Author Topic: At A Crossroads...  (Read 4786 times)

foghorn

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At A Crossroads...
« on: September 04, 2017, 01:28:04 PM »
At a Crossroads…

Hello MMM Readers.

Here is my situation.  I was recently laid off from my job and find myself debating the next step in my life.  For many years I have tried to be a good saver and a spender of very little.  Now that I am unemployed I find myself searching for what to do next. 

•   Do I look for another Corporate America job and throw myself back into that world maybe one last time?

•   Do I use this as an opportunity to walk away from Corporate America and work at something else that has much lower stress, but likely much less pay?

•   Do I retire completely and tell Corporate America for go away and leave me alone?


My personal stats:

•   Male
•   Age 50
•   Single – Never Married
•   No kids (thank you vasectomy)
•   Live in Upper Midwest in a suburb of a major metropolitan area.


My financial stats – (Assets):

•   Debt Free
•   Total Net Worth = $2,775,000 (Incudes the details below)
        - House Value = $308,000.
        - Retirement Funds (IRA’s and 401K) = $1,600,000.
        - Taxable Accounts = $867,000 (Checking, Savings, CD’s, Bond Funds, Brokerage Account, etc.)  These accounts generate about $1,000 per month in Interest and Dividend Income which gets re-        invested.


My financial stats – (Monthly Expenses):

Property Taxes                           $307
Gym Membership                    $45
Groceries                                   $200
Cable TV / Internet                   $140
Homeowners Association Fee   $110
Property Insurance                   $106
Gas - Car                                     $90
Electric                                    $79
Car Insurance                            $67
Cell Phone                                    $58
Gas - House                           $56
Disability Insurance                   $54
Car Tabs                                   $38
Water-Sewer-Recycling          $26
Umbrella Liability Ins.                  $11
TOTAL                $1387

Starting in November 2017, I will need to budget about $500 per month for Health Insurance via COBRA or the ACA Exchange.  My essential expenses will then be $1887 per month.  I would also like to add in about $500 per month for unplanned expenses and having some fun from time to time. 

All told, I think I can plan on $2500 per month ($30,000 per year) to live a fairly comfortable lifestyle.


Bad habit – I like to drive a new car.  About every two years I trade in my current vehicle for a new one.  My last trade was about two years ago – and had I not lost my job, I probably would have done another car deal recently.  With that said, my current vehicle is fine.  It was purchased in 2015 (2016 model year) and has 21,000 miles on it. 

The House – My home is about 15 years old and will start to need some new items in the next few years.  All the appliances are original to the home; the furnace and AC are also original.  It will not be long before all of these will need to be replaced.

The idea of retiring is enticing, but frankly foreign to me.  I always assumed that I would work at least another 5 years at the job that I held (saving the entire time) and then leave on my terms.  My former employer threw a wrench into that idea and I now I am faced with decisions I did not plan on making at age 50.

I would appreciate the perspective of people on this forum who think about this stuff a great deal and have a point of view that I may not be considering.

Thank you.

tyort1

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Re: At A Crossroads...
« Reply #1 on: September 04, 2017, 01:49:04 PM »
Based on the 4% rule, you can withdraw $96,000 per year and never run out of money, barring an event like the Great Depression.  Living on $30,000 per year you will never run out, period.  You aren't just FI, you're stinking rich!  Haha.  Don't waste another moment of your life doing ANYTHING you don't want to. 

One question - are your retirement and taxable savings in low-cost accounts like Vanguard?  You really should find out what the costs/fees are and make some changes if they are high.
Frugalite in training.

GenXbiker

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Re: At A Crossroads...
« Reply #2 on: September 04, 2017, 01:49:54 PM »
I'm about the same age - also a single guy.   Your expenses are a little higher than mine, but you are quite a ways ahead of me in your total retirement + investments.   People think I should go ahead and FIRE, so I would definitely go ahead and FIRE if I was you.  You're sitting well.

RWD

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Re: At A Crossroads...
« Reply #3 on: September 04, 2017, 01:52:44 PM »
You're planning on spending $30k/year and have ~$2.5 million in invested assets? You have no need to work for money ever again. $2.5 million can sustain about $100k/year in spending per the 4% rule and that's not even factoring in eventual social security payments.

What do you do now? Whatever you want!

foghorn

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Re: At A Crossroads...
« Reply #4 on: September 04, 2017, 02:24:14 PM »
Hi Tyort1;

Thanks for your reply and your perspective.

Most of my Retirement Funds are with Fidelity Investments and I am in their managed funds program.  Basically, Fidelity manages my account (based on my Objectives).  They earn about 75 basis points for the cost of funds and their services.

The non-retirement funds are largely in CD's and bank accounts.  The dollars that are in Mutual Funds and Bond funds are low cost options.

Thanks agin for there input.

Fi(re) on the Farm

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Re: At A Crossroads...
« Reply #5 on: September 04, 2017, 02:39:19 PM »
Is there something in life that you want to do? travel, ski, volunteer? You're set financially but now you need to figure out how you want to spend your time. With the amount you have saved, you could travel the world. I think you need to find what you're passionate about and focus on that.

tyort1

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Re: At A Crossroads...
« Reply #6 on: September 04, 2017, 02:46:50 PM »
Hi Tyort1;

Thanks for your reply and your perspective.

Most of my Retirement Funds are with Fidelity Investments and I am in their managed funds program.  Basically, Fidelity manages my account (based on my Objectives).  They earn about 75 basis points for the cost of funds and their services.

The non-retirement funds are largely in CD's and bank accounts.  The dollars that are in Mutual Funds and Bond funds are low cost options.

Thanks agin for there input.

.75 is pretty expensive!  For contrast, I also have Fidelity and use their targeted retirement funds and only pay .1 percent.  One thing you'll find, as you spend more time on this site, is just how little value managed funds bring you and how much money they really cost you. 

You might also do some reading up on the Three Fund Portfolio, both here and on Bogleheads. 

I also think you have way to much $$ in cash and cash equivalents.  Maybe only keep 3 to 5 years worth of expenses on hand in cash, and the rest in a stock/bond split at Vanguard.  This will let your money keep growing while having a nice cushion for emergencies and/or market downturns. 
Frugalite in training.

marty998

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Re: At A Crossroads...
« Reply #7 on: September 04, 2017, 03:42:56 PM »
0.75% actually works out to be over $18,000 a year on $2.5m of investments.

Seems to be by far and away your largest expense.

Goldielocks

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Re: At A Crossroads...
« Reply #8 on: September 04, 2017, 10:12:50 PM »
Obviously you have the money to not have to work again.   But your question is bigger than that.

My two cents is this -- in order to make a positive change in your day to day, you need to find something that draws you to it.
In the meantime, look for another corporate america job a couple of days per week (casual-like, for now), then put it aside, and explore new hobbies, ideas, things to study or try new things to do. 

One big recommendation is to take up a regular exercise program commitment 2x per week, if you don't already have that happening in your life right now.    Try a couple of yoga classes or meditation --something very different, then try something else.   Then try a volunteer activity one day a week, and deliberately get together with friends you haven't seen one day a week.

Now we are up to 6 days, so you do what you like on the seventh.  Please note, taking a vacation away for more than a couple of days will not help reframe your thoughts, only to escape for a while and put the thinking about what you want in future on hold.

Eventually you will be drawn to something -- a new corporate job, a part time job, learning a skill, setting up a business, or a new non-paid adventure.


Where does this advice come from?  My personal experience with being laid off unexpectedly 2x in my career, when not FI, and then FIRE by choice about 6 months ago...   Adding the missing elements to my life when work went away made me much more aware of what I actually wanted or needed.

Oh,  and a reminder -- It really is about a business decision, not about you, when you get laid off.   I had a hard time internalizing that at first...

foghorn

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Re: At A Crossroads...
« Reply #9 on: September 05, 2017, 11:08:41 AM »
Goldielocks;

Thank you for your message and your perspective.  So much of what your wrote hits home with me.  I guess that I have spent so much time and effort getting to this point (and was planning on a few more years of adding to the nest egg), that I am not really mentally prepared to move into FIRE.  I kind of had a plan in my head where I would work a few more years and use that time to save and also plan for the next steps.  Being laid off has accelerated all of that for me.

I do workout at least 4 days a week and that its a very important part of each day.  I need that energy burn in order to keep my head straight and also sleep well.  When I miss a series of workout I do not feel right. 

I need to explore what I want to "run to" now, rather than focusing on "running from" the work world.  As my former employer had made that choice for me, I can now explore what those things might be.  Like so many others, I guess I have been conditioned to work until age 65 - or - until I could not anymore.  I have options and flexibility now, but it just seems odd when most of my friends and peers are not in the same boat.  In fact that is part of the reason I am posting on the MMM forum.  You folks can understand, whereas none of my friends can.  Most of them are in debt and cannot relate to my situation.

Lastly, I agree that being laid off was a business decision as there were many of us let go on that ugly day.  But, it is hard to not take it personally.

Thank you again for your input.

 
 

Finances_With_Purpose

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Re: At A Crossroads...
« Reply #10 on: September 05, 2017, 10:43:41 PM »
Goldielocks;

Thank you for your message and your perspective.  So much of what your wrote hits home with me.  I guess that I have spent so much time and effort getting to this point (and was planning on a few more years of adding to the nest egg), that I am not really mentally prepared to move into FIRE.  I kind of had a plan in my head where I would work a few more years and use that time to save and also plan for the next steps.  Being laid off has accelerated all of that for me.

I do workout at least 4 days a week and that its a very important part of each day.  I need that energy burn in order to keep my head straight and also sleep well.  When I miss a series of workout I do not feel right. 

I need to explore what I want to "run to" now, rather than focusing on "running from" the work world.  As my former employer had made that choice for me, I can now explore what those things might be.  Like so many others, I guess I have been conditioned to work until age 65 - or - until I could not anymore.  I have options and flexibility now, but it just seems odd when most of my friends and peers are not in the same boat.  In fact that is part of the reason I am posting on the MMM forum.  You folks can understand, whereas none of my friends can.  Most of them are in debt and cannot relate to my situation.

Lastly, I agree that being laid off was a business decision as there were many of us let go on that ugly day.  But, it is hard to not take it personally.

Thank you again for your input.

Foghorn, I totally feel for you (and have been there myself)!  I also agree 100% with Goldielocks - she says it so well.

This is the kind of issue I love thinking about and writing about!  Here's the #1 thing that has helped me personally, and it's a book that's written for exactly the situation you're in.  It's called Now What?: 90 Days to a New Life Direction (link/referral/reference: http://amzn.to/2eDY51K).  The exercises in there are invaluable.

There's another book, too, called SHAPE by Erik Rees that's helpful (link/referral/reference: http://amzn.to/2gJGc67).  It, too, includes some great exercises and things to think through.

Both of those encourage people to find their purpose and their next thing - and they give you a ton of tools to help understand what that thing might be.  I say this as someone who has spent tremendous amounts of time over the past few years trying to figure out my own life goals, purpose, direction, and so on.  For whatever reason, it has been very difficult for me, and those have been the most helpful tools.  (For most people, I think it's probably easier to figure out.) 

The great news: financially, you're free.  You can do whatever you want now.  So you can build a life that's extremely fulfilling. 

I strongly recommend that you think about how your life might best serve others as you find your next thing...you may well find it more fulfilling.  And serving others can come in many, many fashions (so don't think of it as limiting): everything from doing custom woodwork to encouraging people via a blog (my side hobby) to examining complex financial or biological models to advance human understanding of something.  "Others" need not be real people standing in your presence, in other words: you can do whatever you want to help people.  Often it's helpful to think of a problem you want to solve, or a method for solving types of problems. 

I'd switch places with you today, easily (as I still have to make money to live), for what it's worth.  And I'm eager to hear what you make of your life! 

human

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Re: At A Crossroads...
« Reply #11 on: September 06, 2017, 04:08:15 AM »
Dude you could live off of 30k a year and give me 50k a year and be fine for eternity. I would consider dumping the managed accounts though but it's your money.

Acastus

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Re: At A Crossroads...
« Reply #12 on: September 07, 2017, 12:10:51 PM »
If you spent $ 50k per year, you could probably fund yourself until full retirement on just your taxable money, and let the other 1.6 mil ride. You can do what you want at this point.

One note on expenses. You made too much money this year, but you can get ACA subsidies next year if you keep your total income < $45k. Lower income results in more subsidy, but we are talking 300/month at most, so don't kill yourself on it.  Pay attention to how you draw taxable money. Not all will be taxable, just the amount that has appreciated. Fidelity should be able to show you how to limit your taxable withdrawals.

DarkandStormy

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Re: At A Crossroads...
« Reply #13 on: September 07, 2017, 12:57:30 PM »
You're FIRE.

Just get yourself out of the Managed Funds with Fidelity and go with low-cost index funds (Fidelity, Vanguard, and Schwab are all pretty cheap).  Your $867K is earning you 1% a year.  Move most of that into an index fund or a combination of stocks/bonds that you're comfortable with.

You're set.  More than set, actually.  Congrats!  Time to find what you like to do, what you're passionate about, etc. etc.  Your stash will more than fund anything you want to do - even a new car this year!
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jamccain

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Re: At A Crossroads...
« Reply #14 on: September 08, 2017, 01:12:39 PM »
Goldielocks;

Thank you for your message and your perspective.  So much of what your wrote hits home with me.  I guess that I have spent so much time and effort getting to this point (and was planning on a few more years of adding to the nest egg), that I am not really mentally prepared to move into FIRE.  I kind of had a plan in my head where I would work a few more years and use that time to save and also plan for the next steps.  Being laid off has accelerated all of that for me.

I do workout at least 4 days a week and that its a very important part of each day.  I need that energy burn in order to keep my head straight and also sleep well.  When I miss a series of workout I do not feel right. 

I need to explore what I want to "run to" now, rather than focusing on "running from" the work world.  As my former employer had made that choice for me, I can now explore what those things might be.  Like so many others, I guess I have been conditioned to work until age 65 - or - until I could not anymore.  I have options and flexibility now, but it just seems odd when most of my friends and peers are not in the same boat.  In fact that is part of the reason I am posting on the MMM forum.  You folks can understand, whereas none of my friends can.  Most of them are in debt and cannot relate to my situation.

Lastly, I agree that being laid off was a business decision as there were many of us let go on that ugly day.  But, it is hard to not take it personally.

Thank you again for your input.

You're never really going to be mentally prepared...one day you just get too tired to go back to work and you retire.  What I mean is, you're always going to feel like you need to make another $100K before retiring. 

Couple of suggestions:

1.  Most important advice...try FIRE out for a limited amount of time.  Don't commit to anything, just try out being early retired for a period of time (6 months, 1yr, whatever).  You're not making any decisions about the future, you're just taking a break.  At the end of your "timeout" as I'll call it, you'll know where you are mentally.  If you are recharged and ready to go back to corporate america, you'll know.  If you are over that forever, you'll know.  You can relax during this period knowing you already have enough money, you're just proving it to yourself here. 

2.  Let something find you.  Once you're retired, work/opportunities will find you.  Don't jump on any during your timeout unless you consider it the opportunity of a lifetime.  After your "timeout" try something again (if you want).  If some interesting opportunity came along, try it out for six months.  Keep testing everything on small time horizons.  As hard as this is...stop having a 5 yr plan.  Instead point yourself to your true north and go off in that direction, adjust when you get off course. 

3.  Engage other people, once you're on the timeout.  Keep your social and professional network strong.  This will help with #2 and you'll find other peacocks like yourself.  Plus, you're going to need the interaction and know you'll have more energy for it.

4.  Read some books.  I suggest "So Good They Can't Ignore You".  It will do two things:  1) Debunk the "passion" myth.  2)  Get you to think about how to use your current skills to mold your work to something more palatable (I don't want to oversell it). 

5.  Don't apologize about liking to drive a new car.  You've done great.  98% of the people who might criticize that can't hold your personal finance jock.  You determine how you want to handle this expense in the future. 

6.  Be open to consulting or part time work after your time-out.  You don't have to work FT anymore unless you just want a big pile of money sitting there. 

6.  Do #1.  Try it out.   

foghorn

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Re: At A Crossroads...
« Reply #15 on: September 10, 2017, 11:05:50 AM »
I would like to thank those of you that took the time to read my Case Study and reply with their thoughts, perspective and recommendations.  The input has given me so much to think about and consider as I look forward. 

I still struggle with this idea of FIRE.  I am a worrier by nature and have always used money as a barrier to the crap that life can (and will) throw at us.  I think that no matter how much money I have, "just a little more" always feels like the answer.  Work a little longer, save a little more.  Changing that mindset is hard for me - and considering I am thinking about this because of a lay off, rather than part of some well laid out plan makes it even more difficult.  I guess its is the emotional side of money - not the rational side.

I also need to look at a way to better deploy my Taxable Accounts.  Most of that money is sitting in super safe (and therefore low yielding) accounts such as Checking, Savings, CD's.  What I wouldn't give for 5% at the bank. That would generate enough income that I would not have to touch the principal.  Sadly, not the case.

Thanks again to all of you. 





Acastus

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Re: At A Crossroads...
« Reply #16 on: September 13, 2017, 11:24:56 AM »
You are in a situation that a career coach may really make sense. I am kicking this idea around for myself. They are usually a waste of money. You can get many similar services for free at the local Job Center (formerly unemployment office). For simpler job changes, free is best. Cost is in the $5k-10k range, and they work with you until you land.  You have plenty of money, so no worries there. They are part guidance counselor, part therapist, part coach, and they have contacts.

Reading "What Color is Your Parachute?" with a focus on the life changing career change methods may give you some insight. There are several encore career books out there, as well.

Finances_With_Purpose

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Re: At A Crossroads...
« Reply #17 on: September 13, 2017, 04:35:13 PM »
You are in a situation that a career coach may really make sense. I am kicking this idea around for myself. They are usually a waste of money. You can get many similar services for free at the local Job Center (formerly unemployment office). For simpler job changes, free is best. Cost is in the $5k-10k range, and they work with you until you land.  You have plenty of money, so no worries there. They are part guidance counselor, part therapist, part coach, and they have contacts.

Reading "What Color is Your Parachute?" with a focus on the life changing career change methods may give you some insight. There are several encore career books out there, as well.

Agree, but before dropping 5-10k, seriously: check out the 90 Days book I mentioned.  It's basically a career coach along w/ all the exercises he/she would run you through.  If nothing else, you'll get far more value from coaching once you put in the hours on that - and know far more about yourself.  It can't help but help you. 

You're in a great place: lots of opportunity awaits you!!!  For some inspiration, see this TED talk (which led me to that book).

civil4life

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Re: At A Crossroads...
« Reply #18 on: October 12, 2017, 10:59:30 AM »
Not that you need to pinch your budget, but since you are at FIRE and have plenty of money for the future home insurance and disability are really not necessary.

affordablehousing

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Re: At A Crossroads...
« Reply #19 on: October 12, 2017, 11:30:32 AM »
You'd be a great candidate for psychotherapy. There's books full of platitudes galore but for someone in your situation - rich and lacking direction, therapy could be helpful. Re: career coach ?!? what's the point? you don't even know why you work or if you get enjoyment from it. I'm sure people will say therapy is a waste of money and frightfully expensive, and it is, but you only get one life to live, you've got a lot of it left, and working may not be the most useful way to fill the hours before you sleep every day.

Wayward

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Re: At A Crossroads...
« Reply #20 on: October 12, 2017, 12:25:47 PM »
Congratulations on your recent layoff!!  It may be the best thing that ever happened to you, even if it doesn’t feel like it right now.  A big change like that can be scary, but I do believe that everything in life happens for a reason.  Life has a way of throwing things at us when we need it, to challenge us and push us to learn and grow.  It’s easy to get caught up with the “normal” retirement age of 65+, but you have already saved enough to retire two (or more) of you forever and have an amazing opportunity here.  My advice would be to get off the hamster wheel of Corporate America, since you do not need another dime, and focus instead on what you want.

What makes you feel happy and fulfilled?  What are your passions, dreams, and goals?  Would you like to volunteer? Travel the world? Teach? As others have mentioned pursue hobbies, interests, different areas of study, join clubs or meetups, and try new things.  Stay fit and healthy.  What have you been saving for?  I’m sure it wasn’t so that you can sit around waiting to die.  There are plenty of great books out there to help if you aren’t sure what your passions are too.

There’s no rule saying you can’t make money doing something you enjoy in the future, but you are free from needing to.  I would suggest focusing on yourself for awhile; explore, learn, grow, and give. That is true happiness.

Also, I would switch any actively managed accounts over to Vanguard, Betterment, or Wealthfront.  There’s always room to optimize, it’s not just about the rate – I don’t trust the managers to have anyone’s best interests in mind except their own pockets and they don’t outperform the market consistently anyway.

As a side note, I want to commend you on your decision to not have children.  As a 33-year-old female also choosing to remain childless it’s been incredibly difficult, especially in finding the right partner.

“Your time is limited so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.  Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking.  Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice.  And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.  They somehow already know what you truly want to become.” – Steve Jobs

Good luck on your journey!
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MrThatsDifferent

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Re: At A Crossroads...
« Reply #21 on: October 12, 2017, 02:31:50 PM »
You’re fine. Relax. Work on what you want to do with your life and do it. You have pressure or obligations except to your own happiness. Congrats, you won!

foghorn

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Re: At A Crossroads...
« Reply #22 on: October 15, 2017, 03:38:13 PM »
I want to thank those of you that have posted recently regarding my Case Study.

It is becoming very clear to me that I am dealing with a bit of a "mental block" here.  I still have some personal work to do to get my head to the idea of FIRE.  Your messages are so kind and so encouraging.  I really do appreciate it. 

At the core, I suppose it is fear driving my reluctance to FIRE, and we all know fear can be one heck of a motivator.  The idea of being an old man and running out of money - then looking back at today and seeing FIRE as the great mistake of my life.  Being the "big dummy" who retired at 50 and messed up things is simply frightening.  I guess I remain a work in progress. 

pbkmaine

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Re: At A Crossroads...
« Reply #23 on: October 15, 2017, 03:45:36 PM »
If you are still worried about money, there are two things you can do: 1) Get out of the Managed Account program at Fidelity and 2) Buy a great car, preferably used, and stick with it. That should eliminate any financial worries.

Finances_With_Purpose

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    • Finances With Purpose: deploying resources wisely to live vigorously
Re: At A Crossroads...
« Reply #24 on: October 17, 2017, 04:49:28 PM »
I want to thank those of you that have posted recently regarding my Case Study.

It is becoming very clear to me that I am dealing with a bit of a "mental block" here.  I still have some personal work to do to get my head to the idea of FIRE.  Your messages are so kind and so encouraging.  I really do appreciate it. 

At the core, I suppose it is fear driving my reluctance to FIRE, and we all know fear can be one heck of a motivator.  The idea of being an old man and running out of money - then looking back at today and seeing FIRE as the great mistake of my life.  Being the "big dummy" who retired at 50 and messed up things is simply frightening.  I guess I remain a work in progress.

I for one really enjoyed hearing about your situation.  It's encouraging in some ways, and you're at a very enviable place in life. 

FWIW, I can't emphasize enough how much it helps to figure out your NEXT thing.  I found it incredibly helpful to read through the books I mentioned, esp. the 90 days one, to get a fix on my next direction.  Then, it becomes MUCH easier to take the next step.  The book/coach even addresses the mental block problem you're referring to.  Seriously: well worth your time if you learn from books.  Maybe spend time on things like that, not finances, to find the motivation to move forward...

CowboyAndIndian

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Re: At A Crossroads...
« Reply #25 on: October 17, 2017, 05:59:47 PM »
You have seen those wildlife videos .... The cage door is opened and the lion/tiger is free to go. But it is scared to come out of the door. Someone on the other side of the cage prods the wild cat with a long stick. It tentatively heads for the door, finds out it can get thru and makes a wild dash for the nearest safe refuge.

You are the wild cat, the folks on the forum are those brave souls prodding you from the other side with long sticks.

Go, run out and be free!!

CowboyAndIndian

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Re: At A Crossroads...
« Reply #26 on: October 19, 2017, 03:24:20 PM »
I keep going back to Dr. Doom's blog. To find out how you will fill your time now that work is no longer there read this.

https://livingafi.com/2015/03/09/building-a-vision-of-life-without-work/


bognish

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Re: At A Crossroads...
« Reply #27 on: October 23, 2017, 12:56:56 PM »
Maybe frame your situation as taking a sabbatical instead of FIRE. Give yourself a set period of time, 6 months, before you would think of looking for another job. In that time you can research low cost investments to put your tax funds to work and reduce fees on your retirement account. This also gives you an "acceptable" narrative for people who ask whats next after the layoff: taking a sabbatical and training to switch careers into personal investment advising.