Slowly Sipping Coffee

Hurry up retirement!

I'd rather have a mountain view than look at this all day!

I’d rather have a mountain view than look at this all day!

So you’ve been noticing that I’m very bad with financial decisions, getting better, but seriously it did take me about 6 years to realize that this whole FIRE thing really would work out and we could retire in another 4-6 years without our current lifestyle being affected. You’ll also notice that  one of my big hang-ups is to not retire and live off of Ramen in an RV park somewhere (not that there’s anything wrong with that). So, here we are ready to go, just sitting back and investing and saving and planning and now that I’m fully aware of our situation, it has become the foremost thought in my head most days of the week, I close my eyes and see a giant ‘Retirement Countdown’ clock ticking.

I remember once when I was eight thinking to myself, “OMG, I’m never going to be 16, that’s like 8 years from now, I’ll never get my license to drive!” Every year I would count down 1 year closer, but my goodness it was brutal and agonizingly slow. Sort of like Christmas as a kid. I would look forward to it and the magic of it with the decorations, cold weather, fires in the fireplace, holiday dinners and music, culminating with the opening of presents on Christmas Day and more food. And then January, I would start counting down to Christmas again and it would seem to take forever. I think I’m probably OCD somewhat in that I have lots of countdowns going on for lots of things. Let’s see, there’s the “build a banjo before 40”. I made the neck, pot, fretted it, and essentially just need to put it together and then the kids came along I need to finish it before 40 due to an errant sentence by Mrs. SSC “one day, you’ll look up and be like,  I’m 40 and haven’t even finished that banjo”… There’s the weekly countdown; only 4 days to the weekend. Vacation countdowns -only 2 weeks before a week off for Christmas. There’s the countdown to death, morbid I know, but I see 80 as that scary crossover point. IF I get to 80, it will be a great achievement, but every day after that will be like a gift of sorts. Most people in my family die around 80, if they even get to 80, hence 80 being the magic number of death. There’s the” start a bluegrass band when I don’t need the money from it to live on” countdown. What’s the difference between a banjo player and a large pizza? The pizza can feed a family of four! Hahahaha That countdown has gotten moved up quite a bit. There are plenty more, but I don’t want to get too off topic and you’ve probably quit reading by now and I’ve probably made my point.

The newest and loudest countdown is currently the countdown to FIRE, and OMG is it loud!!! Every day I think, only 2 more months until 2015, and then only 4 months until April, and then only ~4 years left. OMG there’s still 4 whole years left! Did you see my trick of breaking it into shorter chunks though? Those seem to fly by! Two months here, 4 months there, next thing you know, we’re halfway there, which is only 2 years and 3 months away…. Seriously, it’s kind of disturbing in here sometimes. I’m not like Russell Crowe disturbing in “Beautiful Mind” but it can feel like it sometimes. I need to figure out a way to get this on the back burner of my brain, but for the life of me I can’t. I can’t get it back there or get it to quiet down.

Remember the post about the cruise and noticing the Miller’s “Boat-tober 2014” shirts and thinking, man, that’s probably a lot of coin spent on shirts that may get worn 2-3 times? Well, that revelation helped me to  start noticing the other extravagances that people were sporting. Even more mundane, I was a little proud of myself a few months ago when I realized that if I took the second on-ramp to the toll road to get to work, I could save 45₵. Yep, 45₵. I even calculated (while driving of course) that if I did this every day  I could save about $80/year. I told Mrs. SSC and then she noticed the same except on her drive, getting off one exit sooner does the same thing, so that’s an easy $160/year we just saved. More recently, I was testing a new route on my commute, and found that I could not only save 3 minutes or more on the drive to work, but also entirely avoid the toll road doing so. That’s close to $275/year saved, and I save time on the drive in. You’re probably focused on the fact that I’m proud of saving 3 minutes on the drive, but this is much like the countdowns. I know how many minutes it “should” take to get somewhere and how many minutes I’m ahead or behind of the normal schedule. For instance, it should take ~17 minutes to get from my office to a certain on-ramp, lately I can’t get there in less than 24 minutes. Disheartening… It should take ~10 minutes to get through the elevated portion of 59 southbound on a good day, slow days 14-17 minutes. Slow days, I can get through downtown surface streets bypassing that section in 12 minutes.

Back to the point of this post. How do you get around not having FIRE at the front of your brain all day every day? I’m really expecting some buyers’ remorse when I do achieve it and can tell work I’m retiring. I need to figure it out soon though, or maybe embrace it and just try not to get overboard with it. The blog I thought might be good getting out, exorcising some the demons so to speak, but instead it seems to be “exercising” them and just making those thoughts stronger and more entrenched. Which has its side benefits, like saving money on tolls, and I’ve broken my “trolling the internet looking for anything to buy” habit and my allowance account has been uber-positive this past year, and my appreciation of what I have has grown, as opposed to constantly wanting more and more. Maybe it’s not that the countdown to FIRE is loud in a negative way, I just think it’s going to be a LONG time getting there. And I realize anything can happen to derail that timeline, but until then, I’ll be thinking about what to do in another 4 years and 6 months….


* Mrs SSC: I apologize, I believe Mr. SSC drank fifteen pots of coffee this morning…

12 thoughts on “Hurry up retirement!

  1. Mrs. Maroon

    We habitually think and dream about the day that FIRE will arrive at our house. It is a constant source of conversation. Mr. Maroon obsessively checks the market and our investments to see how we are doing. Every $5,000 to $10,000 milestone is celebrated like crazy. It seems so very far away for us. But always on our minds.

    1. Mr. Maroon

      Two things:

      1) We lived in Houston about eight seven years ago and this post brings back so many traffic nightmares. We live on the west side and I commuted to Pasadena/Galena Park daily for way too long! *full body shiver*

      2) That clock is LOUD, isn’t it?! It does feel better to break it up into chunks, but MAN six years seems like an eternity from now. And I’m constantly trying to shave time off. “Can we cut costs here?” “Can we invest more there?” I almost drive myself crazy. The good news, for both of us, is that it’s coming. And, as Mrs. Maroon reminds me quite often:

      Don’t miss the next six years because you’re waiting for life to start. Life starts today!

      1. SSC

        I often do have to remind myself to live in the moment more, I have a tendency to plan so much that life turns into a series of checkpoints, when it should be about the journey!

      2. Mr SSC Post author

        Haha! Those Houston commutes can definitely take their toll. I was stoked today because I found a new surface street way around 59 that shaved off almost 12 minutes from my drive!
        Good point on living now and not “waiting to live”. I’m still amazed and feel really fortunate to be in a position to even discuss being able to retire within the next 5 years or so. It may seem far away but if it’s anything like the last 3 years with the kids, it’ll get here super quickly.

  2. Mom @ Three is Plenty

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having that countdown in the forefront of your mind – it reminds you why you make certain choices. And as long as it’s not interfering in your life, it’s still a healthy behavior. If it’s really bothering you, you could make yourself “forget” about it until the weekend, or the first of the month, or…
    It’s exciting being so close though – and 4 years really isn’t that long!

  3. Mr. SSC

    It’s amazing to think that we’re like “hurry up early retirement, you’re so far away” and yet SO many people will be working for 3-4 times longer than we will be. It doesn’t make it seem to come any quicker though. That’s a good idea celebrating $5k and $10k milestones, we’ll have to start doing that too. Tackle that with the “break it into little chunks” kind of approach.

  4. Even Steven

    It certainly can have a hurry up and wait feel to it. The best way so far for me is to have those smaller milestones. Paying off debt, investment goal reached, 4 year countdown, you will still have those days where you are wondering why you came to work, but that happens to everyone, just think ours will happen less frequently in a very short period of time.

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      I agree, I like smaller milestones to help celebrate the accomplishments. My mind gets boggled trying to comprehend if I had to do this another 20 years and I just feel fortunate to be in the position I’m in.

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      That’s an excellent point! Actually, I’ve decided at least 1 night a week devoted to garage/banjo/hobbies.

  5. Mrs. PoP

    We’re probably 4 or so years out from FI, and sometimes it can definitely make me a bit impatient. But then I just try and remind myself at least we’ve got a plan to make some big changes while we’re still quite young, because I cannot imagine doing what we are doing for another 34 years until “traditional” retirement age. Ugh!

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