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Financial independence – adrift in the vastness

We don’t talk about it often but the reason I’m investing is because I want to be financially independent (FI). I’m a quarter of the way through which is a difficult place to be.

It feels like I’m rowing solo across the Atlantic. The planning is done, the course is set and all I gotta do is row.

Behind me are hundreds of miles of flat, grey ocean. There’s nothing on the horizon. In front of me, are thousands of miles of flat, grey ocean. There’s nothing on the horizon.

It’s hard to tell I’m moving at all.

An ancient mariner would pass the time by juggling mortal danger and hallucinations. A modern mariner has the same options as well as their GPS tracker and calls from home.

All four are needed to keep the rowboat on an even keel.

Keeping the good ship FI on course

Hallucinations

I keep fantasising that I’ve made it. These episodes may or may not be voluntary but they are definitely an attempt by present me to establish a psychic bridge to future me.

My cycle into work on a Monday morning. Full of grief for the weekend life I’ve left behind. How would this ride feel if it were my last day before FI?

How would it feel if, instead of the daily commute, this was my daily exercise jaunt? If in an hour I’ll turn the bike around and head home for breakfast and smiles? To know that feeling is something I’m willing to take some pain for.

The wave of bliss that washes over you on the eve of holiday. A whole week of being me again. Remembering the joy and zest and curiosity that spring from having hours to yourself. Life for life’s sake.

The serendipity of play reclaiming your living space from the ‘to do’ list. Like nature recolonising an ugly city. How sweet is that place?

Whatever it is I’m going through now, it’s worth it because it brings me closer to there.

Calls from home

I need a self-help group. A crowd to cheer me on. Someone waving the flag for my team.

Going for FI is a lonely pursuit. There aren’t many of us out there. I only know two people in my real life who understand what I’m trying to do: Mrs Accumulator and The Investor.

Others can’t wrap their heads around it. Or wonder what I’ll do with the time. Or imagine it’s a huge risk because, well, what if I have a heart attack in a few years?

What if I don’t?

What if I live to age 84 as per the average life expectancy for males who are already 20 years older than me?

So my self-help group has widened to people I’ve never met but who speak wisely about FI:

Among others.

That’s not to mention the Monevator readers who chime in with their progress reports.

They all help me visualise how my FI life will feel. Their happiness (mostly) confirms that this journey really is about the destination. Their full lives dispel any worries about filling the time.

If anyone really believes the hours will be empty, just have a chat with the retirees in your life.

They’re so hectic, you’d think they were trying to win the American Presidency – hurtling around the place on a frenzied roadshow – packing in friends, holidays, grandchildren, hobbies, life.

Y’know, life.

GPS tracker

One of the things that makes FI socially tough is that there are no outward signs of success. If anything it looks like you’re going backwards.

Especially when much-loved possessions look like the love might be killing them.

If you makeover your house, your friends will coo over your freshly gilded splendour.

Voila! Instant validation.

But inviting the neighbours to take a look at your net worth spreadsheet is no way to impress the Jones’s.

So you need to create your own journey planner that joins the dots from first step to FU.

When a task is huge, scary and covered in razor-sharp spikes then chopping it into manageable taskettes is the only way to go.

For me, that means micro-goals, mid-level goals and BHAGs (Big, Hairy, Audacious goals).

Micro-goals mean taking things a step at a time. Focusing all my energies (negative and positive) on the very next task rather than the vast gulf I’ve yet to cover.

This way the internal monologue switches from: “This is impossible” to “If I can just get to the end of today, it’ll be OK.” Or, “If I can just make it to the end of the week, it’ll be OK.”

It’s a cheap trick but it buys off the brain with the promise of imminent reward. The reward might be real, such as switching off from Python-esque work pressures (both crushing and surreal) because you really can’t have given it any more today. Or the reward might be pretend…

I do the same thing when exercising with kettle bells.

Let’s say I want to do 100 clean and push-presses but I know that’s going to be agony. I tell you what, brain, if I do 50 then we’ll call it quits. Honour served.

  • Get to 50. OK, maybe another 25. I can do that.
  • Get to 75. OK, no way I’m stopping now, I can make it to 100.
  • Get to 100. OK, now I’m having a mini heart attack. I’ll stop now.

Every time. This is the opposite of procrastination. Instead of pacifying a panicking brain with distraction, you quell the rebellion by making yourself believe it will all be over soon.

Mid-level goals are my navigable markers. For me, it’s a four-monthly review of net worth and savings to date. Each checkpoint is far enough apart so that I’m rewarded with significant signs of progress, while being close enough together to keep me on track.

The BHAG is a scary goal that keeps things interesting. In my world that amounts to an annual savings rate of 70% measured at the end of March. I made it this year. Fell short last year. Made it the year before that.

Plug your savings rate and a few other key numbers into Networthify’s calculator and you can see how far you are from FI.

Savings Rate = (annual savings / (expenses + annual savings)) x 100.

With a 70% savings rate, 4% expected investment return and 3% anticipated withdrawal rate, I’m done in eight years. With a 4% withdrawal rate I’m done in five and a half.

If I can push the savings rate up to 75% then I can be done in six years with a 3% withdrawal rate. (I consider a 3% withdrawal rate to be much safer than 4%.)

Saving 75% is a big stretch from here, but not impossible.

Mortal danger

I’m not theatrical enough to believe I face much peril in my life but my limbic system acts like there’s sharks everywhere.

Drama is a great way to speed up time, as I discover whenever I hurtle towards a big deadline like it’s the event horizon of a black hole.

But we should draw more comfort than we do from our daily woes. Because, regardless of the adversity we face, we almost always come out the other side.

It’s worth cataloguing all the challenges we didn’t think we could handle but did. We may have been floored for a while, we may have been knocked back, but we got up and kept going.

We’re tougher than we think. We can do it. And that’s the truth.

Take it steady,

The Accumulator

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{ 76 comments… add one }
  • 1 PC May 24, 2016, 9:12 am

    Nice article but it makes me feel sad that you aren’t happy at work now.

    What you describe feels really alien to me and I’m lucky to be able to have found something I enjoy that also pays me a living. FI for me is something I will need when I’m no longer able to work.

  • 2 Michael May 24, 2016, 9:15 am

    With you all the way. I do find that a virtual community – while not a substitute for sitting-down-with-a-pint friends – makes the journey a lot less lonely that it would have been before the internet.

    Also, that’s an extremely impressive savings rate. I’m struggling to reach 45%, and my outgoings are pretty well optimised. Time to focus on making more.

  • 3 oldie May 24, 2016, 9:23 am

    Hi
    I find the sea journey useful, but another picture to visualise is climbing hills. You think you see the top but as you get over the brow you realise there is another peak and is still a little way away. It maybe a different peak.

    It is important in my view to enjoy the journey

  • 4 John from UK Value Investor May 24, 2016, 9:30 am

    The support/community group is an interesting point and is the reason why I started a blog many years ago (and I guess why you started Monevator?).

    But I’ve never really liked the whole save-hard-to-escape-a-crappy-job thing. I know that’s the right answer for a lot of people to the problem of a crappy job, but I always preferred the Steve Jobs approach:

    “I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”

    Which for me has mostly meant quitting the crappy job and heading off to do something else, either similar but for a different firm, or completely different. It doesn’t always work out, but it certainly leads to an interesting set of memories rolling around inside your head.

  • 5 ermine May 24, 2016, 9:37 am

    FI is that good, indeed better. But look after yourself. Six to eight years is getting on for 10% of your life and a bigger part of your adult life. Remember to take care of yourself and live a little bit across the intercession too. You are doing all the right things, but keeping balance is also key.

    I didn’t get that balance right, but I had only three years to bridge. You started chasing FI earlier in your working life, but paradoxically that means balance is much more important for you. Anyone can sweat through a few years of privation if they want the result hard enough. Doing that for six or more risks burnout. Though you seem a more balanced fellow all round so perhaps the best I can say is good luck, well done and keep up the good work. The FI view is well worth the climb…

  • 6 The Investor May 24, 2016, 9:37 am

    @John — Morning! 🙂 You write:

    I guess why you started Monevator… But I’ve never really liked the whole save-hard-to-escape-a-crappy-job thing.

    Remember there are *two* main writers of articles at Monevator (I know it’s not always clear, especially if you get the posts by email), myself and “The Accumulator” (TA). Plus some guest stars.

    Anyway issue you raise about the ‘escape the crappy job thing’ is interestingly one of the biggest differences between me and TA, and we’ve robustly discussed it.

    I’m with you, and think it makes some sense to try to find something you enjoy doing or can at least tolerate with equanimity. I’ve switched what I do 3-4 times for that reason. But I do appreciate (as I’m sure you might) that not everybody feels they have the same options, especially if they want to keep earning at a high enough level to keep the FI dream alive… So a bit of a Faustian pact seems to come into play.

    Here’s something I wrote on the subject.

  • 7 PC May 24, 2016, 9:42 am

    @JOhn You put it much better than I did – and yes it has lead to me doing lots of different things, including short spells of nothing much when things didn’t work out.

  • 8 The Rhino May 24, 2016, 11:41 am

    Well, its the RIT approach – only really justifiable if you get paid a whole heap of cash

    I think theres something to be said for it, i.e. having the grit to stick it out, but I wouldn’t do it. A bit like being impressed by someone really slogging their guts in the tour de france or suchlike, then realising just how miserable it is when you go and try to climb mont ventoux yourself.

    I have actually tried, (shit job, not mont ventoux) but my subconcious managed to jeopardize it and quit while my conscious wasn’t looking

    That said, I think if you do manage to get on the ‘enjoyable’ career train you have to acknowledge that although you may have aimed for it, you’ve also probably been a bit lucky..

  • 9 Parky May 24, 2016, 12:00 pm

    Isn’t the networthify calculator you link to fundamentally flawed? It assumes that your expenses in retirement are the same as they are currently. That’s bonkers – right now I have a mortgage, kids to pay for etc. When I retire my mortgage will be paid off, & kids will have moved out (I hope) and so on. So my expenses will be much less. It really should have a separate field to allow you to specify your expected/desired expenses in retirement, so it can show you how to achieve that.

  • 10 weenie May 24, 2016, 12:36 pm

    Mr Money Mustache opened my eyes to the world of aiming for FI/retiring early.

    Along the way, I came across Monevator which showed me ‘how’ I could do it, ie via investing (so a big thanks go to you and TI!)

    The FI/PF blogging community does mean that aiming for FI is not so lonely but as Michael says, it’s not quite a substitute for sitting down with a pint with friends.

    However, I have actually shared a pint or two with fellow like-minded FI wannabes on a few FIRE Escape gatherings arranged by Huw (from Financially Free by Forty), including Jim (SexHealthMoneyDeath).

    The people I’ve met are of different ages, different stages of their lives but all are striving for FI (or living it, in Jim’s case) – some closer than others, some (like me) only in the early years of our own journeys. I didn’t get the impression from any of them that they hated their jobs; just that reaching FI will get them ‘choices’, ie continue with work, stop working, change jobs etc.

    If you’re interested, I believe Huw will be organising another gathering in the summer.

    Anyway, I’m with oldie – I see the journey as climbing hills and I am enjoying the view as I go along!

  • 11 IanH May 24, 2016, 1:08 pm

    An engaging reflection on your FI voyage. Take heart that you have built yourself a seaworthy vessel and know where you are going, and will reach that distant shore in a few years – 6 or 7 maybe. Barely a blink of the eye you will find once your perspective is reversed and you look back on your trip. My daughter took on a challenge like that in reality – cycled from London to Auckland – which astonished me. But day be day and week by week she toddled along with her boyfriend and 18 months later they were on the marina in Auckland sipping a well deserved beer. check it out : https://worldcyclingtour.org/ Now it seems like a dream to me, but there are the photos.

    I think tough journeys in life are achieveable when you know the destination and have some idea of the timescale involved. Maybe most people don’t have a destination, or lack suitable vessel to deliver them safely there, but bob around in life’s currents and drift along.

    I think another benefit of a relatively short term FI goal (<10 years vs 30+) is that the work landscape and ones place in it may be relatively stable over that period. In my experience I was totally dependant on enthusiasm for my work, but over time the work environment seemed to change in ways that sucked the enthusiasm out of me – Ermine had the same kind of experience I think. But being reliant on enthusiasm to remain happy in work I lacked the gritty drive and determination you seem to have to fall back on to see me through to the end. So I was looking at another 7 years which would feel more like drowning than waving. Luckily I was within a few strokes of the beach, and dragged myself out of the surf spluttering and gasping before my leaky little raft was dashed on the rocks. I am currently working out how to build a little shack on the beach with its cracked spars and, though still a bit shaky, relief at surviving is giving way to a renewed interest in exploring my surroundings and finding out what this new land might have to offer.

    Bon Voyage!

  • 12 dearieme May 24, 2016, 2:17 pm

    “you have to acknowledge that although you may have aimed for it, you’ve also probably been a bit lucky”: anyone who has got what he aimed for, whatever it may have been, and denies the role of luck is being a vain chump.

  • 13 Financial Samurai May 24, 2016, 2:37 pm

    @ The Investor,

    After all these years, I didn’t realize there were TWO of you writing! The writer I’m most familiar w/ is the one who didn’t buy real estate, but who is doing fine, is in his late 30s, and lives in London. That’s you right?

    What are the key attributes of The Accumulator? 1/4 of the way there… does that mean The Accumulator is around 25-30 years old and just getting started? If so, you can check out my post on FI and how it feels like to get an idea.

    Achieving FI sooner, rather than later should be a fun goal. It becomes counterproductive if it is an arduous journey, because when you get to FI, you might just tell yourself “Is this it?” But you will look back on the journey with fondness. Trust me on this!

    Financial Samurai is a early financial independence blog that seldom ever talks about early FI anymore b/c it’s about what you do with your time to enjoy life that matters most.

    Sam

  • 14 The Rhino May 24, 2016, 2:53 pm

    @FinSam – haha yes its not immediately obvious – it took me a good few years to twig what was going on. I just thought Mr Monevator was suffering from some acute form of schizophrenia. It is mentioned in the about page, but its still not massively clear even in there..

  • 15 Tedious Pseudonym May 24, 2016, 3:25 pm

    The thing that seems largely unwritten is “to what end”? Assuming for a moment that you’re intending to “retire” in your 40s, what would you do with yourself? Do you hate your career that much – in which case why on earth don’t you just do something else?

    I appreciate that independence is not the same thing as retirement, but it seems to be frequently implied.

    I did “retire” in my early thirties and it was both boring in the main and mind bendingly expensive in the rest. A lesson learnt.

  • 16 The Rhino May 24, 2016, 3:57 pm

    @TP its a fair point – I do think there is an FI achilles heel in here somewhere which you have to think about carefully.

    I think of the FI goal as being a means to financially de-risk your life over time in order that you can incrementally evolve it to be ever more in tune with your individual values.

    In other words, as you become less financially burdened you become freed up to make decisions and take opportunities that suit you but would otherwise have been financially nonviable.

  • 17 vanguardfan May 24, 2016, 3:57 pm

    When I was younger my ultimate goal was to find a job I enjoyed that paid ‘enough’ – and I put a lot of effort into achieving that goal. My most lucrative decision was to get a passport to a well paid but socially useful profession. Since then, all my decision points have basically involved trading money for more time, in order to ensure that I don’t have too many Steve Jobs bad days (I hadn’t heard that quote before, but I think it is very wise – and memento mori, above all else). I cannot imagine choosing a job just because it paid well – and I don’t think I’d last 5 minutes in a megacorp management position or anywhere near the City…

    I suppose I was a little naive in believing that I could find fulfillment through my work. Or perhaps, like Ermine, the work environment has shifted around me such that even professional well paid work has become more of a ‘wage slave’ metrics driven hamster wheel and less something people can find enjoyment and purpose (and most importantly, autonomy) within. Or perhaps its an inevitable consequence of reaching a point in the organisational hierarchy where you realise that status in the workplace isn’t all that…

    Anyway I find myself accidentally FI, about 10 years sooner than planned (insofar as I had a plan) and pondering what one does in that situation. Its taking a while to loosen myself from the job – I’m trading in another tranche of money for time imminently – but somehow I can’t imagine not earning anything. I expect I’ll get over that at some point 😉

  • 18 Planting Acorns May 24, 2016, 4:19 pm

    Regards the TA / TI discussion I’m surprised… Maybe it’s just easier to see on the mobile

    @TA … I used to hate my job, really hate it, but I fell in with a guy who just loves life and a little bit of it rubbed off. He got up one morning and didn’t have any shirts to wear, turned to me and said ” Got to iron a shirt, sweet, gives me an activity to do before my shower”. I try and apply that ridiculous attitude to every aspect of my life and believe it or not you can have happier outcomes from the same inputs 😉

  • 19 @algernond May 24, 2016, 4:31 pm

    @Planting Acorns
    Something a bit different happened with me. I got up one morning and thought, ‘Sod it, I hate shirts, and I’m not going to wear them anymore’. Now work is much more enjoyable.

  • 20 Neverland May 24, 2016, 4:33 pm

    @Tedious Pseudonym

    You can have the best, most satisfying career in the world and be but one step away from it being taken away from you

    At that unlucky point the financially independent have the option to do nothing for as long they like

    Anyone else will not

  • 21 The Rhino May 24, 2016, 5:08 pm

    @algernond – You go into work naked? That is awesome! I bet your a big hit with the opposite sex..

  • 22 The Accumulator May 24, 2016, 6:21 pm

    Another great thread and thanks for the encouragement all.

    I’m not a big believer in the live every day like it’s your last approach to life – ha, I guess no saver nor investor can be. How many people would really go into an office – any office – even if it’s the office where ipads were invented – if they were down to their last few hours.

    Contemporary society requires most of us to specialise and devote vast amounts of energy and time to a niche set of activities. I think there’s more to life than that which is why FI is so attractive to me.

    The idea that we’re meant to enjoy our jobs on top of everything else – I think that’s largely a modern myth that flies in the face of the reality for most people. If you love your job and can’t imagine doing anything else with the bulk of your time then that’s amazing and something to cherish.
    Most jobs will have some highs, plenty of lows and long periods of grind. Do people really want to spend 8, 10 or 14 hours separated from those they love, from things they love, from play? Research into our happiness and wellbeing levels suggests not.

    Living a FI writes well on encountering much the same set of problems – especially politics – at every workplace. Changing job may be a cure but I tend to think it’s just treating the symptoms.

    @ IanH – love the image of you expending your last to make it to the beach. Great extension of the metaphor 🙂

    @ Tedious – FI to me doesn’t imply spending my time playing golf or lying on the beach. There’s so much to do: learning new skills, building a house, volunteering, goofing around, travelling, playing sport, cooking, reading, learning a language, hanging out with friends, writing, making things… If all that leaves me bored then I’ll just shoot myself in the head 😉

  • 23 Mathmo May 24, 2016, 7:30 pm

    Outstanding post, TA. Excellent!

    On the “jam tomorrow” debate — I’m a fan of enjoying life now (and that’s more than enjoying your job — make time for yourself at all stages of your life) and live deliberately: it’s all you can do with the time you’ve got. Of course — we all get caught up in the whirl and forget to do things for ourselves, but it’s worth pausing and getting back on track from time to time.

    While FI is a great destination, the journey is a good one.

  • 24 PC May 24, 2016, 7:34 pm

    Some jam today and some tomorrow is my aim.

  • 25 dearieme May 24, 2016, 8:08 pm

    “Do people really want to spend 8, 10 or 14 hours separated from those they love, from things they love, from play?” Some people contrive to get paid to do what they’d do free, as “play”.

  • 26 The Rhino May 24, 2016, 8:18 pm

    “A master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between his work and his play; his labor and his leisure; his mind and his body; his education and his recreation. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence through whatever he is doing, and leaves others to determine whether he is working or playing. To himself, he always appears to be doing both.” — Lawrence Pearsall Jacks

    A shit load of jam the whole time sounds pretty compelling..

  • 27 Jim McG May 24, 2016, 8:32 pm

    Just to say thanks for being part of my self-help group that nudged me toward the notion of FI and RE. Prior to discovering sites like this I’d never really focused on the end game of investing for myself, it was just something I did. Saving and investing felt constructive, like I was achieving something outside of working for a living. When it dawned on me that I had accumulated enough to actually quit my job it was a bit of an epiphany, and for a couple of years I couldn’t quite believe it. But sites like this helped support my notions and I began to think it was a positive move to make. Discovering the wider community of British bloggers, as Weenie alludes to above, was also an inspiration although I couldn’t resist having a go about blogging about the downsides of Early Retirement. Every silver lining has a cloud, and I wouldn’t be a Scotsman living in Yorkshire without trying to point this out. Keep up the great work providing the information, education and entertainment on a weekly basis though, I’m sure a lot of us are relying on it! Cheers.

  • 28 @algernond May 24, 2016, 10:34 pm

    @The Rhino
    I haven’t quite gone that far yet. I mean I don’t wear shirts with those nasty collars & buttons.

  • 29 theFIREstarter May 24, 2016, 11:20 pm

    Great to read your thoughts as usual TA.

    One thing I’m surprised at is that you’re only 1/4 the way through your voyage?!

    I had you down as someone very nearly there or at least someone who has been on the journey for longer than that would suggest.

    You’ve been writing for Monevator for as long as I can remember (been reading about 3 years) so with a 70% savings rate that means you only started saving about 3 years ago? Is that really the case or are my assumptions or calculations way off?!

    I would second weenies suggestion of going to an FI meetup if you wanted a more tangible form of support network, or simply just want to chat in person about investing and all the other things that FI’ers seem to have in common. I’ve only been to two but they’re pretty chilled out and everyone very pleasant!

  • 30 theFIREstarter May 24, 2016, 11:24 pm

    Not sure I made my point clear when saying about you writing for Monevator. I meant it would surprise me that someone who had just started investing for FI would get a gig writing for an investment site such as this, and also I’m sure you’ve been writing for much longer than 3 years anyway. So come on what gives, did you accidentally go and buy a Tesla S earlier this year 😉

  • 31 FIREplanter May 24, 2016, 11:50 pm

    Ahh. Our motivations for FIRE are really important. For me, I realise No one can do a job forever, everyone has to retire at some point. And it is likely for circumstances to dictate your retirement (age, health, layoff) that you can never predict and choose. Such is the uncertainty in life. I prefer to have the option to be FI and ‘retire’ on my own terms at my own choice. I think if it comes down to it, the escape artist put it in a very good analogy: Basically in all our jobs, we are all working for The Man, even CEOs of big companies. Once we get to FI, we escape from this prison camp and we live for ourselves. I agree that given a choice many people would not choose to stay in their jobs that they find a grind day to day. However I believe people can achieve happiness whilst working too and having FI and the flexibility/option to step away can have a very profound mental release for us all even if we choose to stay at work.

    I like the description of the rowing across the vast wide ocean alone. I prefer to think that there are many many others out here fellow strugglers rowing along with me, some ahead of me, some after me and sharing our struggles help us push ourselves that bit more and gives us signposts as we rowing down the same path!

    Hope to see you all at the island of Escapees!

  • 32 Andrew May 25, 2016, 8:25 am

    On the “work crappy job vs retire later” question I definitely think the Accumulator has a point that for most people doing a job you love every day is unlikely to happen. My solution is to (hopefully) move to working 4 days a week. It will inevitably slow down FI a long way but I like to think of it as having part time early retirement already. There are a lot of people I know who say it can’t be done in my line of work (financial services) but hopefully I’m about to prove them wrong!

  • 33 Jaygti May 25, 2016, 8:49 am

    I only work 4 (long) days a week now, and have done so for the past 6 years.

    It’s pushed my retirement back from 55ish to around about 60. I’ve never once regretted it though. It’s the perfect balance.
    Of course you have to have an employer who will allow it ( mine only works 4 days too ), but it’s well worth asking if you can.

  • 34 PC May 25, 2016, 8:58 am

    @Jaygti

    I know a few people in IT in financial services who work 4 days a week. Definitely worth asking, they never offer it ..

  • 35 dawn May 25, 2016, 10:10 am

    I echo PC and Neverland comments.
    I do feel sorry for people that really hate their jobs/careers.
    Your either in the wrong job or you need to change your attitude towards your work, in my opinion. Dont you think weve all been given gifts talents that are needed out here in the world to make it all turnover. If everyone was FI early and doing as they liked there be no food on the shelves in Asda, no Doctors avaliable to help us when were sick, no police to sort out crime. etc
    Im all for FI as we need a back up plan in life and we all will have to give up work at some point so we need our portfolios.

  • 36 Playing with Fire May 25, 2016, 10:36 am

    @dawn

    Alternatively, imagine if everyone was FI, and only did the work/activities that they found genuinely satisfying.

    You’d have the doctors that wanted to be doctoring, the police who wanted to be policing, and everyone would be doing it for the love of the job because they’d prefer to do that than sit at home.

    Asda wouldn’t be able to pay shelf stacker crap wages and threaten them with hunger if they didn’t play along. They’d probably need to buy some robots to stack the shelves, but why should people be doing a robot’s (repetitive and physically demanding) work anyway?

    And if my particular talents don’t lend themselves to paid work, but make life better for people, if I am FI I can do that without fear of losing a wage. There is a difference between work that is valuable and work that is (well) compensated.

    I’ve gone through phases of both loving and hating work; while it’s great to have a job you love, you’re only a new boss or company takeover away from an awful job.

  • 37 The Investor May 25, 2016, 11:17 am

    @Sam @All — Yes, I (TI) started the site and wrote exclusively for it for the first 3-4 years, then as I got ever more active with my investing (which I do not think is the right approach for most people) I was very glad to get The Accumulator (TA) on-board to take over most of the passive mantel.

    TA was a friend before Monevator and a superb writer as long as I’ve known him. It’s true though that he came to this financial journey later in life. However I didn’t see that as a downside — quite the opposite.

    I’m one of those people who left University with some of my grant (i.e. I wasn’t from a wealthy background!) in a high interest savings account. I’ve never been in debt, not even a mortgage, and I find saving and investing trivially easy. It’s genetic, surely.

    Most people are not like this, and it’s probably not very interesting to read someone saying “hey it’s easy!” if that’s you.

    In contrast, TA has seen both sides of the fence, and he’s had to work at his mindset. (Despite his protestations I suspect he still does need to work at it now and then — perhaps that’s what the protestations are for! 😉 And he’s a very passionate, all-or-nothing sort of guy).

    So I think he has been ideal in his role on Monevator, both because of his passive passion (which has expanded his knowledge over the years to the point where I think he’s probably one of the most informed writers on the subject in the UK) and because he’s a man of the people.

    I’m an investing nut job who finds saving and investing easy, and considers stock picking and reading company reports play. Most of you wouldn’t want to read a Monevator written only by me (although equally I know very many of the earlier readers did drift off over the years as the active stuff has been dialed back in favour of the passive).

    And yes, I am the idiot who never bought the flat (and I was urging TA to buy his own place way back in the mid-1990s! Which, under his own good judgement of course, he soon enough did. 🙂 )

    @TheRhino — I love that Jacks quote. It totally describes me and my investing activities. Perhaps I should go easier on myself. 😉

  • 38 The Rhino May 25, 2016, 12:01 pm

    Well I just nicked it from Jacobs site. It is a nice one, sticks in the mind..

    As is the other one from heinlein on specialization..

    “A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, sail a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.” —Robert A. Heinlein

    I think its good to alternate between going easy and going hard on yourself, variety in all things (except the wife)

  • 39 L May 25, 2016, 12:58 pm

    I’m with the firestarter on this one – I’m surprised that you’re only 25% of the way there TA!

    I’m 20% there with no real effort beyond saving up for a mortgage deposit and sticking with pensions for the last 13-14 years.

    Are you one of these people who does all kinds of mental accounting gymnastics to ignore some of the wealth that’s in front of you so that there’s plenty of upside (I’ll ignore my home equity, emergency fund because x)?

  • 40 Mr Zombie May 25, 2016, 2:12 pm

    Excellent reading 🙂

    It’s good to affirm every now and then that there others out there on the ocean, making the same incrementally slow journey. We just can’t see them – communication via the internet radio only.

    “… inviting the neighbours to take a look at your net worth spreadsheet is no way to impress the Jones’s” – just the FI Jones’ 😀

    But, back to the start, to your point about hallucinating about the destination. I do this a fair amount, sometime as I drift off to sleep, as I walk through the park on the way to work, on the bog, on a Saturday morning.

    My initial reaction is always “whoa Mr Z, stop living in the future, live in the now. LIIIIVE!”. But the hallucinations are also positive, just like an athlete visualising the victory, I think visualising FI is a very powerful tool in helping us to achieve that goal.

    Not only achieve it, but start getting prepared for it at the same time. It would be shortsighted to presume that FI will lead to an instantly happy life, it’s not just the absence of work that makes it attractive. If it is, maybe you’re just lazy 😉 It seems, to me, that it’s much more about removing income from that equation and seeing where that leaves you

    Mr Z

  • 41 The Accumulator May 25, 2016, 10:44 pm

    Loving this thread…

    @ Rhino – I think that’s a great model to aspire to. Much more doable if you’re incredibly talented, lucky, courageous or don’t need to work for your daily bread. Jacob’s model is the Renaissance Man. I guess there were far more of those among the independently wealthy than the indentured peasantry.

    @ JimMcG – Proud to have been of some assistance. You’re the only person I know who regularly blogs on the downsides of FI and it’s making me think hard. I have a feeling I’m vulnerable to the same doubts (never happy and guess what, I’m a Scot too). You’re helping prepare me.

    @ Fireplanter – I fully agree that once you have options the workplace may feel very different. There are countless posts out there from people who’ve felt rejuvenated once they’ve asserted a greater measure of control. I’m almost certain to carry on working in some capacity after FI but the balance will be different.

    @ Dawn – I think people are happy to work and want to work – even FI-ers – but the question is: under what terms? I fully agree with Playing With Fire’s comments and would add that’s what makes recent debate about Universal Income so interesting. With the essentials covered, many people feel empowered to start new businesses, leave abusive relationships, work for good causes that wouldn’t have previously sustained them financially. Many of the FI-ers I read about aren’t doing nothing. They are contributing, but on their terms.

    @ Firestarter & L & Sam – Yes, you’re right, 3 years into the 10-year plan this Aug. The 6 years before that – everything went into paying off the mortgage. That was objective no 1. Tapping in to the FI community made me realise that independence was possible, paying off the mortgage made me believe we (Mrs Accumulator and I) had the gumption do it. I see the two as separate objectives which I guess is the mental accounting backflippery L identifies. The Investor and I have near come to blows over the ‘your house is an asset debate’. I agree that it is, but it’s not on the table cos we want to live in it. We don’t want to downsize. It could be a source of income through a reverse mortgage in the future so let’s put it in the back-up plan bucket. Emergency fund is emergency fund. That can become part of FI plans once there’s no more chance of an emergency.

    Before that, I barely had a pension. No Tesla S. More like a Nissan Skyline. Then I had a Damascene Conversion. A bit late, but thank god it came.

    An FI meetup sounds like fun. Who should I contact?

    @ Mr Z – I couldn’t agree more. I feel like I’m living in the now but working towards goals on multi-levels: day-to-day, mid-term, long-term (that one being FI). Expenditure is largely disconnected from pleasure for me, so I’m pretty happy with what I have most of the time. I try and make the most of the hours that I have, I’d just like more time to broaden my horizons. Is putting 12 hours a week into a blog the best use of my time for example? Should I be pitching manure or butchering a hog instead (thanks, Rhino) – there’s always another candy to try.

    Recently I came across some very simple but powerful advice: “Remember to be grateful for what you have.” I find that helps a lot.

  • 42 The Escape Artist May 25, 2016, 11:59 pm

    TI – All the best with the rowing…and if you ever feel like stopping for a beer / coffee and a chat in the real world, please just email me – TEA

  • 43 The Escape Artist May 26, 2016, 6:18 am

    Sorry, that last comment should have been addressed to The Accumulator (TA). I knew there were 2 of you guys! All the best to both of you and keep up the good work. TEA

  • 44 Mroptimistic May 26, 2016, 6:42 am

    The concept of financial freedom doesn’t work for me as I suspect that the worriers amongst us can always imagine a scenario which brings everything to risk. For example, a few years of high inflation for those of us about to enjoy middle sized DB pensions with a 5% inflation cap. Then, if you have children, the desire to help and leave something to help them is unconstrained, more would always be better. The possibilities of starvation and penury are not the only threat.

  • 45 Financial Samurai May 26, 2016, 7:02 am

    @ The Investor – I always thought you just had a little bit of split personality that’s all! haha.

    @ The Accumulator – Don’t worry about only being 25% of the way there. Times your time by 4 and you will be 100% there! But I bet you will look back and miss the journey and say “is this it?”

    You might also suffer for the “one more year syndrome” where you just keep on going (linked post). My blog is about financial independence as they come. It’s part of my tagline! But I’m not identified as one because financial independence is NOT always talking about financial independence!

    Financial independence is about all the things you do once you are financially independent.

    Sam

  • 46 theFIREstarter May 26, 2016, 9:16 am

    I would still like the believe that TA is actually a Tyler Durden style figment of TI’s mind, despite all the protestations that they are in fact two different real life people 🙂

    @TA – Just go over to Huw’s blog at Financially Free by Forty for more info on the meetups, although I can’t see anything on there about the next one yet.

    Of course there is nothing stopping Monevator hosting their own meetup in the meantime. I’m sure that would be wildly popular (maybe too popular!!!) if you guys or guy 😉 were to try to set something up. I remember reading something about TI wanting to remain staunchly anonymous so maybe that would be one for TA to take the reigns with…?

    Where are you based, it was down in the west country from memory or am I way off with that (I usually am when it comes down to things I’ve remembered!)

  • 47 theFIREstarter May 26, 2016, 9:22 am

    P.s. So icing the mortgage first is the missing piece of the puzzle then… nice work with that! And that enables you to achieve the 70% savings rate and cuts down your timeline to FI considerably from “The Start” just 3 years ago.

    Another way of looking at it then, if it helps psychologically at all, would be that you are actually 9 years in to your voyage because many people would start the journey to FI with a mortgage seriously dragging on their financial situation (as I have done), and also let’s face it that is when you started saving hard, you were just investing it into paying off your mortgage rather than stocks.

    So in light of that I make you just over the half way stage.

    Congrats! 🙂

  • 48 The Rhino May 26, 2016, 9:31 am

    More TSOL lectures is the way forward, get TI and TA doing one, like a morecambe and wise double act. TEA – how did yours go?

    If you really want to push the boat then do a TED.. that would be impressive

  • 49 weenie May 26, 2016, 10:18 am

    @theFIREstarter

    “I would still like the believe that TA is actually a Tyler Durden style figment of TI’s mind, despite all the protestations that they are in fact two different real life people”

    Haha, brilliant! I will now have that image in my mind as I read future posts on here! What’s the first rule of FIght Club? 🙂

  • 50 L May 26, 2016, 10:34 am

    @TA – I knew it!

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