This post is going to be a quick one today — I’m playing nurse for two sick kids and taking advantage of The Sick Day Advantage.
Today’s post is about regrets.
I’m sure you’ve seen those “Top 5 regrets of the dying” posts online. They’ve done the rounds on the internet, and those things certainly seem like legitimate regrets someone might have on their deathbed after a lifetime of a busy career and keeping up with the Joneses.
As a FI-escapee however, most of those regrets don’t really apply to me — I’m not spending my life at the office and I’m living the kind of life I choose to live. Not a life forced upon me by society or financial constraints.
I made the leap, and I’m living the dream.
So how did I get on this morbid idea of life regrets? Well, I was thinking about regrets on one of my walks this week — I try to go for a walk every day (if possible) and on this particular day I was thoroughly enjoying life. The weather was fantastic, my stress level was minimal, and our finances are in great shape, with a 2.43% spending ratio and tons of dividend income.
Life is really good. Being the contrarian that I am however, I couldn’t help but entertain the idea — What if it all went wrong? What if my entire FI plant went to shit, and I needed to go back to work?
Things have been going swimmingly these past three years, but I’m still a pretty cautious person. I’ve already thought of a scenario that could entirely derail my financial independence.
If those horrible scenarios happened, would I wind-up regretting this FI life I’ve chosen? Would I somehow regret not working longer?
First of all, I’ve always said that family is one of the best reasons for financial independence. Being able to leave work and spend the time with my boys while they’re young is priceless. Kids grow up really fast and then that time is gone. There is absolutely no amount of money in the world that can bring that time back, so I’m glad I have it.
While I might not be a perfect parent, I like to think being around when they’re growing-up counts for something. Hopefully we’ve built a meaningful father-son relationship.
I don’t think I will ever regret leaving my career with a fancy desk job to spend time with my kids. Even if I’m forced by economic circumstances to go back to work someday I will truly cherish the moments I had together with my kids.
Giving Up A Career
When people entertain thoughts of financial independence that usually means leaving their job. One of the first concerns that pops into most people’s minds is giving up a career.
Once you’ve left a career for a few years, it’s nearly impossible to jump back into that same career if your FI plan doesn’t work out.
In the event of a horrible FI-failure I will probably need to start my career over — at the bottom again. More than likely I’d need to take an entry level position and reprove myself, earning significantly less pay than when I left my job.
Would I end-up regretting leaving my career because of this?
Frankly, no. I don’t want my old career back. I climbed the corporate ladder for years until I worked my way into a middle-management job. I definitely earned more, but the stress levels were off the charts. I worked weekends, I reported to multiple bosses, and had project outcomes and millions of dollars in company profits resting squarely on my shoulders.
It wasn’t that great a job. It was a ton of responsibility, time and stress. If I needed to restart my career over with a entry-level position, that would be absolutely perfect — low stress and low responsibility, but also lower pay.
That sounds pretty good to me. I’m not interested in management positions anymore. No regrets about careers here!
Not Saving Enough
If our FI plan turns into a giant failure, then the thinking goes, “Well they must not have saved enough. Oops! Too bad for them!”
Is that really the case though? With annual spending last year of $73k and a net worth over $3 million, the actual percentage of our net worth spent is 2.43%. This is a fraction of what many retirement “experts” recommend.
If some devastating economic recession came along and destroyed our net worth, with our conservative spending level we’d actually be one of the last to fail. That’s right, there’d be plenty of bloggers, early retirees, and even plenty of “regular” retirees that would fail long before us.
The 4% rule is a very popular gauge of retirement readiness right now (as is the 25x rule), but I’ve never put much stock into those popular ideas. I’ve always favored more conservative numbers and saved accordingly.
So would I regret not saving more?
No, I don’t think so, and here’s why: Imagine (for a moment) that a much more conservative spending rate of 1.5% is required for someone to 100% successfully reach financial independence. If that’s the case, then we would seemly need to save $4,866,000. Nearly 5 million dollars!
That’s a level of savings that says to me the financial system would be completely broken if I needed to save 66x my spending to save enough for retirement. Investment returns would be entirely unnecessary if you consider how long it would take to save that much and then consider how long the average human lifespan is.
The numbers involved seem too crazy to be realistic. Investment returns after retirement would have to be absolutely horrible for a scenario like that to make any sense.
After considering all these horrible FI disaster scenarios, I’ve come to the conclusion that on my deathbed I probably won’t be telling everyone to avoid financial independence. If anything, financial independence is probably one of the best things that’s ever happened to me. One of the best choices I’ve ever made in life.
If there are things I’m going to regret on my deathbed, it’s probably going to be not having enough time to do everything I wanted.
Despite leaving work at the very early age of 38, there’s just not enough time in this world to do everything. Inevitably there’s going to be some item from my bucket list that I wish I’d done. I’ll probably wish I retired earlier.
What about you? Would you have any regrets if your FI plan failed and you were forced to start over?
[Image Credit: Flickr]