What’s a day worth to you?

Tiananmen Square Beijing- Entrance to the Forbidden City.

My marathon of travel has continued through May. One of the most enjoyable aspects of being an engineer is having the opportunity to solve problems. As I have moved up the ranks in my company, opportunities to personally lead difficult problem solving activities has decreased significantly, but on rare occasions, when the problem has large financial or customer implications, I get tapped on the shoulder to do my thing. For the last 6 weeks, that is exactly what I have been doing.

I originally traveled to Beijing for a quick three day stop to check-in on my team who was already on the ground troubleshooting the issue. That three day trip turned into six weeks, though I did take a five day trip home for some “marital maintenance.” During that time, I have been working, on average, 14 hours a day, 7 days a week. Although I like solving problems and the team of technical experts I work with are great folks, that kind of grueling schedule is enough to wear down even a glutton for punishment like me. With the little downtime I have had, I’ve been plotting my escape from this way of life.


As I mentioned in my previous post, I think I am currently struggling with a form of short-timers disease. Or maybe it’s wuss-o-citis. We have enough saved now to meet our basic needs in retirement. So thoughts of “What the hell am I doing at work at 8pm, working in a city that I dislike, away from the family that I love?” keep entering my head.

After much deep soul searching and a little cypherin’, I found the answer!

Each day of pre-retirement is roughly equal to $22 USD of annual post-retirement spending.

Yup, each additional day I keep working (read saving) is equal to one luxurious meal for Mrs. Zero and I at the local Waffle House every year! Well, when you put it that way, Mr. Zero, maybe you should consider working another year beyond your FIRE plan! I mean, come on, Waffle House everyday for perpetuity? Now there’s an incentive plan one can get behind.

As much as I love an All-Star Breakfast, I’ve got my sights set on something a little healthier. We’ve saved enough for our basic needs, but I am not interested in a basic needs kind-of-existence for the next 40 years. Thankfully, I only have two years of working to add the items we want:

  • College education for our kids. See “I might be an A-hole” for our approach on college funding.
  • A sailboat capable of taking us anywhere we want to go and allows us to live off the grid for months at a time.
  • A few nice beers now and then. The days of “Beast” beer are long gone for this Zero.
  • Travel funds after we tire of, or can no longer physically keep up with the demands of long term voyaging by sailboat.
  • Peace of mind in the form a financial guard-band when the markets take the inevitable plunge 6 to 10 times over the next 40 years.

Weekend Furlough

I was able to escape Beijing for a long weekend with the family. We had some money left in our company-provided travel budget that needed to be spent by the end of June, so we said screw it and booked four nights in a resort in Borneo.

More of this please.

It was a relatively quick direct flight into Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, followed by a short boat ride to one of the coolest resorts we’ve ever visited. Our villa was a thatch-roofed oasis of relaxation and fun.

We enjoyed snorkeling off our balcony, hikes through the jungle canopy and even got to zip-line between two islands. The kid’s favorite part was the glass floor living room that provided a view of the flood-lit waters below the villa. One son was so enthralled that we found him the next morning with a pillow and blanket sleeping on the glass floor.

Do you think he fell asleep thinking about what one day of his life is worth?

Not a chance.

3 Comments on “What’s a day worth to you?”

  1. Brilliant post, my friend. I love the multiplier effect you calculated of pre-retirement labor to post-retirement spending in perpetuity. Every month I update how much I can withdraw annually from investments using a SWR of 3-4%. The chart is edging up painfully slowly, but it reminds me why I work.

    Those pictures were epic. Keep up the good work. I like the addition of the side-bar you added containing years to FI.

  2. Beautiful photos, I could go for a little break like that! I had to laugh at the “Beast” beer. I know exactly what you are talking about haha. Interesting about each day being $22. That really does make a person think about the “right time” to quit the day to day grind. My wife and I have a ways to go before we think about that but it’s good to have it in mind.
    Mr Defined Sight recently posted…Ditch Your Job Like A Bad RelationshipMy Profile

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