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A new outlook on early retirement and life in general
Old 06-14-2011, 01:07 PM   #1
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A new outlook on early retirement and life in general

I'm having one of those "Peter Gibbons days" at the office and have elected to kind of just zone out for the later part of the afternoon. As I was going through my web browser's bookmarks, I stumbled upon these forums and realized that it had been six months since I last logged in, so figured it would probably be prudent of me to see what I've been missing since I last visited.

As I was reading some of my previous posts, it hit me as to just how much my mindset has changed over the last six months regarding my focus on early retirement. Instead of literally obsessing over earmarking every possible penny for early retirement, I'm now starting to relax my intensity and allowing myself to enjoy some of the luxuries life has to offer that I previously dismissed as being wasteful. For instance, I now find myself taking out my current girlfriend to dinner much more frequently, taking spontaneous trips, and I even purchased a Mercedes that I was lusting after for many months (yes, I did my homework and am happy with what I ended up paying for it).

Granted, I went through a pretty awful divorce during the beginning of the year that had a significant impact on me, but I don't know if that was the root cause for this radical transformation in my way of thinking. More than that, I think that I finally came to the realization that perhaps it's more important to strike a balance and aim to enjoy life, both before AND during retirement, than to be a complete and total miser and live a miserable existence now for the sake of living like a king during retirement. After all, as cliche as it sounds, life really is too short to not enjoy (all of) it.

I've done a lot of self-evaluation over the last few months and I think I'm pretty comfortable with this new mindset. I'm meeting all of my financial goals and obligations while actually living a relatively happy life, so it's almost as if I've managed to achieve the balance that I was previously lacking.

Anyhow, the last thing I mean to do here is boast or brag about some kind of "enlightenment" that I've managed to find, but I thought this post would possibly spark some interesting conversation and serve as a jumping-off point for other young folks who find themselves wrestling with similar issues.

Good luck and best wishes to all!
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Old 06-14-2011, 02:07 PM   #2
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Wow it sounds like you and I are in the same spot! I recently went through a major "divorce" with a woman I was engaged to and had been with for 8 years. It made me start thinking about the fact that you can't plan the future, and things can suddenly change on you in the blink of any eye.

You've really got to enjoy life NOW while also planning for the future, because the future you're dreaming about might not even be there.

I good buddy of mine said to me, "Dude, you're good at financial investments but you need to remember to make emotional investments too. Do things that make you feel good even if they're a 'waste of money'."

Those words really struck a chord with me.

So congratulations on buying that Mercedes you've been eyeballing! Enjoy those dinners out with your new girlfriend! When you work hard, you deserve to enjoy the fruits of your labor. Like you, I bought a dream car, started taking vacations, and I'm just doing things to make myself happy and enjoy life today.

Balance is important in life, and it sounds like you've finally achieved it!!
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Old 06-14-2011, 02:25 PM   #3
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Congratulations on your epiphany! Sorry to hear about your personal situation, but sometimes these turn out for the best on a personal front. Welcome back to the board!
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Old 06-14-2011, 02:32 PM   #4
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I completely agree with this. As long as you still have an overall plan and a backup plan for contingencies, why not enjoy life. I think a big focus of this forum is enlightening and creating a community of people who aren't in the category of people who couldn't come up with $2,000 cash in the next six months because they spend every penny they earn. There is definetly a specrum across this board so not any single way is correct. As long as you have a plan and a goal, enjoy the journey!
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Old 06-14-2011, 02:56 PM   #5
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I'm with you ! I never bought into that "run as fast as you can now, so that you can rest later" mindset.

There are many paths to FIRE.

Enjoy the ride.
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Old 06-14-2011, 03:01 PM   #6
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I've wondered about you in the interim as I recalled that your first posts mentioned your very short marriage and subsequent rebuild of your life. Glad to see that six months hence, you are in a good place, emotionally. Congrats on winning the balancing act between planning for the future and living in the present.
All of us young and not so young dreamers struggle with this same dilemma and so we can relate!
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Old 06-14-2011, 03:47 PM   #7
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I think you're absolutely right. I used to be an extreme saver but went though a similar "enlightnment". The way I look at it, if I'm an extreme saver and retire 3 yrs earlier, I'm basically foregoing 20+ yrs to retire 3 yrs earlier. I would rather enjoy those 20+ yrs and work 3 yrs more.
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Old 06-14-2011, 04:03 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HatePayingTaxes View Post
I think you're absolutely right. I used to be an extreme saver but went though a similar "enlightnment". The way I look at it, if I'm an extreme saver and retire 3 yrs earlier, I'm basically foregoing 20+ yrs to retire 3 yrs earlier. I would rather enjoy those 20+ yrs and work 3 yrs more.

That's a REALLY good point!
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Old 06-14-2011, 06:29 PM   #9
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Thanks for posting, jimday - your points are very well taken, and it's nice to read a story of someone successfully going through a personal renewal!
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Old 06-14-2011, 08:14 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HatePayingTaxes View Post
I think you're absolutely right. I used to be an extreme saver but went though a similar "enlightnment". The way I look at it, if I'm an extreme saver and retire 3 yrs earlier, I'm basically foregoing 20+ yrs to retire 3 yrs earlier. I would rather enjoy those 20+ yrs and work 3 yrs more.
There's always a line between frugality and depression deprivation, but it keeps wiggling around.

These aren't military-specific, although military have a more difficult time spotting the line than most:

Frugal living is not deprivation | Military Retirement & Financial Independence

How many years does it take to become financially independent? | Military Retirement & Financial Independence
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Old 06-14-2011, 09:09 PM   #11
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Good post and good comments from others. I am all for maintaining the balance on financing our enjoyments now and leaving much for later too. Thanks, Nbw888 for the quote "...Do things that make you feel good even if they're a 'waste of money'." It's a timely reminder for me as I planned to travel more after ER but of late found myself reluctant to spend money. Since travel is within my planned budget, I have proceeded with my summer holiday plans.
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Old 06-15-2011, 02:00 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by MasterBlaster View Post
There are many paths to FIRE.

Enjoy the ride.
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Old 06-15-2011, 07:03 AM   #13
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Another enlightened person, here. Though a big raise and some other life and work stuff pushed me in the right direction. Only working 4 days a week now. I have no intention of ever working full time again - should still be FIRE before 50, likely sooner. I wanted to start enjoying my life NOW instead of putting everything off and just thinking about ER constantly. I've been doing some new things and spending a bit more money. And the 4 days a week means I can probably tough out the really boring but really easy job for the required amount of time. If I was doing full time I would want to quit constantly.
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Old 06-15-2011, 07:22 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by nbw888 View Post
A good buddy of mine said to me, "Dude, you're good at financial investments, but you need to remember to make emotional investments too. Do things that make you feel good even if they're a 'waste of money'."
There's a lot of wisdom in these words. I will try to apply them to my own life.
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Old 06-15-2011, 07:36 AM   #15
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Jim, congrats on finding that balance. I believe that's what it's all about.
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Old 06-15-2011, 11:32 AM   #16
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I am finding the feeling referred to by the original poster goes in cycles. I was tight with my money, got fed up with it, started spending more loosely. I became upset with how little I was saving and tightened back up. I believe my cycles are now converging to a steady state, due to a key realization:

Work is not merely "getting money".

When I had that attitude, I was prepared to outsource most of day to day life.

Why cook? I can buy a meal for $10.
Clean? Pfft, I can hire someone to do that for $15/hr.
Exercise? Nah, I'll go to a class for $15.
Fix this? Forget it. I can just buy a new one for $50.
Drive you to the airport? No way. Here's $30 for a cab.

At my hourly rate, it all makes sense, if work is just about the money. The problem is, the more you earn, the more everything else can do with your time sucks. I ended up with nothing to do but work and consume the output of other people living (TV, eating out, shopping, video games, internet, etc.). That is a boring life, and once financially independent, becomes a meaningless life.

Reading "Your Money or Your Life", I began to understand that there are more reasons to do work than getting money. Those activities I'd been outsourcing could be rewarding in themselves.

Yes, it's more frugal to cook dinner, but it is also satisfying. If I make pizza from scratch for dinner, and my wife shares in it, deepens our relationship more than ordering delivery.

An afternoon in the state park with family? Yeah it saves money over a movie, but it also results in deeper interactions. Instead of checking out, you have to plan ahead and entertain one another.

LBYM is a tool to find those experiences, it is not about deprivation. One author I've read describes this as the transition from being a consumer to a producer. I find it much more rewarding.

Another interesting result - the Peter Gibbons moments become less and less frequent. Since I'm not just chasing the money, I find myself motivated to make work more worthwhile.
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Old 06-15-2011, 11:40 AM   #17
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PMR:

It's all about balance. You can cook some of your meals and have some of them away from home. You can go to the park and go to the movies too.

- Just make sure that you keep saving a big stash every month and you'll get to where you want and without all that deprivation.

- Enjoy the ride
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Old 06-15-2011, 12:36 PM   #18
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I believe in the circulation of everything including money. Holding tightly to you dollars makes it harder for the universe to fill your pot of gold.

Go with the flow.
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Old 06-16-2011, 10:02 AM   #19
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I suppose that's where we are. While I do have a job (at the moment) I do have the option of leaving when I want. In the meanwhile we can be comfortable spending more on toys/trips than we otherwise would. We have a four-day excursion planned in August to Delaware and another four or five day trip for a cousin's son's wedding in NY state. And I just spent nearly $2k on camera stuff that I wouldn't have spent without the unplanned-for income.

While I don't quite share the total aversion to working that some others here have, we do have the assurance that we can and have lived on much less. And we're still saving ~70% of the "extra" income. Several others where I work are also retirees and are doing much the same thing.

This works for us because the job is low stress, I have the option of quitting, the commute is laughably short compared to what I'm used to, the hours fit me, and I've yet to be denied time off when I wanted it.
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Old 06-16-2011, 11:48 AM   #20
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Excellent post!!! Just don't over "enlightenment" because it could add another 5-10 years of working and if you're lucky to love what you do then it's not that's not too bad but if the economy or your boss or your work or your colleague driving you crazy then the enlightenment could be expensive.
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