Staying motivated in the middle of the game

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Hayduke
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Staying motivated in the middle of the game

Post by Hayduke »

How does everyone stay motivated and focused on investing when you're a long way from 'winning the game' but in far enough that the easy gains are behind you?

Thanks to the great community here, my wife and I have made saving and investing a priority over the last ~5 years and have seen rewarding progress towards our goals. Our portfolio across our 401k's and taxable accounts is roughly 8X our current expenses and closer to 13X if you include home equity. We're in our mid 30's and hope to retire or at least be financially independent when the kids are off to college in our early 50s.

While we feel fortunate to have gotten to this point, lately I'm finding it difficult to stay focused on saving/investing and keeping expenses down. Early on it was easy to stay motivated because contributions after each paycheck represented noticeable increases in our net worth and we established good habits of roughly a 50% savings rate. As our net worth has grown, the same contributions have smaller and smaller impact on our progress so there's less of a psychological reward for our efforts.

I've also felt similar sentiments of diminishing returns at work. I'm close to being able to make the case for a promotion, but the standard 10% raise feels underwhelming when earlier in my career I would have pushed hard for it. I keep thinking "well it's really only a 5% change in our household income, and that's really only a 3% change in take home pay, so why bother..."

Has anyone else felt similar sentiments midway through their investing careers and if so how did you stay motivated/focused?
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retired@50
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Re: Staying motivated in the middle of the game

Post by retired@50 »

Hayduke wrote: Wed Sep 01, 2021 3:20 pm Has anyone else felt similar sentiments midway through their investing careers and if so how did you stay motivated/focused?
Somewhere along the line, as the contributions start to have a smaller impact, I started to pay attention to the annual amount(s) of dividends and interest my accounts were earning.

Take a look at the quarterly dividends or monthly bond interest dollar amounts from 10 years ago, then compare it to today. As you slowly accumulate more and more shares your holdings start to become an earnings machine.

You could also look at old tax returns to see how much your dividend and interest income in your taxable account has grown, based on what you've been reporting to the IRS. Again, modest but consistent growth, I suspect.

Someday, you'll be reporting zero wages, but the other lines on your tax return will take on the "job" of creating income.

Regards,
This is one person's opinion. Nothing more.
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LadyGeek
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Re: Staying motivated in the middle of the game

Post by LadyGeek »

This thread is now in the Investing - Theory, News & General forum (general discussion).
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reln
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Re: Staying motivated in the middle of the game

Post by reln »

Hayduke wrote: Wed Sep 01, 2021 3:20 pm How does everyone stay motivated and focused on investing when you're a long way from 'winning the game' but in far enough that the easy gains are behind you?

Thanks to the great community here, my wife and I have made saving and investing a priority over the last ~5 years and have seen rewarding progress towards our goals. Our portfolio across our 401k's and taxable accounts is roughly 8X our current expenses and closer to 13X if you include home equity. We're in our mid 30's and hope to retire or at least be financially independent when the kids are off to college in our early 50s.

While we feel fortunate to have gotten to this point, lately I'm finding it difficult to stay focused on saving/investing and keeping expenses down. Early on it was easy to stay motivated because contributions after each paycheck represented noticeable increases in our net worth and we established good habits of roughly a 50% savings rate. As our net worth has grown, the same contributions have smaller and smaller impact on our progress so there's less of a psychological reward for our efforts.

I've also felt similar sentiments of diminishing returns at work. I'm close to being able to make the case for a promotion, but the standard 10% raise feels underwhelming when earlier in my career I would have pushed hard for it. I keep thinking "well it's really only a 5% change in our household income, and that's really only a 3% change in take home pay, so why bother..."

Has anyone else felt similar sentiments midway through their investing careers and if so how did you stay motivated/focused?
It's probably a good idea to unplug from investing. That is, set it and forget it. Most people get all the juice out of investing info in the first day or 2. After that diminishing returns and even negative returns on your time spent learning & tinkering ruin a good thing. Focus on what makes you happy and ignore the noise 😁.
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JoeRetire
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Re: Staying motivated in the middle of the game

Post by JoeRetire »

Hayduke wrote: Wed Sep 01, 2021 3:20 pm How does everyone stay motivated and focused on investing when you're a long way from 'winning the game' but in far enough that the easy gains are behind you?
I always focus on the long term.
Just remember: it's not a lie if you believe it.
gamboolman
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Re: Staying motivated in the middle of the game

Post by gamboolman »

Hayduke,

Well done for where yawl are at in your mid thirties !

But the truth is at your mid thirties you have just barely got the water hot !

Now is the time to bear down and Make Hay While The Sun is Shining and Pile It Higher and Deeper. :moneybag

There will be financial ruhro's and set backs..... that's life.

Sounds like yawl have done very well - yawl are in a helluva lot better shape than ms gamboolgal and I was at your age !

As to staying motivated - not sure what to tell you but to realize that yawl are way better off than many folks your age. Don't get complacent and keep focused on the prize.

I worked in the Oilpatch for 43 year before retiring earlier this year. Early on in my career I was layed off for very brief periods on 2 X occasions. That was terrifying for me as when you are out of work even if only for a few short weeks - you don't know that and it is a bad time.

That always made me better able to stay focused on the job and put up with the petty politics and the inevitable dummies and work place drama's. When I found myself getting aggravated - I would think back to when I layed off and that would help me to bear down and hang tuff !

Working and saving vs a family life is a hard thing. I was gone Offshore and Oversea's for most of my kids growing up - and I regret that. Having said that I would have regretted it much more if I had been out of work and unable to provide for them.

Not to get cynical on you but .....
It's a hard balancing act and the truth is that in many mega corps and jobs - although the corp may talk about family and values - that is just talk for the most part. When you realize that and accept that you will be better off - based on my experience. No matter how much you saved the company in terms of dollars, Facilities from being destroyed and lives lost, etc., all that don't count for much in reality.

As I'm sure you know, if you post your particulars in detail in the format suggested for BH's.... I can assure you that you will get excellent feedback. You can also post and read up over at Early Retirement Forum and they will offer good advice as well.
https://www.early-retirement.org

Again, well done and all the best in yawls endeavors. Hang tuff hombre !

gamboolman....

Lifes A Dance And You Learn As You Go
jsapiandante
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Re: Staying motivated in the middle of the game

Post by jsapiandante »

Your feelings are valid. It's part of human nature. As we got closer to financial independence we started losing focus and staying motivated at work. It just means we need to focus more of our time and energy elsewhere like picking up new hobbies and spending more quality time as a family. Don't forget to enjoy life while going through this financial journey. It's easy to be so focused on what your future will be like when you should really be focusing on the present.

Just keep doing what you're doing as far as your finances go. They'll take care of itself.
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CyclingDuo
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Re: Staying motivated in the middle of the game

Post by CyclingDuo »

Hayduke wrote: Wed Sep 01, 2021 3:20 pm How does everyone stay motivated and focused on investing when you're a long way from 'winning the game' but in far enough that the easy gains are behind you?

Thanks to the great community here, my wife and I have made saving and investing a priority over the last ~5 years and have seen rewarding progress towards our goals. Our portfolio across our 401k's and taxable accounts is roughly 8X our current expenses and closer to 13X if you include home equity. We're in our mid 30's and hope to retire or at least be financially independent when the kids are off to college in our early 50s.

While we feel fortunate to have gotten to this point, lately I'm finding it difficult to stay focused on saving/investing and keeping expenses down. Early on it was easy to stay motivated because contributions after each paycheck represented noticeable increases in our net worth and we established good habits of roughly a 50% savings rate. As our net worth has grown, the same contributions have smaller and smaller impact on our progress so there's less of a psychological reward for our efforts.

I've also felt similar sentiments of diminishing returns at work. I'm close to being able to make the case for a promotion, but the standard 10% raise feels underwhelming when earlier in my career I would have pushed hard for it. I keep thinking "well it's really only a 5% change in our household income, and that's really only a 3% change in take home pay, so why bother..."

Has anyone else felt similar sentiments midway through their investing careers and if so how did you stay motivated/focused?
Regarding your investments, keep it all on automatic pilot and enjoy your family, your routine, your work, and your life.

Insert Jack Bogle's advice to stop looking at your account balance until right before you retire:

Rather than open their DC plan statements monthly or quarterly, Mr. Bogle stressed that “the excitement (plan participants) will feel when they open that last statement will far exceed the boredom of indexed management. They will be amazed at how big their accounts are!” https://www.pionline.com/article/201406 ... retirement

Not sure we would consider 30's as the middle of the game when it comes to a working career and investing time horizon. Then again, we are nearing the tail end of our working careers at ages 59/63 and started our working careers at ages 24/22 respectively. So we are 35/41 years into our respective "games" regarding working.

You get one journey, and one journey only. So focus on what is important in your family and relationships while you let the investments do their work for you in the background. Let them be boring, as Bogle says...

CyclingDuo
"Save like a pessimist, invest like an optimist." - Morgan Housel
ML 59
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Re: Staying motivated in the middle of the game

Post by ML 59 »

The middle years do get somewhat boring and seem sluggish. I assure you that as you get closer to retirement it starts getting exciting again.

Plug and Chug - Set and Forget. Someday, in the blink of an eye, your work colleagues and friends start retiring around you and suddenly it hits you that you are also getting close. It's a great feeling. A little exciting; a little scary. With continued investment discipline the financial aspect of stepping off the treadmill will just be another career step.

Keep up the good work - it will pay off. :sharebeer
bovineplane
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Re: Staying motivated in the middle of the game

Post by bovineplane »

My motivation is 2001 and 2008 and more recently March 2020 watching my savings get obliterated. Then watching the recovery. With a booming market it may be hard to stay motivated. Just imagine your portfolio taking a 50% haircut and not recovering as fast as 2020.
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Re: Staying motivated in the middle of the game

Post by pasadena »

I found it harder to stay motivated in the beginning, because while each new contribution had a big impact, I was also so very far from my goals that they all seemed unreachable and it was hard to "believe".

Now... I'm looking at absolute numbers, not just percentages. I tally up my contributions YTD and projections until the end of the year. I look at how much my NW has increased in $. I see that last month, it went up by less than 3% (including contributions), which sounds very "meh". But that's actually just over twice my monthly gross income. Half a year of expected expenses in retirement. A LOT of money.

Then I look at my goal. Inching towards them is a lot more motivating now that I'm halfway there - I can smell them.

That's what keeps me motivated.
Last edited by pasadena on Thu Sep 02, 2021 12:34 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Staying motivated in the middle of the game

Post by sschullo »

You are in a good place.

“Investing should be more like watching paint dry or watching grass grow. If you want excitement, take $800 and go to Las Vegas.”

– Paul Samuelson

"Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth." - Mike Tyson
"We have seen much more money made and kept by “ordinary people” who were temperamentally well suited for the investment process than by those who lacked this quality." Ben Graham
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Toons
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Re: Staying motivated in the middle of the game

Post by Toons »

Keep Doing Exactly
What You Are Doing
For
10 More Years
Laserlike
:wink:
"One does not accumulate but eliminate. It is not daily increase but daily decrease. The height of cultivation always runs to simplicity" –Bruce Lee
secondopinion
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Re: Staying motivated in the middle of the game

Post by secondopinion »

sschullo wrote: Thu Sep 02, 2021 12:29 pm You are in a good place.

“Investing should be more like watching paint dry or watching grass grow. If you want excitement, take $800 and go to Las Vegas.”
Yes. Over time, investing gets more and more boring. If you are bored, you are doing it right. If there is a lot of emotion, you are doing it wrong.
fallingeggs
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Re: Staying motivated in the middle of the game

Post by fallingeggs »

I made the choice awhile ago to have a fairly set amount of cash savings each year, which allows my savings as a percentage of income to slowly drift down over time. I felt (and continue to feel) that this amount of savings will reach my FI target, while “allowing” each raise to go into my “spending” bucket for new and interesting things, like trips and a boat one day. This helps keep me sane and (fairly) motivated.

You can’t do this when starting off the journey, but I think it is a reasonable switch along the way.
Wellfleet
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Re: Staying motivated in the middle of the game

Post by Wellfleet »

Very impressive OP! :sharebeer We are leagues behind you but getting closer to be in what I would characterize good shape but a couple of our super frugal friends have fallen by the wayside and upsized their houses and lifestyles!

We are trying to stay motivated in light of friends buying vacation homes, new houses, dual luxury cars. All things friends can afford but SO and I are like "what are we missing?" One friend was Mr. Money Mustache to me with a 1x income house purchase and driving a Honda Civic. Added a vacation house and now luxury cars....
bob991
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Re: Staying motivated in the middle of the game

Post by bob991 »

Wellfleet wrote: Thu Sep 02, 2021 1:32 pm
We are trying to stay motivated in light of friends buying vacation homes, new houses, dual luxury cars. All things friends can afford but SO and I are like "what are we missing?" One friend was Mr. Money Mustache to me with a 1x income house purchase and driving a Honda Civic. Added a vacation house and now luxury cars....
When I went back to work before the delta variant hit, there were a lot of brand new cars in the parking lot. I also see a lot of houses with some kind of construction going on, new garages being added etc. The investor class is feeling rich at the moment.
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Re: Staying motivated in the middle of the game

Post by Sagefemme »

For the vast majority of my working career, I looked at 401k balances once every couple of years. Literally. Some years I only looked when forced to choose a new fund because of changes in employer offerings. I still have a file folder full of unopened statements! When the financial crisis of 2008 was looming and then crashing down, I didn't look at all. I probably didn't look again until 2013 or 2014. Meanwhile DH and I were keeping contributions at the max and paying attention to family life. About 5 years ago, nearing retirement, I started paying much closer attention. It's still hard to believe two average earners have accumulated what we have while ignoring the details, but it can work that way. Set it and forget it IS a strategy, if you can stomach it. Get back to the business of enjoying your friends, family, home, etc., and the time until you start being pleased and satisfied with your savings will fly by!
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Hayduke
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Re: Staying motivated in the middle of the game

Post by Hayduke »

Thanks all for sharing your perspectives. It's a great reminder that, properly carried out, investing should be pretty mundane and excitement should be coming from the other aspects of life.
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ApeAttack
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Re: Staying motivated in the middle of the game

Post by ApeAttack »

"While we feel fortunate to have gotten to this point, lately I'm finding it difficult to stay focused on saving/investing and keeping expenses down."

My wife and I have the philosophy that once we max out our retirement accounts each month (which is on auto-pilot), we don't really care how we spend our money as long as our EF remains roughly the same. I have no clue how much I spend on food, gas, etc... each month. We pay our future selves first, then let our present selves enjoy what remains.

I check my retirement accounts once a month to ensure the money was deposited and my AA is approximately where we want it.
Just another lazy index investor who recently found out about I-Bonds (https://www.treasurydirect.gov/indiv/research/indepth/ibonds/res_ibonds.htm).
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Re: Staying motivated in the middle of the game

Post by ImUrHuckleberry »

Hayduke wrote: Wed Sep 01, 2021 3:20 pm How does everyone stay motivated and focused on investing when you're a long way from 'winning the game' but in far enough that the easy gains are behind you?
I don't understand this. Far as I can tell, the further you get in the easier and easier the gains come. Gains were much tougher in the early days. Lately we make as much almost every single day as we used to be able to save in an entire month.
retire2022
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Re: Staying motivated in the middle of the game

Post by retire2022 »

bovineplane wrote: Thu Sep 02, 2021 12:14 pm My motivation is 2001 and 2008 and more recently March 2020 watching my savings get obliterated. Then watching the recovery. With a booming market it may be hard to stay motivated. Just imagine your portfolio taking a 50% haircut and not recovering as fast as 2020.
Crashes are good, I took out my 70K in 2000 before bubble bust, it was my down payment right after 911.

I saved 50K in five years, and had a portfolio of 400K in 2000, then the bubble burst, and everything went down, I was 40 years old and 27 years from retirement.

Today I am 61, and liquidated 1.7million from my 457 plan and retired, I expect my first pension check to cover my living expenses and with a portfolio of 2.6 million I got nothing to worry about.
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Hayduke
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Re: Staying motivated in the middle of the game

Post by Hayduke »

ImUrHuckleberry wrote: Thu Sep 02, 2021 10:36 pm
Hayduke wrote: Wed Sep 01, 2021 3:20 pm How does everyone stay motivated and focused on investing when you're a long way from 'winning the game' but in far enough that the easy gains are behind you?
I don't understand this. Far as I can tell, the further you get in the easier and easier the gains come. Gains were much tougher in the early days. Lately we make as much almost every single day as we used to be able to save in an entire month.
Early on, every biweekly contribution grew my net worth by a noticeable percentage and that served as a nice psychological reward for making sacrifices to save. Now our biweekly contributions barely move the needle on our net worth and my efforts at frugality seem trivial compared to whatever the market decides to do. It's tempting to get lazy about saving when it feels like my contributions these days are miniscule relative to the total portfolio size.
RobLyons
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Re: Staying motivated in the middle of the game

Post by RobLyons »

I agree with the set it and forget it. And I'd add to that, start to enjoy some of your excess cash now. Being a great saver/investor and frugal for long periods of time gets old (for me). It's easy to start thinking "Is this all there is to life?". Is it really worth it to not enjoy our hard earned money for some future early retirement date? It helped me stay motivated and feel alive to just enjoy some cash then refocus on finances. Best of luck!
"Great parenting sets the foundation for a better world"
Wannaretireearly
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Re: Staying motivated in the middle of the game

Post by Wannaretireearly »

Just reading posts on this forum will keep you/me motivated. Other things:

Short term goals/milestones:
- 2 years til I'm done with kids private school...tuition! Yay!
- fear of God in case income drops to $0. I need to beef up on Cash/Muni's!
- 2 years from when we should be comfortable on one income. Just had the conversation with DW on her potentially leaving work when our kids may need the most help & support (10th & 11th grade).

Longer term:
- desire to save enough where SWR is tiny (2% or under) & I can spend freely, as I do now. Balancing this saving goal with my want to retire at 50.
Death and taxes. Only one is under your control!
Kaktus
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Re: Staying motivated in the middle of the game

Post by Kaktus »

Perhaps it can be good to really reflect on how you would feel and what would it mean if you had only half the portfolio you currently have. And what would it mean if you will have the current portfolio and debt when you are ten years older than now.
Its easy I think to start taking for granted a significant positive amount of financial assets.
On the other hand, if you would be ok with the same situation in ten years, perhaps youre current high savings rate should be cut back.
Just a thought.
ImUrHuckleberry
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Re: Staying motivated in the middle of the game

Post by ImUrHuckleberry »

Hayduke wrote: Thu Sep 02, 2021 11:04 pm
ImUrHuckleberry wrote: Thu Sep 02, 2021 10:36 pm
Hayduke wrote: Wed Sep 01, 2021 3:20 pm How does everyone stay motivated and focused on investing when you're a long way from 'winning the game' but in far enough that the easy gains are behind you?
I don't understand this. Far as I can tell, the further you get in the easier and easier the gains come. Gains were much tougher in the early days. Lately we make as much almost every single day as we used to be able to save in an entire month.
Early on, every biweekly contribution grew my net worth by a noticeable percentage and that served as a nice psychological reward for making sacrifices to save. Now our biweekly contributions barely move the needle on our net worth and my efforts at frugality seem trivial compared to whatever the market decides to do. It's tempting to get lazy about saving when it feels like my contributions these days are miniscule relative to the total portfolio size.
Maybe run some simple calculations with a compound interest calculator and compare estimated growth going forward with no new contributions versus estimated growth going forward continuing your current contributions. I bet it makes a fairly significant difference in the numbers. (If it doesn't, you can probably retire now!)
Random Walker
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Re: Staying motivated in the middle of the game

Post by Random Walker »

Have faith in the power of compounding. The apparent small portfolio contributions will turn out to be not so small.

Dave
WyomingFIRE
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Re: Staying motivated in the middle of the game

Post by WyomingFIRE »

Hayduke wrote: Thu Sep 02, 2021 11:04 pm
ImUrHuckleberry wrote: Thu Sep 02, 2021 10:36 pm
Hayduke wrote: Wed Sep 01, 2021 3:20 pm How does everyone stay motivated and focused on investing when you're a long way from 'winning the game' but in far enough that the easy gains are behind you?
I don't understand this. Far as I can tell, the further you get in the easier and easier the gains come. Gains were much tougher in the early days. Lately we make as much almost every single day as we used to be able to save in an entire month.
Early on, every biweekly contribution grew my net worth by a noticeable percentage and that served as a nice psychological reward for making sacrifices to save. Now our biweekly contributions barely move the needle on our net worth and my efforts at frugality seem trivial compared to whatever the market decides to do. It's tempting to get lazy about saving when it feels like my contributions these days are miniscule relative to the total portfolio size.
You are focused only on your contributions.

Just wait until compounding starts to kick in. To me, “easy gains” mean non-labor-related portfolio returns in all their myriad forms — appreciation, dividends, interest.

Year-over-year to date, the returns on our portfolio were six times my wage income. It is as if I labored in Jan-Feb, then our portfolio sustained us Mar-Dec while we were at the beach. I am 57.

You are at the beginning of your journey, or maybe you are, in the alternative, leaving the beginning and entering the middle of your journey. You are doing a great job, so keep doing what you are doing. But the “easy gains” are not behind you, at least that is how I see it. They are down the road a bit, but you can take comfort and inspiration from knowing you are on the right path.
wrongfunds
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Re: Staying motivated in the middle of the game

Post by wrongfunds »

Sagefemme wrote: Thu Sep 02, 2021 2:03 pm For the vast majority of my working career, I looked at 401k balances once every couple of years. Literally. Some years I only looked when forced to choose a new fund because of changes in employer offerings. I still have a file folder full of unopened statements! When the financial crisis of 2008 was looming and then crashing down, I didn't look at all. I probably didn't look again until 2013 or 2014. Meanwhile DH and I were keeping contributions at the max and paying attention to family life. About 5 years ago, nearing retirement, I started paying much closer attention. It's still hard to believe two average earners have accumulated what we have while ignoring the details, but it can work that way. Set it and forget it IS a strategy, if you can stomach it. Get back to the business of enjoying your friends, family, home, etc., and the time until you start being pleased and satisfied with your savings will fly by!
+1
I shredded lots of then unopened financial statements just last year. I was shocked to see the hits we had taken. But now we will be worried about RMD bomb. You should be so lucky too!
Rus In Urbe
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Re: Staying motivated in the middle of the game

Post by Rus In Urbe »

All good advice upthread here. Kudos for where you are!

Give yourself a pat on the back and . . .

1. Take a bit of the stash and spend it (YES SPEND IT) on something wonderful (a week or weekend somewhere special, a kayak, a big dinner out) and make it a special event that memorializes your investing success so far. Celebrate what you have achieved already.

And.

2. Open a Donor Advised Fund. Yes. Give to Charity, give to causes you believe in and help those less fortunate. Nothing, but nothing makes you better appreciate your financial success than the feeling of generosity when you share. This seems counter-intuitive----aren't we supposed to be penny-pinching and saving every hard-earned buck? Yes, but.....GIVING works wonders.

You won't miss the bit of money you spent celebrating your success and being philanthropic.

Instead, this will reboot you back to your original goals to save.

Congratulations and good luck! :beer
I'd like to live as a poor man with lots of money. ~Pablo Picasso
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Re: Staying motivated in the middle of the game

Post by tomsense76 »

Hayduke wrote: Wed Sep 01, 2021 3:20 pm ...

I've also felt similar sentiments of diminishing returns at work. I'm close to being able to make the case for a promotion, but the standard 10% raise feels underwhelming when earlier in my career I would have pushed hard for it. I keep thinking "well it's really only a 5% change in our household income, and that's really only a 3% change in take home pay, so why bother..."

Has anyone else felt similar sentiments midway through their investing careers and if so how did you stay motivated/focused?
Are you familiar with the U-shaped happiness curve? Here's a good article explaining it. That said, there are plenty of things we can do to improve our own happiness.
"Anyone who claims to understand quantum theory is either lying or crazy" -- Richard Feynman
rockstar
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Re: Staying motivated in the middle of the game

Post by rockstar »

My 401k is on auto pilot. Money goes into my investments with each paycheck. There is nothing to be motivated about. It just is what it is. The market will return whatever the market returns. And I have very limited options to pick from.
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Re: Staying motivated in the middle of the game

Post by Broken Man 1999 »

I know the "not peeking" at account statements was advised by Mr Bogle, but honestly in this day and age of cyber theft, it is horrible advice, IMHO.

Hope those who practice "no peeking" don't have an unwelcome surprise one day. :shock:

Broken Man 1999
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FIre Fighter
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Re: Staying motivated in the middle of the game

Post by FIre Fighter »

Hayduke, I understand your feeling that at some point additional contributions feel like a drop in the bucket. This feeling only magnifies as your portfolio gets bigger and investment returns become very large. I’m at the point where I can get a raise or contribute a large portion of my paycheck to savings yet it doesn’t seem like much compared to what my portfolio will return on average. My current motivation to keep my spending down is not necessarily in order to save more, but rather to not build higher spending habits that would force me to raise my “number” and work longer. I could spend more each year and it would frankly have a negligible impact on my portfolio, but then I’d require my portfolio to grow meaningfully to support that extra spending habit in retirement.

Finally, when the market inevitably does have a downswing, saving a lot feels really good because you know you’ll get great returns on those contributions.
ImUrHuckleberry
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Re: Staying motivated in the middle of the game

Post by ImUrHuckleberry »

ImUrHuckleberry wrote: Fri Sep 03, 2021 8:01 am
Hayduke wrote: Thu Sep 02, 2021 11:04 pm
ImUrHuckleberry wrote: Thu Sep 02, 2021 10:36 pm
Hayduke wrote: Wed Sep 01, 2021 3:20 pm How does everyone stay motivated and focused on investing when you're a long way from 'winning the game' but in far enough that the easy gains are behind you?
I don't understand this. Far as I can tell, the further you get in the easier and easier the gains come. Gains were much tougher in the early days. Lately we make as much almost every single day as we used to be able to save in an entire month.
Early on, every biweekly contribution grew my net worth by a noticeable percentage and that served as a nice psychological reward for making sacrifices to save. Now our biweekly contributions barely move the needle on our net worth and my efforts at frugality seem trivial compared to whatever the market decides to do. It's tempting to get lazy about saving when it feels like my contributions these days are miniscule relative to the total portfolio size.
Maybe run some simple calculations with a compound interest calculator and compare estimated growth going forward with no new contributions versus estimated growth going forward continuing your current contributions. I bet it makes a fairly significant difference in the numbers. (If it doesn't, you can probably retire now!)
I just did this for our own situation. Our bi-weekly contributions are about .4 percent (.004) of our current investments, yet our estimated balance in only 10 years assuming 5 percent annual growth is almost double when continuing to contribute versus stopping now. So even though the bi-weekly contributions are a relatively small amount, they make a huge difference in a relatively short amount of time.
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Garco
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Re: Staying motivated in the middle of the game

Post by Garco »

I perhaps have a different perspective than the OP and some others posting here.

I never worked "in order to retire." Nor did I work "in order to get rich."

I worked because my job was my professional calling. The main rewards were my achievements, including teaching, research, and publishing.

In return for my performance and achievements I was paid well, got annual salary increases, and was provided with a participatory retirement fund to which I contributed 5% of my gross monthly salary and my employer contributed 10%. I took a passive approach to investing. I took a more active approach to saving beyond the retirement fund. Specifically, I saved for my children's college education. The fringe benefits included excellent health plans. We spent with moderation. One car at a time, one house at a time (in fact my "starter house" in 1975 is the same one we live in now).

I had a long working career: 43 years, with just two employers. I got good raises as a result of my work. My gross annual salary in my last year of employment was approximately 15X my initial salary (nominal, not inflation adjusted). I put together a sizeable nest-egg, which has more than doubled in size since I retired in 2014. As a "fringe benefit" I traveled the world (China, Russia, Brazil, Italy, Germany, Azerbaijan, Spain, and many other countries), mostly at other people's expense, as part of my research program as well as for recreation.

In sum, my motivation came from the work itself -- the career activities and achievements -- not from earnings or material gain. It also came from the achievements of my spouse and our two children (who both attended college at our expense, graduated without any debt, and have interesting and successful careers).
Last edited by Garco on Sat Sep 04, 2021 9:28 am, edited 1 time in total.
CurlyDave
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Re: Staying motivated in the middle of the game

Post by CurlyDave »

Hayduke wrote: Wed Sep 01, 2021 3:20 pm
...Has anyone else felt similar sentiments midway through their investing careers and if so how did you stay motivated/focused?
I am older, and the Bogleheads board did not even exist for most of my accumulation phase and I did not find it until well into retirement. But I had a lot of mid-course boredom during this phase.

The way I got through it was:

1. Set and forget a decent savings rate in a 401(k), mine was only 18% including the company match.

2. Fun money (funny money, play money). I had a taxable account and put an additional 3 or 4% of salary into that. This is more than Mr. Bogle recommends, but it worked for me. If it did well, I just let it ride. This satisfies the urge to do something and provided an endless stream of stories for #3.

3. In person support group. There were a few other investors at work and a few (3-4) of us would have lunch together and discuss our investments 3 or 4 times a week. Mostly our fun money exploits, but everything was fair game. I think we all came out a with bigger portfolios than we would have had otherwise.
Answering a question is easy -- asking the right question is the hard part.
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Re: Staying motivated in the middle of the game

Post by Sandtrap »

Make bigger goals and bigger challenges.
Challenge yourself daily.
Challenge life.

Complacency?
Ambivalence?

So decide every morning.
Navy Seal or Seal or Otter or Platapus or Sloth?

True motivation is internal and the seed of it is at ones core.

Double your existing retirement portfolio goal?
j🌺
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Trader Joe
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Re: Staying motivated in the middle of the game

Post by Trader Joe »

Hayduke wrote: Wed Sep 01, 2021 3:20 pm How does everyone stay motivated and focused on investing when you're a long way from 'winning the game' but in far enough that the easy gains are behind you?

Thanks to the great community here, my wife and I have made saving and investing a priority over the last ~5 years and have seen rewarding progress towards our goals. Our portfolio across our 401k's and taxable accounts is roughly 8X our current expenses and closer to 13X if you include home equity. We're in our mid 30's and hope to retire or at least be financially independent when the kids are off to college in our early 50s.

While we feel fortunate to have gotten to this point, lately I'm finding it difficult to stay focused on saving/investing and keeping expenses down. Early on it was easy to stay motivated because contributions after each paycheck represented noticeable increases in our net worth and we established good habits of roughly a 50% savings rate. As our net worth has grown, the same contributions have smaller and smaller impact on our progress so there's less of a psychological reward for our efforts.

I've also felt similar sentiments of diminishing returns at work. I'm close to being able to make the case for a promotion, but the standard 10% raise feels underwhelming when earlier in my career I would have pushed hard for it. I keep thinking "well it's really only a 5% change in our household income, and that's really only a 3% change in take home pay, so why bother..."

Has anyone else felt similar sentiments midway through their investing careers and if so how did you stay motivated/focused?
No, not at all.
an_asker
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Re: Staying motivated in the middle of the game

Post by an_asker »

bovineplane wrote: Thu Sep 02, 2021 12:14 pm My motivation is 2001 and 2008 and more recently March 2020 watching my savings get obliterated. Then watching the recovery. With a booming market it may be hard to stay motivated. Just imagine your portfolio taking a 50% haircut and not recovering as fast as 2020.
You make a good point. It is easy for folks like us to be motivated when we take big hits in net worth. For those who have not yet seen a downturn (2020 was a blip), it is obviously tougher!
HenryG
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Re: Staying motivated in the middle of the game

Post by HenryG »

Yes, I've had similar feelings. I bookmarked and occasionally re-read Mr. Money Mustache's post "What it Feels Like to Become Rich":

https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/08 ... come-rich/

"...your financial boredom will probably continue. Keep up the good work..."
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firebirdparts
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Re: Staying motivated in the middle of the game

Post by firebirdparts »

I found motivation in the middle to be the easy part. I observed you can get disturbed by an event (like say the dot-com crash) so that you can't bear to look at your account. But to say "ho hum, i just don't want to get rich anymore" I don't know what that feels like.

I think a lot of people find motivation at the beginning of the game to be not just difficult but impossible, beyond their grasp. That's what I think. My wife certainly did. Fortunately for me, if I put it in my 401k at the office, there was nothing she could do about it.

I don't get the "easy gains are behind you". That sounds like a new delusion I haven't heard of. Making money is lot easier with 50 million than it is with 50 thousand.
A fool and your money are soon partners
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Re: Staying motivated in the middle of the game

Post by sschullo »

HenryG wrote: Sat Sep 04, 2021 6:43 am Yes, I've had similar feelings. I bookmarked and occasionally re-read Mr. Money Mustache's post "What it Feels Like to Become Rich":

https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/08 ... come-rich/

"...your financial boredom will probably continue. Keep up the good work..."
Thanks for this link. What another great article from a great thinker who has it all with an entire generation following him. To my knowledge, MMM started his blog just to share his remarkable, non-competitive, insightful, and "thinking different" life. He never started to "make money." But he is "wealthy" beyond imagination. If MMM's article doesn't convince the OP that he is in a good place with financial boredom, the OP is in trouble.
"We have seen much more money made and kept by “ordinary people” who were temperamentally well suited for the investment process than by those who lacked this quality." Ben Graham
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Re: Staying motivated in the middle of the game

Post by revhappy »

Hayduke wrote: Wed Sep 01, 2021 3:20 pm
I've also felt similar sentiments of diminishing returns at work. I'm close to being able to make the case for a promotion, but the standard 10% raise feels underwhelming when earlier in my career I would have pushed hard for it. I keep thinking "well it's really only a 5% change in our household income, and that's really only a 3% change in take home pay, so why bother..."

Has anyone else felt similar sentiments midway through their investing careers and if so how did you stay motivated/focused?


I am surprised at 13x you feel your incremental savings dont feel like they add up that too with 50% savings rate during mid 30s. Are you sure the math is correct?

lets assume you make 100k and your expense is 50k and you save 50k. You have saved 13X50k = 650k. Now you continue to save 50k. 50k/650k = 7.6% increase! That is significant! I am also in a similar zone, my incremental savings is around 7-8% of my current networth which I feel is big. If my networth tanks 10% due to bad markets, the new savings is a very good cushion. I am curious why you say, it is not significant.
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Hayduke
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Re: Staying motivated in the middle of the game

Post by Hayduke »

revhappy wrote: Wed Sep 08, 2021 9:52 am I am surprised at 13x you feel your incremental savings dont feel like they add up that too with 50% savings rate during mid 30s. Are you sure the math is correct?

lets assume you make 100k and your expense is 50k and you save 50k. You have saved 13X50k = 650k. Now you continue to save 50k. 50k/650k = 7.6% increase! That is significant! I am also in a similar zone, my incremental savings is around 7-8% of my current networth which I feel is big. If my networth tanks 10% due to bad markets, the new savings is a very good cushion. I am curious why you say, it is not significant.
Because we contribute biweekly instead of in one annual lump sum. With your numbers it would be more like 2k per pay period, or a 0.3% increase. That is easily washed out by normally market volatility.

Put another way, early on in our saving/invest careers our net worth basically looked like a staircase. Every contribution was noticeable and that provided a nice psychological reward. Now our net worth looks more like the VTSAX timeseries and it's hard to see the impact of our ongoing savings.

Intellectually, I agree that the aggregate annual contributions still make a reasonable impact but emotionally it's hard to remain excited to sacrifice and save when those efforts produce fractionally smaller and smaller chunks of progress. It feels like a slippery slope where we could easily loosen the purse strings because our efforts at saving don't feel as impactful as they used to and further NW progress is more determined by whatever the market decides to do. Obviously, growing our spending would just set us back even further so I'm looking for ways to reframe my thinking to avoid this outcome.
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Re: Staying motivated in the middle of the game

Post by Texanbybirth »

I'm in the "middle of the game" with you. I've never felt unmotivated, but I've never felt hyper-motivated either. The savings just come out of my paycheck twice a month, they go to my designated investments, and I check the account once a month/quarter. Investing is just something I think I have to do to take care of myself and my family. It's not super exciting or stimulating. How often do you check your balances?

Are y'all starting to splurge on things on the "expenses" side of the equation? A 10%/5%/3% raise would still make a difference in my household's income/well-being, so I don't understand your sentiment there at all.

Maybe you're focusing too much of your (mental) energy on Financial Independence, which it sounds like is still a long way's off for you.
“The strong cannot be brave. Only the weak can be brave; and yet again, in practice, only those who can be brave can be trusted, in time of doubt, to be strong.“ - GK Chesterton
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Re: Staying motivated in the middle of the game

Post by dacalo »

Our income also has negligible effect on our investments, but we keep a monthly tracker. It is fun to see the balances grow. We also set annual goals and try to beat those as well.
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Re: Staying motivated in the middle of the game

Post by revhappy »

Hayduke wrote: Wed Sep 08, 2021 10:31 am
revhappy wrote: Wed Sep 08, 2021 9:52 am I am surprised at 13x you feel your incremental savings dont feel like they add up that too with 50% savings rate during mid 30s. Are you sure the math is correct?

lets assume you make 100k and your expense is 50k and you save 50k. You have saved 13X50k = 650k. Now you continue to save 50k. 50k/650k = 7.6% increase! That is significant! I am also in a similar zone, my incremental savings is around 7-8% of my current networth which I feel is big. If my networth tanks 10% due to bad markets, the new savings is a very good cushion. I am curious why you say, it is not significant.
Because we contribute biweekly instead of in one annual lump sum. With your numbers it would be more like 2k per pay period, or a 0.3% increase. That is easily washed out by normally market volatility.

Put another way, early on in our saving/invest careers our net worth basically looked like a staircase. Every contribution was noticeable and that provided a nice psychological reward. Now our net worth looks more like the VTSAX timeseries and it's hard to see the impact of our ongoing savings.

Intellectually, I agree that the aggregate annual contributions still make a reasonable impact but emotionally it's hard to remain excited to sacrifice and save when those efforts produce fractionally smaller and smaller chunks of progress. It feels like a slippery slope where we could easily loosen the purse strings because our efforts at saving don't feel as impactful as they used to and further NW progress is more determined by whatever the market decides to do. Obviously, growing our spending would just set us back even further so I'm looking for ways to reframe my thinking to avoid this outcome.
The way I do it is maintain an excel tracker with monthly snapshot of networth figures and breakdown. I also have a separate column that shows how much my network is growing YTD due to salary inflow vs market returns. So far market returns are on par with salary savings. So without those saving my networth growth would halve! I am big big fan of tracking and maintaining my networth figures and almost update it on a daily basis, maybe it is not for you, but something to think about.

Below is my actual tracker. All figures are in SGD '000
Column Q is just investment growth rate for the year and column R is new salary saving inflow for the year.

Image
sureshoe
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Re: Staying motivated in the middle of the game

Post by sureshoe »

Hayduke wrote: Wed Sep 01, 2021 3:20 pm How does everyone stay motivated and focused on investing when you're a long way from 'winning the game' but in far enough that the easy gains are behind you?

Thanks to the great community here, my wife and I have made saving and investing a priority over the last ~5 years and have seen rewarding progress towards our goals. Our portfolio across our 401k's and taxable accounts is roughly 8X our current expenses and closer to 13X if you include home equity. We're in our mid 30's and hope to retire or at least be financially independent when the kids are off to college in our early 50s.

While we feel fortunate to have gotten to this point, lately I'm finding it difficult to stay focused on saving/investing and keeping expenses down. Early on it was easy to stay motivated because contributions after each paycheck represented noticeable increases in our net worth and we established good habits of roughly a 50% savings rate. As our net worth has grown, the same contributions have smaller and smaller impact on our progress so there's less of a psychological reward for our efforts.

I've also felt similar sentiments of diminishing returns at work. I'm close to being able to make the case for a promotion, but the standard 10% raise feels underwhelming when earlier in my career I would have pushed hard for it. I keep thinking "well it's really only a 5% change in our household income, and that's really only a 3% change in take home pay, so why bother..."

Has anyone else felt similar sentiments midway through their investing careers and if so how did you stay motivated/focused?
It's called a midlife crisis :)

If saving money is what brings you joy, you need to reframe it. People start getting all their joy from money or possessions - you have to find what makes you happy.

To quote Mr. Peanutbutter: "The key to being happy isn't to search for meaning. It's just to keep yourself busy with unimportant nonsense, and eventually, you'll be dead."

Find hobbies, activities, etc. that distract you. If work is uninspiring, maybe it's the wrong job. Sometimes, we're such a slave to the money, that we forget that all we're doing is passing time until we bite it. Enjoy the time.
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