money, and each was extremely frugal and also extremely happy. They were "poor" by choice. They had very few possessions, and they had very few worries.

And it really got me to thinking - I was just as happy when I was young and had practically nothing as I was with all this stuff. The stuff was nice, but stuff needs maintained, serviced, cleaned, etc. I felt like my things owned me, and I had slowly progressed from "I have all this money so I deserve all this stuff" to a point where "I have all this stuff so I must continue to make all this money to maintain it".

My job evolved so that I wasn't enjoying it anymore. So I had a monumental shift in my goals. I started downsizing and simplifying my life - getting rid of everything that didn't bring me joy on a pretty regular basis. I started looking into FIRE, and here I am - still working, but only a few years away from FIRE (age 48 right now).

Most of my friends/family don't understand why I would want to give up the high paying job and all of the material possessions that come with that income. At first I tried to reason with them and explain my thinking. But that got old pretty quickly. Now I just tell them "because I want to do other things" and leave it at that.

Sorry for the long reply. But you did ask.
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Old 05-03-2018, 04:46 AM   #12
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As far as answering "the question", I think you answered it quite well.
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Old 05-03-2018, 05:49 AM   #13
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I'm sure my boss would figure out a way to let me go part time. I'd just have to stay strong to not get sucked back in...
You do not say what you do. Do you like your job? If you do I would work your hours (9-5?) and that is it; no more weekends, no work on vacations, no answering emails/calls at night. At this point you are still making $85k with less work. To you this will feel like part time. If you are unable to do that I would let them let you go, than look for a job you can work 9-5 for $85k. In a HCOL location it should not be difficult to find a job with better hours and similar money.
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Old 05-03-2018, 10:34 AM   #14
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It is because my kids are growing up that I'm feeling pain from all the lost time with them. I worked constantly and I'm jealous of my friends and sisters who stopped working to take care of their kids.
The grass is not always greener. We have friends whose wives stayed home and are now in their 50's and have no money. They lament the fact that they didn't work and may never be able to retire. I'm not passing judgement on either. Just saying that there is no right answer.

I would suggest you find a less stressful job...for potentially less money...and have a better work/life balance. Good luck!
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Old 05-03-2018, 11:45 AM   #15
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The grass is not always greener. We have friends whose wives stayed home and are now in their 50's and have no money. They lament the fact that they didn't work and may never be able to retire. I'm not passing judgement on either. Just saying that there is no right answer.

I would suggest you find a less stressful job...for potentially less money...and have a better work/life balance. Good luck!
That's because many people make decisions without understanding and accepting the ramifications of their decision. My ex didn't like her state job (found it unsatisfying) in which she had 18 years (with the ability to retire at 30 years). So, she quit, went back to school, and then got a new job in a different field paying less money. Fast forward to now when all of her old state job friends have retired, and she now complains about having to still work. Was her decision to leave the state job wrong? No, not necessarily, but it is important to recognize what it would mean (which I did point out at the time but also said it was obviously up to her),

To the OP: There is no right decision to be had here by strangers on an Internet forum just based on financials. Sure, we can ask questions that help you through the process or to bring up things you haven't thought of. But in the end, you and DH need to work out what works best for you and your family. There is nothing wrong with wanting to value time with your children (while they are still children) over money. When you are dead and buried your kids won't remember the fact that you had a newer car or more toys, but they will remember the time with you.

We live in a society today where there is enormous pressure to "have it all", and that pressure is especially true for women. Children, house, husband, job, stuff and more stuff. Just look at your friend's attitude about being crazy for quitting a good paying job. None of us can have it all. We need to figure out what part of 'it' is the most important to us.
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Old 05-03-2018, 12:35 PM   #16
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My wife is SAHM since we had our third kid five years ago. I have not quite made up for the reduction in salary (75% there), but the change in quality of life has been tremendously positive. The morning stress is gone and our life pace has decelerated substantially. It also made me think of ER and helped me discover this forum. We have since her quitting the rat race reduced our spending by at least 30%, reducing what we need when I quit.
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Old 05-03-2018, 12:47 PM   #17
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Can you work half time or less (with your current employer or elsewhere) and get paid the same or more for your time? I did that prior to RE. It worked well for our family and every check went to retirement savings. I had time with my child and the rest of our family, kept current in my profession and earned income.

Working part time in a professional capacity has challenges, too. Jobs that pay well often carry responsibilities that may add stress. That said, I would not change my part time career path. It provided income, security, marketability, and precious time/life balance.
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Old 05-03-2018, 12:58 PM   #18
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Work less.
Yeah.
It sure sounds like you need a change. Why are you thinking that "ER" has to be all or nothing. Would working your present job as PT be possible? How about a different PT job with a competitor? Can you consult? Do you have a hobby that could turn into a PT job? (Or is a sabbatical more like it?)

Even the smallest contribution to the family finances can be huge when you have paid off the mortgage and other debt. Could you imagine making $25k a year doing something you enjoy?

You have a huge opportunity to stretch your wings since your husband is happily working. Think outside the box.

Welcome, BTW.
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Old 05-03-2018, 06:41 PM   #19
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Thank you all for the comments and suggestions! Right now my brain feels fried which is probably why I have the current desire to just walk away. I worked almost 12 hours today and I still have more to do but I just closed my computer and said "no more!"

I don't love my job. What makes leaving so hard is that I love the people I work with - the job though is stressful. I'm a production manager but because it is a small company almost everything usually falls on my plate. My boss is like an older brother and he is always accommodating. I can leave for appointments, I work from home most days, I can flex my schedule if the need arises. The problem is that just because I have flexibility in my schedule the work still needs to get done and I find myself working super early and staying late too.

With bonuses this year I'll probably be near 100K instead of 85K, even that though doesn't seem worth it.

One more reason though that I think quitting is a bad idea is because my middle child has special needs. He is autistic and I envision him needing more financial help in his adulthood than our other children. I know they say that decisions made in the heat of the moment (or in high stress) don't often turn out well. I think I just need to take a deep breath, talk to my boss about cutting back my hours - and him needing to hire more people. I need to do a better job at saying 'no' and not feeling bad about it.
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Old 05-03-2018, 06:43 PM   #20
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Yeah.

You have a huge opportunity to stretch your wings since your husband is happily working. Think outside the box.

Welcome, BTW.
Yes! I'm definitely not one to want to sit around. I have many ideas of things I can do to earn some money while doing something I love
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