Back in September, 2017, when I shared on the blog that my husband was going to join me in early retirement, many of you asked about our health care insurance situation once he leaves his W2 employment. In this post, I’m sharing the process my family and I went through to get health care coverage for year 2018.
The Perceived Obstacle to Our Early Retirement
The thought of having to pay the high cost of health insurance premium out-of-pocket (we were thinking about $1,000/month) was one of the biggest reasons my husband and I hesitated about retiring early. Early retirement conversations first came up between us around year 2012. Back then, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was a mystery to us, and we were too lazy/busy to do more research.
I’m typically pretty resourceful and I’d search above and beyond to get the information I want. However, the following years continued to be big transition times for my family and I, and learning more about ACA was not on the priority list. So, as a couple, we reasoned (and made a compromise) that we’d have to work more years to save up for full, out-of-pocket health insurance premiums and retire when we reach our late 40s or early 50s.
New Information Helped Made Early Retirement Possible for Us
The Then and Now
In several of the early articles of this blog (such as here, here and here), I mentioned that my husband loves numbers, analytics and investing. And he’s very good at all three. He started educating himself on personal finances, the stock markets and investing while in his mid 20s, and he continues to do so each day. Even though he’s not a day trader, he follows the markets (and major headlines) daily and analyzes our investment portfolio performance against several market indices. We use Personal Capital to track our finances and net worth. You can read my comprehensive review of this free online financial tool here.
From the start of our relationship, he’s always been the one that spends more time taking care of our equities (stocks) and fixed income (bonds) investments. This is still true even after I had my transformative moment (you can read about my story here). Despite my accelerated learning of the stock markets and investing in the past year, he’s still the more knowledgeable one.
One thing that has been different in our relationship since that transformative moment is that nowadays I take a much more active role making investing decisions with my husband. I have a desire to learn from him (and many others) and continue to build my financial knowledge. Whereas before, I was glad to let him take care of all investments-related matters. Even when he tried to get me involved, I quickly dismissed his efforts.
Two People in a Relationship
Wishlist and Bucket List
Do you recall when you first started having a wishlist or bucket list? I didn’t have one until I was in my mid-20s. Before then, I didn’t desire much. I was simply happy just having the essentials or necessities. I understood my financial situation as a student. My mindset at the time was that my situation was temporary and wanted to focus my attention on doing well in my studies. I looked forward to the day when I finished school, secured a satisfying career and then start living the life of my dream.
What was the first item that made it to my wishlist? It was a Marc by Marc Jacobs crossbody bag. I saw that bag on a fashion magazine that I subscribed to at the time.
Around my 25th birthday, my husband and I visited Saks Fifth Avenue. When I saw that bag sitting on the shelf, I hesitated and started having second thoughts. The price tag was $249. It was a VERY expensive bag. My most expensive bag prior to that one costed me less than $30. My husband and I walked in circles around the store as I had a very hard time deciding if I wanted us to spend that kind of money. It was just a [beautiful] crossbody bag…After perhaps 45 minutes later, my then boyfriend was paying for the bag at the cashier register. And that was my first designer bag. From there, I went on to purchase couple Michael Kors bags.
Deciding on the Now or Later
Our “Fun Fund”
My husband and I recently created a “Fun Fund”. And the size of this fund is about 39.6% of our current projected/planned annual expenses. This Fun Fund includes the following categories: travel (we’d like to do two international trips and two U.S. trips per year as a family), gifts, charity, wardrobe items, entertainment and dining (e.g., treating others to meals; we’re already allocating $1,000 outside of the Fun Fun each month to spend on groceries and family dining).
In a previous article, I mentioned that our projected annual expenses for year 2017 (and possibly the near future years, too, at the time of writing) was $50,000. Then, early this month, we’ve decided to move that number back up to $60,000 (our annual expenses in year 2015 and 2016 was $60,000), even though we currently don’t have child care expenses.
With a budget of $50,000, we were allocating about $13,700 toward the categories aforementioned. We’ve (most, I) came to realize such a number was a little over-stretched and won’t bring me much happiness. So, my husband and I looked at our financial numbers again, and we’ve decided that we can spend up to $60,000 a year and still be able to save a lot.
In my husband’s own words: “I feel I’ve lived my 60s while in my 20s, and now I’m living my 30s in my 30s. Maybe I’ll live my 20s while in my 40s!”
On the Path to Financial Independence
As you work toward your financial goals, does it sometimes seem like you’re sacrificing too much today just so you can have a better life tomorrow?
If that’s the case for you, you might be having mixed feelings. I know I’m too familiar with these feelings. A bunch of high days were mixed in with a bunch of low days. There were times when I wished my days away as I eagerly waited to taste the life of having reached millionaire status. During those periods of time, I was not living in or enjoying the present moment. I did not want to spend any money other than the absolute necessary. All I focused on was reaching the million-dollars goal. In that process, I neglected myself in many ways. I went through emotional struggles and have shed lots of tears.
The path to financial independence is not an easy one. There’s no shortcut. Even those who are very disciplined and hardcore (with high savings rates) still take anywhere from 7 to 20 years to get there.
For some of us, we’re okay taking our time. A 20-year horizon is not so bad. For some of us, even a two-year time frame is almost unbearable (and each of us have our own reasons). If you’re in the latter group, sometimes, it’s easy to get into the danger zone of depriving ourselves when we think we’re only being frugal (the gray area between being frugal and feeling self-deprived can be blurry).
When prolonged self-deprivation is left unnoticed, we could be putting our health and our financial plans in jeopardy. Not only is self-deprivation unhealthy, this behavior can lead to the resentment of oneself and others who are in the same team as you (such as your spouse and/or children).
Recently, I caught myself going down the self-deprivation slope. My emotions were strong. In this article, I’m sharing my story. I also recommend three ways for you to stay on course to reach your savings goal without going into self-deprivation mode.