Planning for the Future

Plan­ning for the hazy “some­day” of the future is tough. It’s like peer­ing into the mists of a fog­gy morn­ing. Shapes are indis­tinct and intim­i­dat­ing until you get close enough to rec­og­nize the giant shad­ow is an oak tree.

I’m peer­ing into the fog­gy future, but I can’t make out what those loom­ing shapes are.

Peo­ple keep ask­ing me what my next few years are going to look like, and I hon­est­ly have no idea.

So many things could change. There are just too many vari­ables to have a plan and actu­al­ly stick with it. And it’s not just one facet of my life.…. it’s every part of it pos­si­ble.


As many of you know, I’m sin­gle. Now that I don’t have a def­i­nite end date to this job, I’d like to find a part­ner. It gets pret­ty tricky, though. I’m liv­ing such a dras­ti­cal­ly dif­fer­ent lifestyle from my male peers that find­ing a com­pat­i­ble part­ner is not going to be easy. For­tu­nate­ly, I’m will­ing to wait for the right guy instead of set­tling for who­ev­er shows inter­est first.

I met a guy through a net­work­ing event for young pro­fes­sion­als. We hit it off and exchanged num­bers. I thought I had hit the jack­pot. He was attrac­tive, had a great job, fun­ny, owned his own house with a room­mate to cut the costs, drove the same car as me until it died and was replaced with a new­er hatch­back, great cook with food from Aldi and more.

After get­ting some rather con­fus­ing and con­flict­ing sig­nals from him, we had a talk one night (at 1 am aid­ed by a lot of alco­hol). He said he liked me, got along well with me, and could see us work­ing out.

BUT. (there’s always a but).

He firm­ly believes I’m going to fail at this ear­ly retire­ment thing. I’ll admit, it stung a lit­tle, but it’s also some­thing a lot of old­er and wis­er peo­ple have told me. Because of that con­vic­tion (which he refused to get my input on at all), we were dead in the water.

The thing that both­ered me the most was him judg­ing my past and extrap­o­lat­ing it into the future. I do things dif­fer­ent­ly as a sin­gle lady than I do as some­one who’s in a rela­tion­ship. I sleep with my baby blan­ket and a big pil­low when I’m sin­gle. Do I do that in a rela­tion­ship? Nope. I’m mak­ing plans ASSINGLE LADY to try my best to get an expat assign­ment for work. Would I still go after that with a partner’s career to keep in mind? Prob­a­bly not, unless said part­ner wants to go with me and can make it work with their career.

What this guy doesn’t under­stand is that my plans now as a sin­gle 26 year old can and prob­a­bly will change. The actions I’m tak­ing now- max­ing out my retire­ment accounts, buy­ing rental prop­er­ties- will give us flex­i­bil­i­ty in the future. Quit my job and try to make a liv­ing as an artist? Sure, we have sav­ings. Have a kid and want me to stay home with them? Done, we’re liv­ing off one income any­ways.

I wish I could change my plans to accom­mo­date pos­si­ble future changes, but since I can’t pre­dict the future I’m stick­ing to the plans I’m mak­ing now. I’m work­ing off the infor­ma­tion I have avail­able to me right now. For the next guy, I will have to empha­size my plans are my own and I’m open to ideas.


Anoth­er guy I went on a date with could not fath­om me want­i­ng to trav­el. He was more than hap­py with his house, patch of land, and his great career. I knew we weren’t going to be com­pat­i­ble when I men­tioned I went to Ecuador by myself and his face paled at the idea. We didn’t talk much after that which didn’t both­er me near­ly as much as the first guy. Sad­ly, around this area (and prob­a­bly much of the US) his idea of nor­mal is much more nor­mal­ized than mine.

Speak­ing of nor­mal.…… it’s nor­mal for peo­ple to have careers, and to dis­cuss with their man­ag­er where they want their career to go in the future.


The old­er I get the more rel­e­vant Dil­bert is

Of course I can hard­ly do things the nor­mal way. That’s just not me!

Unlike about every oth­er FIRE blog­ger I know, my imme­di­ate man­ag­er knows of my FI plans.

Now, I didn’t just trum­pet my plans to my man­ag­er the moment I start­ed. Nope. My cur­rent man­ag­er start­ed out as my friend and cowork­er. We’re still friends (we do play on the same soft­ball team, after all)- we just have the added com­pli­ca­tion that he got pro­mot­ed to team lead.… after I told him about my plans.

While not nec­es­sar­i­ly the out­come I would’ve cho­sen orig­i­nal­ly, I think it will actu­al­ly work out well.

It helps my man­ag­er is younger than many of the man­agers around here, and thus more open to the mes­sage I’m get­ting across. He told me he and his wife have ten­ta­tive plans to retire in their 50’s, but hear­ing my plan for 30’s blew his mind!

I’ve made it very clear to him how much I enjoy this job, that I don’t have any plans on leav­ing any time soon, and that he will know what my next move is before I make it. I’m actu­al­ly not upset at all, as he’s already been help­ful brain­storm­ing some ideas for the future with me.

That leads to the prob­lem though.… what is my plan for the future?

In a typ­i­cal one-on-one, I’d get help craft­ing my inter­nal resume to look attrac­tive to assist me get­ting my next posi­tion, or a job that will help boost me to the next lev­el.

I have an idea what I want my next posi­tion to be, and where I want it to be. I could prob­a­bly even make it hap­pen see­ing as I know the whole chain of com­mand all the way up to the top.

Even bet­ter, they all know my name!

I real­ly, real­ly, real­ly want an expat assign­ment. Some­where like Thai­land, Sin­ga­pore, New Zealand or any­where in Europe. One perk of work­ing for a glob­al orga­ni­za­tion.

How­ev­er, expat assign­ments are hard to come by these days. They’re incred­i­bly expen­sive for the com­pa­ny, what with the lev­el of paper­work that goes into it, the class­es to get the employ­ee prepped for their new home, and then the logis­tics of get­ting all their stuff over to the new place. As well as a few more I don’t know.

But.… I still want to go. It’d be a great way to trav­el around a region from a home base with­out hav­ing to use up tons of vaca­tion or suf­fer through 18 hour+ flights. IN ECONOMY. THE HORROR.

The beau­ty of being on this path to FI is I have options. I’m will­ing to use up every bit of social cap­i­tal and pow­er of FU mon­ey I have to make it hap­pen. If I lost my posi­tion in the com­pa­ny because I pushed too hard, I’ll land on my feet.

I’m just going to wait until that’s pos­si­ble!

Thanks for read­ing! How do you think I should broach my FIRE plans on dates?

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35 thoughts on “Planning for the Future

  1. Hey Gwen! I am kind of in the same boat — as an inde­pen­dent per­son who has done a lot of trav­el­ing and hopes to do more, I wouldn’t be able to set­tle for some­one not inter­est­ed in leav­ing their own town. As far as goals, I think it’s impor­tant to talk about what goals you have and how you plan on grow­ing as a per­son. It’s a huge red flag to me if peo­ple don’t have goals for them­selves or think they won’t change over time. How­ev­er, I think it nat­u­ral­ly flows into a con­ver­sa­tion about how I’ve worked towards goals and how some of them have worked out, some have changed, etc.

    I would nev­er have planned to end up where I am today — N-E-V-E-R. I wouldn’t have been able to con­ceive of it. But I’m mak­ing the most of where I am and real­ly enjoy­ing the process. Because, after all, isn’t life about the jour­ney, not the end goal?

    • Life has a fun­ny way of work­ing out like that, hey? I would’ve also been hard pressed to imag­ine a life like mine if you’d asked me in the past. I hon­est­ly can say I love it! Thanks for com­ment­ing!

  2. Aww, sor­ry about those guys. But hey, with dat­ing you’re find­ing out what you do and don’t want in a part­ner, and that’s invalu­able. 🙂 To be hon­est, Mr. Picky Pinch­er prob­a­bly would have thought I was insane if I were on the path to FIRE and told him while we were dat­ing. I don’t think it’s wrong for a poten­tial BF to doubt how you’ll achieve FIRE–but it’s def­i­nite­ly wrong for the guy to be adamant, bull-head­ed, and hurt­ful about it. Con­sid­er that one a bul­let dodged. 🙂
    Mrs. Picky Pinch­er recent­ly post­ed…79 Ways To Have Fun For Near­ly FreeMy Profile

    • More like a can­non ball. I also failed to men­tion his need for ADHD meds. It wouldn’t be a big deal by itself, but he also has a slight drink­ing and chew prob­lem. GROSS.

  3. A per­son who makes up their mind based on lit­tle to know data and then stub­born­ly refus­es to dis­cuss the idea is hard­ly a catch. Good rid­dance. Here is my dat­ing advice for you: focus less on actu­al finan­cials and more on the per­sons dreams, aspi­ra­tions and abil­i­ty to think through the things in a way that is sim­i­lar to you. If you find a per­son who is cur­rent­ly not finan­cial­ly savvy but has these prop­er­ties you will be able to con­vince them to join you on the FIRE path. If on the oth­er hand they have a 70% sav­ings rate, but nev­er want to trav­el that isn’t going to result in much hap­pi­ness.

    I hope you land an expat gig. That will be super excit­ing, and depend­ing on loca­tion, could be such a boost for FIRE.
    Mrs. BITA recent­ly post­ed…Long Term Cap­i­tal Gains, Roth Con­ver­sions and Har­vest­ing GainsMy Profile

    • I take the over­all finan­cial pic­ture into account, but I don’t pick and choose sole­ly off that. I would feel like a gold dig­ger if I did that! I’ve been work­ing on meet­ing peo­ple doing things I like to do- work­ing out at the body­weight fit­ness site at the near­by park, dur­ing bike rides, at the local Mak­er­space, soft­ball, and the area Real Estate Invest­ing group. Thanks for the *good* words!

  4. He firm­ly believes I’m going to fail at this ear­ly retire­ment thing”.

    Yeah, so eff that guy. Sounds pret­ty arro­gant and judg­men­tal to me. Not to men­tion that you are doing bet­ter than the vast major­i­ty of peo­ple your age in terms of FIRE. None of us are per­fect but a poten­tial part­ner should be encour­ag­ing and enthu­si­as­tic, accen­tu­at­ing the pos­i­tive rather than focused on the neg­a­tive. But hey, you can use his com­ments to fuel and moti­vate you to kick ass, so at least he was good for some­thing!

    • Wow have you met him in real life? Nailed it. Prov­ing peo­ple wrong is great fuel for my moti­va­tion! Thanks for com­ment­ing!

  5. Just be your­self. Be hon­est. I am not a big fan of “craft­ing” a cer­tain per­cep­tion or image or cater­ing to an indi­vid­ual if it means you need to com­prise being who you tru­ly are. If they don’t like you for who you are, then they’re not the one! It’s actu­al­ly very help­ful to think this way, IMHO. And it’s a nat­ur­al dis­qual­i­fi­ca­tion process =)

    • Trust me, I turn a lot of peo­ple off just by being myself. But I am def­i­nite­ly not will­ing to com­pro­mise who I am just for the sake of hav­ing a part­ner. I would be mis­er­able!

    • Thanks, Tay­lor! Wouldn’t it though!? It’d be so much fun to get to explore and real­ly fig­ure out how anoth­er cul­ture lives for a while.

  6. You do have some old­er read­ers, like me! And us old guys always want to give advice to you kids. We’ve got three kids, all mil­len­ni­als. My advice is stay picky about guys. You are an out­stand­ing young woman with tech smarts and finan­cial smarts and you have all the time in the world to find the right part­ner. We’ve been mar­ried 39 years and most­ly we’ve suc­ceed­ed because we agreed on mon­ey, our faith and have shared hob­bies. Strange­ly the last one of those might be the most impor­tant. We endurance run, snow ski, fish, hike, bush­whack, trav­el and play com­pet­i­tive ten­nis togeth­er. I know those sound like active hob­bies for 60 plus peo­ple but we are maybe a lit­tle more fit than most. Hold out for that guy that sees mon­ey the same way you do, has sim­i­lar val­ues and does things you like to do. And he will be one lucky guy!

    • I love get­ting advice, espe­cial­ly from those who have been there, done that, and got­ten the T-Shirt! Since this is the one thing that will arguably have the most impact on the rest of my life, I’m not mak­ing any quick deci­sions! I’m going to take my time. Since I have a wide range of hob­bies, it shouldn’t be dif­fi­cult to find some­thing in com­mon! Thanks for the won­der­ful words of wis­dom!

  7. Hey Gwen!

    Of all the qual­i­ties that get talked about when it comes to look­ing at a poten­tial part­ner, open-mind­ed­ness tends to get the shaft in favour of some of the sex­i­er qual­i­ties out there. And yet, this is prob­a­bly one of the must-have qual­i­ties in your sig­nif­i­cant oth­er when you’re com­ing from the FIRE back­ground.

    Some­one who is real­ly open to learn­ing and grow­ing, and who enjoys being out­side of their com­fort zone (a great para­dox!), is prob­a­bly more like­ly to real­ly buy-in to your life approach. While it def­i­nite­ly sound­ed like guy #2 didn’t fit this bill, from what I read, there was no evi­dence that guy #1 did either. Am I wrong?

    Over time, I’ve become more con­fi­dent and effec­tive at talk­ing about FIRE as a con­cept to my friends, fam­i­ly and dates. We all know how attrac­tive con­fi­dence is! I’m sure that through your own grow­ing con­fi­dence, you will attract an amaz­ing per­son into your life who will get on-board and grow with you on your jour­ney.

    Hap­py hunt­ing!


    • I LOVE this, Mike! You are absolute­ly right. He did not fit the bill, although he’s come clos­er than almost any­one I’ve met.

      Good luck to you, too!

  8. That’s too bad. To some peo­ple math is hard and they just end it at that (Safe with­draw­al rates and the like)

    FIRE is a top­ic that most just can get their heads around. Maybe you will meet some­one that is “nor­mal” hears what you are try­ing to do and real­ize they are doing it all wrong and want to join you on the adven­ture!

    • Math is hard.…… if we’re talk­ing about stuff like cal­cu­lus and dif­fer­en­tial equa­tions. The con­cepts behind FIRE are sim­ple, but com­plex to grasp since they go against the grain of pret­ty much every­thing soci­ety stands for. Thanks for the kind words!

  9. So you’re still sin­gle? Hi!

    You will not fail. Your cur­rent net worth and all of the blogs of peo­ple who have already done it prove that.

    • I mean, the math speaks for itself. I can’t do any­thing to make peo­ple lis­ten to it, though 🙁

  10. I’m with the old dude, ste­veark. 😉

    Hang in there, girl. He’s out there some­where. What­ev­er you do, don’t set­tle for less. It’s bet­ter to be the com­pete you right up front (which I know you are) and see if they can han­dle it then to try to fit into what­ev­er cut out they think you (or any woman) should be. Us chicks are a rare bird to find. Nat­u­ral­ly it’s going to take a while to find the right match. 🙂

    • I will not set­tle on some­thing so impor­tant! You can take that to the bank! (prefer­ably the same one where I hold all my fat stacks hah!)

  11. The beau­ty of being on this path to FI is I have options.” This, to me, is the key to FI. It buys you flex­i­bil­i­ty and options. It is hard to plan the future. Even peo­ple that think they have their future per­fect­ly planned are usu­al­ly wrong. FI gives you the flex­i­bil­i­ty to make the best out of each sit­u­a­tion you face and find the path that makes the most sense for you.
    Matt @ Opti­mize Your Life recent­ly post­ed…On Quit­ting and Time Man­age­mentMy Profile

    • I mean, I can make plans all I want. I hold zero expec­ta­tions that they will work out, though. Good thing I have con­tin­gency plans for every­thing!

  12. Haha I can relate to find­ing Dil­bert fun­nier the old­er I get. I think it’s cool that you’re open with the guys you date about your goals. Finances are a big deal in rela­tion­ships. It makes sure your not wast­ing time with peo­ple you aren’t real­ly com­pat­i­ble with. Good luck get­ting the expat assign­ment, I’m sure every­thing will work out for the best as long as you keep mov­ing for­ward like you are.
    Matt Kuhn recent­ly post­ed…5 Rea­sons Why Fru­gal­i­ty May Be Hold­ing You BackMy Profile

    • It’s a great test! Either they think it’s great, or they stare at me in befud­dle­ment and we’re done. I like easy fil­ters like that.

  13. It’s def­i­nite­ly very tough to find some­one in the same finan­cial sit­u­a­tion and with the same mind­set at our age, Gwen.

    I end­ed up going on a date with a girl the oth­er week who had sim­i­lar thoughts on ear­ly retire­ment. That being said, there was some thoughts I had were I didn’t entire­ly think she was being authen­tic. Just anoth­er one date and done I sup­pose.

    I’ve also def­i­nite­ly stopped dat­ing a girl when I found out she had 50k+ in stu­dent debt as well… oops.

    Regard­ing career, there is def­i­nite­ly a fine line between telling your man­ag­er your plans and keep­ing them a secret — it’s equal­ly as tough when you are super pas­sion­ate about those plans. I told my man­ag­er about my busi­ness plans, and I can tell that he now is a lit­tle bit wor­ried I may up and leave and for that rea­son, might not be will­ing to devote addi­tion­al resources to me. Ugh.

    Thanks for shar­ing Gwen.
    Erik @ The Mas­ter­mind With­in recent­ly post­ed…25 Things for My 25th Birth­dayMy Profile

    • I bet that girl had dol­la signs all over her eyes after that date! It’s tough avoid­ing the gold dig­gers or being a suga mom­ma. I think we in the FI world treat mon­ey so much more casu­al­ly than every­one else. We talk about mon­ey all the time and it’s no big deal. Not so much to the rest of the world.…

      As for the career thing, I hon­est­ly feel a bit bad that my expe­ri­ence is going so well and so many oth­ers have issues. Your manager’s response is much more typ­i­cal than mine, sad­ly. Hang in there Erik!

  14. Hi Gwen! I just start­ed read­ing your blog and I don’t know your full sto­ry, but you remind me of myself ten years ago. I heard your inter­view on the Mad FIen­tist and I am so hap­py to be fol­low­ing your jour­ney.

    I’m 36 years old and I FIREd in July 2016 after 9 years in the tech space. I spent the last three years based in Sin­ga­pore trav­el­ling and work­ing all over South­east Asia. I had a cushy job back in Scan­di­navia, with great pay, retire­ment pay, 6 weeks of vaca­tion every year and work­ing hours between 9–4 pm (I know!). How­ev­er, I decid­ed that adven­ture trumps mon­ey and I have nev­er regret­ted going to Asia. A lot of the Ear­ly Retire­ment blog­gers dream of trav­el, but in my expe­ri­ence, get­ting the oppor­tu­ni­ty to work with locals and trav­el on the com­pa­ny bill is pret­ty fab, too.

    Though I under­stand your frus­tra­tion about use­less dudes on dates, I wouldn’t stress it. You are young and as you say your­self, meet­ing some­one now might cramp your style and lim­it your oppor­tu­ni­ties. I was for­tu­nate enough to meet a guy who sup­ports this idea I have most of the time, even though he isn’t ready him­self and does relapse at times, ask­ing me when I am going back to work. I just tell him to not wor­ry about it. 😉

    Might I sug­gest going for a local con­tract in Sin­ga­pore or Bangkok? If you think an expat con­tract could be dif­fi­cult to get, they are always look­ing for skilled tech peo­ple in Asia. Oh, and those prep cours­es and send­ing your stuff over­seas? I sold every­thing I owned and just moved with two suit­cas­es and fig­ured the rest out. As will you!

    • Hi Anna! Thanks for com­ment­ing! Every­thing you said sounds exact­ly what I want to do in life! 3 years based in Sin­ga­pore! Wow. Amaz­ing.

      With regards to the prep cours­es and send­ing the stuff, I was refer­ring more to my company’s poli­cies for expats, not nec­es­sar­i­ly what I would do if mov­ing over there. My indi­vid­ual plans would look way dif­fer­ent if I went over­seas on my own!

  15. No one said the jour­ney to FIRE was glam­orous. There are oth­er obsta­cles besides just liv­ing fru­gal­ly. Obvi­ous­ly dat­ing is a big one. First off it is hard to find and meet peo­ple as you get old­er, espe­cial­ly peo­ple that share the FIRE inter­est and lifestyle.

    I did laugh when you men­tioned peo­ple being “old­er and wis­er.” My uncle gives me crap for my views all the time. In soci­ety he would be con­sid­ered old­er and wis­er. Nice house, mul­ti­ple kids, mak­ing prob­a­bly 100k work­ing for a big rep­utable com­pa­ny. But when it comes to net worth or even hav­ing extra spend­ing mon­ey, they strug­gle. Prob­a­bly will have to work till retire­ment age. So are they real­ly wis­er? Espe­cial­ly when you are flour­ish­ing and set­ting your­self up bet­ter for the future.

    I wouldn’t wor­ry too much about it. There are tons of peo­ple out there, I know the strug­gle all too well. Just keep striv­ing for your goals and the rest will fall into place.
    Div­i­dend Daze recent­ly post­ed…Small Sav­ings, Big ImpactMy Profile

    • Seems glam­orous from the out­side! How­ev­er we wouldn’t be doing any­one any favors if we glossed over dat­ing issues, career prob­lems, or the strug­gles of start­ing out in real estate. When old­er peo­ple laugh at me or patron­ize me for my plans, I just use that as fuel for my FIRE plans. Noth­ing moti­vates me more than peo­ple say­ing I can’t do some­thing! (Except maybe food. I am high­ly moti­vat­ed by food.)

  16. Hey, Gwen. Sor­ry to hear you hit a rough patch on the rela­tion­ship front. Guys, espe­cial­ly young guys, are very strange beasts. And I don’t think our cul­ture is help­ing mat­ters. We seem to be pro­duc­ing an awful lot of mama-boys. Where are the men? Where are the adven­ture seek­ers? Where are the men who aren’t sat­is­fied with nor­mal, who want to do more with their lives than excel at video games? I wish I had some wis­dom to impart on this mat­ter, but I don’t. Sigh.

    • Fun­ni­ly enough, I know they’re out there. I see them in the news all the time. Prob­lem is, either they’re already tak­en, too busy for a sol­id rela­tion­ship, or live some­place cool and excit­ing. Aka basi­cal­ly as far away from me as pos­si­ble. My town is full of tra­di­tion­al ideals- get a good fac­to­ry job, set­tle down with a nice part­ner, buy a house, and raise kids in a house sur­round­ed by a white pick­et fence. I sus­pect I’ll have to move to find some­one more com­pat­i­ble with my mind­set.

  17. Hmm­mm, tough one, my wife and I weren’t into FIRE when we were dat­ing so I cant com­ment on that specif­i­cal­ly but I can com­ment on how we dis­cussed our finances. Basi­cal­ly we didn’t. At least not direct­ly. We allud­ed to our finan­cial sit­u­a­tion by talk­ing about how we viewed money/finances.

    We nev­er talked about our finances direct­ly. I nev­er asked her how much debt she had. We didn’t review our bud­gets togeth­er. But we knew that we were on the same page when it came to our finances based on all those oth­er con­ver­sa­tions.

    Per­son­al­ly, I wouldn’t dis­cuss my FIRE plans while dat­ing unless its get­ting seri­ous. It’s not some­thing they need to know right away. FIRE is an out­come. FIRE is the result of how you approach/use mon­ey. Talk about your views on money/finances and see if they feel the same way.

    Take this with a gain of salt of course. My wife and I start­ed dat­ing almost 15 years ago. So its been a while 😉
    Owen @ PlanEasy recent­ly post­ed…The Sim­ple Retire­ment PlanMy Profile

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