Author Topic: Obsessed with FI?  (Read 7903 times)

Philociraptor

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Obsessed with FI?
« on: September 12, 2014, 10:29:03 AM »
MMM folks, I think I could use some advice and massive face punches. I'll preface this with the fact that I know this will come off a complainy-pants, but I want to know if anybody else feels like I do.

I'm 25, graduated from college with a BS in Mechanical Engineering in 2011 (with $90k+ of student loan debt), been working at my first job out of school since September of that year. I piled onto my poor education choices by financing a new car ($0 down, 1.9%) and buying a house within a year of graduation. Since discovering MMM and the idea of FI, it's literally all I can think about at work. I work in a manufacturing environment, so work is very feast-or-famine, mostly famine; I literally spend 80% of my time standing at my desk waiting for stuff to happen. I've forgotten pretty much everything I learned in school and am pretty sure that I do not want to get another engineering job. In an effort to speed towards FI, I've downgraded to a car with no payment and have earmarked the next round of savings to refinancing the house to kill PMI and lower our monthly payment. After that it's time for some major student loan debt paydown. But we (got married this year) still have over $200k of debt before we become debt-free, and debt payments account for over $2.5k each month (that's just the minimums). We are a long-ass way away. An aggressive paydown of the student loans and her car could have us down to just the mortgage in 3-5 years, but that's so far away. The thoughts of being debt-free and eventually being able to not work consume my every thought. I wish all the time that I could just stay home and watch tv, play video games, eat delicious foods, exercise, and sleep. It's all I can think about.

Does anybody have any advice on how to stop this obsession?

Angie55

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Re: Obsessed with FI?
« Reply #1 on: September 12, 2014, 10:40:09 AM »
I feel like you are in the same boat I am but started 4 years later..... Engineer, married to an engineer, started with 200k in student loan debt and stupidly added 45k in auto debt within a month of graduation. Both dread being stuck in engineering jobs. Having a desk job that involves 99% Microsoft Excel, its all I can think about is projections. I need a way to stop my obsession too! At this point it may be doing more harm than good.

Commenting to subscribe to the thread and let you know you're not the only one!

dude

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Re: Obsessed with FI?
« Reply #2 on: September 12, 2014, 10:44:23 AM »
I just don't think 3-5 years is that far away, but maybe that's because I'm a lot older than you.  At the risk of sounding like your parents (I'm old enough to be yours), you are going to be blown away 5/10/25 years from now at how QUICKLY time passes.  It's a bit depressing, but it's an unavoidable aspect of the human condition (and why, I suspect, many of us want to FIRE -- i.e., to take full advantage of that rapidly depreciating asset).  Get down to just your mortgage in 3-5 years and you will be flying high.

MandalayVA

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Re: Obsessed with FI?
« Reply #3 on: September 12, 2014, 11:04:49 AM »
As another old fart, I will chime in that 3-5 years isn't a long time and the older you get the faster time goes.  Remember when you were a little kid and Christmas seemed like it took forever to come?  It won't be long before you're looking at the calendar going "damn, it's December already?"  To whip out a cliche, a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.  The next time the bills come due, figure out how much more over the minimum you can throw at them and do it.  That'll be your first step. 

As far as your job goes, have you done any looking around?  Is there another field that interests you where your engineering experience would come into play without having to actually be an engineer?   

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Re: Obsessed with FI?
« Reply #4 on: September 12, 2014, 11:10:32 AM »
3-5 years is a long time when you send over half of your income to loan payments and can't save too much outside of it. It feels like FOREVER. I'm still not done and have gotten frustrated and bored paying off student loans with ~60k left - so I dropped all my payments to minimum and am refocusing. There is also immense stress of paying that much for loans and having no real other savings outside to show for it. At 30 I feel like I put off maxing out my retirement and other savings too long.

arebelspy

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Re: Obsessed with FI?
« Reply #5 on: September 12, 2014, 11:18:34 AM »
Don't look back and regret having wasted your 20s.

Enjoy yourself.  Constantly pining for the future seems like it's just leading to unhappiness.  Set yourself up so you're in a position that time passes and you make consistent - and hopefully growing - progress (rather than treading water), then forget about it, and let time pass, and move on to things you enjoy.
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ioseftavi

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Re: Obsessed with FI?
« Reply #6 on: September 12, 2014, 11:23:12 AM »
Don't look back and regret having wasted your 20s.

Enjoy yourself.  Constantly pining for the future seems like it's just leading to unhappiness.  Set yourself up so you're in a position that time passes and you make consistent - and hopefully growing - progress (rather than treading water), then forget about it, and let time pass, and move on to things you enjoy.

Yet again ARS beats me to a good reply.

Focusing on FI/RE is a good thing.  Focusing on it to the point of not enjoying the journey is not.

You will have 5-15 years, probably, of "getting there".  Don't focus so relentlessly on 'getting there' that you don't enjoy the trip.  If your job is unbearable, get a new one!  If your life feels boring, find new hobbies or up the amount of time you spend pursuing them! 

FI/RE is a wonderful goal, but a distant one.  You've got to have enough pleasant, exciting, day-to-day stuff that you don't feel like your entire existence up until that point was wasted.

MNBen

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Re: Obsessed with FI?
« Reply #7 on: September 12, 2014, 11:27:29 AM »
I was someone who didn't know about this site, or what I was even saving for, but I just knew I didn't want money to be an issue as it was for so many people in my life (parents, grandparents, friends, etc.).   I still enjoyed my 20s while being frugal.  For me, that was mostly traveling.  I also once walked away from a job and took the entire summer off before looking for new work.  During that summer I completed a few projects, enjoyed some lazy time, and whatever else I felt I was missing out on by being at work.

However, during all this I had no concept of the notion of FIRE.  Once I stumbled across this site, I was not unhappy to hear about years I'd wasted.  Rather, I was happy to hear I wasn't alone and that I was as close as I was.   While I now share some of your feelings about wishing FIRE would be here tomorrow, it'll get here eventually.   In the meantime, enjoy life.  Whatever stimulates you, indulge now.   

For example, I purchased a home a few years ago, just to fix it up and rent it.  I enjoyed going there after work, remodeling, painting, or whatever was the task that night.  I enjoyed it so much, I ended up buying a second property and doing it all over. 

My point isn't to rent properties, but rather find something that keeps you motivated.  That item may earn you some extra money and get you closer to FIRE, or it might just be something that you really enjoy.  Just because you haven't hit FIRE, doesn't mean you can't enjoy life! 

sandandsun

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Re: Obsessed with FI?
« Reply #8 on: September 12, 2014, 11:28:00 AM »
I was there too, on a smaller scale, 15 years ago...
- automate things, stop thinking about the details all the time- live on what is leftover, dont save what is leftover!
- be very frugal, save where ever you can
- maximize income - this is KEY- you wont have time to obsess if you are actively doing things to bring in more money... I referreed HS games, took in 2 roomates, got graduate degrees (for free, being a GA)...

anyway, it goes fast.  I didn't have as much student loan debt as you do, but not nearly your income either... knocked out st loans, maxed retirement accounts while also knocking out the mortgage ... took about 12 years for everything... i'd say i was probably FI around 38 - and even though that's not 30, still nothing wrong with 38 :)

sparky28

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Re: Obsessed with FI?
« Reply #9 on: September 12, 2014, 11:34:11 AM »
I'm at a pretty similar point in life. That obsession is real. I'm on my spreadsheets hourly, savoring the day when I'm FI. As John Green said, "Imagining the future is a kind of nostalgia". It's always beautiful and sunny when I think about leaving the corporate grind. But that doesn't really help the here and now.

What I've been trying to do is cultivate hobbies that fit with my future goals. The majority of hobbies I see involve some sort of investment (woodworking - tools, brewing - carboys, etc.) So I tailor my hobbies with hypothetical profits or reduction in spending in the future. Consider it a type of gamification.

I've taken up growing some plants in my tiny apartment, and been able to 'defend' the price to myself by acting as if this is my first step to becoming a farmer. (+2 to Horticulture! +1 to Small Talk Topics!) Will I? No. But it opens my horizons to a different field that my cubicle doesn't offer, and it's pleasing and cheap. In short, I start hobbies that I can both wax poetic about how this will help my financial situation as well as distract from short term money focus and develop skills. Ignorance is bliss, eh?

Quark

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Re: Obsessed with FI?
« Reply #10 on: September 12, 2014, 11:35:26 AM »
It will help if you get a new job. At my old job all I could think about was my burning hate for work and how much I didn't want to do it anymore. 5 years seemed like an eternity away. My new job is slightly more fulfilling and definitely more busy. I make a ton more money so I can put away a lot without obsessing over every single dollar spent. I also work 9/80s so I get every other Friday off and that makes life more pleasant.

MrFrugalFarts

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Re: Obsessed with FI?
« Reply #11 on: September 12, 2014, 11:44:36 AM »
MMM folks, I think I could use some advice and massive face punches. I'll preface this with the fact that I know this will come off a complainy-pants, but I want to know if anybody else feels like I do.

I'm 25, graduated from college with a BS in Mechanical Engineering in 2011 (with $90k+ of student loan debt), been working at my first job out of school since September of that year. I piled onto my poor education choices by financing a new car ($0 down, 1.9%) and buying a house within a year of graduation. Since discovering MMM and the idea of FI, it's literally all I can think about at work. I work in a manufacturing environment, so work is very feast-or-famine, mostly famine; I literally spend 80% of my time standing at my desk waiting for stuff to happen. I've forgotten pretty much everything I learned in school and am pretty sure that I do not want to get another engineering job. In an effort to speed towards FI, I've downgraded to a car with no payment and have earmarked the next round of savings to refinancing the house to kill PMI and lower our monthly payment. After that it's time for some major student loan debt paydown. But we (got married this year) still have over $200k of debt before we become debt-free, and debt payments account for over $2.5k each month (that's just the minimums). We are a long-ass way away. An aggressive paydown of the student loans and her car could have us down to just the mortgage in 3-5 years, but that's so far away. The thoughts of being debt-free and eventually being able to not work consume my every thought. I wish all the time that I could just stay home and watch tv, play video games, eat delicious foods, exercise, and sleep. It's all I can think about.

Does anybody have any advice on how to stop this obsession?

What exactly do you do in manufacturing? I have done several types of engineering jobs and can offer you some suggestions that could help you find some passion. I have been a Space Shuttle Flight Controller, Supply Chain planner/engineer, R&D  Engineer and now Technical Sales Engineer. My degree is in BS Industrial Engineer 2005

Philociraptor

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Re: Obsessed with FI?
« Reply #12 on: September 12, 2014, 11:50:31 AM »
What exactly do you do in manufacturing? I have done several types of engineering jobs and can offer you some suggestions that could help you find some passion. I have been a Space Shuttle Flight Controller, Supply Chain planner/engineer, R&D  Engineer and now Technical Sales Engineer. My degree was BS Industrial Engineer

I'm in the process group, though most of my work has been in speccing, ordering, and installing parts and equipment (and a whole production line once). I've also done a ton of data collection and some small amount of analysis in excel. Other than that, I've been an errand boy, completing simple tasks like picking up stuff from receiving and convincing random forklift drivers to move stuff for me. I feel like I haven't really gained any experience in these 3 years and my education has gone down the drain.

forummm

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Re: Obsessed with FI?
« Reply #13 on: September 12, 2014, 11:58:18 AM »
I've been very frugal since 18. Worked multiple jobs. Saved like crazy. But I won't hit RE until 36 or later. With your incomes you could easily best that. If you can pay down $200k in 3 years, you'll be able to get to $1M net worth in probably only another 10 or less beyond that, especially as your incomes grow with more work experience. Once you get something of a 'stash going, the breeze at your back of interest coming to you is an amazing force. You have the uphill battle paying off the debt, but it really is increasingly downhill from there.

In the mean time, while waiting for FIRE, MMM says that you should just figure out what it is you want to do in retirement, and start doing more of that now. There's nothing to stop you from living today.

RWD

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Re: Obsessed with FI?
« Reply #14 on: September 12, 2014, 12:11:44 PM »
If you can pay down $200k in 3 years, you'll be able to get to $1M net worth in probably only another 10 or less beyond that, especially as your incomes grow with more work experience.

I'm assuming the $200k includes the mortgage, which was excluded from the stuff paid off in 3-5 years.

Kaspian

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Re: Obsessed with FI?
« Reply #15 on: September 12, 2014, 12:13:25 PM »
Does anybody have any advice on how to stop this obsession?

Your mind's taken a real interest in it.  The same thing has happened to me.  When I become very interested in something, I (pretty much involuntarily) focus 100% on it--either until the job's completely done or (in terms of long-term hobbies or goals) interest naturally begins to wane a little bit.  Sadly, it takes bloody YEARS for my interest to wane on a subject--until my brain is satisfied it's absorbed as much as it wants out of something.  Don't get me wrong--it is still an interest, but it parks it a little further back in the brain compartments for something else.  "OK, I've absorbed that."  After 2 years of obsessed interest, FI is finally starting to fall back a little bit for me.  I've learned a boatload more than I'll ever need about investments, set my accounts up properly, set 50%+ savings on autopilot, and there's not much else to do now except wait it out.   

Sadly I think, if you're anything like me, it may take awhile to loosen the rope.  It's just a matter of time.

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Re: Obsessed with FI?
« Reply #16 on: September 12, 2014, 12:29:41 PM »
What exactly do you do in manufacturing? I have done several types of engineering jobs and can offer you some suggestions that could help you find some passion. I have been a Space Shuttle Flight Controller, Supply Chain planner/engineer, R&D  Engineer and now Technical Sales Engineer. My degree was BS Industrial Engineer

I'm in the process group, though most of my work has been in speccing, ordering, and installing parts and equipment (and a whole production line once). I've also done a ton of data collection and some small amount of analysis in excel. Other than that, I've been an errand boy, completing simple tasks like picking up stuff from receiving and convincing random forklift drivers to move stuff for me. I feel like I haven't really gained any experience in these 3 years and my education has gone down the drain.

Can't say I have used my engineering degree as much as I thought I would. However my way of thinking was expanded by having an engineer degree. So here is a summary of the type of jobs that you could look into.

  Supply Chain Planning - BS usually required. Mix of business type degrees. This is a fast paced job. You usually won't have time to be bored because eveything is an emergency. You need to have good planning skills and be orgnaized. You have a lot of interaction with sales and production/engineering. Usually engineers excel in supply chain if they have good people and good soft programming skills (think excel,pivot tables, SAP). Lots of data to be analyzed but not many bright people to interpet and make good decisions. It can be very high paying once you gain valuable experience.

R&D Testing Engineers- BS ENG req'd. You make test/project plans and execute testing projects. Very laid back environment however you will have to work hard to figure things out since most stuff is new. Usually you have complete ownership of a project( budget,outsourcing,documentation). 80% time will be in front of a computer screen. Pay is decent especially in the oil/gas industry.

Technical Sales - BS Eng usually required. You get to explain to your customers why your product is a good technical fit for them. Lots of techincal presentations. Everyday is different and a lot of out of the office meetings, free lunches, events. Sometimes you work with claims. This can be a high paying job if you are good at it.

Let me know if you have specific questions. You are still young and have time to switch to whatever you want. I have taken pay cuts in the past to try new things. I have not regretted it.

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Re: Obsessed with FI?
« Reply #17 on: September 12, 2014, 12:31:59 PM »
Take lots of walks. Meander through lunch. Talk to your coworkers. Ask about their family and interests and really listen and remember what they say. Say hello and goodbye enthusiastically and to everyone you come in contact with. Ask if you can do anything to help them. Time yourself doing your routine tasks and figure out ways to make them faster even if you don't need to. Fill your head in your off hours with really great and interesting ideas from books. Take classes. Push the boundaries of your mind so you have plenty to think about and not just FI.

As long as you have a good job and your even marginally conscious of how your money is coming in and being spent, saving will start happening without you having to pay much attention or make any spreadsheets. Check every month or so and reevalaute. In a year or two you'll be proud and happy of how far you've come.

Sucky boring takss kinda happen at first. Just roll with it and it will get better in a bit.

Prepube

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Re: Obsessed with FI?
« Reply #18 on: September 12, 2014, 01:19:24 PM »
The OP said he'd come across as complainy-pants, and he succeeded in doing that. Get a fucking grip.  If your budgets need adjustment so you can make having fun a bigger priority, then just do it.  We all need balance, and your current situation is telling you and me that you are out of balance.  Unless you make your livelihood by writing about how little you spend while scooping up cash from your blog, you need to budget time and resources to mental health activities, which can be as cheap or expensive as you choose to make them.  You must budget time and money to achieving happiness at the same time you are planning for FIRE.  What the hell good will FIRE be without good health and balance in your life.  Quit complaining.  Get a hobby.  See a psychologist.  Or a career counselor.  You are young and the choice you have made to try for an early retirement requires time. Get over yourself and either do it, or don't do it.  Face punch!

mozar

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Re: Obsessed with FI?
« Reply #19 on: September 12, 2014, 08:25:22 PM »
I'm 31 and time still goes by so slowly. Every minute of my 20's was agony, but I'm so glad I made the choices I did. Start looking for a new job (in engineering). There is nothing worse than being bored at work. It's happened to me plenty and I have to just not think about the minutiae (while searching for new jobs). And don't worry about how much education you are retaining. Focus on learning new things at work/ in life.
« Last Edit: September 13, 2014, 10:32:28 AM by mozar »

TomTX

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Re: Obsessed with FI?
« Reply #20 on: September 13, 2014, 05:48:34 AM »
What exactly do you do in manufacturing? I have done several types of engineering jobs and can offer you some suggestions that could help you find some passion. I have been a Space Shuttle Flight Controller, Supply Chain planner/engineer, R&D  Engineer and now Technical Sales Engineer. My degree was BS Industrial Engineer

I'm in the process group, though most of my work has been in speccing, ordering, and installing parts and equipment (and a whole production line once). I've also done a ton of data collection and some small amount of analysis in excel. Other than that, I've been an errand boy, completing simple tasks like picking up stuff from receiving and convincing random forklift drivers to move stuff for me. I feel like I haven't really gained any experience in these 3 years and my education has gone down the drain.

Have you learned every job on the shop floor? Do it. Learn every piece of equipment, and why it is sub-optimal for the task at hand (the operator will know the issues.) As you find issues, do your own value-engineering evaluation as to whether it is worth fixing/improving. Then once you find a good candidate, go to management with an improvement plan with justifications (Initially look for an ROI of 2 years or less.) Hey, here's a chance to sharpen your presentation skills and tailor them to your corporate culture.  Win support, then implement the fixes.

In short: Go be an engineer instead of standing at your desk six hours a day. You learn more. The shop guys will like that you fix their issues. Management will like that you are saving money for the company.

Can you get forklift qualified and do it yourself?

Et cetera, et cetera.  Put that engineering mind to work.

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Re: Obsessed with FI?
« Reply #21 on: September 14, 2014, 12:08:08 PM »
Lots of good advice in this thread. There are a few other threads in this forum about "what do I do when I'm bored at work?" that you may find helpful. I also graduate with an engineering degree that I don't often use at work, and had a mind-numbingly boring first job. Use the time to improve yourself and make yourself more valuable to your current an future employers.

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Re: Obsessed with FI?
« Reply #22 on: September 14, 2014, 12:49:26 PM »
3-5 years is a long time when you send over half of your income to loan payments and can't save too much outside of it. It feels like FOREVER. I'm still not done and have gotten frustrated and bored paying off student loans with ~60k left - so I dropped all my payments to minimum and am refocusing. There is also immense stress of paying that much for loans and having no real other savings outside to show for it. At 30 I feel like I put off maxing out my retirement and other savings too long.

Do you calculate your net worth?  Seeing your NW creep out of the negative can defeat the feeling that you "have nothing to show for it."  You need to run the numbers on when maxing out retirements is worth more interest payments on the loans.  But I agree that if you don't have sufficient emergency savings or savings for other goals, that can be more stress than is worth it.