Don’t Panic!

Every couple of weeks or so i have a minor anxiety attack – “Are we doing the right thing?”

I think this is natural; society tells us you have to work until you are 65. Society pressures us to go into debt. Society tells us that spending money is good for the country and will boost the economy.

For those of us that have left the work force early and have amassed what most people would call a large amount of money through a combination of hard work and luck it is natural for society to see us as outsiders or slightly eccentric. As such, anyone who lives outside “the norm” (whatever that is) naturally feels a pressure to conform. If you don’t conform then maybe you start to panic that everyone else is right and you are wrong.

When i do panic slightly I sit back, breathe and frankly look at the numbers. To some it might seem arrogant to keep reviewing bank accounts, but if I’ve learnt anything from the FIRE community knowing your net worth to the nearest $100 is essentially the price of admission!

I am of course totally sure that we are doing the right thing. Neither of us misses work; although sometimes I miss the “idea” of work. By that, I mean a career path, planing projects and successfully executing them. These however are all skills that can be used in our current life to plan what we can afford and when.

We know what we can spend each year to keep ourselves in good shape. We are aiming for 2.5% withdrawal rate each year, so even an average portfolio rise of 3% over the rest of our lifetime will keep us being able to increase our withdrawal in line with inflation. We are also lucky that we will be getting pensions from our jobs, they will kick in staggered over about 15 years starting in about 7 years.

College costs for both kids are covered so I don’t feel we have any issues there. Our house is 100% paid for so we don’t need to panic about paying a mortgage. So at the end of the day what is there any actual need to panic about?

This then comes back to society. Society says we should be at work from 8-5 Monday to Friday. Society says that having no formal income coming in as “a bad thing”.

Again when I do start to panic I go outside and look around. We are absolutely not the only people not at work. It’s not like the only people out in the shops are seniors and the homeless. There are plenty of middle aged couples out. Of course not all of them are FIREd, probably many are freelancers or work from home. I appreciate this is Portland “where young people go to retire” and maybe our experiences are a little different to other cities.

I do think a lot of the people we see out and about are “following their dreams” which again is something society says is not for adults. Adults should be working “for the man” and guaranteeing a monthly pay check. So it is gratifying to see people out doing what they want.

At the end of the day when we do panic a little then it just takes a few minutes to get over it; but it is important not to let “society” dictate what we should be doing.

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