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AliFool's post on this board and the FI/RE board got me thinking about my own personal financial journey and more particularly, the last 4 years. The MOOTFL board and the FI/RE board are the only boards I read and I rarely post to either because the spare time I have allotted to the boards get taken up by just reading.

After reading this board since its inception, it would seem that most have/had the same inner turmoil regarding MOOTFL vs. FI/RE. I tend to go back and forth on how I want to spend my future years and have yet to resolve the conflict. I use the term “conflict” rather loosely considering it is a good problem to have: basically planning for FI and choosing either to retire early or getting in the slow-slow-slow lane.

I have always been highly motivated to succeed regardless of the endeavor. At the age of 12, I would mow lawns and do other odd jobs for neighbors and quickly put the money in my 5 ¼% savings account waiting for the quarterly statement to arrive in the mail so I could savor the interest returns. I anxiously awaited my 15th birthday because that is when the only restaurant in town would start hiring dish-washers. I worked at that same place all through HS and college putting myself through school. By then, I learned about money market accounts (10%+ at the time) and continued to increase my savings. By 1983, I discovered the world of investing and consumed as much info as I could on stocks, bonds, and 401ks etc... After graduating with a computer science degree, I put all I could afford into my 401k, IRA's and some stocks. I was thinking at the time that I would be able to retire in my mid 30's due to my discipline and relatively high income as a software developer.

But things did not work out that way. My wife, whom I adore BTW, is a “stop and smell the roses” kind of a person with absolutely no interest in financial things. Her eyes would glaze over within the 1st 30 seconds of any money talk. The 1st 15 years of our marriage saw too many conflicts with her over-spending and my over-achieving financial goals. Most of the time, she won out as I would have to stop investing and pay down debt. The funny thing is that she never spent money on herself but would do it on me and the kids. She also came from a poor irresponsible family who would constantly badger us with requests. I would say no, and she would give them money often without telling me. She had the classic attitude of wanting to give her kids everything she never had as a child. I resented that since I made “ALL” the money while she was a SAHM.

It came to a head 5 years ago, about the time our 1st of 3 kids entered HS. It became painfully obvious that we were spending more than we made (can you say “credit card run-up?). I also flipped out when I found out that my SIL (and other moronic relatives) had received thousands of $$$ from us over the years. I almost had a nervous breakdown and had thoughts of suicide and divorce.

Except for this conflict, my wife and I always had a terrific relationship. We finally had to sit down and do some serious “money talk” without the glazing over. We went away for an entire day together to figure out how to resolve the conflict. She agreed to stop giving away money to the “dumb relatives who were destined to be taken care of by the state”, stop the ridiculous spending on the kids while making them earn there own spending money, get a part-time job, burn the CCs, LBOM and follow a budget. My part of the deal was to loosen up over financial matters a bit and budget some money for living for today.

It has been 5 years now and for the most part, we have both held to that initial agreement with some modifications on the way. In truth, my wife has the strong MOOTFL personality while I have the FI/RE mentality so we tend to balance each other out. We are both happy now and have learned the art of “compromising”. We love each other dearly and are totally committed to each other.

As a result of our financial mistakes, there will obviously be no FI/REing in my 30's (I'm 41 now). I put together the classic FI/RE strategy (no debt, EF, investing 30% of income) during the summer of 2000, a few months after I found the RE board. At that time, I estimated FI/RE at the age of 47 which was 9 years away. After 3 years of a dismal equities market along with a very foolish over-allocation in tech stocks, I have revised my FI/RE date to 10 years from now when I am around 51.

This brings me back to the point of this post. I don't want to be in the “IT” industry for 10 more years, at least not in the same capacity that I am currently in for several reasons:

- Age discrimination is a problem that I consistently see in my colleagues. Why pay an 80k salary to a 45 year old when you can hire a 23 year-old who will work 70 hour weeks for 45k?
- Although I do like what I do (database programming & web development), I catch myself daily thinking that I was cut-out for something else
- The worst part of the day is my commute. It takes 2 hours with a 7-4 schedule and 2.5 hours if I work 8-5. I hate it with a passion. I feel I can tolerate it for a few more years and that is about it. I will either move to the city (I don't like city living either) or will have to change to a closer job that pays less)
- My life passion is being an athlete. When I'm at work, my mind often drifts off towards strategizing how I can improve my work-out schedule, hurdling technique (I was a decathlete), improving my son's high jump form, oldest daughter's jump shot, youngest daughter's (8) batting form and , well I think you get my drift. I should have been a coach and may pursue that later in life.
- I am tired of always learning the latest software technology for my job. It used to be fun and exciting but now it is laborious and boring. Especially when I have to do it after hours.

So I have been considering other options on how to get my FI/RE date closer than the age of 51 or transferring to MOOTFL lifestyle with less pay but more time. Here are some of my 1st attempts and thoughts:

- 1st attempt was to convince wife to work full-time. By saving 100% of her income, our FI/RE date would get close to my original estimate of 47 years old. However, I could not get the wife on board this one. As I said before, she has the MOOTFL personality and also insists on being home for the kids when they are out of school. With a 2nd grader, she does not want to work full-time for another 10 years so she substitutes at the local school and is seeking a regular position that has summer's off. I respect that and admire her convictions even though I prefer she establish a career. Not going to happen so I have crossed this off my list.
- Once this economy turns around, I probably will have the opportunity to do moonlight contracting again just as I did before the latest tech recession. I can save every $ I make towards a sooner FI/RE date. This has huge drawbacks and is non_MOOTFL to the extreme. When I did this in 1999 (Y2K jobs) I worked 70-80 hour weeks. This is how I paid off all the cc buildup.
- MOOTFL option: when I have had enough of the commute or the “IT” career, take a sabbatical and get the teaching/coaching certifications. Get a coaching/teaching job in a rural school environment. Both my wife and I could have the summers off. I would most likely sell our current home and buy a smaller one at the new location and be mortgage free. With our LBYM lifestyle that we have established, we could easily live on a teacher's salary and whatever my wife brought in with plenty to spare. Even contributing to our IRA's and teacher's retirement accounts.
- Stay the current course and shoot for 10 years. Doing something about the long commute might make all the difference and keep me happy.
- In the event of a lay-off, take advantage of the severance pay and consider going into contracting full-time. This option is appealing to me because you can generally work as much or as little as you want. With LBYM lifestyle and a big EF, you are not dependant on the bi-weekly check. You can also schedule sabbaticals which I only can dream about now.

Well, I know this was long and if you made it this far, I hope I explained my thinking process clearly enough. I am not whining. As I said before, this is a GOOD problem to have. Most Americans are so caught up in their mortgage and SUV payments that they never have even considered a FI/RE or MOOTFL lifestyle.

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