Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck – Dalai Lama
One of my favorite pastimes is browsing through resumes of college professors. Somewhere in my subconscious still dwells dreams I once had of becoming a college professor – of the prestige and recognition (of being smart).
Now I’m not sure if it is shallow to want prestige and recognition – to each his own. But low profile and stealth can be just the ingredients needed to build an unassuming happy life. There is something to be said about the kind of sobriety and level headedness low profiles bring.
In hindsight and for all practical purposes, not getting that PhD was probably a blessing in disguise for me. I have to say that, right?
A friend, who’s been on and off “doctoral” jobs every few years, messaged me just the other day saying she was struggling to find her next job. Another friend (and his wife) are both professors at a rural college making less money while working more than they like. That’s not to say they aren’t happy. But could they be better positioned? I had a colleague who sat next to me for two years doing similar work which certainly did not need a PhD.
These anecdotes are not meant to dismiss the highest degree there is. I admire the life of learning they lead. Deep down, I aspire one myself. Their constant push for results to publish. A friend published six times every year in as many years, while I spent my six years bumbling.
The thing with a PhD is that once you have it, it’s hard to bend down. You wouldn’t buy a Tesla to go shopping at Walmart, would you?
In a strangely detrimental way, FI has allowed to me take it easy. May be FI is for the less ambitious, for those desiring less. Or may be that’s just me. I’ve never had to be on full throttle.
I am extremely grateful at the way my life has unfolded. I have a wonderful wife and daughter. We are incredibly fortunate to have a steady life. I’m not sure a PhD would’ve done that for us, at least not at the same pace.
For the last two years, our market returns have exceeded our savings. Much of that has to do with our aggressive allocation in a really good market. 89% of our net worth is in broad market index funds (primarily VTSAX / VTI , FXAIX, and small positions in VYM, VGT, and VTIAX).
These track the market, and as such, we see the same gains (minus the expenses). We benefit from the minds and progress of great companies and ambitious people, even when we may have little of both ourselves. A 6.37% gain in a single quarter for a cubicle dweller feels unreal.
We spent less YTD than in all previous years. Our annual expense seems to hover around $70K – about half of which is our mortgage (we made some extra payments in prior years, but don’t anymore with Day Care coming into play).
Our 401Ks are almost maxed out for the year. We maxed our Roths in the first quarter. And unless there is a sharp decline in the markets (compelling us to buy more VTI in our non retirement accounts), we intend to cash up on a down payment for a bigger home in a year or two – once the frenzy sobers down.