Author Topic: Voluntary Uncoupling - from your career?  (Read 8667 times)

EscapeVelocity2020

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Voluntary Uncoupling - from your career?
« on: May 15, 2014, 06:47:18 PM »
Here I am, on the cusp of retirement (at 40), and yet I feel like I owe something to society.  I feel as though I am letting 'people down' if I take a well played 20 years and then spend the next (hopefully 50 or 60) doing whatever the hell I feel like (which may or may not 'profit' society at large, most likely it will be somewhat neutral).  I liken this to divorce, not being evil or greedy in and of itself, but knowing that there will be slings and arrows for the choice (viewed as 'self-centered' or whatever), because it's the 'path that should not be voluntarily taken'.

So, has anyone else retired early or is considering retiring early and figured out how to explain this to your family and friends?  I like this softening/modern idea of 'voluntary uncoupling' for divorce, and maybe a similar idea of divorce/voluntary uncoupling should be applied to a career you don't need to be 'stuck' with?

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Re: Voluntary Uncoupling - from your career?
« Reply #1 on: May 15, 2014, 06:53:25 PM »
I'm going to sidestep the VU discussion, since I'm a 'marriage for life' guy, but regarding ER...it sounds like you're talking about two things:

1. You feel like you need a job to contribute to society in some way.

2. You're worried about what your family and friends will think of you.

Here's my advice:

1. You don't. You're contributing to society simply by paying taxes, not breaking the law, and being an all-around good person.

2. You don't need to worry. They don't justify when they buy things they can't afford; you don't need to justify saving and retiring.

As an aside, if you want to volunteer or help people in this or that way, nothing is stopping you; the point of ER is to give you choices.

naturelover

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Re: Voluntary Uncoupling - from your career?
« Reply #2 on: May 15, 2014, 07:07:54 PM »
I'm not RE yet, although I have done some thinking about how I would (will) explain it to people once I do. I am several years away, but I am thinking of saying things like: taking some time off, wanting to focus more on volunteer work (which I intend to do more, already do some now), that I wanted to downsize my employment to focus on other things/projects. I just have this feeling that if I tell people I'm retired when I'm 45 or even 50 (my target date is somewhere in between), that people will raise an eyebrow and think I'm full of crap, or received a large inheritance, or something else for which they will gladly pass judgment.

I don't even talk about FIRE to anyone except my spouse, because I think many people just can't wrap their head around the concept, which is really too bad. I once began talking about ER to a friend, and I quickly became self-conscious since this person isn't in the best financial situation (maybe that was bad judgment on my part), and I quickly excused it with "I'm only doing this because I hate my job," which is pretty much what has led me to plan for FIRE.

I like your suggestion of the uncoupling, like why should we stay forever in a job that doesn't make us happy? We don't need to feel guilty for saving our way to a new way of life! You will find something to do where you will find meaning for yourself. Remember that you get to define where that meaning comes from.

EscapeVelocity2020

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Re: Voluntary Uncoupling - from your career?
« Reply #3 on: May 15, 2014, 07:13:57 PM »
(to carsafetyguy)  Thanks for the quick response, and your 'marriage for life comment actually contributes to my dilemma with the older expectation of a career, 'newer generations' think differently about employment.  Maybe this has progressed more quickly?

Thanks for a well organized response, I think:
1.  I pay way more taxes now than I would pay in 'retirement', so I'm becoming a high net worth 'leach', to be honest.  I will volunteer and be charitable, but I'm too young to give away my money.  I'll give away much more much later if I can, but it's all about my family until my kids are doing OK (not Paris Hilton-like, obviously).
2. My 'older family' (I'm the youngest) have all struggled with finances.  I have just blended in.  Just saying 'don't worry' kinda invites problems.  They will automatically think I'm rich if I retire, where-as it is now quite easy to practice 'stealth wealth'.




Self-employed-swami

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Re: Voluntary Uncoupling - from your career?
« Reply #4 on: May 15, 2014, 07:18:05 PM »
I plan on doing more volunteering, once I FIRE, so that would be a bigger benefit to society, IMHO.

EscapeVelocity2020

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Re: Voluntary Uncoupling - from your career?
« Reply #5 on: May 15, 2014, 07:23:04 PM »
@naturelover - great handle.  A very large component of my ER is that I have lived overseas and will spend a significant part of ER camping in the bounty of what is available here, a.k.a. National Parks and road trips.  I could really care-less about international travel, but I will be very excited if I travel internationally more eventually, even to 'overpriced' revisits to Europe, Dubai, and Norway, but having kids makes my near-future very well defined as local for what is 'reasonable' and enjoyable.

EscapeVelocity2020

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Re: Voluntary Uncoupling - from your career?
« Reply #6 on: May 15, 2014, 07:25:22 PM »
I plan on doing more volunteering, once I FIRE, so that would be a bigger benefit to society, IMHO.

Definitely.  But even 'volunteering' is taking on a new meaning.  My Dad travelled to Haiti.  MMM is trying to establish a 'Badass Utopia".  So, there will obviously be more options than time and money allows.  Any suggestions or thoughts on what physically or virtually is best?

naturelover

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Re: Voluntary Uncoupling - from your career?
« Reply #7 on: May 15, 2014, 08:42:43 PM »
Another thought I had is to tell people that I am self-employed. After FIRE, I plan to do little side hustle things like sell stuff I make at art fairs or farmers markets. I figure that "self-employed" as a label for what I'm doing with myself post-FIRE ought to be an acceptable thing to say that will also keep being FI a secret if I so choose.

So, using your terminology from your OP, I will voluntarily uncouple from my unfulfilling career to pursue self-employment in the areas that mean more to me. I think most people would respect that. (Although I wouldn't actually use the words "voluntarily uncouple". Lol)

I am with you on the National Parks goals. I want to spend as much time as possible in them. I've been to quite a few out west and can't wait to return.

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Re: Voluntary Uncoupling - from your career?
« Reply #8 on: May 15, 2014, 09:04:33 PM »
I am 40 and checked out of the job 4 months ago and I will very freely admit I am still trying to figure out a lot of this.  DW was insistent that I go into this with a cover story (a poor choice IMO but not worth the fight), so people have been told what they want to hear.  When asked directly I just say I am taking a sabbatical/time off.

Do I need to contribute to society more than I already have?  I dunno.  I spent the last 5 years in a public service job doing very dirty work that benefitted people who hated my organization even though they were greatly helped by it.  It is extremely tempting to just say, "I gave at the office."  Is that the long term answer?  I dunno.  For now I am trying to regain my personal equilibrium, establish new rhythms with my family, and take care of some long-forestalled things I have wanted to do for a long, long time.

I am starting to recover enough to think about other things.  When the kids go back to school in the Fall I plan to involved again with an animal shelter, something for the general good I have not had time for in years.

ShortInSeattle

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Re: Voluntary Uncoupling - from your career?
« Reply #9 on: May 15, 2014, 11:06:11 PM »
So, has anyone else retired early or is considering retiring early and figured out how to explain this to your family and friends?  I like this softening/modern idea of 'voluntary uncoupling' for divorce, and maybe a similar idea of divorce/voluntary uncoupling should be applied to a career you don't need to be 'stuck' with?

I'm not quite on the cusp of retiring yet, but I've given this subject a lot of thought, and even talked to some of my close family and friends about my goals. Their responses have been universally supportive.

If it helps, it might be worth thinking about what you are retiring to, and framing your intentions around those future goals that you are excited about.  Here are some of my descriptions.

"We've been working hard to save money since our early twenties. Our plan is to work hard another X years and then take a few years off to travel the world..."

"DH has been working long hours at Megacorp for so long... I'm really looking forward to the day when he can leave and we can work part time and do more travel...."

"Early retirement has been a big goal of ours for a long time. My hope is that we'll be done working regular jobs around age forty, but who knows what will happen after that? We want to travel, relax more, perhaps volunteer. We'll see how it goes I suppose."

None of these statements have resulted in anything other than a "that sounds great!" response. And if someone got testy about it, I wouldn't feel guilty, their reactions are not my problem.

My hunch is that your core worry isn't about other people though, right? It's about the fact that we identify with our jobs and "contributions" and opting out can feel like a loss of self.  Perhaps you need to discover what your "non-work" contributions are going to be. I plan to love my husband, volunteer here and there, and write books.

SIS

EscapeVelocity2020

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Re: Voluntary Uncoupling - from your career?
« Reply #10 on: May 16, 2014, 07:33:31 AM »
I ago 40 and checked out of the job 4 months ago and I will very freely admit I am still trying to figure out a lot of this.  DW was insistent that I go into this with a cover story (a poor choice IMO but not worth the fight), so people have been told what they want to hear.  When asked directly I just say I am taking a sabbatical/time off.

Do I need to contribute to society more than I already have?  I dunno.  I spent the last 5 years in a public service job doing very dirty work that benefitted people who hated my organization even though they were greatly helped by it.  It is extremely tempting to just say, "I gave at the office."  Is that the long term answer?  I dunno.  For now I am trying to regain my personal equilibrium, establish new rhythms with my family, and take care of some long-forestalled things I have wanted to do for a long, long time.

I am starting to recover enough to think about other things.  When the kids go back to school in the Fall I plan to involved again with an animal shelter, something for the general good I have not had time for in years.
Thanks for the input Brew and SiS, I'll be honest, if I had a good friend to retire with, I'd be set.  I'll probably get more hardcore on blogging because it feels a lot like 'volunteering' and also meets all my requirements (no commute, gives me an excuse to learn more about PF, low stress, looks like I'm doing something productive)...  My main quandary is that I'll know that I'm using public stuff that I'm not paying for, it's a bit of a Puritanical problem, but it'll be odd to wake up every morning, knowing I don't have to do anything while my neighbors put up with what I know are pretty crappy jobs.  I guess it's just a case of 'retire, then figure it out' like you said.  I'll certainly have a clearer head after 6 months of sleeping in!

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Re: Voluntary Uncoupling - from your career?
« Reply #11 on: May 16, 2014, 08:01:31 AM »
How about: I have enough, I don't need the job, someone else does.  My good deed is giving that job to those that need it.  Reducing consumption and treading lightly on this planet. 

this should be explanation enough unless unemployment gets down to 0%, or we find that the planet's resources are suddenly unlimited...

People sometimes ask me what I"ll do if/when I retire early.   "Whatever the f*** I want."

I actually have always wanted to teach English as a 2nd language to adults.  I see volunteers doing this that the library, it seems like a fulfilling thing to do.  My parents were immigrants to the US, and they knew English when they moved here, but not everyone hass the educational advantages they did.  And perhaps, just maybe, I would like to foster special needs kids.  I have 2 kids of my own, and always imagined having more, but we decided to stop at 2 for lots of reasons. 

Silvie

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Re: Voluntary Uncoupling - from your career?
« Reply #12 on: May 16, 2014, 08:29:50 AM »
@naturelover - great handle.  A very large component of my ER is that I have lived overseas and will spend a significant part of ER camping in the bounty of what is available here, a.k.a. National Parks and road trips.  I could really care-less about international travel, but I will be very excited if I travel internationally more eventually, even to 'overpriced' revisits to Europe, Dubai, and Norway, but having kids makes my near-future very well defined as local for what is 'reasonable' and enjoyable.

Europe and Norway? :-)

Dr. Doom

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Re: Voluntary Uncoupling - from your career?
« Reply #13 on: May 16, 2014, 08:36:10 AM »

Fun subject.  I think about this a lot because I can quit absolutely any day and financially be perfectly fine indefinitely but have been unable to pull the trigger. 

I am sometimes conflicted at work because people really seem to like me.  I get great reviews.  They want me to stay indefinitely.  (IT and software dev work for my alma mater.)  It's not a bad job by any means, as far as jobs go.  I will be disappointing them when I quit.  So there's some guilt there.  I know I shouldn't feel guilty but guilt isn't rational.  It's just guilt.

To use your divorce analogy, I'm breaking up with my spouse even though she's not a horrible person -- I just don't believe in marriage the way she does.  Marriage takes up too much of my time and I'm not getting ROI.

Man, that DOES sound weird.

In terms of communicating plans to other people:
  • My closest friends know.  This is healthy and awesome because it means I can be really open with them - good for the friendship.  They are OK with me doing whatever.  Most of them completely understand the desire for complete freedom and are happy for me.
  • My family will not know.  I'm going to tell them I'm freelancing.  This avoids any weirdness about a) them thinking I'm a layabout or b) perceiving that I'm loaded, which might result in requests for handouts and that sort of thing. 
  • Co-workers will not know, either.  It's a small world and I don't want it to get out.  Who knows if I'll ever need to get back in the industry?  The ER label in many peoples' heads is synonymous with lazy sack of directionless crap.  Doesn't matter whether or not it's accurate (it's not)  -- that's what people think. 



EscapeVelocity2020

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Re: Voluntary Uncoupling - from your career?
« Reply #14 on: May 16, 2014, 08:50:36 AM »

Europe and Norway? :-)

Not to be the Geography Police, but Norway is not a part of Europe, in the fact that it is very gladly not a part of the EEU, geographically it is part of Scandanavia, and from a passport / visa perspective, it is part of the Schengen agreement...  Interestingly tho, it is possible to drive from Europe to Norway via Denmark, or via ferry to the UK, both of which I plan to do again someday...

EscapeVelocity2020

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Re: Voluntary Uncoupling - from your career?
« Reply #15 on: May 16, 2014, 08:59:59 AM »

I am sometimes conflicted at work because people really seem to like me.  I get great reviews.  They want me to stay indefinitely.  (IT and software dev work for my alma mater.)  It's not a bad job by any means, as far as jobs go. 

Thanks for the input Dr. Doom (are you posting from a Barvarian castle by chance?). This is certainly a big piece of where I'm at.  Ironically, we had a team build on Monday and I was the only 'golden retriever' personality type in the group, which meant I'm loyal to a fault.  I'm surrounded my lions (leaders), beavers (yes, beavers), and otters. 

FIPurpose

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Re: Voluntary Uncoupling - from your career?
« Reply #16 on: May 16, 2014, 09:09:36 AM »

Europe and Norway? :-)

Not to be the Geography Police, but Norway is not a part of Europe, in the fact that it is very gladly not a part of the EEU, geographically it is part of Scandanavia, and from a passport / visa perspective, it is part of the Schengen agreement...  Interestingly tho, it is possible to drive from Europe to Norway via Denmark, or via ferry to the UK, both of which I plan to do again someday...

Check again:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Europe

EscapeVelocity2020

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Re: Voluntary Uncoupling - from your career?
« Reply #17 on: May 16, 2014, 09:15:22 AM »
I actually have always wanted to teach English as a 2nd language to adults.  I see volunteers doing this that the library, it seems like a fulfilling thing to do. 

Good idea about ESL, always a need for that in Houston and I'd probably meet interesting people.

Dr. Doom

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Re: Voluntary Uncoupling - from your career?
« Reply #18 on: May 16, 2014, 09:17:41 AM »

I am sometimes conflicted at work because people really seem to like me.  I get great reviews.  They want me to stay indefinitely.  (IT and software dev work for my alma mater.)  It's not a bad job by any means, as far as jobs go. 

Thanks for the input Dr. Doom (are you posting from a Barvarian castle by chance?). This is certainly a big piece of where I'm at.  Ironically, we had a team build on Monday and I was the only 'golden retriever' personality type in the group, which meant I'm loyal to a fault.  I'm surrounded my lions (leaders), beavers (yes, beavers), and otters.

I'm at Von Doom industries today, posting from my corner office.

Sounds like a fun team exercise.  You have to be careful... put too many beavers together and they'll dam up the river. I'm a beaver myself with some retriever tendencies, like, occasionally, approval-seeking behavior.  Less and less as I get older though ;)







EscapeVelocity2020

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Re: Voluntary Uncoupling - from your career?
« Reply #19 on: May 16, 2014, 09:26:15 AM »


Europe and Norway? :-)

Check again:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Europe

I'd totally forgotten about that definition, missing the forest for the trees I guess.  But most Scandanavians don't consider themselves to be 'Europeans', although they 'technically' are.
« Last Edit: May 16, 2014, 09:29:09 AM by EscapeVelocity2020 »

EscapeVelocity2020

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Re: Voluntary Uncoupling - from your career?
« Reply #20 on: May 16, 2014, 09:37:04 AM »

I'm at Von Doom industries today, posting from my corner office.


I would never quit that sweet job, and would change my post to 'how to take over the world?  All suggestions will be considered' :)

Dr. Doom

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Re: Voluntary Uncoupling - from your career?
« Reply #21 on: May 16, 2014, 09:49:05 AM »

I'm at Von Doom industries today, posting from my corner office.


I would never quit that sweet job, and would change my post to 'how to take over the world?  All suggestions will be considered' :)

The world has already been conquered.  I seek instead to purge it of its transgressions insidiously, from the inside out: a virus taking over its cellular host.  There will be no blood -- only transference and unconscious submission to a new authority -- the authority of Doom.






Silvie

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Re: Voluntary Uncoupling - from your career?
« Reply #22 on: May 16, 2014, 09:52:39 AM »

Europe and Norway? :-)

Not to be the Geography Police, but Norway is not a part of Europe, in the fact that it is very gladly not a part of the EEU, geographically it is part of Scandanavia, and from a passport / visa perspective, it is part of the Schengen agreement...  Interestingly tho, it is possible to drive from Europe to Norway via Denmark, or via ferry to the UK, both of which I plan to do again someday...

"Europe" refers to the continent, not the European Union. Norway is definitely part of Europe. "Scandinavia" is a region in Europe, just like "Benelux" (Belgium, Luxembourg, Netherlands) for instance. Anyway, Norway participated in Eurovision last week, so therefore, they must be European ;)
« Last Edit: May 16, 2014, 09:54:17 AM by Silvie »

Cheddar Stacker

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Re: Voluntary Uncoupling - from your career?
« Reply #23 on: May 16, 2014, 09:55:07 AM »
So I'm not ready for FIRE financially, but I've given this a lot of thought since discovering the possibility of it. Here are my responses to your thoughts:

Here I am, on the cusp of retirement (at 40), and yet I feel like I owe something to society.
You don't. Live your life how you see fit, and make your small impact on the world a good one. Someone else linked to this 6 months ago and I wish I could give that person credit, but alas, I can't remember everyone's individual influence on my FIRE education.

Read this link: http://waitbutwhy.com/2013/08/putting-time-in-perspective.html

I don't mean to diminish your impact on society, just want to put it in perspective. We will be fine after you stop contributing your work efforts.

I feel as though I am letting 'people down'

If you mean co-workers, I feel you on this one. I don't work for a big mega-corp. I'm one of 20 people where I work, and although I'm replaceable there will certainly be a void left behind for a small time. This is my biggest hurdle, as I will be letting co-workers down. I hope to leave my work a better place than I entered it, and leave it on very stable financial footing. That's the best I can do, as I have to leave at some point.

I liken this to divorce, not being evil or greedy in and of itself, but knowing that there will be slings and arrows for the choice (viewed as 'self-centered' or whatever), because it's the 'path that should not be voluntarily taken'.

Another quote from someone on the forum recently that I can't give proper credit to - "divorce doesn't mean a marriage was a failure, simply that it ended". All things end. 50% of marriages end up in divorce. Your work marriage can either end in divorce or your death. Don't die at work, get a divorce.

Good luck EV!

EscapeVelocity2020

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Re: Voluntary Uncoupling - from your career?
« Reply #24 on: May 16, 2014, 10:56:39 AM »
Thanks guys and gals, a good day both discussing a part of the world I wish I was vacationing in right now as well as good emotional support.  It's fantastic to have this support network, since neighbors and colleagues don't think along these lines.

I should technically have the day off, so I'm protesting by planning my ER :). Looking at dates.  Still haven't gotten around to typing up 'the letter' tho.

brewer12345

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Re: Voluntary Uncoupling - from your career?
« Reply #25 on: May 16, 2014, 01:22:34 PM »
I ago 40 and checked out of the job 4 months ago and I will very freely admit I am still trying to figure out a lot of this.  DW was insistent that I go into this with a cover story (a poor choice IMO but not worth the fight), so people have been told what they want to hear.  When asked directly I just say I am taking a sabbatical/time off.

Do I need to contribute to society more than I already have?  I dunno.  I spent the last 5 years in a public service job doing very dirty work that benefitted people who hated my organization even though they were greatly helped by it.  It is extremely tempting to just say, "I gave at the office."  Is that the long term answer?  I dunno.  For now I am trying to regain my personal equilibrium, establish new rhythms with my family, and take care of some long-forestalled things I have wanted to do for a long, long time.

I am starting to recover enough to think about other things.  When the kids go back to school in the Fall I plan to involved again with an animal shelter, something for the general good I have not had time for in years.
Thanks for the input Brew and SiS, I'll be honest, if I had a good friend to retire with, I'd be set.  I'll probably get more hardcore on blogging because it feels a lot like 'volunteering' and also meets all my requirements (no commute, gives me an excuse to learn more about PF, low stress, looks like I'm doing something productive)...  My main quandary is that I'll know that I'm using public stuff that I'm not paying for, it's a bit of a Puritanical problem, but it'll be odd to wake up every morning, knowing I don't have to do anything while my neighbors put up with what I know are pretty crappy jobs.  I guess it's just a case of 'retire, then figure it out' like you said.  I'll certainly have a clearer head after 6 months of sleeping in!

This sounds more like survivor's guilt than Puritanical whatever.  I don't know about you, but while I was working I made a lot of sacrifices, generated a lot of income and paid a LOT of taxes.  Other people were phoning it in, fooling around, etc. while I slaved.  I have friends who quit their jobs and spent 6 months slowly cruising along the southeast US, mostly funded with credit card debt.  As far as I am concerned, I "prepaid" for my share of the common good tax-wise.

And there are lots of meaningful things you can do to contribute to the greater good other than working.  Volunteering is an obvious one.  How about doing  better job raising kids?  Being a better neighbor?

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Re: Voluntary Uncoupling - from your career?
« Reply #26 on: May 16, 2014, 01:54:12 PM »
Yeah, but I suspect that people quickly forget all your contributing years and bring up the fact you are now a lazy bum while they are stuck working into their old age.  Guess I will develop a thicker skin, because it will piss me off.  Maybe I'll carry an old tax return around with me showing that I paid plenty.  :). Definitely some amount of survivor guilt, I can't believe it's possible to do whatever I want every day for the rest of my life, even though I've had over 100% saving rate these last 3 years (net worth goes up as much or more than my net income, so technically I didn't need those paychecks, and got to pay extra taxes for the pleasure).