A Timely Reminder

Lately, I’ve been getting comfortable — too comfortable — with where I am in my life.  My net worth has been zooming upwards (well except for the market turmoil in the past week) and I haven’t even been working that hard.  That led me to think about staying at my firm longer and attaining a $5M, or even $10M net worth.  I could live the kind of high life that I experience when I travel internationally with other partners, like buying $7K business class tickets and staying in $700/night rooms at five-star hotels.  I could probably even afford to buy an average house in my area (~$2-3M).

Only after I started getting comfortable, nature decided it was time to send me a reminder about why I need to keep my eye on the ball and why seeking excess under these circumstances was a fool’s errand.  One of my partners and I had a huge blowout, which I will not detail here, and it reminded me exactly why I did not enjoy the practice of law.  We patched things up a few days later, but I appreciated getting the reminder.  Maybe it’s my way of making lemonade out of lemons.  But certainly, I feel more motivated to not get comfortable and to really get on with my life.

6 thoughts on “A Timely Reminder

  1. Leading up to my early retirement, I sometimes had the same train of thoughts: This is easy money, maybe I should stick around longer, I could afford if I worked another few years.

    But the cost of building more net worth to buy more luxuries isn’t just the time you’d spend working. The real cost is the strengthening of the addiction of the desire for those luxuries. If you treat those unhealthy thoughts for *more* as an unhealthy addiction, then it becomes easier to stay focused on letting it go.

    • Thanks for the comment — love your blog. For me, it’s not about the luxury. It’s about security. I feel like the MMM approach is too risky. No way would I retire in my 30s at a 4% withdrawal rate, especially using our current spending when we could have kids in the future (and elderly parents). Of course, I’m a risk adverse attorney. Hard for me to draw the line in the sand. We can always justify a higher number — and more often than not that justification is based on worst case scenarios unrelated to buying a bigger house or more exotic cars.

      • I hear you… I’m also much more risk-averse than MMM, and like you, my delay in retirement was about security not luxury. I already have the kids you mention as possibilities and my biggest fear was to fail them.

        A few months ago, however, something changed. I had an awakening where I realized that I would rather try and fail at early retirement than to continue with the safe path. I reached a point where if I was told by some omniscient being that I had a 90% chance of failure, and that I would ultimately need to go back to some lower paying job a decade from now after my investments tank – I would still retire from my office job now.

        I’m not suggesting this is true for you, just pointing out that we do have a similar perspective. Mine changed over time, and you might find your does to.

        Either way, good luck! I’ve just subscribed to your RSS feed, and look forward to reading more.

  2. Hey Hard Working Lawyer,
    Thanks so much for this blog and your posts! I stumbled across this blog while reading J. Money’s excellent BudgetsAreSexy.com.

    I actually left a high paying career track at a large financial institution a few years back to pursue an opportunity at a smaller firm that allowed me a more balanced lifestyle. I focus on my investment portfolio even more now, and hope to grow my net worth past the $1m mark by age 30 (I’m 28 now). As long as the stock market doesn’t melt down, I believe this is possible.

    I’m curious for you, at what point is your net worth “enough”? Is being a Lawyer fulfilling? Or would you rather have personal freedom? What’s your long-term plan?

    I’ve always considered $5m in net worth as the magic number (4-5% interest yields $200-250k in passive annual income) for true financial freedom. What’s your take?

    All the best,

    • Being a lawyer is actually OK on the fulfillment side, especially in my niche and as one gets more responsibility. The problem is that it is often too much to handle, leading to burnout. I often struggle with the “how much is enough” question, but $5M is definitely enough for me. We spend less than $50K a year in one of the most expensive areas in the U.S. and don’t feel like we are depriving ourselves. In terms of future goals, sometimes I wonder if the grass is greener on the other side. Not sure what I’d do with myself after the initial travel binge. What is your plan? If you have $1M at age 30, will you keep working until you hit $5M?

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