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It’s Not Always About the Destination; Except When It Is

The destination to FIRE can seem like it’s all about getting to that endpoint, but that’s not really what it’s about right? Isn’t it more about the journey and the freedom you’re giving yourself by getting to that stage of your life? There are loads of posts about “enjoy the journey” and “we shouldn’t be focused on the end goal, we should be present”. Hell, I think my 2017 goals were to be more relaxed and present and quit worrying about the end goal. I think the best description of trying to get to FIRE, is from Maggie at Northern Expenditure when she describes it as a “sprint followed by a rest on a moving sidewalk”.  I second that feeling!

So then what am I talking about with the destination being important? Well, imagine you’ve been working towards your version of FIRE and a few weeks before you hit your number you find out that, nope, that number has been moved, the dates have changed, sorry, Wally World’s Closed… That’s how I felt this past weekend when I found out my 1st Olympic triathlon that was scheduled for March 5th was bumped back to Oct. 8th. Yeah, friggin’ October! So how does this relate to personal finance, early retirement, financial independence and your own planning? Bascially, there’s only so much you can control, so how do you plan for it? I don’t know, and I’m no financial planner, but let’s discuss the similarities that I found between the sheet being pulled out from underneath me with the race and how that could happen close to reaching FI.

What’s Really In Your Control?

We only have so many things in our control when we work towards FIRE and we try to manage it as best as we can by diversifying our portfolio base across whatever makes us sleep the best at night. If having your whole nest egg in gold is what does it for you, more power to you, if it’s all bonds and cash, right on brother! Let your Personal Finance flag fly, because that’s what keeps the personal in personal finance. Imagine that you’ve done all the things you can to mitigate your situation, diversify your assets, and what should be a sure thing crashes around you right at the finish line.

Hopefully your portfolio doesn't fail this hard....

Hopefully your portfolio doesn’t fail this hard….

That’s what happened to me this weekend. I’ve been in the mindset that I’m doing an Olympic triathlon in 2 weeks, and then they sent me an email saying, yep, no, that’s not happening until October. Talk about deflating a balloon. Honestly, I had a few more beers than usual Friday night half celebrating/lamenting that my race was pushed back. Saturday, I still felt that same deflated balloon feeling, but soon I realized that I’m the only one making this a negative. Yeah, so what, poor me, I can’t go compete in some race in 2 weeks because the schedulers didn’t work it out well with TX DOT. Whoopty friggin doo…

This Goal WAS About The Destination

Like Mrs. SSC pointed out after my half day of mourning and pity party throwing (FYI- I throw excellent pity parties) we both looked around and found some other races that I could compete in and give myself a little more time for training. I also still went to the gym and swam 1500m (60 laps) breast stroke in 35 minutes and then did a 400m arms and 400m leg workout. Here’s where this is the real pisser for me. This was supposed to be my “return to racing” (I don’t race except against myself, those guys that win are ridiculous…) and my “I’m back, baby!” statement after my partial achilles tendon tear last fall. And now it’s gone, snatched from me by TX DOT and their asphalt improvements over our race course. You bastards! (Kidding, that area really could use some new paving, lol)

So stylish! Everyone should have one!

So stylish! Everyone should have one!

Maybe this was more of a blessing in disguise too. I mean, I don’t feel 100%, but I’m committed to the race. I have my 1500m swim down to a solid 32 minutes consistently, doing only breaststroke. Yeah, I know freestyle is faster, but lack of visibility with openwater swimming freaks me the F out, and with breaststroke I can keep an eye on the shore, sharks, and buoys. So that’s what I worked on speeding up, plus I swam that as my best stroke when I competed back in “pre-highschool” days.

My biking was on point too, and I recently got a new used Craigslist roadbike after I took Mrs. SSC’s bike out for a ride. I found out quickly it would not work for me. The frame was too small and I was even slower on it than my hybrid. That sent me into a frenzy of bike research, and ultimately purchase, which led to more purchases. So many purchases – my allowance is already negative $500… Yep, that was quick, but I’ll detail that later – not to worry.

Then finally running… I’ve gotten up to 5 miles but I’m running that in 48 minutes, not my previous 45 or less. Also, I find beyond extra stretching and massaging after the runs, I still have to ice my left calf/tendon so maybe it’s not liking running as much as it used to. I’m confident 6 miles would be fine even after biking, but yeah, it’s not back to normal at all… I think a half marathon would re-injure it, but slower running and not as long distance is what it needs currently. Or maybe more rest, but is that going to happen? Likely not! Hahahaha

Is There a Financial Tie In?

How’s this like financial planning? Hell if I know, but it sure hammers home the point that there’s a lot out of our control in every aspect of life. Currently, I can’t get any free cash out of Mrs. SSC’s hands to invest anywhere. I just keep hearing the phrase, “when you pry it from my cold dead hands” hahaha I’m kidding. It goes back to what makes you sleep at night, and right now with the political environment what it is, CAPE where it is, and lord knows what else, I’m just happy she keeps plugging $4k each month into the stock market. She sleeps better knowing we have that cash on hand for whatever we may need it for.

She sleeps this relaxed...

She sleeps this relaxed…

What Did I Learn?

What I learned was, you have to plan for these things. If the market tanks would we be “retiring” in 2018/2019? Bwahaha, surely you jest. As Ms. ONL pointed out, most of our money is in stocks, with very little “stable arena” buffer, so yeah, I’d still be working. I’m fine with that though because well, I like my job. I like our living situation, and I like our modest style of living even if we happen to do it out of a McMansion.

Our positives are that we owe no debt except for our house – woohoo! We don’t mind working lower paying jobs for a better overall lifestyle. I’ve looked at BLM jobs in bumsquaddle, USA that would be fine for a few years. It’s more about the Lifestyle Change than the “not working” for us. What’s it about for you? If you can answer that question, then you would know best how to prepare against your own Lifestyle Change “crash”.

Have you had the rug pulled out from underneath you on something in life? How have you safeguarded your “retirement stash” from that happening? Are we the only ones over 80% in the market? I’d love to know!


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30 thoughts on “It’s Not Always About the Destination; Except When It Is

  1. Ellie @ The Chedda

    Breaststroke has always been my favorite too!

    And we’re almost entirely in stocks, except for a cash buffer we hold for paying out bills. I’m not sure if this would change if we were really close to retirement, though. I’d think we’d start pooling up a bit more cash, but since we’re trying to leave our investments in the stock market throughout retirement, I don’t think it makes sense to change that strategy right before we retire 🙂

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      Yeah for breast stroke! It’s just so “easy” and it lets you keep an eye out around you a lot better than freestyle.

      Yep, we’re following the same strategy with leaving the majority in stocks through most of retirement. I mean the 401k stuff for sure, because, well we ahve to leave it in for another 20yrs, so it may as well grow right? The bridge funds to get to the 401k will probably be the same, although maybe switched into an income generating account, but still stocks. Our cash has gotten a bit larger, but it’s all about what lets you sleep at night.

  2. Mr Crazy Kicks

    That sucks about.your triathlon. I always liked to get races over with, and something like that would drive me nuts. But I also don’t like races and don’t do them anymore 😉

    We aren’t quite 80% stocks, but close. I always hoped for a correction to happen before I left work, but it didn’t happen. There might still be some juice in this market but who knows. Hope the timing works out for your retirement, but it always helps to be flexible in life 🙂

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      Getting it over with was sort of the goal in the sense that I could ratchet down my workout schedule and return to a more normal level of activity. I only “race” against my own personal goals, and I like the adrenaline and feeling at the end when you cross the finish line. It’s such a letdown when it was SO close.

      Hopefully the timing works out well, and if not, there’s always plan B, C, or even K. Flexibility is key in these situations. 🙂

  3. Maggie @ Northern Expenditure

    First off… lame on the time change of the tri… I would be darn mad because I would be training for a specific event… if your lifestyle is a tri-preparation lifestyle, it wouldn’t really matter when the actual event was held (but since I refuse to run, ever, that’s not me…). Second, we’re pretty much 100% in stocks because we have several more years to go. And yes, I expect a major downturn anytime soon. I’m actually sort of counting on it so we can buy more on a discount for awhile and end up further ahead. 🙂

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      I do NOT have a tri-prep lifestyle, and part of the letdown is that I wanted to get back to a “non-tri-prep” sort of lifestyle, lol. Oh well…

      I’m feeling you on secretly (or not so secretly) wishing for a downturn to load up on more stocks. Barring also getting laid off and Mrs. SSC not getting her teaching contract renewed at the same time, I think we’d be just fine. Of course, I think we’d be fine even in that last scenario, it would just be a shade more stressful. 🙂

  4. Brian @ Debt Discipline

    So sense wasting time or energy over things you can’t control is how I try and approach things. We plan and adjust as the speed bumps come up. I’m sure it was a brief disappointment to have the plug pulled on the triathlon temporarily, but as you said it does give you more time to train.

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      I agree, and I am over it now, but like you said, it was a brief disappointment. I can now take a bit more relaxced approach to training and work my Achilles back to 100% before pushing it too hard. So, maybe a blessing in disguise? 🙂

  5. FullTimeFinance

    We’re about 80 percent in the market but that’s if you don’t count our home equity which I also count as a bond. Honestly I haven’t set a retirement timeline so I’m not particularly worried about a crash. We’re building to a option to retire when we choose, not a specific point to retire. Over the long run I’m not particularly concerned about what will happen as it will likely produce positive returns in the timeline we actually need it. Our non market holdings are more about liquidity in terms of job loss and ensuring I stay the course in a prolonged downturn.

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      Exactly, working toward an option to retire when we choose is perfect. Like I said, we’re kind of in the same boat and if we had to keep working longer, it’s not the end of the world for either of us. A specific point is a nice target to shoot for, but like I’ve found out recently, those points can get moved and adjusted, just like everything else in life.

      I also see our home as a bond, since it probably won’t return too much value, but also probably won’t lose a lot either, lol.

  6. Mrs. COD

    I totally understand your frustration with the race date change, especially so close to the planned date! I know two weeks out, I’d be pretty stoked to be in the homestretch and tapering off training. (I did marathons, so no swimming or cycling for me.) It’s hard sometimes to know that so many of our plans depend on other people and circumstances. Best of luck with some additional races in the meantime!

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      Thanks! Marathons?! Whoa, that’s serious! I put my limit at a half marathon, because it is just long enough to be difficult, and start to suck when the finish line shows up. 🙂

      I wasn’t quite in the taper mode yet, but getting close, and I was looking forward to an overall taper on that level of intensity and type of training in general. I guess I can ratchet it down to a medium intensity just to keep things in check muscle memory and stamina wise. I do have 2 upcoming races that look like they can fit the bill for a race sooner than later just the same.

  7. Amber tree

    ” We don’t mind working lower paying jobs for a better overall lifestyle.” Spot on, our view as well…!

    Lifestyle changes that bring you closer to your final desired life style are worth more han a growing stash.

    All the best with the triatlon

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      Yeah, it’s like your recent post about no more FI. Lot of living to do between now and that goal, and since our goal isn’t necessarily to “not work” then anything we can do to get a better lifestyle counts as a win in my book. 🙂

      Thanks for the good wishes!

  8. Mrs. BITA

    I’m in at close to 80% too, so you aren’t alone.

    I’m sorry your race got pushed out. That is disappointing.

    And you’re right about all the things that are out of our control – like my intestine wrestling with my umbilical hernia in January and the subsequent emergency surgery. The bills aren’t all in yet, but I’m prepared for the inevitable hit.

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      Yeah that surgery sounded intense. Just the name of it alone “umbilical hernia” brings a grimace to my face thinking about the pain involved – yipe! Glad it turned out well for you. 🙂

      Disappointing, but now I can look to do some other races sooner that weren’t on my radar, so a little win for trying new things and getting pushed out of my comfort level? Plus, these new races won’t have the “shark factor” to think about, so there’s one less thing for my brain to be bothered with, lol.

  9. Jacq

    My FI goal isn’t to not work so I’m not very worried. I want fun flexible jobs what pay less than what I make now, like working at a winery. We’ll see what happens when the time comes. I expect 5-10 more years at a 9-5.
    Getting dumped was a rug pull moment but I’m better off now. “I need a partner not a secretary “. Huh I thought partners stepped in to strengthen each other’s weakness like his lack of planning and paying bills on time. Oh well.
    Apartment fire in 2013 was another one, just water damage to my unit but an immediate change of plans. I still went to yoga, then to target for pjs and clothes for the next day. In the end renter’s insurance was super helpful and I am doing fine now.

    Like you said maybe this let’s your Achilles heal (pun intended ). 🙂

    I am probably 80% in market. My 401k has 5% or less bonds. I am building cash over the next few months to throw at 2017 Roth. I don’t count my house towards retirement just net worth. Mostly stocks.
    I have had enough unexpected things happen in life I’ve usually got a back up plan or two.

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      Oh… Nice pun!

      Yeah exactly, a fun job like a winery/brewery, a dog rescue place, the park service, lol.

      That sucks about getting umped, but it sounds like you’re coming out of it better. Like you said, a partner should help you get stronger and not just bail.

      I haven’t gone through an apartment fire, thank goodness. I woke up at midnight one evening to the sounds of fire trucks outside my apartment. I then watched the 10 story building across the street burn to the ground – total loss for all units. It did get me to finally sign up for renters insurance the next day.

      I’m with you in that enough stuff has happened that our plan(s) are always fluid, and expected to never go with the first 1 or 2 we come up with. 🙂

  10. EZ Does It FI

    You’ll be thankful in 6 months after they patched all the potholes. Also, Spring is a great time for workouts- Real Ale Ride, Easter Hill Country Tour, Texas Independence Relay, MS150. Even if you don’t race them, volunteering can be a ton of fun too. I highly recommend volunteering at IMTX, so much fun!

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      This past “winter” has been great for working out, if only it didn’t get dark so soon. Running in January/February in shorts and no shirt is awesome! If only the summer doesn’t turn on the heat like a beast in a few more months, I’ll be set!

      There are loads of races and events to choose from – that’s a great point. I’ll have to check out any IMTX volunteer opportunities or spectate at the very least.

  11. Mrs. Picky Pincher

    TX DOT infamously gets in the way of many things, so you have a right to be upset. 😉 Mr. Picky Pincher has to work with them professionally and he hates it hahaha.

    Right now we’re getting out of debt, so the only investing we do is through my Roth IRA and Mr. Picky Pincher’s 401(k).

    We haven’t had a huuuge financial problem happen yet, but we’re prepared for it. There’s a good chance we’ll see a market downturn, and who knows what that will bring, so we have a healthy emergency fund just in case.

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      Oh, TX DOT… Actually when I worked with C DOT a lot (CO DOT) it was similar kinds of pains, so maybe it’s just inherent in the DOT’s. Although I’m sure anyone working there does a great job, it just seems the bureacracy tied into the DOT’s gets things more bajiggered than they need to be.

      A healthy emergencey fund isn’t a bad thing to have, especially if it gives you peace of mind. Even knowing O&G is cyclical, and having gone through a previous downturn, this past one shocked me, well and most folks. I don’t think anyone was expecting $26 oil at the bottom of it. I’m prepared for another financial downturn, just curious to see what gets hit this time and how low it goes.

  12. Mr. Need2save

    We are still pretty heavy in stocks at about 90%, but I plan is to continue working for around 7 more years. It wouldn’t be the end of the world if we needed to work a little longer if some surprises come up – go with the flow.

    To put a positive spin on your triathlon woes, now you have some extra time to practice your T1 and T2 transitions to shave some time off! I’m mostly a runner but have done an Olympic tri and a few sprints. The open water swim is the killer for me. Good luck!

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      Good point, I can now really nail down those transition times, lol.

      Go with the flow is pretty much my attitude for most of life. You get toos tressed out worrying about things and needing things to be always happening exactly how they are supposed to. I find that’s the rarity, not the norm. 🙂

  13. Go Finance Yourself!

    Not just you. I have more than 80% of my stash invested in the market. I’m really not scared for when it does go down. It’s going to happen. History tells us it’s inevitable. But history also tells us the market will recover and go back up. Of course, we’re at least 8 years out from early retirement. My tune might change if we were up against our retirement date. I would still have a good portion of my investments in stocks, but would have several years in safer investments to get me through the tough times without having to sell any stocks.

    That sucks about the triathlon, btw. What was their reason for pushing it back so far? That’s crazy.

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      Yeah, we’re trying to figure out what to do to safegaurd some of our stash without destroying its’ growth potential. Any thoughts? 🙂 Also, since we’re looking at Mrs. SSC teaching for a while longer now, as long as her pay covers our day to day costs, we don’t necessarily need to tap into the nest egg. So… that’s what has led to our laissez faire attitude with having most it in stocks. If it drops dramatically, well, we’re not living off of it yet, so no biggie.

      It’s a tangled web of why it got pushed back so far, but here’s the 3 sentence summary. The paving wasn’t finished on time as they were hoping it would be. When it is finished in March, they can’t push the race to April because it’s too close to the Galveston 70.3 Ironman. Then it’s tourist season for Kemah and they won’t shut down their boardwalk for a weekend for a race and lose all those dollars. Hence, October…

  14. The Green Swan

    Bummer about the race but great tie in with retirement. Stupid DOT! 🙂 I’d definitely throw a pity party too. That’s life and shit happens though. Whether the race, retirement or anything else, we all have to roll with the punches sometimes. Of course it’s good to have flexibility and options. Like you, I’d be fine working a couple more years and easing into that ideal lifestyle.

    We are all in on the stock market though, very little cash buffer and 100% stocks. Sounds risky as I write it but we’re long term investors and we’re ok with a few bumps in the road (and we expect them). We survived the Great Recession and we’ll survive the Great President too, for better or worse.

  15. Mr SSC Post author

    Exactly, and as I mentioned in a previous comment, especially with Mrs. SSC wanting to keep teaching for another 5-10 years, if her salary covers our expenses we don’t need to live off of our nest egg just yet. That makes it even easier to keep it in a higher risk place because if it goes down, we’re still not living off of it.

    You’re right, writing it down makes it sound riskier, but that’s why we have an alphabets worth of plans to handle all the punches life inevitably throws at you.

  16. ZJ Thorne

    I like marathons and half marathons and would be so frustrated if things changed at the last minute. The training-timing is so particular. I hope you figure out what your tendons/legs need to feel better suited to the task.

    I’m 92% stock, but also really in debt and have retirement far away off the edge of the timeline for now. I would be 100% stock if my Target Retirement Date Roth would allow it.

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      Yeah that was the biggest killer, was just having trained for that and getting my mind alls et that I’d be racing this Sunday, and then nothing… No race, and not even a similar replacement is available to sign up for until April 2 at the earliest, but I’ll probably go with the April 30th race instead. Still, ugh… I think I still need to work more on rolling/massaging them daily to keep the fluid flow and healing with them. Training was fairly light, but maybe at an intensity that was a bit more than they were 100% ready for. Me not babying it enough probably delayed the 100% recovery time. We’ll see.

      Thanks for the share about your allocations. I think we’re going to stay more in stocks than what is traditionally recommended and just have a larger cash buffer to weather any long term downturns. Everyone’s plans are valid it just comes down to what plan lets you sleep better at night.

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