The opportunity cost of One More Year

Free housing at B Hut Village!

Free housing at B Hut Village!

Anyone considering leaving a perfectly good job really ought to have a plan. Or at least know what they are giving up, right? 

As my FIRE date approaches, I’m asking myself these types of questions. 

Will leaving a $75,000/year job end up being a terrible decision?

What will I lose in the long run?

Will future me be happy for this decision or will I be kicking myself for it?

These are good questions, but for me, the more important one is,

What will I gain?

Background

I’m working in a high tech field making right around $75,000 per year working in the states. If I deploy instead of work stateside (this is usually 50% of the time) I make about 2.5x my stateside pay. We’ll call that $187,500. Big difference. 

I want to weigh, financially, where I stand right right now and what One More Year would do for me.

The Stash

My FI number from The SuperPlan is $1,000,000. I’ll service an ultra safe 3% withdrawal rate that will provide $2,500 per month. While my FI number has come and gone (thanks Mr. Market),  I’m still working and expecting another ~$50,000 saved before the Quit Date. This should put me close enough.

Nick catches OMY fever. 

Let’s say my FI date comes and I’m just not ready to let go. I’m scared, doubtful, whatever the case may be. Heck with it, I’ll work just one more year!

One More Year, stateside pay of about $75,000

First, let’s subtract the tax deductible 401(k) contribution, pay taxes, and see what’s left. 

Forbes posted 2016 tax brackets online, and my taxable wages would be $57,000 after the 401(k) contribution.

As a single filer I would pay $10,021. Plus, Utah State Tax of a flat 5% leads me to owe them about $2,850. In total, I would owe around $12,871.

My $75,000 wage, minus taxes, and less the 401(k) contribution leaves me with $44,129. 

Assuming I stuck with my proposed FIRE budget (under the 250% Modified Adjusted Gross Income scenario) of $29,242 annual spend, I’m left with $14,887.

$14,887 to invest, or more likely to blow on a car to drive myself to work in the first place.

If I did the smart thing and invest it, it would only increase my early retirement spending by $37 bucks a month. I don’t know about you, but working another year stateside for an extra $37 bucks a month just isn’t worth it to me.

One More Year, deployed pay of about $187,500

I’ll tell you right now, this scenario actually get’s me somewhere. But is it worth it?

Again, let’s subtract the tax deductible 401(k) contribution, pay taxes, and see what’s left. 

Luckily, due to the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion, my federal taxable income would be $68,200, putting the bill at $12,821. The state doesn’t care about FEIE, so that would be $8,475 due to Utah, for a total tax bill of $21,296. 

This leaves me with $148,204 of net income. I’ll have a vacation during the year, and spend some on mail order goodies.

Obviously I won’t have the same expenses as my stateside scenario (free housing!), so I will actually be able to bank around $140,000.

Again, if I was smart and invested it, it would increase my early retirement spending by $350 per  month! Forever! That’s relatively significant. Hmm…

But wait!

Haven’t I figured out what enough is? Do I really need an extra $350 per month of passive income? Does this change anything?

The important question to address is, 

How would another $4,200/year effect my Affordable Care Act balancing act?

Let’s revisit the ACA scenarios in the Taxes and Insurance section of The SuperPlan and look at Roth conversions.

Scenario #1  – Was $14,000, now only $9,800 room to convert. 

Scenario #2 – Was $20,342, now just $16,142 room to convert. 

Scenario #3 – Was $29,760, still $25,560 room to convert. 

Since I’m leaning heavily on the Roth pipeline to fund early retirement, Scenario #1 is no longer an attractive option unless my AGI was a lot less than calculated.

OMY syndrome is not only real, it can also negatively effect your early retirement plan! And that’s just one more year. If I felt I needed a lot more money to be comfortable, I would likely Fall Off The Affordable Care Act Subsidy Cliffs!

Alright, so I’m done exploring the financial aspect of OMY. Let’s see what I’m trading $350 a month for. 

Note that I get 1 month away from the job site in a 12 month deployment.

I lose out on: 11 months of free housing, free military food, free gym access, $166,204 of potential income, and the worst ISP known to man.

I gain: To name a few… 11 months of clean, geographically attractive housing. 72 hours of time each week. Fresh produce. Grocery stores! Beer!! Restful sleep. The great outdoors. Full, uninterrupted seasons. Recreational activities galore. Pretty ladies ALL OVER THE PLACE. A social life outside of work colleagues. Intentional living. Flexibility in location. No more incoming mortar alarms. 

That pretty much sums it up for me. Providing my $2,500/month spend rate in 2016 is acceptable, One More Year just isn’t worth it!

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