Author Topic: Am I there yet? One more year ... year ... year ... year ... year?  (Read 4932 times)

RetireAbroadAt35

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About a year ago, shortly after starting a new full-time j-o-b, I posted a thread to reflect on that year and what I'd learned through job change.  It led to a great discussion.  In retrospect, I can see where I got defensive in that thread at a few points.  Digging into those topics has been very helpful to me as I ponder my next steps.

A quick recap:
  • In a relationship, no kids.  Not likely to change but you never know where life takes you.
  • Working-class background but found myself in a professional industry.  I don't especially like it but I've been at it for a while because it represented a life-altering opportunity for me and perhaps others in my life. And it's better than a coal mine.
  • Have been FI for a few years now.  Not satisfied with life and trying to decide if RE is the next step.
  • I've taken a few sabbaticals.  One thing I learned - I won't be bored in RE.

One More Year
And it's been another year.  I've run my victory lap at my new employer (and started another).  The days, weeks, and months just keep flying by. 

Last year, I challenged myself to use my FI status for something positive, while I tested out life at GigaCorp.  I told myself that in the best case, GigaCorp offers a unicorn job that brings financial comfort and allows enough freedom to seek meaning and fullfillment outside the office.   I figured my worst case was that I'd run a victory lap and use my income for good.  I couched it as a win-win scenario. 

I hadn't really accepted that my actual worst-case scenario would be failing health or missing out on something important in life while intently focused on work.

So far it's been a mixed bag.

Accomplishments
  • For my industry, this really is a top employer and a great place to work.  If I'm going to do what I do, this is the place to do it.  Achievement.
  • I increased my stache by 10% reaching 29.4x my planned expenses* or 49.6x my minimum expenses**.
  • Gave financial gifts to family members that were well-received and while not life-changing, were definitely life-improving.
  • Created a donor-advised fund to frontload a lifetime of charitable contributions.  Using the 4% rule to make it last.
  • Earmarked a completely insufficient fund for potential nursing care / college funds / whatever else may be
  • Made some minor progress on a hobby project.
  • Used vacation time to be close to some important people in my life.
  • Outlined a very interesting post-RE project (pure passion, not gonna make money) and got my partner on-board.

* Includes the DAF as small charitable contributions are built into my budget.
** Food, housing, medical, transportation, bills.  Just cover the basics (including my half of the bills) in my HCOL area.

Failures
  • I don't like what I do for a living.  I never have really - and a big factor is, I think, the working-class vs white-collar culture shock.  I also think I burned myself out at MegaCorp.  Perhaps unrecoverably.  Even though I solved many of the things that were off-kilter at MegaCorp by negotiating my role at GigaCorp, I cannot summon any passion for this.  I consider that a failure as I had kind of hoped I would get my mojo back.
  • I can't seem to carve out enough time and energy to advance the other areas of my life that deserve attention.
  • My job requires me to find problems, define them, and then solve them.  I am constantly building and breaking new teams.  I manage people across many timezones.  I am the face to our customers.  I'm good at it.  But it is highly-stressful and I have incorporated that stress right back into my daily existence.
  • The lack of energy for my personal life extends to my professional life as well.  While I'm killin' it on the main responsibilities, I'm not doing all of the "extra-curriculars" that are required to be successful.

In short, the work is better.  Much better.  More fullfilling.  But it is demanding to the exclusion of so much else.  Some of my colleagues seem to make it work but in the few cases where I've had the opportunity to look under the covers, they don't seem to have it figured out any better than I do. 

So I try not to compare.

Financial Status
I don't want to get into numbers here, but my planned annual spending is below the median household income in the US.  With my partner's spending we'd be slightly above it.  For our HCOL area, our combined household spending is below the median. 

My partner in life is financially responsible, likely FI.  Their contributions to the household income take my planned spending from "pretty lean" to "pretty comfortable" for the area.  We are renting, as home prices are out of reach if I RE.  If I found myself having to do this on my own, on my current stache, I would probably opt to move to a MCOL.  I consider that an unlikely risk.

The 10% I added to my stache allows me to still hit my spending targets while carving out two earmarks.  Basically enough to fund 1 year of nursing home upgrades and 2 years of state school.  I'm continuing to save but I'm not tracking my budget or savings rate with any rigor.

Fulfillment
I've got some work to do here.  I'm no longer getting a thrill out of professional achievements and I've neglected my health, my connection to others, and my non-microsoft-office skills. 

  • Health.  Neglected.
  • Relationship.  Good but on autopilot.
  • Family. Got some focus this year.
  • Friends. Got some focus this year.
  • Job. Most achievements are here.

In short, I'm dissatisfied.  Dissatisfaction has been one of the defining characteristics of my life.  This dissatisfaction has motivated me to accomplish a lot.  But as a recurring theme I have to wonder if, in some circumstances, it may be dysfunctional. 

Am I There Yet?
And so here I am.  One year later.  One year older.  Looking off the edge of a slightly higher cliff, and wondering, "What would happen if I jumped?" 

So Mustachians, what do you say?  Am I there yet?

edit: fixed a link
« Last Edit: July 13, 2020, 11:26:49 AM by RetireAbroadAt35 »

RecoveringCarClown

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Re: Am I there yet? One more year ... year ... year ... year ... year?
« Reply #1 on: May 02, 2019, 09:38:56 PM »
32x....Black Bartís cave, cliff divers, jump dammit jump!!

frugaldrummer

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Re: Am I there yet? One more year ... year ... year ... year ... year?
« Reply #2 on: May 02, 2019, 10:23:42 PM »
Are you sure your SO is FI? Are they on board with FIRE? Are you sure they feel the same way about not having kids?

Also, have you considered transitioning to part-time work? Or would your SO consider moving to a LCOL area?

Things that concern me - your lifestyle in FIRE would be propped up a bit by SO's contributions. If you part ways could you maintain the same lifestyle? Would you be ok with that decline in lifestyle?


RetireAbroadAt35

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Re: Am I there yet? One more year ... year ... year ... year ... year?
« Reply #3 on: May 02, 2019, 11:42:52 PM »
32x....Black Bartís cave, cliff divers, jump dammit jump!!
I reworked my spreadsheets to give me some stats.  I'll update the OP in amoment.

If I subtract my earmarks, then my annual mandatory expenses are 2.5% of my remaining NW.  If I don't subtract out my earmarks, then it's 2.1%.  That's basically the lowest amount I could flex down to.  By that measure, I have 49.6x my mandatory expenses.  Once I factor in my minimum planned discretionary spending and earmarks, I'm at 29.4x my planned expenses.  Discretionary spending is a bit tougher to predict as my expenses would change a fair bit with the change in lifestyle but this should be close.

Are you sure your SO is FI? Are they on board with FIRE? Are you sure they feel the same way about not having kids?
Yes, yes, and yes.

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Also, have you considered transitioning to part-time work?
Part-time, no, but I could likely find a way to work independent contracts.  That would at least allow me breaks between gigs (if I turned down work).  That was the big decision I was trying to make last year.  In the end of I was seduced by GigaCorp, but upon separation I'd pursue contracts as part of my exit strategy.

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Or would your SO consider moving to a LCOL area?
Nope. Too many local ties so that's not on the table.

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Things that concern me - your lifestyle in FIRE would be propped up a bit by SO's contributions. If you part ways could you maintain the same lifestyle? Would you be ok with that decline in lifestyle?
If they got hit by a bus before we combined finances, I'd be in a bit of a pickle.  Moving to a MCOL area would mitigate that risk and probably improve my lifestyle to be honest. I'm not from around these parts and have no such attachments to the place.  I'm not worried about this.
« Last Edit: May 03, 2019, 12:34:33 AM by RetireAbroadAt35 »

One

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Re: Am I there yet? One more year ... year ... year ... year ... year?
« Reply #4 on: May 02, 2019, 11:50:37 PM »
Instead of looking at the percentage of money gained working an extra year you should flip it and look at the percentage of future good years lost. One more year is 4% of the good years you have left, donít waste it working for the man.

RetireAbroadAt35

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Re: Am I there yet? One more year ... year ... year ... year ... year?
« Reply #5 on: May 03, 2019, 12:00:31 AM »
That's been my philosophy.  It was pretty easy to maintain that mindset until a few years ago when I set out to improve my income.  I convinced the man to increase my pay by 70% but it did come with a cost.

It's like I suddenly got to 5,000' in my Cessna and realized how much more I could accomplish if I had a Boeing that flew at 35,000'. 

It's tempting, but I just don't think I can put in the time.

The funny thing is, when I first formalized my FIRE plans back in 2012 or so, I was confident I wouldn't be troubled by OMY.  Now that I'm here, and looking at opportunity cost, and weighing the value of time versus money, and adapting to life changes, it's much less clear.


stashing_it

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Re: Am I there yet? One more year ... year ... year ... year ... year?
« Reply #6 on: May 03, 2019, 12:02:37 AM »
I'd recommend reading some of Malkynn's posts on this thread
https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/continue-the-blog-conversation/how-to-slow-down-time/msg2301187/#msg2301187

But for your specific situation, my recommendation is more simple, don't crush it at work

Your options aren't only
1)  Put all your focus and energy on work and neglect health and other fun
2)  quit and go FI

you could also
3)  Coast.   Do your job, but make it lower priority than other things.  Take time to hit the gym, eat right, etc.   Stop doing any work outside of hours.

Maybe you'll get fired.   Maybe you'll find that if you start saying no to all the BS at work, you can focus on the important things and become more productive.   

If you get fired, who cares, that isn't any worse than option 2 which you are already considering, and if you are at Gigacorp won't happen for a year or more

One

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Re: Am I there yet? One more year ... year ... year ... year ... year?
« Reply #7 on: May 03, 2019, 12:11:41 AM »
The man slapped the golden handcuffs on you.  Run donít walk.

RetireAbroadAt35

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Re: Am I there yet? One more year ... year ... year ... year ... year?
« Reply #8 on: May 03, 2019, 12:31:09 AM »
you could also
3)  Coast.   Do your job, but make it lower priority than other things.  Take time to hit the gym, eat right, etc.   Stop doing any work outside of hours.
Well, coasting isn't going to work. There are too many people that I care just enough about who would be impacted by my total fucking off.  Plus getting fired would impact my reputation and ability to do contracts in the future.  It's a small world.

But there is some truth in this.

I had intended during my victory lap at GigaCorp, to establish a manageable balance and keep to it. Things are much better now, I'm not an exhausted angry ball of stress anymore, but I failed to establish a routine of healthy eating and exercise.

So the next incremental step in the plan would be to FIRE my way off the hamster wheel and look for part-time/contract employment to fill my fun fund.

The man slapped the golden handcuffs on you.  Run donít walk.
Kinda, yeah.  The pay is good.  The only real obligation is a small signing bonus I'd have to pay back if I bail.  So more like golden blinders than golden handcuffs.
« Last Edit: May 03, 2019, 12:45:38 AM by RetireAbroadAt35 »

RetireAbroadAt35

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Re: Am I there yet? One more year ... year ... year ... year ... year?
« Reply #9 on: May 03, 2019, 09:54:57 AM »
I'd recommend reading some of Malkynn's posts on this thread
https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/continue-the-blog-conversation/how-to-slow-down-time/msg2301187/#msg2301187

After reading that thread, I realize now that I've been pushing things balls to the wall for a couple of months now.  The pressure came on at work and I shouldered the load without thinking about it. Now I'm starting to feel the effects of overwork again. Good reminder.

RetireAbroadAt35

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Re: Am I there yet? One more year ... year ... year ... year ... year?
« Reply #10 on: May 07, 2019, 08:52:59 AM »
Son of a .... I think they got me figured out.

If Youíre So Successful, Why Are You Still Working 70 Hours a Week?

https://hbr.org/2018/02/if-youre-so-successful-why-are-you-still-working-70-hours-a-week

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A professionalís insecurity is rooted in the inherent intangibility of knowledge work. How do you convince your client that you know something worthwhile and justify the high fees you charge? The insecurity caused by this intangibility is exacerbated by the rigorous ďup or outĒ promotion system perpetuated by elite professional organizations, which turns your colleagues into your competitors.

...

Exacerbating this problem, elite professional organizations deliberately set out to identify and recruit ďinsecure overachieversĒ ó some leading professional organizations explicitly use this terminology, though not in public. 

I don't think this is limited to "elite" organizations.  But it resonates.  I spent my formative fulltime work years in a place like that.

use2betrix

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Re: Am I there yet? One more year ... year ... year ... year ... year?
« Reply #11 on: May 07, 2019, 12:15:50 PM »
When I read your comments about your job, it resonated a lot with my own personal experiences. Iím great at what I do and very successful, but Iím often not that passionate about it. My current project, which I started last summer, is one of the better jobs in terms of enjoyment of my technical responsibilities.

That being said, the biggest thing that stuck out to me here was the neglecting of your health. Can you elaborate more on this? Are you not exercising? Gaining wait? Eating poorly? Drinking more?

To me - this can be a major make/break in terms of happiness that can directly relate to work. If I donít get my exercise in, I notice my fuse gets much shorter at work. My energy is lower. Iím generally just more unhappy. When my diet starts slipping some I notice similar effects.

RetireAbroadAt35

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Re: Am I there yet? One more year ... year ... year ... year ... year?
« Reply #12 on: May 07, 2019, 02:09:40 PM »
That being said, the biggest thing that stuck out to me here was the neglecting of your health. Can you elaborate more on this? Are you not exercising? Gaining wait? Eating poorly? Drinking more?
Ding ding ding ding

These are the outward signs that I've lost my way. 

Quote
To me - this can be a major make/break in terms of happiness that can directly relate to work. If I donít get my exercise in, I notice my fuse gets much shorter at work. My energy is lower. Iím generally just more unhappy. When my diet starts slipping some I notice similar effects.
I'm sure it's a factor.  There's a vicious feedback loop at play.  I manage that stuff pretty well when I have enough spare mental processing power to make good decisions in the moment.  If I really had my overall life balance down, there would be a routine that eliminated the need to make good decisions in the moment. 

I find this to be tough to manage. In particular the exercise. In one of my recent pushes towards improved health, I started a gym routine.  For 6 months I was up at 5AM 3x a week at a fitness class, balanced cardio and weights. 

For 6 months I was tired and everything hurt. 

I feel like I'm talking to an alien from another planet when someone tells me that exercising improves their energy levels.

mspym

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Re: Am I there yet? One more year ... year ... year ... year ... year?
« Reply #13 on: May 07, 2019, 02:58:38 PM »
I am not surprised about the exercise. It is a good stress but still a stress and your body can only handle so much total stress. If that is all taken up by work, exercise will only add to it not decrease it. When I have been in this space, I look for options that are very low key but will still yield benefits. I go for a quick walk in the open air at lunch. I take a slightly longer bike commute home. Low-key exercise outside seems to be very good for the brain - my old MegaCorp was really keen on the 'walk and talk' meeting and while it feel silly to start with, I came to appreciate it

What really worked for me though was going contract. I just finished a summer off where I slept and pottered and did my personal projects until I was recharged and excited to go back to work. But you? You are FI and still trading your health to increase your hoard. Why? What is holding you there? Ego? The title? Fear? Why not do some contracts and use this to ease your way out of corporate life?

RetireAbroadAt35

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Re: Am I there yet? One more year ... year ... year ... year ... year?
« Reply #14 on: May 07, 2019, 05:10:15 PM »
What really worked for me though was going contract. I just finished a summer off where I slept and pottered and did my personal projects until I was recharged and excited to go back to work.
Now you're speaking my language.  I've taken a few sabbaticals and felt similarly recharged.

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But you? You are FI and still trading your health to increase your hoard. Why? What is holding you there? Ego? The title? Fear? Why not do some contracts and use this to ease your way out of corporate life?
Good questions.  And perhaps this is where I wonder if I could get the phone number for Dr. Doom's therapist.

I really don't believe it is an ego/title thing. I tend to reject those aspects of the work, even declining to pursue the next promotion.  When I see up or out, I just want out.

What drives my OMY syndrome?  The link I posted above really made sense to me.  My photo is probably in the book on insecure overachievers. Why not shed that and move on?  I think it comes down to:

  • Ageism.  This is a big deal in my industry, so I treat it like a now or never situation.
  • Empathy. I'm worried about some people close to me, including my parents. I keep thinking that if I just work a little harder, everyone around me will be ok.
  • Independence. I moved to a HCOL area, making me dependent on my SO to cover the bills. Our relationship is solid but still growing. I don't want my RE to impact her FI.
  • Envy. Some of my peers and superiors seem to have it all. Ridiculous incomes. Work-life balance. Family.  Hobbies. Travel. I haven't cracked that nut and am beginning to think it's a farce. Still, I can't help but wonder if FIREing from GigaCorp is a failure to take advantage of all that I could achieve.

To your note about contracts, I thought about this last year.  In the end I decided to leave MegaCorp and join GigaCorp instead.  Worst case I'd build up contacts to do contract work.  Now I'm re-evaluating, after my year of GigaCorp. 

Is now the time to try and do contract work cover living expenses and my retirement projects? 

  • If I RE now, I have to come to grips with the fears above.
  • If I continue trying to maximize my earnings, I could do a number of really positive things for friends/family/strangers with the proceeds. Or die trying.
  • If I take the middle ground and work contracts, I could cut the stress, take care of myself, and pursue the things I'm passionate about.

If I can't make #2 just a little bit easier, then I think I should go for #3 before I'm forced by spontaneous cardiac explosion to do #1.

use2betrix

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Re: Am I there yet? One more year ... year ... year ... year ... year?
« Reply #15 on: May 10, 2019, 05:09:58 PM »
Reading your post, if you moved to HCOL and need your SOís income to cover your living expenses, I absolutely would not consider you FI and would suggest against RE. Unless, of course, there was a honest, lengthy discussion and agreement.

I work as a contractor and love it. Iíve taken a couple, 4 month sabbaticals in between projects. My last one ended in November 2017, and Iíve been working non-stop since then. My current contract looks like itíll stretch out to at least summer 2021. Iím sooooo ready for another sabbatical, but they are paying me so insanely well that I canít turn it down right now. Each month I work, I basically save 3 months worth of living expenses. Thatís a lot of sabbatical months saving up very fast!

When returning from my last sabbatical, it was amazing how productive and energized I was.

FatFI2025

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Re: Am I there yet? One more year ... year ... year ... year ... year?
« Reply #16 on: May 11, 2019, 12:56:10 PM »
  • Ageism.  This is a big deal in my industry, so I treat it like a now or never situation.
  • Empathy. I'm worried about some people close to me, including my parents. I keep thinking that if I just work a little harder, everyone around me will be ok.
  • Independence. I moved to a HCOL area, making me dependent on my SO to cover the bills. Our relationship is solid but still growing. I don't want my RE to impact her FI.
  • Envy. Some of my peers and superiors seem to have it all. Ridiculous incomes. Work-life balance. Family.  Hobbies. Travel. I haven't cracked that nut and am beginning to think it's a farce. Still, I can't help but wonder if FIREing from GigaCorp is a failure to take advantage of all that I could achieve.
As many early retirees point out, retiring early has an underwhelming effect on happiness. It's doubtful that RE by itself would make any real improvement on these concerns and, in fact, could make them worse.

Finding this thread highly relatable, I like the idea of shifting to contract work. Maybe you would do better with short sprints interspersed with long sabbaticals.

Even setting out a plan could ease your mind -- the scary part will be executing. Set a goal of quitting after your bonus. Let your corp know that you love working with them but just need an extended break to recharge and that you would be willing to come back on a contract basis after X amount of time.

Then commit to doing something not work related for whatever amount of time you think would work for you. After that time is up, reach back out to your network and see what you can arrange.

If you keep planning for all of these financial *wants,* even if they're selfless, then you'll never RE. Time to make a change.



We be free if we try

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Re: Am I there yet? One more year ... year ... year ... year ... year?
« Reply #17 on: May 12, 2019, 09:33:13 AM »
Iím hearing that you have the money and the ability to stop and recalibrate your life on your own terms. Iím also hearing that whatís stopping you is fear - that from your own admission comes from a vague feeling of insecurity - probably from beliefs formed early in life, that donít need to control your behavior any more. A good therapist or life coach can probably help you feel through whatís holding you back. Comparing your inside feelings to othersí ďperfectĒ exteriors is both false and creating unrealistic expectations. It really is possible to change your feelings of  insecurity - I know because Iíve done it, though through a lot of hard, grieving, work. But then you get to live your life on your terms. Best wishes!

RetireAbroadAt35

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Re: Am I there yet? One more year ... year ... year ... year ... year?
« Reply #18 on: May 13, 2019, 09:00:51 PM »
Reading your post, if you moved to HCOL and need your SOís income to cover your living expenses
No no, not mine.  I cover my half of everything, with enough left over for fun and keeping up the savings rate.  If I were to RE, I'd give up the savings and still have enough to cover my share of mandatory & discretionary expenses.  It's like fire with a small "f".  I only mention this topic because if the SO were to run off to Morocco with a tall dark stranger, I'd be at risk of not being able to cover 100% of the current expenses of the HCOL area on my own.  If I moved to MCOL, then I'd be FIRE with a big "F" and be truly independent, which is my mitigation to that risk.

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When returning from my last sabbatical, it was amazing how productive and energized I was.
This was my experience too.  I mean, the work still wasn't all that great, but man was it refreshing.

As many early retirees point out, retiring early has an underwhelming effect on happiness. It's doubtful that RE by itself would make any real improvement on these concerns and, in fact, could make them worse.
Fair warning.  One must have their mindset in order.  I'm not worried about this in general - I took a couple trial runs (sabbaticals) and I found that while not working isn't a panacea for one's ills or a form of instant-fullfillment, it is amazing what one can accomplish if the mind isn't shackled by 101 million work-related preoccupations.  That said, I did struggle a bit with the self-assigned guilt that came with screwing off and not using my earning potential.  It was minor and manageable and not altogether surprising.

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Finding this thread highly relatable, I like the idea of shifting to contract work. Maybe you would do better with short sprints interspersed with long sabbaticals.
That's the dream right there.  If I could work part-year, I could fill the rest of the time with a number of endeavors and be happy filling my free time that way.

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Even setting out a plan could ease your mind -- the scary part will be executing. Set a goal of quitting after your bonus. Let your corp know that you love working with them but just need an extended break to recharge and that you would be willing to come back on a contract basis after X amount of time.
That's pretty much what I want to tell them.  Partially I'm wavering a bit because I haven't been at GigaCorp too long. I'll have to be careful with the message.

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Then commit to doing something not work related for whatever amount of time you think would work for you. After that time is up, reach back out to your network and see what you can arrange.
I have a badass project in mind.  It'll take about 2 years to complete and it won't earn a penny.  Unfortunately it would mostly preclude me from taking paid contracts too, so as you can see I have some things to deconflict.

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If you keep planning for all of these financial *wants,* even if they're selfless, then you'll never RE. Time to make a change.
It's true. And part of my angst does come from not giving myself permission to claim my reward. 

Iím hearing that you have the money and the ability to stop and recalibrate your life on your own terms. Iím also hearing that whatís stopping you is fear - that from your own admission comes from a vague feeling of insecurity - probably from beliefs formed early in life, that donít need to control your behavior any more.
Ehhh, maybe kinda.  I mean I can stop and recalibrate. It's just that going all-in is kind of momentous.  When I step off this gravy train, there won't be any getting back on.  It's a lot to weigh.

That said my over-developed sense of responsibility certainly doesn't help :)

FatFI2025

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Re: Am I there yet? One more year ... year ... year ... year ... year?
« Reply #19 on: May 18, 2019, 11:14:13 AM »
Quote
Even setting out a plan could ease your mind -- the scary part will be executing. Set a goal of quitting after your bonus. Let your corp know that you love working with them but just need an extended break to recharge and that you would be willing to come back on a contract basis after X amount of time.
That's pretty much what I want to tell them.  Partially I'm wavering a bit because I haven't been at GigaCorp too long. I'll have to be careful with the message.
Yes definitely. I didn't mean that you would plan to leave Gigacorp in 12 months and tell the company now. If you think you need to stay for two years total and you're only at a year now, then wait to tell them when you give notice.

In my experience you can't ask "can I take a leave of absence and then switch to contract work?" The answer will always be "no" because that would be bad for Gigacorp. If you give notice on good terms and then say "I just really need a break, but after six months I think I'll be ready for contract work ," it's still bad for Gigacorp but it's a different decision for them to make. There's risk that they won't contract you but the whole point of FI is that the risk is no big deal.

nyfireguy

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Re: Am I there yet? One more year ... year ... year ... year ... year?
« Reply #20 on: May 21, 2019, 08:23:35 AM »

Iím hearing that you have the money and the ability to stop and recalibrate your life on your own terms. Iím also hearing that whatís stopping you is fear - that from your own admission comes from a vague feeling of insecurity - probably from beliefs formed early in life, that donít need to control your behavior any more.
Ehhh, maybe kinda.  I mean I can stop and recalibrate. It's just that going all-in is kind of momentous.  When I step off this gravy train, there won't be any getting back on.  It's a lot to weigh.

That said my over-developed sense of responsibility certainly doesn't help :)

RetireAbroadAt35.. I, like some others, can totally relate to this thread and I've read it all and your responses as well. I think, or at least for me as an outsider that can relate, it all comes down to "over-developed sense of responsibility".

I say this because I think it's been my problem as well and as I read through your thread I thought about all the responses to the responses I'd have, if I was you, and yours were pretty close. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you view it) I don't have a SO outside of that we are in similar boats with my biggest concern being health care.

With all that said I recently (like a week ago) resigned my position because over the last 1-2yrs I have had some health issues and some of them were definitely work/stress related while others were physical (needed surgery) and being as unhappy as I was at work, for many of the reasons you seem to be, I finally thought, why am I doing all this, what's it all for and why do I have this "over-developed sense of responsibility" so maybe it's time for a break. Honestly I think I was/maybe am depressed because although I've done well, you apparently have too, I just can't find the overall happiness I thought I'd have with work, life, etc right now; basically it's a depression of sorts.


I don't have a 2 year project to keep me busy and I am already getting calls about jobs, I am not sure what I want to do or if I can really afford to RE but what I do know, especially after reading a lot of this forum, is I couldn't keep going the way I was. Outsider looking in I'd say if you can move on do it but like yourself I believed if I stay off the gravy train I am not sure I can get back on and it all probably stems from "over-developed sense of responsibility"

I'll be following your thread for sure.. feel free to msg me as well. BTW where are you thinking you're going to retire abroad (I think about this all the time)?



RetireAbroadAt35

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« Reply #21 on: January 02, 2020, 11:19:26 PM »
Well, I'm approaching my self-imposed deadline to give notice and move on.  Time to cross all the Is and dot all the Ts.

My checklist:
  • Adjust asset allocation and follow a rising equity glidepath. Check. I've been rebalancing over the last year to a more conservative allocation. I'm at 48% US stock, 20% intl stock, 21% bonds, 11% cash. Will move towards 90-100% equities over the next 5 years or so.
  • Research healthcare costs. In progress. I've got a rough estimate for silver plan ACA coverage in my area.
  • Use all my healthcare coverage (annual appointments).  Not yet started.
  • Validate the numbers, account types, and budget.  See below.
  • Come up with a good cover story. I have to be the caretaker for my elderly pet orangatang. I'm starting a second career as an underwater basket welder.  My dog ate my contract. I'm going to be a home cactus farmer.

Regarding the numbers:
  • I've projected a minimum spending level of $29k and desired spending level of $54k per year.
  • cfiresim gives me a 95% success rate at my planned spending (and with future SSI) until I reach 100.
  • My desired spending gets me to around 3.5% SWR.  The difference will help me fund a couple of things in the near future (elder care, college funds, etc).
  • I've built up a donar-advised fund for charitable giving, that's accounted for separately and not included in the numbers below.
     

Here's my budget.  Facepunch away?

ExpenseAnnualMonthlyDescription
Health Ins Premiums-$4,200-$350ACA silver plan with subsidies.
Housing-$11,400-$950My half of rent+insurance+utilities+storage unit. Very low vacancy rates and high home prices here. We have a pretty good deal.
Transportation-$3,600-$300Made-up projection for fuel and train tickets and taxis. I'm not sure how much I'd spend in RE.  Could probably shave this down.
Auto Ins-$600-$50$500k liability insurance for my old car. If it gets hit by a meteor I'd just buy another one and enjoy the new project.
Food-$2,400-$200My contribution to groceries.
Mobile-$600-$50My bill with my MVNO is usually around $35/month.
Other-$1,800-$150Paper towels, whisky, handouts to street people, etc.
Total-$24,600-$2,000These are my minimum expenses
ACA Subsidy Failure-$4,800-$400If I don't qualify for subsidies and need to pay higher premiums, if not, I'll put it in my HSA or other healthcare savings.
Housing Upgrade-$5,400-$450If we had to move, we'd have a hard time finding another deal like we have.  This is to mitigate that risk or maybe contribute towards a mortgage. Depressingly this would still not be enough to pay 50% of a mortgage on a house in this ridiculous market.
Travel-$9,600-$800Friends and family are scattered, some of my hobbies call for a certain amount of travel. I tend to do it on a budget. This feels pretty extravagant.
Additional Auto Insurance-$600-$50$500k liability insurance for my other projects.
Hobbies-$2,400-$200Yarn, sanding blocks, whisky still, furry outfits, martial arts weapons, civil war uniforms, etc.
Gym-$1,200-$100Salsa dancing or synchronized swimming lessons.
Restaurants/Entertainment-$2,400-$200Strip club steak dinners.
Gifts-$600-$50Birthdays and such
Gear Maintenance-$1,800-$150Car/axe/fishingrod/go-kart/blimp repairs.
Total-$28,800-$2,400These are my discretionary expenses.
Grand Total-$53,400-$4,400My total planned expenses in FIRE, all covered at 3.5% of my 'stache.

I mentioned above that I'm undershooting my WR at 3.5% vs SWR of 3.9% to possibly fund elder care, college educations, my 2 year badass project startup costs, etc.  I could treat these as income-generating and add another $550/month to my income to deal with ACA implosion or my SO running off with aforementioned tall dark stranger.  I could also find myself needing to liquidate those funds soon, in which case my 'stache would shrink and my projected expenses would require a WR of 3.9% of my remaining stache.  All within reason.

Account Types & Withdrawal Plan
I have plenty of time to sort out the details as I've got cash that covers my e-fund and next year's expenses.  In short, my portfolio is about 54% taxable, 36% tax-deferred (mainly 401k), and about 10% tax-free (Roth IRA).  At a high level:

  • Years 1-5 - dividends and sales of securities from taxable accounts.
  • Years 5-25 - same as above plus the Roth IRA
  • Years 25-80 - same as above plus the 401k and SSI and whatever future retirement vehicles they've invented by the time I'm a centenarian.

I'll use a roth conversion ladder to get access to the 401k funds (which will probably end up in a traditional IRA after separating from my employer).

What am I missing?

BTW where are you thinking you're going to retire abroad (I think about this all the time)?
My username is a bit of a misnomer.  More than a handful of years back and many dollars ago, I thought I would FIRE on a much smaller 'stache and use some geographic arbitrage to keep  adventure in my life and my expenses down.  After much deliberation though I came back to the States and decided I wanted a 'stache that would give me the option of being US-based.  And then I grew roots.  So now I'm more like retireInHCOLAmericaAndDreamOfLivingAbroadAt40.  I'd go to Mexico.

Edit: tweaked budget based on comments below and added explanation of my 3.5% planned WR vs 3.9% SWR and my special projects fund.
Edit: updated using new healthcare cost estimates
« Last Edit: January 03, 2020, 04:36:28 PM by RetireAbroadAt35 »

2Birds1Stone

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Re: Am I there yet? One more year ... year ... year ... year ... year?
« Reply #22 on: January 03, 2020, 05:34:48 AM »
Sounds like you are looking for permission, and the numbers support your decision.

I would give it a test run, since the worst thing that happens is.....you go back to work after a kick ass couple of years off?

Cpa Cat

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Re: Am I there yet? One more year ... year ... year ... year ... year?
« Reply #23 on: January 03, 2020, 06:45:40 AM »
I think you should budget the full cost of health insurance without subsidies. Also make sure you budget a health insurance cost increase. Age is one of the few factors that health insurance companies are allowed to discriminate on.

The ACA is a mess right now and keeps getting messier. Thereís no predicting how long subsidies will last.

mistymoney

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Re: Am I there yet? One more year ... year ... year ... year ... year?
« Reply #24 on: January 03, 2020, 07:58:49 AM »
I've read through the previous threads, and I think that I saw something that I didn't see mentioned as a motivation for your continuing OMY/OMQ.

You were identifying your number based on a lower middle class, albeit comfortable, lifestyle.

You didn't want that. Maybe you didn't want to admit it to yourself, but that is what is what I thought immediately - and nothing I read through all the threads disconfirmed it.

Hopefully - your new RE budget lifts you a bit above that and you can be happy with it.



Rosy

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Re: Am I there yet? One more year ... year ... year ... year ... year?
« Reply #25 on: January 03, 2020, 09:14:56 AM »
1. I don't know about you, but I really don't want to have to "exist" based on my minimum expenses for the rest of my life - COL and unanticipated expenses alone will drive up your minimum expenses. The minimum will not remain stagnant.
It is, of course, imperative to know what minimum to budget/stash for in case your entire world collapses - you end up with astronomical hospital bills or your life partner needs medical treatment for two million-plus and she can't work for three years, bringing in no money at all - only adding to expenses while she recovers.

2. You came up with $54K p.a. cushy expenses, representing 3.5% SWR of your stache - I'd start out with that - however, I'd add in more money for health insurance premiums.
We don't know how things will be in the future and this is one area I'd seriously bolster. As you grow older your premiums will rise, period. Never mind whether the ACA stays or goes. You need enough money for good healthcare, meds that literally cost you thousands a month so that your co-pay alone on just the meds may be $800 month - not unusual at all, plus money for access to the occasional top of the line doctor ...

The bottom line is, at least in my opinion that the numbers have to work for both of you and you need to be in full agreement before you take your next step.
You've taken a sabbatical before, you know how it feels to relax and let go, to release all stress and recharge mentally and physically.
This is a good time given your age to move toward contract work, so work out the details and go for it.

Don't even think of it as fire, you don't sound like the type of person who would be happy with retirement as we know it and in truth at your age and based on your desire to follow through with that two-year project of your own choosing - I'd simply make sure I had enough to cover all my bases for those two years and GO FOR IT!

Once you have that out of your system, be proud of yourself for your accomplishments. You'll still be young enough and financially secure enough to then pursue a new endeavor or contract work or whatever.
I'm sure it will change your perspective and you will feel more empowered and secure in yourself to simply live your life on your own terms going forward.

Work generally interferes with how we wish to live our life - right now you are stressed and overworked, so it is harder to think clearly with those golden handcuffs keeping you tethered and doubting your own plans.
Fear is good but don't let it rule your life.

OMY can be a good thing and help you fortify your stash and perhaps that is where you are. Be honest with yourself, your true desires, financial needs of both you and your life partner are important considerations.
Deep down you know what you really want to do - it's just a matter of finding the best way to making it all happen.
No fear - no limits! - Scary thought, right?:)

RetireAbroadAt35

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Re: Am I there yet? One more year ... year ... year ... year ... year?
« Reply #26 on: January 03, 2020, 09:33:27 AM »
Sounds like you are looking for permission, and the numbers support your decision.

I would give it a test run, since the worst thing that happens is.....you go back to work after a kick ass couple of years off?
Not looking for permission, looking for flaws in my plan.  For example, one of all y'all could have pointed out that I didn't include vehicle insurance in the budget above.  Fixing that now.  I'm looking for your toughest facepunches.

And while I'm hoping to work contracts or have the option to go back if it were worthwhile (i.e. to fund the "keep my parents out of the government nursing home" project), I'm going to assume that age combined with a long break will greatly limit my prospects in an industry that favors neither.

Quote from: mistymoney
You were identifying your number based on a lower middle class, albeit comfortable, lifestyle.

You didn't want that. Maybe you didn't want to admit it to yourself, but that is what is what I thought immediately - and nothing I read through all the threads disconfirmed it.
Interesting observation.  You're on to something but I'd tweak it a bit.  It's not that I don't want a modest lifestyle, it's that it's become a bit elusive since I settled in HCOL America.  It's effing expensive to live simply here, but it's important to the other people in my life so I'm looking to make it work.  It's a bit of a struggle at times.  To give a sense of scale, it's bout 8x more expensive to buy and about 2.5x more to rent a modest home where I live now vs where I was raised.  That's driven a lot of my increased savings.  I want a damn garage where I can maintain my 20 year old car in peace.

Edit: typos
« Last Edit: January 03, 2020, 12:35:12 PM by RetireAbroadAt35 »

RetireAbroadAt35

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Re: Am I there yet? One more year ... year ... year ... year ... year?
« Reply #27 on: January 03, 2020, 12:32:15 PM »
1. I don't know about you, but I really don't want to have to "exist" based on my minimum expenses for the rest of my life - COL and unanticipated expenses alone will drive up your minimum expenses. The minimum will not remain stagnant.
I'm with you.  But this is all inflation adjusted, so there is that.  But the components of my minimum expenses will surely change as I age.  I assume that the categories that go up (healthcare) will be offset by the categories that go down (gasoline and travel and whisky).  And as you mentioned, this is my global economic disaster scenario so it's not too likely to be an extended lifestyle.

Quote
2. You came up with $54K p.a. cushy expenses, representing 3.5% SWR of your stache - I'd start out with that - however, I'd add in more money for health insurance premiums.
Fair enough, you and another poster suggested I estimate the full range of coverage costs.  I'll do that today.

Quote
The bottom line is, at least in my opinion that the numbers have to work for both of you and you need to be in full agreement before you take your next step.
Good point.  This is done.  We have a joint plan that shows how we could both put our FI-ness into RE-ness today and live a satisfying lifestyle, although I'm the only one that is hell-bent on going RE today.  I attribute that to my industry and the oppressive nature of the modern corporation.

Quote
You've taken a sabbatical before, you know how it feels to relax and let go, to release all stress and recharge mentally and physically.
I found it amazing at first, lightness, near bliss. Overall, not bad.

Quote
This is a good time given your age to move toward contract work, so work out the details and go for it.
Yes!  (details?  what details?  shit, I need to figure out what details.)

Quote
No fear - no limits! - Scary thought, right?:)
Yes.  Thank you for the insight.

So, I guess I'll map it all out, inspired by LivingAFI.

RetireAbroadAt35

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Re: Am I there yet? One more year ... year ... year ... year ... year?
« Reply #28 on: January 03, 2020, 01:47:32 PM »
Risk ofFear ofMitigated by
... being unemployable in the future as a result of ageism and stagnated skills.... suffering caused by not providing adequately for myself and others. ... oversaving, flexibility in spending, a financially secure SO, and if needed, a strong capacity to hustle.  I may never be highly compensated again, but I bet I could earn some income if needed in the first 10 years of RE.
... regretting the decision to give up on a pre-defined "career" and all the possibilities afforded by it.... missing out.... reminding myself of the opportunity cost of the career trap.
... not developing a meaningful and satisfying FIRE lifestyle.... looking back on my life with bitter regret, potentially morphing into an evil super-villain in a last-ditch effort to find meaning during my golden years (like Dick Cheney).... Buddhism.
... being judged by others for forging my own path (haters, jealous friends, concerned family, etc).... social isolation.... keeping a low profile and living an authentically awesome life that people I care about want to share with me.
... my lifestyle may get more expensive. It's been shocking to see the rise in housing costs in my area over the last 6 years.... suffering or instability in RE. I'd hate to be one of those pensioners being evicted from their apartment before it gets turned into an AirBnB condo to skirt rent control laws.... oversaving and a financially secure SO.
... the cost of healthcare spiraling out of control.... suffering or early demise.... oversaving, flexibility in spending to free up funds, willingness to get routine care as a medical tourist in Juarez, and maybe getting healthcare through my SO's employer.
... maybe, just maybe, I want to go crazy and spend on toys.  One more year so I can get a Tesla?  Life-size medieval siege engine? In-ground swimming pool?... missing out. ... slapping myself on the side of the head. That's not me. I really don't care about that kind of stuff, even if many of my acquaintances and colleagues do.
... squandering an opportunity. This career put me on the social mobility ladder.  I shouldnít just give it up. ... the guilt associated with "making it" and using my privilege for personal gain.  Screw you, I got mine! ... charitable giving, oversaving so I'm in a position to help those closest to me if needed, giving my time and skills, and remembering I'm under no particular obligation here. I am free to live my life on my own terms and have nothing to feel guilty about as long as I keep to my values.
... issues in my relationship with my partner brought on by this life change.... ending up alone or in relationship shaped by unresolved resentments (i.e. like my parents.  shudder.)... lots of open and honest communication. All green lights so far.  Protect both our assets if we decide to get married. Pre-plan the divorce while we still like each other. Know that worst case, if we separated, I might need to move somewhere less expensive, and that's ok.
... failing to fill my time in FIRE.... boredom / depression. ... facepunching self. My project list would fill a dozen lifetimes.
... my relationship (and therefore half of my income) ending.... not being able to provide for myself. ... being generous with footrubs and being prepared to move back to a LCOL/MCOL if it came down to it.
... having a health problem and never making it out of the cubicle.... missing out on what could be the best chapter of my life.... quitting that damn job you dolt!

Hopefully that table's not too hard to follow and it adequately maps out my thought process.

I'll do a bit more math on health insurance costs, social security eligibility, and it suddenly strikes me that I'm going to lose my disability insurance and I should find replacement coverage for that.
« Last Edit: January 06, 2020, 08:58:10 AM by RetireAbroadAt35 »

RetireAbroadAt35

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Re: Am I there yet? One more year ... year ... year ... year ... year?
« Reply #29 on: January 03, 2020, 04:15:25 PM »
I think you should budget the full cost of health insurance without subsidies.
Caveat: I still need to figure out exactly what constitutes income for purposes of calculating subsidies in my state.  I can rely on COBRA for the first few months at least while I get the details sorted. 

I used my state's ACA estimator to find a silver PPO plan and dental.  My taxable portfolio throws off about $13k in dividends.  To start I'll rely on my cash reserves but at some point I'll be selling securities to augment dividends income.  At $54k income (income matching my planned expenses), the estimate was $750.  At $30k income, the subsidies brought that down to $360/month.  This is not cheap but it is affordable for me.  I think I'm good.  This would all change drastically of course with marriage.

I've modified my budget accordingly and am updating the table above.

I also checked my social security contributions, determined my benefits, and tested them in cfiresim based on taking benefits at 62, 67, and 70.  Surprisingly the difference in outcomes was insignificant.  I'm still at 97% success under my plan.

« Last Edit: January 03, 2020, 04:18:21 PM by RetireAbroadAt35 »

frugaldevil

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Re: Am I there yet? One more year ... year ... year ... year ... year?
« Reply #30 on: January 05, 2020, 08:03:58 PM »
Love the risk mitigation table. Need to put one together for myself. Hope it's OK if I borrow some of yours!

RetireAbroadAt35

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Re: Am I there yet? One more year ... year ... year ... year ... year?
« Reply #31 on: January 05, 2020, 11:41:04 PM »
Please, have at it. Make sure to check out LivingAFI's table (linked above) for ideas too.

RetireAbroadAt35

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Re: Am I there yet? One more year ... year ... year ... year ... year?
« Reply #32 on: January 06, 2020, 09:06:34 AM »
Just finished my first conference call of the day.  It was good reinforcement of the notion that this isn't how I wanna spend my time, regardless of the paycheck. 

We are now at T minus 4 weeks.

What else should I do to get the ducks lined up?

Pennycounter

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Re: Am I there yet? One more year ... year ... year ... year ... year?
« Reply #33 on: January 07, 2020, 09:30:22 AM »
I'm loving your updates! In terms of your spending plan, do you track your spending (sorry if I missed that comment)? Food seems low for a HCOL, not impossible but way lower than we spend.  Otherwise it looks okay, some of the individual categories seem low (gym in HCOL) but then you have some catch alls that are probably high (gifts, etc)

Best of luck!

RetireAbroadAt35

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Re: Am I there yet? One more year ... year ... year ... year ... year?
« Reply #34 on: January 07, 2020, 11:52:20 AM »
From 2011-2013 and again from 2015-2018 I tracked my expenses very closely as I was preparing to wind down in 2018.  Since tacked on a couple more OMYs and a victory lap with a new employer, I got busy/lazy.  In short I know what budget I can stick to but haven't been paying much attention recently.  Some of my expenses are about to change as well as I shed the work costs of commuting and eating out and dry cleaning and all that crap.

So these are "reasonable estimates".

Groceries are probably a bit low if I really do pay half of current expenses but if I'm just a little more intentional I think $350-400 is reasonable for 2.

The gym is a guess.  The local xfit outfit would run about $150/month.  I am guessing I could get some fitness in for under a $100 but who has time to figure that out?  (Answer: this guy in about 4 more weeks).
« Last Edit: June 08, 2020, 08:34:41 PM by RetireAbroadAt35 »

PGSD

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Re: Am I there yet? One more year ... year ... year ... year ... year?
« Reply #35 on: January 07, 2020, 12:29:07 PM »
As another idea on healthcare costs: if your partner has healthcare, you can likely get added to his/her insurance as a "partner" as many companies now allow it instead of the old requirement of being married. That will save you quite a bit of money until he/she decides to FIRE.

I've a long-term girlfriend and we've looked into it. We had to show a shared bank account (easy enough to open a new account). I can't remember what else was involved but, it wasn't much. After that, you can get added at any time of the year (not just the yearly registration time) for a life-changing event (like loss of job).

In my case, I could switch to her plan if I was still employed (cost ~150 or $300/month, can't remember) even if I had current coverage through my employer. Most of that cost goes away if I'm unemployed or working in a position that doesn't provide health insurance.

Didn't know if you'd considered that angle.







RetireAbroadAt35

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Re: Am I there yet? One more year ... year ... year ... year ... year?
« Reply #36 on: January 07, 2020, 02:37:47 PM »
I had not.  I didn't realize that was sometimes  an option. Thank you for the tip.