Author Topic: FIRE or go to next level in career?  (Read 1233 times)

firenow

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FIRE or go to next level in career?
« on: April 20, 2017, 02:33:47 PM »
Hi Mustachians,

My husband and I (with two kids) are well on our path to FIRE (we are FI but planning to RE in two years) on a good amount of stash ($1.4M+). Both of us are in STEM occupations and are at our max earning capacity in our current roles. The next bump would come if we became managers or its equivalent in the technical side. Since we want to spend time with kids and travel, we decided 3 years back to concentrate on FIRE and finish in 5 years. We were new parents five years back and were not sure how we can make it all work. So having FI was very important to us incase one of us decided to scale back or quit. Fast forward three years and we have a handle on the parenting thing, so FI is good but we are not sure about RE.

Our workplaces are decent, nothing to complain too much about. However, I see some of my colleagues working hard to position themselves for the next step and the Type-A person in me wants to do the same. Also, looking at the opulence and money coming in at higher levels of our career paths, I'm wondering if I'm just giving them all away to while away time. To give an idea, my VP earns a million a year and owns a $20M house outright. I'm two levels below him and can ideally see myself there (if I put in the work) in 7-10 years. Similarly for my husband.

Pros of going to next level in career:
  • We are young (29 and 32) and have our entire lives before us so should we FIRE so soon?
  • My husband loves his job and the only reason he'd FIRE is because I want to travel and spend time as family. I don't mind my job but the FIRE mindset has me thinking that every day going to work is a drudgery. Its not that bad if I really think about it. We can WFH when we want and can take vacations without restrictions. The teams are good and work is interesting but not stressful.
  • I want my kids to have everything they need and not be restricted by money or status (when compared to cousins/friends) just because we chose to FIRE early. I don't want them to regret our FIREd state and wish we had worked a year or two longer so we had more money to support them.
  • More money on the table for working 4-5 years and can FIRE with a larger stash
  • More inheritance to kids/more donations to charity
  • if something happens and we lose a lot of money, getting it all back would be way harder since the jobs we have currently are easy and good. Not sure we'll get something similar without lot of luck

Pros of FIRE in two years:
  • not deal with office politics (I don't see it much at my level but I do see it at higher levels, not sure if I would like it)
  • get out of rat race? (ambivalent since we haven't been hit by the negatives too much - so not sure we really really want to do it)
  • spend more time with kids (I feel we do spend enough quality time with kids. Any more and even if the quantity would increase, the quality would not by much. Both of us need adult interactions and cannot be SAHPs)
  • travel (again not sure since kids are really young and traveling when they are 7-12 years of age would be better for them and us)
  • spend more time with parents and give our kids more grandparent time (they live in a different country and would love to have us with them - but they still work even after FI and wouldn't really want us hanging around without purpose - FWIW, my dad would try to get me working with him because at 60, he can't imagine not working, let alone accept I'm not working at 30. Similarly for my husband's parents)
  • can spend more time on our passions (this might be interesting to explore but is it worth giving up another million or two? can I not explore my passions/hobbies after 4-5 years?)

We don't plan to stay where we are once FIREd and plan to move to a LCOL area where we'd do well with the stash we have even if we never work a day again. I don't think we can come back to where we are currently if we leave our jobs due to the nature of our jobs - so its a one-shot thing.

We love the option to have FI money and to quit when SHTF but when things are going great, how do I give it all up and walk away? How did you do it/planning to do it?

ysette9

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Re: FIRE or go to next level in career?
« Reply #1 on: April 20, 2017, 02:38:26 PM »
I think you are a great test case for taking a nice sabbatical together and seeing what you think. Think of it as a test-drive of FIRE and just go with the flow with no expectations. Stay at home, do some travel, visit some family, do some cool projects, and just see how you react. Coke back in six months and let us know how your thoughts about FIRE vs. fire hose of cash have changed. :)
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ysette9

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Re: FIRE or go to next level in career?
« Reply #2 on: April 20, 2017, 02:43:14 PM »
And please promise that you will report back if you do a sabbatical! There are a lot of parallels between our situations so I am very curious for selfish reasons what you find out and which path you choose.
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Cassie

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Re: FIRE or go to next level in career?
« Reply #3 on: April 20, 2017, 02:44:30 PM »
I can see why at your young ages that you would not want to Fire yet.  Since you both enjoy your jobs and they are not stressful I think you should keep working.  You will know when you are really sick of it and can quit then.  It is nice to have so many choices at your ages.

firelight

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Re: FIRE or go to next level in career?
« Reply #4 on: April 20, 2017, 02:46:32 PM »
Same here. We are not quite there yet but are soon approaching the ceiling on our current roles. At times, I feel ambitious and want to push FIRE date further. At times, I want out NOW. Would love to see what everyone says.

Gin1984

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Re: FIRE or go to next level in career?
« Reply #5 on: April 20, 2017, 03:00:02 PM »
I'm in STEM and I'd be interested to know more about what parts of your job you WFH honestly.  But you sound like you have a good gig right now.  Maybe instead of moving up you can move part time or have a large summer break with the kids?  You sound like you like your jobs, so stay until you don't.

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MrsWhipple

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Re: FIRE or go to next level in career?
« Reply #6 on: April 20, 2017, 03:24:07 PM »
How old are your kids now? I feel like if you're enjoying the amount of time you're spending with them now, you should keep your jobs for longer and just take longer vacations when you want. As someone who retired to start a family, I do miss having cool coworkers and intellectually stimulating work. Being with a kid all day is fun, but if that's not what you want, having a good job has lots of perks besides the money.

It sounds like your husband wants to keep working more than you, so why not take a break of 6 months or a year whenever you want, and see how you like it? Maybe having you pick up some more of the housework/errands would be enough so that you all could spend more of your free time together as a family.

chasesfish

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Re: FIRE or go to next level in career?
« Reply #7 on: April 20, 2017, 07:37:50 PM »
My wife and I were both 32 and made a similar decision, she left her career and I went the next level up.

It has positives and negatives and I get asked would I do it again?  It may not have been the best financial decision, but I don't know if I would have felt "fulfilled" professionally if I never gave this a try.

The only real kink in the plan has been the struggle to get pregnant, its certainly led to some tougher moments when one spouse gives up their career.  We will also have to move at ER because this HCOL has very little here except for careers and raising a family.  Happy to answer any specific questions.
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msilenus

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Re: FIRE or go to next level in career?
« Reply #8 on: April 20, 2017, 11:07:17 PM »
We're in a not dissimilar spot.  FI for about six months.  We're splitting the difference: DW just started stay-at-home momming.  I'm still working on some interesting problems and will keep at that.  The money is still useful for some stretch goals, but it's more about enjoying the work.

I think it's weird that you seem to be focusing on what looks to me like patently excessive amounts of money in the 'pro' column.  You're FI now.  What does a million bucks per year do (after 7-10 more years of "putting in the work"!) to improve the quality of your life beyond that?  How much marginal utility do you really see in those dollars?  I can understand wanting a few more years' of work to create comfort space in the 'stache, or unlocks some stretch goals... but you're looking at going vastly beyond that.  You should be focusing on happiness and satisfaction.

Your DH seems like he really wants to work for considerably longer and you've used the word 'drudgery', so the answer to your problem seems really clear: retire yourself, and continue to cash flow his salary.  You're not going to lose anywhere near half your combined income because your taxes are going to drop like a rock.   Saving rate will probably slow down a lot but not stop.  For vacations, maybe he can negotiate more vacation time, swing some unpaid time off, take time between employers et cetera.  Maybe you vacation with just the kids a little, too.
« Last Edit: April 20, 2017, 11:08:54 PM by msilenus »

lhamo

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Re: FIRE or go to next level in career?
« Reply #9 on: April 21, 2017, 09:49:50 PM »
Is there any possibility that one of you could get a 2-3 year international assignment (or a different job), perhaps working in one of the countries where your parents are?   The "trailing spouse" role is well enough established that it provides a reasonable explanation for why one of you was out of the workforce for that period (should you decide to try to go back eventually).  There is a lot to do with relocating a family internationally, and SAHP life in that context might be more interesting/tolerable than taking on that role in the US.   Expat assignments often come with great perks like tax equalization, employer paid housing, schooling allowances, etc.   Being based in a different part of the world makes regional travel in that part of the world cheaper/more convenient (shorter, cheaper flights, etc.)   

There are, of course, challenges to being an expat as well -- distance from family being the main one.   

We spent 13 years in China (where my husband and his family is from) and it allowed us to comfortably FIRE.   On non-profit salaries, no less.  Worked well for us.
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bryan995

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Re: FIRE or go to next level in career?
« Reply #10 on: April 21, 2017, 10:25:08 PM »
It sounds like you both are killing it - Congrats!

In my STEM field, 2 levels below VP would be director, which certainly has management responsibilities.

If you don't mind, what is the max earning capacity in your current roles? SWE?
I suppose max earning before becoming a managers in my field would be somewhere around ~220k total comp.

I worry that the next level up would carry only a relatively small compensation increase that does not justify the added responsibilities/stress - may not be worth it...
A plus could be that once you've reach that top pre-manager position, the work should only become easier and easier as time goes on.

« Last Edit: April 22, 2017, 09:53:56 AM by bryan995 »

gerardc

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Re: FIRE or go to next level in career?
« Reply #11 on: April 22, 2017, 02:23:04 AM »
Ahh, decisions, decisions...

It's hard to give it all up, the extra money, the career, the secure position you might not be able to get back...

I'd vote for a few months off. You tend to forget the "good life" when at work every day, and a few months off would revive that memory and vision of a new life. You'll see if you still like it. The thing is, as you have discovered, that corporate life does tend to get better with age, with more respect, power, money, etc. so it might be worth it to stick it out a little longer!

The real question to answer during your sabbatical is: do you prefer the "good life" or power/money/recognition a career can provide?

undercover

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Re: FIRE or go to next level in career?
« Reply #12 on: April 22, 2017, 08:24:20 AM »
Everything in "pro-career" sounds vague, far-off, and uncertain. Everything in "pro-FIRE" sounds immediately beneficial. Sounds like an easy decision. At least take some time off.
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chasesfish

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Re: FIRE or go to next level in career?
« Reply #13 on: April 23, 2017, 07:07:15 AM »
I was running the math on my decision in hindsight (including relocation)...

The math ends up working out that my wife got 3 extra years off for me working 2 years longer.  The "next level" involved two relocation that were expensive and higher housing costs.  We probably could have FIREd at 35 together vs. her at 32 and me at 36/37.

That's rough math because this will significantly ramp up the value of my pension, but that's 20 years out and more difficult to quantify now.  I view it as being at financial abundance a little later in life.
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