Author Topic: A cure for Last-Mile-itis?  (Read 2365 times)

StarmanJones

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A cure for Last-Mile-itis?
« on: July 08, 2018, 05:22:36 PM »
A long post, but after a 15 years of my FI journey, Itís my first, so it seems thereís a lot to come out

In 2003, age 40, after years of paying off credit card debt and extricating myself from some very poor investments; I began my true journey to FI by writing down two goals that seemed impossible at the time: to save $1500 per month and to be a millionaire by aged 55. (my net worth at the time was about $100k, so a challenging, but not insane goal). Amazingly, with the help of an awesome community of bloggers I discovered along the way (particular thanks to MMM, Mad Fientist and Go Curry Cracker), plus some serious focus of my own on building a career and some super-dedicated saving, I have dramatically turned around my financial prospects over the last 10 years: Today, I have a net worth of $2.75M, and save about $18,000 a month. I am 1-2 years from early-ish retirement at age 55-56.

Yay Me!... Surely Iím happy; smug even? Actually this is far from true:

Logically I know I should celebrate that over the past 15 Years; I have become a multi-millionaire, blown past every net worth target I ever set and totally rewritten my future.  I know I should be happy, looking forward to a blissful FI life filled with joyful things, free to spend time with my family, travel, enjoy a multitude of hobbies, free forever from the burden of work I donít enjoyÖHowever, this is not the case; in fact, I have found that the last years of my journey to FI have been the hardest of all; I am totally burnt out at work, super stressed and seemingly unable to gain a rational perspective on life. I stress about wasting any more of my best years at my mega-corp; I fret about how much should I save: (FIRECalc says I need $3.2M for my estimated expenses, but thatís going to take me another 18 months, and anyway, who the hell needs that much money to retire on?) Should I cut and run now? Surely I have enough already? No, why the hell would you quit the race when youíre so close to the finish lineÖ.

What sort of insanity is this? Does it have a name? Maybe ĎLast Mile-itisí (LMI) would be a good name. While some seem to be able to enjoy the final coast to FI, Iíve seen many posts referencing this combination of anxiety and doubt that creep in during the final push to retirement.

Hereís my observation Ė as I get closer and closer to my FI goal, I have started to track everything much more closely; I update my numbers regularly, run through multiple retirement strategies to see where I stand. I devour blog and forum posts, looking for new ideas and perspectives; I look at options for the first years of retirement, should we move to an LCOL area or maybe sell up entirely and travel the world for a year or two? or perhaps live abroad with geographic arbitrage?

Often this seems to help; a good dose of reviewing on a Sunday seems to steel me for the upcoming week of work; but sometimes I wonder if this level of focus is also part of the problem. Maybe this continual juxtaposition of now (working hard at a job that seems to have lost all meaning) vs an awesome but entirely imaginary retired future is actually the root cause of much of my angst?

So Iím wondering about an experiment, an FI diet if you will: Step away from the spreadsheet and instead, just focus on getting the best out of each day. Pretty much all my savings are on autopilot, so perhaps if I leave everything be for, letís say, six months, and review in the new year, maybe I can let FI sneak up on me while Iím not watching?

Any thoughts or guidance?  Has anyone experienced this?

daverobev

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Re: A cure for Last-Mile-itis?
« Reply #1 on: July 08, 2018, 05:33:20 PM »
1) You need something to retire to.

2) It is normal, but - just check you have enough in cash/fixed income. Lots of people say "if you're worried about your portfolio, you don't have enough fixed" - I don't know that that is exactly true, but there is some truth.

I'm coming off a 'check my balances every day' thing at the moment, which is good. It isn't 'healthy' to worry like that.

You just have to find something else to do. I'm strongly considering storing access to my accounts in some kind of time lock, so I can only update once per month, or even better once per quarter. Over time the interest will wane, and I'll 'get on with life'.

At the end of the day, what good does looking do? At best, none; at worst, you'll end up changing something when it should probably be left alone.

Blackeagle

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Re: A cure for Last-Mile-itis?
« Reply #2 on: July 08, 2018, 05:35:25 PM »
What aspects of your planned retirement would have to give up to retire right now, rather than waiting two years?  Are those things worth two more years of your life?

mozar

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Re: A cure for Last-Mile-itis?
« Reply #3 on: July 08, 2018, 05:55:30 PM »
You could do a case study to help you see where you can cut. But yes people experience the same as you. I personally can't imagine having that much and not retiring today.

Blindsquirrel

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Re: A cure for Last-Mile-itis?
« Reply #4 on: July 08, 2018, 06:44:34 PM »
  I am in the same boat. 50 and FI completely even with my spendy wife. Just can't quit the Mega-corp gravy train. It will happen within 9 ,months or so but nothing if really keeping me from saying F it other than, working is a tough habit for some to quit. OMY is real. That said, you never know how long the party will last and I am more likely to end up dead than broke.

August

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Re: A cure for Last-Mile-itis?
« Reply #5 on: July 08, 2018, 07:20:56 PM »
This may seem like an overly simple answer, but I think you should decide what you want.

Your goal over the last few years has been to save enough to reach your retirement number.  Now that you're close, maybe you need a new goal.  What do you want to spend your time doing?

frugalfinancehippy

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Re: A cure for Last-Mile-itis?
« Reply #6 on: July 08, 2018, 08:03:24 PM »
Is it possible to take a leave from work or go part time while you get that last portion saved. Also, are you in a HCOL because moving to a LCOL could mean youíre FI now and ready to move on from the mega Corp.

Sometimes I am hyper focused on FI and other times Iím consumed by other things so maybe you just need to get occupied with something else for a bit if FI is stressing you out.

Also Congrats!! 🎉
You have come a long way from 15 years ago.

I hope you figure out what you want and you are happy 😉

mjr

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Re: A cure for Last-Mile-itis?
« Reply #7 on: July 08, 2018, 08:20:14 PM »
Looks the be a very common ailment.  I have it in spades.

I've been looking forward to this for 10 years.  In the end, it was a redundancy that I wangled that has brought it to a head (leaving at the end of July).

I am *tortured*.  Do I have enough ($2.5m) ?  What kind of idiot walks away from $300k p.a. ?  I like the respect, the friendship, the structure.  To go from that to doing sweet f-a and "worrying" about spending again is going to be hell.

I can actually forego the redundancy and take a more senior position.  Promotion.  Even more international travel.   Don't need to make a life-changing decision.

But what's the alternative ?  Deliberately going back to the grind ?   in spite of all the fear and sense of loss, I know that to continue on with what is safe and familiar and "comfortable" is the gutless way out.  Much more personal growth awaits by actually taking the plunge.  Scared as hell, but deep down I know it's what I have to do.

« Last Edit: July 08, 2018, 08:51:27 PM by mjr »

lhamo

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Re: A cure for Last-Mile-itis?
« Reply #8 on: July 08, 2018, 08:51:27 PM »
I can't fathom spending that much, and I'm about to sink roughly 10k on summer travel for our family (trip to UK for three of us, trip to China to visit family and friends for all four of us).  We've been pretty liberal with spending this past year -- over 10k put into new furniture and fixtures in our house, paid for braces out of pocket for DD, new touring bikes for me and DH -- but our total in Mint is around 65k. 

Are you sure you are entering stuff into Firecalc correctly?  Have you figured in eventual SS at all (at your age, you will get something)?  Are you willing to let people have at your budget in a case study?

I'm sure you could quit tomorrow and figure it out.  Highly recommend it.  I was a bit nervous about finances when we first FIREd, since success of the plan hinged on selling a very expensive piece of property we held overseas, but I stopped rigorously tracking once we got a signed contract and haven't really been stressed about money since.  Except when I figured out we owed 50k more in capital gains than I had originally calculated, but oh well -- that upset me for about a day, and then I got over it.  Paid the bill and now it is done.  And we still have more than we need.

StarmanJones

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Re: A cure for Last-Mile-itis?
« Reply #9 on: July 08, 2018, 08:58:40 PM »
Wow!, thanks all for the quick & helpful thoughts and suggestions, answers to some of the specific questions:
 
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Blackeagle: What aspects of your planned retirement would have to give up to retire right now, rather than waiting two years?  Are those things worth two more years of your life?
A: Mostly Travel (would definitely like to do some serious world travel in retirement) and also padding against unknowns: e.g. what will I enjoy doing in retirement? will I gravitate towards more expensive hobbies; or will I be happy being less extravagant. Two years more will definitely give enough padding to remove all risk of any of these regrets (except perhaps that I worked two extra years when I didn't need to!)

 
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Mozar: You could do a case study to help you see where you can cut
A: Case Study it is then, though I already fear the face punching reprisals for my planned extravagance!

 
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BlindSquirrel: working is a tough habit for some to quit. OMY is real.

A: I think you are probably further ahead than me - I don't feel I could quit today without making some concessions to future plans. Quite possibly I'll suffer from OMY once I hit my numbers though; at that point my net worth will increase by 350k each year - and keep on compounding

 
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frugalfinancehippy: Is it possible to take a leave from work or go part time while you get that last portion saved
A: both good ideas, part time is definitely attractive; my job is pretty good in parts, just there's waaay too much of it; sabbatical to get perspective might help
 
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frugalfinancehippy: Also Congrats!! 🎉You have come a long way from 15 years ago. I hope you figure out what you want and you are happy
Thanks for the kind thoughts, It's great to get everyone's support, (despite my First World 'problem' being mostly in my head!)

Off to write the Case Study then...



gerardc

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Re: A cure for Last-Mile-itis?
« Reply #10 on: July 08, 2018, 09:23:25 PM »
Yeah, retire now, WTF are you waiting for? You're OLD already, many of life's pleasures are way past you. You're also rich.

I have the same feelings @ 34, soon to exit, cannot wait. My advice to "see" this truth more clearly is to take 1 week vacation and not think about work at all. Works wonders for me.

heybro

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Re: A cure for Last-Mile-itis?
« Reply #11 on: July 09, 2018, 02:23:19 AM »
Thank you so much for sharing this and for posting this.  I am about to reach a major milestone (not as major as yours) and I have a lot of the same feelings as you.

I think we get so used to the pattern we've been in that it is scary to pull out of it.  Also, there isn't much 'support' out there.  The world stays the same.  Most people will still live as they have (pay check to pay check) and many of them will still be at jobs and unavailable to you.  (How do you relate to people anymore).  And, if you do run in to trouble, how can you complain or ask for help?  'What a poor man missing his actual retirement goal by a few years.'

In so many ways, we want this so badly so we can go off the grid.  But the grid is so much a part of us that we don't understand how we can actually be off the grid.  There's no road map.  The limitations we once had have begun to feel like security.  Like a jail cell being opened up and not wanting to leave it.

There needs to be more discussions like this!

Also, I'm always discouraged how things are set up as either or.  Either you kill yourself at a job or you have no job at all.  Why can't there be happy medium middle jobs that have great balance?  Offer you a decent income, low hours, and great satisfication!
« Last Edit: July 09, 2018, 02:24:55 AM by heybro »

Retire-Canada

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Re: A cure for Last-Mile-itis?
« Reply #12 on: July 09, 2018, 10:26:07 AM »
Two years more will definitely give enough padding to remove all risk of any of these regrets (except perhaps that I worked two extra years when I didn't need to!)



If you are following a 4%WR plan or lower WR% in most cases your NW will continue to climb as you are retired. Beyond that time is a far more precious resource than money especially when you get to middle age. Looking at the graphic above....what's more worrying...going broke or dying?

Personally I'd say with your NW you can retire now and travel and pursue loads of hobbies and you should because at some point you will die and that day gets closer every-time the sunrises.
« Last Edit: July 09, 2018, 10:27:44 AM by Retire-Canada »

lhamo

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Re: A cure for Last-Mile-itis?
« Reply #13 on: July 09, 2018, 12:05:35 PM »
Oh, one way to deal with the desire for more splurgy hobbies/travel -- make big ticket spending contingent on how the market performs in the 12 months before you set the annual budget.  Have a blockbuster year like 2017 where the market (and your stache) is up 15-20%?  Take a slightly larger withdrawal and have one blow-out, spendy vacation or buy a toy you have been wanting for awhile.  Market stable or down?  Take a much smaller withdrawal and focus on having fun on low-cost staycation type things for the next year or so.  You may find that alternating between these approaches makes both options more enjoyable -- you will appreciate the blow out vacations more when you space them out, and you will enjoy stuff around home more if you haven't already exhausted all the options since you were off traveling for extended periods.

StarmanJones

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Re: A cure for Last-Mile-itis?
« Reply #14 on: July 09, 2018, 03:46:55 PM »
Thanks again to all for feedback
If anyone's curious, I did post a case study
https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/case-studies/reader-case-study-help-with-'last-mile-itis'/

Retire-Canada: I'm definitely more likely to die than go broke (I'm actually OK with that, would be happy to leave a decent inheritance, just not too decent!).

lhamo, I really like the travel/discretionary spend prorated to market performance approach; We haven't really explored North/South America, so could do that cheaply in 'off' years, and go further afield when the market is up.

Also, We were effectively budgeting high travel for the full 35 years of retirement. In the Case study thread, feedback suggests few keep up extensive travel far into their 70s; So probably won't need this until I'm 90 (particularly if I'm dead - I hear that really takes most of the enjoyment out of international travel)


damyst

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Re: A cure for Last-Mile-itis?
« Reply #15 on: July 10, 2018, 10:23:32 PM »
Also, I'm always discouraged how things are set up as either or.  Either you kill yourself at a job or you have no job at all.  Why can't there be happy medium middle jobs that have great balance?  Offer you a decent income, low hours, and great satisfication!

Definitely agree. This is in my list of characteristics of our age that future history students will find very confusing.
As a society, we can probably afford this today. However, it requires more wealth redistribution than most people (and certainly most people in leadership positions) have an appetite for.

oldtoyota

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Re: A cure for Last-Mile-itis?
« Reply #16 on: September 19, 2018, 12:02:38 PM »
Also, I'm always discouraged how things are set up as either or.  Either you kill yourself at a job or you have no job at all.  Why can't there be happy medium middle jobs that have great balance?  Offer you a decent income, low hours, and great satisfication!

Definitely agree. This is in my list of characteristics of our age that future history students will find very confusing.
As a society, we can probably afford this today. However, it requires more wealth redistribution than most people (and certainly most people in leadership positions) have an appetite for.

This. Spouse used to say it'd be nice if I could work PT. The problem was that PT somehow means earning a low hourly wage. For my profession, it was FT or work PT and earn less per hour than before. That led to me starting my own business. For some reason, people consider I'm worth paying more when I am a business rather than their PT employee.