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Scary Money: Overcoming Your FI Fears

Halloween is quickly approaching, so while your Netflix queue may be filled with frightful flicks about phantoms and ghouls–you don’t have to be freaked out about your FI plan! Many of us encounter some fear and uncertainty when we plot a course towards FI. We might be worried we have calculated our numbers wrong, we haven’t anticipated all the uncertainty, we’d lose friends along the way, or even an especially common fear: being bored after retirement.

Hopefully though, after taking some time to reflect, you’ll have some tools to overcome your FI fears and move forward with confidence.

Calculating Your FI Number Wrong/Not Anticipating Every Outcome

While it may seem comforting to have “forever” figured out when it comes to your FI plan detailed in an Excel spreadsheet, it can also include a burdening fear that you’ve done something wrong and your numbers are off. If you’ve run your numbers and planned for your estimated living expenses, child care, healthcare, food, and travel to estimate your 4% draw down–take comfort in knowing you’ve done what you can. One of the great things about FI is that no plan has to be, nor truly, can it be–100% permanent.

Nobody has a crystal ball into the future–and your FI plan of today does not have to be detailed to perfection. It is not a doctrine, it is a playbook. And it will absolutely need to be adjusted from time to time. It’s a good rule of thumb to check in with your finances on a quarterly basis, your FI progress yearly, and make adjustments every 1-2 years or even after a major life milestone.

When your kids enter school full time, go off to college, or a grandparent moves closer–it’s a good time to evaluate that category. For an example, after a medical diagnosis, it can be terrifying to not really know what this means to your FI number (speaking from experience here). But, once the shock subsides, your FI plan will provide you the clarity to adjust your healthcare savings and insurance policies accordingly. Life happens–adjust, adjust, adjust.

Losing Friends/The Fear of Missing Out

A common FI fear is that a change in spending can sometimes lead to a drastic change in lifestyle. You might feel the need and decide to change your lifestyle entirely from the ground up. Truly, this can be shocking to those who know you and tumultuous for those in your inner circle–and the situation may leave some, including yourself, feeling alienated.

One way to combat this is to pick your battles accordingly.

As you start to become more mindful of lifestyle creep, start incorporating new FI-aligned friends into your life. Make conscious choices by selecting what traditional activities you want to keep and those you want to slowly phase out. Saying “no” to many of the things your friends used to rely on you for can be jarring for them and lonely for you. If you need to decline outings with your existing social circles, arrange for alternatives and invite them to participate. (i.e.: inviting them to volunteer with you at a charity, or do a game night instead of the expensive brunch). In the end, be gracious with your time and connection. Anyone who isn’t aligned with true quality time on mutual terms, will slowly fade from your periphery and it will likely be less painful than you think!

Being Bored After Retirement

This is one common fear I can’t fully wrap my head around (I can’t imagine what boredom feels like!) But many of us who come from a traditional mindset around retirement may still feel concerned that retirement will be a real drag. Early Retirement, as discussed in other blog posts about what it will be like when you get there–is about opening up your time to align with your values, not necessarily an hourly/dollar exchange for a paycheck.

These values are the things we wish we could do if we didn’t need to pay the mortgage. Such things as volunteer, spend more time with family, start a small business or non-profit, and finally master a hobby we’ve put off for years. Even with this, many people still feel they’ll “run out of things to do,” to which I would challenge you to think bigger when it comes to your retirement and see it as an opportunity to invest whatever time and money you have, towards a passion project or a series of events that will give you purpose.

Chris Guillebeau’s The Happiness of Pursuit outlines the joy of the journey–finding a series of skills or experiences to go after, that gives us purpose. He examines those who have planned to visit every baseball stadium in the world, study a lost art, develop a new skill or see the world, and this journey is transformative. He himself has visited every country in the world (that can be visited) and advocates that everyone should be pursuing something larger than themselves.

Fear can be a distraction and procrastination. Take a step, any step forward, and the fear will fall behind.

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Scary Money: Overcoming Your FI Fears

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