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Strangely depressed
Old 01-01-2007, 04:17 PM   #1
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Strangely depressed

What is it about the new year?

2006 was a great year in terms of progress toward FIRE. In Feb, we paid off the last of our non-mortgage debt (this took 7 years). We maxed out retirement savings vehicles for the first time and managed to squirrel away a bunch of money into taxable investments. All told, we saved nearly $65K last year and are on track to do it again in 2007.

So why do I feel depressed? We have $278K in retirement and taxable savings. I figure we need around $1.7M to FIRE. I'd like to FIRE in 10 years, but it seems impossible. Also, the thought of working like a dog for 10 more years is getting to me. I take on all the work I can (I'm a freelancer), since I know that the more I save and invest today, the faster I can get to FIRE. But I worked a lot of 60 hour weeks this year, and I'm feeling burnt out going into 2007 instead of refreshed.

We did a lot of good things this year -- things for today, not for tomorrow. Like travel, some new appliances, some minor but cosmetically pleasing home improvements. And I want to continue that this year now that we're out of debt. For example, replacing our 15 year old sagging IKEA couch.

Doing such things helps, but I still see a yawning gap between working today and being FIREd tomorrow. This seems to be all I see on this new year's day.

I don't talk about this with friends or family, since early retirement is a totally foreign concept to them -- most are living above their means, with no solid savings and up to their ears in debt. They'll all be working forever, I suspect.

Someone, please tell me there's a way to accomplish this without going nuts over the next decade.
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Re: Strangely depressed
Old 01-01-2007, 04:26 PM   #2
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Re: Strangely depressed

Quote:
Originally Posted by savinglikecrazy
What is it about the new year?

2006 was a great year in terms of progress toward FIRE. In Feb, we paid off the last of our non-mortgage debt (this took 7 years). We maxed out retirement savings vehicles for the first time and managed to squirrel away a bunch of money into taxable investments. All told, we saved nearly $65K last year and are on track to do it again in 2007.

So why do I feel depressed? We have $278K in retirement and taxable savings. I figure we need around $1.7M to FIRE. I'd like to FIRE in 10 years, but it seems impossible. Also, the thought of working like a dog for 10 more years is getting to me. I take on all the work I can (I'm a freelancer), since I know that the more I save and invest today, the faster I can get to FIRE. But I worked a lot of 60 hour weeks this year, and I'm feeling burnt out going into 2007 instead of refreshed.

We did a lot of good things this year -- things for today, not for tomorrow. Like travel, some new appliances, some minor but cosmetically pleasing home improvements. And I want to continue that this year now that we're out of debt. For example, replacing our 15 year old sagging IKEA couch.

Doing such things helps, but I still see a yawning gap between working today and being FIREd tomorrow. This seems to be all I see on this new year's day.

I don't talk about this with friends or family, since early retirement is a totally foreign concept to them -- most are living above their means, with no solid savings and up to their ears in debt. They'll all be working forever, I suspect.

Someone, please tell me there's a way to accomplish this without going nuts over the next decade.
I'm in exactly the same place. I think part of my problem is that once I set a goal, I just want to get there.

I'm going to try and ignore the markets and pay more attention to the day to day things in life. We are saving a lot, but still leave ourselves enough money to do fun things. And, a lot of the really meaningful things in life don't cost much if anything at all.

I think a big problem is that there just isn't enough energy left at the end of the day. And, I'm tired of the routine.

-helen
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Re: Strangely depressed
Old 01-01-2007, 04:30 PM   #3
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Re: Strangely depressed

I don't know if this will help at all, because I also get impatient to 'get it over with' and get to my next phase of life, but we really should stop and remember that it is indeed supposed to be about the journey, not the destination.

I know we all might want to get unshackled from the pinhead bosses, uncertain corp direction, boneheaded lack of strategic direction, or whatever negative issues we have (I saw you were a freelancer. different package to shoulder, but roughly the same weight, I would imagine), but when we are truly released, and aging and have lots of time on our hands, we are likely to leaven our stories at the breakfast coffee klatch with stories from our past. So think of this as you making some more Kodak Moments and gathering some whoppers to tell once you are out of the rut.

Any time I have more work than patience (you looking at your ten year horizon), I try to force myself to lower my vision to the road almost already under my feet. One step, one step, and often that rhythm gets me to realize that progress really is being made, and that movement can be detected, and that obstacles are falling by the wayside. Don't obsess over the end-game, pick some intermediate goals to track. OR just don't track anything at all for a while.

In the military, we had to do PT, and even when I was in shape I hated it. I simply turned off my thinking and let my body do it's part for a while. Some people love the physical workout, and claim it energizes them. Well, truth be told, I hated physical activity, but was energized by the healthy terrific feeling it generated immediately AFTER. So right now, we have to pay those dues, buckle down, and guess what? (Perversely?) Once we are on top of the mountain, what is the very first thing a human will do? Guaranteed? Turn around, and look back at the way you came, of course!

Well, that's the best I can give right now.
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Re: Strangely depressed
Old 01-01-2007, 04:41 PM   #4
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Re: Strangely depressed

Quote:
Originally Posted by Helen
I'm in exactly the same place. I think part of my problem is that once I set a goal, I just want to get there.

I'm going to try and ignore the markets and pay more attention to the day to day things in life. We are saving a lot, but still leave ourselves enough money to do fun things. And, a lot of the really meaningful things in life don't cost much if anything at all.

I think a big problem is that there just isn't enough energy left at the end of the day. And, I'm tired of the routine.

-helen
Ain't that the truth!

DRiP Guy is right when he suggests tracking some intermediate goals. They don't have to be financial; they can be family occasions, vacations, or tasks accomplished. Personally, I have been working hard all my life and now find I need something to look forward to (like a mini-vacation) three or four times a year, when I can step away from the treadmill.

I think we are all getting the January/February blahs!

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Re: Strangely depressed
Old 01-01-2007, 05:20 PM   #5
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Re: Strangely depressed

Quote:
Originally Posted by savinglikecrazy
Someone, please tell me there's a way to accomplish this without going nuts over the next decade.
I never had ER as an explicit goal, but what worked for me was to enjoy the journey. Change can be invigorating. If you're in a situation that feels like a grind, is ER really your only way out?
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Re: Strangely depressed
Old 01-01-2007, 05:40 PM   #6
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Re: Strangely depressed

FIRE planning is an incredibly long term goal. It takes most people at least 35 years to accomplish, and then only if we did it right. There are few other pursuits in life that take that long. So when you are 10 years away, you have accomplished a huge goal, but those 10 years feel like infinity.

I like the idea of reaching for medium term goals along the way. Maybe a financial one or some other milestone. On the bright side, if you are more than half way there, you can start to see your savings generating the rewards of compounding. At some point, your saved dollars start churning out returns each year that are more than you are putting in. Then, the returns equal what you figure you'll need to live on. Then, finally, the returns give you that final cushion that you need to make the jump.

Either way, you gotta ride it out.
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Re: Strangely depressed
Old 01-01-2007, 05:55 PM   #7
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Re: Strangely depressed

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rich_in_Tampa

[snip]
you can start to see your savings generating the rewards of compounding. At some point, your saved dollars start churning out returns each year that are more than you are putting in.
I remember looking forward to that exact milestone! totally meaningless in the scheme of things, but humans look for patterns and meaning, and to me, that one in particular was an awesome feeling, to know my money was working harder at my retirement than I was myself!
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Re: Strangely depressed
Old 01-01-2007, 06:45 PM   #8
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Re: Strangely depressed

Quote:
Originally Posted by wab
I never had ER as an explicit goal, but what worked for me was to enjoy the journey. Change can be invigorating. If you're in a situation that feels like a grind, is ER really your only way out?
Make a plan and work the plan. Just don't think about it all the time. Someone once said to me - if I gave you a 10 pound roast beef to eat it might seem like a great deal. But if you slice it up and eat a little every day it would supply your needs and it wouldn't seem like a lot.

As with a long hike it is the last half mile that is the most difficult. I would suggest reviewing your plans and status every 8 months or so. Also, you may want to do a "DanTien" for awhile.
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Re: Strangely depressed
Old 01-01-2007, 08:23 PM   #9
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Re: Strangely depressed

Quote:
Originally Posted by savinglikecrazy
So why do I feel depressed? We have $278K in retirement and taxable savings. I figure we need around $1.7M to FIRE.
Someone, please tell me there's a way to accomplish this without going nuts over the next decade.
Welcome to the board, SLC.

One option might be re-examining the assumptions. Could you cut back on expenses, relocate, or pay for health insurance with a higher deductible? Are you dropping life insurance when you retire? Are you paying fewer taxes when you retire? Are you planning to take Social Security at age 62, or would your portfolio be more survivable if you did the FIRECalc runs assuming max SS at age 70?

Another option, not so optional, is to ease up. Have some fun now so that you don't die a couple years short of your goal. It's gotta be run at a marathon pace, not a Death Valley sprint!
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Re: Strangely depressed
Old 01-01-2007, 08:35 PM   #10
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Re: Strangely depressed

I am so glad that I signed on tonight to read this post.

I am planning to retire in Nov. 2008.

I find my self getting depressed and anxious about the time that
I have left to work.

Some days are worse than others, I have been on vacation since
12/18/2006 so now that I have to return to work it has really been
rough.

But after reading some of the postings. Hey things are looking up.

I have to stay until I'm 55 to get Medical coverage, I'm closer to that
day than I was yesterday.

I think I may take the person advice and pull away from the preparing
for a while.

Thanks to all

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Re: Strangely depressed
Old 01-01-2007, 09:10 PM   #11
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Re: Strangely depressed

Thanks for all the replies. They are both thoughtful and wise. And encouraging.

Yes, it's true. I often forget about the living part. I'm trying to do more of that, in the form of planning periodic things to look forward to throughout the year -- like some sort of trip or event every three or four months.

The reply that mentioned marathons is actually pretty funny, since I am a runner and am training for my first marathon. Running has helped keep things in perspective and also given me lots of shorter term goals to pursue (you could tell I'm quite goal-oriented, right?). And I've begun to combine travel with racing to combine the two interests.

Anyway, I do like the idea of easing off on the obsessive checking in on progress. 10 years is a long time and I'll drive myself crazy if I look at how things are going each day. For now, my strategy has been to stick to a monthly budget, which includes putting a minimum away in retirement and non-retirement savings (and adding more if it's there). And tracking progress on a quarterly basis. I think I'll start sticking some goals in there to make it more interesting. Only 40 quarters until FIRE. 

Thanks again, all. You've certainly lifted my spirits and reminded me to focus on what's good about my life today. Happiest of new year's to you all.
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Re: Strangely depressed
Old 01-01-2007, 11:07 PM   #12
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Re: Strangely depressed

Saving: sounds like you just suddenly increased your savings based on the total that you have?...takes awhile for compounding to work.... I think it has been a common theme of folks that they might create their own jail cell....as others said, you need to be happy now
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Re: Strangely depressed
Old 01-02-2007, 02:58 PM   #13
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Re: Strangely depressed

Quote:
Originally Posted by dex
Also, you may want to do a "DanTien" for awhile.
Okay, I'll bite. What's doing a DanTien mean?
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Re: Strangely depressed
Old 01-02-2007, 03:13 PM   #14
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Re: Strangely depressed

Quote:
Originally Posted by savinglikecrazy
Okay, I'll bite. What's doing a DanTien mean?
DanTien was a frequent poster and decided he needed a break from the forum. http://early-retirement.org/forums/i...?topic=11244.0
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Re: Strangely depressed
Old 01-14-2007, 01:42 AM   #15
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Re: Strangely depressed

I have on occasion felt down about things even though everything is on track. I'm dreaming of ER but realistically 10-15 years away if things go well.

For a while I was concentrating on debt reduction and had my investment plans laid out for ER. After the debt was gone I found myself with no plans between that and retirement! I kept saying to myself "now what?"

I agree on the medium term goals. Mine are to travel more, have more fun and have more sex. The finances are in order, and the long-term plans are in place, so I might as well enjoy myself now.


I haven't retired from a company, but I've quit a handful so far. I find that once I make the decision to quit, work is a lot harder to deal with because I have no vested interest in putting up with daily BS, resolving conflicts or improving the company's future. And I am looking forward to doing whatever it is that I quit to do.
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Re: Strangely depressed
Old 01-14-2007, 10:21 PM   #16
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Re: Strangely depressed

Quote:
Originally Posted by savinglikecrazy
Someone, please tell me there's a way to accomplish this without going nuts over the next decade.
Easy. Start enjoying what you're doing right now and make that your #1 goal.

If you cant find a way to be happy with your life/work/whatever right now, change it.
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