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The balancing act
Old 12-02-2006, 03:29 PM   #1
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The balancing act

I have spent many, many hours coming up with a rock solid plan for RE. I have it all mapped out, how much money we need to save in which accounts and when to increment our savings to reach the goal of RE in 6.5 years.

The problem is the present isn't all that stimulating and I am finding I am living in count down mode.

This morning my partner and I had a serious talk about moving into the city. We just paid our mortgage off last year. We have a small ranch house on three acres with a trout stream in back.

We love the setting, but we have an hour commute each way and don't have a social life close to home. All our friends live in the city.

I spoke with a real estate agent today. We'd have to put some money into the house before we could sell. We could get a townhouse in a good location for probably $30k more than what we could get for our house. I'm thinking it would probably cost us one additional year of work to make the move.

I think I'd rather stay an extra year working as opposed to just exist for the next 6.5 years. I need some stimulation and a social life.

Has anyone else made careful plans only to change them before reaching the goal ?
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Re: The balancing act
Old 12-02-2006, 04:02 PM   #2
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Re: The balancing act

Quote:
Originally Posted by Helen
Has anyone else made careful plans only to change them before reaching the goal ?
Guilty. After much planning and number crunching, in January of 1999 I put a stake in the ground (OK, a mark on my calendar) for a retirement date in April of 2004. I started marking off the months toward the date I was to finally be free from my life as a salary slave.

In early 2002, I began reconsidering my decision to carry a mortgage into retirement. With declining mortgage rates it looked like we could refinance and pay it off if I delayed retirement by a year and applied all non-401k savings towards it. Working for an additional year wasn't an easy decision to make, but I knew I would sleep much better at night if I retired with a fully paid for house.

The decision to delay turned out to be a very good move. Not only did we pay off the mortgage, but the company I worked for was sold during my final year of work and previously worthless stock options paid off (low 6 figures).

My recommendation is to find a balance between your life now vs. FIRE and adjust your plan if necessary.


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Re: The balancing act
Old 12-02-2006, 04:33 PM   #3
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Re: The balancing act

Helen,

Your post hit me hard and brought back some old memories. Seven years ago I found myself in a similar situation. My husband and I were saving large amounts of our income toward retirement, we lived in a suburban home that was comfortable but we both commuted over an hour each way to our jobs. We did not have many friends or social activities in the 'burbs, everything was downtown. We had a firm date set for retirement and my husband thought we should keep trudging along as we were and not make changes in our lives. I strongly felt that each year of our lives should be lived fully whether we are living in retirement or whether we were still working. After much discussion we decided that life was short and two hours a day in a car to go back to a blaaaa life in the burbs for another five years was not the way we invisioned ourselves. I know I would not have made another five years with that commute!

We sold our home, rented a small place in town, and bought a small place on a lake to be our retirement home. The lakehouse was a fixer-upper and we worked on it and enjoyed it for five years as we coasted toward retirement. Yes, I worked a little longer than I had anticipated (6 months), but our life was so much richer during those five years. We truly loved the vibrance of the city, and on weekends we had the beauty of the lake.

Financially we came out just fine. We made money on the waterfront house when we sold it this year. Some people told us we were crazy to become renters, that it wasn't a good financial move, but it was the right move for us. Life is short. Too short to spend large parts of it in traffic or doing things you don't want to do. We changed our vision again this year when we decided that life was a little to solitary on the lake and moved back to town. We are back in the 'burbs, but this time they are great, we are retired, and our new burb in an over 55 community. We have plenty of social activities and friends.
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Re: The balancing act
Old 12-02-2006, 06:19 PM   #4
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Re: The balancing act

You've got to be a little flexible with your plan and enjoy life along the way. Who knows what the future holds!
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Re: The balancing act
Old 12-02-2006, 06:31 PM   #5
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Re: The balancing act

The other side to this dilemma is to implement some of the things today that you were planning on deferring to retirement, the idea being that you make the wait for FIRE a bit more pleasant.

We recently took this route by buying a small but costly RV. Originally a post-FIRE plan, the RV idea seemed to serve us well now - 3 day weekends, the occasional longer trip, etc. We figured if it set back our FIRE plans a bit at least we could enjoy it now. It was a classic "balance" decision. Time will tell if it works out as we hope, but so far so good.

Helen, if you pull off the house sale and get back in to the city, perhaps the countdown won't seem so bad and you wouldn't mind hanging in there before FIRE long enough to get the $ecurity you want. 6.5 years is too long to spend counting the moments.
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Re: The balancing act
Old 12-02-2006, 08:51 PM   #6
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Re: The balancing act

Helen, I intentionally do not even try to make any kind of detailed plan for the exact time and circumstances for ER. Two main reasons:

- I am 5+ years away from my goal. Considering how much can change in my life in a year, planning 5 years out is laughable. I have projections, but they are meant to be accurate on an order-of-magnitude level only.

- As you have found, when you have a path planned out in detail that will take years to tread, it can be very, very frustrating to wait out the time.

If you aren't happy with the way things are, take some time to think it over, consider the trade-offs, and reconsider once more. If making a change is still appealing, do it. No sense in staying miserable for years.
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Re: The balancing act
Old 12-02-2006, 10:02 PM   #7
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Re: The balancing act

I'm in the same boat, but still have two major stages of life ahead of me before considering ER, namely, marriage and kids. My fiance and I have enough money between us that in another 2-3 years, we could finance a bare-bones retirement for ourselves (she would be 34 and I'd be 39). Neither of us would want to fully retire that early, but it's a nice dream to keep the 2+ hrs of commuting a day somewhat tolerable. We're looking at buying a house next year that will cut our respective commutes in half, if not more, but as expected it will set back any thought of ER until we're both in our 40s. This will definitely be the case if we bring a couple of kids into the world.

At this point in my life, the only advice I can give is this. Save the money you'll need for a comfortable retirement, but don't set a timetable for your retirement. That's your main problem, in that setting a date for your retirement in the FUTURE is forcing you to ignore many things that would greatly improve the quality of your life TODAY. Remember, you can't get back the time you're living now when you retire.

To paraphrase Ben Franklin:

"People willing to trade their present happiness for future financial security shall have neither."
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Re: The balancing act
Old 12-02-2006, 11:17 PM   #8
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Re: The balancing act

My original planned retirement date was April 2001. DW and I had targeted that date for about 5 years. But the poor stock market performance in the year immediately prior to that date kept us working for two more years before we felt safe. In another time, our investments might have soared a few years prior to the target and we may have been able to shorten our time to retirement (TTR). With so many variables involved, target retirement dates sometimes have to be modified. If you put off things you really want to do, it might make the holding pattern seem even longer. Then if financial events outside of your control cause further delays you'll really be sorry. If you're really lucky, superior investment returns may allow you to get the new dwelling and still hit your target date.
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Re: The balancing act
Old 12-03-2006, 09:01 AM   #9
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Re: The balancing act

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay_Gatsby

At this point in my life, the only advice I can give is this. Save the money you'll need for a comfortable retirement, but don't set a timetable for your retirement. That's your main problem, in that setting a date for your retirement in the FUTURE is forcing you to ignore many things that would greatly improve the quality of your life TODAY. Remember, you can't get back the time you're living now when you retire.
This and what brewer said are spot on.

DH and I had a rough target for FIRE, but life circumstances are messing with us (I posted a while back about his company closing its doors come the end of the year), so that rough target is going to be adjusted based on the resolution of the current ... turbulence.

In the meantime, we've been saving 20 percent (at least, frequently more) of our gross income toward FIRE, and enjoying life on the balance. Could we have saved more? Probably. Almost definitely.

But then the journey wouldn't have been any fun.
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Re: The balancing act
Old 12-03-2006, 10:24 AM   #10
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Re: The balancing act

It's ironic that a lots of people said that they prefer to retire away from the city but as they grow older or approach retirement age, they change their perspectives. We prefer to live in a suburb -- a little bit of city live and a little bit of quietness.
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Re: The balancing act
Old 12-03-2006, 11:45 AM   #11
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Re: The balancing act

Quote:
Originally Posted by Spanky
It's ironic that a lots of people said that they prefer to retire away from the city but as they grow older or approach retirement age, they change their perspectives. We prefer to live in a suburb -- a little bit of city live and a little bit of quietness.
I grew up in a very small town that was over 100 miles from the nearest city of any size. Once I started my engineering career, however, I found myself living in or near large cities for almost 20 years. I always missed the small town atmosphere and looked forward to the time when I could get away from the city. Then, near the end of our working careers, DW and I got a chance to take jobs where we could live in a rural location. We spent 6 years there discovering what we missed about cities. I still like the pace and the friendly aspects of rural or small town settings. But I like the opportunities of the city. The freedom of retirement and the ability to travel almost at whim makes either decision a lot easier.
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Re: The balancing act
Old 12-03-2006, 12:34 PM   #12
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Re: The balancing act

my DH and I had agreed to fully ER in five years time ( i will be 38 he will be 45). However I have recently found myself out of a job and my DH has just been selected for redundancy.

I am really struggling to find a role similar to what i did before, my DH has better prospects than me for various reasons and could probably find another job although the market is slow.

Neither of us can really stomach looking for new jobs, we have worked out that we have enough for a bare bones retirement, depending on the market.

A lot could happen in five years time, life is short, the way I feel at the moment I just want to live for today.
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Re: The balancing act
Old 12-03-2006, 12:59 PM   #13
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Re: The balancing act

Quote:
Originally Posted by peggy
This and what brewer said are spot on.

DH and I had a rough target for FIRE, but life circumstances are messing with us (I posted a while back about his company closing its doors come the end of the year), so that rough target is going to be adjusted based on the resolution of the current ... turbulence.

In the meantime, we've been saving 20 percent (at least, frequently more) of our gross income toward FIRE, and enjoying life on the balance. Could we have saved more? Probably. Almost definitely.

But then the journey wouldn't have been any fun.
I completely agree with brewer, gatsby, and peggy. A plan detailed to the
.5 year from 6 years out is just false precision. Too many things in life can
change in that span. I think the financial target should be kept in mind (which
can be kept pretty firm), while thinking of the '6.5 years' as just an estimate
of how long it takes to get there. This helped me avoid the countdown
syndrome (until the last month or so).
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Re: The balancing act
Old 12-03-2006, 01:21 PM   #14
 
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Re: The balancing act

Quote:
Originally Posted by Helen
I have spent many, many hours coming up with a rock solid plan for RE. I have it all mapped out, how much money we need to save in which accounts and when to increment our savings to reach the goal of RE in 6.5 years.

The problem is the present isn't all that stimulating and I am finding I am living in count down mode.

This morning my partner and I had a serious talk about moving into the city. We just paid our mortgage off last year. We have a small ranch house on three acres with a trout stream in back.

We love the setting, but we have an hour commute each way and don't have a social life close to home. All our friends live in the city.

I spoke with a real estate agent today. We'd have to put some money into the house before we could sell. We could get a townhouse in a good location for probably $30k more than what we could get for our house. I'm thinking it would probably cost us one additional year of work to make the move.

I think I'd rather stay an extra year working as opposed to just exist for the next 6.5 years. I need some stimulation and a social life.

Has anyone else made careful plans only to change them before reaching the goal ?
I'd say make the Move! - It's a no brainer, and I'm a trout fisherman and a trout stream in the back yard is every trout guys dream - think about it - If you don't like where you live now, you are not going to like when you're retired either!

You have to have a happy life now, so I'd go for it! - Take your time picking out the new place as moving is a pain. - Once you get settled in a place you enjoy, the time to retire will fly by a lot faster as well. - It will also make planning for retirement that much easier as your housing costs will be a known.
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Re: The balancing act
Old 12-03-2006, 06:48 PM   #15
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Re: The balancing act

Quote:
Originally Posted by CyclingInvestor
A plan detailed to the
.5 year from 6 years out is just false precision.
I love the expression, "false precision"! I think it's always good to have a plan as long as it isn't set in stone.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cut-Throat
I'd say make the Move! - It's a no brainer, and I'm a trout fisherman and a trout stream in the back yard is every trout guys dream - think about it - If you don't like where you live now, you are not going to like when you're retired either!
Yes, this setting reminded me of my parent's log cabin on a trout stream (Cut-Throat, my Pop was a hell of a fly fisherman too). We spent most weekends there when I was growing up. This house has a huge cedar tree centered with the living room window and the trout stream in back, just like the cabin. They had 120 acres and I have a mere three but it still reminds me ...

Acutally, we have always planned to retire in the city. I saw with my parents that once my Dad retired they didn't use the cabin as much. They no longer needed the solitude, so they spent a lot of time in Northern Michigan in a small trailor parked at a resort.

I think this is something to really consider. Work provides a lot of social interaction. I would not want to live out in this little town unless I commuted to the city for work. In addition, the medical facilities here are lacking.

I had an epiphany Saturday morning. I was born and raised in the house my parents always lived in. I thought about it and realized that a house is only a home when it fills the needs. As we go through life our needs change. That's when I realized that I could buy a home in the city for the short term. I can live in the next home for the rest of my working life and during the early travel oriented days of retirement. Once the travel bug wears off, I can trade up and use some of my capital to fund a larger abode.

I'm enjoying everyone's stories here.

-helen
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Re: The balancing act
Old 12-04-2006, 04:54 AM   #16
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Re: The balancing act

I forgot to mention that we have lived in the city for the last four years and I am sick to death of the place, I would much rather live in a rural setting at the moment, the city is not all it is cracked up to be

Think urban sprawling concrete jungle metropolis, a souless existance. Actually I have never felt so lonely and isolated in my life
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Re: The balancing act
Old 12-04-2006, 07:21 AM   #17
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Re: The balancing act

Quote:
Originally Posted by Helen
Yes, this setting reminded me of my parent's log cabin on a trout stream (Cut-Throat, my Pop was a hell of a fly fisherman too). We spent most weekends there when I was growing up. This house has a huge cedar tree centered with the living room window and the trout stream in back, just like the cabin.
Wow, that brought back some memories. I'm a city guy. I live in the heart of town and will probably do so until I die. But that description took me back to a friend's family's cabin on a trout stream in Michigan somewhere south east of Travis City that I visited a couple of times aboy 35 years ago. The setting was absolutely gorgeous exactly as you described. The cabin itself was a warm, roomy, homey affair that made you want to just sit back and relax. You could hike up the stream in either direction and see no one (that has probably changed over the years). I learned to fly fish (poorly) there and caught a couple of brown trout (at least I think that is what they were). I still wouldn't want to live there but it would make a great get-away place. C-T - you would be in heaven at this place.
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Re: The balancing act
Old 12-04-2006, 08:55 AM   #18
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Re: The balancing act

Helen,

DW and I have a detailed plan for retirement and a goal for a date. The plan continually changes! Remember if you want to make God laugh, then tell him your plans!

But, we also do things that make life good NOW - but not anything crazy that would jeopardize the FIRE goal.

The place where we live and our social life is extremely important to us - so we live accordingly.

I lived in the country all my young life and now in a small city. I moved to the city for the same reasons you discussed. It was certainly more expensive, but I am very glad I did it.
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Re: The balancing act
Old 12-04-2006, 09:17 AM   #19
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Re: The balancing act

Quote:
Originally Posted by claire
I forgot to mention that we have lived in the city for the last four years and I am sick to death of the place, I would much rather live in a rural setting at the moment, the city is not all it is cracked up to be

Think urban sprawling concrete jungle metropolis, a souless existance. Actually I have never felt so lonely and isolated in my life
I am sorry that your displeasure of city living. Which city?
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Re: The balancing act
Old 12-04-2006, 10:10 AM   #20
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Re: The balancing act

Quote:
Originally Posted by Spanky
I am sorry that your displeasure of city living. Which city?
Yeah, one thing I have learned over the years reading posts comparing the benefits of "city life" versus "suburbs" and "country life" is that not only does everyone's taste differ, but also it makes a big difference which city and "country" we're talking about.

Living and working in and around New York City, I find that some people's definition of "city" is more like what most people in New York would think of as "small town". Likewise, one person's definition of "suburb" is another person's definition of "rural". Depends on your frame of reference.
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