I’m TRYING to get my life together before I am paying someone to help me wipe my butt because I can no longer do it myself. I have no idea how to manage everything required of being an adult while also saving for (early) retirement while also trying to enjoy life. I get little glimmers of joy out of seeing my kids smile or learn something new every now and again, but for the most part I just feel like I’m stuck in this never-ending horror story at worst or a very bad book that’s too long with no actual plot line or conclusion at best.
What I want… is to feel like I can afford a fairly basic life (which I guess is a fairly fancy life–but to afford taking care of a house and a family and still have money left over to save) while I also am not locked into a career that has me on the verge of a mental breakdown pretty much every second of the day (though that may be the case in any career.)
I’ve put together a new family budget that’s still on the lower-end of what I’d like to be able to spend, and it’s not pretty. I’m tracking it in YNAB to try to actually start budgeting vs just hoping that I get my bonus and stock to pay my bills and save adequately. I feel sad that there seems to be no “winning” this game–the best I can do is try really hard to maintain a job that pays better than I expect to be paid for the next 30 years. Once the house is paid off then… I guess, at 67, we’ll be in better shape?
But as I see many get sick or pass away in their late 60s, I feel sick thinking of trying to make it until then to enjoy life. Even if I live to 100, this doesn’t mean my loved ones will. I keep thinking about how men die younger… how my husband turns 40 next year… (I’m not far behind)… how maybe he has 25 years left to live. I mean, my dad died at 67. It’s difficult to process how short life really is. These are the good years. As long as everyone in our family remains healthy. My kids are young, we’re in our prime, I guess — but it doesn’t feel good at all. It feels terrifying. It feels like I’m watching life slip away and the best I can do is try to plan for what job I’ll get next after whatever one I’m in currently falls apart.
This budget seems impossible, both in that it requires way too much spending AND does not really allow me to spend what I want to spend. Boo hoo, I know, I’m a spoiled brat. But I want to be able to take family photos and go on vacation and dine out and send my kids to summer camp. All “wants” for sure, but why does the next person deserve these things more (or less) than I do? Yea, maybe I should have married someone who cared about earning more income, but given that he doesn’t care he’s actually earning a lot and still able to take care of our kids part time. But I don’t see him earning more… ever… which means I’m just – stuck. And I think the weight of that has really hit me lately. That I have 30 years left of working and that’s a short time and a long time. 30 years of life is short and will go by fast, especially if all the living I’m doing is on exhausted weekends. I really want a job that is fulfilling–one where I don’t dread waking up every day. But can I get a job that is fulfilling and also pay the bills? In a HCOL area? I really feel pessimistic about this. I also feel like I have to make a change soon. I can’t keep doing this.
The budget: $15k
- Home: $9000 (mortgage, taxes, insurance, renovation/maintenance)
- Health & Insurance (Life/Disability): $1200 (*health insurance through work not included)
- Car: $800 (*includes saving for a new car every 10 years)
- Food: $1500
- Life: $2500 (kids activities/preschool – with only one kid in preschool at a time, shopping, travel, tech, gifts, etc)
$180,000 / year of spending
Saving Goals $11.6k
- 401k/Roth – $8.5k
- 529 – $1k
- ESPP – $2.1k
$139.2k / year of saving (57.5k pre tax)
- $261.7k post tax
- $57.5k pre tax
Income needed – $493.5k
That makes sense… in that, as I’ve always said, in order to live a middle class lifestyle (this doesn’t include what I’d consider upper middle class lifestyle such as home cleaner, personal trainer, a larger shopping budget, etc) you need a $500k income here. Granted, this is a high savings rate, so if we were to cut back not the savings we could splurge a bit more… but the reason I’m focused on saving so much is that most years we probably won’t be able to! Right now any high earning year must be a high savings year too.
The reality is that we’re not going to be a $500k a year income family. My husband, if he keeps his job, is going to contribute $100k to that. I cannot see how I can find a job that pays $400k a year. It seems much more realistic to imagine both of us earning $250k, give or take, than for me to have a job that actually pays $400k every year for the next 30 years.
My reality is in my current career path I can likely earn $150k with bonus in some sort of stable way. Sure, this year I’m on track to make $750k+, if I keep my job, but that’s just because my stock grant is worth a lot. I’ll never earn that again. I have to live and plan based on an $150k income. So $250k total. I tried to put together a plan based on $250k income and I run out of places to cut.
$250k income… should spend ~ $12.5k / month
The budget: $12.5k
- Home: $8000 (mortgage, taxes, insurance, minimum fixes)
- Health & Insurance (Life/Disability): $1200 (*health insurance through work not included)
- Car: $500 (*we buy cheapest cars possible)
- Food: $1000 (not really realistic but some people do it)
- Life: $1500 (all spending goes to kids activities, no travel, no shopping or hair cuts or anything)
- $1.5k/mo left for saving — plus anything else pre-tax, so maybe max 2 401k and that’s it
Doable? I guess so. But again that’s assuming my husband keeps his $100k/yr job AND I manage to maintain $150k a year employment for the next 30 years. Maybe in 20 years $150k won’t seem like a large salary due to inflation, but then all of our costs — except mortgage — will have increased as well.
I just don’t know how to do it. And we’re “high earners.”
I’m trying to get us closer to that $12.5k budget now, which allows us to save more in our higher earning year and maybe will free us up for more flexibility later. But when is later?
I want to change careers entirely. I have some ideas. I’m scared to start over. I feel like I won’t be able to compete with 20-somethings. I have these ideas but then I’ve been on maternity leave for 2 months now and I haven’t taken a class or anything, which I could have done. My mind is scrambled eggs at the moment. But I don’t have the drive or focus or something to work for anything. Which is my problem. I admit it. Am I lazy? Perhaps. But also something is wrong with my mind. I can’t focus. It’s the bad anxiety. The ADHD. The ruminating on everything I say and do that’s so wrong. I feel lonely alone and anxious with others. I don’t know. It’s all too much.
My dream is to be able to live a life that doesn’t feel like I HAVE to make so much money to do the things I want to do. But I don’t even know what I want to do anymore. I don’t really need more “things.” I’d like to buy some new photography equipment and that’s expensive. I’d like to travel when travel is possible again, and pay for experiences with a family of four plus probably pay for my in-laws to come so that adds up really fast. I always think what is it that I’d ever want to buy and then my spending just adds up. And the I freeze, like I can’t even enjoy what I spend on because I feel guilty for spending anything. I should just be saving.
But at 38, I don’t even own a kitchen table. I melted my cheap-o food processor years ago (oops I left it on the oven that was on somehow) — and I need a new one. We don’t have matching sheets or much for furniture. We don’t have kitchen dishes (we’re still using my remaining target single plates I got when I graduated college.) We need a new garage door and should get a water filter for the kitchen sink. None of my clothes fit… because I just gave birth to a baby… which doesn’t matter now but when I have to reenter the world shouldn’t I buy some new things so I feel acceptable? Clothes seem like such a waste though. I hate buying cheap stuff but then I hate buying expensive stuff. So why buy anything? My car has a lot of dings on it. And I need new brakes. That’s a safety issue. So it should be a priority. But I just spent a ton on a checkup. We should get a van anyway. Should I sell the car for parts? Should I get a van? I like the idea of getting a new electric mini van but I wish my husband would take on some more clients to help pay for it. He wants the fanciest model with the leather seats and while I’d like that too maybe we should buy something a little cheaper?
My biggest challenge is not really understanding what we can afford. Because I don’t know what I’ll earn in the future. I’m so fortunate to be earning a lot right now, but I’ve already been demoted in title and I can’t maintain this income at my current company. So I need to find a new job to just maintain. And I’m so tired of jumping from job to job and never feeling like it’s right. Never knowing what the hell I’m doing. Always feeling like I’m on the verge of getting fired.
So it’s safer to cut our spending down. $11.5k a month plus anything on top of that saved would be really good. The more we can save, the more cushion we have for the future. And $11.5k should be a comfortable monthly budget. But… after $8k on the house, that leaves us with $3.5k for everything else. I don’t know how to get everything in that. It seems like I should be able to but then things just add up. It’s a fun challenge, sort of, but I’m not any good at it.