m741's ERE Journal

Where are you and where are you going?
DutchGirl
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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by DutchGirl » Sun Jun 18, 2017 3:11 am

Nice to keep reading your unfolding story, m741. Hmm, todoist, maybe something for me, too. I'll look into that.

herp
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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by herp » Fri Jun 23, 2017 4:25 pm

+1 for Todoist. I've been using it for years and like how simple it is for recurring tasks.

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m741
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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by m741 » Wed Jul 05, 2017 7:22 pm

9 months out
A little late due to the 4th of July holidays, but here's what I was up to.
Retirement prep
First things first, I set up a Vanguard Charitable Trust. This was pretty straightforward. It makes sense tax-wise to frontload my donations, which is one thing the trust facilitates. The other awesome benefit is that you can fund it via stock transfers, meaning no capital gains. I had a formerly modest position in NVDA that grew by 1000%, much of which I transfered over.

Speaking of which, I reduced my stock and lending club positions further, and purchased a bit more gold. Again, I'm aiming for a stock-heavy permanent portfolio-type position.

I'm also taking a long-overdue look at monthly finances. Truth be told, this was a very good month income-wise. My flight to Spain was on British Airways, and thanks to consumer-friendly EU regulations, due to an extensive delay it ended up being free. That settled, so basically I was paid $150 to fly to Spain for a week. Not bad! Also a freelancing gig with a childhood friend paid off ($870, well under market rate but I didn't mind). I also tracked expenses. For the past 2 years I'd been using $2293 as my monthly expense, without recalculating. This month I recalculated at $2142. The reduction is mostly due to 1/4 of rent being paid by the girlfriend. Add back in two large entertainment expenses (plants and equipment for a terrarium, and a bunch of heavily discounted computer games from the Steam summer sale). It also included a trip to Vermont (including bus tickets). Still, $150 cheaper ain't bad.

I plan to track expenses again in August, and will take that month and the following few months as an opportunity to realistically predict expenses in retirement.

I've also hit my spending goals on the two new credit cards. Truth be told, I wasn't a huge fan of doing this, my target was $4k in non-rent spending over 3 months, and even paying for joint purchases with the gf and letting her transfer me money (she doesn't have a rewards card), it was tough to hit the goals. I went over the line with a business trip, but in the future I think $3k spend on one card is the most I can manage, unless I can pay rent with the card or something. Furthermore, I observed some nonsensical psychological changes around spending with these card incentives that I dislike. So, I will likely scale back a bit.

I've brought a round of donations to Goodwill, and I've also scheduled two LASIK intro appointments (free). I wanted to do two because otherwise I would just go with the first doctor I visited. Now I know I will have to turn someone down. But, I'm 90% sure I want to do LASIK as a birthday gift to myself for my 30th birthday. It's also a bit of an 'investment' not having to go to an optometrist. But... that will take a while to pay off :).

Mindset
Work has been hit or miss. I just have so much malaise. I tend to wait too long to make lifestyle changes, and here I'm cognizant of the fact but I'm kinda locked in. In college, I remained on the crew team too long after all my friends left; I also stayed at my last job for about a year too long. And here I can feel it, I should have left in the past 2-3 months, either changing teams or companies. But because of the travel timeline I feel locked in.

I understand of course that I could quit early. But I'm making so much money so ridiculously easily, it seems silly to do that when I have a timeline already agreed-upon with the gf. And I could conceivably change teams, but I'd just feel like an asshole knowing I'm quitting in 9 months.

As it is, I'm on a team where I don't really see a reasonable way to achieve our goals, and I'm not inspired by our projects. I've got a lot of thoughts about all this and rest assured I will be less vague once I leave the company, because I think there's a lot of relevance for people in the FI/ER communities.

I don't mean to paint a gloomy picture, it's not all that bad. I'm just not happy and in a (self-imposed) weird position.

In the next two weeks
* Donate another bag of stuff to Goodwill
* Attend LASIK meetings and determine plans for surgery
* Pick a long-term travel backpack to purchase, buy it, and use for business trip. Use trip as chance to re-evaluate long-term travel gear and to build out gear list
* Continue developing Todoist tracking habit

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Chris
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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by Chris » Sun Jul 09, 2017 8:35 pm

m741 wrote:
Wed Jul 05, 2017 7:22 pm
I've also hit my spending goals on the two new credit cards. Truth be told, I wasn't a huge fan of doing this, my target was $4k in non-rent spending over 3 months, and even paying for joint purchases with the gf and letting her transfer me money (she doesn't have a rewards card), it was tough to hit the goals. I went over the line with a business trip, but in the future I think $3k spend on one card is the most I can manage, unless I can pay rent with the card or something. Furthermore, I observed some nonsensical psychological changes around spending with these card incentives that I dislike. So, I will likely scale back a bit.
I hear ya. I try to lineup new cards with big spending (airline tickets, business travel, insurance, charitable donations). But even then, I found $4k in 3 months to be a stretch. And yes, the psychological changes are unnerving. I mean, it's at least good that I can recognize consumerist thoughts, but it's somewhat unexpected that the consumerist forces still approach the gates of my fortified frugal fortress.

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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by m741 » Mon Jul 17, 2017 9:46 am

8.5 months out
It's hard to believe that I'm less than a human gestation period away from retirement.
Retirement prep
I knocked out all of my previous plans in the past two weeks: donated to Goodwill again, attended LASIK meetings, picked out a backpack, and used Todoist. I also made two grants through the Charitable Trust (my company matches several thousand dollars of charitable donations each year, which I always want to max out). I chose the Himalayan Cataract Project and the Conservation Fund.

I attended two LASIK meetings, just so I wouldn't go with the first doctor I visited by default. One is a doctor who's been doing this for a very long time, lots of colleagues had success, and he was a pioneer in the field. The other is a large company (TLC) with many branches. It's $400 cheaper and they will do long-term corrections, but it's also a bit more of a factory feel. I'm leaning towards the first option.

My dilemma here is that the cost of LASIK (roughly $5k) is pretty high, and it's mostly a cosmetic thing. It doesn't enable too much (like a car would). I mean, I want to travel without contacts or glasses, but wearing them isn't that bad either. I've never spent so much money on something like this before and it makes me uncomfortable: that same $5k could theoretically save two lives (with malaria nets) or cure 50 people of blindness (cataract surgery). So I'm making a purely discretionary choice here to prioritize waking up with good vision and being able to scuba dive (or whatever) more easily, for the next 15-20 years, over either of those things.

On a lighter note, I picked up what I hope will be my round-the-world backpack, a Tortuga Outbreaker. It was between this and a Minaal. It's a bigger bag than I had before (28L vs 35L), so I'm adjusting to that. It has the modern clamshell design and is well-built, but feels bulky. Overall I like it and think this is just an adjustment period. I'm currently on a weeklong business trip with this bag. In a month or two I'm hoping to start a 'live out of a bag' experiment for a month to get a feel for gear at a time when it's easy to order new stuff or add/replace things.

Mindset
I don't think much has changed here. I'm getting more excited and more anxious to get started with travel, but it still feels like there's an awful lot to do. Work is tolerable and over the past year or so I seem to have found some way to just zoom through a workweek and hit the weekend. Maybe it's tied to counting down the days to guitting time. I don't think it's a healthy way to live long-term, because the calendar feels like it's just disappearing... but maybe it's keeping me sane right now.

In the next two weeks
* List/sell/donate another 100 items in my apartment
* Close a credit card that's almost hit another annual fee. Find a new credit card for spending bonuses.
* Identify an ideal bank to open a business account with for eventual freelancing gigs. Preferably one that gives me more optionality combined with my current Chase & Schwab accounts
* Continue with Todoist

DutchGirl
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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by DutchGirl » Wed Jul 26, 2017 3:20 pm

Hi, m741 . As an outsider, but with a sister who says her life has changed so much for the better after vision surgery, I'd say: do it. Get the surgery and enjoy good eyesight from the moment you wake up in the morning.

While I see how you could also do other things with your money, if you follow your thinking rigorously, you end up very miserable, working 80-hour weeks, donating 99% of your earnings to charities and only keeping 1% for yourself to pay for your bed in the homeless center and for a cup or two of rice to keep yourself alive. There has to be a balance between buying stuff (and experiences) for you, and for others.

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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by herp » Wed Jul 26, 2017 3:53 pm

DutchGirl wrote:
Wed Jul 26, 2017 3:20 pm
While I see how you could also do other things with your money, if you follow your thinking rigorously, you end up very miserable, working 80-hour weeks, donating 99% of your earnings to charities and only keeping 1% for yourself to pay for your bed in the homeless center and for a cup or two of rice to keep yourself alive. There has to be a balance between buying stuff (and experiences) for you, and for others.
I really like that way of thinking. I often have a hard time justifying spending money, but I'm already far from the extreme frugality end of the spectrum. I think it's pretty helpful to think of it as a scale and then figuring out how frugal or spendthrift you want to be.

Of course, everyone here leans strongly frugal.

At any rate, wise words!

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C40
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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by C40 » Wed Jul 26, 2017 4:27 pm

An important thing to consider with Lasik - how long will it last?

Back 5 or so years ago when some people I knew were getting it, I'd assumed they wouldn't need glasses any more (for basically the rest of their life). Well, now they have glasses again.

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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by m741 » Mon Jul 31, 2017 8:46 pm

8 months out

Retirement prep
I did some traveling in the past two weeks, so prep has been somewhat limited. And not particularly exciting... more donations to goodwill, more investment appreciation, etc. In that sense, staying the course.

My new backpack arrived and I used it for my trip. It's bigger than before and that makes me feel a little weird, but it's well designed overall. And I'd like to use it for a few more trips.

After a lot of thinking I've also decided not to go with LASIK. I appreciate all the feedback (from Dutchgirl, C40, herp). In the end, I will be making donations. As a matter of course my interests have swung more towards effective altruism than before. I won't get into it all here, but it weighed on my decision.

In the end my eyes suck but my poor eyesight imposes few costs on my life. I can just put in contacts and it's fine. And yeah, contacts aren't the most comfortable thing, but they're not something I can really complain about either. To address the "why not donate 99% of everything" question: in this case it was a discrete, discretionary purchase I had seriously been prepared to allocate money for; the benefits are purely selfish and both time-limited and not a substantial departure from my current life. Contrast with travel plans, which figure to be much more expensive, but which offer a lifetime of memories, possible opportunities in other countries, and possibly lifechanging perspective. This I don't intend to make into a charity study.

The fact that it wouldn't have glasses-less eyesight for the rest of my life figured into it as well: my vision would degrade just as someone who currently has 20:20 vision experiences degrading vision. I will be allocating those funds and donating to the Himalayan Cataract Project.

This month I plan to 'live out of a bag' (leaving aside sheets, towels, books, very limited desktop use, and some kitchenware). That would include clothes, toiletries, a laptop, and other travel gear. I think it will also highlight even more strongly what I can donate, and what purchases I will need to make. I realize it's pretty contrived, but it's a first effort.

Mindset
I really struggled while traveling. It's not like a vacation: I'm thinking about work. On the other hand, I'm kinda detached and not doing everyday tasks. I felt like our team was useless and the projects I was working on were not going anywhere. I felt the same way on a business trip a year ago in Zurich.

I had a good talk with my (newish) manager, who I really respect, and he took my concerns seriously. And then we got some very positive feedback during a review, from far up the corporate hierarchy. So now I'm more ambivalent.

I was very seriously considering taking a ~1 month hiatus... if our review had gone poorly I think I would have made that decision.. And maybe I still will, depending upon how things go. I don't really want to leave 6 months of pay+bonuses+stock vests+401k matches+insurance+etc on the table while my gf is working, but I could leave 1 month of that out. It does still sound appealing, on the other hand I'm more optimistic now.

In the next two weeks
* "Live out of backpack"
* Cancel LASIK appointment
* Sell another round of stuff at work
* Close a credit card that's almost hit another annual fee (I called and found its expiration date is the end of this month).
* Identify an ideal bank to open a business account with for eventual freelancing gigs. Preferably one that gives me more optionality combined with my current Chase & Schwab accounts
* Continue with Todoist

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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by halfmoon » Mon Jul 31, 2017 9:20 pm

C40 wrote:
Wed Jul 26, 2017 4:27 pm
An important thing to consider with Lasik - how long will it last?
I've wondered that also. Eyes are so critical that it seems worthwhile to wait as long as possible for the technology to be perfected.

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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by DutchGirl » Tue Aug 01, 2017 1:49 am

On the other hand, traveling with contacts to poorer areas is at the very least a nuisance. Make sure that you always use clean water / clean solutions to rinse the contacts with. An eye infection in some tropical region is easy to get, hard to shake.

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m741
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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by m741 » Tue Aug 15, 2017 7:01 pm

7.5 months out

Retirement prep
I've been making progress. On things from the last update, I've canceled out of LASIK, sold a ton of stuff at work, and decided to open a Capital One account.

I haven't been very good trying to "live out of a backpack," that one is more like "try out a few random small products". In that sense, it's been ok. But I've been much lazier there than I'd hoped.

Overall however I've been making very good progress on my goals. So far this year I've been happy with my goal progress. Each day I track what work I've done on my annual goals. A day where I make progress is a good day, a day where I slack off and do nothing is disappointing. As a result I've gotten in the habit of getting things done. But the past few weeks I've been particularly productive, setting aside a lot of time browsing the internet to get things done. And I feel a lot better about myself.

Mindset
Work has been so-so. I really feel like I'm running out the clock, but it's still over 7 months to go. I made the mistake of looking at working days left and it's something like 160 right now. That feels both like a lot and like frighteningly few. I think the next 2-3 months will be the slowest for me (as the last 2 months have been). Then I think things will really fly. Here's the breakdown, as far as I can anticipate.

* June/July - were slow at work, dispiriting. Quitting felt kinda far out.
* August - slow so far, but I'm gonna be traveling for three weekends. Including several Fridays off. I think that time will fly.
* September/October/November - Lots of travel and events through the first half of November (hiking w/Dad, 2 weddings, trip to Denver, trip to Connecticut). Trying to get in nice-weather NYC stuff.
* Second half of November/December - The usual holiday stuff. Plenty of time off. But, because things are unofficial, probably will drag a little.
* January - Tell the boss I'm leaving. Once I've 'locked it in', start to make moves in earnest, start getting rid of 'essential' stuff like pots and pans, furniture, etc. Start to figure out how to finish up stuff at work.
* February - Lots of post-FI trip planning, finishing up things in the city.
* March - Short/lazy days at work? Or struggling to finish stuff up? When at home, frantically prepping move, craigslisting, finances, etc, before quitting.

We'll see how that plays out. When I list it this way it doesn't seem like a whole lot!

In the next two weeks
* Close old credit card, open new one, since I hit another spending bonus.
* Lots of travel, but prep a list of additional stuff to sell. Put a price on all books that I intend to get rid of before moving.
* Move forward with asset re-allocation (more in VTSAX, less in other Vanguard stock funds, drop some individual stocks).

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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by m741 » Sat Sep 09, 2017 6:42 am

6.5 months out

Retirement prep/mindset
It's funny how much my feelings or attitudes change in a short period of time. That's a recurring theme throughout this journal, I think.

I just got finished running the gauntlet of introvert-antagonistic weekends, combined with extremely stressful/busy work. It's just left me wanting a 2-week staycation. First it was 3 days traveling with the gf in a rental car for her birthday; then 2.5 days traveling with the gf's friends and others to a house in the woods for a weekend; then 5 days in Denver with the gf and her father. Little time alone throughout.

To top it off, my work is highly current-event dependent and there's been a ton of extra work with the repeated hurricanes in the Caribbean that's kept me at the office for 10-12 hours per day.

I'm exhausted and this weekend doesn't look like it'll be restful with Irma poised to strike Florida. On the other hand, the work has been rewarding and I feel like I'm making a real impact inside and outside the company, for the first time in a long time. So I appreciate that. I've been thinking a little ahead to the time *after* the trip. I want to end up on the west coast, and Washington is the top of my list for tax reasons (for at least a year). My company has offices in Seattle. If I could somehow work 3 days per week in Seattle that would be ideal for me (though personally I'd prefer to live in a smaller city). There is a rarely-used work-sharing program I might be able to take advantage of. And finally if I return to the same company within a year, all the stock that was pre-vest will be returned to me to continue vesting, which is a pretty good value. So I think this is what I will angle for if I leave. Two more years part-time as I settle in on the west coast sounds great. If that doesn't pan out... oh well. I can live without work :)

In the next 2 weeks
Do all the stuff I had planned to do...
* Open new credit card, since I hit another spending bonus.
* Prep a list of additional stuff to sell. Put a price on every book that I intend to get rid of before moving.
* Move forward with asset re-allocation (more in VTSAX, less in other Vanguard stock funds, drop some individual stocks).

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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by m741 » Sun Oct 01, 2017 9:52 pm

6 months out

Retirement prep/mindset
Time flies, and now it's just 6 months from when I get on a plane and fly to Spain to start the round-the-world trip. Hopefully things are a bit calmer there :).

I'm afraid it's not very exciting here. I keep chugging along and my mindset has been pretty stable. I really need a break, I feel burned out at work. The closer I get to retirement, the more grateful I am for this opportunity... and the more I feel spoiled by my work opportunities and ability to save. I guess it's the Protestant work ethic. Maybe reading other round-the-world travel accounts, where commenters jump on people and shout how impossible it is, and how lucky people are, is getting me down.

A few concrete steps I've taken in the past month:
1. I'm really plotting out my expected income for 2018. Here's what I'm looking at: normal salary (3 months), 2017 annual bonus (paid 2018), bonus for being oncall, 401k match, HSA match (my company incentivizes 401ks), payment for unused vacation (probably around 16 days), stock vesting. All of this adds up to something substantial enough that I don't think I'll regret staying until next April.
2. Substantial travel prep. Found pretty much all the physical things I want to buy prior to my trip, and added them to a camelcamelcamel watchlist, for when they go on sale.
3. Large asset reallocation. Over the next few months I'm going to move to a more conservative portfolio, to balance out sequence of return risk for the next year or two. I'm also revisiting some old fund decisions to see if I can move to comparable funds with lower fees.

In the next two weeks
1. Re-list and sell additional another round of stuff at work.
2. Box up a few shelves of books that I will be holding onto for sentimental value.
3. Read the entire 20-part "Ultimate Guide to Safe Withdrawal Rates" on Early Retirement Now.
4. Set up Google Voice account.

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Chris
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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by Chris » Sun Oct 01, 2017 10:03 pm

m741 wrote:
Sun Oct 01, 2017 9:52 pm
I really need a break, I feel burned out at work.
...
payment for unused vacation (probably around 16 days)
Would you feel better actually spending the vacation days, instead of having them paid out?

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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by C40 » Sun Oct 01, 2017 11:02 pm

I believe Google Voice has been changed entirely to Google Hangouts (and that it was mostly just a name change)

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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by m741 » Mon Oct 02, 2017 7:50 pm

@Chris - You make a good point. But... I made the mistake of calculating what each day would be worth if I cashed them out, and I can't really justify the cash value of an extra day off :). Especially given the short timeframe and upcoming holiday season. 16 days would be the total 6 months from now, including 3-4 days off for various activities/moving chores.

Of course I could just close my eyes and try to ignore it. But I think it would be there at the back of my mind.

@C40 - I just wanted the additional phone number/redirect/transcription. All of that still seems to be offered (I just signed up):
https://voice.google.com

Not sure about the Hangouts connection.

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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by m741 » Mon Oct 16, 2017 10:28 pm

5.5 months out

Retirement prep/mindset
Work's been... work. One thing I'll note - one of the things I've always been most bummed about with programming is how arbitrary it can be - learning arbitrary function names and the arbitrary mechanism that some internal application uses. And as I get closer and closer to the 'cutoff' date I care less and less about learning that stuff.

I'm also struck by how backwards a lot of my career has been. I would have been better served starting at my current company than the financial one I did before. And I'd have been better served starting on the tech stack I currently have the opportunity to learn than on what I started with, and especially what I worked on the past 2 years. It gives me a bit of the blues - on the other hand, I've been very well remunerated and overall work has been pretty kind to me.

On a more positive note, I am super psyched about some of the stuff I plan on doing while traveling - personal development and other projects that will occupy my spare time. In short (leaving out stuff like reading/meditation), I'm planning on focusing on fitness (running/hiking/bodyweight fitness); the arts (writing/sketching/gouache); language (Spanish mostly). I see this as an opportunity to refresh my interest in programming, and to explore stuff I've put off in other areas or where I've had less time while working. For example, I was doing a bit of drawing, but when work doesn't interfere, chores do - I'm looking forward to chunks of free time. Same with running - I just ran a half marathon, and I look forward to training and (maybe) running in some places around the world. Programming - I get so burned out after work, but I really want to do creative programming work again when I'm not thinking about it 50 hours/week.

Practical stuff
* I just (tonight) bought tickets to Madrid, for our trip!
* I sold another round of stuff at work (books mostly). Soon I will be getting into the stuff that's more difficult to sell - things that I use or that represent aspirations that I have to set aside.
* I've purchased a number of shirts and small travel gear that was on my list, as I found very good prices.
* I set up a Google Voice account.

Stuff I will do in the next 2 weeks:
* Open a separate bank account (for freelance work/taxes).
* Read the entire 20-part "Ultimate Guide to Safe Withdrawal Rates" on Early Retirement Now (forgot to do this last week).
* Pack up 3 boxes of books/knick-knacks to store in my father's house during our trip.

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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by m741 » Thu Nov 02, 2017 10:35 pm

5 months out

Retirement prep/mindset
It's pretty wild that I'm 5 months away from quitting and traveling around the world. I've been prepping more seriously - selling more stuff, packing up some of the keepsakes and stuff I want to hold onto. I'd like to have under a vanload of stuff by the time I'm through - selling basically all my furniture, 95% of my books, etc. Between myself and the gf that may be 2 vanloads.

I've basically listed every single book or DVD for sale, that doesn't have a sentimental attachment to a family member or my childhood. That's a great feeling. I still have to take care of some other stuff - trying to sell some old coins, etc. But the apartment is actually starting to feel emptier.

We've also started booking some stuff. Two flights, two airbnbs. The gf has dramatically improved her credit rating by paying off privately held student loans and qualified for a card with good airline miles. I'm hoping to get another card with miles, and maybe we can squeeze in a third (another one in her name). That would cover essentially all of our flights for this trip. AirBnB basically allows you to rent and pay with a credit card, which means that spending goals are eminently achievable.

Financially, I have two big open questions: first, what to do about health insurance? I'll likely need a year of insurance, then at least one of us will probably be working again. I really need to research this; health insurance likely overlaps with travel insurance, too. Second - how should I invest? I've been moving away from stocks. The market is making me a little nervous. And there's some indication that a higher bond/gold ratio would reduce sequence of return risk early in retirement. On the other hand, I already have more saved than I need... so the sequence of returns should matter less. I need to do some more reading. I'm beginning to suspect that index investing is somehow overrated. I just hear it hyped *everywhere*, always a worrisome sign.

Outside of the explicit retirement prep, I'm also starting to look forward into retirement itself. Or, beyond work. For example, I'd like to do some painting, so I've started looking at that. And I had a minor scare with back pain a few weeks back, so I'm trying to be more active and responsive to aches and pains. The last thing I want is to ruin my back in the last 5 months before I retire, right before a trip I've been planning for years. As a result, I've been taking a boxing class 2x/week, for the past 3 weeks.

I'm planning on taking Thanksgiving week off. I feel overall like I'm limping into the finish line, I need the time to recover and I think that week off will let me finish strong.

Oh yeah - it's also 96 business days until I quit. That feels a lot shorter than 5 months.

Stuff I will do in the next 2 weeks

* Look to book a few more AirBnBs.
* Continue working out, painting.
* Plan for and meet with tax consultant, implement any required changes afterwards.

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Chris
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Re: m741's ERE Journal

Post by Chris » Fri Nov 03, 2017 3:11 am

m741 wrote:
Thu Nov 02, 2017 10:35 pm
Financially, I have two big open questions: first, what to do about health insurance? I'll likely need a year of insurance, then at least one of us will probably be working again. I really need to research this; health insurance likely overlaps with travel insurance, too.
Yeah... it kind of sucks to pay for expensive health insurance in the US when you'll be spending so much time outside the US.

US health insurance will probably run you $400/mo. That will vary based on your location, so moving out of NJ before your globetrotting year will have an impact on price.

As a US citizen, you're required to have qualifying health insurance or pay a penalty at tax time, unless you have an exception. One exception that might be applicable to you is Exception C: US citizens physically present in a foreign country for at least 330 days of a consecutive 12-month period. If you fall into that bucket, I would forego the US insurance and just get travel insurance.

Before signing up for travel insurance, you should also consider the medical benefits you are already covered by with a credit card (CSR, for example). And depending on the country, also consider if it is even worth it to have insurance, or if self-insuring is more practical.

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