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Quicker or slower road to FIRE
Old 11-16-2011, 11:56 PM   #1
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Quicker or slower road to FIRE

To get to FIRE, many seemed to have set the goal and then toughed it out for years, or even decades, in jobs they had long since grown weary of. Some found themselves close enough and gradually scaled back. Some realized they were already there and went ďscreaming into the nightĒ.

I still have a ways to go. I believe I can get there in about 10 years. The hours and stress that come with my job are high and keep increasing with each year. I could reduce hours and stress, which comes with a pay cut. Time to FIRE would be extended to about 15 years. Iím trying to decide if I want to go the quicker or slower route.

What would/did/are you doing? Itís a personal choice and obviously no single answer fits for everyone. Iím just looking to hear your thoughts and experiences to help inform my decision.

T
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Old 11-17-2011, 03:49 AM   #2
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If it's difference of 5 yrs, I would go with less stress and hours. You have 10 more yrs to go at your current job... think about it, that's a long time to be miserable/stressed out/long hours.
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Old 11-17-2011, 04:40 AM   #3
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I plan to leave my position as a clinician in July 2012, age 47. I guess I have been financially independent for a few years since I have lived frugally all my life. However, I also plan to keep a part time position or two after FIRE.
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What would/did/are you doing? It’s a personal choice and obviously no single answer fits for everyone. I’m just looking to hear your thoughts and experiences to help inform my decision.
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Old 11-17-2011, 05:38 AM   #4
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When my local division was closed I made the leap to hi tech, battled it out on the road 5 days a week for well over 10 years BUT we were able to rapidly achieve FI. As rough as things are out there nowadays I am really glad I did it - but I wasn't very happy when I was rolling out of town every Sunday night.
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Old 11-17-2011, 07:43 AM   #5
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Unless the stress is taking a toll on you physically or affecting your important relationships, I would tough it out, get 'er done, and walk away in ten years.

The years seem more precious with each one that passes; the incremental five years is a very large part of your remaining life. Lower stress, lower pay jobs bring thier own frustrations, so those last 5 years will not be a cake walk.
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Old 11-17-2011, 07:48 AM   #6
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It's possible the lower stress job with fewer hours would afford you the time to live a less expensive lifestyle, allowing you to retire in 10 years anyway.
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Old 11-17-2011, 08:49 AM   #7
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This is a devil you know vs the devil you don't choice. If the new job would be one you would enjoy and would definitely reduce stress it might be worth the extra time. On the other hand, people sometimes go fo such an opportunity and find the reality doesn't match the appearance. I would look at how bad the current job is. If most of he work is fine but aspects are stressful that may be worth the sacrifice. If you are not sure you can survive, time to bail.
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Old 11-17-2011, 09:45 AM   #8
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As a father of a two year old daughter, I wouldn't trade my time with her for more money. The best part of my day is when I walk in the door and I hear squeals of "daddy, daddy, daddy" accompanied by footsteps pounding on the floor, quickly followed by a big hug.

In the interests of full disclosure, I've spent my "time in hell" working 80-100 hour weeks as a well-paid associate in a big law firm, and have a wife who currently earns a substantial income, so saving gobs of money isn't a real priority anymore.
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Old 11-17-2011, 02:32 PM   #9
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I will have a similar decision to make soon, as my current j*b is ending. I am pretty sure that I will choose lower stress/lower pay and delay FIRE for a few years. Stress can be a real killer and I hope that with the lower stress j*b, I'll still be able to somewhat enjoy life instead of hating so much of it and wishing my life away.

I only worked high stress for one year, 80 hour weeks, tons of travel, and I refuse to do that again!
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Old 11-17-2011, 02:59 PM   #10
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I am for fast tracking it, doing what you can to maximize your earnings in the 10 or even fewer years and get out of there. I've seen many friends who scale back to "less stress, fewer hours, albeit lower pay" and then found that only the "lower pay" part turned out to be true. The less stress, fewer hours did not pan out due to layoffs, new bosses, new management philosophy or whatever... So take the money and run would be my approach. If the work is "killing" you then manage your hours away from work to optimize your health, fitness, relaxation so that you can stand it during your work. For what it's worth, we are all here to support you emotionally during your next 10-year march. Carry on!
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Old 11-18-2011, 12:52 AM   #11
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For me, there would have been some offsetting effects of working full-time versus part-time in my final years of working. I would have had more income had I worked full-time after 2001 instead of switching to part-time. But, I would have been far more exhausted and depressed as I had been in the last few years prior to 2001 (and likely would have quit a few years earlier). However....working part-time enabled me to stick around a few years longer and seen the value of my company stock explode in my last few years of working, something I was able to cash out and ER in 2008.

So which would have grown more quickly in my final years of working, a few extra years of full-time work, or a few extra years of exploding value of company stock?
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Old 11-18-2011, 01:34 AM   #12
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Once I identify a goal, especially a financial/career goal, I tend to go for it with everything I've got. I retired after about 10 years of planning and saving and for me, that was as fast as I could manage.

Knocking myself out to achieve a goal instead of taking a slower, more measured approach is probably a personality trait. Both are valid ways to approach ER.

I wouldn't have felt comfortable going part time or choosing a job that was going to slow my progress towards ER.
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Old 11-18-2011, 05:16 AM   #13
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I suppose I jogged to it... instead of running! I had a goal of 55 very early on in my career. That stuck with me.

But what I found amazing was that within about 15 years of seriously preparing for retirement, it was looking like a real possibility at an earlier age... not just a dream.

We could have FIRED 10 years earlier (in our mid 40s) if we were willing to take a little more risk and lower our lifestyle. But, at the time I was still enjoying my w*rk and I had a preferred income level (during FIRE). Plus, I did not want to take on the risk of needing to go back to work if something went wrong.

I do not regret my decision. We are in a much stronger financial position. We saved more and the MegaCorp retirement benefits (available at ER) put us in a very solid financial position. Got backup resources for the backup resources.

We are still fairly young and very healthy and fit.

It is smart to think about these things early. There is not a single correct answer. There could have been circumstances where we would have made the decision to FIRE much earlier.

My advice... identify the earliest age (based on sound reasoning) and a latest age (goals). Identify the financial goal (to support you). Plan for sometime in that age range based on your conservative assessment of your health and financial circumstances. When you get there, make decisions and adjustments based on the facts at hand. I would not recommend trying to "reach for it"... often that means someone is not financially prepared and willing to take risks (but not really understanding it) hoping the market will make it workout. Of course, if it is just you and you want to take the risk... go for it. But if you have a dependent or spouse that is depending on you to make sound decisions... that is another matter (IMO)
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Old 11-18-2011, 06:48 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chinaco View Post
I suppose I jogged to it... instead of running! I had a goal of 55 very early on in my career. That stuck with me.

But what I found amazing was that within about 15 years of seriously preparing for retirement, it was looking like a real possibility at an earlier age... not just a dream.

We could have FIRED 10 years earlier (in our mid 40s) if we were willing to take a little more risk and lower our lifestyle. But, at the time I was still enjoying my w*rk and I had a preferred income level (during FIRE). Plus, I did not want to take on the risk of needing to go back to work if something went wrong.

I do not regret my decision. We are in a much stronger financial position. We saved more and the MegaCorp retirement benefits (available at ER) put us in a very solid financial position. Got backup resources for the backup resources.

We are still fairly young and very healthy and fit.

It is smart to think about these things early. There is not a single correct answer. There could have been circumstances where we would have made the decision to FIRE much earlier.

My advice... identify the earliest age (based on sound reasoning) and a latest age (goals). Identify the financial goal (to support you). Plan for sometime in that age range based on your conservative assessment of your health and financial circumstances. When you get there, make decisions and adjustments based on the facts at hand. I would not recommend trying to "reach for it"... often that means someone is not financially prepared and willing to take risks (but not really understanding it) hoping the market will make it workout. Of course, if it is just you and you want to take the risk... go for it. But if you have a dependent or spouse that is depending on you to make sound decisions... that is another matter (IMO)
+1

Chinaco's situation is very much like mine, except he's retired and, DW and I are close. But, the "jogging" analogy is accurate for DW and me, and has worked well for us. I also think his analogy is good for most folks because, by any measure, getting to FIRE is a long distance race---not a sprint.

To extend the analogy, run 7min miles (tolerable [healthy?] level of stress) to get to FIRE because you have to be a world class marathoner to run 5min miles (high level stress that most cannot endure) and, 10min miles (low stress, moving with the herd) will get you there at the ripe old age of 65+. So, find a healthy level of stress that you can take, work from there, then sprint a little when you're in the home stretch.
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Old 11-18-2011, 08:18 AM   #15
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We could have rushed to ER.
But we wanted to enjoy the road to ER, not only achieving the goal.

We do not suffer at work. That might make a difference. However, in such case I would probably try to improve the work situation first, rather than suffering for years.
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Old 11-18-2011, 10:32 AM   #16
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Thanks for all your comments. It is extremely valuable to get such a broad set of thoughts. Iím finding that some ideas that I liked are conflicting. So it seem that what I need to do first is get a better understanding of my personality and then go with what works best with it. Fortunately, there is no pressing need to make a choice in a hurry.

T
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Old 11-18-2011, 11:10 AM   #17
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My advice... identify the earliest age (based on sound reasoning) and a latest age (goals). Identify the financial goal (to support you).

This brings up a problem that I run into often. I like the idea of having a range rather then a single point to target. What I go back on forth on is if it is better to have a range on each of the pieces, just the final numbers, some combination, or middle of the road on everything. Very quickly you end up with so many sets of numbers. And with some of them compounding you end up with the ends of the range being overly conservative and overly aggressive. How do others handle this?
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Old 11-18-2011, 01:14 PM   #18
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When I worked in megacorp I was sprinting and wanted to retire by age 45 so every bit of extra income/windfall would go straight into savings. Now that I work for myself, I plan on doing it for as long as I want to. I only work 10 hrs a week and it is enough to pay for my lifestyle. It all depends on what you want to do, be, and experience in retirement.
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Old 11-18-2011, 09:57 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tif7

This brings up a problem that I run into often. I like the idea of having a range rather then a single point to target. What I go back on forth on is if it is better to have a range on each of the pieces, just the final numbers, some combination, or middle of the road on everything. Very quickly you end up with so many sets of numbers. And with some of them compounding you end up with the ends of the range being overly conservative and overly aggressive. How do others handle this?
I think the further out your FIRE, the wider the range. As you get closer, it will narrow and become more specific. I.e. a retirement 15 years out may be hard to imagine based on inflation, savings rate, compounding rate, etc in those 15 years. Whereas if you are 2 years out from what was your earliest date, you may see that you can retire sooner, or there's no way you can do it by then, so your range adjusts.

Like the missile correcting analogy.
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Old 11-20-2011, 09:14 PM   #20
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I still have a ways to go. I believe I can get there in about 10 years. The hours and stress that come with my job are high and keep increasing with each year. I could reduce hours and stress, which comes with a pay cut. Time to FIRE would be extended to about 15 years. I’m trying to decide if I want to go the quicker or slower route.

What would/did/are you doing? It’s a personal choice and obviously no single answer fits for everyone. I’m just looking to hear your thoughts and experiences to help inform my decision.

T
This reasoning tells me you save in a much different way than I do. A "pay cut", by my savings method, would primarily affect my standard of living, not my retirement date. I save a set percentage of my income. I consider that percentage non-negotiable. So if I get a "pay cut", the amount saved drops, but so does the amount I need to live, since both are based on percentages of my gross income, not raw amounts unaffected by income change. If my pay cut were severe enough, it would basically mean my house goes on the market so I can buy a cheaper one, and I'd buy cheaper cars.

I'd take another hard look at how your saving. IMHO, the percentage approach beats the others. I think it's prudent to get used to a percentage approach, because that same approach will ensure you don't run out of money in retirement.

Said another way, you seem to be implying your standard of living is "fixed', but it is your savings rate that will be affected. I think that is a flawed approach. If the two go hand-in-hand like I do it, it's a self-correcting system.

SO..... the debate, if I were you, would be "Do I want to lower my standard of living for less stress?"
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