Slowly Sipping Coffee

Visualizing the goal – It only took me 6 years

So if you’ve read any of my posts you realize I suck at good financial management. I’m new to this whole realm and am still trying to get my own way figured out financially. Fortunately, I married excellently and have a financial wizard as a partner. Well, she’s just disciplined with money, doesn’t overspend, hates buying on credit, and loves spreadsheets. That all adds up to an amazingly gifted financial maven leading our household towards FI in 5 yrs. Yep, we’re targeting April 2019 to tell our jobs, “Thanks, but I’m good.” and transition to stay at home parents in a town that isn’t Houston. Nothing against Houston, but we both miss 4 seasons, and snow, and just cold weather in general.

Anyway, for almost 6 years now, our relationship has been like this in regards to finances:

Mrs. SSC: “I’ll take over the finances, and budgets, and track all of that, I like spreadsheets.”

Mr. SSC: “Thank-God, and don’t please don’t mention budgets again, I thought we were doing okay with money, why do we need a budget? Do we really need a budget, are things bad?”

Mrs. SSC secretly thinking: “Thank goodness, he can’t manage his way out of a paper sack with regards to money and good decisions.”

It was a match made in heaven. I trusted her, she dealt with the finances and occasionally would seek feedback like:

Mrs. SSC:  “Here’s what I’m thinking of doing with our money, and here’s why, and here’s the benefit, and here’s the risk, and here’s why the risk is worth it at this stage, but are you too worried about that and does that seem reasonable?”

Mr SSC thinks: “I couldn’t pay someone to manage our money this closely or well. Sweet! I love you Mrs. SSC!”

Mr. SSC says: “That sounds great, so how does this affect our current lifestyle and spending?”

Mrs. SSC: “It doesn’t.”

Mr. SSC: “Let’s do it, sounds excellent!”

Secretly, I was just stoked we wouldn’t be cutting back so we could be saving more, or adding to the  kids college funds, holy crap they’re expensive, or whatever the hell else she had been talking about.

Yep, I trusted her with everything, and still do. Best financial decision I’ve ever made. Because of her tracking finances and realizing as long as our “apparent spending” isn’t reduced, I don’t care what she does with the money. She doesn’t have an affinity for the racetrack, online gambling, drugs, or poor non-logical decisions. Remember she’s vested in this 50% too. But there isn’t any reason to not trust her wholly with our money, especially with me knowing I would just run us into the ground. It would be fun getting there, but ultimately, we’d be a financial ruin.

Why did this take 6 years to sink in?

Lately, I have heard this from Mrs. SSC repeatedly, and I think she was hurt when she realized that either I am so bad with money it took 6 yrs to sink in, OR I wasn’t paying attention enough until recently to realize that, holy moly, she wasn’t kidding, we really can retire in 5 more years!

Our friends got it. Often they would discuss 401k elections, stocks or family budgeting.  Sometimes, Mrs. SSC would volunteer her spreadsheet and send it around and I’d get emails for a few days that usually read like this. “Holy shit, are you kidding me, you guys are planning on retiring at 45! How is this right, you guys can’t retire then. We make as much and are saving as much and we won’t be able to do that!”

I was in the camp of “we can’t retire then, who retires then, how do you get to 60, how do you save that much money?” I skimmed the spreadsheet and was like – Yep, looking good, thinking it was all optimistic and anything but reality. Except it was reality. It was reality. It took me 6 yrs of looking at it before it sunk in. Six years I’ve been contributing to this, working towards it (unbeknownst to me) and holy cow, I’m amazed! She is pulling it off. I can’t even begin to explain it here because it all seems like magic and witchcraft, with maybe some voodoo chicken rituals thrown in there to get our dividends up…

How did this happen?

It is pretty simple though. We started off with a mountain of debt brought in by me, “You’re welcome Mrs. SSC”. Then we started paying it off. Aggressively, very aggressively. Since we’d been living off grad school stipends, well one of us anyway, Mrs. SSC knew that we could live off less than our combined salaries. So when she took control of the budget, she diverted as much as she could out of our checking/savings accounts to a separate account online. When it would get to a certain point she would invest it. Pretty simple.

We had a comfortable life, and except for the occasional argument around, of course we can afford it, why can’t we get it? To which Mrs. SSC would reply, “We can afford, but we choose not to afford it. If you want it that badly, get it with your allowance.” So in the background money was getting funneled to one place or another.

It took a 2 day back and forth email exchange earlier this summer, before I finally had the lightbulb go off.  Mrs. SSC had sent the spreadsheet to me, and I was looking at it and realized, “huh, this looks like we can be done sooner than later.” This spawned from a week or two of Mrs. SSC going on and on about how we could retire in 2020, no 2019, maybe 2018, no probably 2019, could be 2018…  Hence, I got the spreadsheet. Then I was like, okay, I don’t see how this is going to work, especially because she was talking about reducing our pre-tirement budget. This evoked an immediate negative reaction and recoil In horror from me and I got defensive, ready to nip this in the bud. No way was I walking away from a sweet salary at a job I like, just to be free and broke.  Haha! NO WAY, NO HOW!! Let’s put the brakes on this crazy train.

I reviewed the sheet and was like, “Yeah, I don’t see how that number is going to work. This is crazy talk. I’m not quitting to live off of Ramen.” Then I get a disgusted reply which essentially read, “OMG, what aren’t you getting?! Here’s the budget we live off of now. Here’s all the expenditures that will go away in 5 years, (marked out in red so even I would notice them). Here’s a column showing our expenditures to live how we do now without things like daycare, commute, house payment, etc… This is what we live off of now essentially minus those expenses.” Well she got my attention! A light bulb went off and I was like, “Whoa! you’re serious, that’s what we live off of?” She replied, “Well, there’s a 13% cushion but all the scenarios I’ve run has us not running out of money even with market downturns, and when we hit 60, we’re golden, because we have our 401k’s. Yeah, we can do this and quit in 4-6 years.” To which, I stupidly replied, “Why the hell haven’t you told me this before?!” Ahem, it really did take 6 years to sink in…

Its still sinking in…

Now I’m just trying to wrap my head around the fact that I’m willingly going to walk away from a great job, great salary, bonus, benefits, etc… in the prime money making years of my career to “pretire” and raise kids and hope it all turns out well. Who does that?! More to the point, why would anyone do that? What if something happens, what if the kids get sick, what if the economy tanks? Those are all legitimate concerns, but we’re both ready to deal with it, work part time if we need to, and deal with those what ifs when they come up. To me, it’s not about leaving a job I hate, I love my job, it’s about being able to be there for my kids and get to raise on my terms, not my employers. I want that, and yeah, if I don’t make a big name for myself in my career, or any name, it doesn’t matter, because my kids will remember me more than any colleague.

I’m nervous and excited and nervous, but I can’t wait, and everyday I keep thinking I’m getting closer and closer to not making that drive, and being governed by someone else, and be able to see the kids off to school and then slowly sip coffee before I figure out what I’m doing for the day.

9 thoughts on “Visualizing the goal – It only took me 6 years

  1. Emily @ Simple Cheap Mom

    Congratulations on finally realizing that you’re going to be able to retire soon!

    We have a similar setup with finances in our house. I tried to yet the Mr. interested in all the spreadsheets and such, but it never really took. I’m glad to hear that one day maybe things will sink in and he’ll hear what I’m telling him!

    He plays along well with the budget, so I don’t really have any complaints. He was also in the “why would anyone want to retire early?” camp, but a few months on parental leave knocked that out of him. I’m a stay at home mom now, so I guess we’re halfway to early retirement. I still usually talk about the freedom from being financial independent instead of “retirement” though. That seems to hold his attention a little longer than the crazy retirement talks.

    1. SSC

      Thanks for the comment! There is hope he may have the light bulb go off yet, and like you mentioned with parental leave helping that out –maybe he’ll come around sooner than later.

      My biggest hangup was reading about all the sacrifices people were making just to retire early. I like my job, so why would I want to give that financial security and social aspect up to scrimp and save and “get by”? No thanks, I went through enough of that growing up, lol.

      If you treat it as “transitioning to stay at home parents” or like you said financially independent, it seems a lot more enticing than “retirement”, trust me. From someone that just realized the crazy retirement camp wasn’t so crazy, congrats to being halfway there and maybe your husband will come around sooner than I did.

      -Mr. SSC

  2. Mrs. PoP

    Congrats on the realization. I was pretty similar, but it was Mr PoP saying “we can do this!” and me needing to sit down with some spreadsheets and really figure out that it *was* do-able!

    1. SSC

      Thanks! I wouldn’t have made that realization without years of “reviewing” the budgets and it was realizing that, “Holy cow, we really don’t spend a lot each year, this totally could be do-able!” The key was having those budgets and tracking spending to know what number we would need to get to FIRE. And for me, constant repetition of reading and re-reading those spreadsheets before it really sank in.

      -Mr. SSC

  3. Mrs. Maroon

    Mr. Maroon was definitely the driver in our household, like Mr. PoP. I was skeptical at first. I haven’t quite gotten to the point where I’m 100% comfortable with the retired budget. I fear it might be a little lean. But we have time on our side to work out all those details. Maybe it will sink in for me too once I have it beat into my head enough times…

    1. Mrs SSC

      I built in a 15% slush for Mr. SSC, I think that made him a little bit more comfortable. And I always round up – just for that extra cushion!

  4. Even Steven

    I’ve had a similar conversation with the wife, explaining what goes away after we pay off X, Y, and Z, then doing some napkin like budget on what would be left and how much would be coming in, I don’t think I have her just yet, but I do think she realizes it is possible and the closer we get the more I mention the possibilities. She’s actually a little afraid to tell her parents, I think that will be when she really believes.

    I would love to see the spreadsheet, even if it’s a blank one/template. I haven’t minimized my spreadsheets yet, I feel like I have 4 diff ones for whenever I get an idea in my head.

    1. SSC

      I’ve got a couple different spreadsheets too – I’m always working on optimizing them! Just this week, I fixed up my tax estimations (before I was assuming tax on the full amount we would be ‘cashing out’ from investments/dividends) -so I added in deductions, which cut out a good $4000 from our yearly budget.

      I’ll work on ‘cleaning up’ a spreadsheet for you to see, but I think I might up a quick post – I just found the email I sent Mr. SSC that made the lightbulb go off!

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