The Fallacy of Security

A dream of early retirement, financial security and independence turned into a plan. We are committed and making incredible progress, crushing milestones. This, while traveling and hitting bucket list items left and right. Life is great. It is a long road ahead (8-12 years) but we are unstoppable IF we can just keep doing what we are doing!

And then, the phone rings. Unexpected news stating that one of us may lose our job contract soon, instead of receiving a full time job offer that we were anticipating. This job accounts for most of our current savings rate, without it, the plan gets fully derailed.

My heart starts racing. I start thinking of 80 million things we could do to try to avoid this outcome or to find an immediate job replacement. I also think of the impact it will have on our life plan. And I go to the worse case scenario obviously, as if for some reason we would never again get another job, ever.

Crap! I catch myself and stop. I laugh a little at the ridiculousness of my imaginary scenarios and how hard it is to break this habit, have a visceral reaction of fear of loss and need to control even the uncontrollable. I would really excel at a risk management job I am sure!

Breath. I tell myself. Go back and read the recently created life plan where I wrote down what I decided were the important and successful priorities for ME.

Item 1: Inner peace.

I pause.

This is it. Life is throwing me a new opportunity to put into practice what I have been working on during the past few months towards my very first  goal. If I am too busy and worried about what we may lose and may happen in the future,  or trying to control all outcomes, I will never be able to enjoy the only thing I do have: a possibility of a good today. And I will be miserable. Ain’t nobody got time for that!

My husband and I get into a philosophical conversation about security and certainty.  This is all a fallacy after all, we decide (while laughing at our collective control freak nature).  Sure, we can (and should) prepare as much as we can but at any moment, the stock can fall, our jobs may go, the earth may fry and we could die! Among other less drastic things but whatever, you know where I am coming from…

We cannot control most of of that but what we can control is the way in which we react to situations like that (except earth destruction and death, then you are happily gone, so why worry anyways? ;)).

And so, I pledge to use this opportunity as practice to better deal with uncertainty emotionally as I am sure this is something that will come along many times, including as we transition to retirement while no longer earning an income (whenever that happens). And I must admit, every time I had a door close in the past, life has treated me to a better opportunity even though we did have difficult moments of transition, so why doubt now that things work out?

Make a plan and then, let go of control, flow, be flexible and trust life to take care of us.  This is all I can do.

Will we succeed? As the great Dr Seuss pointed out in Oh, the Places You’ll Go! “Yes, you will indeed! (98 and ¾ percent guaranteed)!”

How do you deal with uncertainty both emotionally and with actions?

 

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Bucket List

The List

I am fully embracing my mid-life crisis by taking the opportunity to turn dreams into plans and tick off as many things as possible from my list. As such, I am going to use this page to list the things I want to do and cross off those achieved with some notes to have them for my memory bank. I am not going to be devastated if I don’t cross everything off, interests may change and the list may change, but at least it will give me a guide as to what to prioritize to maximize the amount we can do with the time we have left. Here goes!

Travel with kids

Before my little dudes leave the nest here are the places I would love to take them (top priorities):

  • Disneyworld and water parks
  • Legoland
  • Puerto Vallarta
  • Acapulco
  • Puerto Morelos / Cancun
  • Boston
  • Phoenix
  • Washington DC
  • Atlanta
  • Asheville
  • Charleston
  • Universal Studios
  • Atlantis
  • California / Red Woods
  • Yosemite
  • Yellowstone
  • Ixtapa
  • Cabo
  • Merida
  • Oaxaca
  • San Miguel de Allende
  • Quebec/ Montreal
  • Grand Canyon
  • Colonial Williamsburg
  • Hawaii
  • NYC
  • Spain
  • Galapagos
  • Northern Lights / Aurora Borealis (Iceland)
  • Vieques Bioluminescent Bay, Puerto Rico
  • Japan
  • Patagonia
  • United Kingdom
  • South Africa
  • Alaska

Experiences with kids:

  • All inclusive / beach
  • Disney Cruise
  • Camping
  • Sleep on RV
  • Indoor skydiving
  • Indoor rock climbing
  • Day hiking
  • Local lake cabin
  • Pin ball museum / game center!
  • Zip lining kids
  • Ice skating
  • Sleep on a tree house
  • Sleep on a yacht
  • Sleeping on floating home
  • Water skiing
  • Snow skiing / tubing
  • Dog sledding
  • Handgliding lessons
  • White water rafting
  • Helicopter ride
  • Hot air balloon ride
  • Real rock climbing
  • Surfing lessons
  • Trough- hiking
  • Sailing lessons as a family
  • Biltmore Estate
  • Experience zero gravity
  • Horseback riding
  • Skeet shooting
  • Volunteer project

Travel with husband:

  • Great Smokey Mountains
  • Tulum
  • Tahiti (Bora Bora, Moorea and Huahine)
  • North India
  • Peru
  • Canadian Rockies
  • Paris
  • Switzerland
  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • Malaysia
  • Singapore
  • Hong Kong
  • Bali
  • Thailand
  • Vancouver
  • Toronto
  • Greece
  • Prague
  • Morocco
  • Egypt
  • Jordan
  • Colombia
  • Chile
  • Argentina
  • Uruguay
  • Cambodia
  • Laos
  • Vietnam
  • Philippines
  • Indonesia (non Bali)
  • China
  • Nepal
  • Myanmar
  • Seychelles
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Italy
  • Croatia
  • Cuba
  • Miami
  • Chicago
  • Portland
  • Washington State
  • New Orleans
  • Zion National Park
  • Glacier National Park
  • Grand Teton National Park
  • Acadia National Park
  • Olympic National Park

Experiences:

  • Steven Wright comedian
  • Sail boat and yacht trip
  • Ultra light flying
  • Swim with dolphins
  • Jet ski
  • Marathon(s)
  • Sounds of Silence, Uluru
  • Bridging in Peru (jump off bridge like bungee)
  • International First / Business class (miles)
  • Sydney Bridge Walk
  • Tongariro Crossing New Zealand
  • Sky diving
  • Cheap Micheline Star Restaurant
  • Caving
  • Snorkeling
  • Machu Picchu hiking
  • Santa Cruz Cordillera Blanca 4 day trek
  • Cenote swim
  • Obstacle course (high)
  • Lake O’Hara Alpine Circuit in Yoho National Park, Canada
  • Hawkers Markets SE Asia (Malaysia and Singapore)
  • Comedy: Jim Gaffigan live
  • RENT play
  • New Play on Broadway
  • Cirque Du Soleil
  • Shooting Range
  • Scuba Diving
  • One Michelin 3 Star Restaurant
  • Grand Teton rock climbing trip
  • Appalachian Trail
  • Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail
  • Continental Divide National Scenic Trail
  • American Discovery Trail
  • Te Araroa Trail in New Zealand
  • El Camino de Santiago, Spain
  • Rim-to-Rim Grand Canyon
  • Hawaii Volcano National Park
  • Kalalau Trail
  • Tour du Mont Blanc in France, Italy, and Switzerland
  • Caribou Tracks in Gates of the Arctic National Park & Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska
  • Canyoning
  • Volcano hiking at sunrise
  • Silence retreat
  • Private Chef Dinner Course on own villa
  • Peacecorps project
  • Build mulitple houses on a single large lot to sell (one project)
  • Nomadic life with almost no possessions
  • FIRE!

Stuff/ other:

  • Electric car – daily to own
  • Rental of dream car (weekends)
  • Tattoos

What is on your list? What has been hardest/ easiest to achieve?

2017 Mid-Review: Calm After The Storm

The Calm After The Storm

It has been a long time since my last post, apologies. The beginning of this year proved to be one of the most difficult and crazy times for me at a personal level, and I was not able to keep up with this blog.  It got so bad that I finally decided to tackle something I had not done before – declutter fully at an emotional level, figure out who I am and what I want, then rebuild from the inside out.

And so I began a journey of inner exploration where I literally wrote down what success looks like for me along with my priorities. I then matched that against how I actually spend my time and energy and got rid of everything and anything (inclusive of people) in my life that were not lifting me up, aligned with my goals and definition of personal success, while adding new habits that better represented my new focused direction (amazing what % of my time/life non-essential time was taking!).

This hard work has paid off substantially; I have never experienced such personal transformation! I am probably in the most peaceful (light!) and happy place I have ever been in decades. Of course there are always ups and downs, but I feel I now have the tools and habits to keep me going.

I will also hit a big birthday milestone soon and feel the sudden urge to go do all the things I need to do in this life as time is going fast. And so, for 2017 and beyond, my life plan and focus will be on the following areas, with the caveat that I deserve the right to change my mind at any moment:

  • Health: inner peace, mental health and physical fitness.
  • Relationships: focus on my closest 1-2 friendships and immediate family.
  • Travel & Experiences: Both with my kids and 1-1 with my husband. Bucket list established.
  • Work: I would like to get 2 more promotions between now and FIRE day.
  • Wants: three things: 2 cars; one to own (electric) once one of our current cars dies (3-5 years), one to rent a few times (cheap midlife crisis alternative!) and tattoos (eight!).
  • FIRE:  Retire at 51 or 52, with a 3% or less SWR (well, following the market but this is a max). Live a nomadic life once that happens with as little possessions as possible.

How Are We Doing So Far?

I am happy to say that the first half of 2017 is keeping right on track with our plans.

I am healthy on all fronts and continuing to establish good habits for my emotional, spiritual and physical well-being, I feel connected with the most important people in my life – though I have to focus more on the relationship and time spent with my kids in this bucket. As for travel – we have been doing a lot of fun things, especially with the kids. We are trying to offer them great experiences of different types. So far this year we did an all inclusive abroad at the beach (our first one!), we rented an RV to sleep over night, we did proper tent camping as a family and we are about to stay in a tree house and a small anchored boat overnight in the coming months.

I have started on my tattoo list and finalized the design of the others I want, and found the car I want to rent at Turo, so we may give it a shot in the next few days. As for work, not sure how soon the next promotion will come, but I feel very competent and happy about the work that I am doing and I have been good about starting my internal networking work towards my next role. I think I am on track but have no rush. As for physical de-cluttering, we got rid of about 20% of our possessions. It felt amazing! It definitely becomes addictive though….

What about financials? 

As you may recall, our goal for end of year is to finish at $528k, with a debt burden of $118k and about $26.5k each on 529s or $53k total. We also wanted to keep our expenses under $75k for the year, of which $12k are devoted to travel. As of the end of June 2017, this is where we stood:

Assets: $502.5k. We are $25k away from our 2017 goal. Pending a crazy market correction, we should be able to do this and have established a stretch goal of $545k. I have already maxed my 401k and we are about to max the second one at the end of July. Most of our savings will be post-tax going forward.

Debt: $126.5k. We are on track to end at $118k without issues. So far, we are not planning on paying this off more aggressively as it is all in one car (0% interests) and our mortgage for which we are already pre-paying a few hundred bucks a month to finish paying in 8 years.

529 combined: $53.6k. End of year goal completed, unless market correction.

Expenses YTD: $40.6k. On paper, it looks like we are going to be way over budget, and it is going to be very tight to get to the $75k goal. That said, it is still doable to stay within our budget as we have pre-payed most of our vacations already (almost $9k of the $12k budget), along with a few other things like yearly kid classes, so the average should go down substantially (let’s hope!). On the other hand, we also got a dog, so that is stretching us a little more! I will be focusing here for rest of the year.

Lastly, I poked around the Social Security Website to figure out what my expected benefit would be if I worked for 8 – 10 more years, assuming the thing can still pay 100% of benefits. I figured it would be something like $1,800 per month or slightly more, which is not bad, especially considering that I am assuming best case scenario we get 60% of that or really (and what I actually base my FIRE plan on), nothing at all. Still fun to poke around with the numbers. 🙂

Hope your year is going well but most importantly that you are out there LIVING!