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Old 01-10-2010, 01:57 PM   #1
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Whine.

I just wanted to express some frustration here and ask if anyone sees any creative ideas to help address my situation that I am about to -- without any good justification -- whine about.

Basically, I'm burned out on FIRE. (Pun not intended.)

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. I'm on a track now to FI by about age 45, but that is a consequence of spending very little and saving very much. Last year I saved over 50% of my gross income.

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. But I know that if I do that, my FIRE date gets pushed out. The more I relax and enjoy life, the more that date gets pushed out; in fact, because of the 25x rule and the rest of the math, my FIRE date is quite sensitive to my spending -- perhaps a 10% increase in spending would result in a year being added to my FIRE date.

Also, I spent about twice what I used to spend on Christmas, and I didn't get twice the enjoyment out of it. So I am worried that if I increase my spending rate now, the miniscule increase in enjoyment I might get would be more than offset by the dismay at watching my FIRE date leap into the future.

Maybe its just the winter blahs and I just need more vitamin D.

Thanks for reading.

2Cor521
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Old 01-10-2010, 02:05 PM   #2
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Do you feel pleasure has to come from spending money? If so, what would you like to purchase that you believe would give you gratification for an extended time and still enable you to retire at your chosen date?

IIRC, you once said you enjoy long hot showers. Maybe you could spend a few bucks on your bathroom and make it feel spa like. Seems to me this would give you pleasure while increasing the value of your home.
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Old 01-10-2010, 02:10 PM   #3
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I found that my happiness level increased when I stopped focusing on achieving ER at the earliest possible time and worked on balancing saving for the future with "living in the moment". I guess that's easier to say for someone who still likes their job. A stressful w*rk situation might change my outlook.
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Old 01-10-2010, 02:16 PM   #4
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I know how you feel. I suspect a lot people relying on a 401K-based retirement do, too, especially when I hear about so many people calling it quits with a COLA'd pension at 50 or so. I try to remind myself that I'm more concerned with finding something I enjoy doing more (even if a lousy paying second career) than strict retirement because the latter just seems more and more tenuous for people who have to roll their own retirement. I consider few people as blessed as those who love their work. (Right behind them, of course, are folks who want out and have generous COLA'd pension and early retiree health insurance.)

If I didn't get a good, early start on it, I'd think I'd probably never be retiring. As it is, I will be able to, but likely not as early as I thought three years ago.
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Old 01-10-2010, 02:17 PM   #5
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Hi 2Cor521, I think I know how you feel. Recently, as I was planning a trip to Europe this summer, I kept staring at the spreadsheet to try to cut expenses. Then I realized that if my whole trip was just going to be worrying about nickels and dimes, it would be a horrible vacation.

So instead, I allowed myself a fudged-budget (in this case, about 25% over what the bare-bones estimate). Then I know I don't have to worry about every penny.

I know our 2-week trip, given its expense, will take 2 months of saving to recoup. But to me, that is worth it. I would rather have good memories of Italy and France and work a few months more than feeling grumpy for the next 8-10 years until we reach FIRE. The VALUE of the trip far outweighs the costs. I would actually take a month-long trip if I had more PTO days.

In the "Living in the Moment" thread, someone suggested that for those of us overly focused on FIRE, we should ask ourselves, "Am I going to feel OK about my life if I died tomorrow?" I think that's a good question. You never know what could happen.

In your case, I wonder if you can just selectively ease your spending on certain categories. For me, it's travel and music. They enrich me in ways no material things can do. I would rather work one more year than living in a bad mood for the next 8 years.

I also think if you have all the pent-up expectation for when you reach FIRE and deprive yourself all these years, you may find FIRE actually less satisfying, just because you have sacrificed so much for it. Then you will be really depressed because the light at the end of the tunnel turns out to not be the saving light after all. Of course I am totally projecting myself here; YMMV.
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Old 01-10-2010, 02:28 PM   #6
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I hear you, SC. I'm feeling the same myself. The goal is one more burden, amidst the burdens of w*ork, and because it's still some distance away, it's easy to get discouraged.

Stephen Covey writes eloquently on the need for renewal in his Seven Habits of Highly Successful People. Habit 7 is Sharpen the Saw. I recommend reading the chapter. It may give you some ideas.

https://www.stephencovey.com/7habits/7habits-habit7.php
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Old 01-10-2010, 02:36 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SecondCor521 View Post
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. I'm on a track now to FI by about age 45, but that is a consequence of spending very little and saving very much. Last year I saved over 50% of my gross income.
Remember that all the choices you make are YOUR choices, and own them. Nobody told you to save 50% of your gross income (good job, by the way!! Wow!) At any rate, finding the "sweet spot", where you are getting the most lifetime satisfaction, sometimes requires a little fine tuning.

Sometimes initial enthusiasm can cause us to save at a rate that is unsustainable for us as individuals over long periods of time. Before I retired (and I love saying that!) I regarded my saving as a game. I would try to see how much I could save, and challenge myself to save, but always left some flexibility in my spending. Some months saving was simply harder to stomach than other months.

It is hard to save when often many co-workers, friends, family, and others are spending like there is no tomorrow. Never forget that with the disintegration of pensions in this country, we can no longer consider our earnings to be a spending limit. I don't think you would do that, but just sayin'..

Quote:
Originally Posted by SecondCor521
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. But I know that if I do that, my FIRE date gets pushed out. The more I relax and enjoy life, the more that date gets pushed out; in fact, because of the 25x rule and the rest of the math, my FIRE date is quite sensitive to my spending -- perhaps a 10% increase in spending would result in a year being added to my FIRE date.
So, for each possible path you might take, there are both positive and negative consequences. I don't know what to comment other than "Such is life."

Quote:
Originally Posted by SecondCor521
Also, I spent about twice what I used to spend on Christmas, and I didn't get twice the enjoyment out of it. So I am worried that if I increase my spending rate now, the miniscule increase in enjoyment I might get would be more than offset by the dismay at watching my FIRE date leap into the future.
Exactly. Or, you might win the lottery next year and find that all your scrimping and saving didn't make a bit of difference in your retirement date. There are no guarantees in life, although there are rough probabilities.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SecondCor521
Maybe its just the winter blahs and I just need more vitamin D.
Usually when I am unhappy, I am either tired, sleepy, hungry, or enduring some sort of physical discomfort of that type. These things seem to magnify my problems. Not saying that is the case with you, but it is always good to check these possibilities since they are usually pretty easy to remedy.

Oh, and by the way, I don't think you are whining. I think you are succeeding in your progress towards the very tough goal of early retirement, a goal that most people would never even dream of.
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Old 01-10-2010, 02:40 PM   #8
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I know how you feel SecondCor. This forum is full of people who retired early with millions of $$$ or good pensions and they make it look so easy! So we save, save, save and yet it feels like we are still so far away from FIRE. A couple years ago, everyone seemed happy with a 4% SWR, but now the new gold standard seems to be 2-3% which makes attaining FIRE even more challenging. I do get burned out by the whole concept of FIRE sometimes. DW and I have been going full throttle for many years, making and saving as much money as possible, and we are starting to question the sanity of our original FIRE plan (work like crazy and retire as early as possible). It might require more endurance than we can muster. We actually talked about it last week-end and decided that semi-early retirement might make more sense for us.
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Old 01-10-2010, 02:43 PM   #9
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IStephen Covey writes eloquently on the need for renewal in his Seven Habits of Highly Successful People. Habit 7 is Sharpen the Saw. I recommend reading the chapter. It may give you some ideas.

https://www.stephencovey.com/7habits/7habits-habit7.php
While I was working at Megacorp, a few of my fellow coworkers and I attended a three day seminar on the above. Heh...here is my goose and golden egg to prove it. Even though it's been a while, I still remember some things that have been a benefit to my life.
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Old 01-10-2010, 02:51 PM   #10
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I have also been bouncing back and forth between retirement and work. I have enough now to quit my part-time work (both 1099 and W-2), if I cut back on extraneous expenses like travel. But then, if I had more money to be traveling all the time, I think we would be tired of it too.

About materialistic things, the husband of one of my sisters-in-law used to be into cars. He always dreamed to own this and that car. The way he talked, it was as if owning that car would be like being in heaven to him. I told my wife that if I would be so lucky, my heaven could be bought the same way for a mere $80K or so. I don't think a yacht would make me that happy.

What do I want? I am still looking for an answer. Yes, beware that once you get to FIRE, you may find yourself disappointed, as GoodSense suspected.

Anyway, I asked myself the same question that GoodSense posed, about how we would feel if we should die soon. My answer is that I would die peacefully, without anger, without painful regrets.
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Old 01-10-2010, 03:57 PM   #11
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Hey 2Cor521

Quote:
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. But I know that if I do that, my FIRE date gets pushed out.
This doesn't sound like 2Cor521 the engineer. You are far too rational and are very much aware that the extra effort to work and save has a much larger payout in FIRE, especially the “relax” part. Besides, you calculate everything to at least one decimal point, never a "perhaps a 10% increase".

I think you're right – this sound a whole lot like winter blahs and you need a bit of sun. Maybe a vacation would help – you know, doing something different that’s not work/fire related. Get your mind off this lousy weather.

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Old 01-10-2010, 04:15 PM   #12
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Can you identify some specific things that would make you feel better? Things like purchases, travel, home improvements, restaurant meals, etc.? If so, why not make a list of them and then figure out what they would cost (per month, per year, whatever). You can rationally make a decision on each one once you figure out what you want and what it would cost. Only then can you decide if it's worth the cost to you.

Or, instead, you might find that you just want to work less now. This is something that hit me 7 or 8 years before I actually left megacorp - I realized that I wanted to go to a 4-day workweek. I was able to work that out, and it made a *huge* difference in my happiness. It also enabled me to continue on where I might have otherwise pulled the plug sooner.

It sounds to me like you might feel better if you could quantify your "wants" and attach a price to each. Then you can make a rational decision.
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Old 01-10-2010, 04:34 PM   #13
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Hey 2Cor521,

Your profile says ER target date is 2014. If that is correct then you are almost there man I know that when I am on the treadmill and trying to keep up the pace I watch the time ticking down and keep thinking "only x minutes to go, you can do it"

The last 6 years for me were just like those sessions in the gym. In my case it was hating the job rather than not saving enough but I definitely faltered and came oh so close to quitting and getting a new job which would have meant working longer and not ER'ing at 55.

Hopefully this is just a pain barrier that you can fight through until "winter" turns to "spring" and you can get through another year and build up your spirits ready for the next "winter".
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Old 01-10-2010, 05:20 PM   #14
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It's great to have a goal in mind but you really need to enjoy the journey . Retirement is nice but it is not nicer than a lot of other things in life . I'm really glad I travelled a lot and did some physical challenging trips while I was still young enough . Maybe you just need to take a break and have some fun . Heck you are young and unattached go enjoy life !
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Life In 4 Parts
Old 01-10-2010, 05:36 PM   #15
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Life In 4 Parts

2Cor,

Have you had any fun, lately? I believe FUN is a human need we ignore at our peril!

I don't know if this will make sense, but I tend to think of my life in terms of quadrants, that need to be in balance. (Yeah, I know, what normal person thinks like THAT? But I digress )

I. Upper Right Quadrant: Physical and Mental Health. The most important quadrant. Into this quadrant go all the things I do to try to stay healthy. Guess what, sometimes it makes me feel healthier to spend $$ on something that makes me happy. In my case, it is usually hobby supplies. Someone else might say "A big steak dinner" or "A vacation in Italy" or "Gifts for the grandkids." While I would not say that Fun is as important as, say, exercise or avoiding 2nd-hand smoke, it does have an impact on my overall health.
II: Lower Right Quadrant: Relationships. The second most important. In here, goes everything I do to maintain a good relationship with my husband, relatives, cow-orkers; and to reach out to make new relationships. Everyone I like responds to my sense of FUN and has a good sense of fun himself or herself.
III: Upper Left Quadrant: Financial Independence. We all know what goes here! Working, saving, investing, LBYM! I think you can find some FUN even in this quadrant--I know how much you enjoy working with spreadsheets and finding ways to save $$ But it cannot be the only source of fun in your life...that would lead to imbalance.
IV: Lower Left Quadrant: Self-actualization. I know that's psychological jargon and I wish I had as a better phrase. It means all the things I do, to try to become the person I was meant to be (not only what I am able to do to earn money). I tend to skimp this quadrant because my hobbies and non-monetary interests go there. However, if I go too many months without doing something in Quadrant IV, I start to feel bad and low.

So, my point is: You gotta have some FUN or your life will not be in balance. If it pushes your FIRE date out a few months, it will have been worth it. At least, that is my take!

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Old 01-10-2010, 05:38 PM   #16
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Maybe you should just up your standard of living by the 10% more spending (or whatever you need to live a nicer lifestyle). You don't want to live life from age 45-80+ thinking about scrimping and saving all the time, so you may want to factor in the "need" to spend a little more now.

We are in that "saving 50%+ of income" category as well. In my projections, I found that increasing spending slightly doesn't stretch out the FIRE date by itself by too much. It is the prospect of spending more during retirement that necessitates longer working to acquire a larger portfolio that will support the spending during a lengthy ER. But the bottom line is that if working an extra year or two is what it takes to live "comfortably" vs just barely scraping by, isn't it worth it (unless work REALLY sucks)?
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Old 01-10-2010, 07:50 PM   #17
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Wow, does this thread ever hit home for me. I struggle to maintain a balance between saving/investing for FIRE (which I desire immensely) and stilling enjoying my daily existence. I'm 37 years old now and want the ability to pull out of the rat race and around 45. Right now, my job is stressful, hard on my body, but the income allows me to entertain these "FIRE" related thoughts, so I plug away at it.

Yet I sometimes feel I haven't committed fully to FIRE when I look at some of things I spend $ on, which enhance my quality of life, yes... but are also putting a dent into possible savings for retirement.

The one extravagance the DW and I never deprive ourselves of is a Mexican trip every year for a couple of weeks... otherwise the combination of saving/scrimping and the canadian winter would probably send us over the edge of insanity.
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Old 01-10-2010, 07:51 PM   #18
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The only thing worse than not achieving your goals is achieving all of them. Maybe that's where you are on FIRE?
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Old 01-10-2010, 08:01 PM   #19
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The only thing worse than not achieving your goals is achieving all of them. Maybe that's where you are on FIRE?
Set higher goals? Second home? RV? McMansion? Back to work?
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Old 01-10-2010, 08:12 PM   #20
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2Cor, I can't tell you how much I admire your determination. FI at 45 is extraordinary. Compare it to 55 -- 10 fewer years of accumulation (and presumably your 10 highest earning years) and 10 extra years of retirement to pay for. To be on track to pull that off is amazing and I can only imagine, at times, painful.

I made good money in my working days, always lived modestly, and never had kids -- and there was no way I could make FI before 55. Best of luck in achieving your most extraordinary goal!

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