It has actually been more challenging than I expected. I have only had this high-income position for a little over a year, and until I got here, I didn't really have an appreciation for how strong the social pressure is to spend more just because you make more.I've seen it, even as a government guy. My first couple of years at my current job, I spent 95% of the highest salary I'd ever had. I credit my wife for eventually shaming me out of lifestyle creep. ;)
Also, I paid more in taxes last year than the total amount I earned for the prior several years put together. It was kind of shocking to see how big the government's cut was. (I know, first world problems and all, but still.... :-p)Hey, at least you're not raging about it like some people, and kudos for the maturity.
We're LCOL so we've managed a high SR without earning enough to pay huge tax bills, but ours are about to start rising pretty dramatically too, as we cross well into tIRA phaseout territory this year via continued raises and improving side hustles. Boohoo! lol
On the plus side, this pushes us back to Roths and gives us better withdrawal options for the future.
Raging about paying taxes doesn't make much sense to me. I mean, what are my options here? 1) Give up a high paying job to take a lower paying job so that I pay less in taxes. That option makes good sense for after FI (and I plan to use this exact strategy then), but it doesn't make much sense while trying to achieve FI. You can only cut your expenses so much, and after that, the only other option to reach FI faster is to earn more money. Since we have a progressive tax system in this country, that necessarily means you will also pay more taxes. 2) Try to evade taxes. Also suboptimal. I visited the county jail on a school field trip once, and I have no desire to ever be a long-term resident. Not to mention wasting money on fines, lawyer fees, etc. Hell, I don't even speed on the highway because I don't want to have to waste my money paying for a speeding ticket. 3) Suck it up for the few years it will take me to achieve FI, and be grateful I live in a country that gives me this opportunity, even if it takes half of what it gives with one hand back with the other. Not to mention that I've benefited from various taxpayer-funded initiatives, including a public education, roads, police, the local public library, museums, parks, state scholarship money for college, etc.
Still, I fervently hope that we don't end up with another four years of a Democrat in the White House.... :-p
You probably already know that you can still contribute to a Roth even if you earn too much to contribute directly. I did this "back-door Roth" for the first time last year. You obviously can't take the tax deduction, but you do it by first contributing up to $5500 to a traditional IRA, then converting it to the Roth. It's simple to do and just involves some paperwork that your financial institution customer service rep can easily walk you through if needed. There is no tax due since you contributed post-tax money to the tIRA. The only caveat is that you can run into pro-rating issues if you already have money in a tIRA before you start, so people who already have big tIRA accounts should probably not do back-door Roths unless they plan to pay taxes on and convert all of the money that's already in the tIRA. That could be a pretty enormous tax bill if you've been contributing to a tIRA for a long time.