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Don’t Forget to Enjoy The Journey to Financial Independence

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Don't forget to enjoy the journey to financial independenceI hope you had a great 4th of July. Independence Day is my favorite holiday of the year and we enjoyed it thoroughly. For the holiday weekend, we took it easy and didn’t do too much. The Blues Festival was held only a few blocks away and great music wafted through our open windows for 5 days. It was the perfect time to hit the pool to cool off. RB40Jr’s friend came over for a swim and joined us for BBQ ribs & sides. After our late lunch, the kids played and the adults enjoyed some local beverages while catching up. Lastly, we savored the spectacular fireworks show from our balcony to close out the festival. Ahhh… life couldn’t get any better than this.

The holidays couldn’t last forever, though. On July 5th, Mrs. RB40 had to return to work, RB40Jr headed to a day camp at the zoo, and I took my mom to see the optometrist. Mrs. RB40 drew the short straw on this one. It’s always hard to get motivated after a holiday. I had a rough time getting back to blogging as well. The optometrist trip took way longer than I expected and I couldn’t get into the blogging mood. Hence, this post is out on Friday instead of the usual Thursday. It’s always tough to concentrate in the summer because the weather is so nice and there are so many things going on.

Enjoy The Journey

“Life is a Journey, not a destination” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Whatever your destination is, it’s important to enjoy the journey. That’s not always an easy thing to do when financial independence is the goal. Basically, financial independence is the ability to enjoy your lifestyle without a job. We can turn this into a math problem and set a very specific goal. For many in the FI community, this means having 25x your annual expense. As soon as I made financial independence my goal, I became obsessed with it and lost sight of the journey. The destination was everything and I pushed as hard as I could to get there ASAP. I cut back on spending and invested every penny. Work sucked, but I just put my head down and kept going. This shortened the time to FI, but subjectively, those last few years at my old engineering job felt like forever.

The job was stressful already and I made it much harder by putting more pressure on myself. I became depressed and loathed going to work. In retrospective, that’s exactly the wrong way to do it. Instead of putting my head down and pushing through it, I should have considered other options. The last few years of my journey to financial independence would have been much more enjoyable if I found a job I could tolerate. However, there weren’t many employment opportunities locally and we didn’t want to move. That put a big constraint on it. I really should have expanded my options and looked for a position elsewhere. Changing jobs probably would have delayed my early retirement, but the time would have been much more enjoyable.

So that was the big mistake on my journey to FI. We did well financially, but it was a very stressful time in our lives. Money really isn’t everything. It all worked out, though. I didn’t get a heart attack, and I retired from full time work in 2012. Life is really good now and it’s much easier to enjoy the journey when I don’t have to go to a job I hate. I have time to enjoy the summer with our kid. Working on the blog a few hours per day is just about perfect as well.

Mrs. RB40’s turn

Now it’s Mrs. RB40’s turn to push through the last few years before she can retire. Personally, I think she can retire now, but she doesn’t feel secure enough yet. The healthcare policy is in flux and she’d like to get that figured out before she calls it quit. We all have some kind of health issue and we need good health insurance. Anyway, Mrs. RB40 is starting to feel retirementitus. Or whatever you call the equivalent of senioritus. That’s the anxious feeling you get when you really want to quit, but just can’t do it yet for whatever reason.

I could see the change come over her recently. She complains about her job a bit more. Her commute to work seems harder and it’s tougher to leave the house in the morning. She makes excuses like having to wash the breakfast dishes rather than leaving the house on time. Every evening, her shoulders and back muscles have deep knots in them. I can feel that she is somewhat restless and unsatisfied. At least, she doesn’t need to see a psychiatrist yet. If it ever comes to that, I’ll put my foot down and make her take a year off or something.

At this point, all I can do is try to make her journey a bit more enjoyable. I try to minimize stress at home and cook delicious meals for her. We have some relaxing vacations coming up and they should help. I’m also keeping my mouth shut when she splurges a bit. Her last few years will still be tough, but I won’t let her get to that dark place where I was.

Here are a few things that anyone can do to make life a little more enjoyable when work is a slog.

  • Go on mini vacations to get a little distance from work.
  • Minimize stress outside of work.
  • Exercise and meditation will alleviate stress.
  • Get a massage to help you relax, even a short one is very nice.
  • Spending some money is okay.
  • Date nights will help couples stay connected.
  • Say I love you more frequently and make sure your partner feels appreciated.

Lastly, I’ll work on increasing my blogging income so she can feel financially secure enough to retire early.

I’d love to have some input here. What else can I do to make my wife’s journey to financial independence more enjoyable?

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{ 67 comments… add one }
  • Mr. Tako July 7, 2017, 12:39 am

    Good reminder Joe. Even though I tried to enjoy those last few years it was still a slog.

    Working a 9 to 5 job is (for most people) a slog from Monday thru Friday. When you finally reach the weekend life begins again.

    Most jobs are like that. In the beginning they’re interesting and enjoyable….but eventually they turn into that daily grind again. Most businesses pressure people to work harder and perform at peak levels. Performance reviews will still happen. Bosses will still sometimes be jerks.

    I bet you were excited about your job when you first started — everything was new and there was lots to learn. But eventually *reality* sets in — jobs aren’t always fun.

    The slippery slope here is spending money to feel better about life. Sure, you can spend money to relax a little (on vacation, at the spa, restaurant, whatever) but it won’t change the fact that 5 out of 7 days don’t belong to you.

    • retirebyforty July 7, 2017, 7:27 am

      The journey seems to be much harder to enjoy when the finish line is insight.
      At that point, you just want to keep going and get it done.

      Mrs. RB40 has been spending more money on clothes lately. That’s okay, though. She has to look presentable. It’s a lot easier for men on that front. I could go a year without buying anything and I’d be fine. 🙂

  • Kenny July 7, 2017, 1:06 am

    There are SO MANY people that are in the boat that RB40 is but the golden shackles are on VERY SOLIDly in place. I am a perfect example of it.
    I have been eyeing retirement for a while, have plans written down, have a rental income that cover 200% of my expenses, have plans to downside the home, and if I do that, I will have 300% coverage from just rental income on my expenses (outside of the health care insurance cost since that is a bit unknown).
    So, why is it so hard? Pain is there. Not wanting to work for someone is there. Income is already there, but it is the ‘habit of working’ and the ‘teaming of many friends, associates, and the feeling of being needed’ that keeps SO MANY MILLIONS going in their 40’s and 50’s.
    I have asked so many people who quit (finally), and they are all not so sure that they should have done so, but when a few years go by, they absolutely love it.

    For you to get RB40 motivated, it would have to be more stability to your income, ramping up on ALL of your income sources, and taking a bit more risk in the markets so that you have more income and less growth in the capital. ALL of this combined will do it for you.

    Why can I say this recommendation so confidently, cause, I have a good size taxable portfolio that I am building to get to 100% of my expenses covered using Dividends and Interest Income, and I am almost 80% there. In 2017, I should reach 120% of the expenses, but that is cause I decided to go in for more dividend stocks, REITs, and CEFs which are naturally diversified. The CEFs that I am doing are all muni bond or emerging bonds and I plan to hold it through thick and thin through the high and the dip to low (which will come), but in the meantime, rake in the dividends.

    Hope these are ideas that help you and others. Of course, I am learning also.

    Kenny

    • retirebyforty July 7, 2017, 7:30 am

      Thank you for your input. Having a more stable income would help a lot. For 2017, we should be close to 200% coverage counting all sources. The problem is that the blogging income isn’t stable. I’ll have to work on that or maybe relocate to reduce expenses.

  • Justin July 7, 2017, 2:08 am

    I feel your pain! We’re half way through our 9 week trip in Europe and it’s so nice to have fun things to do in each new city and enjoy the (mostly) nice weather (well, it might be hot here in some places but no humidity like in the Southeast US!).

    I had big plans to put up a weekly blog post of mostly pictures and I’ve fallen down on even that goal. 🙂 Oh well, I know there’s always the winter when it won’t be as nice and maybe that will make for interesting blogging and inspiration for some summer vacation plans.

    • retirebyforty July 7, 2017, 7:32 am

      Yeah, I’m checking your site every few days to see a new update. You’re slacking off too much.
      I can’t wait to take a long trip like that again. It will be a lot of fun.
      How are your kids doing? Are they enjoying the trip or do they complain a lot?

  • Carl @ Moneymow July 7, 2017, 2:44 am

    I am exactly on the journey at the moment with 6 years to go, and I used to be obsessed about the goal and hating the journey. Now, I am actually enjoying the journey.

    For me, it has been a mindset shift. I realized that I am going to retire early anyway – it might be in five years or in ten years (when I am 31 or 36), so I can either enjoy the journey and focus on the nice things in my job, in my life and the great people around me, or I can feel miserable on the way – I’ll end up in the same place. Letting go of the exact retirement date and just knowing that I will retire early made a big difference (although I do have a retirement date in 2023 officially) and now I am just enjoying the journey without too many worries knowing that I will end up in a good place – while I of course still track the progress.

    I hope that Mrs. RB40 will eventually enjoy the last few years of the journey!

    Onwards,
    Carl

    • retirebyforty July 7, 2017, 7:36 am

      That’s great! I’m with you. You started very young so that’s your advantage. If you can retire when you’re 36, you’ll still be ahead of 99% of the population. That’s awesome. Life is too short to be miserable.

      • Carl @ MoneyMow July 8, 2017, 11:48 am

        You are right! I was lucky to hear about FIRE at a young age. It all started with a random blog article written about ERE. Imagine the reach and influence blogs can have on real lifes 🙂

        Onwards,
        Carl

  • Brad - MaximizeYourMoney.com July 7, 2017, 3:34 am

    You only live once. Definitely need some balance to enjoy things while still young. Otherwise some day you’ll look back and be thinking “I wish…”

    • retirebyforty July 7, 2017, 7:41 am

      I agree. It’s okay to push through the pain for a year or so, but if it’s really bad to go longer than that.

    • This is quite true Brad.

      I’ve started my blog to help me on the pathway to financial independence but it can be time-consuming.

      I find that when I take a break and actually enjoy life, it makes the journey towards financial independence much more enjoyable.

  • Apathy Ends July 7, 2017, 3:38 am

    We just got back from 5 days at the lake – we had a great time with the rest of my family, fishing and boating around. It was hard to get back into both blogging and work on Thursday.

    We are still early in our journey, and with a 3 month old we are taking everything in stride right now – still setting and hitting goals, but haven’t been pushing on the side hustles enough.

    • retirebyforty July 7, 2017, 7:42 am

      5 days just is too short. I think we need a month or two away. However, it will be really hard to get back to work. 🙂
      I hope you’re getting some sleep. It’s tough with a baby.

  • Amb July 7, 2017, 3:46 am

    A well timed post. We are not FI yet. I have decided to make the journey more enjoyable for myself. It I will take longer…
    Now it is time for my wife to do the same. This is a more difficult exercise as it will involve a complete new job domain with less pay and possibly and impact on our life style.

    We had a talk yesterday and I will give her all the space she needs this weekend to explore options.

  • Mrs. Adventure Rich July 7, 2017, 3:59 am

    I’m a huge fan of the mini-vacation or the “pretend vacation” where we will go to town or to the lake and pretend we are on vacation. We’ll pack picnics, walk around downtown slowly browsing the area, find the hike we haven’t tried before, etc. It gives us a nice break and is do-able on a weeknight!

    • retirebyforty July 7, 2017, 7:43 am

      That’s a great idea. We’ve been a bit too lazy lately and need to get out more. There is a Bastille day celebration this weekend so we’ll make sure to go to that one. Should be fun.

  • kevin@39months.com July 7, 2017, 4:38 am

    This is something that I struggle with, though I am getting better. I have been driven so much to succeed and “move up” that I haven’t stopped to smell the roses for most of the time.

    About 2-3 years ago, I started stepping back more. I turned down a promotion, started using more of my vacation time, and traveled more. Picked up some new hobbies and interests (for when I retire early). Its a process – and I’m getting better at it.

    I’d better be, as my countdown from 39 months continues, and I get closer!

    Great post, and glad you guys had a good 4th.

    Mr. 39 months

    • retirebyforty July 7, 2017, 8:34 am

      That’s great. Picking up new hobbies and interests is a great way to enjoy life. I need to do that too. It’s fun learning a new skill.

  • Maria July 7, 2017, 4:38 am

    Mrs. RB40 needs to take time off from work as mental health days or quit and do some side hustles from home! Often time for people who have planned for retirement- money is not the main issue but finding hobbies to fill the time! Best wishes!

  • Pennypincher July 7, 2017, 4:44 am

    Great post, Joe. Excellent replies as well. Sounds like your 4th was perfect.
    Don’t beat yourself up with the “should haves” from the past job/work. You were “stuck”, working extremely hard, and didn’t see the alternatives at the time, had zero time to job change or search. Hindsight is always 20/20.
    You are doing great supporting Mrs. RB40. Make sure the home is zen-like and happy when she gets home. That commute is like a second (stressful) job sometimes. You two are a great team.
    Ps- I want to go to day camp at the zoo!!

    • retirebyforty July 7, 2017, 8:41 am

      Thanks for the compliment and input. It’s hard to be zen-like when you have a rambunctious 6 years old boy. We’ll try our best.
      RB40Jr didn’t like the day camp at the zoo! I can’t believe it.

  • Jim @ Route To Retire July 7, 2017, 4:49 am

    Great message, Joe!

    This is always my biggest struggle. I’m so close to the finish line and I think about it constantly. Is there a way to get there faster? What would happen if I left now?

    We do pretty good with taking time away though, having fun, and going on vacations. In fact, we just got back from Panama, but the funny part is that the purpose of the trip was to determine if we could retire even earlier by moving down there. 🙂

    The journey to FI seems more like a chore to me than a yellow brick road, but it needs to happen to reach that freedom of choice. You’re definitely right though that we need to try to live in and enjoy the moment when possible.

    — Jim

    • retirebyforty July 7, 2017, 8:42 am

      The journey to FI is pretty tough when you get close to the end. You just can’t wait to get there. I hope you had fun in Panama.

  • Mrs. Groovy July 7, 2017, 5:00 am

    My last 6 months were rough and I worked from HOME! My duties changed immensely and suddenly I was under a lot of stress. And I didn’t have it in me to be a bad worker when hundreds of people were counting on me (I was coordinating conferences.)

    Can the two of you get to a park after dinner with junior and walk, climb on things, or create a game? Having a specific activity each day to look forward to might help.

    I’m also reading a book now about marriage I got from the library called “Cherish”. It’s written from a very Christian/biblical point of view (and I’m not even Christian) but it’s about strengthening marriages — even good ones. It might give you some ideas of other ways to make your wife feel special.

    • retirebyforty July 7, 2017, 8:43 am

      Going to a park after dinner is a great idea. We have been too lazy lately. A little fresh air would help.
      Thanks for the recommendation. I will put it on my list.

  • Ms. Frugal Asian Finance July 7, 2017, 5:13 am

    You made a great point, Joe! Sometimes we are so focused on the outcome that we forget to enjoy the process. We are really aggressive about paying off our house, but we also like seeing the principle amount decrease every month. We just get a kick out of it.

    I’m glad you and your family had a great 4th. It sounds so relaxing!!

  • Vicki@MakeSmarterDecisions July 7, 2017, 5:18 am

    I love this one – “Say I love you more frequently and make sure your partner feels appreciated.” That can go a LONG way and we sometimes just get in the groove where we assume that and don’t say it. I appreciate you listening to her and keeping track of her anxiety and stress levels. I was mentoring someone this year (a new assistant principal at school) and she mentioned this week that she might need to see her doctor about anxiety related to work. I told her it was a good idea but also asked her to think about the job and the long-term toll it might take on her and her family. I’m not sure anyone thinks hard enough about stress and both the long and short-term effects on health and relationships.

    • retirebyforty July 7, 2017, 8:47 am

      Great comment. You’re right about saying I love you. Guys don’t think about this kind of thing and women can feel neglected sometime. I’m glad I learned that lesson early.
      I hope the new principal appreciates your advice.

  • Dave in Sunny FL July 7, 2017, 5:45 am

    Does Mrs. RB40 have her own side hustle planned? She might feel more secure about the financial future, if she could focus on what she would be gaining, rather than what she would be giving up. How can you motivate a partner to work on creating a side hustle that is a totally new and different idea, if they are dissatisfied at work, but regard that as an inevitable consequence of life?

    • retirebyforty July 7, 2017, 8:49 am

      She doesn’t have a side hustle plan yet. She has been thinking about it, but haven’t been able to come up with something solid. This one is really hard for a lot of people.

  • Dividend Growth Investor July 7, 2017, 6:06 am

    I expect to be FI by the end of 2018…But I enjoy what I am doing, so I view FI as an insurance policy in case things change.

    My better half is not FI.. It may take 5 – 10 years to get her there.. If we move abroad however, we may both be FI by next year. We have a small apartment abroad.

    The funny thing for me is that the higher my NW, the more conservative I tend to become in terms of return expectations, thinking about various risks ( healthcare, changes in policy on health/taxes etc). As we know life is a series of events, not a straightforward line.

    However, I am not sure if this is one more year syndrome or not.

    I like that you have a diversified set of income from your dividends, rentals, blog, wife job, and the fact you have a big nest egg of funds in your 401ks. This makes it easier to take life’s surprises. Take care Joe!

    • retirebyforty July 7, 2017, 8:50 am

      I’m more conservative now too. Previously, we were invested 100% in stock. Now, we are more diversified with our net worth and income. Good luck!

  • Mrs. Picky Pincher July 7, 2017, 6:12 am

    It sounds like you’re already being there for your wife during her own journey! Having someone who cleans and cooks for you is soooooo nice. I now have a remote job that enables me to do those things for Mr. Picky Pincher during my lunch break. We can unwind and enjoy our evenings more because we don’t have to do dishes, laundry, etc.

  • Dads Dollars Debts July 7, 2017, 7:34 am

    I have been wondering lately if part time work would let me enjoy the journey more. Working 8:30 to 12:30 4 days a week and a full day once a week sounds pretty sweet. That would let me still have health insurance (A valid concern for Mrs RB40) and an income. Plus I would be contributing to my pension and getting a 401k match…

    I think this is the route I am going to shoot for instead of working hard for 10 years and then retiring. My son is growing quickly and time with him know is not time I will get again.

    • retirebyforty July 7, 2017, 8:52 am

      That’s a really great option if you can pull it off. I like working part time much better than full time. Good luck!

      • Angela July 7, 2017, 9:26 am

        That’s the decision I made. Though I have a standard length work work day (just shorter) – 8-2ish M-F. Leaves me time to have an easy breakfast with my son in the mornings and then the rest of the day with him after naptime (he’s 2.5). Enough that I can really keep my “career” job and health insurance, but also enough time to enjoy him and have time to get housework done without going nuts.

  • freebird July 7, 2017, 7:48 am

    How about making the ‘ultimate sacrifice’ of going back to work part time so your wife can take a break?

    Just a guess but maybe the stuff that bothered you so much during your final sprint years won’t faze you now that you’re well past the finish line. There were some parts of the job you enjoyed but had to give up because they didn’t offer the growth (i.e. money) that you desperately needed to reach FI. You’re way past this now, so as a part time consultant you can be the one who undercuts the H1B competition on wages– and you’d still be ahead because your old salary was much higher than what your wife earns now.

    Of course this assumes there’s no low-hanging fruit in either expanding your blog or creating new businesses, but here we’re talking uncertain prospects and the possibility of serious time suck. For someone looking to break out of a rut these would be a nice problem to have, but it seems to me in your case life is good now, and you don’t want to build and run an empire.

    Maybe after a few years’ break your wife will reach the same point and also go back to working on her specific terms, and so you can both enjoy life in second gear. In short maybe it’s time to retire from retirement?

    • retirebyforty July 7, 2017, 8:54 am

      It’d be tough to go back to engineering. I don’t have any desire to work in that field anymore. Mrs. RB40 makes pretty good money now. I doubt I can work part time and make this much. My knowledge is rusty now.
      Thanks for you input, but it’s not time to come out of early retirement just yet.

  • Al July 7, 2017, 8:33 am

    Hi Joe,

    We know the feeling and anxiety of those last few years or months.

    In our particular case, we transition to part time work. Found out that the company considers anyone working over 20 hours full time so we had all the benefits. Also we took a personal leave of absence to handle transition things and fully test our retirement budget.

    For health insurance, one that I have encourage you to tackle, we went to a healthshare plan. This type of plan is excluded from the mandated ACA law and wont change if new law is passed as it is a free market solution.

    Healthshare is not health insurance but a shared pool organization based on a common value. For us was Christianity but it can be other values too.

    We where able to reduce our healthcare cost from an ACA bronze plan of $1300 per month with $6000 deductable and no wellness visits to $300 per month with wellness visits.

    Furthermore, we where able to transition our new coverage to the local clinic so we use the same doctor and lab testing facilities.

    As an early retire from a fortune 500 company, we experienced the company reneging on their promise of health care at retirement. They offered us healthcare at their claimed cost plus 2%. That came out to be $2200 a month with minor co–pays of $30 or $50 for doctor or specialist visits. This is our back up plan if we become extremely ill.

    Two points here. One is, staying at work longer does not guarantee health coverage just current coverage. Solve the problem instead of becoming a prisoner of some Government law. You have the right to chose in this country.

    Second point is about what else to do. My suggestion is to draft and enact an “Exit” plan or “Closeout” plan.

    This gives you almost daily goals to the FI goal. 10% done, 20% done, etc.

    The point of enjoying the journey is well taking but it is difficult to do so when you are in an absent of freedom to chose situation. We enjoyed and missed the people the most. The social engagement.

    • retirebyforty July 7, 2017, 4:06 pm

      Thank you for your input. I’ve read about health share plans, but haven’t looked into it closely.
      It sounds like a really good option, though.
      Drafting an exit plan is a good idea. We’ll need to sit down together and figure it out. We have diverging viewpoints there. I think she can retire now, but she doesn’t agree. She just doesn’t like drawing down.

      • Al July 8, 2017, 7:02 am

        Hi Joe,

        In conversation with our fee only financial advisor a while back, he mentioned that he had a hard time convincing people to draw from their savings. People place a security blanket on their savings money instead of themselves. Thought that was interesting.

        He also mentioned that people who sought his services and advice needed him the least. Meaning there were well off financially but spent their money anyway.

        We didnt retain his services this year. We felt it was not necessary. Saved $1500!

        Metrics. If you live pass 65 healthy, the probability of living to your 80’s and 90’s goes up by more than 50%.

        If you preserved your 50% of your savings by age 70, your income will last you for the rest of your life based on the Trinity Report for safe withdraw rates of 4%.

        The first five years of your FI when your bride retires will determine how long your monies are going to last.

        My observation is that you are in good shape. Also about your bride, there is no substitute for communication. My bride much less particular and go along but she is more like the average American.

  • Friendly Russian July 7, 2017, 10:05 am

    Does your wife enjoy working? I am asking because my wife enjoys what she does and she wants to work even when we reach FI. And if Mrs. RB40 is the same just let it go, let her enjoy her employment.

    If the answer is no, I think you brought all the good advices: help her emotionally and physically.

    Cheers,
    FR

    • retirebyforty July 7, 2017, 4:07 pm

      She likes working, but she also wants more time to do her own things. Work is just taking up too much time now.

  • Tim Kim @ Tub of Cash July 7, 2017, 10:06 am

    Your wife sounds burned out. Maybe a break can help. Whether it’s 2 weeks or 2 months. It doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing scenario (work or retire). I think that’s one of the things I’ve come to enjoy. The process. The journey. I think especially perfectionists struggle with this. Because everything has to be perfect, 100%. But there’s some serious diminishing returns after you reach about 80% on anything.

    • retirebyforty July 7, 2017, 4:08 pm

      She’s not there yet, but if probably will if nothing change. She just told me they are making some changes at work to accommodate her so it might help. She can work on the things she like more. Yeap, she is a perfectionist.

  • The Grounded Engineer July 7, 2017, 10:11 am

    Thanks for writing this, Joe. My job has been pretty stressful. I have two opportunities I am considering. A move into engineering management or a move into a work from home technical sales job. Either job would be less stress than I have now and I think I’d like the challenge with the Eng Mgmt job. However the sales job would pay significantly more and fast track our path to FI.

    You are doing all the right things with your wife because you are supporting her and thinking of her. Maybe sprinkle in a few surprise date nights or a short weekend getaway to help further reduce her stress.

    Cheers!

    • retirebyforty July 7, 2017, 4:09 pm

      Good luck with the new job. The sales job sounds like a nice change of pace.

  • nicoleandmaggie July 7, 2017, 11:18 am

    If it’s going to be a few more years– could she change jobs? Is she looking for jobs? My MIL was miserable at her job but she kept hanging on because she wanted to fully vest her pension and finally she couldn’t take it anymore and a couple years before vesting she switched jobs anyway. It was so worth it– she was so much happier at her new job even though she was only there a few years before retiring fully. (She didn’t love the new job, but it didn’t cause her the stress and unhappiness that the old one had.) If she’d known, she would have switched years earlier. A few years is still a pretty long time to be miserable. If you’ve got the financial stability to make trying something new and different a calculated risk instead of a real risk, it’s much easier to pursue that option.

    Alternatively, my DH tends to take time off between jobs — he can do that because of the stability we’ve built up and that I bring. You guys also have that stability even if you don’t have enough for both of you to feel comfortable fully retiring. (COBRA under ERISA lasts 18 months even if the ACA and exchanges get destroyed.)

    • retirebyforty July 7, 2017, 4:12 pm

      She is looking around, but haven’t found the perfect opportunity yet. She’s also working with her boss to modify her job a bit. She’ll get to do what she likes more. That should help.
      I’m open to relocation since I’m not tied down to a location anymore.
      COBRA is a great choice.

  • Diva Q July 7, 2017, 11:52 am

    Very valid point here Joe, to enjoy the journey. I’ve always been a good saver/smart consumer and in the early days, a little bit of a worrywart, so I saved diligently. It wasn’t because I wanted to achieve FI, I didn’t know of such terms back then, it’s just that I’m a strong believer in saving for rainy days. I guess without the set goal, allow me to not have the pressure to reach that goal at certain time. I reached FI effortlessly.

    I think you should use your own experience to help your wife. As you mentioned, in hindsight, you should have switched job, maybe your wife should make a list of what bothers her at work and see if changing job will eliminate some of them. Or is it just seeing you not having to go to work everyday causes her to dread her own job?

    This is my 8th job over the course of 19 years, my longest job was 6 years and shortest was 1 year, the others were 2.5-3 years and my current job is about 2 years and I’m planning for it to be my last job. It’s the best company so far with the least amount of work with the best pay and benefits. Sometimes switching job helps stimulate your mind and almost always comes with a big hike in salary.

    Good Luck!

    • Diva Q July 7, 2017, 12:12 pm

      Correction: it’s my 7th job that I’m currently at

    • retirebyforty July 7, 2017, 4:14 pm

      Thanks for sharing. It sounds like you’ve done very well with savings and career. That’s really great.
      She is working with her boss to modify her work. It should help. I think the big issue now is that she wants more time to do her own things. There just isn’t enough time for anything when you work full time.

  • Ying July 7, 2017, 12:47 pm

    You are such a sweet husband! You’re both very lucky to have each other’s support.

  • Mr Crazy Kicks July 7, 2017, 12:51 pm

    I’ve been slacking as well. It’s way too nice outside for blogging right now 🙂

    I hope you convince the wife to move on to retirement. I left a year earlier than planned without any regrets 🙂 There is always the option to go back after a few years if she wants.

    If she does keep with it, I think you are on the right path. It doesn’t pay to suffer during any period of your life. I remember the times when we cut too deep and skipped some vacations, it wasn’t worth it. We enjoyed most of our working years with frequent vacations and eating good food. Time flies when you’re having fun 🙂

    • retirebyforty July 7, 2017, 4:15 pm

      I hope she can retire before 2020 as well. We’ll see how it goes.
      We were taking vacations and eating out when I was working, but I was still unhappy. I guess the job just overshadowed everything. She’s not at that point yet.

  • Anil July 7, 2017, 4:03 pm

    Joe – How about MrsRB40 helping you out in the online income? That will keep both of you busy and will provide the flexibility to work any time at any numbers of hours. You have a good online portfolio that can be expanded in different directions (fb, twtr, pinterest,…) to add more value to the brand. Not sure about her specialties but I think there is room to grow in your online earnings. If she is into cooking, that’s one good place to start. Everyone loves Thai food, you can share some local, Asian or fusion recipes. If parents are here, you should share some real authentic recipes with everyone here. You could get her help at writing a book about your journey so far.

  • Helen July 7, 2017, 5:46 pm

    Joe,
    Very good point: try to enjoy the journey. Sometimes we beat ourselves up too much, and forget what matters the most. The last several years before I retired were very stressful as well, and I’m proud finally I made it. On the other hand, I realized how precious my retirement life is, as it didn’t come easy.

  • Adam and Jane July 7, 2017, 7:40 pm

    Joe,

    This post is perfect timing. I ain’t going to sugar coat it! It has not been easy for me to get through my remaining 2.2 years to reach 55 which seems like an eternity!

    There is no machine to make time fly and I can’t do a Jedi mind trick on myself to make me enjoy the next 2.2 years but I am trying. I would enjoy the journey more if they did not laid off my backup at work.

    I basically work on technical problems and IT infrastructure changes that impact my systems so it can be stressfull supporting it myself. I am flying solo since the company laid off our team and my backup. The company outsourced to TATA so it is quite depressing at work. There are not too many co-workers left I can speak with.

    Been in the same company for 30 years. I hate my IT job for the last 17 years supporting websites. Been doing 24×7 on-call for the last 28 years. I am mentally exhausted but It pays well.

    Why do I stay if I hate my job so much?
    The Answer is Golden handcuffs!
    – At 55 my pension will double to 70K and I get 8K yearly for the company medical plan.
    – Healthcare is so expensive. It was 11K in 2016 and it is now 12.5K in 2017 for a retiree.

    My wife Jane was laid off in Nov 2016. She is retired at age 52 working 30 years in the same company. After being stressed dealing with her paper work for severance, company medical and the pension, she is now so happy! She wakes up after 8am and gets out of bed whatever she wants. I envy her!

    How do I cope to make my life easier?
    – Jane does the majority of the cooking. I cook twice a week instead of five days.
    – I work from home 10-20 hours a week instead of 40 to support obsolete IT systems which are in-progress to get rewritten and hosted externally. At that point, I am not needed anymore. I try to minimize my hours as much as possible. Unfortunately, Production changes are done after 12am on weekdays and after 8PM on the weekends.
    – We try eat out for lunch once a week to get out of the house to avoid going stir crazy.
    – I purchased a personal wifi hotspot for $85 for 5GB that last ONE YEAR so that I can leave house with my work laptop to have lunch and still be available.
    – I also resumed my hobby of collecting vintage toy cars. Spending several thousands this tear so far. Collecting toys is my passion and it makes me happy hunting them down online.
    – I also started to customized and airbrushing my model cars. It is my first time airbrushing so I am learning something new and being creative.
    – I avoid answering work emails that does not concern me. I setup email rules to route them and any spam emails to a junk folder. This minimizes the amount of “bings” sounds for new work emails. I love it when I get less than 5 bings/emails in a day.
    – When my co-worker tries to dump his work onto me I say “No”! It is so empowering to be FI and know that I can walk out anytime and still be financially OK.
    – When there are bad days, I check my pension calculator and fantasize what if I quit today to determine my pension amount. I also check that my 401K is still generating $100 a day from a fixed interest investment. This usually resets my mind to being OK again for a short period instead of being so depressed.
    – There are so many people struggling so I have to stop and realize how forntunate I am to have a job that pays a good salary. I really have nothing to complain about but it is tough to reach the end of the journey. I am so close but it just seems so far away thinking about it everyday. I think this is my problem. I gotta stop thinking about it so often. I need a distraction.
    – Book a vacation on the bucket list. This year we took a cruise to Alaska. It was nice being totally disconnected from work. My cell phone did not work in Alaska. 🙂
    – I get 5 weeks of vacation but without a real backup it is difficult to take off and be away for a week. So, I book many Mondays and Fridays off to extend my weekends.
    – Every payday makes me happy. That means I am 2 weeks closer to retirement.
    – I enjoy looking for municipal bonds that pays 4% or greater. I usually check every 1 or 2 days and it takes my mind away from work for a short period.
    – I love it when my co-workers ask me for help to invest to become FI. I would take the time to give them a detailed plan to reach it. I was a financial and life coach for one co-worker that was laid off. I worked with him for 2 years to review his finances, reduced expenses, encourage him to purge personal items, sell his house and relocate in Florida. I called him everyday to motivate him and to check on his progress. He was laid off one year ago. He is retired and FI now. I really enjoy helping people to reach FI and I do it for free. This is another passion of mine.
    – My wife and I are introverts BUT now, we make it a point to go out and spend time with friends and family. Life is very short so we must make the most of it.

    Adam

    • Anil July 9, 2017, 9:07 am

      Adam – I have to say that’s very impressive! Thanks for sharing.

  • Retiring On My Terms July 8, 2017, 3:18 am

    Your post was a great reminder to me to stop and smell the roses. Thank you!

    I have been inspired by your site and others since I began learning about FIRE, and have started my own blog and have a target early retirement date in four years. But I have been looking at these next four years in the office as something to just survive, and not enjoying the journey. When I get home, I have often been focused on my spreadsheets and my writing, and not spending enough quality time with Mrs. ROMT and our kids.

    Thanks for reminding me to keep living, and to take some time to breathe!

  • Linda@Frugal Turtle July 8, 2017, 10:29 am

    I think it’s great how attentive you are to your wife! Hopefully she can soon either feel comfortable enough to retire early with you, or find a different job that makes her happy! (I’m hoping she retires with you :))

  • Mr. Hammocker July 8, 2017, 3:21 pm

    Burnout is a real thing. It sounds like she needs a break. Maybe even a change in jobs to change the pace and monotony of work. I know I have been at breaking points during my career. Find something that makes you laugh always helps. Thanks for the reminder that we need to focus on mental well-being.

  • Roseanne July 8, 2017, 7:33 pm

    Joe, what a great post and a thought provoking one. Certainly all your suggestions will help her feel your love and support. I would add that she needs a stress relief – something she loves to do, either together or by herself. Like you started the blog, she will need something to do in ‘retirement.’ Perhaps she is going to write a blog too, or more posts for you – I don’t know what it might be. But if she can start to focus on that, knowing that she can fully concentrate on it in 365 * 5 years or 1825 days, it might help. Good luck to both of you – I look forward to seeing how this is resolved. ~smile~ Roseanne

  • Derek @ MoneybyDad July 9, 2017, 2:13 pm

    Great reminders to focus on happiness during the journey. I’m just beginning on my journey towards financial independence after the birth of our first child. My motivation is being able to be with him when and where I want rather than a 9-5 dictating the terms. It will be a long road ahead but he’ll be there to remind me to stay focused and present along the way.

  • GYM July 9, 2017, 5:56 pm

    Great post, I agree it’s important to be present in the moment and enjoy the journey to financial independence. Even here in Canada I would be keen to keep on working in order to receive benefits (we have extended health benefits coverage tied with employment- e.g. coverage for expensive braces etc in the future)- but is there a way that your wife can work part-time at her job? The Monday to Friday grind is so tiring but I think it it were reduced to 3-4 days a week, my stamina for continuing working would be increased.

  • aGoodLifeMD July 18, 2017, 7:09 pm

    Joe, Thanks for relating your experience slogging away those last few years to FI. We’re getting close ourselves and can see the light. But I like my job, so does my wife and also she won’t let me retire anytime soon anyway. Says I need to retire “to” something. So right, so right….

    I like your reminder to loosen the purse strings a bit during accumulation. I think a little spending has huge value for the frugal. I especially like your little trips suggestion. Plan one trip per quarter and youre either always planning, nearly there or actually there. Either way, you’re happy!

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