August was the month where I would say that “this sh*t is getting real”. With just 7 months left before my FIRE Escape date to early retirement on April Fool’s Day 2016, planning & preparation are definitely moving into full swing.
August has been a quite eventful month for a few reasons and there has been a lot of volatility in the stock markets to add to the excitement: Here’s my checklist of things I got done this month:
- Read Ernie Zelinski’s book “The Joy of Not Working”. Good inspiration.
- Had my last annual physical at the MegaCorp medical center. Good health.
- Had my second-to-last Dentist visit. Good teeth.
- Started my new “side job” – a corporate board role. Good meetings.
- Met with our tax advisor. Good numbers.
- Continued to update my countdown flags. Good fun.
- Watched the stock market rock & roll. Good luck!
While the stock market fell -4.3% in August, our nest egg has remained pretty resilient at +1.9%. The difference maker for us has been a sizable holding in my former MegaCorp employer’s stock, which has stayed strong through the Wall Street panic, remaining +4.4% for the year. Since these shares are in stock options, they have positive leverage and a better than average impact on our total portfolio.
I also continue to sit on enough cash to cover our spending needs for the first three years of early retirement, so I’m not too worried if we truly fall into a somewhat extended down market. I resisted the temptation to move some of our cash into the market when prices initially tumbled. I had daily bets on what the market would do each day with a co-worker, and I probably could have made a little money (with a lot of downside risk).
Additionally, our charitable giving fund – comprised of all of our work salary in our last year of work – has gotten quite sizable. I’ve deposited our paychecks for April, May, June, July & now August into a money market account, separate from our household & retirement savings. We’re not spending much time thinking about what causes it will support. That can wait for early retirement. That said, I do need to figure out the best way to give it away so that we can maximize the tax benefits of the money. Right now, we’ve saved the after-tax dollars, but if we can donate it in a tax-advantaged way, we’ll be able to almost double the giving fund.
I’ve also (very gradually) begun to share with more people (outside of work) that I am on my “last lap” in the corporate world. I haven’t given out all of the details I have shared here, because I know I could still get cold feet, be offered some incredible opportunity, or even benefit from a headcount reduction and win the severance lottery (unlikely). What details I do share are greeted with a great deal of surprise and looks that seem hard for others to understand. I haven’t worked out a smooth explanation for why I want to retire early. While I have a lot of things I plan to do, but haven’t found the simple soundbite that help me articulate it a little more concisely.
Lastly, I find myself planning out the final 30-45 days I will work before my FIRE Escape next April. What will I do when? Who will I talk to in what order? Where will go on my first ‘day off’? What trips do I want to line up now? I would like my final act to come off with a lot of thoughtfulness & meaning, so it is fun to play through scenarios in my head. Any suggestions on how to finish up?
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