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Why are we surprised when would be early retirees have second thoughts?

An image of a butterfly emerging from its chrysalis.

A bit of a kerfuffle has broken out at Retirement Investing Today. Author RIT says he’s considering stretching the “one more year” he’s already taken to another year… or possibly even an indefinite leave of extension on his early retirement plans.

In the first post, RIT revealed that:

I was just recently contacted by a very senior person in my organisation who proceeded to p*ss in my pocket for half an hour about how much of a contribution I make, how much they value that contribution, how essential I am to the organisation, blah blah blah. […]

I was offered what I could only describe as a retention bribe, which consists of a workload reduction as well as a big chunk of cash if I stay on until the middle of 2019.

In a follow-up, he hinted he was now considering postponing the early retirement we’ve followed and cheered along for the past few years, though all options remain on the table:

I’m not for a second rolling over today and saying another one more year.

I’m just saying life is currently very good, our planned Med FIRE life is also very good and we have plenty more thinking to work through over the coming weeks.

To conclude I’ll just say that right now I feel incredibly fortunate and I have FIRE to thank for that. With my time again I’d do it exactly the same way again.

His readers have mostly left thoughtful comments, which is nice to see given the righteous fury we sometimes hear from the faction Mr Money Mustache calls the Internet Retirement Police.

And for what it’s worth, I applaud the pause for thought.

It seems clear from RIT’s posts that he doesn’t dislike his work anymore, now it’s optional. If anything he seems to enjoy it.

As for the tap on the shoulder, as I wrote on his site:

I think you can expect many more happy conversations / circumstances now you’re financially free.

Your bargaining power is turbo-charged. And now you’re off the wheel, you can look around.

It’s nearly two years since RIT broke through the portfolio target he’d set himself. He has the war chest he needs to quit work and to fund his escape to the Mediterranean.

But more than that he’s got a choice.

Optional extras

Personally I don’t think it’s any great surprise that the sort of people who are able to work and save hard to achieve financial independence often decide not to stop working.

From Mr Money Mustache to UK blogger Sex Health Money Death, it’s common to see would-be early retirees continuing with some form of money-earning activity long after they have to.

Even the doyen of the modern FIRE movement – Jacob Fisker of Early Retirement Extreme – famously ended up accepting the 9-5 job of his dreams.

Workaholic Tim Ferris of 4 Hour Work Week fame is another prophet of taking time off who seems to be forever on it.

And none of the several people I know in real-life who have achieved substantial wealth early through work – and thus the ability to quit it – have done so. Quite the opposite.

Others seem uncertain – the Our Tour bloggers that @TA follows are a good example – and I see nothing wrong with that.

Uncertainty is another luxury afforded by financial freedom.

Of course, would-be retirees who decide to keep working don’t always take a conventional job. But they may do a plethora of jobs on the side.

This is what leads to charges from those Internet Retirement Police of copping out, of not really being retired – or even of hoodwinking their readers.

To me though the side hustles, speaking gigs, consultancies or full-on second careers are to be celebrated, not scorned.

Such changes of a plan are not a bug but a feature of financial freedom.

Fire your boss… and interview for a new one

I’ve explained before why I don’t use the term FIRE much. I find the nailed-on ‘Retire Early’ part far too limiting.

What’s the point of pursuing financial freedom if your only option at the end is to pull the ripcord? There are many, many ways to live.

Partly I think there’s a problem where people become habitually angry wage slaves. They dream of early retirement as a solution to all their work-related problems.

But plenty of the bugbears they cite – control, a lack of free time, not being able to do more of what they actually want to do – can be fixed not by retiring at 45 to a beach or a garden, but by having the power and freedom to change their working circumstances to suit.

Ideally we’d all love our work lives from our early 20s. But in reality dream jobs and paying mortgages don’t always go hand-in-hand.

Become financially free though, and you are far better able to pursue the productive life you want.

That might well involve pottering around the greenhouse or playing golf or learning an instrument or any of the cliches of early retirement.

If that’s what you think will make you happy, go for it.

But I’m sure for many people, being part of the working world – on their own terms – is hugely satisfying.

You see it again and again. Not just in our little corner of the world, but also with the billionaires who continue to work 15-hours a day or the rock stars who remain on the road into their 70s.

If you’ve ever not worked for a while – by choice or circumstance – then you’ll know that feeling of missing out on something beyond money.

Is it all an illusion – a trap set by The Man?

I think it can be, sure. And if that feeling of missing out is balanced by a load of other things you’d rather be doing – and if you’ve achieved the freedom to spurn work – then great, get on with them.

But if you’re not sure you want to pursue a radically different lifestyle with several decades of life still to go, there are other paths to follow – all supported by your hard won FU-fund.

You simply don’t have to take the nuclear option of quitting work forever – and life on a tight budget indefinitely – to improve your quality of life.

People may rarely wish they’d spent more time at the office on their death bed, and that’s a clarion call to quit work.

But it might also be a reason to find a better office.

Find a money making activity you like and you can purposefully enjoy all the benefits of continuing to earn, save, invest – and spend – for many more years to come.

How to let your new life crowd out your old

Nobody wants to be trapped in the rat race. But the key word is trapped.

If you’re a rat who has figured out how the maze works, then there’s free food and a stimulating mental challenge on offer.

The scientific experimenter playing with the parameters is also having a better time than a hapless trapped rat that’s banging its head against the wall.

For my part, if and when I ever decide it’s time to consider not working, I’ll transition slowly to that new way of life.

And I’d do it the same way I’ve changed career lanes in the past.

I certainly wouldn’t go from working RIT’s 70-hours a week to none overnight. A 12-hour workday on Monday, and goodbye forever drinks on the Friday. It might work for some, but it seems like psychological self-warfare to me.

People often write it’s “just psychology” or “just emotional”, about everything from one more year at work to dollar cost averaging to surviving a bear market.

Newsflash! We’re all people with feelings, hopes, fears, and emotions. There is no “just” here – those things are the whole point.

My transition strategy would involve:

  • Reduce the amount of time I work at my current occupation. That might be fewer days of the week in a traditional role, lower targeted monthly earnings if a freelancer, and so on.
  • Start to add more of the things I want to do into my schedule – whether fun activities, sleeping in the afternoon, or even (gasp!) some new side hustle.
  • If I’m still not satisfied, I’d let the new things squeeze out more work time. So I’d drop another day at work, knock my earning expectations down again, and so on.
  • If this sounds fanciful remember you are already financially independent in this scenario. It’s like a super power!
  • At some point, my non-working life would presumably become more interesting than my dwindling work life and I’d let it wither naturally. Or else I’d discovered that it wasn’t, in which case I’ve still left my bridges intact.

Some people might retort: “No, no, to go and live a life of full leisure you NEED to pull the bandage off, move to the middle of nowhere, get used to being 20 years younger than everyone around you, toughen up on the existential question of what your role is now in society as a 40-something retiree, and concentrate on getting by on one-third of what you earned before.”

To which I say… no you don’t.

Not unless you want to – in which case go for it!

Freedom is the goal

The kind of people with the drive, talent, and mathematical skills to understand that early retirement is possible have plenty of options.

But it seems to take achieving financial freedom for some of us to appreciate it.

When you’re head down and charging towards the goal line, it isn’t easy and maybe not even desirable to pause to look up and wonder what’s going on in the bleachers.1

You may get the sense from all the cheering that they’re having the time of their lives. But how many of them would love to be down there in the thick of it with you?

Hardcore work refuseniks like friend of the blog Ermine will tell you to find something bigger than a vestigial Protestant work ethic to motivate you. It’s certainly worth hearing them out.

But again, don’t overlook the context.

When you’re financially independent halfway through your life, you can do far more of what you want to do – as opposed to what other people say you should do, or perhaps what you thought you should do 20 years ago when you faced working forever.

A castaway on a tropical island building a raft from vines and driftwood and pushing it out into the surf is trapped and desperate.

A financially independent worker-by-choice is floating by on a lilo on holiday.

  1. Excuse the US terminology, but it’s so much snappier! []

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{ 87 comments… add one }
  • 1 The Rhino April 11, 2018, 11:10 am

    Seems like a very reasonable analysis of the situation. Thats exactly what I’d do in his situation, evolution not revolution, I evolve but I don’t revolve (Alan Partridge)

    I’d just been having a similar conversation over at Accounting For Freedom

    I’m pretty convinced that what a good proportion of FI advocates are *actually* doing is simply reframing the problem that they don’t particularly like working all the time in a way that allows them to carry on working all the time. Its a deferral mechanism, pushing the problem of what to do with your life out to the right – it will all be solved when I reach FI!

    I can tell you that isn’t the case – it doesn’t work like that. Thats what RIT is finding out now.

    FI is *definitely* not necessary to do any of the things that RIT wants to do, i.e. live a more relaxed pace of life somewhere hot with a nice view.

    However, being financially independent *does* give you more options and a lot of leverage in choosing what to do, but *critically*, it doesn’t choose what to do for you and then make sure it actually happens.

    I do viscerally remember RITs posts a few years back describing his working week and it *was* horrific, I mean really, really horrific. Zero work-life balance. If he’s still working say 75% or upwards of what he described back then then I’m not sure I truly believe him when he says he’s now enjoying it? It just doesn’t quite ring true with the seemingly completely contrary idea of jacking it all in.

    Theres definitely some complex push-and-pull ideas going on inside RITs head that I’m not sure have been totally laid bare – although fair play to him he’s made a hugely impressive effort thus far to give a brutally honest account of the whole thing.

  • 2 Chiny April 11, 2018, 11:17 am

    Fascinating stuff; I’d never even come across the IRP. Anyway, I’m “retired” which for me was abandoning the ultra-routine of corporate life, no kow-towing to those up the chain, no corp speak. In the months before, I’d already booked travel *without* asking permission and it felt so naughty !

    I do have work-like stuff to do (4 rentals, pre-Brexit money shuffle, 2 probates at the moment) but I’m away for 6 months in a year both in Spain (learning the language) and exotic stuff (South America this year). Basically I’m trying to keep engaged with all layers in society, whilst stretching my horizons.

    I’d fall foul of the IRP for sure but I enjoy it all far better than corp-life or daytime TV.

  • 3 Accidental FIRE April 11, 2018, 11:25 am

    For my part, if and when I ever decide it’s time to consider not working, I’ll transition slowly to that new way of life.

    This is exactly what I did. I reached FI about two years back in my mid 40’s and after still working full time for another year after that, realized I needed to make the move. The slow transition is what I want too, so I switched to part time last October. And by part time I mean only 20 hours a week, I wanted to experience what it’s like to have a good chunk of time back in my life.

    I highly recommend it. I still get to keep my toe in the water of my job, which now that I’m no longer a manager has some redeeming qualities. And I have 20 hours a week back to myself, to pursue whatever.

    This to me is the power being FI gives you, to set your own rules and live on your own terms. It’s pretty sweet.

    Great post!

  • 4 John B April 11, 2018, 11:45 am

    The people who write and promote blogs are the kind of driven people that probably don’t want to fritter their lives away, hence all the side hustles and need to work. Me, I love pottering in the garden, watching tv and planning my holidays in retirement. I just don’t have a burning desire to blog about it.

  • 5 The Rhino April 11, 2018, 12:03 pm

    @John B – we’re all of us frittering our lives away one way or another – trick is being happy doing it. Sounds like you’ve nailed it?

  • 6 UK Value Investor April 11, 2018, 12:23 pm

    Excellent post.

    It’s Catch 22 really: People who want to sit on their backside all day by a pool don’t usually have the motivation in the first place to work hard and save hard, so they never get to spend all day by the pool. And people who have the motivation to work hard and save hard for early retirement usually don’t want to sit on their backside by a pool all day, so even when they do reach financial independence, they still want to keep working.

    As for financial independence giving people “the power and freedom to change their working circumstances to suit”, I think most people have that power from day one, whether they realise it or not. Paraphrasing Steve Jobs, you should ask yourself if you like your job, if you’re good at it and if it adds value your life and the lives of others. If the answer is no for too many days in a row, you should probably change something.

    In my case, I’ve had more than a dozen very different full-time jobs over the last 30-odd years and was always willing to jump ship if I wasn’t happy. And if you are happy with your job, why would you want to retire from it?

    So the idea of working my arse off for decades in a job I hate whilst living like a monk just so that I can retire a few years early, assuming I’m not dead from the stress, has always seemed like pure madness to me.

  • 7 Fatbritabroad April 11, 2018, 12:43 pm

    Even if youre not fi having enough in the bank to choose if everything really is horrendous to jack it in and move without necessarily having a job to go to is liberating enough. My dad always called it ‘fuckoffability’

  • 8 Slow Dad April 11, 2018, 1:15 pm

    Excellent post.

    Once I reached my financial freedom passive income number it was like a huge weight was lifted. I didn’t “have” to do the commute, the meetings, the office politics, etc. Suddenly I didn’t hate them quite so much.

    With the financial imperative removed, I opted to seek out clients with genuinely interesting tricky problems to solve, hibernating in their nice warm offices for 3-4 months over the winter. The rest of the year I spend enjoying the sunshine doing whatever I like.

    For now this is a happy medium, keeps my skills and network current while preventing me from becoming an antisocial hermit!

  • 9 Brod April 11, 2018, 1:42 pm

    Well, if someone’s earned the FI part but choose not to RE, what’s the problem? Their life, their money, their happiness, their choice.

    @FBA: ‘Fuckoffability’ – love it. Hats off to your old man.

  • 10 hosimpson April 11, 2018, 1:59 pm

    FI Police are of course ridiculous and have no business telling people what they should or should not do. Also, people change, ant that’s a good thing. Having said this, I can’t help but get a sense that – aside from the perfectly legitimate fear of change when faced with pulling the plug on work – this inability to find meaning without paid employment reveals something rather sad about the state of some people’s lives.
    There’s nothing wrong with dread of the unknown. It’s natural. We’ve all seen wildlife documentaries where they’d bring an animal to be released into the wild to a forest in a box, and then the camera crew would have to sit and wait for an hour till the damn thing chooses to come out. If anyone finds the word fear unpalatable, fine, let’s call it caution, whatever, the point stands. I don’t like either sudden or constant change myself. I’d definitely continue working for a few months after hitting the magic number on the spreadsheet, just to get used to the idea.
    And yet. I’ve worked with people who never knew what their weekend plans were (their wives would tell them as and when), who had no hobbies other than “gardening” (trimming the hedge and mowing the lawn?), and whose “free time” was filled with ferrying the kids from school to swimming to tutors to whatever other activities…. I suspected them of using work as an escape from domestic pressures. A space where they could converse with adults and be appreciated and respected for something that had nothing to do with their families. I think there might be some similarities between these people and SHMD. I may be wrong, but I don’t think I am very far from the truth there 😉
    If this was my life for 20-odd years, I doubt I’d find it possible to give up work either.

  • 11 Vanguardfan April 11, 2018, 2:03 pm

    I would never choose to work the way RIT and TEA (and virtually everyone who works mad hours in the City) do. For me the end does not justify the means if your life right here and right now is that unbalanced. Plus I had/have children who need my time. I also always wanted my work to be something I felt was worth putting my effort into. So, I qualified into a profession that seemed worthwhile in terms of positive societal impact, and found a role where I could work flexibly and less than full time while still being well rewarded financially. That kind of worked ok, although I started to feel trapped and bored after more than a decade in the same role and with limited options for progression or sideways development. So when I accidentally became FI about 10 years before my planned retirement, I had to think quite hard about what to do about work. I wasted a lot of time thinking about whether to leave, but eventually decided to ask for a substantial reduction in hours. That was actually so easily granted that I regret not being brave enough to negotiate earlier. And, my appraisals seem to be going much better, my bosses seem far more impressed by what I’m doing in 2 days than they were previously on 4! And I get to skip all those pesky meetings and roles you take on because they might ‘look good’. Win win, I’d say! While at the same time I’m building up a second string encore career, on my terms…as I feel I have a good number of years left to do things I find interesting and fulfilling.

  • 12 dearieme April 11, 2018, 2:37 pm

    Why is “bleachers” snappier than “stands”? Almost inevitably, being American it has more syllables.

  • 13 Learner April 11, 2018, 2:40 pm

    F**koffability is a rarely mentioned luxury – perhaps taken for granted by this kind of readership. Safety nets like the NHS contribute significantly toward making that possible.

  • 14 PC April 11, 2018, 2:43 pm

    (To answer the title question) I’m not at all surprised .. thanks for the refreshing post. I prefer your approach.

  • 15 The Rhino April 11, 2018, 3:02 pm

    @HS – I am completely convinced my late father in law worked primarily to get time away from the mother in law. You’re right that work can be the lesser of two evils for many.

    @VF – I tend to agree with you I think – the price RIT and TEA have paid is enormous.

  • 16 Ermint Twizel April 11, 2018, 3:23 pm

    Good post. Freedom is indeed the goal.

    I recently retired from a business sale. I went through a few phases.

    First phase was “ok Ive been working 100 hour weeks for 20 years, what should I do next.”
    Second phase, was “hang on do I actually need to work”
    Third phase was, “wait a minute, why am I paying close to 50% tax just to live, while near on 2/3 of the population pay no tax” (50% that dont, plus all public sector employees-who pay nothing net)
    https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/apr/26/barely-more-than-half-of-adults-pay-income-tax-says-report

    From there I have descended into the depths of philosophy and political theory. Plato and the Tyranny of the Majority. Albert Camus Absurd and Myth of Sisyphus. JP Satre and Existentialism. Thomas Paine, Henry Thoreau etc.

    “Camus introduces his philosophy of the absurd, man’s futile search for meaning, unity, and clarity in the face of an unintelligible world devoid of God and eternal truths or values. Does the realization of the absurd require suicide? Camus answers, “No. It requires revolt.” ”

    I now realise that the drive to work is cultural indoctrination. Nothing more. Freedom comes from realising this. “Fat FI” helps. FU money lets you break out of slavery.

  • 17 Cowboy April 11, 2018, 3:31 pm

    @Fatbritabroad – we were in precisely that situation about 18 months ago, I am more than happy we were able to quit our jobs and move away from London due to the substantial, but not FI ready, value in our accounts. It is something that can seem scary, but if you have the skills to get good work you will find it in most decent sized places

  • 18 Tony April 11, 2018, 3:41 pm

    Great post.

    I’m not quite at FI and my goal isn’t to retire early, but to remove “the stress of employment”. I’m fortunate to love my job and the company I work for, but no one knows the future. I don’t just mean Brexit concerns, but what happens if I get a new boss or my company gets bought out, my department gets outsourced, etc, etc. Rather than just having an emergency fund and ensuring I’m employable (which becomes problematic with age); better to have the freedom to do ANYTHING (whether or not that involves retirement).

  • 19 The Rhino April 11, 2018, 3:56 pm

    @ET

    I now realise that the drive to work is cultural indoctrination. Nothing more. Freedom comes from realising this. “Fat FI” helps. FU money lets you break out of slavery.

    Shame it took 104,000 hours to figure that out? Did you have an exciting time en route to that realisation though?

  • 20 Fatbritabroad April 11, 2018, 4:10 pm

    @cowboy

    We all have our own definitions of fire. I have about 50k saved so could be out of work for a year and a half and maintain my standard of living and although i am saving a decent amount (inc employers contribution to pension about 36% of salary between pensions isas and cash saving ) i still want a certain standard of living. Earning more is nice but you inevitably raise your standard of living to a certain extent even if you’re smart and save a lot too. I’m no where near fire as i want to be (IM ONLY 37) but actually in theory and i did toy with this last year i could sell my house release over 200k in equity and almost live on that plus my savings. Almost!

    My salary has gone up to the point where its touching 6 figures so even if you save lifestyle inflation creeps in to a certain extent and as you say the tax is a massive incentive to put a lot (nearly 20% in my case) in my pension. You have to enjoy the journey as well as the destination i still like to travel etc i just don’t buy crap

    I kind of want to aim for the point where i can virtually replace my net income but that’s going to take a million quid which is bonkers but according to my calculations ill reach at 55 at my current rate assuming no more saving

  • 21 Scott April 11, 2018, 4:30 pm

    I didn’t hate work, it wasn’t stressful, my hours were relaxed, my bosses were all good to me, but I was bored, so when I had enough money I stopped.
    I’ve framed it in different ways to different people, and to some folk I’ve said I’m retired, with a caveat that nobody knows what the future will bring and I reserve the right to return to work, albeit I don’t see me going corporate again.
    Now starting my second year of FI/RE and no thoughts of rejoining the workforce yet.
    I don’t spend my time lounging by the pool (although that’s OK if it’s what makes you happy) but nor am I out there saving the world. I pretty much do what suits ME.

  • 22 L April 11, 2018, 6:09 pm

    I hate the “IRP” phrase, it smacks of a smug refusal to accept that to some people, FI bloggers are role models.

    I’d wager that more people retire “from” than retire “to” – seeing their role models voluntarily engaging with the beast they’re struggling to slay could easily be interpreted as a cop out.

    It’s a hard thing to think of work as fun if you’ve never had any fun at work 😉

  • 23 Retirement Investing Today April 11, 2018, 6:22 pm

    “And for what it’s worth, I applaud the pause for thought.” Thanks for the support TI. This post-FI journey has certainly been something and that something I never imagined in my wildest dreams. I think it’s also one of those things that has to be experienced to be truly understood. With the Brexit withdrawal agreement now in play it appears there is no rush so why rush and regret it? After all on a good day I still have 40 or more years ahead of me. Instead we’re letting all the emotions play out and then with Mrs RIT trying to quantify them. From there we’ll make our next move.

    This whole FIRE journey has been incredible and I now find myself in a wonderful position (from a position where life was already very good, while also acknowledging TheRhino’s comment that I think am naturally built to work hard).

    If anybody asked me should I pursue FIRE as well I would now always say give it a try and see if it agrees with you. It certainly opens up more and more options the further you progress on the journey.

  • 24 SemiPassive April 11, 2018, 6:51 pm

    There is definitely something to this principle that (some) of the people most driven to achieve a combination of high earnings and disciplined saving and investment won’t be content to sit around and vegetate. But its all about having choices.
    Hosimpson has nailed a significant portion of the population who either lack imagination on how they could be spending their time, or are prisoners and slaves to their own spouse/family/employer. What a depressing way to live.

    My goal is to eventually go part time or work temporary contracts once my mortgage is cleared, even before gaining full FI, rather than pursue some distant cliff edge retirement a decade later.
    As for RIT, I feel any crash in his portfolio will cement the one more year decision for another couple of years. If dillying when markets are still near their multi year highs, there is no way he will retire after a 20-30% drop. Reducing his hours sounds good though, FI has changed the balance of power and they must know it.

  • 25 Vanguardfan April 11, 2018, 7:07 pm

    I think that we are hard wired to work – ie to do what is necessary to survive and reproduce. Wage slavery 21st century style is just the way our society is set up to deliver that for most people.
    For some lucky/hardworking folk (delete according to your personal philosophy), they can cover their survival by reaching FI. Then how you occupy your time becomes up to you, whatever gives your life most meaning, joy and fulfilment. You are restricted only by your imagination and courage, and sometimes of course, by circumstances that make your choices for you (eg looking after elderly relatives, or disabled children, might not have been your first lifestyle choice for RE).

  • 26 Lauraw April 11, 2018, 7:07 pm

    Excellent post.
    I think I’m probably wired to find work very rewarding, and am nowhere near FI yet, so that’s currently not an issue for me anyway. The whole point of FI for me at least is that you can do exactly what you want to with your time. If you get to FI and decide that you’re happy with your job and want to continue working, crack on.

    And yet… if someone in that position was told they only had another 5 years to live, would they still choose to work in that job for all of/some of those 5 years? What if they were given 1 year?

    Does this cut to the very heart of the question of whether you’re just working because the job is alright and you can’t think of anything better to do?
    Or is this question even relevant?
    How can it not be given we don’t know how many healthy active days of life we have left?

  • 27 Lauraw April 11, 2018, 7:10 pm

    PS I ask as I think I’d make the same One More Year choice as RIT given the great job conditions offered.
    But when I think of the question I’ve posed, I think maybe I should quit.

  • 28 Vanguardfan April 11, 2018, 7:19 pm

    @lauraw – I think we should be asking those questions about our life irrespective of whether we are FI or not. As Rhino points out, many changes that people seek to make to their life through FI-RE can actually be done without being FI. It’s a balance of course, between living well now and living well later, but given that we have no idea if we even have a later, then I think we should strive to live as well as we can throughout our lives.

  • 29 TheFIJourney April 11, 2018, 9:14 pm

    The closer to base FI come, the more comfortable and relaxed at work I become. I have a job I really enjoy now but I’ve been in the situation where you have an awful job and a terrible boss so I know what it’s like. If you can find a job you like and you are on your way to FI, it really can feel like you are on a lilo floating around at times!

    Chris

  • 30 Ermint Twizel April 11, 2018, 9:14 pm

    @The Rhino

    Yes it was a ride for sure. Lots of ups and downs. In effect it was required to get where I am. But there was an opportunity cost. That being said. I now have the drive and energy to do what I can while I can with the time I have, leveraging FI.

  • 31 Chris April 11, 2018, 9:19 pm

    Flipping this on its head, what is perhaps more surprising is why highly driven people who work 70+ hours/week strive towards accumulating enough money to retire early in the first place? They don’t strike me as the kind of personality types who would be happy pottering around a garden for the next forty years.

    After all, in the UK at least – if you want to stop working, you can. The state won’t let you starve.

  • 32 Survivor April 11, 2018, 9:50 pm

    Before the net allowed you to find your obscure ‘tribe’ & you were condemned to a lonely existence wondering if you were normal for having these weird ideas & feelings about freedom, I didn’t even know what FI/RE was …..if it existed back then. I had read Rich Dad, Poor Dad & that was it – even that seemed to be about still working as an estate agent forever, albeit with more option to relax as you got ‘within vague safer saved limits’.

    Then I had a friend though who went solo, after years working the corporate treadmill with me, learning skills at our employers’ expense – as a self-taught Business development guy, he enlightened me after I stalled not knowing the next step after that book. He’d paid for his own MBA & did it part-time while working at our then cretinous corporate we did time at for years; the delicious irony being that he used our employer as his case study [for the qualification] in how to run a company badly. So basically, they indirectly, slowly, financed his escape via insulting them in every which way – that may seem vile, but they couldn’t have deserved it more.

    He told me, once set up as an entrepreneur, that when you work for yourself doing something you love, it then really doesn’t feel like work – this wasn’t a cute motivational quip for me, I saw the happiness in his face & relaxation in his body language. That re-lit the spirit of FI/RE in me, it took 10 more years & is still a work in progress, [the income streams can be fragile depending on cyclical movements in the economy] but I knew it was possible after that. So those that choose to work on in some capacity, maybe do it because they don’t feel the pain only the nice parts, given how the role changes, even just in your own perception. [I remember looking back at good times & bad in the same job & realising with some surprise that the actual day-today work often had nothing to do with the lousy times, it was politics, life-stage or other factors that had soured the situation]

  • 33 YoungFIGuy April 11, 2018, 10:02 pm

    Thanks for the interesting post TI. I find it odd that whilst what work you do for a living is considered a very personal choice (“I could never do that…”), what work you don’t do isn’t; the Internet Retirement Police out in full force (now accompanied by the Financial Independence Police). Each life and journey is by its definition unique and personal. And there is great value in listening to other’s stories. I’ve really enjoyed following RIT’s story, the twists and turns, as well as his detailed and candid thoughts. It has helped me a great deal in my own journey, even though it is markedly different.

  • 34 Earlyretirefree April 11, 2018, 10:11 pm

    I was a long-term pursuer of FIRE, you can read that journey here:

    http://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/showthread.php?t=2840632&highlight=wannabe

    But having achieved our financial goals …..and more. It was clear that actually, this wasn’t about stepping away from work and chilling, it was about having options.

    I love my leisure time / hobbies but like a big tub of Ben and Jerrys, it can get a bit sickly. I realised that I need to be intellectually challenged…and if I can get paid for being challenged….bonus.

  • 35 ermine April 11, 2018, 11:58 pm

    Having to earn money is a constraint. It’s a damned interesting world out there, and the fewer constraints I have the more opportunity I have to poke around in some interesting corner.

    But then I’ve worked thirty years, I can say that I’ve done my time. Perhaps it’s as simple as that. I confess I’d feel the same sadness as hosimpson with an

    inability to find meaning without paid employment

    and thankfully don’t suffer the affliction 😉

    I dunno if there’s an age aspect to this. If I’m fortunate and live as long as both my parentsgot to, I’d have another 25 years on earth, if I am particularly lucky mebbe 30. There is a turning point in a human lifetime roundabout midway. I found resonance in Carl Jung’s words

    Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.

    But I only discovered that resonance after living it. I was tickled by your Freudian slip, though

    Become financially free though, and you are far better able to pursue the productive life you want.

    Pursue a meaningful life. For you, at this current time, that looks like a productive life, there’s now’t wrong with that, I confess I was that guy fifteen years ago, I wanted to have written the papers, have the job title, and yes, the money.

    It didn’t amount to a hill of beans later on. Five years after finishing work, the only permanent legacy are a number of friendships, and of course the money 😉 You change through life, else you ossify and die inside. What was great in the morning of life will be little at evening and what in the morning was true, at evening will have become a lie.

    FI gives you a wider opportunity to live a meaningful life thereafter, whatever that looks like to you. Of course you can live a meaningful life while working, though perhaps not while thrashing yourself in order to become FI in your early 40s.

    I confess it still surprises me when early retirees have second thoughts. Not so much RIT, he is trying to make life decisions in the face of serious uncertainty associated with Brexit and moving to an EU country, and he hasn’t retired anyway. But once you’ve felt the relentless noise and hum fall away it beats me why you’d ever think about bringing that back into your life, not to mention all the stuff you’d need to drop – I don’t know how I found the time to go to work.

    But heck, do what you will, if it harms nobody else. I’m surprised that Calvinism gets > 50% of the vote, but happy meaning through productivity to y’all!

  • 36 arty April 12, 2018, 2:26 am

    I suspect there may be a correlation between the personality types that feel the need to tell the world all about what they are doing by way of a blog* and those that find most meaning from work and being amongst colleages.
    There are so many possible things that one might do after stopping work – infinite really – that I have to say I feel a certain amount of pity for those that can’t seem to find anything else that they might find interesting (epitomised by the many comments from collagues along the lines of “what on earth will you do all day?” on discovering that I was giving it up).

    *not meant as a criticism – after all, I occasionally read one or two of them.

  • 37 David April 12, 2018, 7:15 am

    Maybe not the FIRE police so much as concern for friends and colleagues not wasting their lives. If you follow a blog for a few years you start to care about how it turns out for them – as with a celebrity you feel you know them even if they don’t know you. I’ve seen plenty of colleagues spending years doing the same thing they clearly don’t enjoy much, when they have lots of other options. Until I semi escaped recently I was that annoying person in the office asking “well why don’t you do something else then?” in response to all the rhetorical complaints. RIT now has so many options and seems to be choosing the status quo through a combination of fear and inertia. Or perhaps even indoctrination and the Stockholm Syndrome! You’re absolutely right that he’ll likely be bored retiring to the Med and sitting on the beach all day, but there are millions of other choices between the two extremes. It’s also of course entirely up to him (and his family) but I for one can’t help wincing from the sidelines, and he does have a public blog and comments section after all!

  • 38 Ms ZiYou April 12, 2018, 9:42 am

    I know I am certainly aspiring for freedom when I FIRE, rather than true retirement in a way that would please the internet retirement police.

    Once the need to earn money evaporates, I think I’ll take life in a different direction – doing lots more voluntary work and perhaps a startup or two.

  • 39 The Rhino April 12, 2018, 10:13 am

    I had the useful experience in my mid-twenties of doing exactly what I thought I wanted to be doing all day every day for a year. That was living in the sand-dunes of a beautiful hot country and surfing. Nothing else. By the end of the year I was bored as hell and going a a bit mad. It was a great lesson. I did get pretty good at surfing though..

    Just to remind ourselves what the real-deal is with RIT here’s the post where he describes what he’s been doing for the past decade:

    My morning starts early, this week it’s been 6am, 5.30am, 4am, 4.30am and 6am.

    I always try and break away for a short lunch break of 15 minutes or so because it just helps me clear my head and focus on what I need to get done in the afternoon.

    I haven’t been home before 8pm this week which then doesn’t leave a lot of time for other things, particularly as I really do function best on 8 hours of sleep. Dinner is usually a pretty simple affair with an aim to prepare in 20 minutes or less.

    source -> http://www.retirementinvestingtoday.com/2015/03/my-non-financial-life.html

    Are many others out there doing anything similar, i.e. have the stamina to keep that up year in year out? Sounds like Ermint Twizel (phenomenal name) has actually exceeded this by 20 hrs a week! It blows my mind! If you replaced the job with something like cycling or mountaineering its the sort of malaise whereby you’d be some sort of global-icon (like beaumont or fiennes) with a couple of bestselling biographies on the shelves (I guess RIT has actually had a crack at the book angle)

  • 40 Neverland April 12, 2018, 10:46 am

    @Ermine

    “My morning starts early, this week it’s been 6am, 5.30am, 4am, 4.30am and 6am… […]… short lunch break of 15 minutes… […] … I haven’t been home before 8pm this week… […]”

    That sounds like a pretty typical day for most white collar workers/business owners with a commute/off-site working/client entertaining.

    What do you think people get paid six-figures for?

  • 41 The Rhino April 12, 2018, 10:56 am

    @ NL do you mean @TR?

    Do you work NL? Whats your link with J.M. Barrie?

  • 42 Gadgetmind April 12, 2018, 11:04 am

    I spend decades working hard, travelling on business crazy amounts (18 trips to the US in one year plus a few to Far East!), and didn’t think I’d ever retire.

    But things changed, so did I, and I asked to drop to a four day week, which put the cat amongst the pigeons. A year later, I was asked to make my team redundant and then myself once that was done.

    Having achieved FI meant that I didn’t have to find new work (never done that, ever, not a single CV or job interview as I’ve always started up ventures) perhaps far from home, and could consider my options. Doing the engineering I love as a hobby, with perhaps some of it pulling in a few bob, is definitely on the radar, but I’m also doing a couple of days a week helping an old friend get a NV started.

    Is this retirement? Well I’ve crystallized my pension, and will start drawing it down if my old employer ever stops paying me (long notice period etc.) so it feels like it, but I’m far from idle. I’m not even keeping up with my New Scientist reading as there is so much else going on.

  • 43 Wephway April 12, 2018, 11:33 am

    I would question whether a lot of jobs really do provide happiness or satisfaction, at least on a deeper level. We should ask ourselves tough, soul searching questions, like what do you really get out of your job beyond a social life? With a bit more imagination could you find better things to do with your life? Imagination is something that needs cultivating I would add, I don’t think you can develop it fully if you’re working a full time job.

    I’m reasonably good at my job, but in the same way that I’m good at some computer games I probably wont look back on what I’ve done and say ‘that was a good use of all my time, I’m really proud of that’. I would guess a lot of people seeking FIRE are working in financial services, accountancy, etc and have the same underlying dissatisfaction. On the other hand you probably don’t find many architects or doctors seeking early retirement, even though they might have the money to do it.

    When I reach comfortable FI I might go do a PhD in philosophy, or set up an animal sanctuary, or write a book (I’m already attempting that one), or go into local politics, or teach in some capacity, and there’s probably more I haven’t thought of yet. Everyone could think up a list like this if they really thought about it and cultivated their imagination. But I sure as hell won’t be working for a credit card company, or a business hawking some plastic crap or cosmetic product or sugary foods or whatever – I don’t see much value in that.

  • 44 Fatbritabroad April 12, 2018, 11:51 am

    @wephway

    ‘you don’t see many doctors or architects retiring early’
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-5337513/GPs-average-retirement-age-falls-58.html

    You sure about that.

    An ifa at our place retired last week and in his leaving speech said he considered himself fortunate as hes always enjoyed the job. Appreciating the opinion on this forum of ifas as soul sucking leaches there is a place for them and i think it would be quite rewarding to help people retire comfortably. I’ve recently done a financial review with a friend of mine helping her and found it really interesting. I work on the business insurance side but again enjoy helping protect my clients. I think you can gain job satisfaction in any career if you feel what you are doing matters

  • 45 Richard April 12, 2018, 12:38 pm

    Great read! Pretty much my take with one perverse twist.

    I want FI for two reasons:
    1) security
    2) options
    So pretty much as above.

    The perverse twist? I actually don’t want to stop work, I want to take the money I currently save and enjoy some of the luxuries I deprive myself of now (though no new debt). Two issues:
    1) can I change my mindset to actually start spending
    2) if I start living the high life will I be able to give it up again if security or options come a calling!

  • 46 The Rhino April 12, 2018, 12:51 pm

    @Wephway – have you read physician on fire or happy philosopher? – I think early retirement is rife amongst doctors, probably a combination of very high pay and ever deteriorating working conditions?

  • 47 The Rhino April 12, 2018, 12:55 pm

    @FBA – Occasional MV guest poster Mark Meldon springs to mind. Nothing leech-like there. Strikes me as a highly skilled and rewarding job if done in the right spirit.

  • 48 Fatbritabroad April 12, 2018, 1:00 pm

    @rhino fair enough comment retracted i may have been thinking about the escape artist blog now I think about it i just remember a picture of a vampire on a blog about ifas

    Like i say i definitely think they have their place. Case in point my cousin passed away last November and his widow has been left with 400k of life insurance to try and live on. without an ifa shed have been stuffed. Mind you without my intervention shed have gone with her brothers Ifa who while providing excellent advice also wanted 7k a year in feesplus a report upfront fee of a few thousand for doing it!

  • 49 weenie April 12, 2018, 1:03 pm

    Excellent post and analysis, plus I’ve enjoyed reading all the comments so far too.

    Massive respect to RIT for putting his ‘dilemma’ out there for everyone to read and to comment upon. At the end of day, it’s his journey, his (and his family’s) decision to make, his own mind to change if he wants to. After another year of working, if he chooses to pull the plug then, he’ll still be retiring far earlier than the vast majority of people and with a sizeable pot to weather anything that Brexit and wobbly stock markets might throw at him.

    For me, I’ll be in my mid-fifties by the time I’m anywhere near FI so I’d guess that RE will follow swiftly but I couldn’t rule out OMY or cutting down to part-time hours – I’ve no idea if I’ll be mentally prepared to stop working full stop.

  • 50 The Rhino April 12, 2018, 1:25 pm

    @FBA – yep, question is what % of IFAs do the job ‘in the right spirit’?

    They are an essential service in many cases but as ever, its finding the good one thats the tricky bit.

    As for TEA being a soul-sucking leech, I couldn’t possibly comment?

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