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Weekend reading: Another early retiree “de-retires”

Weekend reading

Good reads from around the Web.

I was not shocked to read this week that Jim of the SexHealthMoneyDeath blog has gone back to work.

It was obvious he found being retired early pretty boring. I was surely just one of many who suggested he should “get a job”, in kinder tones than that might be uttered.

Jim confessed:

I was struggling a bit with the retirement lifestyle, and finding the change from a full-on, full-time working week to a zero-hour one quite difficult to handle.

I just couldn’t shake the notion that I was too “young” to put my feet up, that I should be working and that I should be out there earning money.

I might not have “needed” the latter, but it never quite felt that way.

Few of us are really frustrated artists, office-caged adventurers, or wondrous philanthropists desperate to be out in the community doing good deeds for free instead of paying the mortgage.

Most of us are social creatures who like fitting in with the Joneses, even if we manage to shake off the urge to keep up with them.

And in our society, that involves somehow making money.

Even as a self-styled bohemian investor, I am fairly confident I’ll not give up entirely on “doing stuff for money” at anything younger than 80, and with luck and health not for a while after that.

On this planet, in this era, and with my mindset, it’d probably be easier to give up wearing clothes.

Many of you feel differently, of course. My co-blogger The Accumulator and I have debated this endlessly.

But I believe almost everyone will benefit from having an ongoing economic relationship with society while they can – even if only for a day or two a week.

Sadly, by the time most people reach the point of having options, they seem to feel too burned out by the workplace to explore all the various other ways of making money more freely.

If you can do it, you probably won’t

Personally, I think gaining financial freedom – the ability to say “no” to any boss or client, and to walk – is a truly worthwhile goal, but that retiring early will often prove a pretty futile outcome.

I think that’s especially true for the few who will be able to achieve it these days under their own steam.

That is, not the old 1990s way of being retired early by being shuffled out of a firm on a hefty company pension aged 55, but rather the modern, self-made save hard and invest like fury – or start a successful business or lucrative side-hustle – way.

Few people who can do that want to watch Pointless every afternoon waiting for their friends and family to finish work or school.

I know, I know, you will begin early retirement by doing an Open University degree course in archeology while making great strides in hybridizing apple trees in your back garden and teaching disadvantaged children Esperanto in your local youth center.

But most people won’t have your imagination…

So it’s no surprise to me so many high-profile personal finance bloggers who retire early go back to work – or never actually stop working.

Anyone who can create a very successful blog while generating enough money to retire at 45, say, is likely to be bored to tears by doing nothing – however much “doing nothing” is disguised by the flowering of (supposedly) constrained passions, travel, family life, or the gentle slide into somnolence.

Incidentally, I also think retiring early is bad for your health.

All my own views, yours may differ – at least until you retire early for yourself…

From the blogs

Making good use of the things that we find…

Passive investing

Active investing

Other articles

Product of the week: Nationwide has just launched its first ever current account for students. Called FlexStudent, it offers a tiered overdraft of up to £3,000, reports ThisIsMoney.

Mainstream media money

Some links are Google search results – in PC/desktop view these enable you to click through to read the piece without being a paid subscriber of that site.1

Passive investing

  • Remember the debt passive funds owe active managers [Search result]FT
  • Why even the best investing advice may be wrong – MarketWatch
  • Your value fund might not be of much value – Forbes
  • Do tactical allocation funds beat a 60/40 index mix? [US, relevant]A.P.

Active investing

  • Asymmetric information and the markets – Bloomberg
  • Inside Apple – Fast Company
  • Investment trusts sporting a 4% or better yield – ThisIsMoney
  • Only invest like a billionaire if you’re a billionaire – Bloomberg
  • Investors can pick good funds, but they have bad timing – Morningstar
  • Even the best investors miss many revolutionary opportunities – Medium

A word from a broker

Other stuff worth reading

  • A first-time buyer derailed by Japanese knotweed – Guardian
  • Taxpayers backed the multi-billion pound Help to Buy gamble – ThisIsMoney
  • Today’s reminder to never get married – Telegraph
  • Aviva’s property fund could be closed for eight months – Telegraph
  • Poor little rich kids: The perils of inherited wealth – Guardian
  • The other side of Warren Buffett [Misses the point, IMHO]The Economist
  • Why star premier league managers matter less than ever [Search result]FT
  • How technology is homogenizing global interior design – The Verge
  • Americans also witlessly pine for manufacturing jobs – The New Yorker
  • Greenland sharks may live for 400 years – CBC News

Book of the week: For my own esoteric reasons, I found myself studying the holdings of a UK fund called the CFP SDL UK Buffettology fund this week. The manager, Keith Ashworth-Lord, is sometimes dubbed the UK’s Warren Buffett, not least by himself – though by his own admission he’s very much a Buffett disciple rather than an original thinker like the genial grandfatherly billionaire. I also found out Ashworth-Lord published a book last year – Invest in the Best – which rather than being dozens of photographs of the author holding a placard saying “Pick Me!” seems to be a more subtle investigation into why Buffett’s methods work. (And also, by implication, Ashworth-Lord’s…)

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  1. Note some articles can only be accessed through the search results if you’re using PC/desktop view (from mobile/tablet view they bring up the firewall/subscription page). To circumvent, switch your mobile browser to use the desktop view. On Chrome for Android: press the menu button followed by “Request Desktop Site”. []

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{ 74 comments… add one }
  • 1 EarlyRetirementGuy August 13, 2016, 1:10 pm

    People often ask me what I’m going to do once I have enough passive income to retire, the answer is always “Whatever I want”. Being able to quit working forever doesnt mean you have to.. it’s about having the choice to do so if you wish. There’s no shame in continuing to work if its what you want to do and enjoy doing so. At least you’ll always have the option of quitting if you want to… again… 😉

  • 2 Neverland August 13, 2016, 1:14 pm

    No one ever wished their deathbed they spent more time in the office

    To retire early you have to be happy to reject society’s norms for what your behaviour should be

  • 3 Gregory August 13, 2016, 1:25 pm

    If somebody falls in love with investing (no matter what kind of style) he never retires. I’m sure Buffet, Soros and others can not imagine their lives without investing. Other examples like: Graham, Schloss, or Irving Kahn.

    These people work/worked much more than the ordinary people but they enjoy/ed it!

  • 4 PC August 13, 2016, 1:28 pm

    I’m with @theInvestor gradually working less or on different things sounds ideal.

    I could probably stop work now if I really had to but that doesn’t appeal to me at all.

  • 5 Gregory August 13, 2016, 2:02 pm

    @ Why shareholder yield beats dividend yield [Podcast] – Meb Faber
    Plus read this too: https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2016-04-11/dividends-are-a-better-bet-than-share-buybacks

  • 6 Planting Acorns August 13, 2016, 2:35 pm

    Where I work, those that could leave (for eg could walk with reduced pension now but are going for the max) are by far the happiest, despite us all doing the same work.

    Fully agree it’s not leaving work that’s the aim, it’s being able to 😉

  • 7 dearieme August 13, 2016, 2:43 pm

    “it’s not leaving work that’s the aim, it’s being able to “: we found that the same was true with paying off the mortgage. It was delightful to have enough moolah to pay it off. But we chose not to.

  • 8 The Investor August 13, 2016, 2:43 pm

    @Neverland — Says the man who was chastising Retirement Investing Today a few weeks ago that he didn’t have enough to retire, when he blatantly did in 97% of his foreseeable scenarios.

  • 9 Retirement Investing Today August 13, 2016, 3:10 pm

    A very relevant post given my FI but not RE status. I’ve been in the land of work being optional for a few weeks now and while work does feel different I can confirm I still intend to retire early soon.

    It does give food for thought given Jim’s return but also if we look across the pond we see the more famous PF bloggers such as ERE who returned to work as a quant and MMM who has some pretty serious business interests from what I can see. Of course work is very firmly optional for both of them but the difference is they are now doing work that they love rather than work that they have to do. That is a pretty special place to be and something I am somewhat envious of even in my potentially enviable position.

    For me I think my line of work has just burnt me out with the unrelenting deadlines and aggressiveness, which includes my eventual outsourcing once it becomes feasible, destroying the passion I once had. FI protects my family and I financially which was one of the reasons I went for it back in 2007. FIRE in a few months at age 44 gives me the option of doing whatever I like from here on in. That’s a place I am very happy to be. If anybody on the street asked me if “the modern, self-made save hard and invest like fury” way had been worth it my reply would be ABSOLUTELY.

    Even having said the above I’m going to be interested to see if I end up as Jim, Jacob or MMM or whether my hobbies will be enough in the years to come.

  • 10 Neverland August 13, 2016, 3:39 pm

    @ investor

    Two parts of why I don’t think the RIT plan will work:

    Part 1: He had to live on at under £400 per week. It doesn’t seem very much to a champagne quaffing socialist like me

    Part 2: Low future returns are hard wired into asset prices. Much of the developed world government bond market is in negative territory. Historic averages are unlikely to apply. You need to save more period

    I have a question for you actually. Do you think you are planning on keeping working because you want to or because likely low investment returns going forwards mean you have to?

  • 11 Alice Holt August 13, 2016, 3:50 pm

    I “de-retired” to a part-time paid role after a couple of years (post retirement) volunteering for my local advice charity.

    The salary enables me to fund (above the £3,600 level) a SIPP for my benecifiaries, I work with some tremendous colleagues, and the work we do in helping vulnerable and disabled clients appeal flawed DWP decisions can be very satisfying.

    Rather different to the job I retired early from, and one I am proud to do.

  • 12 Edmund Blackadder August 13, 2016, 4:11 pm

    Our £140,000 a year GP who went bankrupt ‘following a salary reduction’ attracts a particularly small amount of sympathy.

  • 13 SurreyBoy August 13, 2016, 4:13 pm

    Im 44 and reckon i could bale out now if push came to shove – downsize the house and tell the children we are moving and no they cant have any more consumer junk paid for by me. Im thinking thats a bit selfish though so will bat on buying overpriced middle class tat for the family for probably another 5 years – whilst accumulating chips for the retirement casino. Knowing i can leave the office and never return if i really dont want to does make the whole work thing more bearable.

    I cant say i plan on doing anything especially worthwhile in retirement, but i do think it will be great fun spending plenty of time exploring options. If i couldnt find anything better to do than go to a job, i think id reach for the tablets.

    I respect the guy’s achievement in reaching FI and respect his choice on how to live. The fact he has that choice puts him in a great place. How he uses that choice is up to him, but mind would be different.

  • 14 BillyBow August 13, 2016, 4:13 pm

    I “retired” twelve years ago at the age of 40, so I feel I have accumulated the ten thousand hours to call myself experienced in financial independence.

    I understand Jim’s decision. At the same stage of FI, I very nearly headed back to a conventional and a socially acceptable working life. I resisted the temptation and allowed opportunities to present themselves. They soon flowed and my time couldn’t have been better spent. I confess, I still maintain and enjoy a business interest but this I limit to no more than four hours per week – this delivers me a sufficient occupational fix.

    Whilst the principles of this blog are superb guidelines for financial security, the currency of time should not be ignored and the time opportunities presented by FI should be embraced.

  • 15 The Investor August 13, 2016, 4:15 pm

    @Neverland — I’ll keep doing some sort of income generation (I wouldn’t use the word work, ideally) because I want to. But the way I work is very different from how the typical person works. My argument would be you can create this flexibility, if you’re the sort of person who can retire early, especially after you reach (or even just approach) financial independence.

    I think RIT’s plan is very doable, personally, provided Europe holds together. Some may see that as a big “if”, but 700-million odd Europeans are working on that same principle. It’s not certain that it’ll work, but my reading of it is he’s much more likely to retire wealthier than he is likely to run out of money. His post this week is illustrative of that, in fact.

    But anyway, my point was whatever is in an article, you just make the opposite point. It’s almost like a Pavlovian response, as far as I can tell?

    It doesn’t inspire one to think you’re being serious, or constructive, which is a shame because you’ve got plenty of head on your shoulders, obviously.

  • 16 ermine August 13, 2016, 4:19 pm

    Well, I’m going to push back on the consensus. Although the Internet Retirement Police would probably count me out because I do earn money from working, to the tune of a whopping £150 a month. I’d get rid of that and properly retire but it would stitch up people who matter to me. That said –

    Successfully retiring means doing something else rather than ‘all the stuff you did in your free time while at work, just more so’. If you don’t learn at least something new each day then I venture you’re in trouble. It doesn’t have to be useful – for me today is was how Linn drum machines worked. I don’t have one, never will, but I was just fascinated by it in passing.

    Avoid consumption for the sake of it, though don’t eschew it just because. That includes consumption of experiences – ideally you should be a little bit changed by any experience you consume electively, and a bit of learning something new doesn’t go amiss. Too much of what is sold is basically passive tourism and gawping.

    What did me in with working was the management brouhaha around it all, but I’ve never been tempted to go back, even though by definition I have the FU money. Because I never want to be told by some twat that I don’t match their jumped up performance management criteria which have nothing to do with the work in hand – in engineering one’s work speaks for itself. Even now, four years after retiring, the thought of that makes my skin creep. And the the sort of marketing and self-promotion the go-it-aloners have to do doesn’t suit my temperament, so I have no taste for that.

    But yes, to retire early is doing something different from the norms of society. It’s going to show up in other areas too. I have no TV. I could buy one today, and I’m not short of the yearly £150. But I don’t want commercialism and the dominant myths of the current time rammed into my head, and using the web with aggressive ad-blocking is good enough to stay informed though not enough to avoid bias.

    Working is the dominant myth because it enabled us collectively to become very well-off. I think Niall Ferguson called in the protestant work ethic. But working doesn’t inherently make you more valuable, although if you buy into that myth and get meaning from it then have at it. You can engage with people just as well if not more as an early retiree – you have more flexibility on what I discovered after retiring was one of the most precious resources any human being has. Their time. because I did the school-university-work thing in an unbroken sequence bar six months unemployed on leaving university I never jumped to the value of my time before getting it back. I was bound by the whole you work because it’s what you do mindset because I never thought aboout why I was doing it or if there was another way. Until I left, for entirely negative reasons. But after decompression, which was probably three years and maybe is still going on, I realised that it would have been a dreadful waste to carry on working until 60, which was the normal retirement age for the company I worked.

    But each to their own. I found the world a more fascinating place after I stopped work. It appears not everyone does, and that’s also fine, we are all different. Someone once wrote that ‘it’s difficult to turn off an educated mind’ on retiring. You don’t have to. If work is the only thing you can find to occupy your mind then perhaps that education was insufficiently broad. In the four years since working I have learned about soil microbiology, about magnetic instrumentation, dragged my mouldering web coding awareness into the 21st century, learned a couple more computer languages. I’ve met a much wider range of people across the income spectrum than I did at work, and a wider range of age groups too.

    Sure, you can get meaning from work, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong in that either. But just because it is the most common way doesn’t mean it is the only way.

  • 17 Anon August 13, 2016, 4:38 pm

    I FIRE’d a short while ago, aged 48, with similar wealth to RIT. I disagree that it is bad for your health. I spent the last couple of years working whilst not needing to and often wondered why? The never ending corporate b******t wound me up. I disliked Sunday evenings because Monday was coming. My health was suffering due to work!
    Now I feel calmer, get out into the fresh air every day for long walks. Am much happier in myself. My back no longer plays me up due to being sat down all day tapping away at a computer screen and my blood pressure has miraculously improved. It was the work that was bad for me. I am now free and feel blessed for it. Thanks to both investing and the property markets; they have been good to me and the future looks great.

  • 18 Neverland August 13, 2016, 4:49 pm

    @ Monevator

    Put simply stuff happens but it isn’t always good

    There will be a story about how the Telegraph’s Dutch doctor living in Hull earning £140,000 came to be bankrupt and then divorced

    I do not know what that story is but I would wager a pair of rose tinted spectacles were involved

  • 19 PC August 13, 2016, 5:38 pm

    @ermine interesting post as always.

    My work doesn’t give me meaning, but I do find it interesting (most of the time, nothings perfect). If I wasn’t doing it for money, I probably carry on doing it somehow.

    I’ve done lots of other things while working, including a degree. I couldn’t agree more about keeping learning every day – for me that includes work.

    I’ve dodged the management stuff by being a freelancer the past few years. I wish I done it sooner

    Like you say we’re all different.

  • 20 FI Warrior August 13, 2016, 5:45 pm

    Different people have differing tolerances for feelings and situations, extroverts probably really miss the cage-fight politics of corporate life that was a nightmare for the introverts. Those who got further up the greasy pole of hierarchy were splattered less from above daily, so probably miss regular ego massages in pointless group-think meetings.

    I’m with the Ermine on this topic, thinking back to cretinous brain-wash(/train)ing sessions, plastic meeting-food, forms about forms, meetings culminating only in agreeing another meeting, makes me wonder how everyone wasn’t on prozac. (maybe they were, it would at least account for the general quality of decision-making)

    I remember looking at a moron out walking his dog once, a beautiful alsatian, dragging it around impatiently before it probably went back to being cooped up all day and thinking ”How different is that to us in the cube-farms?” The injustice of the drooling idiot somehow being in charge of the life-form with the higher IQ. To me, if you are bored in ER, once FI, I respect those who realise what they need out of life, then create it for themselves. Having someone else yank your chain, bark orders at you and plan your day, when you don’t actually have to take that degradation, is somehow infantile; a needlessly self-imposed vanilla life, like eating at a junkfood chain outlet every day to avoid thinking.

  • 21 The Investor August 13, 2016, 7:43 pm

    Having someone else yank your chain, bark orders at you and plan your day, when you don’t actually have to take that degradation, is somehow infantile.

    Agreed — but if I had that kind of relationship with work for more than the inevitable odd few days like that, then I’d be looking for a new job sooner rather than planning to retire early a lot later! 🙂

    (I’m a freelance, for those who haven’t been following the gripping soap opera over the years. 😉 )

    To be clear, as I said in the piece, I’m all for people trying different things, including in retirement.

    But I do suspect (/have noticed) that a lot of people will be happier if they stay plugged into economic life, to some extent — even if just a few hours or a day or two a week.

    Someone (who in the case of this thread was someone ironically enough telling another blogger a couple of weeks ago that they couldn’t retire on a £1m) will always come along and say “nobody on their death bed… etc” and urge cold turkey.

    But equally, at just a day a week you could easily be generating an extra £5K to £10K a year (if you’re the sort of person who reads *this* blog) and I think a lot of people on their death bed might think “I wish money hadn’t been so tight in retirement that I couldn’t spend £5-10k a year more freely on all sorts of things”. (I paraphrase, obviously).

    Moreover I think it’s good to feel engaged, socially and mentally, to have some constraints on your time, to feel a residual sense of value/worth connected to the economic system, to avoid at all costs become a “them and us” style embittered pensioner, and even to feel some stress (or more specifically “eustress”).

    After 30 years you really ought to have some useful skills. Again, never using them again seems to me psychologically risky, at the least.

    Absolutely agree everyone should do what feels best for them, though. I am just saying from experience and observation, I think a strategy that leaves some room (not a requirement) for staying productive, engaged, and useful (measured in being paid real money by people who won’t do so unless you do a good job) is helpful.

    Finally, on the health front some people are in toxic environments or running to toxic schedules. They need to get out.

    But again, my observation is people get unhealthier once they retire, or at least the older ones do. Obviously ageing is part of this, but I’ve noticed a step change slow down, too.

    I’ve read research to that affect, also, although granted you can easily read research that says the opposite. 🙂

  • 22 GHDorset August 13, 2016, 8:13 pm

    For me, getting into a position where I could take early retirement was a means to having some time out – my first summer not working since leaving school. Then I looked for a less stressful (and lower paid) job.

    At my new job I am an anomaly – an experienced older worker who doesn’t moan about the job/organisation/colleagues. The ‘I could walk away from this at any time’ card isn’t very helpful – if I use it, a new prospective employer will question my commitment. It just means I have more choice over when I phase out the wage-earning stage of my life.

  • 23 Anon August 13, 2016, 9:17 pm

    Timely topic for me. After after around 30 years in my field I’m finally bugging out of the 9-5 office job in a month or so. “Are you taking early retirement?” people say to me. “Can you imagine *me* taking early retirement?” I say. “Er, well, no” they say. For me FIRE is far more about the “I” than the “R”. We’ll be off on an “adult gap year” type jolly for a while (something we last did ~15 years ago), but then I’m itching to sink some effort into burning down a backlog of pet projects I’ve never really had enough time to indulge properly, and which may or may not go somewhere in terms of seeing any return on them. For me, financial independence represents freedom to scratch itches, hone craftsmanship, roll the dice, follow my muse, “get things out there” in my own time, and value impact and getting noticed (I know myself well enough to know these things matter to me) over making more money (although a bit of revenue is a nice way of “keeping score”) and to head off to the great outdoors when the weather’s at its best rather than just at the weekend. We’ll see. Maybe I’ll be paralyzed by the cornucopia of options. Or maybe I’ll find what I should actually have been doing years ago. If I don’t try I’ll never know. But I do know if I ever find myself watching daytime TV in the afternoon in my pyjamas in the next few years… then I think I’ll be begging them to let me back into the office.

  • 24 Ash August 13, 2016, 9:27 pm

    Replace the word ‘Retirement’ with the word ‘Enlivenment’. It is more apt, regardless of age.

  • 25 zxspectrum48k August 13, 2016, 9:32 pm

    I can’t ever imagine being bored in retirement. I don’t recognize, however, the need to improve oneself, to learn new things etc. Surely, the whole point of retirement is that you never need to do anything ever again. I just want to play computer games and live in a virtual reality please. I wouldn’t want to interact with the real world again – it’s just so damn dull!

    It seems the one thing that would be worse than carrying on working, however, would be to be retired and then have to go back to work. That would make me suicidal. That’s why I’ve got to be sure I got enough capital. Better to work longer now, when the pay is good and I define the work conditions, that be forced to stack shelves at 70.

  • 26 weenie August 13, 2016, 10:23 pm

    @zxspectrum48k – ref your “I just want to play computer games ” comment – haha, this is one thing I’m looking forward to doing too – play all night and not have to worry about getting up for work the next day!

  • 27 RootofGood August 13, 2016, 10:51 pm

    Three years into early retirement and I don’t miss full time work a single bit. I’ve mostly forgotten why I disliked work so much, but thinking back, it was probably the monotony, lack of autonomy (even through I was Director of Blah Blah Blah), rigid schedule (generally needed to be present from 9-5 every day), and limited time off (3-4 weeks per year).

    I do “keep busy” with an hour or two per week of consulting, plus a little time on the blog occasionally. Between family, friends, traveling, video games, books, puttering around the house, exploring the outdoors, and sitting on my ass, I simply don’t have time for work in my daily schedule. There’s never a point where I feel unfulfilled in my routine life. If so, I’m not sure another full time job would satisfy any feeling of worthlessness (there would probably be an underlying issue – like depression).

  • 28 John B August 13, 2016, 11:45 pm

    My dad, a civil service plodder, retired early at 57 and spent 30 years gardening, reading, crosswords and watching sport. All the same things he did before retirement, just more so, and he was very happy. Being frugal, his wealth just rose and rose.

    I’m a frugal plodder too, and think similar hobbies will sustain me if I retire nearly a decade earlier. Work has never defined me, and a succession of jobs I dislike suggests it me, not the position, so why would I want to complete any more if I don’t need to. Much better to accept voluntary tasks no-one can find the time to do.

    It would be lovely to swap being an IT expert to a gardening one, but only needing to garden when it wasn’t cold and raining.

    FinciallyIndependentDoOtherStuff FIDOS

  • 29 dearieme August 14, 2016, 12:42 am

    When I retired I vowed there was one thing I’d never do again: cycle in the dark when it’s raining.

    One is OK, but not both. No commute = no need.

  • 30 hariseldon August 14, 2016, 1:28 am

    Well 9 years in to FIRE, I work part time in a number of different fields, the income earned is not relevant but it does provide interest and rarely interferes with my other activities!.

    I did no work for the first 6 months and found myself at a loose end one day and then started doing something, then something else…but not too much! It provides interest, you meet people and doing so can take you in unexpected directions but its the optionality that is so important.

    When i started FIRE in 2007 the feasibility was ok but far less than 97% success predicted, volatile markets followed which provide opportunity to significantly improve income and the likelihood of success.

    I disagree strongly with the view of ” Low future returns are hard wired into asset prices.” the future is a very long time and the present conditions may change much sooner than one expects for good or bad.

  • 31 Jim August 14, 2016, 2:10 am

    What a brilliant spectrum of ideas here – from studying and learning to gardening and crosswords to playing computer games all night! People find their happiness in so many ways and each to their own.

    52 and FIRE’d now for four months and I’m more of a crossing mountain passes and walking mountain trails for days on end kind of guy, at least while I’m able.

    I don’t seem to get bored, except when I was at work. At work I used to get staggeringly, no, vertiginously bored. And I had what many would consider a dream job with lots of travel and five start hotels – real breakfast in London, dinner in Tokyo stuff. All I could think about was mountain trails.

    I’m definitely on the Ermine/FI Warrior side of the spectrum, but for those of you who like computer games or working – go for it! = less people on my trails 😉

  • 32 John B August 14, 2016, 7:12 am

    I’m always amazed at the throngs of people in shopping centres Saturday afternoon, but at least they are not on country walks with me.

    A lot of FI is disconnecting a job from its income. So many people round London commute for 2 hours a day because they need the premium of a city centre job. With financial pressure eased, they could walk to work locally, or do it part time, and get all the social reward and satisfaction from a job, but get their health and time back.

    As I approach 50 I see how bad a desk job is for my health. Finding something outdoors, with bending and stretching, is so much better for my mental and physical health, but traditionally those jobs pay badly, so you can’t take them on. With FI you can.

    Being an author or artist gives a strong purpose in life, and lots of satisfaction, but doesn’t pay a living wage. Being FI you can just do it.

    Look ex-military officers who leave after their 22 years and can choose careers with the backup of a generous pension. It allows them to retrain and do something different for another 20 years.

  • 33 Mr optimistic August 14, 2016, 8:17 am

    Trouble in this country is the dark brooding winters which in retirement probably means I’ll be dark and brooding too, sitting out a wet Tuesday afternoon in mid-November. My wife says that I’ll be able to do more in the garden (for which read at last to start pulling my weight). Digging the wet heavy clay known as our vegetable patch will be my lasting joy

  • 34 Ric August 14, 2016, 8:34 am

    Clearly, none of us should assume the role of the retirement police and chastise those who return to work after FIRE. Each to their own!

    I FIREed in April this year, and don’t understand how I ever had time to work. Most of my freedom plans are on hold through lack of time (including blogging). However I’ve many projects on the go, following a long-standing pattern of over committing my time throughout my life. The difference FIRE has brought to me is the option to be more selective which of those projects and time commitments I pursue first.

    I’ve seen the same pattern in others (mainly in conventional retired people who have retired at 65 plus), and the opposite pattern where those with time on their hands pre-retirement are generally unhappy once they’ve more time on their hands post retirement.

    So maybe the path individuals chose to take after FIRE is more predictable not by their attitudes about how they spend their time at the point of FIRE, but their attitudes to spare time way back throughout their working life. IMHO you need to have your own purpose to life way before you consider FIRE. If you don’t have it (outside your work) before FIRE, then FIRE on its own won’t give it to you.

    Thanks again for the great life changing blog TI & team.


  • 35 FI Warrior August 14, 2016, 8:54 am

    @Jim, it’s proven that we need to remain connected to nature to be healthy, so your feeling of peace and freedom on the trail is natural; it’s tragic having generations of poor kids raised, hemmed in, in soulless concrete urban estates, no wonder mental illnesses are increasing markedly.

    Creativity is a gift, (but luckily can be cultivated too) I have an endless imagination and think it was because I was poor when a young child, so played with bottle tops, pegs and whatever else was lying around. Free now, the other thing that makes me happy is being grateful for everything, no matter how small. When there’s a burst of good weather in this ‘summer’ for example, I rush out, fire up the kettle BBQ and appreciate that I can do that now, instead of just dreaming of it with my nose pressed to the glass of my office window, like the captive little rodents in their tanks in a pet shop.

    Over the last couple of years I’ve ‘trained’ the red kites where I live to swoop down and take the trimmings off what I’m grilling. They are now conditioned and circle my house when a wisp of smoke goes up; I still feel a thrill seeing them swirling down gracefully and acrobatically at the same time, no matter how many times I’ve been privileged to witness this beauty before. I can get more good feeling off this than a bonus at work for convincing strangers I had aptitude at busy-work tricks. I’m sure it would have felt better if I’d have been a surgeon saving lives all day, but I’d bet 9 out of 10 jobs today are bull**** to keep the populace occupied and docile.

  • 36 Kraggash August 14, 2016, 9:21 am


    ” No one ever wished on their deathbed they spent more time in the office”

    Evidence, please


  • 37 Sheep August 14, 2016, 10:41 am

    Being rather introvert, I couldn’t bear the corporate ‘cage fighting’ life I had for 10 years, and the comment on meetings about meetings rings true.

    I left work last year, aged 32, after selling up our ridiculously priced house in the SE (unfortunately with a correspondingly ridiculous mortgage!). After a year of slow, frugal, travelling around the world and finding odds and sods of online work, we so far have more inflation adjusted capital than when we left*. I suppose this kind of makes us ‘digital nomads’, although I despise the term.

    I wouldn’t describe us as FI by any means, although we have probably a 20 years worth of ‘FU money’ stored up. I think my point is that you don’t necessarily have to wait until you have your 3.4659% (or whatever) Safe Withdrawal Rate sorted before changing your life – the chances that you will not be able to earn yourself a few pennies when your time is your own are very slim. I could have waited it out for probably another 5 years at the office to be truly FI, although i think my brain might have melted out of tedium and frustration.

    PS – to anyone in with itchy fingers for ‘you can’t possibly have enough’ type comments, no I was not an investment banker and I earned well below 6 figures at my peak. Jacob ERE principles apply i.e. no car or maybe a rustbucket if rqd, learn how to cook, and don’t give a stuff what the joneses think.

    *Well, we do in GBP, but thanks to the delightful effects of Brexit, not USD!

  • 38 ermine August 14, 2016, 3:38 pm

    @Mr optimistic
    > Trouble in this country is the dark brooding winters which in retirement

    Ah, but the joys of the time for reflection, the simple pleasures of drinking wine in front of the fire with congenial company. The dynamic contrast of the seasons is one of the things I love about Britain – enough to give a hefty ebb and flow but not so brass monkeys and midnight sun as too far north. though the midsummer sun never seems to totally set in Scotland. Embrace the dark side 😉

    With dearieme though – cycling in the dark OK, but dark and wet not OK…

  • 39 Mroptimistic August 14, 2016, 6:12 pm

    Ermine, I am educating my liver as we speak! With two children who are both unsettled young adults there seems to always be something to worry about!

  • 40 Jonathan August 14, 2016, 6:18 pm

    Yes, yes, but you’re all overlooking the amazing story in the Telegraph about the mature physician with £140,000 of salary annually, and total assets, apart from his DB pension rights, of six thousand pounds sterling. Plus a debt of several thousand pounds to his lawyer.

    What on earth did he do for his entire life?

    I appreciate there’s been a divorce – so there was a married couple with assets of £12,000 before the divorce?

    How can one have so little with such a huge income?

  • 41 Finance Solver August 14, 2016, 6:31 pm

    I’m shooting for early retirement not to sit around and not do anything but for optionality to retire and not work. I want financial independence for my peace of mind and not to avoid working since I get a lot of utility from working for some reason. I know that I can achieve it and only time will tell whether I am happy that I achieved it or not!

  • 42 FI Warrior August 14, 2016, 6:35 pm

    @ Jonathan, I saw at least one clue in his wanting to get any putative accommodation remodeled so that the acoustics would be right for his pianoforte. ( as one does 🙂 )

    Having waived his right to anonymity, I fear for his health, financial and otherwise if my ex-wife happens to read that article. Bankrupting wealthy but gullible men was her particular ‘forte, a sacrifice she’d always be willing to make.

    A fool and his money are soon parted, no matter how large the amount.

  • 43 dearieme August 14, 2016, 7:32 pm

    That GP story is a mystery. Gambler?

  • 44 Planting Acorns August 14, 2016, 9:21 pm


    A sadder story, surprised not been a source of greater outcry amongst fellow low cost enthusiasts

    Guess the table will need a rejig :0/

  • 45 Jim McG August 14, 2016, 10:28 pm

    As the blogger of SHMD, it’s good to see such a variety of views and opinions, and I’ve agreed with many of them, including those that seem diametrically opposed to one another. In my year off I felt I lived through a lot of them too. I wish that I could have come down firmly on one side of the net (I’m watching Andy Murray going for gold as I type this) but it wasn’t to be. I’m thinking now that part time work doing something I enjoy might be a good option for me and, now I’m back full time at work, that’s my next objective.

  • 46 FatButFun August 14, 2016, 10:42 pm

    Am about 2 years in and still happy being idle. With my youngest starting school tomorrow I’ll be going from 3 days on my own to 5 days on my own from 9am to 3pm.

    No rush to go back to 2/3 flights a week, 200 emails a day & HR issues with subordinates. Happy to let the void remain unfilled, pending life events or economic necessity.

    I’ve done a 25 year shift. That’ll do.

  • 47 Uptown August 14, 2016, 11:26 pm

    FIREd recently at 55. My investment income alone sees me flirting with 40% and even 60% tax bands. If I returned to working I could encounter between 50% and 67% in tax and employer/employee NI drag on any and all earnings I might receive.

    I have more self respect than to be treated by the government as simultaneously a cash-cow and a doormat. My own time is worth much more to me than this, so that returning to paid employment makes no financial sense. I would rather let someone who will gain more value from it take up that paid job instead.

  • 48 Ray MacDonald August 14, 2016, 11:48 pm

    I have to agree with ermine although my retirement circumstances were different from all of you. I went to age 58 which is still early but not ERE by any stretch of the imagination.
    I was a food scientist. I started work on Monday after getting my degree on Friday. I spent 35 years at the grindstone until my mental health was starting to fail n late 2004.
    I have never been back to the factory (which closed recently anyway – more jobs outsourced to the US.) In my first couple of years I worked as a technical volunteer to help a small coffee company. After that I learned Linux and computer repair and now I fix machines and software problems for the seniors in my small town – no charge.
    My wife and I are doing fine economically and have from the start. I don’t miss Peoplesoft metrics, endless BS in meetings instead of actually doing the technical research, and bosses I didn’t respect technically or business-wise. Never have, never would have, never will.

  • 49 Lee August 15, 2016, 4:48 am

    Still a few more years of working left for me I think – I can see at least five more years in my main job. Until then I’m learning new things, both technical (on udacity, coursera) and other (such as river kayaking – maybe I’ll get some kind of license eventually). In five years I should be better placed, though still need to sort out my housing situation (still renting…).

    This summer’s beach reading had been something I saw flagged in the FT, which is the 100 year life by a couple of professors from LBS.


    Some of the stuff they cover seems to be related to many of the comments this week: how we live our lives, the choices and opportunities we have, investment etc.

    I was hoping to having a greater appreciation of how longer life shapes our work, relationships, investment, and notion of self from the book.

    Most of what they’ve written still hasn’t really sunk in, but their discussion of investment was really very disappointing and didn’t cover FI at all; only pensions and savings / savings ratios. I guess FI is still non-mainstream, especially amongst academics.

    They also talk about stages of life careers and how over longer life spans we can experiment with more career exploration bolstered by continued learning as we move away from a three stage life of education, career, and retirement. This kind of life is increasingly outdated as we have longer lives and can have more flexibility and options for change. It’s an interesting dicussion that I think goes to the heart of where we are going with FI.

    I hope to read and think more about this over time. I’m disappointed by the absence of an FI angle and hope other writers / bloggers amongst our community will be addressing questions raised by this type of book in the future.

  • 50 Heidi Kneale (Her Grace) August 15, 2016, 7:02 am

    Several years ago someone once asked me (in a survey) when I planned on retiring.

    Um… ?

    I had two answers: 1. As soon as possible. 2. Never.

    I’d love to give the day job the old heave ho, so I can focus on what I want to do…. which was my career.

    I’m an author and would love to spend the rest of my natural life writing books. But my day job (office work) is what brings in the money until I earn enough from royalties (or investments) to transition to full-time writing.

    I guess “retirement” isn’t so much quitting work, but rather quitting that which you *have* to do in favour of what you want to do. I know far too many librarians who refuse to “retire” and work pretty much until their cold, dead corpses are found wedged in some non-fiction stack. For them, retirement isn’t something to look forward to.

    (And how many office workers do you come across with that sort of attitude?)

  • 51 Tom August 15, 2016, 11:47 am

    I think the wisdom of Office Space applies


  • 52 William III August 15, 2016, 3:57 pm

    Delightful thread. Any case studies of people who’ve done an art/lit/history degree after FIREing, which allowed them to subsequently carve out a part time role that greatly enhanced life satisfaction?

  • 53 Financial Samurai August 16, 2016, 7:05 am

    It’s true. I’ve got a pretty popular post called, “It’s Impossible To Stay Retired Once You Retire Early.” It’s linked in the Website field above.

    Financial Samurai is one of the older early retirement blogs since 2009, but nobody ever figures FS for an early retirement blog or me as an early retiree because it’s just too difficult to just chillax and do nothing after so much hustling.


  • 54 John B August 16, 2016, 8:07 am

    @Financial Samurai I agree that if you’ve hustled to get rich quick, you might need to accept new challenges. But I’m a plodder and got rich not by earning lots, but having a dull career with good financial management and low desire to spend money. If you keep new graduate spending patterns as your income rises, the saving margin can grow even if you are not a high-flyer, and those patterns allow retirement on a reasonable sum.

    I want to know more about the world, and see more of it, but don’t really have the urge to change it. Without ambition, why would I want to have the hassle of engaging with anyone who’s not a friend?

  • 55 John August 16, 2016, 9:31 am

    @Sheep “I think my point is that you don’t necessarily have to wait until you have your 3.4659% (or whatever) Safe Withdrawal Rate sorted before changing your life – the chances that you will not be able to earn yourself a few pennies when your time is your own are very slim.”

    Like many things it depends completely on your personal preferences; a great number of people could stop working full time much sooner, it doesn’t mean that for all of them it is a worthwhile decision. Obviously in your case you disliked work enough, wanted to travel enough, and are willing to do ad-hoc online work enough that the choice made sense for you 🙂

  • 56 PC August 16, 2016, 12:58 pm

    You don’t have to stop work to change your life, to me they are 2 separate things.

  • 57 ermine August 16, 2016, 3:52 pm

    @PC Agreed you don’t have to stop work to change your life, there are many other ways. But I would say that conversely stopping working does change your life. Vastly for the better in my experience, but as this post tells us, that is not a universal feeling.

    I don’t think Jim would say retiring didn’t change his life. It is more that he didn’t like the change. Which is fair enough, he’s gone out and done something about it.

  • 58 Sherrie St. Cyr August 18, 2016, 2:42 am

    I missed the “early retirement” window for myself, but I’ve worked as a psychotherapist with many retirees and a few early retirees. Most of them had a difficult adjustment to the retired lifestyle and many of them chose to unretire, at least part time. While I appreciate freedom and independence, I also realize work provides benefits other than the financial ones. Many find they miss the social aspects, the status, and the intellectual stimulation. For many of them, retirement was wonderful at first, but people generally adjust to a new normal fairly quickly and the “glitter” wears off. Once days without any commitments become normal, they aren’t nearly as attractive as they were when they were viewed from the vantage point of “having” to go to work every day. Everyone has to find their own answer to this, obviously.

  • 59 The Investor August 18, 2016, 9:15 am

    Yes, I think it’s notable that the people who are most adamantly advocating full retirement / not another second in the office / deathbed regrets are people who seem to dislike if not truly hate every moment of their current *working* lives.

    Really I feel there’s multiple solutions besides retiring early to that predicament. Some that are likely to deliver far sooner than compounding the savings of a very frugal life over two to three decades. We only live once.

    But as you say, everyone has to find their own answer that works for them.

  • 60 old_eyes August 18, 2016, 12:18 pm

    @TI @ermine

    As I have said before I guess your attitude depends whether FIRE is running towards or away from.

    I am interested in the FI part rather than the RE part because I want choice. [Indeed at my age it is barely retiring early at all. Somewhere between the corporate early retirement of a previous generation and the extending state retirement age.]

    What I am after is the ability to choose more carefully how I spend my time.

    I have been incredibly lucky. I have never since graduating had a job I did not believe in or fundamentally enjoy. I have had rough periods where I felt I wasn’t able to do the job in the way I thought it should be done, and on three occasions that has led me to go off and do something else, but generally I have had a great time.

    Now at the end of October I am pulling the big lever and changing to basically retired. I have a bunch of stuff I want to do that looks to my partner suspiciously like my current work, but it is stuff that has built up over the years that I haven’t had the chance to execute before.

    I will also look for some interesting projects in my field that will keep me in the loop. I will try and get paid for these because my experience has been that if the transaction involves money people take it seriously. Too many of my friends who volunteer are banging their heads against the brick wall of the paid staff in a variety of third sector organisations. They want to contribute but actually suffer as much of the “abominable no-men” as they did in their working careers; sometimes more.

    I am with @ermine that learning something new every day is important, and I recognise the drivers that @Sherrie St Cyr refers to. For me the potential loss of intellectual stimulation is the scary one, and so my immediate plans focus on replacing that.

    I guess everyone’s ‘retirement’ is a function of experience, interests, capability and purpose. I have friends who have flipped completely to some new or latent interest, one who took up gardening after many years of wishing and not enough time with stunning results and a great deal of joy. Others who seem to have carried on exactly as if retirement had not happened working in the same field, but on close inspection you can see they are using the FI flexibility to choose the gigs they take on.

    We will see how it pans out for me and I will try and report back.

  • 61 Dannielle @ Odd Cents August 18, 2016, 2:15 pm

    Many people in Barbados, see retirement as the time to do the things that they always wanted to do. They travel, go to the beach for early morning swim sessions, volunteer, take classes etc. If you go to the popular beaches in Barbados early on mornings you will find the beaches filled with retirees just swimming or having breakfast. It’s the time to enjoy life to the fullest.

  • 62 PC August 18, 2016, 4:27 pm

    what @TI describes as

    “multiple solutions besides retiring early …. Some that are likely to deliver far sooner than compounding the savings of a very frugal life over two to three decades. We only live once.” ..

    I see as diversifying my “life” risk – putting everything into reaching FIRE asap seems too risky to me .. trying out other things and learning new things now and gradually reducing the need to work looks like a better bet

  • 63 Financial Samurai August 18, 2016, 4:59 pm

    @ John B – One of the key benefits early retirement is actually NOT having to ever spend another second with people you don’t like and admire.

    You’re not beholden to anybody. And that is the most beautiful thing.


  • 64 PC August 18, 2016, 5:34 pm

    bnt you can’t choose your family .. 😉

  • 65 Financial Samurai August 18, 2016, 6:24 pm

    @PC – Haha, well, the secret there is to NOT tell them you are retired or financially independent. But to instead, practice STEALTH WEALTH.

    A lot of my fellow bloggers have gone online to publicize they are millionaires etc. Good for them. But I’d rather take the stealth route so I keep the optionality of helping others and going about my own business instead of people expecting me to pay for everything.

    I’m going to a blogging conference, and fully expect ALL the millionaire bloggers and bloggers who report tens of thousands of dollars in monthly income to pay the bill! Is that so bad? 🙂


  • 66 ermine August 19, 2016, 10:56 am

    @TI > are people who seem to dislike if not truly hate every moment of their current *working* lives.

    That’s fair enough, though you can be sauntering along thinking everything is fine and that can change all of a sudden. You may be more exposed to that as an employee, but health, changes in fashion and and technological change can affect all.

    People change over a lifetime, if they individuate rather than exist. I retired early for entirely negative reasons, but for the twenty-seven years before I had work that was stretching and satisfying to do at various organisations.

    Having passed most of the decompression process over the last four years if I ask myself now “would I wave a magic wand, ice the crap bit and continue along the original track until I retire normally at 60 in a few years time”

    The answer would have to be no. It would be a waste for me, because I still have years ahead of me where I own my own time where I would be working, and there is plenty of interest to be found for me in the world outside work. I accept totally that the calculation is different for different people. Perhaps I needed the kick to jump me out of a well-worn rut. It was absolutely no fun at the time. But several years more Life at my own bidding – now that is a glittering prize. And I suspect if becomes more glittering as you get older. As a young pup work mattered dreadfully, I loved the international travel, the making things happen, and even in my heart of darkness the fact that when I directed people, more things happened than I could do myself, yes, the power.

    Change is part of Life, to borrow a phrase from Carl Jung, “the psychology of the second half of life is different to that of the first half”, though I would note that the transition is gradual.

    For me, it wouldn’t have been right to retire early at 35, because some of my lifestream still had a song to sing in the Work arena. At 45 would have been ideal, but I was totally unaware of how to go about it or that the need would turn up with the last financial crisis of 07-09. At 48 I was desperate to clear off, although arguably I still had my largest work project ahead of me. I would gladly have given that up to be able to get out of the system, because in the second half of life the focus was shifting away from the outside world largely as Jung described. That project would have been a great one to have done before 35. It was purely an enabling mechanism for me to do what I really wanted to do at 47. I changed.

    What’s great about this site is that it teaches people that they can have options younger than State retirement age, and how to go about making sure they have those options. It seems to touch an existential nerve, this ‘work is of inherent value above and beyond money’ but in the end that doesn’t matter, provided your younger self has given you the options. Mine did, sort of, and I follow the trend to zero work. Jim’s younger self gave him options too, he tried the zero option and it wasn’t to his taste, but he had the choice.

    I’ve been the place where I didn’t think I had options, and that, above all else, is the place that you don’t want to find yourself. It costs your younger self a fair amount of lifestyle eschewed to give your older self those options. Knowing that you will come to value having that choice is the key to taking the actions. How you go about that is what Monevator is all about. But it is important to also know why. So it turned out Jim didn’t need the option. I did need it, arguably RIT does. Knowing that can happen to you may concentrate the mind a little.

  • 67 The Accumulator August 20, 2016, 12:36 pm

    Heartening to read this thread after a particularly hard fortnight in the trenches. Discovering that FI is not for me is my secret nightmare, so always a pleasure to read so many fine, upstanding examples of people who are living it to the full. People who find their jobs socially rewarding and enjoyable must scratch their heads in bewilderment at those frantically tunnelling their way out. If you truly love your work then I think you are blessed but also in the minority. Someone above wisely said that it’s important to know why you want to be FI before you become so. I think that’s very true and it’s a good idea to know what you’re going to do with it too. By the time I’m out, I’m gonna have my game plan mapped like the first 100 days of a new President. It would be great to hear from anyone who’s done it, how they programmed their transition. Or not!

  • 68 The Accumulator August 20, 2016, 12:39 pm

    I dare say this isn’t the end of the Jim story either. Who knows what blend of work and play he’ll end up with in a few years. I don’t see Jim’s as a cautionary tale just a particularly honest account of life’s rollercoaster from a FIRE p-o-v. Personally, I’m predicting I’ll suffer from chronic one-more-year syndrome.

  • 69 PC August 22, 2016, 5:48 pm
  • 70 Kraggash August 22, 2016, 6:07 pm


    Moral: never go for a fight at somewhere called ‘Slaughter Bridge’ (or if you do, make VERY sure you are on the winning side).

  • 71 John B August 22, 2016, 11:46 pm

    @Accumulator after 3 years hating my job, and 2 years of one-more-month delaying tactics, I told my boss I was resigning today, and all my friends that I’ll probably not be working in IT again. All are supportive, but the ones bitten by IT ageism in the past do wonder if anyone losing an IT job at 48 will ever work in the field again. Certainly there is no suggestion that you shouldn’t stop work merely because you can.

    I don’t really have a plan, apart from tidying finances and wresting my job pension from Scottish Widows ASAP. If I had a clear idea what I wanted to do next, I’d have gone long ago.

    So I’m FI, not sure whether it will be RE yet

  • 72 Kraggash August 23, 2016, 9:38 am

    @John B
    It depends very much on your skill set, and what precisely you mean by ‘IT’ (which covers a HUGE field) but, should you wish to keep in the industry, you may find that employers are more ready to take on ‘older’ people on contract than full time. There can be a very nice career there, with a better work/life balance.

    Good luck!

  • 73 John B August 23, 2016, 10:03 am

    @Kraggash I’m a supercomputer expert, so the employers are few, but keen, but TBH I’m bored with the whole field, all too much fiddly detail. I’m FI mainly because of 4 years contracting a few years back. Consulting certainly seems popular with the FIRE community.

  • 74 abandoned cubicle November 7, 2016, 6:20 pm

    Insightful read. Makes me contemplate my own path. The “no regrets” part is what keeps driving me now – knowing I’d prefer to spend time with the kids, and be outdoors. I’m going to back to the Blue Zones studies to dig in a bit for more nuggets of wisdom. In those limited zones of elderly folks living to old age, happily and healthily, it seems none really truly “retire”. They keep working the fields or tending the flocks or tending the grandchildren. Some even perform open heart surgery (one M.D. @ 102 years old!) So, do they have regrets? Maybe. But they certainly have figured something out…

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