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One More Year Syndrome is Legit

I used to think that One More Year syndrome was due to people not really wanting to retire or not having anything to retire to. Lately, I totally understand why people would get caught in the One More Year cycle. It’s not about having enough money, it’s more about the psychological traps that come along with leaving a comfortable work environment and lifestyle, to venture into the unknown. A situation that’s new, possibly uncomfortable, possibly more stressful, and definitely more challenging than the known present situation. It makes it hard to envision the potentially stressful or uncomfortable retirement scenario as a “good” scenario. Especially when you’re like me and you really like your job and corporation (minus the rare bizarro meeting).

“Give me one good reason why I should never make a change?”
George Ezra

Well, I have lots of reasons why I should make changes, but it’s the big 3 that I keep reminding myself about and that’s the wife and kids.

There are a lot of things I can focus on that could go wrong with our plan and I have. Working on solutions and getting comfortable with the level of risk associated with those uncertainties is what I have to come to accept. I think Abe Lincoln said it better than I can.

“Determine that the thing can and shall be done, and then we shall find the way.”
Abraham Lincoln

We determined that our Fully Funded Lifestyle Change (FFLC) can be done, and now we’re just convincing ourselves that we’ve found the way to make it work.

Just One More Year…

Sure, I could stay working “One More Year” after our projected FFLC date be even more wealthy and “secure” in our plan. Plus, I’d know what was going on with healthcare, and we could see how the market is playing out – surely it would have corrected by then right? If I worked until 2020 instead of 2019, I could potentially add another $50k +/- to my work retirement accounts, and ~$100k into our pre-60 accounts. That’s nothing to sneeze at, and we get to keep living comfortably in our current lifestyle.

Living the good life!!

Living the good life!!

If I kept that going for 3 more years that’s close to $450k I could pad our accounts with. Sure I’d retire in 2022 instead of 2019, but that’s a lot of savings… I understand why “One More Year” is so enticing… You just keep doing what you’re comfortable with and don’t step outside of that box.

I was actually discussing this with a co-worker yesterday.

Me: “You know with our incentives paying out in February, and the bonus hitting in April, I could just hang on for another 10 months and get another incentive payout. Then I’m only 2 months from the bonus…”

Him: “And that’s exactly why they give out “long term incentives”. Mainly, because it’s so hard to walk away from “free money”.”

So much $$ for "free"!

So much $$ for “free”!

It’s so easy to just keep doing what you’re used to. To paraphrase a popular quote, Nothing good ever came from doing things the easy way.

What If?

You can get yourself all worked up over the “what if” scenarios. What if healthcare goes to crap and we have to get insurance on the open market? What if the stock market tanks 6 months after we quit our jobs? What if we “retire” and it sucks? What if we didn’t account for every worst case scenario (yes multiple worst cases) and our plan fails?

I have to remind myself that I can’t keep saying my life would be better “if” or worse “if” different scenarios play out. I have to remember my life can be different “because”. “Because” I made a choice to save and give myself freedom before I’m 65. “Because” I made a choice that this lifestyle change seems to be a better fit for me than the one I’m currently in.

Instead of frittering away another few years of my life at the office in exchange for more money, I can have that time to spend with the family. I don’t really know what that value is, or if you can even put a price on that. I do know it sucked the last few Sunday nights when I was saying goodnight to my son, and said “I’ll see you in the morning, no wait, I’ll see you in the afternoon. I’ve got to work tomorrow.” Boo…

 

Real Worst Case Scenario

In the end, what is the value of money over freedom? Missing time spent with the family isn’t going to be worth the money I’d be able to potentially save, especially at this stage of our journey. The real worst case scenario is pushing back my FFLC date another 1-3 years and then dying unexpectedly. Car wreck, terminal disease, random work shooting (no one expects those), whatever the cause it would suck. Especially if it was slowly enough I got to ruminate about choosing work over freedom before I shed my mortal coil. eesh…

 

We’re Sticking With The Plan

What we’ve been planning for these last 5-6 years is a Lifestyle Change. We’ve made some good improvements to our Lifestyle already, but we’re wanting more than that. So, for better or worse, we’re committed to moving ahead with our Lifestyle Change. We’re convinced we can figure out how to make it work regardless of what scenario life throws at us.

It might not be the most psychologically comfortable thing to do, and we may get anxious along the way, but we’re moving ahead with the plan. That plan says 2019 is our timetable to move away from Houston.

I counted it up and realized I have about 21 months of work remaining. Woohoo! We’re also initiating construction on the house in Canyon Lake. Double woohoo!

'Nuff said...

‘Nuff said…

Now it’s back to sitting and waiting. Well, there’s actually a LOT more work to be done between now and then and I only have 21 months to get it done in. Yipe!

 

Have you experienced One More Year syndrome or something similar that you’ve been involved with?

I’d love to know I’m not the only one.

28 thoughts on “One More Year Syndrome is Legit

  1. Stacy Hart

    My self employed spouse has had a “rolling” retirement date for the last 5 years. I know in my heart it is because he doesn’t have something to “retire to” . His rolling date will come to a complete stop next June when the lease on his business space expires. Having a hard date and shifting into the liquidation phase will help with the adjusting to the reality, but my biggest concern is what does he do afterwards. We are not early retirees but these challenges affect everyone that steps away from their life’s work.

    1. Mr. SSC

      I can understand that, at least he has a lead time to transition. When my Father in Law retired, he went through a period of about a year or so when he was just restless, lost seeming, and misdirected before he found something to do. It took him a while to adjust and it strained his relationship because my MIL had already been retired about 3 years by then, so she had her routine down.

      It was really stressful for her, so just an fyi, your spouse may seem really lost the first bit. Just know it goes away once they get settled into the new normal.

      For my FIL, it was more exercising, woodworking, and volunteering twice a week at Habitat for Humanity. Now, he can’t do Habitat anymore, but is still busy as ever with other things he has found. It just took him a while to accept and adjust to his new reality.

      Good luck!

  2. Mr. PIE

    It’s scary real. Here is our nervousness and why we have not pulled the plug already:

    1. Healthcare mess. We are scared shitless to go onto the ACA (or whatever it’s now going to be called) for fears that it will get even more brutally ugly. We will jump on a plan offered by my company for retirees – but the monthly premiums are not insignificant for a gold-plated plan we need for our family. Health costs (medical, dental, vision) will be biggest monthly item on our budget by far and one we need to have a healthy (forgive the pun) cushion in place to handle. IF (lol) things ever become clearer with ACA, we may switch coverage but as of now, we intend to go with employer based coverage.

    2. Rising costs of college education. We have well funded 529’s that will hopefully increase a bit more over next 8-10 years once we stop funding them next year. See point #3 next for why we are still nervous.

    3. Global equities real returns are in real danger of being more like 1-3% over next 10 years. See latest GMO White paper. Bogle predicts not much more than that so the noise for low global equity returns are getting louder and louder. The Shiller P/E says it all, nudging 30. Nose-bleed territory. SoR risk intensifies greatly for the cohort that aim to retire 2017-2019.
    4. With all that, we made the choice to shoot for a low SWR, hence the need to have a larger portfolio to support our annual expenses.

    Saying all that……I can imagine looking back a few years from now and realize that things didn’t play out as bad – that equities continue to be solid, that ACA gets resolved and rising college education costs get under some sort of control. But hope is not a strategy. So we grind out until July 3, 2018 and build in what we see as buffers against some significant headwinds. I actually called my Pension plan provider this morning and they informed me that I can initiate paperwork 90-days ahead of my planned retirement date. April 4, 2018 is already marked on my calendar….! It’s feeling very real and we are getting super excited with that reality dawning :>)

    Hope to be able to meet you at FinCon and share our respective plans over One More Beer…..

    1. Mr. SSC

      Yeah, the healthcare is a big one. All the “let it fail” talk, and “will it really fail” and what will become of it if anything is a big issue. Fortunately, we’ll phase into that stage using Mrs. SSC’s teaching insurance. At elast for the first 2-3 or who knows how many eyars.

      College education is another one, but we’re ok with where we are on savings for the kids with that. If nothing else, maybe we’ll help them out more on the back end if need be. Who knows…

      Our curent WR strategy puts us around 3-3.5% for the majority of the years. Years we need to replace vehicles or other bigger purchases bump it up, but it’s super temporary. In fact, I ahd Mrs. SSC add that column in for me, because I wanted to know what we were expecting to withdraw from a percentage standpoint. She couldn’t care less but I felt better seeing 2’s and 3’s more often than 4’s or the rare 5-6.

      I agree with your last statement as well. I bet that a few years into it, I will be in one of two places. 1. This sucks, I’ve got to find something else to do. 2. Why the hell didn’t we do this even sooner? Lol

      I hope to meet at Fincon and talk money, life and more as well. One More Beer… Love it! :)

  3. Mrs. Picky Pincher

    Aghh, this is such a toughie. I think the key is to remember the goal isn’t money any more, but getting your time and freedom back. That’s a tough pill to swallow when your life’s aim has been to earn money! It’s hard to switch gears to “freedom mode.”

    1. Mr. SSC

      True, the goal isn’t more money, but if you get doubts that you have enough money to sustain that freedom… That’s where it gets to be the mind game of “did we really save enough?” lol

      The time and freedom is definitely the bigger thing to focus on and it helps drown out the doubting “did we save enough” voices that seem ever present.

      Like Mrs. SSc said, “We can try it out, and we’ll know in a couple of years if it’s for us or not. If not, we can plan on doing something entirely different and we’ll figure out what that is at that point.” :) I like her style.

  4. EZ Does It FI

    Yes- transition is hard. That’s why it’s so important to have the side-hustlr ready to go. Pete had his housing business. Carl has his real estate. There’s so much behavioral science to ERE.

    1. Mr. SSC

      Ugh, that’s just the thing, I don’t want to quit to just switch careers. I already have a hella free schedule respectively. Every other friday off, work from 6a-3:30p, don’t work from home or get bothered at home, get paid really well. 4 weeks of vacation, with another one added in 2 more years. 11 other holidays paid off… It’s a pretty sweet fricking gig.

      I agree, there is so much behavioral science tied into making that transition. I don’t want to “just quit working” but I also don’t want our plan dependent on me finding some other work, then it’s just a career change, not FI or ER. At least in my mind.

      I don’t see myself becoming a professional blogger, or picking up freelance writing gigs or working on a book. Maybe try the free lance writing thing, but again, at least for the first year I just want to be ER and stay at home dad, and that sounds like a busy enough gig.

      My thoughts are, at some point, I’m going to say, “well this has been enough of that” and start looking for the next thing. Since I’m sure there are a lot of opportunities out there I don’t even know about or ahve envisioned, it’s hard to say what that next thing will be. Which is why I don’t want to have to depend on there being a next thing.

      So much psychology and double think involved, indeed. :)

  5. Mrs. BITA

    OMY is a real thing, and you are not alone. We are currently putting away north of $200k a year, and that is not easy to walk away from – golden handcuffs are a Real Thing. I’m hoping that the fact that we are going to walk away from our jobs one at a time will make it easier – I’ll leave first, secure in the knowledge that Mr. BITA is still padding the stash, and when time comes for him to leave, I’ll be cheering him on because I’ll be in a position to demonstrate to him just how awesome ER really is.

    1. Mr. SSC

      Golden handcuffs… I remember someone once telling us grad students, “Well, I worked at Chevron and got laid off, but had a nice enough severance package that I just laid around the pool and enjoyed myself for about 18 months. Then I went back to work and was planning on it being only 5 years because I was close enough to being FI (paraphrasing). Every time I tell them I’m done after this year, I get a better incentive to stay. I’ve been at this company almost 10 years now… The golden handcuffs are just too nice to leave.” And then he gave our professor his yearly $5k donation check…

      We’ll be in a really similar boat as you though. I’ll be leaving first and then Mrs. SSC will keep teaching for 2 – an undetermined nubmer of years. We just won’t be padding the stash as much as “working to break even” and avoid dipping into the stash. :) However, like you, when she decides she’s ready to take that plunge, I can cheer her on from the sidelines and say, “Come on, join me, it’s awesome!”

      Like she pointed out, “Well, we can try it out and if it really sucks, and we didn’t budget right or things go all pear shaped we’ll know. Then we can decide what to do and it can be something entirely different. It’s not a black or white all or nothing sort of decision.” Which is yet another reason I love her.

      I just know that being out of my industry for a few years it could be hard to get back into if I wanted to go that route. Especially if oil prices stay low. There are lots of other jobs that could be fun to do for a bit if I did have to go back to work, or we could come up with some other plan that is yet to be named. So many options! :)

  6. Oldster

    The fear is real. We recently made some financial decisions that added a couple of years on to our timeline and I unexpectedly felt relief. It surprised the heck out of me. I too have a job I enjoy, with people I enjoy and I guess I did not appreciate the anxiety that impending separation was causing me. It made me realize that what I need is less a plan to “retire”, and more a plan to live as I choose. Sometimes exercising your freedom can mean staying where you are. I’m going to keep working on this issue. It is unrelated to FI, but is the very essence of RE.

    1. Mr. SSC

      Haha, I understand that feeling. I reviewed some of our original plans and we were planning on next summer instead of this summer. Another one, if Mrs. SSC hadn’t switched to teaching and lst 6 figures on her salary had us hitting a number we’ve already surpassed, and leaving the workforce this year.

      It’s funny but when she left megacorp to go teach, I felt the same way as you. A little sigh of relief, even though it only added a couple of years tops. Then earlier this year, running the numbers and seeing what me working just 5 more years would do to our stash, not counting any growth, holy hell. I was like, Um, yeah I could work until 2022. Agan, a little relief.

      At least for now, I love my job and company and 95% of the people I work with. I have a great schedule, I’m off every other friday, for instance, today’s my friday, because I get to sleep in tomorrow. I work from 6a-3:30p and am home with enough time to hang out with the kids for about 3 hrs or more before bedtime. and i’ve got a lot of vacation, oh and monetary compensation, sheesh… Most “sane/normal” Americans would smack me if I told them I was voluntarily walking away from this gig.

      Ia gree sometimes exercising your freedom means making the choice to keep your current lifestyle as is but mindfully, not because your a sheep on a consumeristic treadmill and are stuck there. That’s a very real decision that could get made too.

  7. Mrs. COD

    Only 21 months, woohoo! Even though I’m not technically planning on retiring early, I can still imagine how hard it is to walk away from more money/security before most of your peers do. You grow attached to what you know, and it’s tough to leave it behind. Excited to hear how the new house comes together!

    1. Mr. SSC

      21 months left, it seems so exciting and scary. Well, 21 months unless nuclear war breaks out… hahahaha okay, wait that’s not funny, because it is an actual possibility.

      It has been hard making that choice, but the more I talk about it and or people find out about it, it seems like they’re way more supportive than not. Mostly intrigued and want to know “how did you do it?” expecting stock picking or some exotic answer other than “spending less than we make and saving the rest…” :)

      We’re working on talking with the builder and getting times set up to meet with the designer and even that felt like a sense of relief after pushing it back a year and not rushing it. Then we can move at our own pace and have it ready by first quarter of 2019. :) Don’t worry, I’m sure there will be lots of updates on the home process as it unfolds.

  8. Stockbeard

    My One More Year fears come mostly from the fact that the more I learn about FI, the more flaws I see in my plan. I readjust it, and, it pushes the date further away.

    That, and we welcomed a new member in the family this year, which wasn’t part of the financial plan :)

    So, yeah, last year I would have been ok pulling the plug in 2017, but now I’m waiting until 2018… definitely OMY at play to some extent.

    1. Mr. SSC

      Congrats on the new family member!

      I hear you on the date changes. We’ve had 2017 as our stretch date early on, yet we’ve surpassed the original number tied to that date. Then we had 2018, same reasons – we picked a different number, like you, after making adjustments to some of our assumptions. Then Mrs. SSC quit her job and the date got bumped back to 2020, but after making some other adjustments and looking at things, we realize we can actually do 2019. It has been a pretty fluid target for us during this whole process.

      Probably another reason there has been so much angst tied in with actually moving forward with a real date. It has changed so much, how do I know this is the right one with the right assumptions being used? :)

  9. kdrevik@39months.com

    I am sorta in this situation. If I could count on Social Security in the US, I would be financially free now. I don’t count on it, so I have 35 months left.

    I am struggling with the decision to leave work (see some of my blog posts) and what I will do. I have got some hobbies, some ideas on travel – but like you say, its going out into the unknown.

    It has caused (and continues to cause) me some stress as I work through this. I wish everyone else luck in their own decisions and stress on the matter.

    Good article

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      Yeah Social Security is one we don’t necessarily count on in our planning, but it’s nice to see the cushion it adds when it could kick in. Even then, we only put in half of what we could be eligible for, because, government…

      Like in your posts, it is a pretty tough thing even if you have hobbies or interests or outlets to spend your time. There’s a lot more going on than just money and staying busy after work aspects of it though. It’s definitely unknown territory, and everyone has their own version of what will be comfortable enough for them to step out into that realm. I’m working on mine, but think I’m there with finding what it will take for me. Good luck figuring that out for yourself! :)

  10. Jason

    While I have not experienced this yet and won’t for quite some time I do have a fear that I will experience it. Because we won’t be FI probably for another 7-8 years. Part of that is b/c we need to be in your jobs for PSLF. Also, we need a lot more savings and the like to get to FI. My fear is that when I get to that point I will continue to work because I really like my job and part of my identity is tied up in it. However, we are trying to also become parents in our mid-40s. So, hopefully, our child/children will be just starting school around the time of FI. I don’t want to miss out. I want to take them abroad and travel and the like. However, I fear because it is something i am used to I will just stay until I am like 65….I hope not, but that is a fear.

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      Well, Mrs. SSC isn’t necessarily ahving the same angst as me, because she plans to keep teaching for a while. Ergo, she’s not really retiring… And not having the same thoughts. Actually she IS having the same thoughts, which led her to realize she just needs to keep teaching, lol. Maybe by me being out there and being successful about it, I can convince her to make the leap sooner than later.

      Of course that’s all still 2 years away, so yeah… As I’ve seen even in just the last 6 months of this blog, life changes pretty quickly. You enver know what’s coming or what could happen to throw off or add to any plans you’ve made.

  11. Prudence Debtfree

    The fear is real, but in our case, it’s my husband who feels it instead of me. But his concerns impact me. I find myself wondering, “Will we really be ready? Will I wish that I had continued to work for one or a few more years?” But the math proves that without a dime of debt and with our projected post-retirement incomes (which will include my husband still working at his business at least part-time for as long as he wants to), we’ll be fine. I think it’s a case of “matter over mind” since objective reality isn’t the obstacle – it’s the psychology involved in fear of the unknown. (As if everything would be “known” if my husband and I both kept working full-time!)

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      Yeah, see, I think the money factor is the least worrisome part for me. I mean, sure adding more to “the stash” is always comforting, but at what cost. When we have “enough” why keep trading money for time? Especially if Mrs. SSC plans to do that by continuing to teach after I quit the workforce. That increases our plans COS immensely. We’re not drawing down our investments right away, because we’re technically just a well to do 1 income houshold that has one heck of an emergency fund. Her job should cover almost all of our spending so we won’t need to drawdown much if any the whole time she teaches.

      Her latest scenario had our plan at 94% COS if she just taught 4 years. So, yeah… It then goes back to the psychological aspects of making that decision for me. What if thhings go south and I can’t get back into the workforce? I definitely won’t be able to get back into O&G while out at Canyon Lake. That and a lot more issues are things I just need to accept, make a plan for, and move on. The last 6 months our plan and life has changed so much, trying to accurately predict/plan for what is 2-5 years out is laughable. At least for me and my experience anyway.

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      Thanks! That was a great article you wrote on OMY, and I agree, regardless of ER or regular R or late R, when you get to the point of seriously making that decision to leave the workforce, it brings up ALL kinds of psychological drama that you never even knew was in your head, lol. Thanks for the link to your piece and the crumb trail I followed to the other articles. :)

  12. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life

    At my last toxic job, I was hanging on for the bonus! It would have meant 6-8 more months in an increasingly terribly political environment. We were a non profit but the mission of upper leadership had turned into winning the Game of Thrones or at least destabilizing their competitor. Thank goodness I recognized a good opportunity when it came up, well ahead of schedule, and gave up the bonus for the freedom of doing good work. It was worth every penny I left on the table!

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      That sounds rough! I have thought about sticking around for the bonus and RSI’s that we get here. Except that they changed the payout time for the RSI’s to February instead of June. So now the RSI’s and bonus are within 2 months of each other and then it would be another 10 months before they kicked in again. When I see the amounts they are, and what the bonus could be, it gets really tempting… Really tempting. Then I think, but do we really need the money?! Such a conundrum… Hopefully it will be easy enough tos ort when I get to that point. :)

  13. ZJ Thorne

    I worry about OMY syndrome and I am nowhere near FIRE. My FIRE plans are low on the RE side as it stands. I want to be able to switch from 1.5 jobs to eventually done to .5 jobs in my own business. I like what I do there, and would probably have a hard time giving it up after I worked so hard to build it.

    As far as the golden handcuffs in another comment, I worry about that, too, in one area. I’ve been developing a skill that will double my pay in my FT temp job. That kind of money could easily lure me away from my business, which won’t likely be nearly as profitable. I’m hopeful that I can stick to my guns and only do the mega-pay long enough to pay down debt and build up a nest egg. Or maybe I can time it in such a way that I do the good money gig for a few months a year and devote the rest of the year to the business. Then I could have the best of all worlds. Enough money coming in to cover the needs and wants while maintaining the business as a fun hobby sort of life.

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      Oh yeah, switching down to 0.5 jobs would be perfect on my end too. I don’t see myself “not working” in some fashion and personality wise I don’t think it would end up too healthy for me either. That’s still a few years down the road and I’m sure I can have it sorted in my head by then. If not, it would only be 10 more months and then I could convince myself of it. Hahaha, I hope anyway. :)

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