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Author: brewer12345 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 5068  
Subject: Balance in the quest for FIRE Date: 4/16/2004 9:58 AM
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I think one of the toughest things for those of us who are several years away from FIRE is achieving balance between pie today and pie tomorrow. After all, your projected date is pretty hazy because there are a lot of things that could change in the next 10+ years, and the surest way to hasten and firm up your FIRE date is to scrape a little more pie from the "today" to the "tomorrow" bucket. On the other hand, life is for living and it is a cold fact that a certain percentage of us won't live to see the future.

I've really been struggling with this in the past year or two. DW and I have been very good at sacrificing for the future for the past 10+ years. We owned our first home by the time we were 26, have a net worth easily in the top 10% (probably top 2 or 3%) for our age range, have three master's degrees between the two of us (acquired by part time school at the same time as full time work), and are quite good at making sure that a substantial portion of our income still gets socked away. For crissakes, we were both thrilled at the prospect that DW's side business might turn a decent profit this year so that we could shovel money into a solo 401k.

However, we finally decided that we'd hit our limit about two years ago. We were being driven nuts in our condo (under 800 Sq. Ft., with a family of six living in the 2BR above us) despite the fact that our ownership costs were very low, and both of us wanted very badly to be out of NYC. So we found a nice neighborhood in a middle class town in Central NJ close enough for me to commute and pretty close to my parents. We bought a house and sold the condo (at an obscene profit), and we soon thereafter bought a second car. Then DW quit her job because she was making like $3 an hour after paying taxes, commuting costs, etc. She started up her business, which has taken a while to get going. We also have been putting a certain amount of dough into the house (nothing major, but things that REALLY needed to be done, like redecorating and insullating the attic).

We both have a vastly improved quality of life now, and when our first child is born (6 weeks or so) we now have a place that I will be very happy to raise children and the time to do it properly. Looking back, I am amazed that we lasted as long as we did in full-on sacrifice mode. Yet despite this new, better life we have inally given ourselves, I still cringe at the thought of how much of our (reduced) income we are spending. Its tough for me to fork over the incremental couple thousand to get something done on the house, regardless of how badly we neeed it done. I also know that having kids definately ups my future funding requirements (college, etc.).

Don't get me wrong, I am happy with the choices I have made overall. I am still on track to FIRE with a pretty substantial standard of living in my mid 40s. I guess the tricky thing is to walk the fine line of relaxing some of the tightwad reflexes so that I can enjoy what I have allowed myself without becoming completely sloppy on the savings front.
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