For those of you who have already taken control of their finances and decided to pursue Financial Independence or to Retire Early, what was your trigger? What gave you the initial motivation to get your finances in order and have a long term financial goal?
In June of 2015 Mr.T’s company started threatening layoffs in earnest. In that moment, we reflected back on our year of unemployment. Though we hated the stress of being unemployed with a new baby and we really didn’t love freeloading my parents’ beach house because we felt like we had failed at independence, we missed those days. We missed raising our baby together. We missed the creative projects we pursued. We missed the freedom of time and location we enjoyed.
We started asking ourselves: What do we really want to do? Why didn’t we do it in 2009 when we had nothing? Our perfect day would be very similar to Our Next Life’s. A day that involves doing good, having fun with our family, and creating would be the perfect day. In our year of unemployment, most days fit this “perfect day” profile. (Add in the beach, and it was quite a life!)
So what were we lacking? Why didn’t we forgo traditional employment in 2009?
- Confidence – We were fresh out of college (I was still working on my Masters thesis!) and we hadn’t proven ourselves. We didn’t know what we were capable of (we still don’t!). We didn’t feel confident enough to buck to trend and try doing something for ourselves.
- Money – We graduated college with some savings and, thanks to our unemployment game, we finished our 10 months of unemployment without eating into our savings. Our savings wasn’t much (though we felt rich out of college!). I don’t remember exactly how much we had, but it was between $10,000-20,000. We proved that we could make enough money to live on without touching that money, but we did have free housing and utilities which helped tremendously. We had a baby. The responsibility of providing for that child weighed on us tremendously.
In the end, Mr.T got a regular job and we moved to Alaska. We don’t regret this decision. We love Alaska. And Mr.T’s job has spoiled us with vacation time. But we got comfortable. We stagnated.
BUT WHAT NOW?
Mr. T and I have since started saving more money than we ever have and paying down our mortgage as fast as possible. And we’re comfortable. Remember how we’re early retirement frauds? Remember how we have 3 potential plans outlined (plus a million ideas that aren’t even outlined)?
We’ve arbitrarily picked 2022. But we’re not committing to Mr.T staying at his job that long. He wants to venture out and find a market for his work.
We find ourselves stuck. We’re making amazing progress forward on our financial goals. But we’re comfortable. Our comfort level keeps us from taking risks. Why doesn’t Mr.T quit tomorrow? Because he doesn’t have to. It’s easier to stay. And it’s incredibly difficult for us to carve out time in our comfortable lives to make a real plan toward jumping out on our own in a level of discomfort.
What are we lacking?
- Confidence – Just like in 2009, we don’t trust ourselves to just go whole hog and make something happen that can support us. And because we’re not being forced into it, we’re having a harder time setting ourselves up to be entrepreneurs like we want to be.
- Money – Our investments recently crossed the six figure mark, but that’s not enough to fund us indefinitely. We’re not committing to working our current jobs until we’re entirely financially independent, but we want to be comfortable in our departure and not have to be too stressed about funding ourselves immediately.
EVERYTHING COMES DOWN TO COMFORT:
If you want to retire early, you need to give up the comfortable lifestyle of spending all the money you have. The more uncomfortable you’re willing to get, the faster you’ll get there.
If you want to make major life changes, something needs to change. And that’s uncomfortable.
If you lose your job, you’re forced into an uncomfortable position and you have to figure out how to work your way out of it. (Maybe these are the lucky ones.)
It took a threat of discomfort for us to come up with an actual plan for our finances that didn’t involve working until 65.
What does your comfort level keep you from doing?