Over the last few weeks, I’ve been thinking a lot about early retirement. The major reason I blog about dividend investing is to keep me motivated and on track to retire early. But, over the last few weeks, I’ve been struggling with my plans and progress. So, since I keep this blog to talk about this stuff and flesh out my thoughts, here I go.
Here is a post I wrote about 5 years ago about why I wanted to retire early. Funny, nothing has changed. Good to know I’m consistent 😉
The Situation at Work
I have had a love / strongly dislike relationship with my work for awhile. I suspect everyone does, except for those lucky few unicorns that love their jobs and don’t consider going to work, work. Anyway, I’m not one of those guys. My work requires me to travel quite a bit. As with all things new, the travel was very exciting at first, but now that I’ve done it for over a decade, it has long last its magic.
My desire to retire early, other than to have full control over my time, is to spend more time with my family. *please excuse the whining* My child is growing up so quickly. I have missed a little over a YEAR of my kids life due to travel. That’s a bit more than a tenth of the piglet’s time on earth – because of work – that I have been gone and will never get back. Now, 10% might not sounds like a lot, but to me, it sure feels like a lot.
On the flip side, my job has also given me the opportunity to provide well for my family, travel and allowed me to save and invest for early retirement. I am extremely thankful for and appreciate my job.
But, here I am at almost 40 years old with a ten year old kid and wondering how much more time am I going to miss with my family over the next 5 years (45 is my forecasted FIRE age). I can guarantee I will be on the road at least 6 months cumulative over the next 5 years, several time zones away from my family during that time. The more I think about it, the longer 5 years seems!
After almost losing my wife to a complication during surgery last year, I’ve had a hard time justifying what I earn versus the time spent away. It’s been difficult to focus and my work productivity has diminished. While I’m not in jeopardy of losing my job, I feel terrible about not doing my best and being distracted. I am not currently enjoying my work/life balance at the moment.
I suspect all of these thoughts could stem from me approaching middle age. That’s what happens, right? Maybe this is a weird phase that I will get over soon. I hope so.
My Current Early Retirement Plan
Until then, here are my thoughts. I realize I am one, big, hard decision from an entirely new life. I need to refocus at work and dedicate myself to trimming our budget.
Housing is the big variable. I could sell my house now and use the proceeds to purchase a more affordable home, for cash. This would reduce our monthly budget to roughly $3,000 a month. My FIRE number (amount of money invested that I will live off of) has always been 1.2M. This will produce almost 50k a year of growing dividend income.
Where I am Now
Adding up all my accounts and cash sitting on the sidelines, I have roughly 775k of investable assets. My dividend portfolio is currently producing almost 15k a year.
If I were to move all of my liquid assets into the market now, it could safely and easily yield 3.5% or 27k a year (average $2,260 a month). We also have a rental that will net us roughly 6k a year once the mortgage (about 40k left to go) is paid off. So, we could have a little over 33k of passive income if we didn’t have the mortgage on the rental. That’s cutting it too close, I need a larger buffer.
I could take the 200k I have sitting in cash and invest it into higher yielding assets. Preferred stocks are an option, but I don’t have a lot of experience here, and this is a large step away from dividend growth investing. So, if I went this route I would choose a preferred ETF (diversification is key), $PFF is an option and is currently yielding a bit over 6%. That 200k would then produce 12k a year in dividends. That would bring the total income up to 32k from 27k (before the rental). That’s a step in the right direction, but still not close enough.
I am not in a place where I can retire just yet. I need another few years of saving, investing and cost cutting before I can retire safely and comfortably. While I don’t mind sacrificing now for later, I do hate that I’ll miss so much time with my family.
I don’t have a solution other then taking a less stressful and lower paying job. That would push my early retirement date back considerably and most likely put me in a job where I wouldn’t be challenged or enjoy very much. This is an option, just not a good one. Like I said, I’m one big, really hard decision away from a new life. Unfortunately, I’m not quite ready to make that decision just yet.
I would love to hear your thoughts and opinions on this. What would you do in this situation? Or what are you doing? Would you quit your job, take a less stressful job and push your retire date back years? Should I quit my moaning and just man-up? Please let me know in the comments below. I appreciate your feedback!
Dude – looks like you’re doing great to me. I’ve been following your blog for a little over a year and don’t remember you mentioning you wife almost died… I’m sure that will mess with your head. Work is work for everyone – just keep at it and you’ll be ready to retire in a few more years.
Hi Dave – thanks for the comment! Yeah, that was a really hard time for the few weeks my wife was in the hospital. The rehab afterwards was tough as well. Needless to say, I can’t walk into a hospital or doctors office without getting weird cold sweats now. But, thank God she if MUCH better now. Fun fact, her hospital stay cost $289,000! Fortunately we have pretty decent health insurance and we only had to come about 9k out of pocket. If you’re interested, I talk about the details of her hospital stay here.
Downsize home, do the pref ETF thingie then get a chill part-time job. You’ll be much happier, now and later.
I’m working on downsizing the house. It’s easier said then done (I make it harder then it needs to be). If I continue to work and sell my house, I’m going to add roughly 45 mins to my morning commute (that would be 1 to 1:15 in the car each way) to purchase a reasonably sized home that we like. Atlanta traffic is miserable! I believe your correct, I would probably be happier taking a part time job. But I would also hate it if I took a job at a big box store (or whatever) and regretted that I was working there for the next 10 years instead of just working a few more years. Of course, I could sell and rent closer until I’m done working… though, that would be a tough sell to the wife 😉 Thank you for taking the time to comment!
Here’s my 2 cents. I can relate to a lot of what your saying. I’m 40. Lost my father at 62 and was 6 months from retirement. To watch my dad work his whole life and fall short by 6 months complete changed my entire perspective on money and work. Little different scenario than yours but sure makes me think hard about work/life balance like yourself.
My only advice is to take it day by day. The decisions will come to you in due time. Don’t pull the plug on work and wish you didn’t. What kind of work do you do to travel so much?
Money wise I would get good portion of that 200k working for you now..That’s just me.
There’s my 2 cents. Good luck and nice blog????
Hi Wes! First, I’m so sorry to hear about your father! The older I get and the more I see people slightly older then us pass away, the more I come to grips with how quickly life moves. It’s sad, but it’s a blatant reminder for us to cherish every second we have.
I am putting the money to work every month – roughly 3 to $4000. However, last month I ended up investing quite a bit more than that 😉 I really appreciate you sharing your thoughts and I believe you are spot on about taking it day by day. I am trying to do that as intentionally as possible.
If you are on Facebook and in the group dividend growth investing search Beverly cosgrove. She is older and has a thing for preferreds she posts quite a bit about her buys and such and seems pretty knowledgeable about them. Other than that you are doing awesome.
Hi Doug, I am in that wonderful facebook group! If anybody else is interested, here is a link. I have seen the posts about her preferred purchases. She does have a wealth of knowledge regarding topic and the yields she receives are crazy! I have picked up a few preferred stocks (Maybe $400 bucks so far) recently to test. That is really good advice to go back and read what she looks for regarding criteria. Great to hear from you, and I certainly appreciate your thoughts!
Thanks for sharing your story ,I hope you wife is doing well now. I cant seem to find the link to that facebook group can you please repost. thanksalot.
Thank you Sam! Yeah, looks like it didn’t get saved. Here is the link to the facebook group.
Okay, time for my two cents. I’ll keep it concise for you. Do the things you mentioned – Downside the home, look at your utilities, monthly costs and any subscription you have and ask yourself if you need it. Factor in less insurance costs, switch phone plans, just keep drilling down your expenses.
Next – Though you may not retire the minute you downside your home, negotiate with yourself. If you don’t want to be 45 and you are 40 – wouldn’t cost cutting open up more cash to invest and thus – reduce the 45 years old goal and push that downward – say ~43?
Travel – I used to travel for 7 years and I recently left that job. My craziest year was 110 nights in a hotel. I got better at traveling i.e. flying out early and just saying “f” it – I am coming home on a late night flight and would work just a little bit extra, to come home the night before (Thursday) instead of a Friday. Therefore, I would save roughly 2-3 nights i.e. flying early Tuesday, coming home late Thursday or early Monday, coming home Thursday. It definitely took work, but I was able to shrink that down to the 55-65 night range.
Wow Lanny, thank you for your comment and feedback.
I didn’t realize you were a road warrior… you’ve had a lot of nights! I think the most actual nights I’ve had in a year was 82. Of course, all with Marriott (their reward program has really been awful recently). I’m completely with you on taking red eyes to get home. It doesn’t matter if I get in at midnight or arrive at 6am anymore, I always prefer to just get home now!
Downsizing the house is definitely in the works. But, as I mentioned above, this comes with a great time sacrifice with regards to an extra long commute. Your right, once I own a more reasonable home, I’ll be to invest a little over 2k to my monthly dividend stock purchases. That will be huge benefit and help out a ton! 3 more years sounds like a much more reasonable timeline. Obviously, that removes a solid 2 years of cash entering the market and that dividend reinvestment. Those last 2 years are important, but I will do everything in my power to avoid the travel if I’m unable to hangup my boots before then.
Once again, thank you so much for your thoughts, I really appreciate it!
Great article and thank you for sharing some points of your life. I too experienced travel burnout for work. In the end of that career, I covered the US and had to drag myself to the airport.
When my son was 2, I shifted careers and started working from home. My pay was wayyyyyyy below what I was making. The key was having zero debt except for a mortgage. I never missed one “event” with him and also my daughter, not one. I coached baseball with him for 10 years, taught my daughter to swim, ride a bike and then how to drive a car. Any regrets here??? Hell no !!!
What also helped is that I started a side gig. Two websites that offer online training. The extra money is nice and the business will be available into retirement and can be done anywhere in the world.
I think you can stretch your yields up with adding REITs, MLPS, etc. My yield on cost right now is 5.5 % and growing.
Great article again…..appreciate it.
Thanks Steve and well done man! Working from home sounds like a dream and being able to be present for all kids events is amazing! That’s a hard decision to take a big pay cut, but i’m with you on it being the right one to make!
Awesome job with the internet training sites as well!
I’m also with you on beefing up the yield with more REITs. It’s funny, for the last 3 years, i’ve been just nibbling at REITs thinking rising interest rates would allow for better entry points and yields. Still hasn’t happened. I’m beginning to wonder if current rates are the new normal…