These last 2 weeks have been awesome! First, Harris county was on Spring Break, and then the outlying counties have been on Spring Break! Hopefully next week some other set of schools is out on Spring Break also. Why do I care about Spring Break since neither me nor my kids are even in school? I’ll tell you, because “Traffic has been great!” (a phrase rarely uttered anywhere near Houston freeways) I’ve been getting to work in 30 minutes, traffic is flowing well, and even when it is storming outside (which normally causes HUGE delays everywhere) traffic is still moving fine.
I remember last summer when I started my new job. (Initiate dream sequence music and sparkly fade out) It was mid-June, the birds were singing and the commute was nice. Traffic flowed well, there were no major headaches to deal with twice a day. Better yet, it was almost the exact same as my last commute. Then one day, everything changed and it went from “nice” to “SUCK-ville” overnight! Clogged highways no matter which one I took. Worse, the surface streets were just as clogged and slow too! I started looking at different commute routes but it didn’t make a difference overall. Somehow my commute had increased a consistent 10-20 minutes each way. I just couldn’t figure out what changed and then someone mentioned school. Oh… school… Riiiight… Man, that makes such a big difference. I guess people take vacation time off centered around Spring Breaks, Christmas Breaks, Summer Breaks, and other school closures.
You wouldn’t think that a few schools out would make that much difference, but based on how empty my office building and parking garage has been the last few weeks, it seems everyone with kids takes off this time to do something with family. It could be that there isn‘t a vacation, but rather a forced stay at home to babysit the kid. Most people I talk to though turn that into a vacation of some sort instead of just sitting around the house. I never ran into this too much growing up because my mom was home for most of our school age. For us, it was just another week to not have to go to school, which is still awesome in and of itself!
Does this do anything for me financially? No, not really? Does it help me get to FIRE quicker? Even more so, nope. However, if traffic was like this every day, I wouldn’t be in such a rush to pull the trigger as soon as financially possible. I’d be a little more content putting it off for another 6 months, or maybe even a year and build up that comfort factor and savings. Then think, “Well, if I give it a few more months I can stick it out until bonuses get here, and it’d be crazy to give up that much money only a few months away.” This situation still may happen though even with the blech commute. We might have Mrs. SSC going to part-time at her job, and since I don’t think my company offers that, I’ll probably stay full time until things get really serious. Although, I don’t have anything to lose asking for part-time, so I will definitely ask when the time gets here.
From everything I’ve read though, once people pull the trigger and retire their biggest regret is not doing it sooner. Granted, these are mostly older people, but even some of the FIRE blogs I read echo that same sentiment. I’d love to make it sooner, but there are certain thresholds that need to be crossed financially before that can happen. Until then, I enjoy working where I do, with the people I work with and am happy plugging away at our goal until we get there. In the short term though, I’m counting down the days until school is out, and I get this traffic reprieve for a few months!