Fear Of The Unknown – How Do We Know When Enough Is Enough?

“It is the unknown we fear when we look upon death and darkness, nothing more.”
J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

“and may be even early retirement.”
– BusyMom

[ Day 1 of 2000 ]

The hardest thing in deciding to retire early was determining how much money we needed to retire.. Honestly, it is still scary. We cannot afford to run out of money, say, after 20 years.

Imagine the regrets if one of us fell sick a few years from now, especially after our skills are not relevant any more. Knowing that we could have easily afforded the treatments, etc, had we just continued working a bit longer… That would kill us then and there.

What if GBoy gets into a great school like Harvard or MIT but does not get a scholarship? Will I be happy for him to attend a slightly less prestigious college just because we cannot afford the fees? It would have been fine if we could never have saved up that much. But the truth is, we can save that much. Given the acceptance rates at those places, I think we are safe. But the same scenario could occur with other colleges in their place.

I see a lot of FIRE (financial independence & early retirement) blogs out there. I do not see how they deal with issues like these. Does it make a difference that they are male and I am not? Do I think differently or am I the only one who cares to admit it?

I do not know how I am going to deal with all of that – if and when they occur. What I know is this – I do not want to be on my death bed, wishing that I had spent more time with GBoy instead of leaving him a million dollars.

Now, to the actual numbers. I have no idea if I should say the numbers out loud. Studies, or rather other websites, say that if you could live on 4% of your savings, you can retire on it for 30 years. Considering that our retirement period could be much longer, I think we might need to live on 3.5 % on even 3% of what we have saved.

Our expenses in retirement should be less than 40,000 dollars. At least, that is our aim. We cannot manage it right now. Part of our expenses now are from child care (since we are not home when GBoy gets back from school). We also get a cleaning service to come home twice a month. These are expenses that will definitely be eliminated if I were not working. I also suspect that our food related expenses would come down a bit. We have 2,000 days to practice this lifestyle. Let’s see how it goes. The added expense that would occur is the health insurance. It gets deducted automatically right now, we don’t think of it is an expense. It doesn’t help that our property taxes are high. Our home costs around 500,000 dollars, and the taxes come to around 9000 dollars a year. Living on 31,000 dollars a year including health insurance – I guess it is doable, although probably not a cakewalk.

Before we retire, we would pay off our mortgage. The last thing I want in retirement is to worry about the mortgage. I also do not want to add the value of the house to our nest egg. we plan to live here for a few more years after we retire. At least until GBoy furnishes his school. The property prices may go up, but we don’t know that. Since that amounts to a buffer of about 500,000 dollars, may be we can afford to live on 4% of the rest.

40,000 / 4% = 1 million dollars.

That is what we would need to retire. I am not worrying about the extra treatment or the Harvard fees just yet.

One other thing I know about myself is this. My retirement is not going to be staying at home all day and just wasting time. I am probably going to work as a substitute teacher in the local school system. I will start a few shops on etsy and sell stuff that I crafted. I might even do minimum wage jobs that my town has. My dream job would be to work in the local library. (Note to self: look up what qualification is required for that) I plan to make some money in my retirement. Ideally, I wouldn’t need any of it, and may be I can leave it to charity when I die.

Now that you have seen my thought process, let me share with you my secret. We may not have all of that 1 million dollars when we retire. But retire, we will. We will have something close, and the rest of the expenses will be handled by whatever we happen to make.

Let’s be clear, though. This is not a choice. We have no choice but to take early retirement. The high stress levels, the sleepless nights, the running around we now call life – it has to end. Or we might. One day too soon.


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About BusyMom

Mom, Software Engineer, Dreamer - Can't wait to be less busy! . Please leave me any feedback you can think of. I am still learning and anything you can tell me about making this blog better is very much appreciated. .
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8 thoughts on “Fear Of The Unknown – How Do We Know When Enough Is Enough?

  1. Hang in there. It is good to have goals and remember you can always earn money when you “retire” but do it on your own terms. Few of us fade into the night…

    As for Harvard, they make sure all of their students can afford to go through a huge endowment. So fear not, if your boy gets in there should be money for him there.

    1. Thanks for those encouraging words.
      Our idea of retirement is to leave our high pressure jobs and do something we enjoy. Hopefully that will bring us some money like you said.
      I don’t know a thing about the college system here. Nice to hear that it will be possible. Is that true about all schools? He is 9 now. I have no clue where he will get in.

  2. Hello Busy Mom!
    I LOVE how you put it: it is NOT a choice to retire early. I love love love it! You are so right… this “life” we currently live with 9-5 jobs that give us 15 (!) days in a year for vacation pretty much designed to drain us of our life energy before we reach the golden age of retirement. Back in the day when they created this model jobs didn’t have so much stress. They didn’t have one hour commutes in traffic, they didn’t have bosses that expect you to work night and weekends and put your children to day care at the age of 3 months(!) I want to have a kid but I can’t imagine giving my baby to a stranger at age of 3 months because my corporate job gives me 12 weeks for maternity leave. Thank you so much for saying this. I am inspired now to write on my blog for December 🙂

    1. I know. I have tried bringing this up with friends, colleagues, relatives. Not many agree with me. They think that we don’t have a choice, and we shouldn’t complain either because this is a good life.

      I was working on my PhD when GBoy was born. I dropped out and took a two year break. That is an option. But not something I would recommend to people – Employers seem to look at it unfavorably. They only want to hire people who think careers are more important than your kids well being. It is easier once they know you. I still get questions about why I use up my vacation days on school holidays – They think BusyDad should share half the load. They don’t get it when I say that I want to spend more time with him.

      1. BusyMom,
        Sounds like people have been brain washed to think that the 9-5 prison is the norm and they convinced themselves it’s a good “life”. I was one of them 3 years ago. I felt great I can make very good money by sitting in a clean air conditioned office while people dig ditches or bag groceries for a third of what I make. Then I discovered the Your money or your life book” and it changed my whole life. Some people will always feel that they have to good by going to work every day. I’m sure for someone who is digging ditches in cold and rain an office job sounds amazing. It’s all about perspective. A NO job sounds amazing to me 🙂 so you and I are on the same page. Let’s support each other with pep talks! I agree with you that there is something messed up with a society where an employer looks negatively on a woman who decided to take time away from work to raise her child. That’s why there is so many messed up kids who never got their moms attention and love. I applaud you for doing what you felt was right for your baby!! You are awesome and you rock!!

        1. I haven’t read that book. Will look it up sometime soon.
          I was okay with the regular life, until one day I took a day off for something that took less time than expected. I went for an unplanned walk, and that was like a whole new world for me. I know, I have been getting 2-3 weeks off every year, trust me when I tell you that they wouldn’t match that walk. I realized that I was wasting my life away in a cubicle. We kept saving up, with early retirement on the back-burner.
          Last month, I was looking at how much we get, how much we have, and how much we could save. I realized that we could do it in around 5-6 years time, and here I am.
          Right now, I am looking for high paying side hustles (purely for the money!) and interesting ones (for enjoyment, that I can keep in my retirement).

          1. That is amazing! 5 years is nothing!!! I remember running out to grocery store during lunch and I was wondering who are these people who go to store in the middle of work day (aside of obvious elderly retired and stay at home moms with kids) I decided I want to be one of them. 🙂

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