Author Topic: Earlier FIRE due to increased mortality risk?  (Read 2769 times)

Bird In Hand

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Earlier FIRE due to increased mortality risk?
« on: October 24, 2017, 11:49:27 AM »
I think most younger FIRE-aspirees assume they'll live a long time, and diligently model FIRE outcomes based on a long predicted lifespan.  Seems prudent since many of those people will indeed need their nesteggs to last to age 100 or whatever.

What I'm curious about is situations where a significantly shorter lifespan (or significantly deteriorated quality of life later on) due to a diagnosed illness is a reasonable assumption.  In situations like these, would you be tempted to pull the FIRE plug earlier?

On one hand, heck yeah -- I want to be FIREd ASAP so I can enjoy the remaining healthy years of my life before everything goes to crap.  I'm going to start using 80 as my expected age in FIRECalc/cFIRESim.  Holy cow, according to these #'s I could have FIRE'd yesterday!

On the other hand, even if my quality of life plummets at 70 due to illness, and I'm miserable for the rest of my years, those years could drag on and on longer than I expect.  Physical suffering in old age, plus poverty because I exhausted my nest egg...that sounds like a miserable double whammy.

On the third hand, maybe I'm ready to FIRE early and enjoy life while I can, but I know that doing so would put the financial security of my spouse/children/etc. at risk.  So I'll continue to work for now, burning through my best handful of remaining healthy years in order to make a better future for my spouse/children/etc.

I'm especially interested in hearing from people who have faced these issues in their lives.  How did it change your FIRE plans (or not)?  But to those for whom this is merely a hypothetical dilemma, I welcome your thoughts as well.

merlin7676

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Re: Earlier FIRE due to increased mortality risk?
« Reply #1 on: October 25, 2017, 01:14:51 PM »
With a grandpa that died in late 40s due to stroke, 2 uncles died late 30s (one heart attack, one aneurysm), another uncle early 40s heart attack, and grandma mid 60 after bypass heart surgery, I'm trying to FIRE as fast as possible.  This is ONLY on my mom's side as my dad was adopted and we have zero medical information from his side.

That being said they are all were over weight, smokers or ex-smokers, ate poorly, didn't exercise, ect.  Whereas I exercise, eat mostly plant based with small amounts of meat and carb dense foods, quite smoking 13 years ago, am not overweight and my routine physicals show healthy cholesterol and blood pressure. I am a 41 yo male.
So I can mitigate the environmental factors but not the genetic ones.

My spouse is aware that I want/need to retire asap so I can enjoy as much of retirement as I can get in before any of the above happen to me.

Bird In Hand

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Re: Earlier FIRE due to increased mortality risk?
« Reply #2 on: October 25, 2017, 01:27:46 PM »
Thanks for chiming in, merlin.

It sounds like you have a reasonable expectation that your lifespan might be shorter than average based on family history.  But of course these things aren't written in stone, and your improved lifestyle (compared to your deceased relatives) will help you make the most of the genetic hand you were dealt.

I can certainly understand why you'd want to FIRE ASAP.  You didn't mention having kids, so that might not affect your decision.  Are you concerned about your spouse's financial security should you die relatively young?  For that matter, are you concerned about your spouse's financial security if you FIRE young and burn through your nestegg, and then die before your spouse?

Imma

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Re: Earlier FIRE due to increased mortality risk?
« Reply #3 on: October 25, 2017, 05:28:56 PM »
I was diagnosed with a chronic illness aged 16 and I'm now 27. I've had a few big scared through the years, things are relatively calm now, but I'll likely never be able to work fulltime. I took a parttime distance learning degree because I couldn't go to college fulltime.
Because I'm working parttime, it's harder for me to save. The upside is that I don't work all day, so I guess you could say I'm parttime retired already (and have been since age 22, when I last worked a fulltime job).

On the other hand, FI is more important to me because of my illness. I've experienced what it's like when you're suddenly in hospital and you lose your job. I never want to be poor again. My country also has a rigid retirement system where it's pretty hard to retire before government retirement age (which will probably be something like 70 for my generation, it's 66 currently and slowly going up to 68). I realistically might not make that age, or be in considerable ill health, which is why I'm set to RE. That way I might actually enjoy my retirement.

These things are pretty much contradictory, so I'm trying to find a balance between living for now and living for the future. The current balance is that I put 155 of my 1200 net wage into investments and 200 into a savings account, which is a savings rate of about 30%. We live in a cheap house with a 300 mortgage payment that we're planning to have paid off in less than 15 years. My current investment rate isn't enough to ever RE, but in future I might be able to put more money into it. I don't have a comfortable emergency fund yet, but once I get there, I can put that money into investments. I plan for a relatively large emergency fund to make sure I'll always have enough cash on hand in case of a medical emergency (HELOCs aren't a thing in my country). If we indeed have the house paid off when I'm about 40, I hope to be able to retire aged 50. It'll take some hard work, but I think it's doable.

hops

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Re: Earlier FIRE due to increased mortality risk?
« Reply #4 on: October 25, 2017, 07:32:05 PM »
I've been sick, sometimes life-threateningly so, since preschool and am now in my early thirties. Knowing how quickly your health can fall apart, and how expensive chronic disease is (monetarily, time-wise and emotionally), has contributed greatly to my desire for early financial independence.

My biggest financial fears as an adult were always related to illness. The fear that I'd become unable to perform my job, the fear that I'd lose my health insurance. We'll see if marriage changes that now that I have a gainfully employed spouse. In the short-term, I worry as usual. In a few weeks I'll learn how my health insurance coverage changes next year, which is always stressful.

As it happens, my wife also has an illness associated with reduced lifespan. I'm interested in early retirement but she isn't. She loves her job and wants to work for as long as she can. But she also wants the safety net of knowing we can afford to be sick.
« Last Edit: October 26, 2017, 06:07:57 AM by hops »

letired

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Re: Earlier FIRE due to increased mortality risk?
« Reply #5 on: October 25, 2017, 09:30:16 PM »
Family history on both sides indicate that I have a good chance of living longer than average, barring a freak accident (all but one of my grandparents made it past 90, the one who died earlier died at 81 of emphysema from lifelong smoking). I haven't actually run any numbers, but I'm assuming that once you're planning for a 65 year retirement, not a whole lot change if that number fluctuates +/- 10. I'm also risk-averse enough to prefer a more conservative plan.

Bee21

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Re: Earlier FIRE due to increased mortality risk?
« Reply #6 on: October 26, 2017, 12:00:04 AM »
Sure. But we need to find a good balance between enjoying life now, while we can, being financially secure and saving enough to retire early. I have been given double facepunches on this forum before, cos we have a paid off house and a boat, but given the possible health dramas we are facing, I am glad we chose this semi mustachian lifestyle. You never know.

Playing with Fire UK

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Re: Earlier FIRE due to increased mortality risk?
« Reply #7 on: October 26, 2017, 02:02:20 AM »
For me, if I knew that my life expectancy was significantly lower than average, I'd set an earlier FIRE date. If I merely suspected that I might have genes or a condition that would give a lower life expectancy (even if significantly lower), I'd assume that my life expectancy was average and plan accordingly.

I have a chronic condition that will at some point severely limit my ability to work; it doesn't reduce life expectancy, but a lot of the treatments options have significant risk of an early death, which reduces the average life expectancy for someone with the condition (does that make sense?). So I'm planning on an average life expectancy, but saving aggressively because I don't know how long I'll be able to earn for. 

Dicey

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Re: Earlier FIRE due to increased mortality risk?
« Reply #8 on: October 26, 2017, 02:17:01 AM »
Cancer at 21-22 fueled my quest for FIRE. A desire to do all the things  (within reason) while I could + HCOLA  + need for healthcare kept me working until 54. Worth the effort and the wait.

Astatine

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Re: Earlier FIRE due to increased mortality risk?
« Reply #9 on: October 26, 2017, 02:48:16 AM »
I had treatment for cancer, finished 18 months ago. My 10 year survival stats from date of diagnosis (ie 2 years ago) are 85%, ie a 15% chance of dying from a recurrence of the cancer that I had. The recurrence rate drops off over time but will never go to zero. Plus I have another chronic health condition which increases my risk of dying of a whole bunch of other things.

We're years away from being able to FIRE. So I've actually relaxed our savings rates to do stuff that matters to us now, rather than putting things off to a hypothetical retirement that I may never live to see.

matchewed

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Re: Earlier FIRE due to increased mortality risk?
« Reply #10 on: October 26, 2017, 04:29:15 AM »
In truth many of us may die from accident or illness during the course of our lifetime well before a statistical life expectancy. That in of itself is one of the drivers for FIRE already. I'm not sure if it accelerates it though.

Bird In Hand

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Re: Earlier FIRE due to increased mortality risk?
« Reply #11 on: October 26, 2017, 10:47:29 AM »
In truth many of us may die from accident or illness during the course of our lifetime well before a statistical life expectancy. That in of itself is one of the drivers for FIRE already. I'm not sure if it accelerates it though.

True, but that's why I specifically focused on an reasonable expectation of reduced quality of life / shorter lifespan due to a diagnosed illness.  To me that's very different than "I might die earlier due to an unexpected accident or illness that hasn't been diagnosed yet."

matchewed

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Re: Earlier FIRE due to increased mortality risk?
« Reply #12 on: October 26, 2017, 12:14:27 PM »
In truth many of us may die from accident or illness during the course of our lifetime well before a statistical life expectancy. That in of itself is one of the drivers for FIRE already. I'm not sure if it accelerates it though.

True, but that's why I specifically focused on an reasonable expectation of reduced quality of life / shorter lifespan due to a diagnosed illness.  To me that's very different than "I might die earlier due to an unexpected accident or illness that hasn't been diagnosed yet."

Interesting. I don't think those two things are different and I would question why they need to be or are chosen to be. Or whether you could explain that difference.

The provided example was death at 80 vs. death at 70. At age <60 you probably have no forewarning beyond lifestyle/family history. Which leads me to that question about whether this is already incorporated into one of the drivers for FIRE.

Bird In Hand

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Re: Earlier FIRE due to increased mortality risk?
« Reply #13 on: October 26, 2017, 01:47:19 PM »
In truth many of us may die from accident or illness during the course of our lifetime well before a statistical life expectancy. That in of itself is one of the drivers for FIRE already. I'm not sure if it accelerates it though.

True, but that's why I specifically focused on an reasonable expectation of reduced quality of life / shorter lifespan due to a diagnosed illness.  To me that's very different than "I might die earlier due to an unexpected accident or illness that hasn't been diagnosed yet."

Interesting. I don't think those two things are different and I would question why they need to be or are chosen to be. Or whether you could explain that difference.

You don't see any difference between the following options?

1) being in good/average health, so assuming average (or longer) lifespan in your FIRE projections

2) having a diagnosed illness known to shorten life, so assuming shorter than average lifespan in your FIRE projections (and using the shortened timeline as a potential impetus to retire earlier).

Quote
The provided example was death at 80 vs. death at 70.

That wasn't the example I provided.

Quote
At age <60 you probably have no forewarning beyond lifestyle/family history. Which leads me to that question about whether this is already incorporated into one of the drivers for FIRE.

I hate to repeat myself, but the entire premise of my question involves being diagnosed with a life-shortening illness prior to FIRE -- i.e., way before age 60.  A hypothetical person under 60 who has no forewarning of a shortened life?  That has no relationship to my question, except maybe being its opposite.

Just in this thread there are several examples of real, non-hypothetical people who had serious illnesses and or chronic/lifelong illness diagnoses early in life:

Quote from: Imma
I was diagnosed with a chronic illness aged 16 and I'm now 27.

Quote from: hops
I've been sick, sometimes life-threateningly so, since preschool and am now in my early thirties.

Quote from: Dicey
Cancer at 21-22 fueled my quest for FIRE.

Quote from: Astatine
I had treatment for cancer, finished 18 months ago.
...Plus I have another chronic health condition which increases my risk of dying of a whole bunch of other things.
...
We're years away from being able to FIRE.


matchewed

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Re: Earlier FIRE due to increased mortality risk?
« Reply #14 on: October 26, 2017, 02:43:52 PM »
I guess all I'm saying is FIRE is about purchasing your freedom in a financial sense. Whether that lasts 5 years or 60 years it doesn't change the action.

What I'm curious about is situations where a significantly shorter lifespan (or significantly deteriorated quality of life later on) due to a diagnosed illness is a reasonable assumption.  In situations like these, would you be tempted to pull the FIRE plug earlier?

The odds are quite good that many of us will encounter your scenario from your initial post. I'm countering that there is no need to pull the plug earlier; that your plan should be robust enough to last until that 100 year mark but fulfilling enough to make you happy if you were diagnosed with the aforementioned significantly lifespan shortening illness.

Imma

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Re: Earlier FIRE due to increased mortality risk?
« Reply #15 on: October 26, 2017, 03:14:02 PM »
To me, knowing that it's a very real possibility that I will die or lose a big chunk of quality of life at a relatively young age, is very different from knowing you have bad genes. For me, this diagnosis creates a sense of urgency. I don't want life to slip by unnoticed. My partner doesn't seem to have that sense of urgency, although he is very aware of his bad family history. Most people in his family have died in their 50s/60s, most of them from lung and heart disease. He chooses to live healthily to decrease his changes, but there's still the assumption he'll die when he's old and grey and will be fit and healthy until his 70s. I don't have that.

Of course, I might still die from being run over by a bus. I don't know. I might live to see 100. I do know that a different scenario is much more likely. Someone I know with terminal cancer actually has a blog named 'no bus' because of all the times people tell her that even though she has terminal cancer, she can't be sure she's going to die from that. Everyone including her can still die from being run over by a bus. It's true, but it's very unlikely and not really a helpful thing to say to anyone in her position.

elaine amj

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Re: Earlier FIRE due to increased mortality risk?
« Reply #16 on: October 26, 2017, 05:52:00 PM »
My DH has cancer. It's a recurrence ( in less than a year) so survival rate is nowhere near as high as we would like. It's definitely pushing us to FIRE sooner.

In the last couple of days, our FIRE discussions have gotten more immediate. At our current numbers, saving for 2-3 more years would be safer. But we are really thinking of FIRE-ing next year.

It has become a case of financial security for our family vs more time with said family.

Still, we are being careful not to be reckless with our money. Whatever happens with my DH, my children and I are still going to be here and we need to be responsible. So no YOLO bucket list type stuff although we have splurged a little more here and there.

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DirtDiva

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Re: Earlier FIRE due to increased mortality risk?
« Reply #17 on: October 26, 2017, 06:53:00 PM »
I had treatment for cancer, finished 18 months ago. My 10 year survival stats from date of diagnosis (ie 2 years ago) are 85%, ie a 15% chance of dying from a recurrence of the cancer that I had. The recurrence rate drops off over time but will never go to zero. Plus I have another chronic health condition which increases my risk of dying of a whole bunch of other things.

We're years away from being able to FIRE. So I've actually relaxed our savings rates to do stuff that matters to us now, rather than putting things off to a hypothetical retirement that I may never live to see.

Me, too--finished treatment 1 year ago on Halloween.  My 5-year survival stats are more like 42-75% (rare cancer, not a lot of stats out there).

We are not hardcore Mustachians.  We save as if we are both going to live a long time, but we also spend a good deal of money on travel and spending time with friends and family.  I am really happy that I started saving for retirement when I started my first post-college job at 24.  That war chest makes me feel secure and relaxed about whatever happens.

Fortunately, I enjoy my job very much and the days are not long or stressful.  We are planning to pay off our house in the next 5 years, then stop working or work part-time.  However, if I receive the news that I have a recurrence, I will probably quit work for good.