Author Topic: When can DH downshift? Halfway to FI but life changes looming  (Read 5308 times)

FLBiker

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Re: When can DH downshift? Halfway to FI but life changes looming
« Reply #50 on: February 13, 2024, 11:02:35 AM »
I see some of myself in your DH, and I wanted to share some things.  First of all, kudos to him on trying out therapy.  I've done it off and on over the years, and (for me) it has been kind of hit and miss.  Some therapists were really helpful, others felt like a waste of time.  Some of that was them, and some of that was me.

Personally, though, I've found the key to my mental health to be the things I need to do daily (or at least several times a week) to maintain it.  This list undoubtedly varies for everyone, and some folks can skate by with less maintenance than others, but for me I need to be very intentional about prioritizing things like exercise, meditation, time in nature, family time, feeling productive, and limited socialization.  If I do these things, I'm fine, regardless of what is going on in my life.  If I don't do these things, lots of external things seem like big problems.

I have a similar job -- I'm fully remote, it isn't super challenging, I have a good reputation, I like the folks I work with, and my job isn't particularly meaningful to me.  I coast a lot.  When I'm not taking care of my mental health, this seems like a big problem, and it seems like solving that will make me happy.  When I am taking care of my mental health, this seems like a great situation -- I can coast at work, get reasonably well paid, and have plenty of time and flexibility.  Plus, the fact that it's fully remote has enabled my family to move to a small town in Nova Scotia that we absolutely love.

Like your husband, I sometimes idealize a low stress, part-time, fully remote 40K job, but I feel like I've basically got the 80K version of that.  Sure, it's technically full-time, but because it's both fully remote and not demanding, I'm able to spend a significant amount of my "work time" not working.

Tass

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Re: When can DH downshift? Halfway to FI but life changes looming
« Reply #51 on: March 04, 2024, 06:27:00 PM »
Today was DH's first day back at work after his leave and he handed in a two-week notice.

He's been working on getting more comfortable with this option during his break. Some items that helped:
  • He started reading Designing Your Life for a book club (that we missed, oops). For solving life problems, it emphasizes the need to stop trying to force solutions that obviously aren't working, and to try new solutions even if they turn out badly (because then you can quit those solutions and try more new ones).
  • DH tried to walk away from this job in 2021; he was ready to fully quit, but was convinced to take a 3 month mental health leave and reevaluate. (MIL got sick toward the end of this leave, and decision making after that revolved around her care.) Point being, DH was ready to quit 2.5 years ago, and we are objectively in a better financial situation now: higher NW, I make real money, he is on my health insurance, etc. Thus, the new reluctance to quit is probably an effect of how difficult the last two years were, and remembering that makes it feel more okay to resist it.
  • I've done a LOT of spreadsheeting and keep reminding him that we have probably already broken even on cashflow for this year even if I max out retirement accounts. (That doesn't mean we're cashflow positive for any given year, because this includes the money he's made so far, the fact that we saved up this year's Roth money last year, etc, but it emphasizes how long he has to figure things out before cashflow becomes an issue.)
DH has also been going to therapy and trying out a medication. The therapy has been at least somewhat useful; he hasn't noticed any difference with the medication except poorer sleep.

My thoughts on this development remain consistent:

I am not attached to any particular outcome re: deciding to keep or quit the job. All I'd really like to see after 6 weeks is some kind of change. If that's that he feels rested and more able to work, great, and if it's that he has gained clarity that he needs to quit and work on plan b, also great.

In other words, yay!

Incidentally, I'm pursuing two different side gig options right now, one of which would bring in an extra $1000 per month (pre-tax) and the other of which would probably pay much more than that. We have joked that the total number of jobs in our family will remain unchanged.

To summarize, here are some remaining questions we have to tackle:

Should I quit or lower contributions to my 403b? ADVICE REQUESTED
I do not get a match. If DH doesn't work at all the rest of the year, our taxable income will be between $36-58k depending on the answer to this question--well into the 12% tax bracket, with some space to grow from my side gig income. The 403b has traditional or Roth options; we also can do Roth conversions of DH's accounts.

I can contribute up to 100% of my paycheck, and it would take me 3-4 months to max it out at that rate, so there is some room to stop contributing now and change my mind later if DH does get another big money job.

Quitting contributions would make us cashflow-positive (in future years) and allow us to save up down payment money (this year), but it feels wrong to turn down tax-advantaged space. I have maxed everything available to me since discovering FIRE.

Do we need a more conservative asset allocation? ADVICE REQUESTED
Our investments are essentially in 100% stocks, plus we have 6-10 months of spending in cash. (6 months at current rates, 10 months if we cut our spending deeply.) I believe my job is very secure. Our savings rate is going to drop to about 20%, so we have much less ability to shovel money into the market during a hypothetical downturn. It may be worth hedging against the possibility of DH needing to go back to work full time... or do we stay all-in on reaching FI ASAP?

What should DH do after he stops working?
We'll address this more thoroughly once he does stop. I'm supportive of some more time fully off of work; you need to recover from burnout to be able to feel optimistic about other options. I've also suggested some hobby-like part-time work (e.g. teaching rec classes in a specialized art form DH knows well); he seemed interested in this, but we are tackling one problem at a time, so (again) we'll revisit this once he is actually done working.

Where do we want to live?
Ohio continues to be attractive for the LCOL; we are spending two months there in April-May to help us think about this question. Can't answer yet, but we have a plan to get more data.

When should we have kids?
Uhhhhhhhhh

While we're at it, can someone tell us what the stock market will do for the next few years?
That would really help us solidify our plans.
« Last Edit: March 05, 2024, 11:56:39 AM by Tass »

Laura33

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Re: When can DH downshift? Halfway to FI but life changes looming
« Reply #52 on: March 05, 2024, 10:33:42 AM »
LOL.  When you get an answer on the stock market, could you please pass along to me the upcoming Powerball numbers?  ;-)

First, big congrats to your DH for having the guts to take this step, and to you for giving him such support through it all. 

The great news is that you guys can live forever on your income alone if you stop putting money away for retirement and/or cut back on charitable giving.  And your 'stache will likely double in a decade even if you don't add another penny to it.  So as long as your job is secure, you guys have the freedom to allow your DH to do whatever he wants and to live wherever and however you want.

My first advice is to not make any big decisions right away, beyond your very good plans to spend a few months in Ohio.  Because these are family decisions, you need your DH to be recovered from the burnout so he can make those sorts of big decisions about your future with a clear head.*  Give both of you at least 6 months to adapt to your new situation -- continue to research and think and get the information you need, but don't pressure yourselves to rush to any kind of decision.  And hey, if he decides he loves being at home, that can answer your childcare question, too.  ;-) 

In terms of continued savings, I'd suggest just playing around with a tax calculator to see how the various options affect your ability to live indefinitely on your current income.  With only a single earner, your taxes will drop quite a bit, and if you add a child, they will drop even more.  That may mean it makes more sense to focus on Roth options and/or non-tax-sheltered accounts.  Do the math and figure out what makes the most sense for the next 6 months-1 year, knowing you can adjust as needed going forward.

In terms of asset allocation, I might consider increasing the EF a bit.  Generally, having a sole earner makes you more vulnerable than having two incomes.  So you might want a larger safety net to allow you to continue to work towards your long-term plans even if your job goes away.  But this is purely an emotional decision for you; you already have a more-than-adequate EF, along with significant non-tax-sheltered assets you could sell if the shit hit the fan.  Allocate more to cash if doing so would make you feel better for the next 6-9 months while you figure things out; otherwise, just continue to execute your plan.


*And you too.  He has most directly dealt with the big bad things over the past several years, but you have also handled the extra burden of supporting and helping him through those things.  You need and deserve a recovery period as much as he does.

Tass

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Re: When can DH downshift? Halfway to FI but life changes looming
« Reply #53 on: March 05, 2024, 12:11:02 PM »
With only a single earner, your taxes will drop quite a bit, and if you add a child, they will drop even more.

I updated the first post yesterday to reflect the latest developments. Between taxes and our charity target, I turned to DH and said, "Look, we're saving over $30k from you quitting!"

Laura33

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Re: When can DH downshift? Halfway to FI but life changes looming
« Reply #54 on: March 05, 2024, 12:41:36 PM »
With only a single earner, your taxes will drop quite a bit, and if you add a child, they will drop even more.

I updated the first post yesterday to reflect the latest developments. Between taxes and our charity target, I turned to DH and said, "Look, we're saving over $30k from you quitting!"

LOL.  Is that $10K including state/local?  If not, did you use a tax calculator?  If I plug $96,500, MFJ, $23K 401(k)-type contributions, I get about $5K tax liability, not considering whether the employer contribution is deductible or subtracting $2K from the amounts due for the child tax credit.  Closer to $8K with no 401(k)-type deductions.

Tass

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Re: When can DH downshift? Halfway to FI but life changes looming
« Reply #55 on: March 05, 2024, 12:46:28 PM »
I'm using the Case Study spreadsheet as a tax calculator. The $10k is the "Total income taxes" line (D67), so it includes SS and Medicare as well as state taxes. It's only about $2.5-3.5k in federal income taxes.