If we are FI, why do we continue to save?


Traveling while gimpy

(This is the fourth post in a series about being diagnosed with Primary Lateral Sclerosis. See “I’m sorry, you have motor neurone disease…”,The financial burden of disability, and Forced FI vs. Choosing FI)

One of the most basic realities of my condition is that we don’t know what the future holds. Some people see very little – or even no – change over the years. Some decline quickly and hit a plateau, and some switch over to being full ALS patients. Given all the advances in medical science over the last 100+ years, we often forget how limited all our knowledge is, especially when it comes to the brain. While medical science is advancing daily, I feel people have higher expectations from medicine than is currently possible. Given these parameters, how do we plan?

As I mentioned, having private disability insurance gives me 70% of my salary for as long as I am disabled (or until I turn 65), if I die that source of income disappears (plot twist: it’s only FI if I stay alive – much like a salary). While I cling to the hope that something can halt or improve my condition, financially 70% of my salary is a lot more than our post-FI projection was (is!) so our family is ok financially. However, we don’t know what the future holds in terms of what I will require, and we have already discussed how expensive disability can be.

The best way to plan for an uncertain future is to always hedge your bets.

So while one would think that we can relax a little because we have income that meet our needs for the foreseeable future, that is the last thing we want to do. In fact, we are even more dedicated to saving money now that I have been diagnosed. We want Mr. Tucker to retire sooner rather than later – so much so that we are looking at ways to decrease our daily spending even more. So why are we doubling-down given that we could potentially relax?

1 – While I am still mostly able-bodied (with assistance) the chances of this being true long-term are slim-to-none. Mr. Tucker will have to assist me more as the years go on and holding down a full time job, caring for two kids, and taking care of a disabled spouse is a big ask of anyone. Eliminating the need for paid work is a huge burden lifted off his shoulders.

2 – As I mentioned before, disability is incredibly expensive and as my ability to walk and manage daily tasks decreases, the need for more assistive devices increases. More money saved means not having to worry if I can afford these things in the future.

3 – While I am still able to walk and talk, I want to travel as much as possible. We have always wanted to retire early and travel the world but now we need to consider traveling pre-retirement. Given that Mr. Tucker works a remote job, this is feasible for us but we have to work in travel vs. our budget. Budget travel is also usually meant to people who are more able-bodied, so in order to see the things we want to see, I may have to chose a more expensive – but also more accessible – method.

4 – I may die sooner. No one wants to think about their own death but I need to be realistic that I may die sooner than my husband, and maybe even when my family is still young. My death would effectively stop the disability payments and could leave my family in the lurch. Ensuring Mr. Tucker has the means to support the family in the event of my death is paramount (yes, we also have life insurance).

First day at our new home

We originally wanted to pay off the house before the mortgage came due (in Dec 2020) but we may end up still having a small mortgage if it means we can travel more. Right now, Mr. Tucker’s salary goes 50% to the mortgage payoff account, and 50% towards his retirement account but we continue to play with these numbers.

This is a good example of how budgets need to be fluid and changing when new information is introduced. No one could have predicted this devastating news would land on our laps this winter – but it did – and our budget needs to reflect our new reality. So we are ramping up our goal timelines and slashing our discretionary spending in order to do the things we want to do while we still can. We will continue to optimize our plans whenever new information (read: life’s curveballs) comes our way. After all, there is never a bad time to save money for a rainy day.