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One More Year Syndrome

 
Artie Scott
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Anyone else suffer from this?  I confess I am still afflicted- the ‘what ifs’ loom large, and seem to outweigh the perceived benefits of pulling the plug.

Articles like this are plentiful in the FIRE space and help a bit: https://www.gocurrycracker.com/cost-of-working-one-more-year/

But ultimately it seems to come down to risk tolerance. And how spendy ones lifestyle has become.

Anyone else struggle with this?  Anyone overcome it?
 
Mike Haasl
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I had similar issues.  My plan was to work full time till I could retire cold turkey.  But then the OMY (One More Year) syndrome kept kicking in.

Instead I found that if I could switch to part time, I could retire from full time work at the earliest possible time and then work part time till I felt comfortable.  That is, part time in the same job or doing a different job for less hours per week.

That gave me the confidence to quit the 9-5 and start enjoying life much earlier.  It kind of takes you from a philosophy of fear and hoarding to one of hope and safety.  At least it did for me.
 
Dale Hodgins
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I have spent years years working for the world's worst slave driver. Myself.

I'm 55. We used to have a life insurance company who ran regular commercials, talking about their freedom 55 plan. But in reality, the majority of Canadians will not retire at 55 and many will still be working at 75.

I have begun the process of quitting what I'm doing, to start a plantation and regenerate some tropical rainforest in the Philippines. Long before I heard of Geoff Lawton or this site, I knew I wanted to do something like that, but one year drifted into another and another.

I met a woman from the Philippines almost a year ago and we got married 2 months ago. We've already begun searching for land and other things, and I've already told my family and those I do work for, that they can expect to see a lot less of me.

I think it's just a matter of deciding what you want. Do you want to continue doing what you're doing, or do you want to do exactly what you've always wanted to do?   I decided that I wanted to live in a food forest, surrounded by rainforest, on a tropical island, with a beautiful young woman. I'm already halfway there.
 
Carla Burke
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Nope. None, at all. I like doing what I want, when I want. I spent so much of my life in crappy financial straights, often gut-wrenchingly unsure how I'd feed my kids, that even a moderate source of *steady* income felt incredibly freeing, especially once the nest emptied. At 55, I've been retired for 3yrs. I keep myself so busy with my own projects, that I look back, and wonder how I got it all done, working for someone else. At one point, in my life, I spent a few years working full time, going to college, full time, and home teaching my youngest, all at once. I can't do that, anymore, lol.
 
Artie Scott
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That is a really great idea, Mike, and have definitely been giving serious thought to going part-time as a way to transition, since I have been struggling with taking the plunge. In fact, I think that will be my goal for 2020 - dropping to 60%.

Carla, I am a bit confused - you found it incredibly freeing to have a steady income, yet gave it up?  Or am I misunderstanding?
 
Dale Hodgins
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For people who wear number of hats, it's usually pretty easy to tell which things are making money and which ones aren't. So rather than quitting completely, it's possible to only take the gravy jobs.

I expect that for possibly as many as five years, I will return to Canada and work only during the peak period. If I work it out properly, I should never have to deal with winter again. I generally make more money in the warm months, and costs are lower. As soon as work starts to fade out in the fall, I'll hop on a plane and head back to endless summer.

Some business is bound to be lost, but I think I'll also be able to use my imminent departure as a sales tool. For those who have already decided that they want me, this pushes them to make the decision and do the job now.

I spend very little money on recreation or anything else when I'm really busy. When we come back to Canada for a three or four month run, I expect to earn at least as much as I normally do in 6 months. There will be two of us. Then, upon our return to the Philippines, we can rest, or go places, without breaking the bank. When you own a home there, the monthly cost when it sits empty, is somewhere around $25 a month. When it's occupied, that might go up to $150 per month, which would include taxes, electricity, Wi-Fi and fuel and insurance for the bike.

Food won't cost anything beyond the labour to produce it. I expect to be selling food within 2 months of getting established.

There will be lots of costs in establishing our rainforest, but our monthly upkeep will be very low. In August, we spent $10 on electricity, $20 on water and about $35 on internet. We used about $15 worth of gasoline.

$80 in total, which is approximately what I will charge per hour when two of us show up to do things for people in Canada.

Once we are earning $100 a day, every day in the Philippines, I will probably stop returning to Canada for work, and put all of my efforts towards the farm.  That's a $36,000 a year. About $30,000 more than what it costs for a couple to live in a rural home that they already own.

We won't be putting huge amounts of money into travel after that point. I will still return to Canada occasionally, to visit my daughters , but it's just as likely that I'll invite them to stay with us and maybe pay for a few plane tickets.

Trying to keep a foot in two continents can be quite expensive. We won't maintain a home in Canada at all. I'll store my car and an old RV at my brother's farm.
 
Travis Johnson
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I never really suffered from that. In 2008 I made what I thought was a pretty sound farm plan, and then carried it out for the most part. In 8 years I was in a position to get done work as a welder at a shipyard (a very lucrative job) and retired at age 42. I have never regretted doing so.

But that is how it works; when you have time, you can save yourself a lot of money doing things yourself. It is almost a Catch 22; you work a real job, and so you have no time, so you hire things out, which leaves you with no money, so you work more, and then hire even more out because you have even less time at home, and it ends up being this vicious cycle that keeps you from enjoying life. When you pull out of that vortex, then every bit of work you do, goes directly into your net worth, and ultimately makes you more valuable. The ability to work equals wealth; the question is are you going to make someone else wealthy, or yourself?
 
Dale Hodgins
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I've never really wanted to stop working. I've only wanted to work at things that I like more. For a long time, I liked demolition and salvage more than I do now.

I really like work where I'm creating something. I really enjoyed it when I was carving for a living, and I've enjoyed building a few things. But there's been lots of drudgery. I have processed hundreds of thousands of recycled bricks. They all look pretty much the same. I've dealt with hundreds of the employees who have personal problems. Their stories all sort of blend together, into one of misadventure and poor choices.

For me it's like a divorce. I'm divorcing my old coworkers, divorcing my old job and marrying a brand new one. Doing something I like, creating something rare and unique. I won't want to retire, but even if I do completely stop working or die, the forest will continue to grow.
 
Dan Boone
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Dale Hodgins wrote:Even if I do completely stop working or die, the forest will continue to grow.



I know I'm trending off-topic, but I really like this perspective.  It matches my own goals pretty tightly; I do a lot of things and make most of my money typing at a keyboard, but I'm past 50 and childless and I come from a small family.  I won't be remembered long in the world after I'm gone.  But when I'm forgotten, if there's stuff that other people value growing on this property, stuff that feeds and nurtures and brings joy, perhaps they will wonder "Who planted this?"  And that will be a good thing.

There's one ancient Keiffer pear tree growing and producing on this property -- the only productive human-planted tree I found here.  The pear is probably not 100 years old, but it looks it.  The property has been in my wife's family for 120 years.  There is no living memory -- not even a speculation -- about who might have planted this tree.  But I think fondly of them every time I pick those pears.  

On topic:  I went through the "one more year" syndrome in the first seven years of my working life.  Eventually the pain of going to the office TO MAKE MONEY FOR SOMEBODY ELSE got to be unbearable.  No matter how I attacked the problem, working harder or working smarter or working longer was always going to mostly redound to somebody else's benefit, with only a fraction of the increase flowing to me.  I found it intolerable, and I quit.  Ever since then (twenty years now!) I've worked for myself.  I've had good years and bad years and middlin' years, from the perspective of money; but they were all good years in every respect that counts.  From time to time I consider dusting off my advanced degree and professional license, putting on a tie, and going to get a job.  I can't think of it for more than 90 seconds without getting a knot in my stomach and a strong sense of existential dread.  Never say "I'll never" was my mother's constant refrain to her children; "Say you're not that hungry yet."  Well, I'm not that hungry yet.  And what I love about permaculture (or, if you prefer, about my odd brand of no-inputs frugal-bastard organic gardening) is that I don't think I ever will get that hungry again.
 
Carla Burke
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Artie Scott wrote:That is a really great idea, Mike, and have definitely been giving serious thought to going part-time as a way to transition, since I have been struggling with taking the plunge. In fact, I think that will be my goal for 2020 - dropping to 60%.

Carla, I am a bit confused - you found it incredibly freeing to have a steady income, yet gave it up?  Or am I misunderstanding?



The steady, but moderate income of our retirement. My bad.
 
John Weiland
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Can't *really* say that I pulled the plug cuz I took took retirement at 56 (and suspending the start of the annuity until age 60) but am now working hourly, part-time at the same place.  The objective was to calculate, prior to retirement, a rough figure of what my annuity  social security + 401k-ish annual pay structure might look like with that early retirement.......and have my current part-time wage come close to that figure.  That way I could 'test-drive' that annual income for how good it was providing for the day-in, day-out.  What I'm concluding is that there are at least two ways of looking at the outcome of the experiment;--how livable the wage is for expenses that I *am* incurring versus how livable it is for expenses that I *should* be incurring.  Meaning, I'm still paring down some of my 'full-time-employment' extravagances, several of which are more difficult to give up than others.  But just to say that the part-time approach has been very rewarding since it still gives me the problem-solving enjoyment that the old job always had, but now with a much more flexible and less taxing schedule.  Now approaching 60, I realize that was a good thing to do since, with age, just more time is needed for home/property construction projects that a younger body could do more easily and for recovery when the job is finished.  For he most part, very pleased with the decision.
 
Travis Johnson
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This is a hard topic for me because Katie and I are stuck at the moment. She has been a stay at home mom for so long, that no one will hire her because she is so far removed from a career outside of the home (7 years), and I can no longer farm. We are really struggling at the moment, but I cannot say I regret retiring early, it is just this is a tough spot we are in at the moment.

If we sold a spare house we have, I would be debt free, and in a great spot almost overnight. If we do not, it will be a hard winter.

So what do i say to my great Permie friends. It would be a lie to say, "Retire, eveything is great", because it can be a struggle. But yet it would be wrong to say "I regret retiring early".

Katie is getting education to be a nurse because she is considered a "displaced housewife" due to my cancer forcing her back into the job market, and I am considered a "Displaced Farmer", because due to circumstances beyond my control, I can no longer physically farm. So I have some educational opportunities too. None of that would have been possible if I had just stayed at the shipyard.

In the end, it is just life. That little tiny dash on the headstone that seperates the day you were born, from the date you died. Everyone's dash is unique, and yet my dash has contained some more risk then some people would take. But I am still glad I took those risks. It has made for a very lively dash, and not predictable and boring.
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