Author Topic: Case Study: Data Scientist: 75% FI, Unhappy-When Safe Enough to Take More Risks?  (Read 5804 times)

FInding_peace

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Hey all,

Been lurking for a bit, love the forum, thought you all might have some good advice for my current situation.  Alright, here's the low-down:

Me:
36-year-old single female wanting to FIRE, would hope to have a partner someday, but no intention to have kids

Expenses:
259k to go on mortgage for 628k townhouse (Zillow estimate) (1500 sq ft/3 bdrms in relatively HCOL area)
30k annual non-mortgage spending, which breaks down roughly as:
         22k "needs": 4k food, 2.5k property taxes, 3.5k HOA fees, 4.5k bills, 3.5k healthcare, 2k car/gas, 2k misc repairs/housewares/clothes/laptop
         4k day-to-day discretionary spending: hobbies, activities, going out, eating out, memberships, classes, stuff I want, gifts for others
         4k travel: visiting friends + family who live in other states, vacations
This spending level has been consistent, give or take a few K, each year for several years now, without really trying that hard to budget.  Adjusting for employer-paid health insurance though. 

Assets:
665k savings & investments (460k Vanguard taxable, 140k tax-advantaged 401(k)s, 55k cash, 5k HSA, 5k misc)
369k equity in house
Total Net Worth: 1.03 million :-)

Job:
Senior Data Scientist at publicly-traded MediumSizeCorp
Currently make $140k base salary + $20k bonus + $45k stock units = $205k per year if company meets targets

FIRE Goal:
$750k (for 4% WR) + paid off house (old-school MMM style ;-) )
And yes, I know some will tell me this is insufficient, but I (1) anticipate working some in FIRE, (2) think I could cash out the expensive house and move to LCOL area as a contingency plan if needed, and also (3) expect to have Social Security, an inheritance, and eventual reduced housing costs due to someday coupledom, none of which are counted in the above. 

Currently moving towards FIRE goal at rate of on-average $10k a month (give or take market headwinds/tailwinds) with $85k + $259k = $344k total to go.  Anticipate finishing hopefully by the end of 2020.

So it all sounds great, right?  2.5-3 years to FIRE, cruising along rapidly.  Every 12-15 weeks is a tenth of the way there, yay! 

The only problem is I'm unhappy with my life right now.  Really unhappy.  Breaking this down... 

The Problems:
1) Exhaustion/Burnout: I don't know why, but it seems like I gradually start to burn out and lose energy whenever I'm working a full-time job.  At first, when I start a new job, it's fine.  I finish the work day and still have enough energy left to exercise, cook, go out, see friends, just like a normal person.  And it's like that for months.  But over the course of a couple years, that starts to slide to a point where I'm basically spending every evening or weekend I'm not working completely in recovery mode, just trying to get enough back to get through the next week.  Takeout and movies become my friend at that point, as well as doing nothing, a whole lot of nothing.  I'm definitely a sensitive introvert type, who is easily overwhelmed by day after day of continual social interaction, multitasking, meetings, deadlines, endless tasks.  Perhaps someone on this forum will be able to relate?  I feel a bit ashamed about it, it seems like others manage this so effortlessly, but for me, it really starts to feel exhausting after a while.  If I get an extended break while switching jobs, I'll start to bounce back and will be my old self again, full of plans to go running, sculling, bake scones, make art, etc.  but I really start to wipe out working full-time and to have no energy for anything other than the bare essentials.  My health also starts to suffer because I'm not able to put in the energy to stay fit and cook quality meals, and my relationships with others start to suffer from neglect too.  I could keep going this way for another 2.5 years but it seems dangerous to my health and quality of life.  I need a break.

2) The Manager:  So my team used to be a vibrant start-up with a culture that valued autonomy, innovation, and initiative.  We got bought by MediumCorp and then got a new manager a year and a half ago.  New manager spent 20 years previously in middle management at a stuffy Megacorp and has a controlling, process-heavy management style that stifles innovation.  New manager seems to see the team members as cogs in a big machine to be bossed around rather than smart experienced individuals with valuable expertise to be leveraged, and takes the approach of dictating many uninformed decisions to the team rather than consulting the relevant senior domain heads on them.  I have to confess, I'm not super good at tolerating these changes, I value opportunities for autonomy and innovation more than anything in my work, as well as having a voice in decisions that could benefit from my domain expertise, and I butt heads with new manager a lot.  It doesn't get personal, it's just about how we do things, but it's clear we don't see eye to eye, we're probably never going to, and I believe the relationship is souring over time as a result.  I feel a great deal of stress and anxiety from all the conflict.  I know several other colleagues are having similar conflicts and frustrations with new manager, and some are considering leaving as a result, so I don't think it's just me, but it's stressful all the same. 

3) The Relationship Impact: A boyfriend of 3 years left me a few months ago.  He told me he still loved me, but it seemed like his being overwhelmed by the stress and unhappiness of my life over the last year was a major factor in that decision.  I don't blame him, I've been very drained, stressed, and mostly existing in recovery mode, and I know from experience how it feels to be in a situation with a partner who you love very much but who is continually unhappy.  We've been on friendly terms since the split, mostly still seeing each other every couple weeks or so, and he recently said that he still has feelings for me.  I can't help but think that we might be able to still repair this if I was able to get my life to a healthier place in the near future. 

For fairness: The Advantages of My Job:
I do interesting work.
I believe that the work I do helps people. 
I am allowed to work remotely and from home.
I have a somewhat flexible schedule, mostly because I work from home, although I do typically have several video calls a day and an instant messager dinging frequently. 
I really like my colleagues other than new manager.  We get along really well and I consider many of them good friends. 
I am paid really well.
I have few strict deadlines or other sources of stress.  Work gets done at a comfortable pace. 
I get to visit some cool cities a few times a year on work trips. 

So I guess the question I'm asking is what should I do?  What would you do?
The options appear to be:

1) Just suck it up and power through to full FIRE in 2.5-3 years with the status quo. 

2) Take more aggressive action (that could potentially backfire) to at least try to solve the manager situation by raising issues to HR or another manager.  (FWIW, new manager has been letting personal biases influence performance evaluations and pulling some other questionable moves, so there might be a real case here.) 

3) Get another full-time job.  Try to take a break in-between to recover a bit. 

4) Quit current job and semi-FIRE: try my hand at self-employed consulting or some other slower-paced way to finish reaching full FI since I only have $340k total left to go, which is what I make in 1.7 years right now.  This feels like an ideal lifestyle to me, but I just don't know if I would actually get clients.  It's a risk.  I like to think that my skills are in-demand, as evidenced by my current high salary, and frequent articles I see that say my job is one of the most in-demand professions of the 21st century, but who really knows?  Has anyone in a related domain actually done this? 

5) Cut lifestyle to reach FI earlier or now.  I know that with a million in assets, I could run off to Mexico to RE easily, or I could take less drastic action that moves the date up like getting a roommate for my 3-bedroom place (hopefully to eventually be replaced with a significant other), turning my basement into an apartment rental, selling and moving to a smaller apartment, cutting back on travel or discretionary spending, etc.  Any of those could shave months or years off the 2.5-3 years I have left. 

6) Quit now, take a break, and trust that I will be able to figure out the rest in time since I'm so close already. 

I guess the real question is whether being most of the way to FI at a relatively young age makes it a good idea to take more risks in order to find happiness now?  Or whether I should stay risk-averse until I've won the game completely?  Anything else I haven't thought of?  Thanks in advance for your thoughts!  Much appreciated!

Hirondelle

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You sound pretty unhappy and stressed about your situation, so I'd suggest to not do #1. You have a lot of FU money so you can definitely take a bit of risk, especially as you've sorted some options out.

Maybe try to think about your options a bit. Let's say you'd quit your job, do you expect your expenses to change? E.g. if you don't work you might have more time for homecooking and feel less tempted to get takeout. You could also travel during less expensive times off the year and/or be more flexible in getting the cheapest tickets. Your 8k of discretionary spending and travel could be cut to a level. Your 22k "needs" (I think your food costs of 4k are quite high here) are already covered by your stash, so you could consider yourself barebones-FI. To me option #4 sounds good for that reason; you can use your stash for basic expenses and try out self-employment to cover your "wants". A roommate also sounds like a good idea, just like moving into a smaller place. If things don't work out you can always go back and try to find another fulltime job after a few months (saying you took a 6-9 month sabbatial shouldn't sound too bad in interviews).

So tl;dr: try a combination of 4 & 5 to desire and go back to 3 in a worst-case scenario.

reeshau

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An old saying goes:  people don't quit their job, they quit their boss.  It sounds like you might be in such a situation.  But you also mention this happens when you get a full-time job.  How often have you found yourself in this situation?  I also see in your story that you were in a start-up which is growing up (for better or for worse).  Were those prior situations also start-ups that were either bought or grew to a point where innovation slowed?  If so, it might be that you are a serial entrepreneur--maybe not in the sense of owning companies, but because that's the atmosphere you crave.  If so, then occasional job-switching would come with the territory.  If you need periods of rest between, call that the plan, rather than coincidental or on an emergency basis.

I also see you talking about other things you want to do, and the job drains you to their exclusion.  It's applicable for anyone, but particularly in your case as a home worker, I would suggest that you turn some priorities around.  In particular, could you exercise before you start work:  your words seem to paint an either / or mindset, that both take energy.  But many people who exercise in the morning find it energizes them for work, particularly mentally intensive work.  Of course, going out to eat with friends may be more difficult, but could it be breakfast or a coffee, rather than dinner or drinks?

In either case, don't take 40 as a mandatory retirement date--you don't have to be in a hurry.  The other old saying is you should retire to something, not from something.  You haven't really said what you picture your life in 2020 to be--just what it won't be.  It might be that you should wait to stop working, not for these current circumstances, but rather until you figure out what is next.

Dee18

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Sounds like you are in great financial shape.  You have many choices (a therapist friend of mine says that is her main advice to people). What I am not sure about from your post is how much you like your city and your townhome.  If you really like them, I would suggest not changing them.  If that is the case, consider taking a leave of absence or a self-funded sabbatical.  Losing a partner of three years is already a big change so if you like your home base, I would keep it for now.  One alternative would be to rent it for a year while you try out something different.  Here I am guessing that the rent could cover the mortgage.  The something different could just be living in a studio in the same city to decrease costs, trying a new city, or traveling. If you do not really like your city and townhome, then sell the townhouse.

Another option is to look for a part time job in your field.  You are probably thinking, "that's not how it works...". And probably there are few part time jobs, and probably none with as high a salary.  But I have been surprised at how institutions have accepted this when an individual put forth a good plan.  Years ago my mother and a colleague were both dissatisfied with working full time.  They proposed a job share to the employer, who could then hire another person as well.  It worked out great.  They shared a client caseload and worked out between themselves when they would work.  This was very accommodating for travel, etc.  There are many successful consultants here on MMM, but that seems like it might be hard for an introvert as there could be so much effort required ingetting the consulting gigs.

On MMM I am always intrigued by discussions of "going to HR."  I have been in academia for a long time, at private institutions, where any negative comments about a dean, etc, have been met with pretty certain negative consequences even when the complaints were completely valid.  The "messenger" would receive the retribution, and a year or two later the administration would fix the problem by replacing the bad guy (yes, so far it has always been a guy in my field) under some other pretense...sometimes by rewarding him with a chaired professorship, sometimes by sending him off with a flashy retirement party.

As far as the relationship, you have to sort out if "still has feelings"= wants to try again.  That's probably information you need.

You really do have many choices....try brainstorming and a long list.  Look at the list every few days.  See what resonates. Or ask someone on MMM to help you create a decision tree.  Perhaps  talking to a professional counselor would also be helpful. 

Bracken_Joy

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The Problems:
1) Exhaustion/Burnout: I don't know why, but it seems like I gradually start to burn out and lose energy whenever I'm working a full-time job.  At first, when I start a new job, it's fine.  I finish the work day and still have enough energy left to exercise, cook, go out, see friends, just like a normal person.  And it's like that for months.  But over the course of a couple years, that starts to slide to a point where I'm basically spending every evening or weekend I'm not working completely in recovery mode, just trying to get enough back to get through the next week.  Takeout and movies become my friend at that point, as well as doing nothing, a whole lot of nothing.  I'm definitely a sensitive introvert type, who is easily overwhelmed by day after day of continual social interaction, multitasking, meetings, deadlines, endless tasks.  Perhaps someone on this forum will be able to relate?  I feel a bit ashamed about it, it seems like others manage this so effortlessly, but for me, it really starts to feel exhausting after a while.  If I get an extended break while switching jobs, I'll start to bounce back and will be my old self again, full of plans to go running, sculling, bake scones, make art, etc.  but I really start to wipe out working full-time and to have no energy for anything other than the bare essentials.  My health also starts to suffer because I'm not able to put in the energy to stay fit and cook quality meals, and my relationships with others start to suffer from neglect too.  I could keep going this way for another 2.5 years but it seems dangerous to my health and quality of life.  I need a break.

You are not alone on this. At all. To the point that I have set my whole career trajectory up to support this fact. It's helped that I am partnered, at the eventual plan (if this IVF works...) is for us to be parents. BUT. Even if that wasn't in the cards, FT just doesn't work well for me. It's exactly as you describe- I do great for a couple months, then it just grinds me down. I end up depressed, unpleasant to be around, and lot of lot of the "extras" in my life go by the wayside. The way I've addressed this may not help you. I'm a nurse, and I found a job where I can easily increase or decrease my work hours. Right now I do about 20 hours per week (2 days), but scale up to FT or more a few times a year to help on a particular case as needed.

What you may be able to take away, though, is that for some people, a slower but calmer path to FIRE may be the best choice. Especially for those of us who start young. Frankly, I really like a little bit of work. It gives me some structure and an easy answer to "what do you do" and some social normalcy like that. A little bit of purpose, so on.

The irony is, I came to the forum and got excited about FI, but realized true RE isn't for me. And it isn't for my husband either- he's one who LOVES the problem solving aspects of his job. Our eventual goal for him, when we get closer to our FI number, is for him to move to work cycling, with lots of breaks for life in between.

Personally, with the sort of numbers you have right now, there's no way I would let more money get in the way of my relationships and happiness. Life is too damn short. And again, I probably have a skewed view of this as a nurse.

SO. A couple options:
-Is there anything you could do, at this company or another, that would allow you to job share or work cycle?
-Can you take a 6-12 months sabbatical, then come back for your last 2.5 years?
-How many years would it take you to hit your number working at something lower stress? The so-called "Barista FIRE"?
--A subset of above, what can you Side Hustle? Dog walking, pet sitting, cooking meals for busy professionals, etc? Personally I prefer the low key "side hustle" to moving to another high stress gig like starting your own business properly would be.

You're clearly driven and intelligent. I bet you'll make money in spite of yourself. No one cares about your life or your happiness as much as you. Be your own advocate and enjoy your life =)

MustacheAnxiety

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If I were you:
1) Figure out when the next bonus/stock options are coming.  Even miserable I wouldn't walk away from 20-65K headed my way in 3 months.
2) Figure out if you can engineer some kind of layoff/severance.  Other people write about this, I have not sufficiently investigated it but free money to not work seems pretty nice.
3) If you cannot do 2 just Quit: give an appropriate amount of notice for your field let your second line manager (not hr, hr isn't super useful) know that you are not going to another job but that you cannot stay at a position while being prevented from doing the best for your company.  I wouldn't focus here on the "unfair" things the manager is doing, just the reasons you believe you are being forced to do less-efficient lower quality work.  If you have complaints about fairness you can always drop those with HR.
 - I would put notice in on the first of the month for 2 weeks (get a free month to two weeks of health insurance)
 - You have a 2 month grace period for cobra, so you can not buy it for 2 months and if something goes horribly wrong pay the dues for the last 2 months.
 - sign up for an ACA plan that starts after the 2 month grace period
4) Personally, I would find living alone in a 3 bedroom stressful (because I wouldn't like paying for the extra space and utilities and doing extra cleaning and maintenance).  Given your professed feelings on being an introvert a roommate sounds like a life happiness decreasing solution.  So I would look for a smaller place.  But you may feel very different.
5) Spend 10 hours a week looking for a new job and remember you don't need to stress about it.  Reach out to friends in the industry and see who may be hiring
 - People believe what you tell them about job gaps. Just make the explanation positive and simple and at least truish.  After my old company was bought out I didn't have the flexibility to do my best work so it wasn't a good fit anymore.  I am really excited about how your company ...
6) Recharge and enjoy the nonwork time.  Job search + house search will keep you from getting bored, but make sure you leave plenty of extra time to reconnect with friends and family and take care of yourself.
 - none of your friends/family will care care that you lost touch for a while, I have done it for way worse reasons than my job was busy and draining the life out of me.  Mostly everyone is just happy to reconnect because maintaining friendships is hard and making new good ones is even harder.  Nothing to be ashamed of.
7) Get a new job. Be reasonably picky about salary, start date, and job responsibilities (companies will try to take advantage of the fact you are not working--but you are a mustacian so they can't!)
 - if you go the smaller house route you should be for sure ready to FIRE once you start growing tired of this one and probably even if you stick in the (ridiculous for a Mustacian) current place.

I went for the new job over the start your own thing because (1) personal bias, I know how to get a job not how to do consulting and (2) having to bring in clients seems like something you would find draining (but it could be really good for you) and like it will take time. If you are going to do something difficult and draining for a couple years, you might as well take the guaranteed path.  There are a lot of little assumptions baked in here that could be totally wrong.

I also shy away from "part-time" as I think it can be a scam to get just as much work from a person for less money in exchange for not making you come to the office everyday.  But if your job is one where you can predictably reduce your work load this could be ideal.

Good Luck and let us know what you decide.

« Last Edit: May 04, 2018, 08:45:27 AM by MustacheAnxiety »

Dr Kidstache

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FInding Peace, my heart goes out to you. Others have commented on the finances of your situation. But it sounds like there's much more going on than just discontent with a job and running numbers to FI.
I know what burnout feels like and how it can eat away at other parts of your life like hobbies and relationships. Like the other commenters have said, you have plenty of options if getting out from the burnout is your goal. But it's a fools errand to think that quitting a job will bring back the relationship that you're mourning. Or lighten your self-criticism. Wherever you go, there you are, right? Maybe there's an opportunity to take a mini-sabbatical from both your job and your ex and spend some time with yourself doing the things that you mention you love? Rent out your house and go travel, go play outside running or sculling, bake things, etc.
Best of luck!

SwordGuy

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First of all, you're in a good financial position.  Yeah, you!   That gives you options.

Second of all, is it really important to care whether your employer is doing the best possible job?   Seriously.   Why should you care enough to make yourself ill over a job?   

I ask this because I learned that lesson the hard way.  I had the shingles to prove it.

There are damn few jobs worth making yourself ill over.   President Lincoln's job during the Civil War would be one of them.   Is your job on a par with that in terms of overall benefit to the nation or the world?   Because if it's not, it's just a damn job that's making a profit for someone that's not you.   

Could you adjust your attitude towards things at work?     And your actions accordingly?

I'll give a few examples.
 

First of all, never ask your boss to give you an opinion over what should be done.  Why?  Because they have a proven track record of making bad decisions, so why volunteer to be subjected to it.  Teach your colleagues who aren't suck-ups to do the same.   And if they do get a bad decision made for them, never, ever share it with a colleague.   It's your boss' job to pass on their edicts to those that need them.   Don't do their badly done work for them.   

Second, never do things the wrong way unless you are forced to do it that way.   Forced to do it the wrong way often requires your boss to actually stay with you and monitor your every action.  They don't have time for that.

At the end of the day, most bosses want (a) to feel like they are in charge, (b) feel respected for being awesome at their job, and (c) get the results that result in keeping their job or getting promoted.   Only a few of the very worst actually care about how you deliver those results.   Deliver good results and don't tell them more about how you did it than necessary.   If you get caught out delivering great results in a way they didn't intend for you to do it, "Oops.  My bad.  I forgot!  I'll definitely keep your instructions in mind next time!"     With luck, your FIRE clock will run out before there's a next time...

You don't have all that long to go until you reach FIRE.   You don't need  kick-ass paying job to do it in a reasonable time frame, you just need a decent job.   

Buying the expensive condo for a few years as an investment that you will then sell is a horrible idea.   You'll just be throwing money away on selling expenses -- an that assumes you CAN sell it in 2 to 3 years.  There's a reasonable chance we'll be in a recession in 2 to 3 years, so good luck with that.   A 6% commission on a $650,000 townhouse will run you $39,000 in commissions.    A 30 year fixed rate mortgage at 3.5% won't pay down that much on the principal in 3 years!   Unless you have reason to believe that the condo will sell for more than you bought it for -- AND YOU CAN SURVIVE IF YOU CAN'T DO THAT -- I would stay away from buying.   

Plus, if you say, "Screw this, I'm going to work as a bartender at a beach bar in the Tropics!  I'm out of here!", you won't have a millstone of a condo around your neck.

brute

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Welcome aboard. Fellow data scientist here.

I know exactly how you feel. The work is cool. The customers and supervisors are utter shite. Nothing like hearing someone throw around Hadoop and Mongo and R and Python and call them out for all the wrong things. You'd think that they could at least get one use of one thing right by accident. My solution was to build my job around my life. I prioritize what makes me happy. Exercising, hobbies, sleeping until 8:30 in the morning. If I can't do those, then I'll work somewhere else. If the company "needs" me to work 60+ hours a week, they actually need another FTE.

I can't give advice on how to get to that point. What worked for me doesn't necessarily apply to others. But living my life, and work being a part of that life, makes me happier than the 10 years where I worked 80+ hours a week trying to get ahead. I lost my health, my fiance, all of my friends, missed my grandmother's funeral and several weddings. I started getting ahead when I quit working so damn hard, finished my M.S. and started doing more self marketing. Ok, so there's the advice I wasn't going to give. But that took me from a generic IT title to director of analytics in 5 years with 4 company changes over that time. So slack off a little, try some stuff that makes sense to you but your boss doesn't understand, learn a few new approaches and screw around with them. The worst that happens is they fire you and you find a new job.

austin944

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I can relate to many of the things you posted.  I am also an introvert, and tend to get tired from social interactions, but it has become less of a problem as I have gotten into my 50s.   I learned to avoid monitoring myself during social interactions, and I tried to pay more attention to other people. 

When you playback in your mind the things you have said to others, and how well you've said them, while at the same time trying to pay attention to the conversation, it becomes very draining.  There are self-help books that talk about this very issue and they helped me realize what I was doing wrong.

I worked for 25+ years in the tech industry and by the end of the work day I was mentally and physically drained, and barely had enough time to cook, clean, and exercise before going to sleep.  On weekends I was also working some, but found time to recover for the next working week.  To help manage time, I cooked one healthy meal at dinner, and made enough food to bring in the leftovers to work for lunch the next day.  I selected foods that were easy and quick to prepare, like quinoa, lentils, farro, whole wheat spaghetti, salads, and steamed veggies.  For breakfast I would have greek yogurt and a whole wheat bagel.  Try to find ways to manage your time more effectively.  It may take some time to figure it out, but be patient with yourself.

My last manager liked to micro-manage and we never saw eye-to-eye, so I took a break from working before deciding what to do next.   I have had managers like that before, and many good managers also.  It happens and you learn to accept that you will not always have good managers.

If I were in your position, I would first have a sit-down conversation with your manager about your working situation.  I know that's hard to do for many introverts and non-confrontational types.   I've done this each time I have considered leaving, and it was very liberating.  Getting these things off your chest is a relief.  The best time to do this is at your next performance review, when you are alone together, and your manager is already prepared for the conversation.  Ask your co-workers to bring up their issues also at their performance reviews, so that more pressure is placed on your manager to change.

If after this conversation, there is no change in your situation after a few months, then I would start to look for another full-time job, possibly with a break.  Personally I would not try to FIRE at such a young age, but others will certainly see this differently.

I have always been told that a break on your resume does not look good, but I decided to risk taking one, given the current economy.  Age discrimination is also a real problem for people like me, but for you, since you are younger, it will be far less of an issue.
« Last Edit: May 04, 2018, 02:27:55 PM by austin944 »

GOFU

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Financially the expensive house seems like a huge anchor for a single person. 1,500 square feet? $6k a year in taxes and HOA fees? Plus the mortgage interest and insurance. To each his own, I guess, but I suggest looking hard at that particular element of your financial life. That is a huge portion of your net worth but also a huge element of drain on your finances. With the equity in that house and hang in there until bonus time you basically have your FU money.

And tell that boyfriend of yours that if he can't make up his mind to marry you and start a real life together then you are going to find someone who will. Then do it.
« Last Edit: May 04, 2018, 05:57:41 PM by GOFU »

shinn497

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That house is insane. Do you need it? If I were you I would just rent and build up for funds from there. All those HOA fees, taxes, interest, and mortgage is sucking away your wealth and your income.

Villanelle

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I'd go with a combination of 4&5.  Initiate 5. Get a roommate for a year and/or get someone in the basement, cut other costs.  Then quite your job and use that year to work on the consulting, perhaps getting any part time job you can find to supplement things so you aren't withdrawing all your living expenses.  Remember, even $8k-10k can make a huge difference.

If, toward the end of the year, the consulting isn't making much, then reevaluate.  Are you comfortable enough with the reduced spend lifestyle that you are willing to commit to it long term?  Or commite to what it buys you with any random part time job (retail, substitute teaching, tutoring, temp agency work, whatever)?  If so, great.  If not, start looking for a job.

The other thing I might consider would be to get the roommate in place, cut the expenses, but keep the job, talking with the manager about the issues and prioritizing your happiness and health, and giving the job only what you have available to reasonably give.  The worst that could happen is that they let you go, in which case you get severance and/or unemployment, and you've got the cheaper budget and roommate already up and running.  And, if you find work is still intolerable, you can quit after giving this a try, and then revert to the "cut expenses and try to get the consultant thing up and running" plan. 

limeandpepper

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Me:
36-year-old single female wanting to FIRE, would hope to have a partner someday, but no intention to have kids

Expenses:
259k to go on mortgage for 628k townhouse (Zillow estimate) (1500 sq ft/3 bdrms in relatively HCOL area)

2.5k property taxes, 3.5k HOA fees, 4.5k bills

Your house seems unnecessarily big if you're not planning to have kids. I can see how an extra bedroom can be useful or nice to have, but two extra bedrooms? What are you using them for? A bigger place costs more to own and run, is it worth it?

I might suggest doing option 6 first - take it easy for a few weeks, then collect your thoughts and work on option 4 and 5.

austin944

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Expenses:
259k to go on mortgage for 628k townhouse (Zillow estimate) (1500 sq ft/3 bdrms in relatively HCOL area)

Your house seems unnecessarily big if you're not planning to have kids. I can see how an extra bedroom can be useful or nice to have, but two extra bedrooms? What are you using them for? A bigger place costs more to own and run, is it worth it?

It's a HCOL area, so  it may be very hard to find smaller places that are not run-down shacks.  Since she said she's a data scientist, I suspect it's either the SF Bay area or other hi-tech hub.

I am in the same kind of area, so I choose to rent, because all of the places are either mega-mansions with million dollar or more price tags, or run-down older houses where the land is worth 3-4x the value of the building.




FInding_peace

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Hey everyone,

First, I wanted to thank you all for replying to my thread.  In real life, I often find that finding advice on FIRE-related topics is tricky, so it's kind of amazing to come online and have my very first post on this forum answered with so much thoughtful and supportive advice, and so quickly too!  I really appreciate it.  You all rock!

So I'm noticing a few themes among the responses.  First, a few of you gave suggestions for improving the current situation.  Unfortunately, I have actually been trying a bunch of these already :-(.  I think the most successful one so far has been something along the lines of Swordguy's suggestion: steering clear of new manager as much as possible and just focusing on cranking out great work the way I think it should be done.  This definitely helps my sanity, but does not entirely solve the problem.  I've also tried having difficult conversations, and also slacking off more.  All in all, I feel like I'm kind of running out of tricks I can try here, and the more I think about it, the more I think that really deep down my gut is telling me I need to leave. 

In fact, I think I've wanted to get out for a while, but it just didn't seem like a responsible financially-prudent adult thing-to-do.  Just too risky to quit before reaching complete FI.  It's thus been incredibly reassuring and enlightening to see that so many of you think that my financial position actually allows me to start prioritizing my health and happiness over continued accumulation right now.  (Or that perhaps I should have done that all along. ;-) )   

More importantly, you backed up that conclusion by pointing out some key inefficiencies I could tighten up in my current finances, which would make everything look much more financially solid right now.  So first, the elephant in the room, the house.  To answer a few questions:

+ Yes, I bought it almost a decade ago as a young and naive 27-year-old with no idea the option of FIRE even existed, who assumed she'd be working til 65, and might even do the standard kids thing that everyone else does.

+ Yes, it is definitely more space than I need, I have whole rooms (yes, plural) I don't even use.   

+ I do enjoy it.  It's really sunny, open, airy, modern, with a lovely garden and patio out back, and it's got an amazing location a short bike ride from a downtown area, and literally steps away from nature and beautiful trails that I can run on in the morning.  I do think it contributes to my quality of life, and after almost 9 years living here, it feels like home. 

+ Yes, I live in a HCoL tech hub w/ crazy housing prices.  Even a 1 bdrm condo here currently is about 300k, and rent on a 1bdrm apartment is typically >$1500.  And those prices have been rising rapidly, which means that the house has actually been a surprisingly good investment so far.  I bought this place in 2009 for $380k; now < 9 years later, it's > $620k and there's no sign of that stopping.  I'm actually curious whether that growth changes anyone's recommendation re: sell vs. hold?

Still, this thread has really been making me take a hard look at how much the house is acting as a huge anchor on my finances.  Basically, I could sell it, move to a 1 bdrm condo, and I'd be FI immediately, without even leaving town.  I do love where I live, but framing it as a choice between 2.5 more years of grinding it out in misery vs. letting the house go, I'd definitely choose letting the house go. 

Which is a very freeing realization, actually.  It makes it clear that I don't need to tough it out here. It makes it clear that everything I'm sacrificing right now is just for a house.  Wow.  Just wow.

So it seems super clear then that I should get out of my current unhappy situation pronto.  On a related note though, I've often wondered if I'll end up enjoying a little part-time work occasionally in RE for the intellectual challenge and sense of contributing to something.  Even 10% of what I earn right now would cover the mortgage.  So maybe the thing to do is to get out of my current situation now, knowing I can, but wait to make a major decision on the house for a year or two, until I see how I actually end up spending my time, and if I'm just naturally paying the mortgage in RE without really trying.   What do y'all think?     

Also, MustacheAnxiety asked about vesting dates.  I do stand to make an extra 25K+ in mid-year bonus/stock compensation if I make it to August.  I think that would be the big debate about when to leave.  Part of me leans towards staying for it for the extra bump on the way out, part of me thinks a summer off would be amazing.  Part of me is really nervous to jump and thinks the staying a few more months option is a much more soothing thought.  Part of me knows there will always be another financial incentive on the horizon and worries getting stuck in a cycle endlessly procrastinating for the next one.  And round and round my thinking on this goes...  Feel free to chime in with thoughts. 

Finally, thanks to those who empathized with working full-time being exhausting for them as well, or offered condolences on the relationship.  You all are great.  :-)

FInding_peace

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Oh, also, reeshau asked what I planned to do with my RE time.  My 7-(maybe 8)-point plan is (in no particular order):

1) Being active outdoors (hiking, rock climbing, cross-country skiing, etc.)
2) Quality time with friends, family, and hopefully a significant other
3) Tinkering (learning about or experimenting with new technologies or topics, maybe doing some projects, most interested in 3-D printing geometric sculpture at the moment as an example)
4) What I'm calling "Martha Stewart-y stuff": cooking, baking, gardening, crafts, etc.
5) Travel (particularly slow travel like long-distance backpacking, living abroad for a month or more, or roadtripping around the national parks)
6) Relaxing (lounging around with a good book, doing some yoga, having a leisurely picnic at the park on a nice day, etc.)
7) An artistic pursuit of some sort (maybe painting, photography, or theater design)
And maybe ... 8?) Maybe some part-time consulting?  I also liked the suggestion of occasionally hopping on board with a start-up and spending some months helping them get off the ground.  I do like that initial creating something from nothing stage the best. 

I took a several-month sabbatical some years ago and did some of each of 1-7 and I really enjoyed it, so I think this will be a pretty good mix.  So looking forward to it. 

limeandpepper

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If you really love the house, how would you feel about having housemates? Seems like the main choices are 1) keeping this lovely house and working longer, 2) keeping this lovely house and having housemates for long enough to feel financially comfortable, or 3) downsizing to a smaller place that may not be as lovely, but you get to have it all to yourself and be in a good place financially.

Personally -  even though I'm an introvert, I don't really mind having housemates, but I also definitely appreciate having a place to myself. You'll just have to weigh it up!

When's the next financial incentive after the August one?

Villanelle

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Why not try out a roommate or two for a year?  If you love your house and it contributes to your quality of life, that seems worth a try.  If the experiment fails, at the end of their lease, you can reconsider selling. 

Would a roommate decrease your housing costs so that they are more or less comparable to the smaller, cheaper places?  Are you near a university?  If so, consider inquiring about international students looking for rooms. 

Also It sounds like ~3 months buys you an extra $25k, plus the additional salary.  For me, that would be well worth it.  I'd give my notice the moment the check was in hand. 

Also, you can use the time between now and August to start working you setting up your consulting gig, getting your name out there (being careful not to telegraph things too much to your current employer, although if a worst-case scenario is that they gets wind and let you go, since you are willing to leave earlier anyway maybe that's not so bad).  You have from now until August to find a roommate, which is great timing if you are near a university and want a fall semester roommate, and to get focuse on the consulting so you can hit the ground running with it.  And/or to find some sort of part-time gig to supplement your stache withdraws.  Substittute teaching pays mediocrely (but better than retail, generally) and is exceptionally flexible, but it does take a while to get up and running.  If that interests you, you could start now on the paperwork.. 

reeshau

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Maybe a little bit different angle on housemates, what about hosting an airBnB?  You have a bright, airy house with a great location, wonderful patio, and a couple extra rooms.  You want to do Martha-stewart things, and you want to spend time with interesting people. How many airBnB nights would pay for the mortgage?

Linda_Norway

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Why not try out a roommate or two for a year?  If you love your house and it contributes to your quality of life, that seems worth a try.  If the experiment fails, at the end of their lease, you can reconsider selling. 

Would a roommate decrease your housing costs so that they are more or less comparable to the smaller, cheaper places?  Are you near a university?  If so, consider inquiring about international students looking for rooms. 

Also It sounds like ~3 months buys you an extra $25k, plus the additional salary.  For me, that would be well worth it.  I'd give my notice the moment the check was in hand. 

+1

Also, you can use the time between now and August to start working you setting up your consulting gig, getting your name out there (being careful not to telegraph things too much to your current employer, although if a worst-case scenario is that they gets wind and let you go, since you are willing to leave earlier anyway maybe that's not so bad).  You have from now until August to find a roommate, which is great timing if you are near a university and want a fall semester roommate, and to get focuse on the consulting so you can hit the ground running with it.  And/or to find some sort of part-time gig to supplement your stache withdraws.  Substittute teaching pays mediocrely (but better than retail, generally) and is exceptionally flexible, but it does take a while to get up and running.  If that interests you, you could start now on the paperwork..

I have the impression that the OP does not have the energy to set up a consulting gig now, unless they would generate a new energy that is now lacking. Otherwise I would suggest waiting until August/September after having handed over the 2-week notice.

Oh, also, reeshau asked what I planned to do with my RE time.  My 7-(maybe 8)-point plan is (in no particular order):

1) Being active outdoors (hiking, rock climbing, cross-country skiing, etc.)
2) Quality time with friends, family, and hopefully a significant other
3) Tinkering (learning about or experimenting with new technologies or topics, maybe doing some projects, most interested in 3-D printing geometric sculpture at the moment as an example)
4) What I'm calling "Martha Stewart-y stuff": cooking, baking, gardening, crafts, etc.
5) Travel (particularly slow travel like long-distance backpacking, living abroad for a month or more, or roadtripping around the national parks)
6) Relaxing (lounging around with a good book, doing some yoga, having a leisurely picnic at the park on a nice day, etc.)
7) An artistic pursuit of some sort (maybe painting, photography, or theater design)
And maybe ... 8?) Maybe some part-time consulting?  I also liked the suggestion of occasionally hopping on board with a start-up and spending some months helping them get off the ground.  I do like that initial creating something from nothing stage the best. 

I took a several-month sabbatical some years ago and did some of each of 1-7 and I really enjoyed it, so I think this will be a pretty good mix.  So looking forward to it. 

It sounds like a good mix of things to do. Part-time consulting or short periods of employment at startups sounds like a good idea to generate a side-gig income.

BTW: DH and I also live in a very big house, having 3 extra rooms, which are only used partly. We plan to downsize for FIRE, as it was a dumb idea to put all our money in a house. And one of my fears is that the house won't generate the money that we paid for it 2,5 years ago. I am counting on losing 120.000 dollar on it. If we lose less, that will be a FIRE windfall.

koshtra

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Heh. I read the your first post and checked to make sure that you weren't me from twelve years ago.

The only thing that I hesitate about is: do you have aged parents you might need to look after financially?

If not, then the answer is obvious. Quit. Give your notice today. You'll have plenty of time to figure out the rest when you're not working and you start to heal up.


hegen

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Hello,

I usually do not write posts (long time lurker) but I really wanted to respond to this one. I am at similar situation as you mentally and I am also struggling everyday with these same thoughts. I am 37, introverted, Analyst, 3 years away from bare minimum FIRE. I wanted to share my story with you and hopefully it will give you another perspective. Everyday at work, I open my spreadsheet and updating my financials in order to see progress. As you can imagine, updating all of the financial on a daily basis is not very effective but this is my escape from my mental prison. In many ways, I think I am probably making my own prison but I cant seem to focus on anything else. I am currently "staying" at a job that is life draining until I have "won" the game because in my mind changing jobs will only add risks. I don't expect a new job/career will be a permanent solution either.  As a person with big time FOMO syndrome, it makes me sick that I am wasting all of my time and energy trying to escape this situation and I am not focused on the important things in my life that is happening now. Malkynn's post really put it in perspective for me and I am starting to realize that the trade off decision doesn't get better with time, only worse as time runs out.  Once I reach bare minimum FI, I will run out of this office... and really live. I dont mean that my life will magically turn perfect but I think I will actually live my life, the good and the bad... Financially, I think you have enough to FIRE at this moment (with buffer) so the question is... will your "risk calculating/adverse" mind allow you to accept FIRE. I am really asking this question to both of us. 


MustacheAnxiety

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+ Yes, I live in a HCoL tech hub w/ crazy housing prices.  Even a 1 bdrm condo here currently is about 300k, and rent on a 1bdrm apartment is typically >$1500.  And those prices have been rising rapidly, which means that the house has actually been a surprisingly good investment so far.  I bought this place in 2009 for $380k; now < 9 years later, it's > $620k and there's no sign of that stopping.  I'm actually curious whether that growth changes anyone's recommendation re: sell vs. hold?

The rapid appreciation does not change my view on buying or selling, generally.  The S&P returned about the same amount since mid 2007 (near the peak of the pre-housing crash market).  The long list of things that make you happy does make me think if you move you should take your time and get a smaller, equally happy place.  If you decide to move out of your current area upon retiring in <3 years, I could see staying.  Moving is an expensive pain in the butt and the place you are at sounds lovely.  I still vote no roommate. 

My condolences on the lost love.  I forgot to post my unpatented 3 point plan for getting over a relationship.  It isn't rocket science, but it helps me. 
1) Be sad: 3 months.  Mourn the relationship. Avoid looking for a new guy or thinking your old one will come back.  I know you think he might and I am not saying don't get back together if that is what you want.  But use the time to mourn, not hope or pine.  Obviously, be sad doesn't mean don't see friends or exercise.  But you deserve some time to just be sad.
2) Date some dudes: 3 months.  It won't fix anything, but it sure is fun.  Helps with the above mentioned sadness. And there is some legitimate utility in the self esteem boost that comes from remembering you are some hot shit and there are loads of guys, however imperfect they may be, that are interested.  This is easier if you are willing to force yourself to make some moves (even if it is in online dating).  The prospects are just vastly more numerous if you are willing to be the aggressor sometimes.
3) Try to be better: 3 months.   Pick something about yourself or your life that you don't like and fix it.  At the end you hopefully feel better + you are more of a catch to the kind of person you are interested in than you were before.


stockjohn

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This one hits home for me. I've also struggled with burn out and seen it eat away at my capacity to both do my job and enjoy my life outside of work. The good news for you is that you're farther along towards FIRE than I am, primarily because I have young kids and owe more on my house, also in a very HCOL area. That said, the one thing I always remind myself is that things get better and even the worst weeks are temporary. Your burnout right now is almost certainly compounded and exacerbated by your recent breakup. If I were you I would really consider sticking around at least for that mid-year bonus. In the meantime see if you can find a counselor or therapist that specializes in burnout and force yourself to work out a couple days a week, even if it means leaving work early. If 30 days from now you decide it's just too much, you can still quit and you've also banked another paycheck. Or you may find that your mood and circumstances have improved and that you're able to stick it out another few months, which would greatly improve your bottom line.

Also, +1 for roommate or Airbnb.

mattp

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Fellow Data Scientist here! Here's my two cents:

1) You should find another job. Prioritize getting something easy and stress-free instead of salary. Be willing to take a salary cut if that's what it takes. Go on LinkedIn and set your profile to "open to recruiters," they'll come to you and you should find a job quickly. Or be more aggressive in applying and find a job asap. My current job (very HCOL area) pays 100k pre-tax (and I think I'm underpaid) with excellent benefits, and it's ridiculously low-stress. No pressure, I work from home 1-2 days per week, great coworkers, unlimited PTO. And I got the job with only 15 months work experience (+ an MS in Statistics from a good school).
2) You are very close to FI, even if you change jobs. According to networthify, with a 406k portfolio (investments - mortgage) and 30k expenses, an after-tax income of 100k will get you to FI in 3.6 years. So only about one year more than your current plan!
3) You didn't go into too much detail about the previous relationship, and I'm just a random guy on the internet, so my advice isn't worth much. But I will say that I wouldn't trade my wife for a few more years of FI...so prioritize your relationships!

practik

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I can't speak from personal experience about a lot of your situation, but I remember feeling similarly when I was working all the time in surgery. Take care of yourself! Burn out is real. Change jobs, or just quit and take a break -- you'll be fine! Go rock climb/exercise, eat well, etc.  Rent out one or two of the other bedrooms in your home! Or downsize and buy a small place, or just rent a small place. Cut expenses. Weigh every expense you have now versus being FI. Would you rather own your house, or be retired?

Ben Kurtz

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Start looking for a new job, and take it come August when your next bonus check clears.

You'll benefit from the "new job" bounce. You'll have the chance to find a work environment that is as stress-free as possible. And you'll probably get those last two years of wages that you need to top up your investment portfolio, even if you take an hours/pay cut. After serving at this new job for two years or so, quit to become a consultant, or, heck, a surfing instructor. Whatever makes you happy and free.

Hacking your housing expenses provides the second, independent method of getting you to FI: whether it is downsizing, taking on a roommate, converting the basement into a standalone rental apartment or some kind of Air BnB venture, or something similar, if you can sort that out you are more or less FI on your current numbers and wouldn't strictly need that new job. But you should take the new job anyway, for the sake of redundancy and to provide a breath of fresh air. Given your self-reported energy level, it might make sense to line up the new job first, then get working on figuring out how to optimize your housing situation.

The third path to FI concerns if / when you settle down and get married: I would imagine any husband of yours would bring in savings / earnings of his own to support the household. Given how close you already are, it wouldn't take a Rockefeller to make the numbers pencil out. There is no shame in backing off of the "breadwinner" role if you've worked hard to build up a nest egg that brings in 75% of the yearly bread automatically. This isn't the first thing I suggest relying upon, given that you are not presently married or in a long-term relationship, but it is how most people end up living their lives so it bears some thought.

Bottom line: you need to quit your current job sometime between now and August. You are in a very strong position to do this; don't let inertia or a blinkered view of FIRE keep you tethered to a situation which, as you state, is draining the life from you. Working another 2 years at a job that makes you happy and leaves you feeling human at the end of the day is far better than working 1 year at a job that makes you miserable and leaves you feeling crushed.
« Last Edit: May 08, 2018, 05:43:35 AM by Ben Kurtz »

afuera

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I suggest reading livingafi's blog.  I notice a lot of similarities between your situation and his previous working years.  It could be cathartic for you at the very least.
https://livingafi.com/

Phoenix_Fire

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Since you acknowledge that you are willing to move as a contingency plan, here's something to consider:

Current Assets without house: 665k
Amount needed to FIRE without mortgage and minus off your 3.5K in HOA Fees:  662,500

Why not sell your house, pocket approximately $369k in equity, use that to buy something smaller elsewhere with no HOA, and be done?  The smaller house will probably also have lower taxes, lower insurance, lower utilities.  Once you are FIRE'd, will you still need 4k a year for vacations, or with the less stress, will you be happier staying at home?

Depending on where you are looking to move to, you should easily be able to find a house for less than that, and be able to cover the taxes/insurance with what you have left over to invest. 

If you loved your BF, and saw you spending your life with him, then your job is a major problem if that is what led to him leaving.  It is up to you to make decisions that will make you happy.  Based on how miserable you sound, I don't know that sticking around until August would be worth it.  In fact, I know it wouldn't. 

Take the summer off. Decide if you want to keep the house and if you want to go back to work.  You can do both, neither, or one.  You are in a great spot, but it great that you realized that the house is what is holding you back.  Just keep those HOA fees in mind for a future purchase.  Your current $3500 a year means you need $87,500 just to cover that with the 4% rule.  And HOA fees can go up.


FInding_peace

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Just wanted to post an update, because I personally always find it disappointing when someone posts and then disappears and you never know how things worked out for them.  Don't want to be that way. 

So back in May, a couple things happened shortly after I posted: (1) my manager got really negative reviews in the employee survey and started being quite a bit more reasonable and pleasant to work with, (2) the company stock surged 50% after Q1 earnings making the golden handcuffs, well, golden-er. 

Since I had a 2 week vacation planned for the end of May already and an additional week of PTO accrued, I ended up figuring out that staying until August would only involve about 10 more weeks of actual work, but would net me ~70K in additional income, between base salary, stock vesting, mid-year bonus, and ESPP.  It seemed like so much money for so little effort, too good to pass up. 

And financially it worked, between May and August, buoyed by a rising stock market, my savings and investments rose from 665K to 739K, the house value rose from 628K to 655K according to Zillow, and overall, my estimated overall net worth rose from 1.03 million to 1.14 million in just 3 months while I worked less than a dozen weeks.  I do think that was a win.   

At the end of August though, I then realized with a start that the plan to stay on just until August had basically been relieving me of any need to emotionally work through the fear of quitting for the past few months, and it was still there loud and clear.  And then I've ended up just kind of stalling week to week for the past few months, which to be honest, I'm kind of embarrassed to admit.  I guess I'm putting it out there because I'm trying to figure out how to deal with it. 

I know I've accrued enough to be able to live a comfortable life off of what I have, even if it doesn't look exactly like my lifestyle right now.  I know I shouldn't feel any fear in, at the very least, taking a sabbatical to rebuild my life and my energy and my happiness.  It feels weird and scary though to abandon the plan early without finishing, and especially so close to finishing.  I think I'm worried on some level that I had a good plan and this is momentary weakness derailing it and I'll be much better off in the long run if I just stuck to the original plan. 

Anyway, fellow forum goers, I'm curious if you have thoughts. 

MonkeyJenga

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You listed three negative categories in your first post. Exhaustion/Burnout, Manager, Relationship Impact. The manager piece has improved, which is great. What about the other two categories?

FIallday

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Late to the party here, I'll only comment on the exhaustion/burnout part since I feel like I may be qualified there lol. Some things to think about

Good buddy of mine lives in a beautiful HCOL coastal city. When I went to visit, I noticed he spends A LOT of time indoors, mostly on technology, netflix, the usual. In my opinion, not very cost effective if you're not going to use the outdoors!

As an intellectual (by that I mean crazy person who is in his mind a lot), I need to calm my mind aka exericise/jog, (or yoga/meditation, anything physical that you enjoy) it allows you to get into a Flow state (getting into the zone, there's a book/research on this if interested) and focus on the present. Also helps release endorphins that is the body's natural "high". This is why I LOVE exercise, reduces stress, lowers anxiety, helps with focus, better health, and bonus of looking/feeling your best.

You mention takeout and movies, it exacerbates the problem. Constant flickering and flashing lights causes our brains to be on high alert. Ever watched TV for hours then feel exhausted even though you haven't done anything physically? Combined with a poor diet, it amplifies the problem further. My advice, try and do without the technology! Just something to think about.

Linda_Norway

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You mention takeout and movies, it exacerbates the problem. Constant flickering and flashing lights causes our brains to be on high alert. Ever watched TV for hours then feel exhausted even though you haven't done anything physically? Combined with a poor diet, it amplifies the problem further. My advice, try and do without the technology! Just something to think about.

Yes, I understand exactly what you mean. But it depends on the TV program. Some quite programs, without too much flashing lights, can be okay to watch late in the evening. But general TV, is indeed tiresome. I sometimes don't have the energy to watch it as all when I'm tired.
« Last Edit: December 28, 2018, 01:34:31 PM by Linda_Norway »

Much Fishing to Do

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Still, this thread has really been making me take a hard look at how much the house is acting as a huge anchor on my finances.  Basically, I could sell it, move to a 1 bdrm condo, and I'd be FI immediately, without even leaving town.  I do love where I live, but framing it as a choice between 2.5 more years of grinding it out in misery vs. letting the house go, I'd definitely choose letting the house go. 


I hope you're still remembering this thing you said.  Basically, you're done if you want to be, and even with less change than i think you;re thinking.  And this isn't the only alternative, you could take $380k most places and buy something huge (I live in a very nice MidCOL area and that would buy my house that sits on a few acres and is actually larger than I want to clean but fits the 5 of us well...) or rent something real nice which is probaly best given you'll be in a transition stage.  You're Stache would cover your other expenses easy in my opinion.

Because of this FI, and because I can't imagine you'll find happiness in your current spot given what you've said, I'd think the next logical move is to quit and go work somewhere else, preferably half-time/parttime.  You may like it.  You may not, and at that point I'd think your next step would be to try out FIRE. None of these moves are final, and b/c of the FI not even risky. 

I guess what I'm saying is, don't be scared to shoot for a happy situation, you've (literally) earned it.

« Last Edit: December 19, 2018, 02:03:36 PM by Much Fishing to Do »

DoNorth

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I was in a similar situation in 2014.  I left a really good paying job when I was 36, moved, and did something completely different unrelated to my profession.  3+ years gave me the break I needed and when it felt right, I went back to full time work on a term basis in a nice overseas location.  To be truthful, the employment gap away from my previous work never entered the equation as I interviewed for my current position.  I think you should give notice.

leavesofgrass

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I don't think anyone else has mentioned it, but maybe you should see a therapist before you quit (even though quitting does sound like a good move).

You mentioned that your ex was overwhelmed by the stress and unhappiness of your life over the last year, and it was a major reason he called it quits. When your mental state negatively affects loved ones and you find yourself consistently unhappy with jobs after a period of time, it may be time to discuss these things with a professional. You may get a better sense of how you appear to other people, gain insight into your emotions, and learn coping mechanisms. I don't see any downside to talking to someone before making a big life change. Those same feelings may follow you wherever you go.

bacchi

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I also get burned out but even faster -- I can barely last a year at a full-time job.

In your case, ask for a 4/8 work schedule. Use the extra day to recharge. If your boss doesn't like that, quit.

If the extra day doesn't work, and you're still stressed, then quit completely. Sell the house and use the $300k+ proceeds to rent an apartment somewhere fun. Learn to enjoy your life again.

legalstache

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I'd start looking for a new job immediately. Given the high demand in your field, it seems like finding a new job shouldn't be too difficult. Based on your initial post, it sounds like a different job would be a refreshing change of pace and working at a new position for another year or two (or more) would give you additional financial security. If you can't find a job while still working full-time, I'd seriously think about quitting, taking some time to recharge, and then interviewing, particularly given your field and how close you are to FI. 

Also, as many others have mentioned, I'd take a critical look at your housing situation. A 3 BR is way more than you need. Why not sell and enjoy the appreciation? It doesn't make sense to stay in a job that's making you unhappy in order to pay for way too much house...

As it stands, it sounds like you're more content coasting along in a state of mild to moderate discontentment instead of taking the risk necessary to make changes. 

STEMorbust

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My two cents as a fellow data person:

- Re: life happiness. I find that more structure/activities makes me work and feel better. Waking up at the same, meditation, eating a similar breakfast/lunch daily, and most of all exercise and the community that comes along with it. I like to find climbing gyms with unlimited yoga and strike up conversation with similarly skilled climbers when the opportunity arises. Super welcoming community (and often a lot of data folks to network with!).

- Re: job happiness. Working on the same problems with the same people gets boring, especially when results don't feel tangible. In most HCOL areas there are consulting companies looking for data/analytics folks. Ever consider that route? High paying, diversity in problem solving, generally no micro management.

FInding_peace

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Thanks for all the suggestions!  Wanted to hit on a few things that have been brought up:

Seeing a therapist: This was a good suggestion, and I have actually been seeing a therapist for a bit.  She thinks I'm highly sensitive, meaning that neurologically I'm more sensitive to stimuli (lights, sounds, etc., the recent sound sensitivity thread on the post-FI board sounded a lot like me) and stressors than most people are.  Therefore I get overwhelmed more easily and need more quiet alone time to recover.  She thinks I should be protecting myself more, making allowances and adjustments to suit my unique needs, rather than trying so hard to fit myself into the stardard mold of a busy modern work life. 

This fits for me, I generally feel happy when I am able to get plenty of time and space for myself, for example, during summers when I worked in academia, I was able to work at a slower pace, mostly on my own, and I felt happy.  But, faced with a standard full-time work life, I quickly start feeling overstimulated, anxious, frazzled.  Over months, that becomes an ongoing sense of strain, overwhelm, depletion, and unhappiness.  If I get away from the source of overwhelm for long enough (weeks or months) by taking a long vacation or sabbatical, I'll start to bounce back.   Unfortunately, you can't just decide to be on a permanent vacation though ... oh wait, you can and it's called FIRE ;-). 

Limiting screen time: This is a great suggestion.  I've been noticing this myself.  For the past couple months, I've been experimenting with "screenfree Saturdays", where I just give myself the whole day to just do nothing while staying off all technology.  The concept was actually inspired by religious sabbath days that involve no work and no tech.  I'm not that religious, but thought the idea of it sounded really appealing and decided to try implementing something similar.  I usually try to get outside for a little sunshine and physical activity and also maybe have a social engagement of some sort, but otherwise I just let myself have quiet and putz around the house and do low-key no-tech things like napping or journaling or baking.  And I do feel significantly better by the end of the day.  It still doesn't feel like enough; it feels like I still need more days like that to get to feeling really good, but it definitely helps. 

Exercise:  Definitely falling down on the job in this department.  I used to run and climb a lot, but have become more sedentary the past few years.  This is a good call-out.  Exercise used to always make me feel better. 

General Update on my Thinking: So I actually had about a week of much-needed quiet time during the week of Christmas and New Years.  (This was due to having celebrated Christmas a couple weeks early with my family to accommodate siblings' conflicts with other in-law celebrations.)  Surprisingly, I found that my thinking started to shift over the course of the week as I started to really relax.  The idea of making a big change just suddenly seemed much more manageable, even though nothing external had really changed at all.  I am beginning to think that this is the key to getting over the hump.  It's hard to contemplate big changes and risks when living in a constant low-level fight-or-flight mode and/or a state of deep depletion, but even a week of getting out of survival mode and recharging can make things look less scary and more doable.  Everything always looks worse as seen from fight-or-flight mode.  I feel like this is a key insight and was excited to post here in case it helps others who may be struggling. 

 I am now thinking I'll target somewhere in the range Feb. 15th - May 17th of this year (just 32 days away!).  I chose the beginning of the date range because of some vesting and second-half-of-the-year bonus payouts that happen in February (worth ~20-25K) that I don't want to miss if I'm this close, and the end of it, as roughly when I would move from paying 12% or less in taxes to 22% or more.  I've calculated that I'd still make about 2/3 as much after-tax income for the year if I quit in May vs. going the full year, because I'd be paying very little tax on my earnings until then, maxing out retirement accounts and the 0%,10%, and 12% tax brackets.  I like this idea of going as long as the money is easy and tax-free, then quitting when I start to hit diminishing returns.  Also, since I was planning to retire in 2020 anyway, it would mean that financially I made it nearly to the original goal, even while working at most a few more months.  Feeling excited about this plan!

Linda_Norway

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Congrats on being able to make up your plan. Good idea to FIRE so soon from now. Thanks for letting is know!

And if you would find out after some time that FIRE does not work out completely, I think you should rather consider a very part time job, maybe by selling yourself as a consultant, working from home. Never again the fulltime in the office job.

But with your savings, you have so much margin, that you should easily be able to FIRE, if you manage to adjust your housing costs.

Good luck to you. Are you going to join the 2019 FIRE cohort thread?

https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/welcome-to-the-forum/2019-fire-cohort/

We are all in the mood to quit this year, with the fears that come along with it.