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FIRE update: third year anniversary

FIRE update: third year anniversary post image

I have a confession to make. I’ve unFIRE’d myself. For the last six months, I’ve taken on so many paid projects I’m effectively working full-time.

I’ve always done some work since declaring FIRE. Including Monevator, those side projects have kept me slaving over a hot laptop for two or three days a week.

I enjoyed a balance that:

  • Anchored my week
  • Made the freedom of my other days taste like ice-cream
  • Provided a trickle of pocket-money to blow guilt-free

But this is different. I returned to work because I needed the money. And this extra work is squeezing out time I’d prefer to spend on other things.

What happened? Did I miss my old 5.30am starts, back-to-back meetings, and ridiculous targets plucked out of the P&L owner’s backside?


Renovating the house happened. Doing up our money pit turned into a black hole of unforeseen expenses. A swirling vortex sucking in everything with a pound sign on it:

  • The war chest I’d initially set aside for the fix-uppery
  • All our extra pocket money
  • Then, finally, the bridging cash that was tiding me over until I could raid my SIPP

Cash and burn

I don’t want to make it sound like I was an innocent victim in all of this.

Sorting the house could have been done more cheaply. Shortcuts could have been taken. We could have papered over many of the cracks and crossed our fingers. The final result could have been less ‘nice’.

Mrs Accumulator, for one, did not want me to burn the bridging cash.

But I argued for a different perspective:

This is our forever home.

We spend a lot of time in it.

We love it.

Our property is very old. It has a lot of problems we can resolve here and now (probably).

The interior is just dying for want of TLC.

So let’s just fix everything we can in a one-er. Let’s make it look the way we’d talked about on so many walks, late evenings, and envious Internet browses.

Let’s feel really good about living here for the rest of our lives.

And if we have to compromise anything, then let’s not compromise the house. Let’s compromise my FIRE status for a time. FIRE will keep. I can come back to it.

Mrs TA was not won over, but she reluctantly agreed. And she does love the final result. As do I.

So I think it was worth it. Even though I’m still feeling the heat of the backlash.

FIRE alarm

Part of the heat came from The Investor. He gave me a proper grilling about my U-turn.

“Is FIRE not all it’s cracked up to be, then?”

“Are you secretly missing work?”

“Has inflation made a mockery of your numbers?”

Here’s how I feel about it:

Unretirement shouldn’t take more than a year of my life, if I’ve done my sums right. (That’s a sizeable ‘if’.)

Also, I’ve got something I really wanted out of it. A home I’m very happy with, and that I’m loving living in every day.

The work itself is fine. It’s not like my old job. No 5.30am starts, back-to-back meetings, or ridiculous targets. And I’m working for some very nice people. It’s been fun to meet them all. I enjoy working with them.

I choose my hours, I’m given all the autonomy I could ask for, and there’s no commute.

For all those reasons, this doesn’t feel like the grind I previously escaped from.

The problem with my old gig was that it took everything I had and I only felt like I lived in the holidays.

The current arrangement still means I can goof off whenever I like, as long as I get the job done.

Burning my bridges

I’m not pretending this is FIRE. It’s not. There’s only seven days in a week and I’ve lost the balance that FIRE gave me. But I should have recharged the savings account after 12 months, and I’ll be able to rebalance my life again.

For what it’s worth and to address TI’s main point, I’m not worried about inflation now that it’s subsiding. Our underlying portfolio can still support the income Mrs TA and I need.

The only hitch is it’s all locked up in SIPPs and I can’t personally touch mine for [*checks watch*] two years, a few months, some days, and 43 seconds.

Keep the faith

So there you go. That’s what happened.

I’d like to add that – when I was working towards FIRE – I got very disappointed whenever someone in the community went back to work. I suppose it made me worry that FIRE was a mirage.

I don’t think FIRE is a mirage. If you’re on the FIRE path then I say – loudly – “stick with it!”

I’ve gone off-piste for personal reasons related to my values and circumstances. I’d rather not have to, but I’ve temporarily sacrificed FIRE to achieve a goal that I hope will make me happy for decades to come. I think that’s a fair swap.

Take it steady,

The Accumulator

P.S. Our FIRE budget for 2023-24 was £27,600 for two. Actual spend minus one-off renovation costs: £26,200. 

{ 56 comments… add one }
  • 1 Brod June 4, 2024, 11:29 am

    @TA – oh well, best laid plans of mice and that.

    I think it’s the right call. FIRE is an aspiration, not a demanding and jealous God.

  • 2 Lee Briggs June 4, 2024, 11:37 am


    You don’t have to apologise for making changes due to personal circumstances.

    I’m in exactly the same position, need costly renovations on the house and post Covid/Brexit building work is very expensive. I will be going part-time at work soon instead of retiring early and whilst I’ve got the money for the renovation I will still have a mortgage and by working I can pay the mortgage whilst not touching retirement funds.

  • 3 old_eyes June 4, 2024, 11:40 am

    Yep! It is the difference between the FI and RE parts of FIRE. To un-RE because you have an attractive project, or because you want some money for a specific need is fine in my view. The point is that, by your own admission, you did not HAVE to go back to work. You could have done less work on the house or spent less on it. Your choice – and the value of FI. It puts you in control. Control you did not have when you had to get up at 05:30 to pay for the roof over your head and the food on the table.

    The sense of choice and control is the bit I have always enjoyed.

  • 4 ermine June 4, 2024, 11:44 am

    That early part pre-55 with the SIPP silo locked up is always going to lead to a squeeze just before. Commiserations on the remodelling overrun!

    > I can’t personally touch mine for [*checks watch*] two years, a few months, some days, and 43 seconds.

    Let’s hope it stays that way with a change of regime – fingers crossed!

  • 5 xxd09 June 4, 2024, 11:54 am

    I think houses are something else!
    We all need one to keep out the rain,cold and where I live -the wind !-but that’s it-I never built a house for a car ie a garage etc etc
    If I had ever made so much money that I couldn’t invest it in my ISA and SIPP tax free wrappers because they were full- I might extend the house
    That didn’t happen,3 kids and retiring at 57,wife at 59 set the parameters
    Now the cottage is just right for 2 old (78) retirees who had saved enough to never work again,travel and really do what we wanted
    Lived in the same cottage for 53 years-is that sensible? -financially as it turned out -yes
    All very personal and down to an individual’s own circumstances

  • 6 Sarah June 4, 2024, 11:58 am

    I think a lot of people see FIRE as some sort of all-or-nothing thing, like you reach your cut-off point, take the leap, and there’s no take-backsies afterwards, otherwise you feel like you’ve ‘failed’.

    Personally, I view it as less of a retirement date and more of a freedom date – freedom to make better decisions for yourself and your family moving forwards. Sometimes that will involve more time to enjoy life and sometimes it will involve needing extra money to chase bigger goals. But after FIRE you at least have the ability to control work rather than work controlling you.

    To me that’s the real goal, and I think it’s a little naïve of people to expect that their personal circumstances won’t change over the course of their lives. So while you might be working again, I don’t see that as a failure as much as an example of the flexibility that FIRE allows for people to focus on what’s important to them in life. I wish you all the luck with your money pit!

  • 7 Ashu Chowdhry June 4, 2024, 12:33 pm

    Sounds like the right decision for the right reasons. For us FI was always going to be a one way street, so our compromise was on the RE. We started the process towards retirement from 55 by taking a six month ‘sabbatical’, followed by 6 years of contract working with breaks. Through to full retirement now at 61, with a SWR of 3.3% and a healthy rainy day fund. Worked for us.

  • 8 Paul_a38 June 4, 2024, 12:33 pm

    £27600 isn’t that far off two state pensions is it ? Are you planning on that budget indefinitely? Seems frugal.

  • 9 Scott June 4, 2024, 12:46 pm

    It’s the third anniversary, third *year* anniversary is a redundancy. I’m noticing this more and more, particularly with bands performing anniversary tours or commemorating when a record was released. Would of expected better from a journalistic website such as this (*a prize to the first reader to point out the intentional mistake 🙂 )

  • 10 Richard Dastardly June 4, 2024, 12:58 pm

    What a disappointing post. Going back to work to do up the house to keep up with the Jones’. Isn’t this almost the antithesis to FIRE?

    Ps there’s no such thing as a ‘forever’ home.

  • 11 Rhino June 4, 2024, 1:23 pm

    Haha, everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face right.
    Last line, budget Vs actual expenses begs the question, what the hell were the renovation costs? As TI pointed out to me a while back, one off costs aren’t one off costs, they are just costs.
    If work is enjoyable then why not, variety and control is the key.
    So many FIREees have gone back to work it doesn’t bother me any more.

  • 12 PC June 4, 2024, 1:47 pm

    Sounds fair enough.

    I’m doing something similar, although I am just at retirement age. I’ve not been working for the past 6 months and I’m about to start a new contract for 6 to 12 months.

    I’m in the fortunate position to have had a choice to stop work but I don’t really want to and the money will come in useful for work that needs doing on the house.

    In FIRE terms I’ve failed. I’ll be retiring late. But it suits me fine.

  • 13 The Investor June 4, 2024, 1:51 pm

    @Richard Dastardly — A sense of disappointment is understandable (and @TA anticipated it himself in his post) and I also share with @Rhino some misgivings about the budget here, especially pre-FIRE. (This isn’t news, I’ve always been a bit sceptical of no-work very early frugal/lean FIRE, as much debated on Monevator before).

    However I can put your mind to rest about the Joneses, knowing the pretty reclusive Accumulators as I do.

    The Joneses might get a peek through the window (with a long enough ladder) but they won’t be getting an invite to pop over anytime soon… 😉

  • 14 Tom June 4, 2024, 2:20 pm

    In my humble option, FIRE is entirely about the freedom to be able to make decisions based on preference rather than financial constraints. It seems like you’ve successfully done just that. Making a conscious decision to earn more money to pay for luxuries that make life fun is just another form of investment.

    In fact I cant see this as much different to the ‘one more year’ syndrome that I will certainly be thinking long and hard about when I hit my ‘number’.

  • 15 Prospector June 4, 2024, 2:43 pm

    @TA thanks for sharing your experiences. Inline with some of the other commentators I’d focus more on the FI bit than RE. Once work becomes optional if something fun and interesting comes along I think it’s perfectly fine to dip back in.

    Out of interest during the interview process did you say you’d previously retired?

  • 16 JP June 4, 2024, 2:54 pm

    The costs of improving, or even just maintaining, a property have increased hugely in the last three years. We have had to adjust our plans quite a bit because of this (still not going back to work, but having to reduce the scale of home improvements). Its all about what makes you happy (a home I love living in is definitely one of my top priorities, and I dont care what the Joneses are doing!) and what you can compromise on. Working an extra year to fund a capital project is a fair compromise if the rewards will make it all worth it.

  • 17 Brod June 4, 2024, 2:55 pm

    Would of expected -> Would have expected

    Is it an Aston Martin? Pleeze! Pleeze! Pleeeeeezzzzze!!!

  • 18 Kamae June 4, 2024, 3:03 pm

    Thank you for daring to share. Despite your motivations, budget, reasoning and personal interpretation of FIRE being no-one else’s business, you will no doubt have a sprinkling of negative comments.
    I, for one, just appreciate other people being candid enough to share their experiences, thought processes and knowledge about FIRE so that I can try to learn from them.

  • 19 Andy Defresne June 4, 2024, 3:22 pm

    Out of curiosity, did you have to find the new gig or did it find you? I’d personally prefer the latter

  • 20 Finding Enough June 4, 2024, 4:35 pm

    Retirement is just another phase in the journey. To stick with something that isn’t working, just because that was what the plan said way back when you wrote it, is nuts. What you want and need evolves over time, for all of us. I have never understood this tendency to see changing your original plan as some kind of failure or cop out. Surely failing to adapt in the face of new information /circumstances would be the failure?
    It’s just those who are too afraid to take the leap in the first place, throwing stones.
    I am approaching my second anniversary of ‘retirement’ and am also embarking on a very old home renovation. We are 11 years from being able to access the first of our pension pots, so we may well find ourselves in a similar situation……

  • 21 oldie June 4, 2024, 4:49 pm

    It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.

    supposedly Mr Darwin

  • 22 dearieme June 4, 2024, 4:52 pm

    “Ps there’s no such thing as a ‘forever’ home.”

    An Egyptian/Greek/Roman sarcophagus seems to last pretty well.

  • 23 Financial Samurai June 4, 2024, 5:19 pm

    Congrats on going back to work after three years of financial independence!

    I’m actually contemplating the same thing as you, because I bought a forever home in October 2023, with cash. As a result, I am cash strapped.

    So I actually did do some part-time consulting for four months, 20 hours a week. And I couldn’t last because I didn’t enjoy the meetings, and then micromanagement, even though it was supposed to be part time.

    What is it that you do now? And when do you think you will return your financial independence?


  • 24 ZXSpectrum48k June 4, 2024, 5:57 pm

    Hmm. I do think FIRE types are being disingenuous when they say things like “annual costs are £26,200, excluding renovation costs”. You just cannot exclude those costs. Yes they are lumpy but they are also pretty inevitable. You will need a new kitchen. You probably will need the roof fixed. Eventually the whole house will be replaced. You have to set aside an amount every year for these lumpy costs. It’s a hard to estimate number. I use 2% of the house value but it could be less/more. That amount needs to be added to the £26,200. When you do maintenance or renovations you can deduct the cost from the accrued balance.

    Houses cost a bloody fortune to maintain.

  • 25 weenie June 4, 2024, 6:02 pm

    Thanks for sharing, @TA and certainly no need to apologise. You enjoyed a few years of freedom (achievable only due to you following FIRE) and after such a break, I’m sure you would have felt mentally refreshed with a different mindset to work.

  • 26 Maj June 4, 2024, 6:21 pm

    Isn’t the point of FIRE to be able to live independently, doing what you like, when you like ?
    If that includes choosing to go back to work for a while in order to pay for unexpected (or even expected) events then good on yer.
    The fact that you’ve chosen to do so surely proves how independent you are. I.M.O.

  • 27 Jonathan B June 4, 2024, 7:09 pm

    Thanks @TA, made me think.

    We have been paying out to maintain our current old (and listed) house, aware that it and its garden will become too big for us in the future. Right now we have seen a smaller house for sale that we could modernise and extend to be something that would last us “for ever” – but the easiest way to do it would be to cash in investments (and lose ISA protection) so it could be bought and the work done over the next couple of years before selling here. We are agonising about it, our current house is so much more attractive due to its history, but this other one offers the rare opportunity of location (2 minutes from the high street) and pricing for renovation (it still has the kitchen fittings from its original build in 1958!)

  • 28 KeepOnKeepinOn June 4, 2024, 8:04 pm

    I guess that”s the end of the drawdown experiment….!!?
    I’m kidding – as hope to remain as open to doing anything I bloody well like when I’m free to do so. Although doing my best to get any money pit spending done whilst still earning – 12 months to get a couple of bathrooms re-done and a utility room upgrade. Then cheerio…..
    All remains to plan – but I reserve the right to earn again – just not from the same places! We have to change somethings up – right?

  • 29 The Accumulator June 4, 2024, 8:24 pm

    What a very reasonable and lovely bunch you are!

    @ Lee B – Renovation inflation was a huge part of the problem for us. I started buying some stuff in 2022 just to try and mitigate the effect.

    @ Sarah – I couldn’t agree more. The point of FIRE is you have more freedom to make your own decisions. Including undoing FIRE.

    Re: personal circumstances – 100%. I think that’s been the most instructive part for me of reading other FIRE bloggers who’ve updated post-independence. From my own perspective, Mrs TA and I hit a run of ill-health that has affected either us or those we love such as we never encountered pre-FIRE.

    @ Paul_a38 – that budget is quite frugal but is sustainable from our assets. The State Pension is additional. So it’s party time once we hit 67 / 68 / 94 😉

    @ Scott – I blame the editor!

    @ Rhino – Some costs are more predictable than others I suppose. Your point about variety and control is well made. Part of the upside is that I met a whole new bunch of people and really enjoyed it.

    @ Tom – You’re right – this is a variant of ‘one more year’. If I’d done that one more year I would have been covered. I did think about it at the time but really just wanted to get out. I’m glad I did it this way round, but that’s because I haven’t gone back to my old line of work.

    @ Andy D and Prospector – the work found me. I’d have found it much harder if I’d had to dust off the old interview suit.

    @ Finding Enough – good luck with it! Hopefully you’ve done your sums better than me.

    @ ZX – my declared budget does include annual maintenance. A one-off renovation like this, which was long planned and we will never do again on this scale (so long as we live here and nothing dreadful happens) is an exceptional cost I think, and mine not to share I’m certain. (I’m not particularly comfortable sharing numbers but people asked me to, so I did.)
    God forbid we need to do the kitchen again but, if we do, it’ll go in as just another cost bomb exploding across the spreadsheet.

    @ Jonathan B – interesting. We did think about moving a few years back. I advocated for going all-in on the place we knew we already loved. That said, I don’t think it’s a comparable situation because it sounds like downsizing has long been part of your thinking.

    @ Keepon – that did make me laugh.

  • 30 BBBobbins June 4, 2024, 8:25 pm

    I’m sure there is a mental accounting trick you probably could have played with “renovations”, that they are an investment in a diversified element of your portfolio which will would amortise over time (if viewed as a cost) or alternatively pay back when one or both of you needed to downsize (at hopefully some distant point).

    Not saying that it is a better way of thinking of it just a different way.

    None of which is much help if you simply don’t have the cashflow or bridging funds. The way you’ve chosen to do it is of course appropriately prudent and doesn’t betray FIRE – even with your year of toil (which honestly sounds pretty good) you’ll still be out before 55 if I read you correctly.

  • 31 Jim McG June 4, 2024, 8:35 pm

    I went back to work after FIRE-ing for the second time! I now work part time in a driving job that i really enjoy. I get paid to tour around the Yorkshire Dales listening to my podcasts. I don’t need the money so am saving it all up for a Business Class flight to Oz. I struggled (again) through a dismal winter in full retirement and I’ve come to the conclusion that I like paid work where I have some control, some social contact and the ability to take it or leave it. I found FIRE a great motivator and wouldn’t knock it as it put me in the privileged position I’m in.

  • 32 J June 4, 2024, 9:28 pm

    Don’t blame you, TA. If that’s what you want and this spending “moves the needle” to “happy” then why not? And if it’s only a year or two of all out work rather than your previous part time then what’s the problem. It’s never set in stone is it? It’s what’s important to you at the end of the day.

    Having a nice house can make you personally very happy and if it is a place you plan to live out the rest of your days as you say – I don’t see it as keeping up with anybody …………..and contrary to what somebody else has written, you definitely don’t come across as that kind of person who is that shallow anyway – only a village idiot does that sort of thing, IMO! Who exactly likes the overly loud showboating/show-off types anyhow?? I couldn’t personally care less what anybody else has or does TBH, just not interested. I dare say I’d guess you’re pretty much the same. The only things that concern me is my health and that the clock is running down far quicker than I would want.

    From your writing I think you are sort of like myself in personality, you prefer to keep yourself to yourself/quiet life, wouldn’t like fame or publicity, would prefer a walk, or maybe cycle, and have a quiet day/time rather than some large event with loads people – I can’t stand them – not even weddings. Not comfortable around people pretty much. I think you said once you are an introvert and so am I and proud of it, quietly though.

    I do like holidays though but can see where you are coming from when you said once they aren’t high up on your list. I enjoy them but it’s all the people in your face when you go on them that annoy me most. You go somewhere quiet and there’s not that much to see/do, so you go somewhere bit more lively and get 10 drunk Irish leprechauns or similar with St. Paddy hats in your face all night. Difficult to get a balance really.

    I would spend more on the home as well if it were possible (as mine needs it like yours did) but I’ve had to retire early through ill health and can’t spend on everything so it’s working out the priorities. So for me home improvements and new (2nd hand) car will have to wait (and be done more cheaply) and I do like some travel and have got mine and my partner’s retirements to fund (as she hasn’t saved that much towards) so it does come down to priorities and what makes you happier/gives most enjoyment. I’m quite frugal but don’t want to be so much so that someone else ends up spending most of it rather than me (don’t have kids – couldn’t tolerate them!)

    I wish you well in your (suspended) retirement and beyond that your full retirement! Great update article. All the best.

  • 33 Lee Briggs June 4, 2024, 10:56 pm


    Kindred spirit with the introverted ways and identical thoughts regarding holidays!

  • 34 Martin T June 5, 2024, 8:08 am

    £26k pa for two is mega frugal. Mrs T and I eat mostly home-cooked (and grown) veggie food, no Sky etc, and we’re on about £32k. Admittedly we run 2 cars as we live in the sticks and both work, 2 weeks UK holiday a year, some family entertaining (takeaway fish and chips for 6 now over £60!), private dental subscription, but not exactly a lavish lifestyle!

  • 35 xxd09 June 5, 2024, 9:52 am

    One of the major factors that limited my house interest once I was wind,watertight and warm was the fact to me at that young age that having a satisfactory Pension would involve very large sums of money-I was always self employed
    In those days £100,000 invested in a 60/40 portfolio only gave you an income of £4000 pa before tax-currently nearer £3000 pa
    Getting used to the fact that a million pounds might just give you a pension worth having was eye opening
    Generating these large amounts of cash was a steep learning curve compared with house purchase and renovation
    It certainly rearranged my priorities
    Now I move £10000-£15000 sums about regularly with no qualms within ISAs and SIPPs and have personally handled alone a seven figure portfolio for many years
    People know and are familiar with houses cos a lot of people have one
    They know about teaching cos they have kids
    I don’t think most of us are familiar with generating and handling the large amounts of money needed for a satisfactory pension
    As a major side issue it informs you of the actual cost of civil service and government pensions!

  • 36 The Investor June 5, 2024, 12:41 pm

    @xxd09 — I added a zero to your 60/40 balance to take it to £100,000, as I think this is what you were looking to convey? (If not please let me know and I’ll adjust).

    You make a good point though. The gulf between my agonised search for an extra £3,000 to £5,000 to put down a deposit for a flat in the mid-1990s (which I didn’t do for another 20 years in the end…) and the sums in my SIPPs and ISA now is pretty breathtaking and while I foresaw it happening at 25 (the snowball: https://monevator.com/saving-snowball/) it’s still quite the cognitive dissonance, this ‘time/life-stage adjusted’ value of money.

  • 37 xxd09 June 5, 2024, 1:32 pm

    Apologies if required- you are right with your figures but I read £100000 rightly in my post?
    A million pounds I mentioned after was therefore to give you a £40000 pa pension -(£30000 pa nowadays) -a reasonable aim?
    Another way of expressing the same scenario is that a 4% withdrawal rate from a 60/40 portfolio was sustainable in those far off days but 3% is more realistic now
    In any case the general point is that very very large sums (savings) are required for the self employed
    Apologies again for not expressing myself more clearly

  • 38 The Investor June 5, 2024, 1:34 pm

    @xxd09 — You write: “I read £100000 rightly in my post?”

    Yes, that’s because as stated I edited it. 🙂 You had £10,000 in your initial post, before my edit.

    p.s. No apology necessary, we all miss a ‘0’ now and then!

  • 39 Martin T June 5, 2024, 1:51 pm

    @xxd09 As self employed, buying, renovating/extending, then trading up worked well for us, especially as such activity meshed quite well with my self employment. On downsizing from the last project, we walked away with a sizeable pot, tax free, to be dripfed into SIPPs and ISAs. Works for some.

  • 40 Azamino June 5, 2024, 2:16 pm

    The most recent ONS report has median UK household disposable income at £32,300 PA so £26K does not sound mega frugal to me. The ONS excludes those in sheltered housing, care, the homeless etc so that number isn’t being flattened by the poorest in our society.
    Disposable income for the ONS is the sum left after direct taxes, such as Income Tax, National Insurance and Council Tax.
    So you probably need to lop £2k off of TA’s budget to account for his council tax. But he and his partner are still running 75% of the median household income and are presumably rent / mortgage free.
    Obviously one size does not fit all, but it reads like a solid foundation to me.

  • 41 Al Cam June 5, 2024, 4:28 pm

    Interesting update.
    Thanks for sharing and being so frank!
    There are many failure mechanisms [for the early years], including: rampant inflation, over spend to budget, financial shocks, and the one IMO a lot of people seem to over-dwell on: the sequence of returns. Or, much more succinctly, shxt happens!
    Key thing is you are on top of it and have found an acceptable way to put things right before any lasting damage is done. In time you may come to think not yet being able to tap your SIPP was actually a bit of a blessing as it brought things to a head quicker than might have been the case.
    Best of luck going forwards and in a few years you will almost certainly look back on this period as a valuable lesson learned.

  • 42 xxd09 June 5, 2024, 4:55 pm

    Apologies-my Alzheimer’s moment?

  • 43 Rhino June 5, 2024, 4:59 pm

    @AC – the failure mechanism I’ve seen crop up the most is psychological, i.e. simply missing work for one reason or another.
    My mind is blown at how work just popped up when TA needed it. I’m not sure I’d be in such high demand as that. Impressive stuff!

  • 44 Al Cam June 5, 2024, 7:38 pm

    @Rhino (#43):

    Could be that some folks miss work!

    That @TA was able to resume working at somebody else’s request is a great outcome; not only for @TA, but I would imagine also for his new employer too. In my experience, such offers are not unheard of, but the frequency of occurrence may well drop off the longer you are RE/away from work. To some extent I suspect this also depends on: your experience/skill-set mix; and the manner of, and your health on, leaving your last place of work too. That @TA is not back doing his old job, etc is also a massive opportunity. I suspect he may find it rather hard to quit in just a year if that is all that is required. Time will tell.

  • 45 TheFIJourney June 5, 2024, 7:47 pm

    Thanks for the update TA. I am pleased you haven’t had much negative feedback here. We are a reasonable bunch after all it seems hehe. I don’t blame you at all. I think you put yourself into a position where you could do this and it’s still relatively early into your retirement so to speak so easier to land it and also adjust I would dare say than if 10 years down the line. Like you said as well, it’s very different from the wage cage you felt you were in before. Best of luck!

  • 46 G June 6, 2024, 8:02 am

    I FI’d about five years ago in my forties. Didn’t RE, because frankly I managed to get a fairly cushy deal at work. I work 3 days a week and have a ton of autonomy over place, tasks etc. Work is mostly fun, often a lot of fun. If that ever changes, I will be retiring from that job. Somewhere along the line, I got another job – that is even more fun, while keeping me fit and regularly stretches my notion of self. That’s an evening a week. Again, I’ll keep doing that for as long as it remains so. Both jobs look increasingly like paid hobbies.

    I am intrigued why you didn’t consider learning DIY and having a go – perhaps with some practical mates yourself? In my neighbourhood, we have something of an informal network of blokes who help each other out. I need help putting up a log cabin, a mate will pop out. He needs help wheel barrowing some rubble, I’ll pop around to his. Between us, we have all of the skills, tools and expertise we need to build a house from scratch – including sourcing of cheap materials etc.

    Obviously, we all have different opportunity cost trade offs. A neighbour recently offered me the chance to buy their outside loo as it is next to our house for twenty grand. I could not see how spending the equivalent of xxxx months time working would translate into the joy of owning something new to maintain (it needs demolishing, and surrounding area made good) so I turned them down.

  • 47 Rhino June 6, 2024, 8:34 am

    @G – what are those jobs and whereabouts do you live? All sounds pretty idyllic.

  • 48 Dave Saunders June 6, 2024, 9:06 am

    This is an interesting perspective for me as this is the first time I’ve found @TA’s description of work relatable – his pre-RE descriptions have been at odds with my experience of employment: rather than head, hare like, for the future early exit I’ve been plodding, tortoise like, through my career and have got to a situation that’s broadly similar to that described by @G.

    My answer to @Rhino’s question about where those jobs are: I’ve needed to create them – instead of going into negotiations trying to get increased responsibilities, promotions, and maximizing salary I’ve used those levers to get myself reduced hours and more autonomy.

    Similar to the concept of consumption smoothing I’ve ended up following a path of job satisfaction smoothing.

  • 49 Ryan June 6, 2024, 9:39 am

    Thanks for writing this TA. Honestly refreshing. I think people with the ability to take stock of their situation and pivot in a different direction should be applauded. We constantly change and grow as people and what works for 2-3 years shouldn’t stubbornly never change.

    I’ve personally project managed (as a Homeowner) two house extensions and both have been difficult but hugely rewarding. I think a comfortable, efficient and well-designed home is worth their weight in gold. If it costs you another year of work it’s a fair trade-off IMO; especially given you had two years of recovery from your old role and have been able to find one which is more suited to your current phase of life.

    I find those questioning and almost wanting people to trip and fail laughable. FIRE is a mindset and an approach away from the conventional. There’s no right or wrong way to do it. The beauty is that you have the breathing space to make these decisions. Many don’t have this opportunity. Even incredibly high earners can’t catch a break other than a two week holiday a year.

    As mentioned previously at 35 I sold my online educational business which gave me enough to be Lean FIRE or at least Financially independent. At the time I also had shares in another educational business which I’d started with a client from the ground up 3 years prior. If it wasn’t for the FIRE movement I’d have never sold my educational business and perhaps never boldly asked for shares in my clients’ business (in exchange for sweat equity).

    Fast forward three years and I work on average 4 hours a day. This fits around the most important components of life. Family, fitness and health. We travel to Europe 7 weeks a year, we walk or cycle our children to and from school and we are present in every way possible. My work covers our yearly expenses while the money from the business sale compounds in the background.

    We value freedom and autonomy over anything else. But we are open and adaptable to change and we always will be. There’s no one-size-fits-all all approach but I think the FIRE movement gives you the confidence to make bold decisions and leave some money on the table. Many are stuck with their beliefs and a sheep mentality.

    Pivoting to find a more rounded, happier life is a great thing to do.

    All the best for year 4!

  • 50 PC June 6, 2024, 9:54 am

    This discussion is fascinating.

    I realise I am a bit odd in reaching retirement age and FI and being happy to continue to work, for the next 6 to 12 months. I’ve just found a new contract that’s interesting and pays well. To me it’s a no-brainer.

    Partly it’s just me but I suspect it’s partly what work has been for me for the past 15 years ..
    – I’m a contractor – usually that’s 6 – 12 months at a time.
    – I have had spells of a month or two and recently 6 months of not working. Plenty of time to try out not doing paid work.
    – It’s a second career.
    – It still feels interesting.

    First world problems really – perhaps the point is that I have a choice.

  • 51 The Accumulator June 6, 2024, 1:31 pm

    Really enjoying the thread and everyone’s different perspectives. I’d just like to say thank you for the support to all those who’ve taken the time to wish me well, both here and on other threads.

    @Jim McG – “I’ve come to the conclusion that I like paid work where I have some control, some social contact and the ability to take it or leave it. I found FIRE a great motivator and wouldn’t knock it as it put me in the privileged position I’m in.”
    I think that sums it up. (Fairly sure you could spin this into a blog update post! Hint-ity-hint.)

    @ J – Yes, you have me about right. I am definitely an introvert. I do like people and need social contact – just in limited amounts. Socialising runs my battery down rapido.

    Starting the new project (and fitting in an unscheduled hospital stay) meant meeting a lot of new people very quickly – I was surprised by how much I enjoyed that. Social functions like weddings where everybody stands around and asks what you do, they tend to do me in. But meeting people in a purposeful environment e.g. where there’s a job to do, or a game to play e.g. we’re gonna play frisbee in the park, I’m much happier on those occasions.
    I did value holidays a great deal while I was working – though depriortised exotic ones while we were saving. Mrs TA and I took a lot of 3 day cycling holidays in the UK during those years. Many FIRE bloggers celebrate their freedom by immediately taking off on a foreign adventure – which does sound lovely. However, the need to get away has completely fallen off for me since stepping off the treadmill. Don’t get me wrong, there are many places I would like to go and see. I do hope travel is a significant part of the next phase of my life, and Mrs TA recently gave me a prod about that. But that need to escape, it’s no longer urgent like it was before.

    Health is a big one and those warning lights are flashing frantically on our life dashboard. It sounds like you’ve been through some very rough times but you seem to be dealing with it well and have retained your optimism?

    @ Martin T – I hear you on the fish and chips! Something seems very wrong when fish and chips is no longer a cheap date.

    Re: budget: the main thing is that I don’t think we want for much. I mean, I can’t order that GTR we’d really like but we don’t feel hard up either. I’m not worried about spending more if we need to. That’s part of why the house consumed all the bridging dough. I feel freer to spend post-FI than I did before. I think partly because I feel if we’re not going to enjoy life now then when are we going to?

    @ Al Cam – cheers! I agree: if the SIPP was open to me as a big pot of unspent loot, I would probably have dipped into that instead. But, I think that would have been a mistake so early on. Plus the social side of the work, and feeling like I’ve got something to contribute, has been an unexpected bonus.

    @ The FIJourney – ooh, I like the phrase, “wage cage.” I agree that my pivot may have proved impossible ten years down the line. That said, I hope to “keep my hand in” in some respect for years to come. With luck someone will always find a use for me, if I need it and have something to offer, even if it’s just as some AI’s amusing meatbag plaything.

    @ G – I kicked in quite a lot of the house in kahoots with Mrs TA’s Dad before the pros came in. That said, I’m not very handy. Mrs TA’s Dad was definitely the brains of the operation, with me as his accident-prone minion.

    Your network does sound amazing. I’d love that sort of thing. If anyone in my area needs a drooling DIY simpleton then I am available.

    @ Dave S – job satisfaction smoothing sounds very smart. I always thought it out of reach in my old career – possibly I wasn’t brave enough or didn’t have the vision. I think TI has followed this path to a large extent, though he may see it differently.

    @ Ryan – It sounds like you’ve got it all in perspective and played your hand well. 7 weeks in Europe a year does sound fantastic. Hope pesky Brexit isn’t proving too annoying.

    @ PC – As long as you’re enjoying your work then why would you stop? As quite a few have touched on here: autonomy and choice make all the difference.

  • 52 G June 6, 2024, 10:14 pm

    @Rhino I live in rural Wales (an incomer). The weather isn’t always great. I won’t be too specific on the job front as it will make me identifiable.

    Job No 2: Involves teaching a niche circus discipline in a fitness context. It surfaces strange opportunities – I was in an underwater photoshoot earlier this year.

    Job No 1: My work is come up with radically new ways of doing things so the cause related organisation I work for can do its job better. One day, I might be teaching at a university or running a workshop in another country, the next building a prototype or considering how to make an idea financially sustainable. I have significant permission and autonomy to bring mischief and disrupt the status quo – providing I do it with kindness.

    Exactly as Dave Saunders suggests. I’ve never been driven by money (but it has found me along the way), but by curiosity, learning and a passion for helping others. It sometimes takes time for new bosses and colleagues to recognise my value as I am highly introverted – but when they do, they tend to give me considerable autonomy. FI makes me more able to be bolder which is rare in my sector, and therefore gives me considerable influencing power.

    @TA – I am also fairly incompetent at DIY, but getting better. Being an enthusiast labourer goes a long way though…

  • 53 Algernond June 8, 2024, 1:44 pm

    Great post @TA. Thanks.
    Confirms for me what I’ve thinking over the last few months. Thin-Fire is not going to cut it for me. Target changed to Fat-Fire.

  • 54 SemiPassive June 9, 2024, 10:14 am

    I think you can separate out essential property maintenance costs (roof repairs, new boiler, windows) vs one off remodelling costs.
    A well chosen classic kitchen or bathroom design can last for a couple of decades although everything gets tired eventually.
    But we’ve done up and viewed enough boomer+ houses to know that very few people completely do up a house midway through retirement. Just look at your average probate sale, many need complete gutting.
    I guess it maybe more relevant for super early retirees if they are planning on living in the same house for another 40+ years.
    I will keep working full time until we finish doing up our current place that we downsized to, then intend to move into a semi-retired state, doing the odd contract.
    I actually prefer doing IT work to DIY, just not for the current employer where I am literally counting down the days until I can access my SIPP which will backstop any move back to contracting or part time work to pay for any further home improvements, fancy holidays or cars.
    Be very grateful if you have a job you enjoy.

  • 55 Getting Minted June 10, 2024, 8:18 am

    We’ve had a similar dynamic, but on a smaller scale, of doing some catchup on home improvements and home furnishings having left things the same for a while. After the lockdown ended, we began to progress these things. Fortunately, we weren’t spending all our income, so we had the capacity to spend more in the last year. I think those of us who have FIRE’d need some capacity to meet these financial challenges whether it be spare income, spare capital, or putting human capital back to work by choice.

  • 56 Kid Cocoa June 15, 2024, 11:52 am

    Even Tom Good went back to work once, although Barbara gave him a right earfull if i remember correctly! And in a similar vein to you as a relatively recent FIREee, i have an architect coming round tomorrow to survey my large 30+ year old leaky flat roofed extension that needs a rebuild, although my bigger concerns are having the builders traipsing through the house for 2 months. Regardless, you have my best wishes.

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