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This forum may have ruined my life
Old 09-07-2013, 05:48 AM   #1
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This forum may have ruined my life

I'm joking. Kind of. What I have realized lately, through much thought and introspection, is that reading these forums is like taking the red pill. The curtain is pulled back, and you see a lot of big picture life things that you may not have been aware of on a day to day basis. And how people can live on very little and still be happy. Opening my eyes to this has been making it hard to keep living the "same small day" that is my corporate/consumer existence. I've been fantasizing lately about selling my big, beautiful house, and moving into a smaller, way more modest paid off one, in a less desirable area, quitting my well-paying (but highly stressful) job, selling my dearly beloved BMW, and getting a Mazda, and surviving on freelance and side-business income. This has obvious downsides of course, savings rate would go way, way down. My (supposed) social status would drop a few notches.

My fuse has become a lot shorter over the past few months at work. I can barely bring myself to participate in the cross-functional squabbling and constant pissing contests. It is so exhausting. I used to enjoy it, don't know what happened. I think there was more of the good parts of my job back then, which balanced out the bad. The thought of doing this for 30 more years is unbearable. I was making some related comments to my dad, so said "you sound like you're about ready to retire". Except that I'm not, not even close. I'm 20 years from that, at 36, if I can maintain my income as-is. Who knows how long it would take if I live out my fantasy...
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Old 09-07-2013, 05:54 AM   #2
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Well, there is the minor little detail of putting food on the table and a roof overhead. But there are lots of ways to do that and lots of styles of foods and roofs.

I've always liked this book: Amazon.com: What Color Is Your Parachute? 2014: A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers (9781607743620): Richard N. Bolles: Books

Updated every year for the last 20+ years.

Talking with DW yesterday about a house raffle we concluded that we wouldn't even want the McMansion they're raffling off - too much maintenance. As I heard somewhere, "Never buy a house that has more bathrooms than you're willing to clean".
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Old 09-07-2013, 08:07 AM   #3
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Bert, I realize your post is a bit tongue-in-cheek, although maybe not so much... Maybe I suggest that you consider changing jobs first? At your age, this might do the trick for a decade or so... Seems to me you're ready for a big change, not necessarily for retirement. Just my 2 cents.
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Old 09-07-2013, 08:17 AM   #4
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Hmm. Bert, you say you're 36 and 20 years from being able to retire. What if you simplified and downsized your lifestyle but stuck with the same job -- how long would it take then?

For me and many others, living way below our means has been the key to early retirement. Imo, it's the spending side of the equation -- buying in to the consumerist/status-oriented lifestyle -- that keeps a lot of people tied to work they dislike. You can find, here and elsewhere, story after story of people retiring very early, once they've gotten their spending down. It requires a change in values or priorities, but personally, I find it very healthy. I think we've got a sick society in many regards, and it's good to step away from it. Follow your own heart as to what truly matters in life. ER then becomes a nice side benefit.

I'd suggest playing around with the numbers. What if you downsized your home, took the hit to social status (oh noes), and pared back expenses. How much could you sock away for retirement? How much closer could you move your retirement date, if you could spend much less? For instance, it's common for people living frugally to be able to do it on around 25K a year (single person). If that's all you were spending, how long would it take to save enough to retire? Maybe that's too extreme for you. But run your own numbers and see how it works out.

The job issue is something else... I'll leave that for others to comment on, except to say that once you are financially independent, the BS of the workplace loses a lot of its hold on you. At least that's how it worked for me.
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Old 09-07-2013, 08:29 AM   #5
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And just so you know, selling the big white elephant does not necessarily mean moving into a less desirable neighborhood. It may not be as fashionable, but from a pleasant and fun living POV it could be much more desirable. These changes aren't always about depriving yourself. It's more a matter of defining what is important to you as opposed to what will impress the people you know. Marching to your own beat, instead of spending your life trying to impress people who really don't matter.
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Old 09-07-2013, 08:30 AM   #6
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+1 on taking a look at expenses and seeing if there's room to sock away more money. For most folks: If they need to have the new car every two years and they need to spend a lot of money to have an enjoyable vacation, then they'll need to work until they are old.

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Originally Posted by ER Eddie View Post
The job issue is something else... I'll leave that for others to comment on, except to say that once you are financially independent, the BS of the workplace loses a lot of its hold on you. At least that's how it worked for me.
For me, the administivia and useless BS/meeting at work became >less< bearable as I approached FIRE. For many folks in this situation (low tolerance for BS), starting their own business would be the best answer. There's still BS when self-employed, but it's from folks who are clearly on "the other team" (city government, etc), and so less irritating (IMO) than BS thrown up by one's immediate supervisor, corporate leadership, etc--folks to whom you have to be nice.
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Old 09-07-2013, 08:35 AM   #7
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The job issue is something else... I'll leave that for others to comment on, except to say that once you are financially independent, the BS of the workplace loses a lot of its hold on you. At least that's how it worked for me.
+1
Ditto. When you don't have to have your job to survive month to month or year to year, it definitely looses it's power over you and your perception changes for the better!

When I was in my 20's, 30's and 40's I didn't question the fact that working and needing the salary was part of my life. I was to busy to even think! (as were most of us).
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Old 09-07-2013, 09:21 AM   #8
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And just so you know, selling the big white elephant does not necessarily mean moving into a less desirable neighborhood. It may not be as fashionable, but from a pleasant and fun living POV it could be much more desirable.
I agree with that! Our neighborhood is full of stuffed shirts (I don't completely excuse myself as part of the problem, though). In contrast, my BIL's neighborhood has smaller houses, closer together, but they have tons of interaction, bartering, cooperation, parties, etc.
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Old 09-09-2013, 11:17 AM   #9
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I'm going to go out on a limb here and say you're not ready to retire. Chucking it all for a more simple lifestyle sounds great... until you actually do it. What it sounds like is that you're in need of a new purpose in life. You've accomplished what you thought you wanted to, only to find that you don't want it anymore.

I wasn't quite in the same position as you at 36 (had the assets, but no big house or BMW) and found that changing from private legal practice to in-house legal practice gave me a new lease on my professional life. Gone are the days where I need to kiss a partner's @ss for billable hours just to keep my job (likewise gone are the student loans that kept me at the firm).

I'd suggest a vacation where you allow yourself to think about the future. We're often so tied up with the day-to-day that we forget how to live. Take how you currently feel as a polite reminder from your subconscious to find a way to enjoy life a little more.
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Old 09-09-2013, 11:33 AM   #10
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The choices we have in life are awesome!! Often we don't at first realize that we have these choices, but we do.

Enjoy your explorations of what choices YOU want to make and how you want to live your life.
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Old 09-09-2013, 12:02 PM   #11
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Every $1000 a year you can cut from spending reduces the amount you need in your retirement account by $30,000.

Really puts things in perspective. Going from a 4000 sqft house with $12,000/yr real estate taxes, $5,000 a year maintenance costs, and $3,000 a year utilities down to a 900 sqft apartment with no tax, maintenance and only $1200 a year in utilities reduces your retirement account needs by over $500,000.
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Old 09-09-2013, 12:53 PM   #12
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Every $1000 a year you can cut from spending reduces the amount you need in your retirement account by $30,000.

Really puts things in perspective. Going from a 4000 sqft house with $12,000/yr real estate taxes, $5,000 a year maintenance costs, and $3,000 a year utilities down to a 900 sqft apartment with no tax, maintenance and only $1200 a year in utilities reduces your retirement account needs by over $500,000.
+1. Excellent.
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Old 09-09-2013, 02:00 PM   #13
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Do it. Take the big leap. Don't look back. You're only 36. Plenty of time to live like you think you want to, and if you change your mind and the brass ring starts looking awesome again, climb back into harness.

I mean, you did come here to hear that, right?

see my sig line....
not that one...
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Old 09-09-2013, 02:27 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Bert Cooper View Post
I'm joking. Kind of. What I have realized lately, through much thought and introspection, is that reading these forums is like taking the red pill. The curtain is pulled back, and you see a lot of big picture life things that you may not have been aware of on a day to day basis. And how people can live on very little and still be happy. Opening my eyes to this has been making it hard to keep living the "same small day" that is my corporate/consumer existence. I've been fantasizing lately about selling my big, beautiful house, and moving into a smaller, way more modest paid off one, in a less desirable area, quitting my well-paying (but highly stressful) job, selling my dearly beloved BMW, and getting a Mazda, and surviving on freelance and side-business income. This has obvious downsides of course, savings rate would go way, way down. My (supposed) social status would drop a few notches.

My fuse has become a lot shorter over the past few months at work. I can barely bring myself to participate in the cross-functional squabbling and constant pissing contests. It is so exhausting. I used to enjoy it, don't know what happened. I think there was more of the good parts of my job back then, which balanced out the bad. The thought of doing this for 30 more years is unbearable. I was making some related comments to my dad, so said "you sound like you're about ready to retire". Except that I'm not, not even close. I'm 20 years from that, at 36, if I can maintain my income as-is. Who knows how long it would take if I live out my fantasy...
It seems to me that you are enjoying the bimmer and the big house a lot! Are you sure you would enjoy a much more muted lifestyle? I see a lot of people happily living on very little on this forum. I have a tremendous amount of respect for them. But I also know that their way of life is not for me. I would dread having to live for the rest of my life on some of those tighter budgets. So before making a big move, you should try cutting your expenses to the bone and tracking them carefully for a while. Keep the house and the car for now, but cut everything else, especially the things that define your current higher social status (clothes, travel, dining out, consumer electronics, etc...). How does it feel?

The way I see it, you are not close to retirement either way (high income job, high expenses vs low income job, low expenses). There is also no guarantee that the low income job will be any less exhausting than the current one once the honeymoon phase is over. You'll still be under pressure to make money to pay your bills. You might have to deal with difficult people to get money coming in. What then?

Personally, I think that your best shot is to keep the high-paying job but learn how to enjoy it like you used to. Perhaps you should consult a life coach. At the same time, you could try to reduce your expenses to a level that still feels comfortable but that would hasten your retirement date by a few years.
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Old 09-09-2013, 03:55 PM   #15
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Ruined your life.

Hey, we're here to help.

Anything else you need?
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Old 09-09-2013, 04:48 PM   #16
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...selling my dearly beloved BMW, and getting a Mazda...
OK, I know it's tough, but you can't go off the deep end!!! Don't listen to all these guys with their Mazdas and Toyotas and Hondas and (god forbid) Prii...

Signed - an owner of a dearly beloved 2005 330i that makes me happy every time I drive it
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Old 09-09-2013, 06:26 PM   #17
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Hey, what's wrong with Prii?

We just got back to TX from buying our retirement home in NV. It's important to know your priorities and whether a compromise will make you unhappy in the long term.

We left for the trip with a budget of spending $200k or less on the house and square feet between 1600 and 1800. Our realtor, who is a good friend, asked us while we were standing in the first 1600 sq ft house if we could really downsize that much and be happy (it's less than half of what we have now). We both realized the answer was no. Because of our likes and dislikes it's important for us to have two separate living areas to pursue our hobbies without driving each other crazy.

We ended up with a 2200 sq ft house that cost north of $300k. So now instead of being able to retire early next year it will probably be a couple more years... But that's ok. I'm only 52 and I still enjoy my job.

We would have been miserable in the small houses we were looking at so working for an additional year is a small price to pay for marital harmony.
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Old 09-09-2013, 06:35 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by ER Eddie View Post
Hmm. Bert, you say you're 36 and 20 years from being able to retire. What if you simplified and downsized your lifestyle but stuck with the same job -- how long would it take then?
+1
Just think of how much you money you could save in 10 years, maybe enough to ER?
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Old 09-10-2013, 09:46 AM   #19
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OK, I know it's tough, but you can't go off the deep end!!! Don't listen to all these guys with their Mazdas and Toyotas and Hondas and (god forbid) Prii...

Signed - an owner of a dearly beloved 2005 330i that makes me happy every time I drive it
Though obviously tongue in cheek, Willers has a point. Don't eliminate the last few things that give you some measure of joy just to save a few more bucks. When you're working, you often need all the "little things" just to make it through the day.

As for Hondas, I drive one. Would I prefer a more sporty ride? Absolutely. But here in the D.C. area, people won't hesitate to ding your doors, scratch your paint, and generally trash your car - no matter how far you park away from everyone. When I first bought my Honda, I used to park in a completely empty area of the parking lot. Good exercise to walk, blah, blah. I'd come back out and find cars parked on either side of me (but no one on either side of them!)

Thus, I'm left with buying a 3rd car just for cruising, but it seems so wasteful (purchase price, gas, insurance, upkeep, etc...) just for a little bit of driving pleasure on the weekends.
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Old 09-10-2013, 09:53 AM   #20
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I am in the not changing jobs camp....


But, I would suggest that you spend some time thinking about what was so enjoyable about the job when you first started.... it sounds like you did enjoy it earlier in your career...

Once you figure that out, make sure that you move toward those things that made it enjoyable...


One of the big problems with a lot of business is that there is a move up or move out mentality.... some people like doing something and do it well, but do not want to go the next step.... if you can get your career back to where you enjoy it, lots of other problems go away...


You can also change your lifestyle and be that much closer to retirement....
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