Slowly Sipping Coffee

It’s Still About a Lifestyle Change – Not Early Retirement.

Over the last week or so Mrs. SSC has come up with FFLC (Fully Funded Lifestyle Change) version 3.0. I think it’s 3.0, but it’s probably more like version 12.0. This is focused more on how we see our Lifestyle Change and less on whether or not it’s truly Early Retirement. Version 1.0 was that we both quit at the same time and move out West, or to the East Coast and become full-time stay at home parents. Version 2.0 was that Mrs. SSC would continue teaching and I would quit and become a full-time stay at home parent, but we’d still be moving out of Texas, and definitely Houston. So what’s different with version 3.0?

Not moving close to views like this...

Not moving close to views like this…

Well, with the lack of jobs anywhere in the U.S. for Mrs. SSC to apply to, and the fact that she loves her current gig where she is now; this version of our Lifestyle Change has us staying in Texas, but moving out to Hill Country. Yep, there’s still no snow, still no snowboarding, but I’d be able to be a stay at home dad, she’d be able to continue teaching and we could live in a drier more hilly part of Texas. Again, we’d be Changing our Lifestyle, not necessarily focused as much on “just not working”.  What’s driving this new change and where did it come from so quickly? In short, we’re making our own future and not waiting for it to happen to us.

It’s Time to Plan – For Real

We realized we’re only about 2 years away from hitting our FI number, and we haven’t done much planning for that Lifestyle Change at all. Okay, quit laughing, we’ve been planning, but except for saying we have LOADS of places we’re interested in, we haven’t been doing any REAL planning for it. Over the last 2 years Mrs. SSC – let’s just change that to Prof SSC from here on out, has been scouring job sites looking for a teaching gig. In that time, there have been exactly 3 jobs come available to which she applied to. She got rejected by 2 of them, and the other is her current teaching assignment. She has taken to it like a duck to water and loves her new job. Interacting with students, helping them do research, doing her own research, bringing in research projects from outside companies. I mean she’s gone above and beyond what they expected of her in just her first year and is loving it.

But I Don’t Want to Retire…

In fact she loves it so much she doesn’t want to quit. I personally find it ironic that she was the biggest driver for our initial FIRE (Financial Independence/Retire Early) push and now she could work until she’s 60 and be perfectly content. How does this fit with our Lifestyle Change model? In fact, there has already been a pretty big Lifestyle Change in our house since Prof SSC took her current teaching role. But we’re looking for a major Lifestyle Change, not just keeping the status quo. If opportunities aren’t coming to us, we’re making our own, damnit.

More opportunities for this sort of thing

More opportunities for this sort of thing

What is the New Lifestyle Change Plan?

We decided that we are going to look for some property, in the Hill Country, near a lake, with good views, and good schools. If we stay within 3 hrs of Houston, Prof SSC can commute once a week, spend 2 nights and then come home. I can hear your questions right now though, “Wait, so the Lifestyle Change means Prof SSC is gone 3 days a week? How is that a change for the better?”

https://www.vrbo.com/295623

Maybe this sort of view would be nice.     source: https://www.vrbo.com/295623

Well, better for us is: less humid, topography outdoors, nearby outdoor activities, and a lot more free time to spend with the kids. With the grandparents now only 1.5 hrs away, we could even see them more often as we could do daytrips there or they could come see us more too. Because she’s a teacher she only would make that commute for 26 weeks, assuming her current schedule stays the same and she doesn’t switch to research faculty and only teach one semester, which is a distinct possibility. The rest of the time, she’d be home and hanging out with us. I know as a professor, there would be more “work from home” but she’d still be able to keep a good work life balance, especially if the quality of home life is better.

Differences From our Original Plan

Remember though, this is a slow plan, with a lot of time to change our minds. If we find a lot that we like, then we can research home plans (already well under way) to make a more efficient use of our square footage than our current house (inefficient McMansion anyone?). We can get a builder, and build it while I’m still working fulltime so that we can pay it off as we go.

Our original plan had us buying a home outright and no mortgage, so no changes there. Because there’s no deadline for building it, we shouldn’t feel rushed or stressed about that aspect. Also, we have the money to cover it ebcause that’s part of our original plan as well. Once it’s built, then we can focus on moving our stuff, and selling our Houston house. As our 5 yr old says, “Easy Peasy, Lemon Squeezy”.

The biggest change to our original plan is that instead of living off of our investments solely, and needing $50-$55k/yr from them, we’d only need ~$10-$15k from our investments, and whatever we use for travel. The rest can still grow. Woohoo! That’s a YUGE buffer from our original plan. Wins for everyone?

What do you think of this new plan? Are we out to lunch with our assumptions? Do you think we’re “rushing into” our new Lifestyle Change plan? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

40 thoughts on “It’s Still About a Lifestyle Change – Not Early Retirement.

    1. Mr. SSC

      It’s a different one that’s for sure. I was surprised how much Prof SSC latched onto it, to be honest, but it’s exciting just the same. I’m still doubtful that it will be our solid plan but excited to ahve something to work towards just the same.

  1. Mr Crazy Kicks

    That’s funny, I never realized we were in the same boat. Mrs CK also left her corporate job to be a teacher at our local community college. It was always her dream retirement gig and she loves it. The pay is six figures less, but covers our expenses so we still don’t have to worry about drawing down our portfolio. If and when she gets tired of it we will sell and move somewhere cheaper, but for now she finds it rewarding and still gets plenty of time off.

    I ended up quitting a year or two earlier than I would have otherwise, and have no regrets. It’s nice to have a little income for the first few years transitioning to FI :)

    1. Mr. SSC

      Ha, same here, didn’t realize we had that in common. Yeah, that 6 figure paycut was a doozy, but ultimately didn’t affect too much on our Fi dates or even timing of leaving the workforce.

      I’ll still be working another year or two, insted of being able to hit that number and become stay at home dad this year or next year, but that’s fine with me. I still like work and it’s been exciting as of late, so that’s pretty cool. Plus, if this plan sticks it will be nice to have my income to cover house costs and other things that crop up so if we hit snags or overruns I can adjust my work end dates as well. :)

  2. ambertree

    That plan sounds good. I see the elements that make you happy, it reduces risk due to lower withdrawals. It allows to test the new life style in a safe mode so you can adapt where needed.
    The attention point might be the travel and the impact on the one that stays with the kids. I am not sure yet how that would work in my personal case. I am happy to read about your experiences.

    1. Mr. SSC

      Since I’d be the one that stays with the kids, yep I’m a bit worried about that huge of a transition. However, Trout Unlimited has a very active chapter in the backyard of that area and they are always looking for volunteers and board members. It’s been too far away to participate in that fashion but would be a great opportunity to meet people and get some social scene built up outside of the school life when we relocate there.

      I’m more worried about the commute than Prof SSC seems to be, because she’s not a fan of driving, ever, at all… So we’ll see how this works out and how long she would stay with it, or if something else comes up in the meantime. Although once we buy the land, we’re fairly committed, and once we start building, we’re locked in there at least for the short term.

  3. WealthyDoc

    Life keeps changing and we need to roll with it. My first version was early retirement. V2 was part-time work. I’m on V3 now. I am FI, but love my full time work and have no desire to quit now. I never saw that coming.

  4. RocDoc

    We also live in Houston so I can understand the desire to move somewhere with less humidity and less crowds. Although we love having no snow since we’re originally from Canada and had enough snow by the time we moved to Texas.

    Hill Country can get really dry and HOT in the summer. Do you think it might be good to just rent for awhile until you’ve been through a few summers there? When I’m in Hill Country in the summers, I find it almost as bad as Houston for heat even though it’s drier.

    1. Mr. SSC

      Well, her parents ahve lived in Hill Country (Kerrville) for the last 8 years now, and we’ve spent a decent amount of time out there. That’s what has mainly sold her on that area, the constant 2-3 trips a year or so.

      The dry aspect is one she is looking forward to, because her skin and humidity have not done well this last 3-4 years in particular. I think it gets hot out there regardless of whether or not it’s dry, but I’m still fine with it, for now anyway.

      we’ll see what sticks woth this plan, but looking into rentals there was only one that popped up in that area, lol. Literally, one. More in New Braunfels which would be closer, but a different lifestyle altogether, so I don’t think renting for a year or so is going to be likely unfortunately.

  5. FullTimeFinance

    Flexibility is key. It sounds like your plan is rolling with the opportunities as they present themselves, which I believe is the best way to do it. I’ll be curious to see if 4.0 appears at some point.

    1. Mr. SSC

      I can almost guarantee that version 4.0 shows up, the big question is when.

      Like I said, this is really more like version 12, or even that’s a modestly low number, so we’ve been tailoring and changing things as mindsets change, jobs become more rewarding, and that sort of thing. It’ll be exciting to see what we ultimately end up with for our plan. :)

    1. Mr. SSC

      It’s hard when you have limitless opportunities and aren’t constrained by a job telling you where to move, or some other circumstance that forces you to a place. For instance would you ever have said, “You know what, let’s move to Alaska, jsut because” if you hadn’t gotten moved there for work? And now you totally love it and want to recreate that same feeling in another place.

      it’s hard for sure. I forgot to mention that we use city-data.com a LOT to compare weather patterns we liked and could tolerate (Chicago and Denver) to our “new” locale of the month. It has awesome stats on crime, population, income levels, education levels, weather, businesses, employment stats, air qulaity, I mean, all kinds of stuff. Poke around on there for any potential relocation places. It’s a great scouting tool. :)

  6. Fruclassity (Ruth)

    I think it’s great that your vision is undergoing modifications as you approach it. And the thing is, you’re setting yourselves up to have the freedom to modify it further whenever you choose to. 3 days per week away might be tough – but then again, it might just work out fine. How fabulous that Mrs. SSC’s dream job really has turned out to be something she loves : )

    1. Mr. SSC

      I think that would be the clincher of this whole thing is 3 days away per week, and that’s at an ideal scenario. If she is attending Friday meetings, then it could change and become 4 some weeks. I think that would wear her down more than the commute and rewards she gets from the job currently. These are all conversations that are going on in the background, so we’ll see. Her biggest argument is that,it would only be for 26 weeks, at which point the other 26 are home full time. That’s not adding in the off week or so with holidays and school days out, but we’ll see…

      Yes, it is great that she really loves her job I’m just worried about the reality of this situation being worse than on paper.

  7. The Green Swan

    I really enjoy hearing about your FFLC as it has been a motivation to re-assess our situation, some of the things we value most in life, and managing a more quality and balanced lifestyle.

    You folks may have hit the nail on the head, so long as Prof SSC is ok with the commute / being away from family occasionally. It goes to show that finding a job that pays the bills but offers a significant improvement in quality of life can make a huge difference in the FFLC. With a long “retirement” horizon, it isn’t all bad having a YUGE buffer.

    Hill-country does look nice! Thanks for the update on the plans!

    1. Mr. SSC

      Thanks! That is my biggest worry with this plan is that after the first semester or even halfway into it she might decide, “whoops, this sucks way worse than I expected it to.” and then her job will be more like a drudgery than a nice rewarding awesome teaching gig that she loves.

      But, if she is fine with that, then yep, this will be a great buffer transitioning to no income and our actual Lifestyle Change mode.I think having her parents even closer will be awesome and make up for a lot of that potential suckness as well, but we’ll see. :)

  8. Matt @ The Resume Gap

    That’s great news. No reason to retire if you’re loving what you do every day. FIRE isn’t an all-or-nothing choice; we can adjust the balance of work in our lives as it makes sense. Glad you’re continuing to refine your vision!

    1. Mr. SSC

      I agree, if work provides your ikigai and you love it, and it’s not cutting into doing fun stuff outside of work, then what is the point of retiring?

      This vision is getting so refined it should be a laser point by now, yet it feels like a shotgun spray at times because it IS continually getting refined, lol.

  9. Brian

    Sounds good to me and love the lake view. I’m sure this won’t be the final revision. :) I’m sure it will continue to evolve over time, but as you said your saving so anything is possible.

    1. Mr. SSC

      If only one true thing is said today, it’s that I too am sure this won’t be the final revision, hahahahaha. Sigh… I have to live with all of these revisions, changes, modeifications and what if scenarios and man can it get taxing sometimes. It’s fun and exciting getting to play out and model different scenarios, but man, sometimes I think it would be nice to pick one and stick with it. :)

      We’ll see what actually comes of the plan, and where this all shakes out. That being said we do have another trip scheduled to go out to see some more property in another weekend, so at least this one has traction. :)

  10. Mrs. Groovy

    I think it’s great that Mrs. SSC found something she loves doing, so why quit? As you said, you can always change your mind. That’s one thing about the FI community – we keep our options open and we’re not afraid to change course.

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      Exactly. When it becomes “not fun” our exit strategy is already in place. Plus, it’s a nice buffer for dipping our toe into our Lifestyle Change before we really need $50k/yr from our investments. I’m not super conservative, but even that has a LOT of appeal to me.

  11. Mrs. BITA

    Sounds like the new plan gives you more of what you want and less of the things you don’t and at a tolerable cost (of Mrs. SSC working remotely for some days of some weeks of the year).

    More than the specific plan though, I like the way you are adapting to your changing selves and needs and desires, and not trying to stick to some retirement ideal to please the retirement police.

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      That’s a great way to phrase it – more of what we want and less of what we don’t. :)

      I think the commute may be a grind for her, but it’s not every day, every week sort of commute, so that has its plusses. We’ll see how it works out. We’re looking at property out there tomorrow, so maybe yes, maybe no.

      Regardless of how it works out, it will definitely be on our terms, retirement police be damned. :) If I’m stay at home parent instead of retired – whatev’s I’ll still ahve way more freedom than I do now.

  12. Elephant Eater

    I hate this plan for selfish reasons. I think you should sit tight in Houston for a year and let us find a nice affordable mountain town and then let us sell y’all on following us there to have someone to ski and hike with while everyone else is working and the kids are in school! That lake view is sweet, but I think the ridge top view is even better.

    In all seriousness, the only concern I would have is one that we also have. If you are not sure where you will be will be a long-term destination do you really want to put down the money to buy or build a house versus renting. I know for us it is painful to “throw away” money on renting a decent place. However, as we prepare to sell our house and look at realtor fees, taxes and moving expenses that will in total be around $20k, it puts those frictional costs that go along with a move into perspective. We are questioning if we should rent for a year or two before buying to make sure that our FFLC and new location are all that we are hoping before making the move permanent by putting down firm roots.

    Otherwise, I think that your move makes total sense for the reasons Mrs BITA outlined in the comment above. You all have done an awesome job of putting yourselves in position to be thinking about optimization and continuing to improve in the short-term while building for the long-term, versus having make or break decisions. Cheers to you!

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      I’d be on baord with that plan! The biggest hitch in that is finding something for Mrs. SSC to do, because she doesn’t “sit well”. She is slowly coming to that conclusion, and realizes if she’s not teaching she needs an equally strong ikigai to occupy that space.

      In this sense, we’re fine with going the buy route, because we know we’ll most likely be there between 6-15 years, lol. Eeesh, that’s a long time even just typing it out. We’ll be there until the kids are in/out of middle school or stay until they’re out of highschool, with any move coming before highschool or after highschool. With her parents within an hr of there (her mom’s coming to meet us out there tomorrow, because she can daytrip it easily) that makes it even easier in some regards.

      Maybe I’ll have to have a post to expand on the “why’s” if we decide to stay out there. Of course, she did email me 3 different CO houses about 2 hrs after I hit publish, so who knows what will happen, to be perfectly honest. :)

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      Well, I looked into that as an option, but with 2 greyhounds, it made it pretty tricky to find something that wouldn’t be super expensive and fit the schedule where she would be commuting to class while class is being held. Then wed have to put the kids into school out there, and then re-transfer them when we came back, while the house was getting built.

      It would be nice if that was an easy option, but logistically it gets pretty hairy and expensive pretty quickly. Still cheaper than buying and building, but added on top of that cost and yeah, I don’t know that it would pay out. I’ve tried working it out many times, but, I can’t get it to work out yet in a cost that I’m ok with.

      Thanks for the suggestion. :)

  13. Laurie @thefrugalfarmer

    Interesting!! I love that you’ll be close to grandparents – that is so important. And you can always go back to the other plan if this end up making you happy in the long term. That’s the great thing about this plan is it helps your net worth, not harms it.

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      Good point, this doesn’t “kill” any other plan in the future, so it makes it easier to commit to it from the beginning. With other plans we’d be hell and gone from parents and family, so putting down roots, even shallow roots is a lot bigger commitment, whereas this plan has lots of upside to it. Family nearby, lots of activities to do nearby even outside of the Lake area, and still close enough for Mrs. SSC to continue teaching and staying active with that.

      The option to move once the kids hit middle school/pre-highschool is still viable if everyone isn’t happy with our situation.

  14. Jason

    I love your plan. I admit I am biased because like Prof SSC I am Prof ROB. That is why I wrote a post that I might already be FI. I don’t think I will ever truly retire….well at least not until I am 60, but I LOVE teaching and the lifestyle of a professor is well suited to many of iterations that your lifestyle plan will take. Huzzah.

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      Yep, a professor gig is definitely suited to the sort of Lifestyle that we want. One of the things that Prof SSC pointed out to me today in an email is that this plan will help keep her on the low end of “long hours” for work. If she got a different position that was more in line with a tenure track position she’d end up in 50-60 hr weeks between students, research, and teaching. She just knows herself and how easy it is to get deep into research and projects that you love.

      While it’s great, she loves that her current role is more instructional with her research and grad student focus as a more tertiary focus. This lets her do as little or as much as she likes with no faculty meeting attendance requirement, lol. Currently, she’s working as if she was tenure track, just not getting the compensation for it.

      She’s hoping this move will help with that as well. We’ll see.

      1. Jason

        I can understand that. I am tenured so I put in 50 hour weeks (sometimes less). I am not sure the prospects of her field, but many of the t/t positions and/or even the ability to move to lecturer jobs (aside from a community college) do require some publications and/or grant work. Not sure if she is doing that but that is how my friends have “published” themselves into better positions. However, if she likes doing research I would encourage her to continue to do it, even if it means a little longer hours. I find that it enhances my teaching rather than detracts, but it does take a bit more time. However, as she gets used to teaching more she will find more balance between prepping for courses and/or research. I have been doing it for 20 years and it took me a long time to figure out short-cuts and different things that I didn’t need to do differently. Good luck to Prof SSC.

  15. Arrgo

    These days its not a bad thing to keep working if you have a good situation/ perks and it allows for balance in your personal life. Even if you are about FI, the extra money doesnt hurt and can allow you to spend a little easier on fun things you want to do.

  16. ZJ Thorne

    I love this new plan! It’s so great that she found work that she loves so much and that y’all can find ways to fit it into the lifestyle you like. Adaptability is key!

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      Adaptability is key to making life work easily for anyone. :) Hopefully, this works out well for all of us, and the commute isn’t a killer for Mrs. SSC.

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