I have touched upon this background story more than once. It was not until FinCon that I realized how central it was to my personal FIRE journey.
Several times when I was trying to boil down my history with FIRE I kept coming up with the same short story.
My in-laws were wonderful human beings. We moved home to be close to them when we started having kids. They were 62 years old and had just retired. My mother-n-law got 1 social security check and my father-n-law got 2 checks.
And then they died, within 3 days of each other.
Perfect citizens. Paid into the system their whole lives. Did everything they were supposed to do. Worked hard and raised a great family. They had multiple pensions coming in and had nothing left to do but kick back and enjoy their grandchildren.
LIFE doesn’t care about your plans.
As I muddled through the paperwork of becoming their estate’s personal representative, it hit me. They had checked off all the boxes, done everything right, but the center did not hold, things fell apart.
LIFE is fragile and unpredictable.
I started second guessing my life track. Why am I going to work until age 62 or whatever? Because I am supposed to? I had already walked away from a lot of things that I was supposed to do. If we stop caring about what is orthodox, is there another way?
I have always been naturally frugal. Same with my wife, we are too blue collar for our white collar jobs. I was putting money away in all the right places.
The inheritance from my in-laws allowed us to get a jump on some important milestones. I was able to secure my kids college expenses.
We were able to consolidate ownership of our beloved family cottage and eventual retirement spot.
This telescoping of our original timetables, coupled with my hobby of reading personal finance blogs gave me a foundational awareness of a possible new path. My FIRE journey was born.
We weren’t going to go quietly into that good night, we were going to get financially independent as soon as comfortably possible and get on with what we wanted to do with the time we have left.
Horror stories about your mother-n-law are funny. They comprise one of my favorite reddit threads. But I don’t have any, my mother-n-law was a universally beloved woman.
My father-n-law was the male role model I never had growing up. He was a dichotomy of traits; a tall strong cop who knew when to take a hard line, but he was also a softie who doted of his wife and daughters and freely expressed his emotions.
Together the two of them showed me what a marriage was supposed to look like. A new perspective on family that heavily influenced my own parenting style. Trying to live up to them makes being a decent person relatively easy.
Many times good raw material is ruined in a bad environment. That could have been me. Meeting and marrying into this family probably saved my life. I would explain the juicy details of why that is not hyperbole, but I am just not ready yet.
“the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry”
Although I am loathe to admit this, I cared way too much what other people thought of me when I was younger. Some wisdom and some life behind me have done much to alter that trait.
Think about the things you might regret doing, or more importantly, things you might regret not doing. Make a Plan and get busy living your life.
Stack enough chips to live that life on your terms.