Author Topic: Re-evaluating  (Read 3056 times)

snacky

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Re-evaluating
« on: December 08, 2015, 10:38:00 AM »
This week I have been diagnosed with a chronic health condition. One that will gradually reduce my quality of life, and shorten my life expectancy by at least a decade. the effects can be reduced through diet and exercise, but not eliminated entirely. so my body will slowly break down, and I won't live as long as I had previously assumed, based on the longevity of same-sex relatives.

I am currently 33, and the soonest I can realistically retire with the current savings habits is 55. Also that's when my super sweet work pension becomes available. so I had assumed 22 years to save for retirement, then do fun stuff for a couple of decades.

The medical news means that there is a strong possibility that at 55 I won't have the physical ability to travel or homestead or do any of the other daydream scenarios that I had been contemplating.

in my shoes, what would you do? would you stop trying to save for real retirement, and live for the now instead? in this case that could mean working less, travelling more, putting the money I had been saving into doing things while I still can. Or would you stay the current course, hope that medical science improves or I get lucky and will be healthy at 55, and will live a regular-length life?

If it matters, I make ~$60k, am a single parent, live in a LCOL area and generally like my job.

rubybeth

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Re: Re-evaluating
« Reply #1 on: December 08, 2015, 10:53:39 AM »
Ah, that's a bummer, I'm sorry to hear about the diagnosis. Definitely don't stop saving. But maybe make some savings available now to do some of your dream activities (trips, etc.) that may be limited as the disease progresses. And do whatever you can to stay as healthy as possible. Also, check into your disability coverage--if this is the type of thing where you could become disabled, make sure it's covered by your insurance. Social security disability is notoriously difficult to get, so it's not a great fallback plan.

I'll also add that one of the many reasons DH and I want to be aggressive about savings is due to health concerns as we age. I definitely don't want to be in my 50s or 60s and still needing my paycheck. Having a comfortable stash, even if it's not the full amount you'd need to be fully FIREd, would give you some peace of mind if you needed to cut back at work or go on medical leave at some point.

snacky

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Re: Re-evaluating
« Reply #2 on: December 08, 2015, 10:58:12 AM »
Ah, that's a bummer, I'm sorry to hear about the diagnosis. Definitely don't stop saving. But maybe make some savings available now to do some of your dream activities (trips, etc.) that may be limited as the disease progresses. And do whatever you can to stay as healthy as possible. Also, check into your disability coverage--if this is the type of thing where you could become disabled, make sure it's covered by your insurance. Social security disability is notoriously difficult to get, so it's not a great fallback plan.

I'll also add that one of the many reasons DH and I want to be aggressive about savings is due to health concerns as we age. I definitely don't want to be in my 50s or 60s and still needing my paycheck. Having a comfortable stash, even if it's not the full amount you'd need to be fully FIREd, would give you some peace of mind if you needed to cut back at work or go on medical leave at some point.

I should address this: I'm Canadian, so my health care costs aren't really a concern. I'm also in a sweet unionized job, so if I have to stop working before 55 I will be ok. My pension will be enough to keep me fed and housed from 55 onwards; savings had been so I could do more than just stay home and read library books in retirement. ;)

it's hard to see the point in postponing doing fun things, knowing that I might not be able to do them. but what if it turns out that I can, and I don't have the money? how does one navigate that gamble?

ulrichw

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Re: Re-evaluating
« Reply #3 on: December 08, 2015, 10:59:08 AM »
Sorry about your bad news.

IMO first step is to educate yourself about your condition. Get a second opinion if possible (and if you haven't already done so)

Medical science is far from perfect or deterministic - make sure you have a complete understanding of your prognosis - study the science available, if you can. (Stay away from the witch doctors, though - make sure any sources of information you use are scientifically sound).

Assuming your suppositions on your prognosis are correct, I'd definitely recommend that you figure out how to live for now. As a single parent, you will need to account for raising your offspring, but that doesn't mean that you wouldn't be able to do some things now that you might have otherwise put off until retirement.

You may want to also plan for future medical expenses - since you didn't mention your condition, it's hard to determine what criteria might apply.

Medical science does improve all the time, but breakthroughs don't happen that frequently, so I wouldn't count on a miracle. The good news is that it sounds like you still have plenty of time to do the things you want to do.

2ndTimer

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Re: Re-evaluating
« Reply #4 on: December 08, 2015, 11:29:12 AM »
Don't do anything different right now.  Just absorb information and think.  I have a friend with AIDs who told me that when he was diagnosed he immediately went out and charged up all his cards because he figured he wouldn't live to face the results.  Then they came up up with some much better antiviral cocktails and he is still trying to pay them off almost 20 years later.

primozaj

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Re: Re-evaluating
« Reply #5 on: December 08, 2015, 11:49:43 AM »
IMO first step is to educate yourself about your condition. Get a second opinion if possible (and if you haven't already done so)

I agree with this... then sit down and do some planning.  Were you planning on investing anything for your child (I don't know about Canadian retirement or college)?  Think about where you might want to go and what you might want to see.  I wouldn't go crazy spending on travel right away but maybe take inventory of what things are important and start saving for those.  Or even set a portion of what you had planned for retirement on travel (while stile saving)... maybe in a few years things will be different and your condition will not advance as fast as you expected... maybe then you'll have other interests...

Most importantly, keep your head up and stay positive.  I know its hard to do that right now but trust me it helps; I actually have been through a somewhat similar situation. Hang in there!!!

AZDude

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Re: Re-evaluating
« Reply #6 on: December 08, 2015, 12:18:04 PM »
Write up a will and make sure your child(ren) will be OK when the end comes. After that, its OK to live it up a little bit more.

deborah

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Re: Re-evaluating
« Reply #7 on: December 08, 2015, 12:34:29 PM »
I don't want to belittle your health issues, but we each deal with the things life has turned up, and we certainly don't know how long we are going to last. When I was at uni, one of my friends was very sick, and had bronchiectasis (amongst other things). One day, several other friends came back from a class where the lecturer had held up a bottle with a lung in it from someone who also had bronchiectasis, and said that this person had died at 25, and that normally someone with the disease died younger. They were all in shock, and treated Ian differently after that. I only saw Ian a few times after uni, but I know he was still living when he was in his 40s. Several other friends were perfectly healthy, but died well before Ian, one in his early 20s while kayaking.

As we age, we all find ourselves debilitated in some ways. As a somewhat trivial example, I have to change my glasses constantly because even multifocals don't cover the entire range, and it is so frustrating. I think it is worth reviewing the things that are important to you and having alternatives. After a traffic accident, I had whiplash for three years, and couldn't do hand embroidery (which was one of my favourite things until then), but I found that I could do machine embroidery, and after a couple of years (while I still had whiplash), I was asked to teach machine embroidery, which gave me a side hassle for a number of years. It seemed to me that one path had closed but another had opened, since I would never have become so good at machine embroidery if I hadn't had the whiplash.

lbmustache

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Re: Re-evaluating
« Reply #8 on: December 08, 2015, 01:35:01 PM »
I am very sorry that you are going through this :(

If it says that 95% people with said prognosis are dead at age 65, I would loosen the mustachian strings and start doing things now.
Now if it says 10%, well then I'd still be a little more conservative with my money but make some time to do some more fun things.

You don't need to go balls-to-the-wall and blow everything ASAP!

snacky

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Re: Re-evaluating
« Reply #9 on: December 08, 2015, 02:11:21 PM »
thanks for your responses, everyone. I appreciate your insights. i'm not about to go crazy and buy a gold-plated bidet today or anything. I just need to think things through, reshuffle my plans and priorities.

realistically, i'll have serious health challenges in my 50's, like mobility issues and more, and die in my late 60's or maybe my 70's. of course that could be totally inaccurate, but with my crystal ball at the cleaners I will have to rely on statistical probabilities, and build a margin of error. as one does.

my kids will be grown & gone in 10 years; planning for their care when i'm gone is not an issue. thank the gods. if I had shorter timelines this would be fucking terrible. instead it's just... disheartening. not what anyone hopes for.

my thoughts, this afternoon, are that I should reduce my savings, but still save. Also that I should optimize my quality of life now, because in 20 years I might not be able to do the awesome stuff that I can now. Maybe i'll get a Roomba so I don't have to sweep any more. that would make my life nicer. and possibly put aside money each month for one epic trip per year... maybe $10k for a long, awesome trip each year for my kids and i? basically doing it now instead of when i'm retired.

I need to also emphasize exercise & diet more. those can be my winter goals - see what lifestyle changes I can make, and maintain.

Does that all seem reasonable? what am I failing to consider?

Orvell

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Re: Re-evaluating
« Reply #10 on: December 08, 2015, 02:19:43 PM »
I'm sorry you are going through this. My best friend has MS (and although it may not be what you are going through, I think it somewhat equates with lowered life expectancy and mobility impairment down the road).
Her life right now is not very impacted, but I know she is doing things to try and maximize her time now. Like currently downshifting from a high stress job to one with fewer hours so she can work on her writing, and taking trips across the country, and splurging to go to a friends wedding overseas.
These are all very understandable things.
MMM is about shuffling off things we don't need in our lives to live better ones. <3 Not about depriving ourselves of experiences, time with those we love, and the chance to make our mark.
Do what you have to do so that you don't regret things down the road.
(That said, I think these are things we all can remember, even if we haven't been diagnosed with anything... yet.)

ETA:
When my Aunt's friend was dying, she hired a chef and a house cleaning service. Was it cheap? No. But she decided that since she had 4 months left to live, and she hated cooking and cleaning, and wanted to live the hours she had left how SHE wanted to, that was that.
She died, and I can't imagine she regretted that.
You are not in that situation, I hope none of us are, but it is something to think about in the example it sets; our lives are ours and how to live them is a decision we get to make. :)
« Last Edit: December 08, 2015, 02:29:18 PM by Orvell »

AmandaS1989

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Re: Re-evaluating
« Reply #11 on: December 08, 2015, 02:23:06 PM »
Will you need in-home care to help you deal with your lessened mobility? That might be something to think about. Your kids might not be able to help you later in life so it might be a good idea to put back funds to pay for an in-home caregiver or something of that nature.