It’s been about a month since we first decided to start planning our exit from work. The stars aligned a bit because since then an enormously time-consuming matter was resolved, making my life a whole lot easier. This matter was set to go to trial in the spring, which would have meant I would be burning a bridge by leaving in February. While we have other projects for this client, there are now more than enough people to handle the existing work. That work is also starting to wind down. As a result, I have had more time to pursue other interests.
We’re also planning a week-long trip to the Pacific Northwest in a few weeks. It’s not quite the budget conscious trip that we’re planning on embarking on next year, but it’s a subtle step in that direction. We booked most of our stay at an AirBNB — we want to start establishing a good record on that site as we plan to use it almost exclusively next year. On the other hand, we are also staying at some luxury hotels. We redeemed a free night using soon-expiring points at a Grand Hyatt and are paying less than half price for a night at a Four Seasons. I also have some lofty golf ambitions. I’m redeeming a free round of golf for myself at Chambers Bay near Seattle where they had the U.S. Open this year (greens fees go for $310 a round, including taxes) and paying for a round for me and wifey at Chateau Whistler (they have a “date night” package which includes 18 holes for two and dinner for $125 USD). I’m a little nervous about CB since they don’t allow carts and it’s a 7+ mile walk over hilly terrain. Hope my fickle back can hold out!
Planning also continues for our transition next year. We’re trying to get an understanding of the weather patterns across Asia to figure out the best months to visit certain countries. We learned the hard way during our honeymoon that July is not the best time to visit Southeast Asia. Then we will have to figure out visas and vaccinations, driving permits, adding pages to our passports, etc. I bought an international carry-on bag to replace my domestic carry-on bag. Next year we’ll have to move our belongings to storage, terminate our lease, and sell our car (why have it depreciate for a year; plus at 300+ hp, it’s not very fuel efficient).
On the financial side, I think we have a good plan in place. We’re not funneling money to investments as aggressively to ensure that we’ll have at least a year’s worth of cash by the time we depart. We will make sure as much of our income in 2016 as possible gets put in retirement accounts to lower our AGI, and adjust our tax withholding. Taxes will be difficult for 2015. We’ll have to make sure K-1s and W-2s are redirected to my parent’s address so we can do our taxes while abroad. Plus, I may not have the benefit of the firm including me on composite state returns, so I may have additional individual states returns to file.
But the most difficult aspect of transitioning away is mental. This career is really all I’ve known for the past 10+ years. This $hit is getting real. I feel like I am letting people down — from the firm, to colleagues, clients, family, and even myself, my wife, and our future children. It doesn’t end. But I have to take a deep breath and tell myself that the most-rewarding things in life are the most difficult to pursue. That includes giving up high six figures of income a year and rock-hard financial stability for the freedom to live life according to one’s own terms. That’s been the goal for over five years. Now’s the time to take that last step, and really make things count.