Any other attorneys considering FIRE / early retirement / part time? Forum

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Any other attorneys considering FIRE / early retirement / part time?

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Mar 01, 2019 11:21 am

Between 6th-9th year senior associate here. Always been smart with my money. Within a year, I'll have no mortgage (or any other debt) and my savings will be very close to being able to cover all of my expenses under the 4% safe withdrawal rule. Once I hit that milestone, I strongly want to go down to part time but I'm sure I'll debate the "just one more year" syndrome while making a decent paycheck. Plus my significant other would still be working so I probably wouldn't want to go full early retired.

Any other attorneys here in a similar situation? How did you handle your work situation after getting close to or hitting your FIRE number?

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Re: Any other attorneys considering FIRE / early retirement / part time?

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Mar 01, 2019 2:59 pm

I'm a junior, but saving aggressively (~60%) to hopefully FIRE one day.

IIRC, the 4% rule is based on a 30 year withdrawal period. Assuming you are not much older than the average senior assoc, are you going to have enough money for 40+ years?

Anon because i prefer not to reveal my savings rate to friends who browse this forum.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Fri Mar 01, 2019 4:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Any other attorneys considering FIRE / early retirement / part time?

Post by QContinuum » Fri Mar 01, 2019 3:34 pm

Anonymous User wrote:IIRC, the 4% rule is based on a 30 year withdrawal period. Assuming you are not much older than the average senior assoc, are you going to have enough money for 40+ years?
IIRC, the 4% rule is supposed to ensure indefinite solvency because you would be living off "just the interest" and not touching the principal. So in theory it wouldn't matter whether you had a 30-year retirement or a 50-year retirement. Of course it depends on having a healthy investment return (i.e., if your investments are overly conservative or overly speculative, you could end up netting insufficient returns to defray the 4% yearly withdrawals) and can be thrown off by unexpected expenses or a major stock market crash.

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Re: Any other attorneys considering FIRE / early retirement / part time?

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Mar 01, 2019 4:08 pm

QContinuum wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:IIRC, the 4% rule is based on a 30 year withdrawal period. Assuming you are not much older than the average senior assoc, are you going to have enough money for 40+ years?
IIRC, the 4% rule is supposed to ensure indefinite solvency because you would be living off "just the interest" and not touching the principal. So in theory it wouldn't matter whether you had a 30-year retirement or a 50-year retirement. Of course it depends on having a healthy investment return (i.e., if your investments are overly conservative or overly speculative, you could end up netting insufficient returns to defray the 4% yearly withdrawals) and can be thrown off by unexpected expenses or a major stock market crash.
I think the original study concluded that 4% guaranteed that your principal would be protected over a 33 year period based on historical performance. There's a lot of discussion in the FIRE scene over what 4% means. Some people take a more conservative 3% approach.

There's probably no right answer to all of this. After all, nobody can predict future returns and climate change might kill us all in 30 years.

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Re: Any other attorneys considering FIRE / early retirement / part time?

Post by htownsublet » Fri Mar 01, 2019 4:35 pm

OP, that's really amazing. I'm happy for you!

I'll be a summer SA in big law this summer. My goal is FIRE and I chose to work in Texas to help make this a more comfortable goal (so I can still live nice without sacrificing as much saving as I would have to in NYC or SF).
Do you have any tips for someone who's long term goal is FIRE but is just starting out?

Thanks!

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Re: Any other attorneys considering FIRE / early retirement / part time?

Post by Neff » Fri Mar 01, 2019 5:10 pm

Absolutely I am following this. FIRE is my religion. I am three and a half years into biglaw. Net worth is $280,000 after starting out at negative $80,000. Living in cheap ass city in cheap ass state w/ no income tax. Live in a cheap apartment, drive a cheap car, and will be buying a starter home soon. I currently save $10,000-$12,000 a month.

Not to brag, but I think to myself all the time that I am living the life. People ask me why I’m so stingy and tell me to “live a little.” Meanwhile I laugh at their dumb ass living the bullshit consumerist life while bitching about billing.

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Re: Any other attorneys considering FIRE / early retirement / part time?

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Mar 01, 2019 5:21 pm

I'm not so much FIRE as I am just a freak for financial security. I will be in Houston and have a budget that would have me spending between 15%-25% of my net income during my associate years. My question is... what are some unexpected expenses that I should be accounting for that will bring that percentage up. I know they exist. I just have blinders on and can't see them.

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Re: Any other attorneys considering FIRE / early retirement / part time?

Post by 20181989 » Fri Mar 01, 2019 5:29 pm

To the last poster, the answer is IME is "your friends' weddings." Once you're in the 25-33 age bracket, you could easily be traveling to 3-5 weddings a year, which adds up (flights, hotels, gifts, tux rentals if necessary).

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Re: Any other attorneys considering FIRE / early retirement / part time?

Post by QContinuum » Fri Mar 01, 2019 6:59 pm

20181989 wrote:To the last poster, the answer is IME is "your friends' weddings." Once you're in the 25-33 age bracket, you could easily be traveling to 3-5 weddings a year, which adds up (flights, hotels, gifts, tux rentals if necessary).
You will also need to factor in car maintenance/replacement expenses, insurance deductibles, and any medical expenses that may require a significant outlay (dental work often falls into this category, as does physical therapy or chiropractic treatment).

Big but predictable expenses include saving up to buy a home and saving up for your own wedding & honeymoon.

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Re: Any other attorneys considering FIRE / early retirement / part time?

Post by gaddockteeg » Fri Mar 01, 2019 7:49 pm

20181989 wrote:To the last poster, the answer is IME is "your friends' weddings." Once you're in the 25-33 age bracket, you could easily be traveling to 3-5 weddings a year, which adds up (flights, hotels, gifts, tux rentals if necessary).
truth. This is the death of me. I have freaking 15 weddings this year and 8 corresponding bachelor parties. 6 of the weddings are going to requireme to travel to the weddings and all 8 bachelor parties require flights/hotels.

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Re: Any other attorneys considering FIRE / early retirement / part time?

Post by mvp99 » Fri Mar 01, 2019 9:39 pm

Tbf bachelors was prob worth every penny....
Last edited by QContinuum on Sat Mar 02, 2019 10:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Any other attorneys considering FIRE / early retirement / part time?

Post by Ken Kesey » Fri Mar 01, 2019 10:36 pm

OP, don't see having no mortgage as a good thing. Having a house means having a lot of capital tied up in an asset with an historical 3.5% appreciation rate. You should rather have lots of capital tied up in the market. With mortgage rates lower than historical market return rates having a mortgage is better than having a fully paid off house.

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Re: Any other attorneys considering FIRE / early retirement / part time?

Post by nixy » Fri Mar 01, 2019 10:59 pm

Ken Kesey wrote:OP, don't see having no mortgage as a good thing. Having a house means having a lot of capital tied up in an asset with an historical 3.5% appreciation rate. You should rather have lots of capital tied up in the market. With mortgage rates lower than historical market return rates having a mortgage is better than having a fully paid off house.
I get your point, but if the goal is to retire as soon as possible, having paid-off housing makes that easier than having to still pay for a mortgage.

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Re: Any other attorneys considering FIRE / early retirement / part time?

Post by mvp99 » Sat Mar 02, 2019 2:17 am

nixy wrote:
Ken Kesey wrote:OP, don't see having no mortgage as a good thing. Having a house means having a lot of capital tied up in an asset with an historical 3.5% appreciation rate. You should rather have lots of capital tied up in the market. With mortgage rates lower than historical market return rates having a mortgage is better than having a fully paid off house.
I get your point, but if the goal is to retire as soon as possible, having paid-off housing makes that easier than having to still pay for a mortgage.
I don’t think you get his/her point unless you mean there is a psychological benefit

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Re: Any other attorneys considering FIRE / early retirement / part time?

Post by nixy » Sat Mar 02, 2019 10:46 am

mvp99 wrote:
nixy wrote:
Ken Kesey wrote:OP, don't see having no mortgage as a good thing. Having a house means having a lot of capital tied up in an asset with an historical 3.5% appreciation rate. You should rather have lots of capital tied up in the market. With mortgage rates lower than historical market return rates having a mortgage is better than having a fully paid off house.
I get your point, but if the goal is to retire as soon as possible, having paid-off housing makes that easier than having to still pay for a mortgage.
I don’t think you get his/her point unless you mean there is a psychological benefit
It's probably mostly psychological. It's just my impression is that there is a strain of thought among FIRE people that emphasizes lowering your living costs as much as possible. If your housing is paid off, it costs less to live than if you have a big mortgage payment. I get that you can make more money investing in other things, but if your goal is to reach a point where you can live on less, minimizing costs is one way to get there. (And I'm sure there are situations where investing in the market would get you there sooner, which is where it ends up a psychological thing.)

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Re: Any other attorneys considering FIRE / early retirement / part time?

Post by foregetaboutdre » Sat Mar 02, 2019 12:13 pm

FIRE is not for everyone, but it is a great system.

Personally, I want to retire early, but not SUPER early. I think I'd get bored. Regardless, I have 0 debt and save 30-40% of my income. On pace to retire late 50s early 60s on conservative estimates. I live in a secondary low COL midwest city w/ a pretty good salary at a midlaw shop.

It is very hard IMO to do FIRE if you are planning to either date or be with someone or plan to have kids. I could not imagine living in a 1BDR apt driving an old accord or something alone those lines, but kudos to those who do.

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Re: Any other attorneys considering FIRE / early retirement / part time?

Post by Anonymous User » Sat Mar 02, 2019 12:54 pm

OP who asked for unexpected expenses here. Thanks everyone for the advice.
20181989 wrote:To the last poster, the answer is IME is "your friends' weddings." Once you're in the 25-33 age bracket, you could easily be traveling to 3-5 weddings a year, which adds up (flights, hotels, gifts, tux rentals if necessary).
Fortunately (unfortunately?), my friends probably won't invite me to weddings. They may not like me, but more likely they just know that I would never attend weddings. I suppose firm friends also came with a quasi-boss dynamic. In that case, I would attend, but I'd figure most people who are sufficiently senior to have power over my career would already be married.
QContinuum wrote:You will also need to factor in car maintenance/replacement expenses, insurance deductibles, and any medical expenses that may require a significant outlay (dental work often falls into this category, as does physical therapy or chiropractic treatment).
I can't drive and plan to live right next to the office. Point taken on the medical expenses though, I've been decently healthy thus far, but I don't know how long I can get away with not exercising and eating badly.
foregetaboutdre wrote:It is very hard IMO to do FIRE if you are planning to either date or be with someone or plan to have kids. I could not imagine living in a 1BDR apt driving an old accord or something alone those lines, but kudos to those who do.
I feel this way. I'm fairly indifferent towards dating and kids and not sufficiently attractive that people approach me so I may end up 40 and living in a studio with no car. It's probably not great overall, but certainly great for accumulating wealth.
Ken Kesey wrote:OP, don't see having no mortgage as a good thing. Having a house means having a lot of capital tied up in an asset with an historical 3.5% appreciation rate. You should rather have lots of capital tied up in the market. With mortgage rates lower than historical market return rates having a mortgage is better than having a fully paid off house.
I agree with this. I don't get why FIRE folks would automatically opt into buying. Of course, rent downs doesn't return to networth, but buying v. renting is at least a 20-variable calculation that's worth a deep exploration based on personal circumstances. At the end of the day, networth is king from a FIRE perspective. It's the antithesis of FIRE to give a mortgage if it means just buying with cash later would result in higher networth.

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Re: Any other attorneys considering FIRE / early retirement / part time?

Post by MillllerTime » Sat Mar 02, 2019 5:37 pm

Neff wrote:Absolutely I am following this. FIRE is my religion. I am three and a half years into biglaw. Net worth is $280,000 after starting out at negative $80,000. Living in cheap ass city in cheap ass state w/ no income tax. Live in a cheap apartment, drive a cheap car, and will be buying a starter home soon. I currently save $10,000-$12,000 a month.

Not to brag, but I think to myself all the time that I am living the life. People ask me why I’m so stingy and tell me to “live a little.” Meanwhile I laugh at their dumb ass living the bullshit consumerist life while bitching about billing.
I am in a very similar boat in terms of career timeline and net worth, but also consider myself closer to the "fat" FIRE crowd. Our expenses range from $100-120k / year which I know a ton of true FIRE people would go nuts over (we could easily reduce to $80k if we wanted, and not so easily reduce to $60k), but I've taken the approach that if splurging a little makes biglaw palatable for an extra year or two, it's worth it (vacations and nice dinners - we certainly don't buy expensive "consumerist" things). Also aware of the lifestyle creep concerns there, but we've given ourselves a hard cap and have done pretty well sticking to it.

I also care much more about the Financial Independence side of FIRE rather than Retire Early. Like many, I think I'd get bored pretty quickly if I fully retire in my 30s... a part time gig with flexible hours would be fantastic... unfortunately not many of those in M&A.

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Re: Any other attorneys considering FIRE / early retirement / part time?

Post by Neff » Sat Mar 02, 2019 6:45 pm

MillllerTime wrote:
Neff wrote:Absolutely I am following this. FIRE is my religion. I am three and a half years into biglaw. Net worth is $280,000 after starting out at negative $80,000. Living in cheap ass city in cheap ass state w/ no income tax. Live in a cheap apartment, drive a cheap car, and will be buying a starter home soon. I currently save $10,000-$12,000 a month.

Not to brag, but I think to myself all the time that I am living the life. People ask me why I’m so stingy and tell me to “live a little.” Meanwhile I laugh at their dumb ass living the bullshit consumerist life while bitching about billing.
I am in a very similar boat in terms of career timeline and net worth, but also consider myself closer to the "fat" FIRE crowd. Our expenses range from $100-120k / year which I know a ton of true FIRE people would go nuts over (we could easily reduce to $80k if we wanted, and not so easily reduce to $60k), but I've taken the approach that if splurging a little makes biglaw palatable for an extra year or two, it's worth it (vacations and nice dinners - we certainly don't buy expensive "consumerist" things). Also aware of the lifestyle creep concerns there, but we've given ourselves a hard cap and have done pretty well sticking to it.

I also care much more about the Financial Independence side of FIRE rather than Retire Early. Like many, I think I'd get bored pretty quickly if I fully retire in my 30s... a part time gig with flexible hours would be fantastic... unfortunately not many of those in M&A.
Good point. Despite my anti-consumerism I do make exceptions for dining out and vacations, since they do not result in material accumulation of garbage that depreciate. I am pretty monkish in that regard -- minimal possessions, but I do like my premium vegetables and beers.

My wife does not work right now, and our expenses last year were probably around $70,000. With a kid on the way, I see expenses rising to $85,000, and up to $100,000 once she goes back to work and we start having daycare expenses. After that, the crucial question becomes whether we send children to private school. Public or private K-12 education leads to immensely different financial outcomes. Here in Texas with a much higher moron to person ratio, genuinely good public schools are hard to come by. Children's education is by far the single largest factor for whether early retirement is feasible.

My number-crunching shows that, without children, semi-retirement in three years and three-quarters retirement in five years (i.e. my/my wife's late 30s) is feasible. But since we made the decision to have children, we are obviously going to provide for them. Like you, for me the "retire early" part of FIRE is also not to be taken literally, but rather the point is to achieve maximum flexibility. So that I can choose to work harder for longer for better education for kids, or I can choose to take it easier and let them mingle with the pleb children.

I'm also in M&A. As for part-time gigs with flexible hours for M&A backgrounds, I believe that in certain markets (like mine) there are counsel positions at corporate boutiques that have like 1500 hour billable requirements. In-house gigs are less viable because they are still 9-to-5 at best, and often have their own bullshit to contend with, or else are boring as hell. Finally, some of the spectacularly independent biglaw lawyers I know got into doing real estate investing, with rental income from their properties easily north of $10,000 a month. But so much of that depends on market forces and timing outside of one's control. If the real estate market ever corrects, I'm going 100% all in with this route.

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Re: Any other attorneys considering FIRE / early retirement / part time?

Post by ClubberLang » Sun Mar 03, 2019 1:17 am

Anonymous User wrote:
20181989 wrote:To the last poster, the answer is IME is "your friends' weddings." Once you're in the 25-33 age bracket, you could easily be traveling to 3-5 weddings a year, which adds up (flights, hotels, gifts, tux rentals if necessary).
Fortunately (unfortunately?), my friends probably won't invite me to weddings. They may not like me, but more likely they just know that I would never attend weddings. I suppose firm friends also came with a quasi-boss dynamic. In that case, I would attend, but I'd figure most people who are sufficiently senior to have power over my career would already be married.
Are you serious? If so, loosen up a bit. If you are a biglaw senior associate who refuses to attend friends weddings because of the cost, there is something seriously wrong with your outlook on life. What is the endgame? Do you really want to be retired at 45 if you are single and living in a studio?

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Re: Any other attorneys considering FIRE / early retirement / part time?

Post by Anonymous User » Sun Mar 03, 2019 2:15 am

ClubberLang wrote:Are you serious? If so, loosen up a bit. If you are a biglaw senior associate who refuses to attend friends weddings because of the cost, there is something seriously wrong with your outlook on life. What is the endgame? Do you really want to be retired at 45 if you are single and living in a studio?
It's not really a cost issue. It's just that nothing about a wedding sounds interesting. I get that I'm supposed to be happy for my friends' big day, and I am. I just wish that I could be happy without having to sit in a tux for hours while people go through the rituals. Heck, I'd be happy to cut the bride/groom a check for the entire amount I would've spent attending the affair plus a "I'm happy for you" premium if it meant that I didn't have to attend. For 90% of people who aren't making six figures, I'm sure the money would be objectively more helpful--even if it is less meaningful-- though I wouldn't even know how to begin broaching that conversation. Yes, I know that sounds weird. I do.

I don't know what the endgame is. I'm very mixed about being 45 living in a studio. I am. On the one hand, I like the freedom and having the capital to pursue what I'm really passionate at any point. On the other hand, biology. The only thing I know for sure is that I place financial security above being married or having kids. I grew up being threatened with homelessness by people who held the purse strings and actually being homeless for a very brief period, and it was very uncool. I'd rather be die alone with an amount of wealth I couldn't even find a way to spend than homeless or even being subject to the whims of others like that again. It's probably not a healthy mentality, and maybe one day, I'll deal with it, but it is what I feel for now.

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Re: Any other attorneys considering FIRE / early retirement / part time?

Post by Routine » Sun Mar 03, 2019 7:40 am

Anonymous User wrote:I'm not so much FIRE as I am just a freak for financial security. I will be in Houston and have a budget that would have me spending between 15%-25% of my net income during my associate years. My question is... what are some unexpected expenses that I should be accounting for that will bring that percentage up. I know they exist. I just have blinders on and can't see them.
For me personally, I underestimated how willing I would be to pay for convenience because (1) I was tired and didn’t want to do something or (2) I needed to spend that time working instead of doing it myself. $100 for an apartment cleaning service because I haven’t been home before 9 pm in three weeks. $15 for take-out because it’s late and I don’t want to cook. A plane ticket because I can’t drive and work at the same time. $1500 for a last-minute long weekend somewhere tropical because my case just settled unexpectedly and I have no idea when I will be slow again.

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Re: Any other attorneys considering FIRE / early retirement / part time?

Post by AVBucks4239 » Sun Mar 03, 2019 12:33 pm

My personal finance post in this forum rings with FIRE in the background, but I am much more interested in FI than I am RE.

My personal finance journey started with Ramit Sethi's "I Will Teach You to Be Rich." Then I found stuff like ERE and MMM. I believe I have synthesized both -- Sethi's "conscious spending" (spend on things that bring you enjoyment and cut relentlessly things that don't) and MMM/ERE's frugality.

So I spend quite a bit on a few things (tickets to sporting events, vacations, house renovations, etc.), but I'm pretty thrifty with most everything else (paid off car, small house, etc.). I think I've struck a good balance but what do I know.

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Re: Any other attorneys considering FIRE / early retirement / part time?

Post by AVBucks4239 » Sun Mar 03, 2019 12:34 pm

Anonymous User wrote:It's not really a cost issue. It's just that nothing about a wedding sounds interesting. I get that I'm supposed to be happy for my friends' big day, and I am. I just wish that I could be happy without having to sit in a tux for hours while people go through the rituals. Heck, I'd be happy to cut the bride/groom a check for the entire amount I would've spent attending the affair plus a "I'm happy for you" premium if it meant that I didn't have to attend. For 90% of people who aren't making six figures, I'm sure the money would be objectively more helpful--even if it is less meaningful-- though I wouldn't even know how to begin broaching that conversation. Yes, I know that sounds weird. I do.

I don't know what the endgame is. I'm very mixed about being 45 living in a studio. I am. On the one hand, I like the freedom and having the capital to pursue what I'm really passionate at any point. On the other hand, biology. The only thing I know for sure is that I place financial security above being married or having kids. I grew up being threatened with homelessness by people who held the purse strings and actually being homeless for a very brief period, and it was very uncool. I'd rather be die alone with an amount of wealth I couldn't even find a way to spend than homeless or even being subject to the whims of others like that again. It's probably not a healthy mentality, and maybe one day, I'll deal with it, but it is what I feel for now.
This is coming from me, someone who wrote more than 5,000 words about personal finance on this forum -- obsession with RE and financial security might be having a negative and overwhelming impact on your life.

Your wedding comment claims it's not about money, but it obviously is, as 80% of that paragraph is about money. And your comment about almost being homeless seems to be driving what I will objectively call irrational behavior.

When money starts to permeate every god damn thing you're doing, it's gone too far, and you need to take a step back and re-evaluate.

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Re: Any other attorneys considering FIRE / early retirement / part time?

Post by QContinuum » Sun Mar 03, 2019 7:17 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
ClubberLang wrote:Are you serious? If so, loosen up a bit. If you are a biglaw senior associate who refuses to attend friends weddings because of the cost, there is something seriously wrong with your outlook on life. What is the endgame? Do you really want to be retired at 45 if you are single and living in a studio?
It's not really a cost issue. It's just that nothing about a wedding sounds interesting. I get that I'm supposed to be happy for my friends' big day, and I am. I just wish that I could be happy without having to sit in a tux for hours while people go through the rituals. Heck, I'd be happy to cut the bride/groom a check for the entire amount I would've spent attending the affair plus a "I'm happy for you" premium if it meant that I didn't have to attend. For 90% of people who aren't making six figures, I'm sure the money would be objectively more helpful--even if it is less meaningful-- though I wouldn't even know how to begin broaching that conversation. Yes, I know that sounds weird. I do.
Even putting aside any normative views about what's "typical" or "healthy" or "socially expected" or whatnot, your reasoning doesn't make the remotest sense.

You claim that you are happy for your friends when they get married. But you don't want to be there to support them in person... because you'd have to wear a tux? How is wearing a tux that painful? And does that mean that you'd be happy to attend any weddings that aren't black tie? I presume that you'd be perfectly happy attending, say, a beach wedding with a casual dress code?

You then bemoan that you'd have to "sit ... for hours while people go through the rituals." This puzzles me. If you're truly happy for your friends, as you assert, then why are you so unwilling to sit in a chair to watch them tie the knot? They aren't asking you to wrestle a hydra or make a fool of yourself or whatnot.

You allege that your reluctance to attend isn't about saving money, because you'd happily cut a check for the expenses you'd otherwise incur. You'd even be happy to include a premium! So if it isn't about saving money, does it really just boil down to an inability to tolerate long events (but then how do you make it through long meetings at work?) and a deeply-seated aversion to tuxedos?

I guess I'm just really confused. Believe me, I also dislike dressing up and I'm not a big partier either so the typical wedding reception open bar isn't much of a draw to me. But I wouldn't miss my BFFs' weddings for anything.

Seriously? What are you waiting for?

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