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Old 01-10-2010, 08:19 PM   #21
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Thank you all. I read all of it.

I think I have figured out that there are three different issues here that are contributing:

1. Excessive focus on FIRE. I sometimes have a hard time with the notion of "balance", and figure if the idea of calculating a net worth is a good idea for someone interested in FIRE, then balancing my accounts to the penny every day (yes, I do that sometimes) is better. If shopping carefully for food is good, then always buying everything on sale and drinking nothing but generic lemonade is better. Obviously there is a law of diminishing returns, where doubling and tripling one's effort is not really going to make that much of a difference in the end.

This item is probably where I could help improve my attitude the most. Some of you asked what I would do. Some days it would be as simple as not worrying about turning the thermostat down and all the lights off before leaving for work. Some days it might be going to the nice theater even if the $9 ticket seems like a ripoff. In reality this probably wouldn't move my FIRE date to any significant degree because the vast majority of my big budget items (taxes, child support, mortgage) are fixed -- so increasing my spending by 10% may represent increasing my discretionary spending by 30%.

2. Childish desire to have both my cake and eat it too. What I'd like is for FIRE to be easier or closer to achieve. I'd like to be able to both (a) spend pretty freely and (b) FIRE at 45. Again, my black-and-white nature gets me into a bit of a mental pickle where I ignore the possibility that it's not a strict either/or but a spectrum -- I could spend a tiny bit more freely and FIRE at 45.1, or a little more freely and FIRE at 45.5, etc.

On this one I think part of the answer is to try to remember to be less black and white (sharp eyed readers will notice the irony there), and also just to buck up and accept that life isn't always a bed of roses and as grownups we get to / have to make choices and live with the consequences.

3. Stressful job. I took a job that pays about 30% more than my previous job did about 3 months ago, and while things are going OK, I'm not doing as well as I would like and don't particularly get "atta-boys" from my boss...the way I am, I really appreciate "atta-boys". Also, the boss is asking more of me, which is certainly a compliment (because he sees that I have the capability and apparently he trusts me to do the job) but it is also a stressor because of the additional responsibility.

As far as this one goes, I'm hoping that with time I'll get further up the learning curve and/or will learn to be less anxious about meeting my own too-high expectations of myself. Also just getting out in the Idaho sunshine (:-P) during the day will help. Historically I have the winter blahs from about mid-December through mid-January, so if history is any guide things should start to feel better in a week or two.

Specific replies:

@bbbamI, thanks for outing the fact that I enjoy long hot showers :-P.

@Goodsense, the question is a good one to ponder. As far as projecting, you were, but it turns out to be a good fit for my mental state as well.

@Meadbh, I'll put it on my task list :-)

@W2R, always good words from you. Thanks.

@MichaelB, just for you I calculated it out. A 10% increase would push my retirement out from 44.87 to 46.37, or exactly 18 months.

@Alan, yes, almost there, except 4 years left after focusing on it for at least a decade still seems like a long way away.

To the several people that said "fun", you're probably right. I think I can have a decent amount of fun without blowing the budget completely out of the water. I'm a cheap date anyway...I think I'd be pretty happy just buying a new non-stick skillet; my current one is a few years old and has lost the non-stick stuff in the center. I think a new one would be about $15.

Thanks again to all.

2Cor521
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Old 01-10-2010, 08:32 PM   #22
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Stay away from here for a while and stop thinking about ER.

What do you want to do today? Tomorrow?

When was the last time you went on a vacation somewhere nice and warm?
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Old 01-10-2010, 09:15 PM   #23
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You didn't mention or I missed it if you did- do you have a woman? Women can create a lot of happiness and contentment in a man.

I would rather have job and a woman than be retired and not have a woman.

Ha
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Old 01-10-2010, 09:16 PM   #24
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We create too narrow a target for ourselves if we only look at the calendar to determine our FIRE date. I suggest that you look at a target like age 44 to 50. If you play a little more along the way, the date slides a bit, but don't forget that you may pick up a few bonuses, or downsize the house or have a more-frugal-than-expected year once in a while.

I had planned to retire a year before my impending date of March 31 this year. The Great Recession threw may back a year. Stuff happens.

And not to sound morbid, but if lightning should strike at age 44 you will be very glad you took some time along the way to enjoy. Martha is on target with taking a few weeks of this board, too. It's a great place, but tends to exacerbate the frustrations of waiting.

Oh.. and yeah, get yourself some sunny place to go for a week or two. I'll take you to some cheap restaurant on the beach.
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Old 01-10-2010, 09:31 PM   #25
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2cor521, I'm retiring from my regular job in 9 days (but who's counting) but still doing some consulting work on a very reduced number of hours for the next few months to ease myself into early-retirement or possibly semi-retirement if the itch or the economic need hits to work again.

One of the things that I did when tracking my expenses years ago was to grade the expenses based on "Your Money or Your Life" and the amount of fulfillment I received from spending on everything. This allowed me to discover that the $15 trip to the movies didn't provide a lot of satisfaction, whereas buying myself flowers or a trip to the zoo for $15 was much more satisfying.

I also made a list of 100 goals that I'd like to achieve for 2010 and none of them will cost much money (most meaningful things don't), but will provide a lot of personal satisfaction and gives me something to track and focus on other than saving and LBYM.

I also set a challenge to myself to spend a certain amount of money (that amount is just $300 and hopefully I'll raise it with time) every month on activities I enjoy because I have a tendency to not allow myself to spend money on enjoying myself. Last month, I saved 84% of my net income, so it's not like I can't afford it, I have just gone too far in that saving mindset. I don't feel deprived, yet I often don't feel fulfilled either because of this and I want to live a very full life.

My father is 89 y.o., never spent any money on himself at all and is a multi-multi-millionaire - by the time he felt comfortable spending any money or not working, he was so devoid of interests and friends to do things with that he was stuck in a rut and leads a pretty boring, lonely existence.

Here's hoping you get out of the funk.
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Old 01-10-2010, 10:14 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by SecondCor521 View Post
Thank you all. I read all of it.

I think I have figured out that there are three different issues here that are contributing:

1. Excessive focus on FIRE. I sometimes have a hard time with the notion of "balance", and figure if the idea of calculating a net worth is a good idea for someone interested in FIRE, then balancing my accounts to the penny every day (yes, I do that sometimes) is better. If shopping carefully for food is good, then always buying everything on sale and drinking nothing but generic lemonade is better. Obviously there is a law of diminishing returns, where doubling and tripling one's effort is not really going to make that much of a difference in the end.
I will admit to obsessing about FIRE. Now I'm trying to live a full, fun life without worrying too much about the future and how it may play out.
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@bbbamI, thanks for outing the fact that I enjoy long hot showers :-P.
Well I remembered that little tidbit from a thread over a year ago that spoke of inexpensive pleasures. Really, I did.......I just can't find it now.
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Old 01-10-2010, 11:18 PM   #27
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@Martha, I think I will try your suggestion...I think I need to. Today I want to stay up late reading a good book and then tomorrow I want to sleep in and skip my stressful job. Unfortunately I don't have a good book and I need to go to work tomorrow. But I get the idea. Last warm vacation was...um...well, the last one I definitely remember that was pleasure only was maybe in 2002 or so.

@haha, no woman here. I had one for about 16 years, but the "happiness and contentment" was a mixed bag.

@R_I_T, it's even worse -- my date is actually ASAP, at the moment it just happens to be 4/10/2014, or just before my 45th birthday. If I could make it sooner, I would. I'll take you up on that cheap restaurant someday when I'm down your direction :-)

Thanks again, all.

2Cor521
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Old 01-11-2010, 08:32 AM   #28
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I'm doing all the "right" (or so I thought) things for FIRE, but I've been doing them so long and to such a great degree that I'm tired of doing them.
There will always be that tension between living in the moment and planning ahead.

Example: After being hardcore tightwads for several years DW and I just bought a new computer and a nice digital camera. But of course it doesn't stop there. Now I have to learn a new operating system (Windows7) buy all new security, photo, and other applications, configure them, and so on. But it doesn't stop there... DW wants a new desk (admittedly the current one has seen better days) new chair, and other stuff. So this $1,100 computer is going to end up costing more like $4k+ when the dust settles.

However, when DW told one SIL about it there was (envious) silence. Those are the ones who manage credit, not cash. So they lurch from one financial crisis to the next and are forever trying to pay off loans so they can get new ones. They take 3-4 trips per year, dine out frequently, have bought three new cars in the past four years, etc. and have zero savings. When the inevitable retirement comes for them it is not going to be pretty.

When I retired, and thinking about the first few weeks of a job that I stayed with for 29 years, the insight came:

The far-distant future has a rather disconcerting habit of becoming the present.

What do you want your far-distant future to be like?
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Old 01-11-2010, 09:01 AM   #29
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I think it's the weather ------! I just got my monthly heating bill and heating degrees this year are 32% more than same period last year (571->756)!! When I see people in Miami wearing heavy coats - (I just know there is some global warming scientist somewhere trying to photoshop bikinis on all of them). Haven't been able to motivate myself to take our usual trip south this Jan/Feb. Why spend the money just to be on the beach in an overcoat and long johns?!

Oh well, even ERs can whine...

btw: Stay the course, but stear clear of the rocks(ketshup & hot water soup, daily pbj/macaroni, romen, etc.). Ease up on the bit a lil - see what happens. As the old doctor use to say -- If it hurts when you do something - don't do it.
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Old 01-11-2010, 09:48 AM   #30
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Be a bit more gently with yourself SecondCor....you have done an amazing job up to now.
I was obsessed with ER at 45 myself when I had a stressful job.....now that I love what I do, it does not matter at all....I don't feel like I work.
I still have my goal to be FI by 45 just to see if I can do it....but I would still do what I am doing now in addition to a few other things.
One of the greatest realizations that I have had is that I need to have FUN now....and throughout the journey of my life.
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Old 01-11-2010, 01:29 PM   #31
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I think no matter what, you have to set aside some resources for fun. The treat/reward yourself for all the hard effort you are putting forward to FIRE. It's like if you are on a diet, still around the holidays it is okay to treat yourself a little (as long as you go back on track after the holidays). Otherwise, the whole effort feels like a chore, then their goes the motivation.
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Old 01-11-2010, 02:23 PM   #32
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@Martha, I think I will try your suggestion...I think I need to. Today I want to stay up late reading a good book and then tomorrow I want to sleep in and skip my stressful job. Unfortunately I don't have a good book and I need to go to work tomorrow. But I get the idea. Last warm vacation was...um...well, the last one I definitely remember that was pleasure only was maybe in 2002 or so.
You are overdue for a vacation, maybe even a "stay-cation"..........

Quote:
@haha, no woman here. I had one for about 16 years, but the "happiness and contentment" was a mixed bag.
That might be part of the problem, no one to share the successes with on the road to FIRE??
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Old 01-11-2010, 03:37 PM   #33
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I also made a list of 100 goals that I'd like to achieve for 2010 and none of them will cost much money (most meaningful things don't), but will provide a lot of personal satisfaction and gives me something to track and focus on other than saving and LBYM.
I think this is a great idea. Having 100 goals would really stress me out, but I've set a couple fitness goals for myself this year and one that's a two-year that will require some consistent effort. I agree that having other things to focus on is definitely helpful. I only seem to get overly FIRE-obsessed when something is changing in our finances and I have to re-work or re-check our plans and I have extra time to dwell on it.
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Old 01-11-2010, 05:59 PM   #34
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I think I'd be pretty happy just buying a new non-stick skillet; my current one is a few years old and has lost the non-stick stuff in the center. I think a new one would be about $15.

Thanks again to all.

2Cor521
I upgraded from a small old electric skillet to a large new heavy-duty electric skillet and it made all the difference in the world. It cost about $60, but has probably saved two or three times that in food preparation efficiency...more space in which to saute, better tasting leftovers, and, oddly, less cooking fatigue.

By the way, congratulations on being given more responsibility at work. Funny thing about bosses; they tend to put the heaviest loads onto the people who seem most able to carry them. I just hope your boss has the sense not to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs for him/her.

- A.
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Old 01-11-2010, 07:17 PM   #35
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The conundrum is this: I'm tired of scrimping and saving and working and earning. I just want to relax a little, enjoy life a little.
...
Also, I spent about twice what I used to spend on Christmas, and I didn't get twice the enjoyment out of it...
There was a similar thread by Enuff2eat about wanting to get out of his frugal habits to get "spanking" new electronics, "spanking" new car, etc... I am afraid that if and when he gets these toys, they will not provide the pleasure that he expected.

We didn't buy each other anything for Christmas. I did not want anything for myself, but did end up getting my wife a netbook the day after Christmas because it was on sale and I knew she wanted one. Well, she used it for a day, and went back to her old laptop, saying she wanted to "save" that netbook for the future, when that laptop breaks down.

We look at new-fangled electronics toys like iPhones with indifference. I guess if I wouldn't refuse it if given one. But it is most likely I would not like them enough to use all the fancy features. Are we becoming hard to please? Probably so. I do not know what I want most of the time. And no, I am not a guy who "has it all". In fact, I most likely have far less toys than most people here. I learned of the Kindle from this forum, and had to look it up to see what it was.

I am no psychologist, and have a tough enough time trying to understand myself. But I wonder if you are feeling some emptiness, and expect to be happier when you can retire, meaning stop working. But what is the likelihood that the emptiness remains?
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Old 01-11-2010, 08:56 PM   #36
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I cannot stress enough the book How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World because I see the laments from thefed and SecondCor answered right there in the book. You can download the e-book at Harry Browne: libertarian politics, articles, books, speeches, and investments for $9.95. It will definitely set your ER date back by 5 minutes, but the book is well worth the price.
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Old 01-12-2010, 01:04 AM   #37
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I am no psychologist, and have a tough enough time trying to understand myself. But I wonder if you are feeling some emptiness, and expect to be happier when you can retire, meaning stop working. But what is the likelihood that the emptiness remains?
Ennui was the signal state of the 20th century, looks like it may be continuing forward.

I had problems like this when I was young; it may be part of being young and modern. Now I want to eat really good food, enjoy what companionship gets offered to me on terms that seem attractive, get outside enough, enjoy this beautiful city, stay tight with my family, read what I want to read, try to keep from becoming an idiot. Not much else seems important. In two thousand years I would not even think of making a bucket list or deliberately remaking my life or complicating simple pleasures by hobby-izeing them. Life can be fairly simple if you let it.

In my world there are only two big questions- how do I feel about other people, and how do I feel about death. Answer these and the rest is grits and gravy.

From the little I know about 2nd Cor, I think he may be neglecting his simple needs, pehaps even needs he is not fully aware of.

Ha
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Old 01-12-2010, 01:52 AM   #38
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This all sounds depressingly familiar. I'm looking to FIRE at the end of 2013 at age 47.

To address the burn out issue I changed jobs. A change of scenery and a change of pace has helped me get through the last 18 months in good mental health. The challenge of a new job and dealing with a lot of new people has helped. If changing jobs is not practical, consider whether there is room to grow or develop your existing job.

I have been working on my bucket list list of things to keep me physically and mentally occupied for a while and have been ticking a few things off already - no point in waiting until after FIRE if I can do it now. While some of the things on the list cost a lot of money, there are plenty that can keep me occupied which do not cost much. To give three examples:

1. I joined a team for this year's 100KM Oxfam Trailwalker and spent a lot of time over the summer training with my team mates before completing the course in November last year. As a non-athletic person I got quite a buzz out of doing something like that

2. adopting a cat has also been rewarding (although not cheap - my wife is now getting quotes to re-upholster the sofa which the cat has shredded)

3. I volunteered as an editor for a report done by a charity that provides support to victims of child abuse. (As worthwhile as this is, I found reading the case studies too much and will probably not offer my services again this year)

When my sister was working (and before she had children), she would sign up for non-accredited lectures at local university one evening a week.

Of course, if you really want cheap thrills join a protest march - the bigger and more controversial the better. So long as you don't get charged with something it's great entertainment and free
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Old 01-12-2010, 03:15 AM   #39
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Ennui was the signal state of the 20th century, looks like it may be continuing forward.
...
From the little I know about 2nd Cor, I think he may be neglecting his simple needs, pehaps even needs he is not fully aware of.
Un dernier verre de sherry.
De sherry mon amour quand je m'ennuie.
Tous les jours se ressemblent a present.
Tu me manques terriblement...
A last glass of sherry.
Sherry, my love, when I feel bored.
All days look alike to me now.
I miss you so terribly.
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Old 01-12-2010, 06:32 AM   #40
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It sounds like the OP has done a fabulous job getting his life on track for retirement and devoting much thought on how to accomplish this on his terms. I think we can all lose focus on the present from time to time. Find the good in every day, take time for yourself alone(those hot showers!...one of my indulgences, too, esp. with some classical music piped in), don't compare yourself to the one or two percent of the population who appear to better off in some way, as most of the rest of the world is worse off. I have to remind myself constantly to enjoy the journey.
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