A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstream.

Where are you and where are you going?
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Miss Lonelyhearts
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstream.

Post by Miss Lonelyhearts » Fri Nov 18, 2016 7:01 pm

Love the journal; appreciate your posts. To put my comment in 7w5 terms--

It's my preference that you consider the possibility that your statement "I'm a bad man," while endearingly tongue-in-check, is a pre-emptive request for absolution from personal feelings of guilt. I make the suggestion because you've posted it twice in recent threads in regard to employing the nuclear option relationship-wise. As options go, it's a good one to have, but like the real thing, it's most productive for both parties when used purely as deterrent. Also like the real thing, use is apt to trigger feelings of remorse, which brings me back to my above stated preference.

Only you know your friend. It does seem a shame to set aside seven good years over one unflattering comparison. Tempers flare. Heads get hot. You freely admit you and her ex have one thing in common--bad man ( ;) ). Mayhap she regrets the choice of words. Very possibly she doesn't. Only one way to find out.

(Consider also that one of these three facts may be incidental to the other two: 1. My subconscious intervened. 2. She made unflattering comparisons. 3. I pulled the pin.)

IlliniDave
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstream.

Post by IlliniDave » Mon Jan 02, 2017 11:41 am

2016 Year End Summary

Obligatory Lumbering Introspective Essay and Thoughts on the Real Side of Life

2016 is in the books. The good news is that I'm a year closer to ER. My not-to-exceed date is inside of 2.5 years now. I have a lot of latitude for moving that date forward if it seems prudent (or at least desirable).

I haven't been doing much on the forums here, although I am still an occasional lurker. Life has sort of filled up for me (mostly good) and so I have less time and energy to devote to the internet. It was something that's been brewing as I've dusted off a couple of old hobbies and things having picked up at work, but all the post-election angst was the straw that broke the camel's back. It's not just here, I dialed back my participation in all online communities. It's been good to spend more time disconnected.

I missed one or two updates, so I just tallied up the 2016 totals and left it at that.

The numbers are:

Invested Assets and Net Worth

In the quarter total invested assets increased by $30,600 after contributions.

Net worth is up $31,000 for the quarter and $168,700 for the year. I exceeded all of my projections relating to year end account balances.

Savings and Spending

2016 savings as a % of gross income: 56.2%.
2016 savings as a % of after-tax income: 76.1%.

Average monthly spending for 2016 was $2,625 which is above my target of $2,416.

A new number I calculated: my personal inflation rate from 2013-2016 is 3.9% per year and has been fairly steady.

2016 spending (excl. inc tax) as % of gross income: 17.8%.
2016 spending (excl. inc tax) as % of after-tax income: 24.1%.

ER Status

With 31 December 2016 as my first day of ER, I would expect to deplete 3.8% of my financial assets getting to my 70th birthday. Some of the prior numbers I reported were slightly optimistic due to an error, since corrected, that I found in my spreadsheet.

If things proceeded exactly according to my nominal plan my average withdrawal rate from age 52 to age 70 would be 3.58%, and from 52 to 85 would be 2.09%.

My 2016 spending equates to an approximate withdrawal rate of 4.8%. This was computed by taking each month's spending, multiplying by 12, and dividing the result by my invested asset balance at the end of the prior month. Then, the 12 calculations were averaged. Going forward with the same spending and no non-investment income sources, 2016 spending equates to a 4.2% withdrawal rate.

Net of expected proceeds from downsizing my house I might anticipate around $2,017/mo of spending over several decades to be supported by my financial assets alone.

Conclusion

2016 did everything I needed it to regarding my path to ER.

IlliniDave
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstream.

Post by IlliniDave » Wed Jan 25, 2017 4:43 pm

In the last 48 hours I've passed the tipping point where, if things proceed according to the set of assumptions I built into my nominal post-ER plan, and if I stopped working today, I'd anticipate a slight growth in financial assets between now and when SS finally kicks in (~ age 70).

So there's that.

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cmonkey
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstream.

Post by cmonkey » Wed Jan 25, 2017 5:29 pm

Sounds like it's time to turn in the notice!

IlliniDave
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstream.

Post by IlliniDave » Thu Jan 26, 2017 8:52 am

cmonkey wrote:Sounds like it's time to turn in the notice!
I was just thinking this morning that if nothing much changes I'll probably not last through the summer. My heart's just not in it any more. Not that my career per se has ever been a passion for me, but I enjoyed the camaraderie and after the first 12 years or so the pay got to be pretty good. Now the money is not so essential, and through time and motion my network of enjoyable colleagues has fallen below critical mass. As the camaraderie wanes I feel increasingly isolated. With my mom back in chemo and my sister still working through a health tale of woe, the "pull" is again strong. On the other side, if I forgo these last 28 months I leave a lot of money on the table and the pragmatic part of me chafes at that.

Either way, in about 5 weeks I'll hit my 30th service anniversary, and I can't say it hasn't been a good run.

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Fish
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstream.

Post by Fish » Sat Jan 28, 2017 6:57 pm

First of all, congrats on making it this far and reaching another financial milestone.

Thought exercise. Suppose you were already retired, and you were offered your job at the present level of salary, benefits and future incentives. Would you accept it? Are you continuing down the same path due to inertia?

I don't think retirement has to be a binary decision either. You might be able to negotiate a consulting position, reduced work schedule, remote work, sabbatical, or even continue full-time but cherry-pick the best parts of the job to better align it with your web of goals.

Also check if your employer would allow some kind of "pre-retirement leave" that would allow you to stop working immediately but claim early retirement benefits in 28 months' time as if service were uninterrupted. With 30 years under your belt that would be a very reasonable request.

There are a lot of parallels between your path and mine (only that I'm ~20 years behind) and I'm watching your journey closely so I can gain the benefit of your experience. Best of luck as you continue to navigate your post-FI life!

IlliniDave
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstream.

Post by IlliniDave » Sun Jan 29, 2017 9:39 am

Fish wrote:First of all, congrats on making it this far and reaching another financial milestone.

Thought exercise. Suppose you were already retired, and you were offered your job at the present level of salary, benefits and future incentives. Would you accept it? Are you continuing down the same path due to inertia?
Thanks Fish,

Indirectly I've been through the thought exercise you suggest. The answer would be if I found myself unemployed today in the financial position I'm in today and could replicate my current job in a geographic location that dovetails better with my future plans, there's a decent chance I would take the job, or at least think seriously about it. Here where I live now I probably wouldn't take the job, I'd just bail. Unfortunately, telecommuting/working remotely isn't an option (due to the nature of my work). Plus, I've concluded it would be next to impossible to find equivalent employment back home. I'm in too much of a niche.

It's a mix of inertial and desire for some additional financial margin that hold me back now while the pulls to leave are as described in my prior post.

My company is a large and stodgy one so they're habitually disinclined to be flexible with policy in individual cases, but I think I will investigate whether there's any wiggle room in the LOA policy for someone close to retirement age, or if they have a "pre-retirement leave" policy that just doesn't get advertised much. Those are good ideas so thanks for mentioning them. I may not get to check out immediately without taking a hit, but might be able to leave 6 mos or a year in advance of turning 55 without the significant hit to retirement benefits (which is now the lion's share of the cost of leaving prior to "retirement age").

I could go part time, I know several people around my age who have taken that step, but I'd still be hanging my hat ~650 miles from where I want to, and while I'm here I may as well work full time to maximize the financial side of things.

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Fish
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstream.

Post by Fish » Sun Jan 29, 2017 10:45 am

Also given your mother's health situation(*), FMLA would allow up to 12 weeks unpaid leave while protecting your job. Maybe you've already been making use of this.

A large employer might also offer a similar type of LOA which would be longer duration but not job-protected. In your case it seems the goal is making it to age 55 to collect retirement benefits, so taking time off unpaid (without causing a break in service) while having the option of returning to work seems ideal.

And if you happen to get laid off during an extended LOA, it might actually work to your advantage to collect some form of severance and even unemployment benefits if you're so inclined.

(*)I think FMLA is allowed for immediate family only (excluding siblings) while your employer's LOA offering may include your sister. Basically, the point I'm trying to make is that fully understanding your employer's policies is critical to maximize your benefits. I'm advising this like Jacob advises people to understand the tax code. It's a high return on effort activity. Read the policy manuals (the actual controlling documents that HR would refer to for making decisions). Talk to HR about your family health situation and ask what the company can do to allow you more time with your mother and sister. (BTW, I wish them the best and hope they will fully recover!)

IlliniDave
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstream.

Post by IlliniDave » Wed Feb 01, 2017 7:24 am

2017 January Review

I've decided to streamline these monthly entries. I got in the habit of reporting a lot of data over the last couple years mainly because discussion of metrics and numbers was much more prominent around here at the time.

January was a pretty good month. Expenses were relatively low for me, right around $2K, and growth in invested assets was above normal at about $24.5K. As I mentioned a few days ago, If I were to ER today per my nominal plan/forecast I'd have about $700 more on my 70th birthday than I do today.

I've done a good job rehearsing my future leisure-driven lifestyle, having logged a little over 40 hours of guitar practice and spent about a third that amount of time writing during the month.

In the wide sense I'm still in a holding pattern, wrestling with balance between topping off the coffers and getting on with life. My NTE walkaway day is currently 849 days off.

IlliniDave
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstream.

Post by IlliniDave » Thu Feb 02, 2017 8:54 am

I ran across some old papers recently and from them I was able to recall today is my four years free-of-meaningful-debt anniversary! I still use a "rewards" CC to funnel all my bills/purchases through but it gets paid in full 2X per month.

From a psychological/emotional perspective that day was a big deal to me.

IlliniDave
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstream.

Post by IlliniDave » Wed Mar 01, 2017 10:01 am

2017 February Review

February was a pretty good month. Spending was $2,499 for the month (bought some guitar toys and opted to cough up $265 for a new control unit for my garage door since the old one died).

Growth in invested assets was $23,700. I'm a little over 30x anticipated average portfolio withdrawals through age 70.

If I were to ER today and the future mimicked my nominal plan/forecast I'd expect growth of about 2% in my financial assets by my 70th birthday.

Solitude has been the theme. I've substantially lowered my online/social media profile, including here, in 2017 and it's starting to become a habit. I continue to mull over some options for mods to my future plans. "That day" is becoming ever more tangible and it's a little nerve wracking.

Tomorrow is my 30th anniversary with my employer. Dunno if I'm lucky, good, or stupid. You decide.

My NTE walkaway day is currently 822 days off.
Last edited by IlliniDave on Fri Mar 03, 2017 10:59 am, edited 1 time in total.

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jennypenny
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstream.

Post by jennypenny » Thu Mar 02, 2017 7:36 am

Happy 30th Anniversary! I think it's cool that you've been with your company for 30 years. It's so unusual now. I know it looks like people are stuck/resigned when they do anything for that long, especially to young people, but I see it more as 'dug in' or planted.

OTOH, 821 days to go ... :D

IlliniDave
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstream.

Post by IlliniDave » Fri Mar 31, 2017 9:12 am

Q1 2017

Okay, still technically a day to go, but I expect nothing too dramatic to occur today.

Spending was about $2,700 for March, not great but not awful. For the quarter I averaged about $2,400/mo which is okay and easily below my retirement planning bogey (though the numbers are not quite apples-to-apples).

Growth in invested assets for the quarter was a little above $70,000 (plus/minus what happens today) which, if I don't give too much back today, will stand as my best quarter since I've been keeping track. My invested assets are a bit over 32x anticipated average portfolio withdrawals through age 70. If I look out to age 80 I'm above 50x.

If I were to ER today and the future mimicked my nominal plan/forecast I'd expect growth of about 1.3% in financial assets by my 70th birthday. That number's a little inconsistent with prior reports as I continue to refine my mega spreadsheet (which usually means correcting errors).

My tentative launch date is 2 years and 2 months from today. A couple years back I made up a schedule/list of to-do's counting back from the day I leave Alabama for good. Once June arrives and I'm inside two years I'll be "on" that schedule.

I'm getting a little intimidated by the prospect of really doing this.

IlliniDave
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstream.

Post by IlliniDave » Thu Apr 27, 2017 2:30 pm

Seems Like it's Always Something

More potential seismic shifts at work. Can't go into much detail, but I will probably have a ready-made "excuse" to hang up the old pocket protector in the next few months. Unfortunately it comes at a time when both the health insurance and tax landscapes are headed for some amount of upheaval.

I was finally able to express in words my reluctance to quit before age 55. I will take a hit in retirement benefits to the tune of approximately $160K fair market value by leaving the day I'm 54 and 364 days old (or sooner) versus waiting until my birthday the next day. With now 30+ years service time, I feel like I've earned the full benefit and that losing it because of age is arbitrary. I probably don't really need the "money". I'm like the Monkey pulling fruit from the jar. In the past I've obfuscated and couched this mostly in terms of financial risk, where more honestly it's possessiveness and a sense of entitlement. However, knowing that doesn't change anything. If I walk away now, 2 years early, I'll feel like I've been duped.

If I'm lucky maybe they'll lay me off. With my service time I'll get the full benefit and then can probably get on with my life in peace.

Igotgoals
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstream.

Post by Igotgoals » Wed May 03, 2017 6:54 am

Hoping this works out in a way that is easy for you to accept. It's tough when you've planned carefully and the rug is pulled out from under you.
Not that this development derails you - you will have a stable retirement - but I understand how you feel about deserving what you were working so long towards.

IlliniDave
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstream.

Post by IlliniDave » Wed May 03, 2017 7:25 am

2017 April Review.

Dull numbers:

I don't have the precise numbers in front of me (I'll update later), but from memory invested asset growth was around $16,500 for the month and spending was a bit under $1,800. The latter is pretty good for me--I wish I could do it consistently. April marked a historic event in that it was the first month on record where actual spending came in below the monthly spending that would correspond to a 3% withdrawal rate.

Had 30 April 2017 been the day I left work for good ...

My invested assets plus anticipated proceeds from downsizing houses were about 33x anticipated average portfolio withdrawals through age 70. Through age 80 I'm above 50x.

If the future mimicked my nominal plan/forecast I'd expect growth of about 3% in financial assets by my 70th birthday.

Short-term Future:

My countdown says the balance of my sentence is 758 days and 9 hours. That simultaneously seems long and short. I'm in mental/emotional gridlock. For now I'm hiding out by immersing myself in the process of figuring out how much/little I should with my house before selling it. I'm starting to lean towards unloading it sooner rather than later even though if I wind up serving the whole remainder of my sentence here, renting for part of it will be a financial net loss. The trade off is that I think getting that chore behind me would alleviate some stress.

I found out this past weekend that there's another grandchild on the way, due in December. I also found out my second-favorite auntie has received a grim/terminal diagnosis. Cancer, of course. Being that she's already got a pacemaker and has been on oxygen the last 6 months or so, she's opting just to let that hand play out without intervention beyond keeping her comfortable. She was a larger-than-life figure in the family my whole life, a capital-E extrovert (most of the family is gregarious to the point of being obnoxious) but she always sorta made a place for her nerdy little introvert nephew. Seeing the end coming for so vivid a person is a blunt reminder of mortality.

Then there's the wrench in the gears at work I alluded to last week. Not much clarity there yet. I'll keep my fingers crossed and hope I can run in front of the oncoming avalanche for a time.

As always, I'm pulled in many directions. It gets tiresome. At some point soon I'll need to check out and do whatever it is I'm supposed to be doing. If I'm honest with myself I recognize that I might not be able to last the 758 days, even if I have the option, and I don't know what to think about that. For my whole life one of my "strengths" has been the ability to slog through the long-haul stuff.
Last edited by IlliniDave on Thu May 04, 2017 6:49 am, edited 3 times in total.

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cmonkey
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstream.

Post by cmonkey » Wed May 03, 2017 7:32 am

Work shifts suck big time. Seems I go through one every 1-2 years as well. I've had 3 different cubicles since starting my current position 3.5 years ago. I'm pretty sure it's the only role that facilities plays - lets just move people around, because we 'are'. The next will be in just over a year with another retirement (if not before). I think my biggest fear is somehow being forced into some change I don't like, such as a change of office building or being forced into traveling a lot. I let my mind run away sometimes. In the end, I'd manage it fine and have the option to say 'NO' as well. See what they do.

halfmoon
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstream.

Post by halfmoon » Wed May 03, 2017 10:01 am

The prospect of losing a loved one is always tough, and on top of your work concerns can be almost overwhelming. I completely understand the mental/emotional gridlock. This is common enough when you're faced with change (fear), and yet you don't have complete control over the terms and timing of that change (frustration). I tend to freeze up when that happens.

For what it's worth, I'd go ahead and sell the house now -- without fixing it up beyond things that will help it pass an inspection and/or easy cosmetic items like replacing the front door or planting flowers. The anticipated net loss from renting should be worth the forward progress and alleviation of stress. Maybe it wouldn't be a net loss anyway, because most real estate markets are pretty hot right now. Who knows if that will continue for 2 more years? You also don't know if the tax code might change in that time regarding the primary residence capital gains exclusion.

As you probably know, realtors will give you a competitive market analysis showing what they think your home will sell for. They can also advise if there's something cosmetic you could/should do to make the home sell quickly. If you were in Seattle, you probably wouldn't need to do a thing besides listing it, but I don't know about your local market. I generally advise getting 3 different agents to submit CMAs. This is assuming you plan to sell through an agent, of course. I know most people here advocate the FSBO approach, but I believe that a good agent provides tangible value.

In any case, your outlook should improve once you know how the work situation will play out. Also: spring is here! :)

IlliniDave
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstream.

Post by IlliniDave » Wed May 03, 2017 11:28 am

cmonkey wrote:
Wed May 03, 2017 7:32 am
Work shifts suck big time. ... I think my biggest fear is somehow being forced into some change I don't like, such as a change of office building or being forced into traveling a lot
Yeah, it's exactly the same kind of thing for me--if I try to stick it out I might end up in all manner of unpleasant places/situations. In the past necessity made me more resilient to such things. I won't say I'm change averse, so long as the change is self-directed.
halfmoon wrote:
Wed May 03, 2017 10:01 am
The prospect of losing a loved one is always tough, and on top of your work concerns can be almost overwhelming.
...
In any case, your outlook should improve once you know how the work situation will play out. Also: spring is here! :)
You're right, the uncertainly makes it worse. It's out of my hands so I shouldn't let myself worry about it.

I've got data points from a pair of realtors, so I guess I should get a third one. I'm leaning in the direction you suggest--selling and getting it over with, but there's much inertia to overcome.

My mom's currently battling Stage 4 cancer since 2014 and one of my sisters was declared in remission from Stage 3 last year, but she's had a slew of non-cancer (but serious) health problems in the aftermath, so the news of my aunt is really just more of the same on my lil' plate. All that about my mom and sister is probably many pages back by now.

For those who were following, btw: They put Mom back on chemo last December, but took her off in March. She responded well, but there's a relatively new drug that got advanced approval she qualified for. Because of the advanced approval it's only supposed to be available as a last resort, but her doctor has been eager to make the switch for some time, so I think there was a little exaggeration of the severity of the side effects from chemo to slip in under the bar. I have a couple second hand data points on the drug and it seems to have efficacy with little in the way of side effects. We're all cautiously optimistic for now. So not all the news is bad!

IlliniDave
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Re: A Journey of Mindfulness--the Remaking of Life in Midstream.

Post by IlliniDave » Wed May 24, 2017 7:48 am

Sort of a Spam Post

Since Jacob's Law of Journals says I need 500 posts before I qualify ...

My aunt passed away last week--once the cancer showed up she went downhill very quickly. She's the first of my parents' generation in the family to go, so aside from the expected sadness I am wrestling with the value of time again, specifically how many dollars are the next two years and one week worth. Or, to borrow from a recently retired colleague, identifying the moment the company can no longer afford whatever time I have left. May age also incremented earlier in the month, and the larger number each year keeps reminding me that I have decisions to make. My middle of the road calculation says the difference between quitting now and 738 days from now could mean a coupla-three hundred $K less for each of the kids down the road, or the equivalent margin in my own financial position should things get hairy. That's a lot of money in the mind of a kid who grew up on the wrong side of the river in a rust belt town.

Yet barring essentially all forces in the world aligning to subvert my plan, I'm in the "more than enough" zone already. I even pushed hard on my semi-catastrophic scenario calculations (assumed both my employer and the gov't reneged on retirement benefits with moderately higher inflation and significantly lower investment results than I expect). That scenario would drive me to three-quarter rations and leave me broke at 85 if I work two more years, at 80 if I bail this year. I think I talked a little about that in a different thread maybe. It takes that highly implausible scenario (implausible in my view anyway) for me to say I "need" to keep going for a while longer. It seems more likely I'm just too fearful of closing the valve on the money hydrant.

I'm inclined to search the night sky for signs. But the weather around here has been overcast. If there is a sign to be read it's that so far this year the period from mid-April through May has been the coolest and most pleasant weather-wise I can remember here. I can usually count on the late spring heat to remind me of the urgency to flee northward.

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