FIRE Mid-Point Musings

As I mentioned in a previous post (here), we are about 1/2 way to our final number, but in theory we should start to see the exponential growth all the compounding interest experts talk about. I did see a bit of it in my personal accounts last year, but day to day it still feels slow.  Full freedom feels so far off. I think the hardest thing for me is shifting my focus to being fully present and enjoying the day to day, when I've always set my sights on long term goals. I also need to work on accepting that we've made decisions together that have slowed the progress.

Some of the things that make me happy, skating with the kids. 

Our systems are in place and we'll get to leanFI in the next four or five years. Having the goal closer, and the knowledge, means I just want to be there now! I want to feel like we are making noticeable progress. Day to day it's so easy to lose sight of that. I feel like we've fallen a bit behind.  2019 should have been a year to finally move forward after our last couple spendy years while moving cross-country, focusing on some house projects and having a 3rd child. Basically things that caused us to take a pause on saving goals while we focused on life changes.

We chose to buy a slightly bigger house and a minivan as our current vehicles couldn't accommodate the 3rd car seat. I was also on maternity leave earning 30 % of my regular salary. We paid the debt we incurred for that within 18 months, but when I thought we'd be back to making saving progress my contract ended and it took me a few months to find a new job which put an unexpected pause to when I thought we'd be finally able to return to FIRE goals. I just feel a bit behind of what I thought we'd be able to achieve.

That last paragraph sounds sounds like a whiny spoiled brat. We are so fortunate in our previous plans and majority of our spending choices that me being off work only impacted what we could put in our TFSAs. That in itself is freedom and a massive amount of privilege that we have gotten here.

Our current plan is to continue to max out our RRSPs, fill up the extra space we've accumulated in our TFSA and play catch up on the kid's RESPs and then move to additional payments to our mortgage. Our primary focus is RRSPs because of the tax deductions that gives us.

Getting out for runs, even in the winter (ok, -10C is my max so far)

But I struggle with losing a bit of ground on my plan, falling behind on my goal, feeling overwhelmed with the time it'll take to fully catch up. I've benefited greatly from discovering the FIRE movement and being inspired by those ahead of us, but a bit of envy also sneaks in and wishes we could be there, further along. Seeing other bloggers and online community members who are already there, mortgage free, have all their tax advantage buckets filled and have moved on to other investments activates a bit of jealousy.

As it stands we have $46 000 worth of TFSA space, with another $12 000 being added each year, another $14k to add to RESPs and $275k remaining on our mortgage.

The magnitude of our mortgage feels large but attainable at the same time as we previously had a $250k mortgage that we were able to get down to $125 k in the nine years we owned our last house. We should be able to do better now as  our salaries are higher since moving out West. So far we've been able to bring our term down from 20 years to 10 year term with maxing out our payments in the three years we've owned the house.  As soon as the number starts with a 1 I feel like we could get that paid off quite quickly.  I start feeling pulls in all directions. I know math wise and even long term security, the best option is continuing on our plan to max out all of the investment accounts but there really is such a draw to being mortgage free. I know if my goal is really to max out the saving buckets I should lower our payments back down again freeing up an extra $500 a month, but I do want to feel a bit of extra progress on the mortgage. It's safe and there is instant feedback on what your money is doing. You still the term drop with each change or added payment.

This post is a bit all over the place. I'm just feeling anxious to make up the time lost and struggling stay in the present. Start living in the moment. Feeling a bit of impostor syndrome. Can I really declare myself a FIRE blogger if we have so much work still to do? I know intuitively the FIRE moment needs people at all stages of their journey and across all demographics it's just hard not to compare to where I think we should be. Or rather where I would like to be had we done everything perfectly. Life's not perfect and we didn't have all the knowledge or put all the pieces together till late 2014, early 2015. Life is also about compromise and buying a bigger house definitely adds a few years to our timeline. We both love our house, but I could be just as happy in a smaller house. PapaBird doesn't feel the same so I compromised. He also moved cross-country for me so this was a fair deal. To get the one thing that has been his life goal. He did compromise as well on what he wanted and we med in the middle in terms of what each of us was willing to spend. He's more than willing to keep working and let me stay home but I long for early retirement together. He just has no desire to retire earlier than 50 so that gives us another 8-10 years or so working. Well him. I have other plans. 


Spending time camping
I have to keep reminding myself that we have made great progress despite our setbacks and some of choices. Yes we could be much further ahead overall in a smaller house. Our mortgage would be about half of it's current value if we would have stuck with what I wanted to spend versus what PapaBird wanted.  But to return to the positives our net worth has gone up 1.8x since discovering MMM in late 2014. If we can do the same in the next 5 years we are at FatFI. And theoretically compounding interest should make it faster barring market crashes. It will be hard mentally if the market crashes, but we will just stick with the plan and keep investing in low-cost index funds.

In two or three years time this slight backtracking I'm feeling will be only a mere blip on the radar. We are making progress. We are heading in the right direction and I have an awesome life, great kids and a wonderful partner who I adore. I just struggle with shifting my focus there, off of the end goal. The end goal means nothing if you're not enjoying the journey.


Seeing my garden grow and eating the harvest

Hopefully the photos weren't too distracting to this post. I just wanted to include some examples of what I enjoy and what is important to me. And now to stop writing and go spend some time with said family.

Comments

  1. I know that psychologically the mortgage feels good to pay down quicker, but as you’d said yourself, the TFSA would have the most long term value. Even in a well-balanced portfolio, our full TFSA made 10% last year while paying off the mortgage at ~3%.

    Even the RESP would be good to get the full grants - you don’t want to leave free money on the table! If your kids go to your local Uni, you can use some of the RESP to charge them room and board, which goes to your mortgage in the end in that case.

    If getting there quicker is the goal, changing your mindset on paying down the mortgage soon might be helpful in saving more.

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    Replies
    1. Definitely! I know we should cut back our payments on the mortgage, but it does make me feel like I'm still making a bit of progress there.

      I've got an appointment at the bank to finally start adding more to the RESPs. Initially when we started I wanted the kids to have some "skin in the game" for university, but now I'm moving more to getting all the free money possible and hoping that I'll have set them up for wanting second generation FI early on so this will be the money to get them a headstart and they will invest the difference wisely! One can hope right!

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