Author Topic: closing in on FIRE, but massive career burnout  (Read 1368 times)

smount_fire

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 1
closing in on FIRE, but massive career burnout
« on: June 06, 2021, 03:45:12 AM »
hoping to get some advice from mustachians about best way forward, suffering from bad career burnout.

details/info: 36, married, 2 young kids. heard about fire 5 years ago or so (the post 'shockingly simple math behind early retirement' on mmm blog was a revelation).
assets: $1.5m split between retirement accounts, cash, taxable accounts. $700k house with $400k mortgage. call it $1.8m NW.
expenses: $7k a month/ $84k a year. quite high due to VHCOL and childcare for 2 kids. should be closer to $5k in the next 3-4 years once childcare falls away.

with 4% SWR (assuming $7k/month spending continues), i'm targeting around $2.1m in assets and a paid down house, so that would mean $1m more to go, or 5 more years being stuck in the grind... and i'm just not sure i can hack it because of overall stress, long hours, not much sleep, permanent anxiety. the post covid era has been particularly harsh with the work pretty much never stopping, including weekends. i've been at this job for around 8 years and regularly thought about leaving, but just when i was about to hit breaking point, things at work coincidentally tended to temporarily relax (although the periods of relative slow down were short and rare), so i just kept going. 

there are a few options i am considering:

option 1: just power through it, try to last 3-5 years to have the house paid off and $1.5-$2.1m in investments and then call it quits / do barista fire or whatever else after, travel a bit

option 2: change jobs/career for something less stressful. i've been considering this for a while, but this would drastically reduce our savings rate. instead of 3-5 years of saving to hit FIRE, it would turn into 10-20. not sure what is better: 3-5 years of intense discomfort, or 10-20 of medium one.

option 3: quit altogether, become a SAHD, while my wife continues working (which should cover our expenses). once kids are a bit older, do odd jobs here/there until stache' hits critical mass (more of a coast fire option).

any thoughts? i've been in a decision limbo for the past year, and just cannot make up my mind, partly driven by fear of changing course (which just keeps me in 'option 1' by default). i'm sure there are other options i haven't thought about - would be great to hear from the FIRE crowd.





Trifele

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3784
  • Age: 54
  • Location: Outside, NC, US
    • In The Garden
Re: closing in on FIRE, but massive career burnout
« Reply #1 on: June 06, 2021, 04:28:44 AM »
Welcome @smount_fire!  Well done to get this far, and good on you for starting the decision making process. 

I think you should do a full case study (over in the Case Study section).  There's a spreadsheet that walks you through it.  It will help you organize your thinking, get ideas for lowering expenses, and the forum heavyweights that hang out there are the best.  You'll get good advice.

If your expenses will truly fall to $60k per year without childcare, then you don't need to keep working until the stache is at 2.1M, if you plan a 4% withdrawal rate.  A back of the envelope calculation says both of you may be able to FIRE now, but before you pull that trigger you'll want to be sure.  Have you been tracking expenses?   Are you including everything you need to?  (college, house repairs, vehicle replacement, health care, etc).

What does your wife think about all this?  It has to be a joint decision.  Is she ok being the sole earner for years if you exercise option 3?  We did that -- I was the sole earner for three years leading up to FIRE while my husband stayed home with the kids -- but you need both spouses completely on board.   

Is moving out of the VHCOL area an option if you both quit your jobs? 

A case study will help you.  Good luck!


Morning Glory

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3075
  • Location: The Garden Path
Re: closing in on FIRE, but massive career burnout
« Reply #2 on: June 06, 2021, 06:53:03 AM »
Are there any cheaper areas where you and your wife would be happy living? 1.8 million seems like very fat fire to me. You guys could both quit and be just fine if you move somewhere just a little cheaper.

pbkmaine

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8564
  • Age: 65
  • Location: The Villages, Florida
Re: closing in on FIRE, but massive career burnout
« Reply #3 on: June 06, 2021, 07:26:04 AM »
If you were to become a SAHD, are you prepared to take over ALL the tasks of a traditional homemaker? By that I mean cooking, cleaning and errands in addition to childcare. Have a long and very specific conversation with your wife about expectations before you go down this path.

RunningintoFI

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 106
  • Paid to optimize. Love not to.
Re: closing in on FIRE, but massive career burnout
« Reply #4 on: June 06, 2021, 10:45:22 AM »
Are there any cheaper areas where you and your wife would be happy living? 1.8 million seems like very fat fire to me. You guys could both quit and be just fine if you move somewhere just a little cheaper.

This 100% seems like the solution if you want out right now.  There's vast swaths of the US where $1.8 million will let you live an excellent life with none of the stress and plenty of good options for the family.

maizefolk

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 6051
Re: closing in on FIRE, but massive career burnout
« Reply #5 on: June 06, 2021, 10:54:07 AM »
I'm another voice suggesting you consider how tied you are to the VHCOL area where you currently reside. I'm sure it has lots of very nice features, but right now it sounds like you have to decide which of these three things to sacrifice:

1) your mental and physical wellbeing working at a job that is burning you out.
2) your chances of achieving FIRE in the near future
3) living in an extremely (and atypically for the US) expensive place.

You owe it to yourself to at least spend the time thinking as seriously about the trade offs involved in giving up #3 as seriously as it sounds like you are already considering the trade offs involved in giving up #1 or #2.

Dee18

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1845
Re: closing in on FIRE, but massive career burnout
« Reply #6 on: June 06, 2021, 01:48:08 PM »
You say your spending should be 5000/month once childcare goes away.  So why would you possibly need 2.1M plus a paid off house?  What am I missing? I think if you do a case study you will get a more accurate picture and some solid advice.

Have you asked about taking a sabbatical to either recover from burnout or do a trial of SAHD? Or asked for a shorter work week? 

brellis1vt

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 48
Re: closing in on FIRE, but massive career burnout
« Reply #7 on: June 06, 2021, 02:14:36 PM »
I am kind of in the same situation as you and developed an option 4 that is working for me.  I just decided to put in less hours and do a worst job than I used to.  I figure the worst case scenario is they lay me off and would give me 3-6 months of free money.  I delegate as much as reasonable, then only worry about the stuff that my boss cares about (nothing else). I stopped putting much effort into anything non-essential.  To date my boss is pleased with my work and allot of what I did was evaluate the work tasks and how can I do them quickly.  I can't tell you the best of your 3 options but I do think it's worth asking yourself how can I do less at work.  Please note I'm still working but not working 60hr weeks just 40.
« Last Edit: June 06, 2021, 03:05:14 PM by brellis1vt »

Eco_eco

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 74
  • Location: Wellington, New Zealand
    • Nineteen-Six.com
Re: closing in on FIRE, but massive career burnout
« Reply #8 on: June 06, 2021, 02:52:13 PM »
Congratulations, youíve basically won the game and have lots of options.

I think you are one of the hardest stages in life. You have small children, with all the stresses, challenges and costs of parenting. You are well on the way to financial security, but havenít quite made it yet.

My suggestion is to make a plan which will see you in a different position in 12 to 24 months time. That gives you a slowest enough change profile that you will avoid mistakes, but fast enough that any feelings of being trapped will hopefully resolve.

You could set some milestones for the coming 12 months, along the lines of:
For the next 12 months, throughly research each of the options in front of you, ie:
- in three months time: identify at least three roles with different employer (or with the same employer in a different department) that will give better balance of home and work, find at least one place you could imagine living in a Lower cost of living location, etc
- in six months: have applied for at least one new role (which takes your focus away from your immediate work environment), have visited a lower cost location for two weeks to see what it is Is like

Then, in 12 monthsí time, reassess with your partner and make a plan for one of these options, make a plan to slowly put that option into effect over the next year.


Dicey

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 16577
  • Age: 63
  • Location: NorCal
Re: closing in on FIRE, but massive career burnout
« Reply #9 on: June 06, 2021, 11:27:38 PM »
Oh the topic of being a SAHD, check out @Longwaytogo's latest journal recap. Good stuff from someone who's been there, done that.

MrThatsDifferent

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2188
Re: closing in on FIRE, but massive career burnout
« Reply #10 on: June 07, 2021, 06:27:15 AM »
If your stress and anxiety is that high please consider therapy to work through this and learn some ways of managing/dispelling the stress and anxiety. Maybe itís all job related, maybe not. If youíve reached the, itís killing me stage, itís also worth it to have a professional assist this journey.

Malcat

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8325
Re: closing in on FIRE, but massive career burnout
« Reply #11 on: June 07, 2021, 07:31:12 AM »
Are you happy, healthy, and thriving?

If no, change something.

It's not easy, but it really is that simple. Your current situation does not sound healthy. I also strongly recommend therapy to help you figure out what your actual priorities are and how to meet them.

You have TONS of money and TONS of options. Why the hell would you choose to be miserable?

Greystache

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 445
Re: closing in on FIRE, but massive career burnout
« Reply #12 on: June 07, 2021, 07:40:32 AM »
Sell your house at the top of this bubble market. Take your $300K equity and move to a place where that will buy you an adequate house. Use your $1.5 million portfolio to supply $60K per year. There, I fixed it.

FIRE 20/20

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 581
Re: closing in on FIRE, but massive career burnout
« Reply #13 on: June 07, 2021, 05:27:50 PM »
Sell your house at the top of this bubble market. Take your $300K equity and move to a place where that will buy you an adequate house. Use your $1.5 million portfolio to supply $60K per year. There, I fixed it.

I don't even see the need to sell the house.  $1.5M now with $5k/month spending ($60k / year) without child care means that if both the OP and his wife quit now they're right at the 4% rule as long as they drop child care.  With two parents at home child care shouldn't be necessary.  There's certainly no need for the OP to "power through" 3-5 more years.  If his wife is ok with him being a SAHD and her income covers the expenses then quit tomorrow!

BUT - without a real case study it's hard to tell if that $5k / month is just a guess.  OP - here's the link to the Case Studies forum.  Note the sticky at the top with instructions on how to write a case study.  You'll get much better advice if you submit a thread in that format and in that forum. 
https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/case-studies/

Flat9MKE

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 37
Re: closing in on FIRE, but massive career burnout
« Reply #14 on: June 08, 2021, 07:22:30 AM »
I am kind of in the same situation as you and developed an option 4 that is working for me.  I just decided to put in less hours and do a worst job than I used to.  I figure the worst case scenario is they lay me off and would give me 3-6 months of free money.  I delegate as much as reasonable, then only worry about the stuff that my boss cares about (nothing else). I stopped putting much effort into anything non-essential.  To date my boss is pleased with my work and allot of what I did was evaluate the work tasks and how can I do them quickly.  I can't tell you the best of your 3 options but I do think it's worth asking yourself how can I do less at work.  Please note I'm still working but not working 60hr weeks just 40.

Agreed.  Sometimes the stress you are putting on yourself is self-inflicted based on your overachiever, straight-A student personality. 

3-5 years of grinding sounds a LOT better than 10-20 years.  I would stick it out and in the meantime, come up with a 3-year exit strategy.  When things at work are stressful and I'm feeling burnout, I remind myself of people who survived Soviet labor camps, torture, etc. and realize it's not that bad.

You are in a good position and don't need the job, so try to internalize that attitude and have some fun. 

As brellis1vt said, slow down a little, stop putting in so many hours and see what happens...creating stronger boundaries usually leads to better results and expectations from ownership.  It is expensive to lose a good employee like you, so you have power!

Abe

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2213
Re: closing in on FIRE, but massive career burnout
« Reply #15 on: June 08, 2021, 08:59:52 PM »
Is there a reason you want to pay the house off at retirement? Why not factor that remaining mortgage into your budget and avoid the extra $400k in savings needed now? Assuming your investment returns remain higher than the mortgage interest, you'd come out ahead both in time and money.