Late to FIRE

Photo by Aphiwat chuangchoem on

As a 42yo I’m definitely late in starting my FIRE journey. The blogs I follow are written by people who retired in their late 30’s or early 40’s, so I’m definitely late to FIRE in comparison. I honestly didn’t realize that not working my ass off until I was 65 was even an option. I thought that’s what you were supposed to do. I also thought that I would have plenty of time to make up for my poor history of not saving money. Suddenly, it feels like I’ve screwed myself.

I spent my 20’s earning my degree, which takes eight years to complete at minimum. Most CRNA programs require a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing followed by a minimum of one year of intensive care nursing experience. I had zero financial support from my family so I had to take the long road and acquire my Associate’s degree in Nursing first. I then worked in the ICU while completing my Bachelor’s degree. I was able to work up to this point but my CRNA program was very intense and required full time attention so working wasn’t an option. I was able to complete my graduate degree thanks to student loans that totaled 60k and a large sign-on bonus of 30k from my future employer.

CRNA’s are high earners from the day of graduation. It’s a profession that many aren’t aware even exists. It’s one where jobs are easy to find and sign-on bonuses are given to students who are still two years away from graduation. It is the hidden gem of the medical community in my opinion. Most people think their anesthesia will be administered by an Anesthesiologist but in many parts of the country that’s simply not true. In my 15 years of operating room experience I can tell you that I have never seen an Anesthesiologist start and finish the anesthesia for a procedure. They may come in at the beginning or poke their head in at some point during the procedure but that’s it. The majority of my days are spent in complete autonomous bliss!

Since graduating I haven’t made less than 130k a year. So when I think of all the money I have wasted on frivolous purchases, items that I don’t even own anymore, I get sick to my stomach. I completely regret the mistakes we’ve made but I can’t do anything about it except stop making them…which is easier said than done in some areas of my life. Shopping for clothes is easy to give up since I wear scrubs five days a week but books have become an addiction. Eating out after a long day is a luxury I’m going to struggle saying good-bye to.

It is my goal to achieve FIRE in 7 years. It’s a lofty goal that my husband thinks is too limiting. He sees no reason for us to limit our lifestyle so that FIRE can be accomplished in 7 years when it could be accomplished in 10 years without as many changes. He’s not wrong and he’s certainly allowed to have that opinion. But a part of me dies a little more inside every time the toxic culture I work in impacts my day. I want to quit now! I want the freedom to take a job that pays less but makes me happier.

Mr. CRNA, as I will lovingly call him on this blog, doesn’t love his job either but he sees a future for himself at the company he’s with. Since we have been together he has advanced quite a bit, more than doubling his salary and his position in his company. Even if he hated his job I don’t think I will ever convince him to retire early for one main reason, he will get a pension. That’s right folks, my husband was one of the last people allowed to get in on the company pension before they closed it to new people permanently. He pays in monthly and at 62 he can start drawing from it. I can’t blame him for not wanting to give this up. He sees people living longer and thinks that we will need more money than just our 401k’s to live well in retirement. In a future post I will talk more about our current financial situation and why he might be right.

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