Boxed In?

My wife and I decided 6 years ago that we wanted to be financially independent from our jobs by the time I was 45 (she will be 42 at the time, but doesn’t think it would be fair if I had the opportunity to retire and she didn’t, so we settled on a co-retirement). 45 is an arbitrary date, and we may end up changing our end goal, depending on how our finances are looking at the time, or if there are any changes to our current goals.

Working towards a concrete goal with a date in mind is helpful to me because it gives incentive to follow the plan I have set out in order to meet the set goals. I’m a procrastinator by nature, and not having any financial goal would lead to leakages, and an eventual “collapse” in the entire plan, along with probably a lot of inefficient spending made by my entire household.

On the other side of having this kind of plan, my wife and I have so far dedicated ourselves to a pretty aggressive route to retirement. On a day to day basis, most of the financial stuff takes care of itself – we don’t spend very much and therefore passively accumulate quite a bit of money naturally. Where our plan has kind of “boxed” us in a bit is that we require a fairly significant amount of money coming into our investment accounts on a regular basis in order to fund our financial plan.

I worry sometimes that we’ve limited some of the flexibility we may have in our working life by going down the Early Retirement path we’re on. Realistically, we don’t really require very much money to live on. We have no debt and could maybe right now add some flexibility to our lives. For example, instead of working 40 hours right now, we could reduce our hours to a percentage of that at jobs that pay less, but may allow for a different or more rewarding experience on a day to day basis.

Our main tactic to ensure that we aren’t “stuck” with a decision we made a number of years ago is communication and flexibility. If my wife or I decided tomorrow that we wanted to go for a job that paid half as much as she’s making now, we would have a discussion over the impact to our future plans and work it out – this kind of long-term plan requires buy-in from both my wife and I, and if either of us were unhappy with what we’re doing for most of our waking hours, the whole thing won’t work.

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