I have an unhealthy obsession with FIRE math

Folks, I need some help. My obsession keeps me up at night, and comes up far too often in conversation with my partner.

I can’t stop doing the math.

For the past two years, as I’ve narrowed in on a minimum viable early retirement number, I can’t stop staring at the numbers. My poor Google spreadsheet must think I’m some sort of perv, opening it at 2am, alone in the dark, just to take one more look.

But I don’t need another look.

I know that 4% of $600,000 is $2,000 per month. I know I can live on less than that, because I do and have. I know that I want to stop working full-time but I know I won’t stop earning completely. I know that I will find new projects and find interesting other ways to make money when I finally have the time to do so.

I know I’ve been working full-time more or less since I was a teenager. I know 17 years of my current career is plenty.

I have a list of so many things I want to do with my time! Including this blog!

And yet I’m afraid. More afraid than when I lived in a big old house full of roommates who were students and they would all leave for the winter break and I would be there alone for two weeks and the laundry machines were in the dark basement so I washed my underwear in the shower so I didn’t have to go down there.

I’m afraid of a lot of things.

The awkwardness of being close

Being this close to the end goal is tough when your end goal is the bare minimum. I tell myself it’d be a no brainer if I had a little more, but can’t you always have a little more? Where does it end?

At $400k it was obviously too low. At $500k it was doable, but still a bit below my target. At $600k it’s exactly my goal. Should I overshoot? Should I have some safety net? Or do I start now building the future I really want?

And I think that’s the other key — how much different the future can be. Other than the time commitment, my work isn’t bad. It’s not all that interesting but it’s easy and I like my coworkers. What I do dislike is getting up, getting dressed, having a schedule, etc. Scheduling vacation makes me feel so trapped! The freedom of working on whatever whenever for myself would be amazing.

And I know, because I’ve seen it before. Younger me helped build a company and put ass over barrel to do it, giving up everything. It was hard, but we had a large amount of freedom in those early days. (Until we grew and it got out of hand and I was working just to keep it running without thinking about the lifestyle I wanted and not focusing on my FIRE goals and blah blah blah that’s another story!)

Okay, yes, I know these are actually great problems to have. I am blessed. Lucky. Fortunate. I am all of those things and I know it! But that doesn’t stop the thoughts from swirling.

Maybe I should start doing heroin to relax? No, no that’ll cost too much. There’s just no easy answer!

Didn’t your site say you’re retired?

So I may have jumped the gun on the description and started this blog with the description saying I was retired. Yes, I have the bare minimum saved that I always assumed I’d save and then leave full-time work life. But I’m making decent money now. I could keep working! I’ve got a serious case of one more year syndrome.

Maybe I actually started this blog as a way to live the life before jumping the gun. Sort of a toe in the water kinda thing. I don’t know. But at least I’m writing this today and not staring at my spreadsheets!

Has anyone else been in this position? Got any tips on curbing my obsession? Or if / when I should pull the trigger?

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4 thoughts on “I have an unhealthy obsession with FIRE math”

  1. I had to do a double take on your post when you wrote you can live off less than 2k a month! You definitely have this FIRE thing mastered! I am a little concerned about your want to retire with 600k at 36. You are not even half way through life and that 600k isnt going to be worth half that in 30 years after inflation. 600 may go far right now but in the future it may not be able to provide you with enough food to live my friend.

    I’d love to hear your thoughts.
    -Ryan

  2. Hey Ryan!

    Thanks for the comment! It’s like you’re the other half of my brain that keeps me up at night haha.

    I should write a whole blog post about this. But here’s the quick and dirty version!

    • I’ve been on < $2,000 / month for well over 15 years, so I got that shit down. :) When you consider inflation in that time, I've actually decreased spending a lot to keep it there! I grew up dirt poor so $2k still feels like a spendy life to me!
    • The $2,000 considers inflation, so both the $600k & the $2,000 will be marked to increase with inflation. In 10 years I should have $750k-ish (so, not spending all the interest made) or I will have too little and will have to do a little work to top it up. The goal is to keep the purchasing power and withdrawal rate the same, not the concrete numbers.
    • It’s a risk! And if it fails, it fails — doesn’t mean I’m not going to try. Maybe I’ll change my mind in a few years and want 18 children. Hard to say. But right now taking the risk of getting away from steady, scheduled work to benefit my mental health and general life fulfillment, well, that’s a worthwhile one to me!

    Hope that makes sense!

  3. It’s awesome that you can live on 2k a month! Did you calculate emergencies and healthcare into your plan? If so, I say go for it! But if the fear is eating away at you, could you put it off maybe one more year to have a bit of a cushion?

    1. Hey Melanie! Good Q! Healthcare is “free” where I live (I’m not American, though all my numbers are adjusted to $US). Emergencies are a good question mark. I’ve included every big one-time thing I’ve faced so far in the $2k/month max, have insurance covering big things, family is all self-sufficient (I’ve checked!) so I can’t think of what else I might need money for. That said, I am still working and am up to $615k now so I probably will keep working until there’s a good cushion! As much as I may hate to let fear run my life, a little safety net is good 🙂

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