Author Topic: Would you gamble on your future?  (Read 675 times)

AardvarkPuppies

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Would you gamble on your future?
« on: May 05, 2020, 01:23:29 PM »
Hi all.

I recently posted a case study and got some really good advice and pointers.  I've been doing a lot of thinking about finances while I've been home on paternity leave and looking at my financial future and my options.

To recap, I am a 34 year old firefighter with a base salary of $68,000.  I thoroughly enjoy my job and am one of the lucky few who has a job where work generally does not feel like work.  My work schedule is a 24 hours on, 48 hours off with 24 shifts off per year.  It typically works out to an average of 8 days per month at the station for my normally scheduled shifts.  My wife stays at home.  I do not wish to retire early, and plan to work to my full firefighter retirement age of 55. 

Historically, I work voluntary overtime.  In 2019, I made an extra $35,000 in overtime.  This is typically achieved by me picking up shifts at an additional 24 hours at a time.  I clocked in excess of 900 hours of overtime in 2019.

While I love my job, and I love making the extra money, and compared to other jobs where I've worked overtime, it's not terribly difficult unless there's a rockin' fire.  It can be a grind though.  Sometimes, when OT is good, I can stay on duty for 5 days in a row raking in the time and a half.  This is difficult being away from my family, and it gets less appealing as my oldest is starting school soon.  I also have a newborn son.  I missed out on a fair amount of my daughters early years just by needing to work.  It makes me sad to think about missing out on that time again with my son.  I have been home for 7 weeks since he's been born and have another 5 weeks off until I return to duty.  This experience has changed my perspective of how I spend my time.

Another difficult aspect of overtime shifts as a firefighter is they tend to follow me home.  If I work an overtime shift it generally means that I've extended my 24 hour shift into a 48 hour shift.  So I work 48 hours, come home in the morning, am home for the day before I return to the station the next day.  If it's a busy night, (which it commonly is), I get home tired and need to sleep most of the morning and typically end up losing a good chunk of my day off just to rest.  Quality time with my family on those days is low.  But some days it's an easy shift and I come home and it's easy and I'm full of energy and it's not any big deal.  You win some and you lose some.

Okay enough of me trying to convince you that me not working OT is better, here's the facts:

At my current rate of spending when I look at FIREcalc, if I do not put any more money away and get my pension, I have a 100% success rate.  That math is easy.  If I put in only $7k a year into my 457, I can afford to retire at my full retirement age of 55 without having my pension.  I of course am assuming that I would have both, which would mean I have covered my bases in case of a failure of my pension system.  I can afford to put in approximately $11k annually, which is more than enough.

On the other hand, I would be giving up 20 years of socking away $20k a year and could me screwing my future self the benefit of all that compounding.  I could be extremely wealthy in retirement.  I don't really know what difference that makes to me, but I'm not sure if it seems worth it if I can basically feel retired now by showing up to work every third day and still end up at the same point.  How do you decide what is enough?  Do you keep grinding away or just decide to be happy now and make things work?  This question for me is essentially the same as dropping to a part time work status, though I would not be considered financially independent by any means.

And of course I could always try it and if it doesn't work, return to picking up the OT, but there is some mental freedom and peace that comes with the decision of not working OT anymore.

Thanks for any input!




SunnyDays

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Re: Would you gamble on your future?
« Reply #1 on: May 05, 2020, 04:11:54 PM »
Does it have to be one or the other?  Could you just work regular hours now, until your son is in school and your daughter is older and then return to overtime shifts then?  Would being “extremely wealthy” be worth missing so much of your kids’ lives?  Don’t underestimate the impact of your frequent absences on their development - dads fulfill different parenting roles than moms as a rule, which are important to both sons and daughters.  The time you spend with them and the things you teach them are much more important than what you can buy them.  So you can see which way I’m leaning...

Fuzz

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Re: Would you gamble on your future?
« Reply #2 on: May 05, 2020, 05:02:32 PM »
I dunno. Just work less overtime, and save it?

Some people are "satisficers" where they make enough to satisfy a goal and then quit. I read about a study of cab drivers--doesn't matter if the study is true for our purposes. When it was busy, the cab drivers all quickly reached their goal of $100 and then quit early. When it was slow, they stayed late and reached the goal of $100 and worked more hours. The economically efficient thing to do would have been for the cabbies to work longer when it was busy, make more than $100 and then when it was slow, cut it off early and make less than $100.

If you were going to follow the same pattern, you could try to bank $10k in OT for the year. Once you reach that number, you stop doing OT for the rest of the year.

I would definitely get off the do as much OT now as you possibly can train. But I would totally consider doing more OT in relationship to a goal (extra $10K/year or fancy vacation or kids expense or whatever...)

Fuzz

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Re: Would you gamble on your future?
« Reply #3 on: May 05, 2020, 05:03:44 PM »
Also, you should just do whatever your wife wants. Happy wife... :)

reeshau

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Re: Would you gamble on your future?
« Reply #4 on: May 05, 2020, 05:07:01 PM »
This is difficult being away from my family, and it gets less appealing as my oldest is starting school soon.  I also have a newborn son.  I missed out on a fair amount of my daughters early years just by needing to work.  It makes me sad to think about missing out on that time again with my son.  I have been home for 7 weeks since he's been born and have another 5 weeks off until I return to duty.  This experience has changed my perspective of how I spend my time.

I have a 5 year old.  You will never get this time back.  Your wife needs your help with the kids, and you will cherish the memories you are there for.  The time will come when your kids want to be with their friends more than you.  Dread that time.  Look forward to that time.  If you still have it in you, you can go back to the OT when you feel that is the right balance for your family.  Or, you will move on to another chapter, as many do.  You have a pension and a good ability to save.  There are no guarantees in life, but You're about as set as someone can be.  Enjoy yourself.

LifeHappens

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Re: Would you gamble on your future?
« Reply #5 on: May 06, 2020, 08:34:08 AM »
OP, when I was a kid my dad worked many, many long hours and overtime shifts. He did so because he didn't have a choice. It was what he had to do to support his family.

You are saying you could work much less, save more than enough and have much more time with your family. Do it! Seriously. I would give anything to have had more time with my dad when I was young.

AardvarkPuppies

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Re: Would you gamble on your future?
« Reply #6 on: May 06, 2020, 09:23:23 AM »
OP, when I was a kid my dad worked many, many long hours and overtime shifts. He did so because he didn't have a choice. It was what he had to do to support his family.

You are saying you could work much less, save more than enough and have much more time with your family. Do it! Seriously. I would give anything to have had more time with my dad when I was young.

Alright here goes!  I can see where the math makes sense.  When my daughter was born almost 6 years ago, we were in a big DEBT EMERGENCY.  I have paid off probably $85,000 since then, not including the mortgage principle since then.  I only owe on the house now.  Like LifeHappens' dad, the last 6 years has been a necessity for me to work my tail off to support my family.  I think I needed some extra reassurance.  I've never not worked a ton.  The jumping off decision is a bit scary for me.  Luckily, if things go bonkers, I can always pick up extra money temporarily.

Here's to being home 269 days a year!