Having Doubts

Sometimes when I read other personal finance blogs, I find it hard to believe that any of the people who have successfully retired early (or are about to), have had any doubts along the way.

Lemur’s don’t doubt.

This is probably an unfair assumption. Everybody has doubts. But many of these blogs just talk about what seems like a clear cut path to early retirement.

For me, my favourite ER blog is definitely Mr Money Mustache. He began writing his blog about five years after he retired, so there are no posts about him doubting his numbers or doubting his projections. I’m sure there were a few times over the years that he did doubt them, but without those kind of posts, it’s easy to assume that he never had doubts (it’s also easy to make that assumption because of how optimistic he is).

We, however, have doubts. Or rather, I, have doubts.

Doubts definitely happen on the bridge to Early Retirement.

A lot of this is probably because I am the number cruncher and planner of the relationship. While Poopsie is definitely interested in the retirement plan, he doesn’t crunch the numbers and try and get them to work. That’s what I do and thus, when I can’t get them to work, I have a lot of doubt.

So how do I overcome the doubt? I’ll let you know when I figure it out!

One method that has worked for me though, is to just keep saving. I know for a fact that we will retire earlier than the official retirement age of 67. Obviously, we want to retire a lot earlier than that, at the ages of 49 and 35. I sometimes wonder if we will make it by these ages.

But in the meantime, there is no sense in stopping what we’re doing. We are putting a lot of money into our mortgage offset each month and a lot of money (but less than the offset) into Vanguard each month. These allocations are the only things that will bring our early retirement goal any closer.

Getting frustrated that I can’t make my projections work for 2023 is pointless. A lot can change in six years, and we have no idea how the sharemarket or how interest rates will affect our overall numbers. But we do know that if we stop saving, that will have a definite negative impact.

I will probably continue to run scenarios and projections, changing them to suit current conditions like interest rates and house prices. It will probably continue to cause me some doubt, but at least I know we are saving in excess of 50% of our incomes every month and are well on our way to an early retirement- even if it doesn’t quite happen in six years.

Do you ever doubt your early retirement plans? How do you best deal with this doubt?

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14 Responses to Having Doubts

  1. kindoflost says:

    Well, I have doubts now that I am retired (I think I am…) While I was working I didn’t know about “early retirement” so I didn’t have doubts. I think it is OK to doubt whether you will make it to a certain date (2023?) as long as you don’t doubt you are doing the right thing by saving rather than spending and knowing that there is an alternative to the “traditional” or mainstream view of what retirement should look like or when it’s supposed to happen. I am not someone who likes giving advice but I’d tell you to enjoy what you are doing today (saving, being frugal, etc) and not worrying too much about when you will move to the next phase.

    • Thanks for stopping by. Yes, I definitely fall into that trap of not enjoying the journey because I am too focused on the end goal. I need to be careful not to wish our lives away to reach early retirement. Saving is the best thing we can do, regardless of the ultimate retirement date. Thanks for the timely reminder!

  2. Mrs. ETT says:

    Have I ever NOT doubted? I guess I cycle. Things just plod along for a little while, then I will see or hear or read something that sends me scrambling for YNAB and spreadsheets and compound interest/inflation calculators. Then I get depressed, believing it’s never going to happen. Then I tell myself that we just wanted to be able to retire a single week early, and we’ve easily met that goal. Anything else is a bonus. Then things just plod along for a little while and the cycle starts again.

    Thanks for writing this. As you said, everyone else on their blogs (and me, for the most part) is so positive it feels a bit lonely to be doubting yourself.

  3. LadyFIRE says:

    I constantly doubt my FIRE by Thirty-Five goal. I made it my blog title to hammer it in to myself every time I open the blog. I can’t bend or shift on it because it’s the title! I’ve got 9 years (actually.. 8 years and 9 months) to make it work. The Mad Fientist Lab says I’ll be done in six. My calculations say I’ll be done in 9 years and 7 months, but doesn’t take into account any payrises.

    Plus I have days where I wonder why the hell I’m doing this when I could just relax and take each day as it comes, not plan for the 10-year future.

    Honestly, I’m just like you. I plug as much away as I can and try and ignore the numbers unless I see something that I can actually change. Well, I say that to myself. Then I go on and crunch numbers every day until I get nervous sick and force myself to do something else.

    My perfect self just keeps socking away money and trusts she’s doing her best. My nervous self checks constantly. And I do my best to keep them in some kind of balance so that it (hopefully) comes out in the wash

    • Wow, Mad Fientist Lab is saying six years? That’s awesome!

      Your comment has really reassured me, that I am not the only one constantly crunching numbers in an attempt to get a different result. I have gotten better, but it used to be an almost daily thing!

      Throughout all this doubt though, we are both saving and that’s really the only thing we can do, right?

      • LadyFIRE says:

        Exactly – all we can do is our savings best. I constantly reassure myself that even if it doesn’t go to plan, or I change my mind about FIRE I’m building a really solid financial foundation.

        I plan to FIRE in 9 years, that’s a crazy long time! 9 years ago I was in high school, dating a stoner and sleeping through chemistry classes. I’ve changed so very much since then, and I fully expect to change and grow massively over the next 9.

        Wherever life takes me these years pushing for FIRE give me the confidence that money won’t restrict me from chasing what I’m passionate about.

  4. Ozstache says:

    FIRE is a major life-changing event, so if you weren’t doubting and double-checking your numbers at times along the way you should be concerned, not the other way around. As you know, I’m comfortably FIREd and I STILL double-check my numbers.

    • You are right, as always Ozstache! Sometimes the doubt can really creep in, and I feel like I get a different result everytime I crunch the numbers. There’s a certain amount of “wait and see” built into our plans, which for someone who likes to plan definitively, is very annoying.

  5. Miss Balance says:

    Saying that reading other blogs makes you feel nobody else has these doubts is much the same as scrolling facebook and being upset that everyone else seems to live the high life. You are comparing someone else’s ‘highlights’ real with your everyday thoughts.
    I’m a number cruncher and planner too and have recently decided I’m not allowed to re-run my numbers until the end of the year unless something major changes before then (I’m about to get a payrise next fortnight so that will mean a slight re-adjustment).
    I have to learn to trust I am on a good path and that stressing is a time waster that doesn’t make things better. So much easier said than done I know but it is worth trying)

  6. It’s so easy to get overwhelmed looking at how long it will take.

    As you say just focus on your sphere of influence. I.e. your savings rate, your income etc. Find enjoyment in everything you can, including work. Just take it one day at a time and celebrate your successes. Enjoy yourself and let the good times role.

  7. This is pretty much why we don’t have a concrete age/year that we are aiming for. We already get a little number-crunch crazy about what shares to buy next, how we can earn more, etc.. I imagine we would get too tied up in the projection towards our goal date IF we had one set. Even with just a ballpark for when we want to FIRE we can get a bit wrapped up in obsessing over it. I just try to tell myself that we are slowly chipping away and are always getting closer, but we also gotta enjoy the right now and not just be projecting into the future.

    I can imagine it does consume you a little, being as close to the FIRE date as you guys are, make sure you enjoy the journey in the next 6 years as well!

    Mrs DDU

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