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Learning, Sharing, and Teaching => Ask a Mustachian => Topic started by: mobileagent on September 18, 2020, 12:22:01 PM

Title: Enjoying life in my shoes
Post by: mobileagent on September 18, 2020, 12:22:01 PM
I need some different perspectives to figure out my next steps towards FIRE. We are a family of four. DW and I are in mid forties with one kid in high school and another in middle school. We live in a high cost of living area. We are a single income family with DW as a stay at home parent. I am pretty burned out at work in a high stress job. I would like to FIRE, but I am not having the firm conviction that it is a good decision to walk away from a successful career.

We are financially in a good place fortunately. We have a paid off house that is worth $1.5M and have investments (taxable and retirement) of $2.5M. Our expenses tend to vary, but we expect $75K a year will give a great lifestyle. If we really want to splurge it can go to $95K.

My income is $500K a year in the tech industry. It comes with its share of stress and burn out. I have changed a few roles in my career that I came to the conclusion that the probability of a great role is low at these income levels. Why would they pay if it is easy:)

I feel like I badly need to take 1-2 years off and just focus on health, family and happiness. After that, I can do occasional roles or gigs to keep me engaged or generate some income. I don't think our life style would change dramatically with more income. However, I am hesitant to walk away as I could never come back to the same level of income. Our assets are sufficient to ensure that I don't have to work, but I might be walking away from an opportunity to create generational wealth.

What would you do in my shoes to balance happiness and comfort in life? Thanks for your thoughts and time.
Title: Re: Enjoying life in my shoes
Post by: yachi on September 18, 2020, 01:05:58 PM
I offer up this perspective from Patrick Pichette, Google CFO from 2008 to 2015:'s-retirement-letter/ ('s-retirement-letter/)

I remember when the letter came out, and I felt this guy really gets it.  I forgot that his salary was $5 million a year, and would have guessed it was much lower.  Your income is to my $80k salary, as Pichette's $5M income is to your $500k salary.

By the way, if you're measuring intergenerational wealth with dollar signs, you're doing it wrong.
Title: Re: Enjoying life in my shoes
Post by: terran on September 18, 2020, 01:41:07 PM
You have enough to retire given the numbers you've presented. More than enough if you cash out that house and move somewhere cheaper. Spend some time nailing down those expenses to make sure they're accurate, make sure they include taxes, and account of health insurance. From there think about other "expenses" you want to fund: college for your kids, more spending, generational wealth. Put some numbers to those things and think through how much more work they will require. At this point you're working for those extras, so decide if they're worth it.
Title: Re: Enjoying life in my shoes
Post by: mobileagent on September 18, 2020, 02:48:32 PM
Thank you for the feedback. One thing that I am concerned about is not spending sufficient time with DW and kids due to continuous workload in the evenings and weekends. I might be making money to better care for the family, but I am concerned about losing them emotionally when I retire in 50s. I might have next 7 years before my kinds leave the house for college. It looks like I could potentially take a break for 1-2 years while the kids are at home, and then decide whether to start another form of employment that is less stressful with lower pay if needed. At this point, it feels like I just need to take a deep breath from burning out and spend more time with the family. I have been so busy that I am not even be able to properly plan and celebrate life's events. What is the point of money if we are not enjoying life to its fullest with little things. It doesn't look like I could keep both stressful high pay job and happy family & life. Is there any risk in me just walking away from work for 2 years to figure out important things in life? Thanks.
Title: Re: Enjoying life in my shoes
Post by: Ecky on September 18, 2020, 02:54:52 PM
From my perspective, if I had your assets (at 31) I could comfortably support a family and not work for the rest of my life. You really have everything you "need", it's just a matter of where you want to draw the line in terms of lifestyle inflation vs free time. Anything you bring in at this point is just fun money.

Kids don't need generational wealth. I'd argue in many cases it does them a disservice.
Title: Re: Enjoying life in my shoes
Post by: Tester on September 18, 2020, 04:05:51 PM
I am feeling the dame, unfortunately don't have the same net worth, I am at only 350k.
My plan is to keep my head down for 3 to 5 years when I should get close to 1 million net worth, then take a break of at least 3-6 months.

You could take a 2 years break and see how things go, get closer to the kids.
If things works out well, fine, if not you could even downsize and get an extra million from the house?

This is how I am thinking now, will see how things will be in 3/5 years.

And I am saying this without working during the weekends.
Title: Re: Enjoying life in my shoes
Post by: Chrissy on September 18, 2020, 05:16:28 PM
Dude, bail.  You earn $42k per MONTH.  If you want to leave intergenerational wealth, work the next 3 months, invest $63k earmarked for each kid, in 7-10 years each account will be $130k.  If they're responsible adults, dole it out $45k at a time.  Graduate college?  $45k!  Finish grad school?  $45k!  Getting married/buying a house?  $45k!

AND/OR, overfund the 529s and pass it to grandkids. 
Title: Re: Enjoying life in my shoes
Post by: diapasoun on September 18, 2020, 05:32:55 PM
Quit. Your kids need you more than they need gobs of money.
Title: Re: Enjoying life in my shoes
Post by: AMandM on September 19, 2020, 09:44:22 AM
Look at the likely positive and negative outcomes.

If you quit: 
Positive: certainty of more time with family & less stress, very high probability of stronger long-term relationships and better health.
Negative: possibly (probably?) no chance to add to the giant amount of money you have already.

If you stay:
Positive: you can accumulate more money than your kids will need on top of the more money than you need that you already have
Negative: certainty of continued stress and absenteeism from marriage and family, with who knows what long-term consequences (health problems? distant relationships? divorce?)
Title: Re: Enjoying life in my shoes
Post by: red_pill on September 19, 2020, 05:14:36 PM
Is inter-generational wealth worth pursuing?  Is it even possible? If I remember properly, in "Millionaire Teacher" the author cites several studies that show that gifting children money actually puts them at a financial disadvantage.

In fact, when I discuss personal finances with my friends and they bug me about spending less than I make, one of the most piercing jabs was that all I was going to achieve was teaching my kid that money is given, not earned.  Ouch.

I think even Warren Buffett refuses to give his kids any money, doesn't he?

It seems to me that the best thing you can give your kids is a strong work ethic, good decision making skills, and good relationship skills.  Wealth is pretty much guaranteed if they are armed with those three things. 
Title: Re: Enjoying life in my shoes
Post by: kei te pai on September 20, 2020, 12:53:09 AM
You dont have golden handcuffs, you have a golden ball and chain that may well cause you to drown in despair!
Invest in your relationships, your mental and physical health and in your community. You have enough dollars.
Title: Re: Enjoying life in my shoes
Post by: BikeFanatic on September 20, 2020, 01:42:36 AM
I understand your concern, when is it ever a good idea to shut off a fire hose of cash?
However, you have enough, and you will never have this time again with your kids they are growing up
Without you! I would downsize the house, quit and just make a two year plan. So what if you never earn 500 K again, you donít need to. Hell if I were you I would buy a boat! Then quit. 
Title: Re: Enjoying life in my shoes
Post by: Beach_Stache on September 20, 2020, 06:16:41 AM
You don't want to regret not knowing your kids in 10 years when you retire (like you said).  You are in the trap of making so much money that you can't get a lateral job without starting over down a few rungs on the ladder.  My sister is in the same spot where she feels she has to keep working at the job as anything else would be a huge step back.  But you are at the advantage that you have a ton saved and don't spend a lot, so if you know this and really don't need more money, why not just retire?  Or even ask for a sabbatical, take a lower position in the company, switch to a no stress local job where you can leave work at the office, or take a part time job.  If you're making $500k now and I assume are in a HCOL area then I'm sure you are very good at your job in a competitive industry, and you could probably (if you are looking to move) go somewhere in a LCOL area and be a big shot that can make your own hours/rules, etc.  All signs point to retire, but I imagine a person at your level enjoys the type of work you do at some capacity and it's tough to go from overloaded to absolutely nothing, so will you really miss at least part of the office if you retired?  Think about if you would get bored, miss the mission, etc.  That may help lead you into the right kind of "retirement job" if you think you will miss work.  I'm in the opposite place where I moved to a LCOL area from a HCOL so I could focus more on work/life balance, raise the kids in a right area, etc. but I find myself frustrated w/lack opportunities for promotion, so I've pretty much killed my career for promotion, however I have to constantly remind myself that being promoted would add more stress and more hours without a whole lot more money.  If you find the right balance that helps your family life without being bored then I imagine you would be happy.
Title: Re: Enjoying life in my shoes
Post by: terran on September 20, 2020, 07:26:11 AM
I think even Warren Buffett refuses to give his kids any money, doesn't he?

Not exactly. He believes in "giving them enough so they can do anything, but not enough so they can do nothing." I think he still plans to give them enough so us mustachians could do nothing though, something like $5 million, maybe?

Still, this and the rest of your post makes a lot of good points. The book The Millionaire Nextdoor discusses this pretty extensively, and might be worth a read for anyone considering generational wealth. They call in "economic outpatient care."
Title: Re: Enjoying life in my shoes
Post by: lhamo on September 20, 2020, 12:45:09 PM
Never made your kind of money but FIREd in 2015 in a HCOL area (Seattle) with kids who were similar ages (14 and 11 at the time) on a similar stash (paid cash for a less expensive house than yours in 2017).  BEST DECISION EVER!  Being able to be around/emotionally available when your kids are teens is much more important/valuable than leaving them a pile of money when they are adults.

Take a break for a year or two and see how it goes.  Maybe you will never get that 500k/year salary again, but at this point you don't need it.

If you are really scared, maybe consider downsizing your housing a bit.  Our 1mill-ish paid for house is still way more than we need.  If you don't have to worry about commuting maybe you can find something in a different neighborhood that has the things you like about your current home with a much lower price tag.  Lock in some of those tax-free capital gains and you can pay for a multi-year sabbatical no problem.
Title: Re: Enjoying life in my shoes
Post by: mobileagent on September 20, 2020, 02:15:45 PM
Thanks everyone for your perspectives and feedback. It is very helpful input. I think we are financially ready for FIRE immediately without moving out of the current house. We like to stay in the current house for next 15 years before we move to some other location based on where kids settle. If we want a more comfortable FIRE (Fat FIRE), we probably need a couple more years to save and invest. It feels like we need to save more for college, replacing cars, and house repairs. Meanwhile, I need to balance how to spend my time between work and home as there is no desire to grow in my career to the next level. I feel like FIRE will be more comfortable with a couple of more years as our networth could grow by $1M. We are also expected to have less mobility to travel until Covid-19 is not a big health risk. We have to think more.
Title: Re: Enjoying life in my shoes
Post by: Igelfreundin on September 21, 2020, 06:42:22 AM
I'll echo what others have said- your kids will never be this age again. Take a few years off to reset mentally, and to spend time with them while you can. My father quit his job to start a business while I was in high school. While the business didn't work out, I saw him far more than in the past (he was around to pick me up from school, etc.) and definitely grew closer to him as result. Teenagers might not seek out their parents, but they still need them.

Sent from my LM-V350 using Tapatalk

Title: Re: Enjoying life in my shoes
Post by: Chrissy on September 21, 2020, 09:17:41 AM
Mobileagent, I hear you on wanting to save for college, cars, house repairs, and perhaps FAT fire.  Since you don't NEED the job, though, consider dialing back your performance and engineering your own layoff.  It might be nice to leave with a plump severance package.
Title: Re: Enjoying life in my shoes
Post by: mobileagent on September 21, 2020, 03:58:03 PM
Yes, it is definitely liberating to not worry about the rat race. But, I am not quite ready to engineer my own layoff:) The line between lay off and getting fired could be thin. I have to focus on doing good work in 40-45 hours a week and ignore satisfying all the demands so that I focus on family. Thanks.
Title: Re: Enjoying life in my shoes
Post by: sailinlight on September 21, 2020, 04:23:36 PM
I'm not at your level of compensation, but we currently make a lot and spend a lot. I too think we could live comfortably on 75k in retirement, but my wife might disagree. Are you actually spending that much per year now, or just think that you could? If you're not living that lifestyle it might be worth it to give it a try for a while to make sure that your whole family is comfortable making that transition before pulling the plug. If everyone is comfortable with it, I'd pull the plug tomorrow, anyone with skills and experience making 500k per year could get a 75k job the next day, so there's no risk.
Title: Re: Enjoying life in my shoes
Post by: mobileagent on September 21, 2020, 07:47:24 PM
Good point. What I think reasonable may not be same as what DW thinks. Annual expenses probably will be closer to $95K if we can afford it. I am not as interested in finding a new role with much lower comp as most likely the grind will be the same in the tech industry. If I can manage the current role for two more years without caring for visibility or top performance, it will be a better situation if we do need more funds. If we donít need more funds, I rather take a 2 year break and then worry about the future career. It feels like two years can help with that extra funds for living more comfortably. Thanks.
Title: Re: Enjoying life in my shoes
Post by: mobileagent on September 23, 2020, 12:03:53 AM
Thank you. Agree about health and time over money as a priority.