Author Topic: How do you get through the slumps?  (Read 2544 times)

ejh

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How do you get through the slumps?
« on: September 12, 2016, 02:58:04 AM »
Hey all,

General question here on how to get through the slumps and continue pushing forward.
I feel that on about a monthly basis I get low spirited and need to force myself to get back on track.
Then I'm excited and motivated for another month, until the next gloomy period comes around.
This happens in general, as well as with financial stuff.

I'll give some examples, big and small.

Sometimes I look at our finances, and feel like we're doing great. Much better than most people our age.
We have no debt other than our mortgage. I have a great job which allows my wife to raise the kids peacefully.
We have some savings + lots of employer stocks + savings our parents are keeping for us.
All is well.
A week later, I can look at the same numbers and get worried we don't have enough saved.
Worried we're not going to be able to help our kids when they come of age.
Worried what will happen if I get too old for my employer.
Upset that we can't enjoy an annual vacation.
Disgruntled that we have 3 family events coming up which we'll need to give gifts for.

Another example is home maintenance.
Sometimes I have so much energy and can get lots of things done and fixed on my own.
Later, I see so many things which need attendance and I don't get around to, or getting new parts costs a lot, etc.

Last, I recently got a bike in order to ditch the car. Until now it's been great and I'm really pleased with the change.
But then I need to get equipment, which can add up to a lot of money. And there's always something to replace, fix or add on.


Is this normal? How do you get over it?

gooki

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Re: How do you get through the slumps?
« Reply #1 on: September 12, 2016, 04:43:31 AM »
Yeah it's normal to yo-yo. Work on being content, with what you've got and what you choose not to have now.

Anatidae V

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Re: How do you get through the slumps?
« Reply #2 on: September 12, 2016, 06:32:47 AM »
It helps me to have long term charts to look at, or something else to give me perspective. I check out net worth charts and see the little line wiggling up, and relax. As an example, with the car vs bike, maybe keep a spreadsheet for the first year of biking that shows everything you've spent on the bike, plus all intangible benefits (new skills etc), and what a car would have cost you, including intangible costs and benefits. That gives you perspective on what the change has done for you :)

undercover

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Re: How do you get through the slumps?
« Reply #3 on: September 12, 2016, 08:57:56 AM »
You're gonna have ups and downs regardless. But - the downs can be less hurtful when you don't care about what's "expected" of you. I'm reading lots of language in your post that says you're too worried about other people.

1. It doesn't matter if you're saving enough or too little for your age. It's not about other people your age - it's about you and your family. Focus on yourselves and you'll not only go farther but also have less worry.

2. The gifts don't have to be of a certain caliber - you can do something more thoughtful this time. The lesser expenditures shouldn't need justification to family...

3. Don't expect to have a perfect house, ever. It doesn't exist. Also, don't beat yourself up on spending money to fix things that would keep you from worrying. Peace of mind is everything.

4. Don't worry about how potential employers are going to view your age. That's completely out of your control. Make the best decisions that you can now and whatever happens will happen.

DeskJockey2028

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Re: How do you get through the slumps?
« Reply #4 on: September 12, 2016, 09:13:29 AM »
I agree that the ups and downs come regardless. One way I like to keep myself a little more centered may sound a bit odd but it works for me.

When I first found out  about the FIRE concept, I started tracking my 403(b) total worth daily. Crazy, I know. I started a simple Google doc and wrote down the number Tuesday - Saturday (the days that Fidelity reported based on the previous day's close)

Once I was slightly less obsessed (about 3 weeks) I started writing it down weekly. Then it fell to just every now and again. A week here, three weeks there.

Now, whenever I feel like I'm slumping a bit (say like today after a 2% drop in the market on Friday) I go look at those numbers. Even with the loss on Friday, I'm still watching this number go up when I look at day 1 verses 3 days ago. It helps.

patrickza

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Re: How do you get through the slumps?
« Reply #5 on: September 12, 2016, 09:33:11 AM »
Worry is normal. What I do is realise that I've been worried many times before, and even though each of those felt very real to me, they all passed. The worry you have at times will pass too, so don't let it consume you, and do your best not to (like I sometimes do) bother your loved ones about it too much!

meghan88

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Re: How do you get through the slumps?
« Reply #6 on: September 12, 2016, 11:28:04 AM »
Making lists for chores might help.  Crossing things off is very satisfying. 

It might also help to focus only on the things you actually can take care of, and try do them with badassity - e.g., you say you need bike equipment.  Do you really?  If you need panniers, can you get by with a backpack instead?  If you really need the equipment after all, can you try to find it used on Craigslist?

Mother Fussbudget

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Re: How do you get through the slumps?
« Reply #7 on: September 12, 2016, 11:44:41 AM »
Don't look at your accounts too often. 
If you're looking at them daily, cut back to once-a-week. OR
If you're looking at your accounts WEEKLY, cut back to once-a-month.  (etc.)

Friday, the markets had a 6% pullback.  We went DOWN to a level Looking at accounts all last week was good - every day brought new highs (for me).
Friday was hard.  Down 6%.  Down to level's I hadn't seen since... well, late July actually.  My investments were up about 6% from late July to early Sept.  Today, the markets are back up 0.5%. 

BUT... if I only looked at my accounts January 1st, July 1st, and don't look at them again until Dec... I would see a gradual upward trend.   Good in Jan '16 compared to July '15.  Good July '16 compared to Jan '16.  etc.  Relax.  Don't look so often.  The trend in stocks is upward.  Even if you (and I) are the WORST investors on the planet...  if we hold, and not sell, we'll do okay.  See THIS if you're worried.

Dezrah

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Re: How do you get through the slumps?
« Reply #8 on: September 12, 2016, 06:14:24 PM »
OP, your feelings are very normal.

My advice for when you are down is to look into ways you can improve.  These should be relatively small goals (since ideally your big goals are already automated).  Let little victories build up to tide you through the doldrums. 

For example, I used a wave of inspiration/desperation to get in the habit of saving my vegetable scraps between meals and using it to make vegetable stock when I have enough.  Does this actually help me get to FIRE faster?  Of course not; I earn more in a day than I'll spend on broth in a lifetime, but it does make me feel less wasteful, more self-reliant, all while saving a little bit.  After that, the idea of cooking dried beans instead of canned was much less intimidating.  Maybe someday it will evolve into growing and canning my own vegetables entirely.

Even trying and failing is a worthwhile experience.  My homemade salt scrub was meh, so now I know personal care is just not a worthwhile avenue for my frugality journey.