Staying motivated in the middle of the game

Discuss all general (i.e. non-personal) investing questions and issues, investing news, and theory.
Sic Vis Pacem
Posts: 185
Joined: Mon Sep 04, 2017 8:25 pm

Re: Staying motivated in the middle of the game

Post by Sic Vis Pacem »

I'm in my mid-thirties and feel pretty comfortable with our progress, but we too are in the big grey middle. I stay motivated by setting new goals (or, less charitably, moving the goal posts).

First it was pay off all student loans and consumer debt.

Then it was fill up two 401ks. Doable on a rapidly rising income.

Then it was two 401ks, two Roths, and a family HSA. A stretch, to be sure. Tough for a couple years until income caught up.

Then 529s up to the state max income deduction. One for myself, one spouse, one for each kid, and one for a nephew. That's enough for now.

But I'm sure sometime soon it will be something else.

While I keep an eye on where I am in the grand scheme of things, I enjoy checking each of these boxes throughout the year.

It also keeps me from spending much of our household income increases, and keeping lifestyle creep in check. I suspect one day I'll look and there will be enough for us to do what we want, and so we shall. Until then, I just keep filling the buckets until they reset on January 1st.
deltaneutral83
Posts: 1969
Joined: Tue Mar 07, 2017 4:25 pm

Re: Staying motivated in the middle of the game

Post by deltaneutral83 »

I think for people who get that rush of dopamine from finances in the beginning of adulthood are probably the ones that will hit the finish line early anyhow because they are so methodical. Paying off debt and watching the money vanish rather than investing more or "doing fun stuff" isn't a stage most enjoy vs. watching rising accounts and having more discretionary income IMO. I hope I've understood the OP correctly?

One thing I guess is that when you're young and have debt (both the silly kind or otherwise for argument's sake) it's nice to have a purpose for every dollar that comes into your life if you budget/track and stay disciplined like OP. One probably don't make enough money to drive a Lambo yet so you have to make tough decisions and there's accomplishment in that if done correctly IMO. When you pay down consumer debt to $0, max out retirement accounts, HSA, use discretionary income to enjoy your and your family's life, then the only other thing is just to keep sending those dollars to a taxable ( or real estate, or whatever) and that can seem unfulfilling. But I still don't see how it's less fulfilling than paying down money you've already spent (debt) and having less discretionary income. If you enjoy process and discipline so much that you look back more fondly at your low NW days than your higher NW days currently, money might not be the issue, with career stagnation being a biggie as OP mentioned.
Jaymover
Posts: 126
Joined: Wed May 12, 2021 8:19 pm

Re: Staying motivated in the middle of the game

Post by Jaymover »

I found that doing a financial plan later (late 40s) triggered alot of fears and anxiety about mortality and the future. Before then I probably went on my merry way missing out on financial opportunities but being more in the present.

The point of financial goal planning, investing and saving should be to reduce anxiety overall. So have a plan and set and forget really makes sense if you can do it.
Ivygirl
Posts: 479
Joined: Sun Apr 06, 2014 1:36 pm

Re: Staying motivated in the middle of the game

Post by Ivygirl »

I think motivation and focus will increase naturally as soon as the tide turns and the money sloshing around the economy recedes.

I've noticed that personal finance forums and discussion boards are more interesting when a dash of economic fear is injected, and there are hard times. Which come around pretty regularly.

I regard this as the "seven fat years" in which to store up like crazy before they are eaten by the "seven lean years."
Mike Scott
Posts: 1917
Joined: Fri Jul 19, 2013 2:45 pm

Re: Staying motivated in the middle of the game

Post by Mike Scott »

If you need a goal and your midgame is going well, it's time to start setting some end game priorities. Where do you want to be in 10 years? 20 years? Do you need cash to pay for a big project? Do you have an FI number? Are you going to move when you retire? Budget and retirement income projections 20 years out are pretty squishy but every year that passes adds more data to your baseline.
User avatar
Garco
Posts: 859
Joined: Wed Jan 23, 2013 2:04 am
Location: U.S.A.

Re: Staying motivated in the middle of the game

Post by Garco »

@Hayduke:

I never worked IN ORDER TO RETIRE.

I worked (a) to do something interesting and of social value, and (b) to make a living for myself and my family (including the costs of college). I had in mind a goal in overall career savings/investments that would allow me to retire comfortably.

I spent a lot of "start-up" time in college (10 years undergrad and grad). My career involved teaching and research. I had an audience of students and scholars. I published more than 100 research papers. I got to travel the world -- at somebody else's expense. China, Russia, Italy, Germany, Brazil, India, and more than a dozen other countries. "For free!"

I never lacked for motivation because the work, including research, was interesting and challenging; and I had a feeling that I was contributing something to others.

Because of my work and professional achievements, I was paid well; and I accumulated investments and savings in the millions. I retired, but that wasn't my goal from the beginning.
Casper
Posts: 228
Joined: Tue Oct 15, 2013 8:32 pm

Re: Staying motivated in the middle of the game

Post by Casper »

I can see where OP is coming from. Once you've gotten to a pretty good point, it can feel like you're just waiting for the future to arrive so you can enjoy what you've saved. I'm in a similar spot, just a little older than OP. No debt, house is paid off, 529s are funded, investments are at 20-25x annual spending. Work is uninspiring, and I'm looking to go part-time. Don't care about my job, would rather focus on hobbies, kids, enjoying the world, etc. Not being tempted by extra spending, but tempted to reduce income and trade money for time.

In terms of investing motivation, I'm now more motivated to invest in taxable for an early retirement. Our 401k's would be fine if we stopped contributing, but we'll still have 10 years of pre-401k expenses to cover if we want to retire at 50. Think about your goals and focus on what you need to do to hit them.
User avatar
Sandtrap
Posts: 14034
Joined: Sat Nov 26, 2016 6:32 pm
Location: Hawaii No Ka Oi , N. Arizona

Re: Staying motivated in the middle of the game

Post by Sandtrap »

For most anything, there's a cycle:

Want to do
Have to do (gotta)
Don't want to do

Rekindle your passion, drive, and reform your goals and challenges.

Does anyone get "burn out" in their favorite passion/hobby?
Fishing, bowling, golf, etc?

Motivation and passion starts from self, inside to out.
If outside to in, then it's just temporary or an artificial construct, etc.
Life is not on a spreadsheet. Nor is what truly matters and has the greatest lasting rewards, quantifiable.

So, . . . . take a break, find a quiet place, re-establish or re-conform life goals, self -goals, and approach everything holistically and comprehensively. (work is just part of things, money is just part, etc).
Find a cause and goal larger than self.

Read:
"Life Strategy", "Life Code", by Dr. Phil McGraw
"As A Man Thinketh", by Allen Lakein.

j :D
Wiki Bogleheads Wiki: Everything You Need to Know
User avatar
Rowan Oak
Posts: 753
Joined: Mon May 09, 2016 2:11 pm
Location: Yoknapatawpha

Re: Staying motivated in the middle of the game

Post by Rowan Oak »

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..."
I've read Mr. Money Mustache for years, but missed this one. Thanks for the link.
“If you can get good at destroying your own wrong ideas, that is a great gift.” – Charlie Munger
Wannaretireearly
Posts: 1882
Joined: Wed Mar 31, 2010 4:39 pm

Re: Staying motivated in the middle of the game

Post by Wannaretireearly »

Casper wrote: Tue Sep 14, 2021 8:46 am I can see where OP is coming from. Once you've gotten to a pretty good point, it can feel like you're just waiting for the future to arrive so you can enjoy what you've saved. I'm in a similar spot, just a little older than OP. No debt, house is paid off, 529s are funded, investments are at 20-25x annual spending. Work is uninspiring, and I'm looking to go part-time. Don't care about my job, would rather focus on hobbies, kids, enjoying the world, etc. Not being tempted by extra spending, but tempted to reduce income and trade money for time.

In terms of investing motivation, I'm now more motivated to invest in taxable for an early retirement. Our 401k's would be fine if we stopped contributing, but we'll still have 10 years of pre-401k expenses to cover if we want to retire at 50. Think about your goals and focus on what you need to do to hit them.
+1. This could be my post too. Saving a stash in taxable cash/muni is my current goal to get ready for ER. Creating realistic tangible goals each year keeps me semi-motivated.
Death and taxes. Only one is under your control!
Post Reply