The edge of FI is a scary place to be.
For a person who has had to work hard since their teenage years and has stuck it out at the same employer for 15+ years, it feels like a leap into the great unknown.
I am a commissioned salesperson and the company I contract with has been booming for 7 years. Before that boom, we were living below our means, saving and investing at a nice rate. During this boom my income has gone up >7 fold. After the tax-man’s large take, We’ve saved >2/3 of our remaining income and invested it in real estate and index funds. We have a net worth and an investment portfolio that most in the FI community would consider a no brainer for early retirement.
I am not sure I will ever feel secure with the decision to walk away. It is VERY unlikely that I will ever earn this level of income again. The numbers say that I will never need to work again.
These golden handcuffs are hard to walk away from…but my job is killing me. The constant stress and “always on call” position has contributed into a rapid decline in my health and happiness. I was running 40 miles a week and in the best shape of my life before the boom started. Now, too many days on the road and an unpredictable schedule has contributed to a weight increase of over 50% in just a few years.
The voices in my head are firing back and forth producing these questions and answers:
Do I have enough money? Yes! The numbers show you’re more than FI.
What kind of lunatic would shed these golden handcuffs? Someone who wants to buy back years of freedom and start working on a legacy before it is too late.
Should I stick it out to make sure the cushion is super padded? If you keep sticking it out, you may never leave or may never start working on your legacy.
Are the tables and spreadsheets I am using missing some major factor? There will be expenses you’ve missed but you’ve padded things enough that they won’t break you.
What if the market correction starts the day after I retire? If the market correction starts tomorrow, I just need flexibility.
How do I treat the 4% rule? The 4% rule is a guide and you can live off 2%-3% so your success rate should be ~100%.
What if I get sick? You’ll have health insurance and emergency funds to support this.
I am so close…I just want a little more cushion. I can tolerate it for a bit longer, can’t I? I have a countdown set that tells me I have less than 120 days until I should leap. Will I do it then? Will I remain fearful and stay past that date? Will I have a meltdown and leave before that date?
It’s all about the numbers…believe the numbers…ignore all the nay-sayers and fear mongers. Make the leap! Or, is it a really a leap? Maybe it’s just a step?
Stay tuned for more on the story of a high-income salesperson battles their inner voices to decide when to make the leap into the FIRE.