Thinking about FIRE: our why, numbers, obstacles
December 27, 2016
Sunday morning, after the first half of the morning shift, I prodded PiC to go off and do his thing – gym, run outside, whatever. I would occupy JuggerBaby. Ze and I unloaded the dryer together: I pulled out a tiny person’s armload at a time, ze ran it to push each load onto the bed. By the time we were done, there were eight molehills of clothing all along the bed’s perimeter.
We sat down on the bed together, sorting and folding, quietly reading. PiC stretched out on the floor, “for just a minute”, then dozed off. JB and I read several pages, folded half the laundry, and then ze ran for another book. We finished folding the rest of the piles while we read Stomp! six times in a row, always ending with a satisfying ROAR on the last page. It’s a great book. Ze slid off the bed and fetched an alphabet puzzle, and proceeded to identify the animals on the letters. We clearly have some work to do:
Baaa! – the sheep
Moo! – sorry, hippo, you’re a cow now.
RAHHH! – this one is true, lions do ROAR.
Roaring is such great fun that ze had to slide down to share with the now deep in sleep PiC. Standing over his head, ze stretched out zir arms and quietly whispered “raaaahhhh!” Three times, each time more quietly but somehow more emphatically, while I stifled my laughter and carried zir back to the bed: “no roaring at Dad right now, he’s sleeping!”
Ze was so very worried about leaving dad out of the revelation that lions go ROAR that I had to propose a game of Caps for Sale to distract zir wherein you try to stack as many caps on your head at a time as you can.
It was a great weekend. I want more of that goodness, not just on the weekends.
I don’t want to be a SAHM, I don’t have the energy for that, but I do want to have more of those moments.
It’s no secret that I’m building wealth for our future, and lately I’ve been thinking about what and why I’m building towards. Or rather, I’m absorbing there’s more than just the standard “before I become crippled” reason.
For more than half my life, I’ve battled chronic illness twins of pain and fatigue. At 21, I was already exhausted by being exhausted every day of the past 8 years and predicted that my decline could leave me crippled by my 30s. While things aren’t that dire yet, today’s bad days are a few steps up on the Richter scale than a bad day 13 years ago. The consequences are more dire, too. This affects everything.
But more than that, having a great career to support my family just isn’t good enough. Creating a power career, making the money, saving the money, investing the money, making sure we have enough to live til 80 or 90 with adequate care – that was all dreamed of. The bounty of these past few years reminds me there’s more to the journey. There’s joy, and food, and travel. There’s being present in the moment, along with ensuring we’re ok in our old age.
Maybe it’s all the memories of lonely Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks where my family didn’t have time or energy to celebrate, lonely weekends where I volunteered to help friends with their chores so that I wouldn’t be home alone. I was lonely whenever I wasn’t helping my parents work. Now it’s my turn in the parenting seat, and I don’t want to just survive. Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful to have survived this long. But despite the constant setbacks, the tumult of life, I still find myself wanting more for us. I find myself wanting early retirement so PiC and I can enjoy as much life together as we can.
I only just read Ms. ONL’s posts on why they’re aiming to retire early this week, and this resonates deeply with me. In my case, while my parents were forced into early retirement as well, I’m the one with the disease and no certainty that I’ll have many good years ahead of us. Nothing is promised, so it’s more important to me than ever before that I find a way for us to enjoy as much of our lives as we do have.
What stands in our way: family and uncertain health
I’ve been taking a vacation from my responsibilities as a daughter and maybe some responsibilities as a sibling. The bills are still getting paid but I needed to deal with my feelings about Dad, and how to move forward.
The jury is still out on any responsibilities I have as a sibling. My brother has been nothing but harmful to me, both directly and indirectly when I had to clean up his messes or live with the consequences, except for a very few times he wasn’t. But even if a broken clock is right sometimes, those times don’t mean it’s not broken, right? Bad analogies aside, I needed some emotional distance for a while.
It’s been months and I’m just at the point of accepting that this is the situation. I need to reduce their reliance on my income, and I need Dad to be in a safe situation where his basic needs are met. Whether he decides to meet us halfway so he can be in JuggerBaby’s life or not is up to him. That’s not up to me, and I don’t need to take that on myself anymore.
What I have to decide is what to do now. It should start with moving him to a new place but the rent at the current home is lower than rents for apartments a third that size. He doesn’t need the size but I don’t need the expenses to go up. That’s a huge barrier – his living expenses, and potentially health care costs. I have no intention of planning an exit from the workplace only to find ourselves depleted if he has a long illness like Mom did.
On that health note …
Our ending to 2016 is a jab-to-the-ribs reminder that health costs are neither fun nor small, non-catastrophic costs of elective but not so elective care get serious fast. I don’t expect we’ll keep having expensive “elective” care every year, but it’s not safe to assume we’d want to have the choice should the situation arise. Plus we have a kid who is somewhat accident prone and it’s our responsibility to ensure to the best of our ability that ze gets the best care ze needs.
We have great insurance now, but I have to do research and guesswork to estimate what it could cost us in retirement, assuming another ten years in the workplace.
If I had to say, I’m probably less than optimistic about our future goals, though not deep into pessimism territory. This isn’t a bad thing – it keeps me driving forward, it keeps me from feeling complacent and being complacent.
:: What are your thoughts on your eventual retirement? Do you have a good idea of how you’d like it to look? How are you planning for it?
*Part of Financially Savvy Saturdays on brokeGIRLrich. *