My profound wife likes to say that often the “days go slow, but months go fast”. That feels appropriate to my situation, as I am surprised that I have just 6 months left to my planned early retirement (on 4/1/16), despite the fact that I recently wrote that time seems to be moving slower than I thought it would.
Six months is still a long time – yet, at the same time, it seems like I am now very near the daunting precipice of the unknown. My thoughts are increasingly “who does this?”, “who leaves their successful career 10 years early to enjoy a life of independence and leisure?” and “will I be wasting my god-given (and relatively highly paid) talents?”
While I wrestle with my fast & slow consternations, I am also watching our nest egg through the relative volatility of the financial markets, that started in August. At the end of September, I see that the value of our retirement portfolio is largely unchanged from a month ago. Here’s where we sit year-to-date through September (+2.0%).
Not to bad a place to be, given the benchmark S&P500 returns for the year sit at -6.3%, the international EAFE index is at -4.2%, and the bond market is -0.4%. The thing that is helping our nest egg is that about one-third of our portfolio is represented by stock options in my former Megacorp employer. Their stock is up +5.4% for the year, and the growth is roughly doubled with the leverage I have on the options. I’m glad that they seem to be straightening their performance out – they were very trouble a year ago – and happy that our holdings are keeping us up for the year.
Our “One More Year” Philanthropic Fund has become a huge amount of money. We’ve set aside all of our paychecks since April, planning to give away our final year’s earnings to charitable causes in early retirement. With a half-year to go, it is already much more than we have ever given away to help a charity (and we haven’t been slouches in that area). It is so much, in fact, that we now have to strategize with our accountant how to most effectively give it away in a tax-advantaged way. Otherwise the federal government will get half the money we intended for charity. (Thanks, Congressman Donald Pease “Limitation” clause)
September has been a busy month for a lot of things outside of my early retirement countdown, so I haven’t spent much additional time planning. My son is back to school, enjoying his senior year of high school and planning college next year. He has all kinds of school responsibilities and fun activities that we all get involved in. My wife went away for a long weekend trip to Florida and is busy planning Eagle Scout ceremonies for four scouts (4!) in our Troop who have made it through their advancements. And, work has been quite busy with our annual budget planning process. No fun there. (In fact, I was starting to type this in the back of the room of a budget planning offsite and I think one of the smart women on my team may have noticed the headline of this article when she got up to stretch and stood behind me! Oops.)
Here’s my checklist of things I got done this month:
- Started reading Dave Ramsey’s Legacy Journey book. $10 on Kindle.
(I haven’t gotten far enough into it to give a review at this point)
- Trying to keep more fit playing tennis weekly; Joined a curling league with friends.
(both of these activities are also social, and I can continue next year)
- Deposited another paycheck into our One More Year philanthropic fund.
- Told my dental hygienist I was on my “final lap” – she was shocked, but said her Dad also ER’d.
- Continued to update my countdown flags. Good fun. Pulled off “Week 26” today. That’s a big one for sure.
- Continued to watch the stock market rock & roll. Good luck to us all!
I have to say I have really looked forward to this six month milestone in my countdown for a long time.
I now see my remaining time in two pretty fun “halves”: 1) the first three months is between now and the end of the year and is punctuated by the merriment of the holidays (Halloween, Thanksgiving, & Christmas); and 2) the second three months will start after New Year’s Day and I feel like basically I can give notice of my plans at any point after that as I will be within 90 days of leaving.
I still haven’t shared my plans with anyone at Megacorp yet and haven’t exactly figured out when & how I’m going to do that, but it is a conversation I am looking forward to. I certainly won’t do the “take this job and shove it” approach, since no one at Megacorp really deserves that, but the “dark dream” is still fun to imagine!
Here are links to my last few countdowns … I’ve now gone from 15 months left down to 6!