Would a promotion impact your FI/RE plan?

Somehow, I got promoted

Somehow, I got promoted.

This didn’t totally come as a surprise, as my manager had been very transparent about his goal to get me promoted this year, but the decision wasn’t up to him. He was key in the whole process though, as he basically wrote the promotion document, and reached out to the people who could vouch for me in that doc.

3 years ago I would have deeply cared about a promotion. Not necessarily for the extra money, but for the symbol of recognition: “you did a great job for the company over the years, and the company is thankful for it. Your colleagues, your boss, your VP all are extremely aware that you are one of the key components of this organization”.

Now, having been an employee for this specific company, and working corporate jobs for a bit more than 10 years, I’m a bit more cynical about this promotion. First of all, it’s coming way too late in my opinion. I busted my ass for this company a long time ago, that’s when the promotion should have come. Now, I’m doing an ok job, but generally not something that I would personally say warrants a promotion. Don’t get me wrong, if you give me a promotion I’ll take it. I’ll just  internally pretend it’s the promotion I was supposed to get 3 or 4 years ago.

I had maybe a full day of feeling satisfied about the promotion. Colleagues all emailing me to tell me it was “well deserved”, “totally overdue”, and so on and so forth. Do people ever email you to tell you “I think you didn’t deserve this promotion, but congrats anyway”? Either way, emails from colleagues actually made me feel good and I believe many of them are sincere in their congratulations. I do myself congratulate some of my colleagues when they get promoted and I feel they deserved it, so I have to assume others think the same.

The good news is, I thought this promotion would come around April next year. It came earlier than expected, and that’s good news. In theory, that wouldn’t change my plans for FI (if anything, the extra money should accelerate the process), but as I’ve mentioned in another post, we’re expecting a third kid for March. That wasn’t really expected and has changed some of our plans dramatically.

Last time I wrote about it, my wife and I were wondering whether we should leave the US faster than expected, or instead delay our move back to Japan. We’ve decided to delay the move. This means a few good things for our family: First, our older kid gets to spend more time in school here in the US. Good for his English level, plus he seems to really like school here. Secondly, this means I get the full benefits of working here in the US, including a much higher salary than I would get in Japan. This should get us faster to FI. Also, this means we’re not going to be in a rush to leave, which would have been the case had we decided to leave while my wife can still get on a plan. Icing on the cake, I get some paid parental leave, which I wouldn’t have received in Japan.

WTF Healthcare

There are drawbacks too. One of the main reasons we wanted to fly back to Japan urgently is the healthcare prices in the US. We got billed $7500 (yup, seven thousands and five hundred dollars, not a typo) for a genetics test for the baby. My wife got misled into believing this test (designed to detect down syndrome) was compulsory and free for her. The hospital was in network, but the lab to which they sent the test was not*, meaning our insurance ended up only covering $150 of that insane bill. This whole event convinced my wife that the US healthcare system is just broken, and on that day she was willing to leave the country on the spot to have the baby in Japan. “I’m taking the kids to my mother’s place in Japan with me at the end of the week, you find a job in Tokyo asap and figure out the move”, she told me in a burst of anger. Ultimately we figured things out with the insurance, but that kind of stress is not something I want for our household during a pregnancy. My wife’s English is ok but not great, and I can’t be around every time she goes to the clinic just to ask if every single procedure is going to be in network or not.

Apart from the stress of crazy healthcare bills, staying in the US for a few more months seems like the right thing to do. Hopefully we won’t have more surprise bills that could offset my promotion or the good salary I’m making here in the US.

So, err, I kind of diverged off my main point here. Bottom line is, yes, I’m staying longer than planned in the US, but that doesn’t have much to do with the promotion or my FI goals. Staying here for a few months will get us faster to FI, but more importantly we’ve decided that it’s the best for us, the kids, and the upcoming new member of the family.

So this is not a case of “One more year Syndrome” here, but I have to admit I’m a bit relieved I won’t have to tell my manager I’m leaving him right after he did everything he could to get me promoted. I know I shouldn’t care, but that wouldn’t have seemed like a nice move from me.

My latest FI/RE Plan

So what’s our plan now? Well, I would describe it in phases like that:

  1. Find a position in Japan and move back there around June 2017
  2. Reach KoFI (“Kind of Financially Independent”, the level where my passive income + a conservative estimate of my side gig income will provide enough to cover our expenses). I’m tired of making predictions here, I thought this would happen in 2016, and now it looks more like this won’t be before mid to late 2017. Potentially this could happen before moving back to Japan although I’m not totally sure here, and either way I’ll need the corporate job, see below.
  3. Buy a house in Japan. That’s the main reason I’ll actually need the job: it has come to my attention that getting a loan in Japan for the house would probably be impossible without a job, independently of how rich I am. I’d rather not pay for the house in cash if I can avoid it, housing loans in Japan are like free money with interest rates under 1%.
  4. Quit the job sometimes in 2018 after the contract on the loan is signed.
  5. Live off passive income + my side gig hopefully with enough left to save a bit
  6. Reach FI

To me, reaching FI is not the goal anymore, quitting the corporate life is. So my victory happens at step 4 above. Step 6 would just be confirmation that I don’t need to get back to a corporate job ever, even if the income from my side gig dropped to zero (either due to external circumstances or me being tired of it)

* It was actually even sneakier than that. The lab was advertised as being “in network” on our health insurance’s website, but that actually didn’t apply because it was in a different state than where we live. I’m telling you: some stuff that is probably natural to you American folks feels completely broken from my French and my Japanese wife’s point of view. Your healthcare system is in need of fundamental changes and you should seriously take lessons from countries where it actually works like, yes, France and Japan. I have to believe many people in this country live in fear of going to the doctor’s without cross checking every potential cost ahead of time. This feels so unreal to me.

4 Comments
  1. Financial Velociraptor
  2. Mr. Tako @ Mr. Tako Escapes
    • StockBeard
  3. Team CF

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