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Financial Independence Retire Early (FIRE): my journey from first steps to leaving work

My FIRE journey is complete.

I achieved financial independence in seven years and retired early six months after that. Documented the journey, too. From initial plan, through battling FIRE1 demons, to finally ending my career and starting a new life.

I learned a lot along the way – but I appreciate you haven’t got seven years to relive it with me.

So let’s distill down that knowledge into a single capsule post that you can swallow and digest to smooth your own path to FIRE.

To begin at the beginning

Managing my mind was probably more important than managing my finances. So I’ll cover the psychological aspect of FIRE first, and in more detail than the money side.

If you think FIRE is only for the rich or young, know that my salary flattened out at mid-five figures and my partner’s at low-five.

We didn’t have kids. But we were facing other headwinds:

  • I was past 41 before I resolved to attempt FIRE.
  • At age 35 I didn’t have a pension nor a single penny of the mortgage paid off.
  • We didn’t scoop an inheritance nor did I have a lucrative side-hustle.

The point is you can achieve financial independence and have the option to retire early without a six-figure salary.

You don’t need to make any big investment bets, either. A low-cost, diversified passive investing strategy can do the trick.

I didn’t do anything special bar stick to the plan.

One final warm-up point: you’ll find plenty of great insight in the reader comments if you follow the links to the original posts.

Many in the Monevator community are financially independent or heading for FIRE. You’ll discover interesting voices, answers to questions, and encouragement from readers along the way.

FIRE psychology

The financial side of FIRE is well-documented. The difficult part is staying the course once things cut up rough, as they inevitably will.

Origin story

Something sets you off on the FIRE track. Perhaps a horrendous work situation, or the realisation that life on the hamster wheel isn’t for you.

My financial origin story is rooted in one of the biggest economic shocks of the past century:

Plugs were pulled. Projects terminated… We stopped hiring. We let people go. My inbox started to fill up with CVs from ridiculously overqualified people looking for refuge.

I wasn’t getting any younger and digital disruption was spreading through my industry like ash dieback. It was adapt or die time.

If I moved hard and fast enough then I could afford to be unlucky, ill, or old – the kind of hand that gets dealt to ‘other people’.

The 2008 recession made me realise that my own departure was inevitable. I decided I’d rather be in control of the timing. 

FIRE plan: the first cut

Your initial plan probably won’t be your final plan. It just needs to get you off the launch pad.

For me:

The plan is to be financially independent in a decade. I can see now that it can be done. And I can see how it will be done.

The thought of it is making me tingle. This will be the biggest and most rewarding challenge of my life.

My first-cut FI plan did change, but the direction of travel remained true:

  • High savings rate: I consistently hit 70%.
  • Moderate income goal: this was super-lean at the start. I’ve had to fatten it up somewhat.
  • Utilising the UK’s tax breaks, and especially making the right call on ISAs vs SIPPs.
  • Modest expected investment returns.
  • Realistic Sustainable Withdrawal Rate (SWR): I started with a cautious 3% SWR. Further research told me that a higher dynamic SWR was possible, but not the naive 4% rule popularised on the Net.

(See the FIRE investment planning section below for more.)

You don’t need to know everything to begin. Just enough to get yourself on the front foot.

Everyone makes mistakes along the way, but the biggest mistake is to listen to eejits who warn:

  • You’ll be knocked over by a bus tomorrow.
  • Communists will take over the day after that.
  • The financial system is a giant Ponzi scheme.

Or insert suspiciously dramatic neurosis de jour here. Or world weary fatalism there. 

For all the ‘end of the world as we know it’ millenarian paranoia I’ve heard, it’s my own financial situation that’s been transformed.

Early doubts: quarter of the way there

Okay, fast-forward to two years down the road. All the initial excitement has gone. With a long journey still to go, this leg felt like a horrible grind:

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.

That post focused on the mind games I used to keep hope burning. It also included links to others in the community who inspired me.

Later on, I wrote a stronger post on the mind hacks that kept me motivated. This was boosted by some suggestions from the Monevator massive.

Doubts dispelled: three-quarters of the way there

More than five years in, and things look very different. I didn’t realise I’d be on the brink of FI in one more year. But the scent of freedom was in my nostrils:

The FI dream feels real. The way ahead looks like a downward glide. Is it me, or are those milestones spaced a little closer together now?

With so much achieved, many of my financial worries had disappeared. My brain is moving on to think about how I need to reinvent myself for a new post-work life.

The upside of FI is that I’m less worried about a financial deluge sweeping us away. We can’t defend against every risk. But at least these days we live in a house on stilts.

The downside is that now I’ve freed up that brainspace, it’s as if I’ve nipped down to the anxiety exchange to see what other troubles are available.

Psychologically, I needed to think about what my FIRE life would look like.

Some high-profile members of the community had crashed and burned on quitting work. The FIRE movement no longer glowed with naive enthusiasm.

Typically, the British answered the relentless beat of the US optimism-drum with sombre notes. But it was still useful to learn that FIRE doesn’t automatically lead to a land of rainbows and unicorns.

The Investor, The Details Man, and I raked over some of the burning FIRE issues in a debate. It helped clarify my thinking.

Financially, I rapidly rebalanced my portfolio from a risky equity skew by adding more government bonds. I wanted to try to avoid everything I’d gained being smoked in one big crash.

One year later that move helped me keep my mind during the frightening coronavirus crash.

Financial independence was postponed by the losses of March 2020.

Few of us predicted what happened next.

Financial independence day

Just 18-months after my previous post I declared FI.

I hit my number. I hit my number. Sweet Holy Jesus, I hit my number! [Falls to the floor and sobs with joy].

It wasn’t time to hit the work eject button yet. I felt like I’d climbed a mighty peak and needed to admire the view, while watching out for altitude sickness:

I’ve watched too many others in the FIRE community quit their jobs, move to an exotic new location, and apply for gender reassignment all at once.

I’ve been sleeping well. KPIs don’t disturb my dreams. I’m not weighed down by that fat-suit of dread that I wore during the Global Financial Crisis.

My work stress has fallen away, now that I have the option to walk.

Being able to walk away makes walking away much less urgent.

So now I have enough to live on, how am I actually going to live?

A post on FIRE fears was my answer to that question. It lays out some of the reasons why FIRE can fail, followed by my personal prescription for making the most of the opportunity.

Leaving work

This was the moment of truth. Six months after I’d hit my number, and I was champing at the bit to start a new life. I resigned and left my old world.

Just don’t mention the ‘R-word’!

In my mind’s eye, my last day was an Apocalypse Now of burning bridges as I dropped truth-bombs from my Stratofortress of freedom.

Financial independence demons

Many people fall by the wayside on the road to FIRE. They burn out, lose faith, or mistime the market, among other calamities.

Make no mistake, FIRE is a long and lonely path. I’ve previously tried to head off some of the demons:

Some corners of the internet make financial independence sound like a short sprint to the finish line, blowing kisses to well-wishers along the way.

In reality, it’s a slog. The danger of a breakdown cannot be discounted.

FIRE investment planning

Monevator is primarily about investing. Let’s have some quick links to posts that will help you hit your FI number.

Passive investing guidance

Simple, effective, manageable, and proven – why passive investing took over the world, if not the headlines.

How to create an FI investment plan

How to put together an FI plan that fires you off the starting blocks.

Building your asset allocation

The how and why of asset allocation construction.

Portfolio protection in a crisis

UK market history shows what works during depressions, World Wars, stagflation, and runs on banks. Ignore these lessons at your peril.

Risk tolerance

Half of YouTube is demanding you leverage up these days. Here’s some guidance to help you estimate how much risk you can stomach.

Ideas for funds

Picking cheap tracker funds – why you should keep it simple and how.

Choosing your SWR

What you really need to know to choose your SWR. Also, how you can improve this lynchpin metric.

SWR: FIRE special

A deep dive on choosing a global portfolio SWR that takes low yields into account. Plus FIRE time-horizons that last from ten to 50-plus years.

Maximising your ISAs and SIPPs

A UK-centric series on exploiting your tax shelters to hit FI.

The ultimate FIRE calculation

This piece shows you how to hook everything up. Plug in your target FI number and income, together with tax, ISAs, SIPPs, investment contributions, expected returns, investment fees, State Pension, SWR, and time horizon.

Personal inflation

This is hardly ever discussed but your personal inflation experience will have a big bearing on your FI fate.

Saving to increase quality of life

There’s no money to invest without savings. But rather than make painful sacrifices, save in line with your values instead.

Living a meaningful life on less

One of the founding fathers of the modern FIRE movement – Jacob Lund Fisker of Early Retirement Extreme – wrote a guest post for Monevator on living a frugal lifestyle.

Jacob is inspiring. He’s still the most innovative voice in the FIRE community, in my opinion. I hope this reference will help more people find his work.

Decumulation

Accumulation is a tried-and-tested recipe. But living off your portfolio for decades is a whole other ball game. It’s still relatively new.

Did the pioneers of FIRE get their sums right? That story is unfolding every day and now I’m part of it, too.

Here’s my real-life decumulation strategy and back-up plans.

I’ll let you know how I get on.

Take it steady,

The Accumulator

  1. Financial Independence Retire Early. []

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{ 63 comments… add one }
  • 1 JP April 13, 2021, 11:35 am

    A fantastic summary, with useful links, to share with those ready to start their journey or part way there.

  • 2 never give up April 13, 2021, 12:25 pm

    The little fella finally reached the other side! He must have biceps like Popeye. I’m absolutely delighted for him, as I am you.

    This was a great summary. The “Ten Year Plan” series of posts are probably my most read on Monevator. They’re just so real and relatable. I am on a similar seven year stage towards FI, although really it’s a story of how to achieve FI in only seven years, provided eighteen years have been worked beforehand!

    I guess my phases are (1) Ten years trying to establish a career and grow a house deposit (2) Seven years to kill the mortgage (3) I’m currently in a five year 80%+ savings rate phase, where I battle against automation, a deteriorating work environment and ageing parents that I’d like to help and spend more time with. (4) I then aim for a part time phase to see me across the FI line in a more relaxed manner. I could achieve FI in another four years but don’t want to find out what my health would be like at that point, working full time.

    So I guess that is a good 25-28 years really all told. Good enough to escape as a beleaguered worker from Vader’s ship in my forties.

    I can recommend all the links in the above post to any new readers. If you don’t think it is possible then it very much is, but it is no get rich quick scheme. If someone dedicates themselves to living intentionally, avoiding consumerism and learning some basics about investing, then barring a calamitous end of the world doom type scenario, you will succeed. You can’t control the doom scenario but you can control your relationship with money.

    I look forward to reading more posts on your post-FIRE life.

  • 3 Luke April 13, 2021, 12:48 pm

    I’ve started the same journey in 2018 and you have provided invaluable support, you have my full gratitude for sharing the details on all this. Looking forward for your next moves!

    One thing I may add that could helps others is that measuring progress only through net worth might be misleading, since progress comes much faster during the second part of the journey (ie. once you’ve reached certain $ invested). I am only 1/3 of the way there in terms of assets, but probably closer to 2/3 in terms of total time to FI. As Charlie Munger supposedly said, “the first 100.000$ is the hardest”.

  • 4 AtlanticSpan April 13, 2021, 1:38 pm

    I read all the books,and then I found Monevator. You’ve held my hand these last 11 years and now,thanks to you I’m in the FIRE winner’s enclosure at Aintree. I can’t thank you enough for the fabulous advice….sorry.. information.
    Rest assured,I’ll continue to read my favourite financial blog.
    All the best!

  • 5 Financial Samurai April 13, 2021, 1:54 pm

    Like you, I was motivated by achieving financial independence after the global financial crisis. Working in finance was no longer fun and I wanted out. But I was 32 when I launched Financial Samurai in 2009 and began writing about FIRE.

    I’m curious though, before the global financial crisis, were you pretty satisfied with your career? I had already begun to tire in 2009 after 10 years of doing the same old stuff.

    I also didn’t want to live the super frugal life like Jacob from ERE. He was also living in the SF Bay Area, but on around $8,000 a year on a boat!

    At the time, I had propose to my wife a year earlier and I wanted to start a family. Therefore, we had different ideals. And when he went back to work as a Quant fund manager a couple years later, I was shocked! but I think he quit that job several years later.

    It’ll be interesting to see how you evolve over the years. After a year of retirement, I decided to go back to work and focus on my writing on Financial Samurai.

    With a global pandemic, I figured I might as well do more work online while we are shut down. But I’m ready to retire again within the next 12 months. So tired with little ones! It’ll be nice when school opens this fall and the economy opens up fully this summer.

    Sam

  • 6 JimJim April 13, 2021, 1:57 pm

    Nice round up @TA hope you keep telling us what the destination holds 🙂 … It might be me miss – reading but this does not scan to my eye…

    “Financial independence was postponed by the losses of March 2020.

    Few of us predicted what happened next.
    Financial independence day

    Just 18-months later I declared FI.”

    JimJim

  • 7 JDW April 13, 2021, 2:47 pm

    A fantastic post @TA – yet again, I say thanks to both you and @TI for your time, efforts and sharing your experiences and knowledge. For anyone reading this and just starting in their 20s (or later), this really is it in a nutshell, and does hit the nail on the head. I don’t think it’s an understatement to says that discovering this website has (or will!) changed my life, just wish I’d started earlier than two years ago at 33 (but then looking at the ages in your post, I am ahead of that slightly, albeit on a lower saving rate currently). Perhaps I am in the two-year meh point mentioned, enough for a cushion, but still a long way to go. I’ve decided to ease off for the summer a little to enjoy a few things before ramping up the saving rate again in the autumn I think.

    One thing that isn’t quite clear to me, and you may have answered elsewhere, so apologies for any duplication – did you go full tilt at mortgage-paying between 35 and 41? And you were then mortgage-free at 41 to start the FI bit?

    Thanks again – the gratitude is very real. If /when this site becomes a subscription-based model, I’m definitely one of the readers willing to make a contribution/membership paymenty.

  • 8 The Investor April 13, 2021, 3:10 pm

    @Luke, you write:

    progress comes much faster during the second part of the journey

    This is a great insight. I have one of my infamous half-finished posts showing this mechanism in action. Perhaps I should finish it.

    The snowball is real. But when you’re halfway there, it still looks like a pretty sub-sized snowball.

  • 9 hal April 13, 2021, 3:38 pm

    Thanks for great article. PLEASE please please more about the snowball! Would love to hear your thoughts. I too was confused about the ’18 months later’ bit in original post. I’m not sure what you think about always keeping a 3 year cushion of cash buffer (annual expenses) going – no matter what? Once again, thanks for the inspiration

  • 10 Budget Life List April 13, 2021, 4:12 pm

    Thank you for sharing your story and each segment you went through.

    I am a low wage earner and didn’t starting FIRE early. Your insight is another powerful story of resilience, consistency, and determination winning the day. Which feels like the only way I will reach early retirement.

    Congrats for the big bonFIRE of an accomplishment but kudos for all the little everyday victories.

  • 11 Rik April 13, 2021, 4:27 pm

    I too am interested in the pre accumulation phase. I guess I was lucky enough to discover this blog 10 years ago at age 21.

    After years of investing I’ll likely blow most of it on a london house purchase after years of waiting for prices to drop.

    I guess this will be the real starting gun for the fire process. or i guess i could hold off on the house and retire somewhere cheap at 35..?

  • 12 Stonebridge Kestrel April 13, 2021, 4:52 pm

    Thanks, TA, for this really useful summary and round-up. I’ve read pretty much all of these posts before, but I’m looking forward to browsing through them again, digging for nuggets.

    It seems like we’re a similar age (I’m 51) and in a close-ish income bracket (I’ve been at the top of the basic rate band for the last decade, although I did spend a few years as a higher rate tax-payer back in the 2000s).

    So, while I’m impressed with everything about your journey, especially your efforts to inspire others along the way, the thing that really strikes me is that 70% savings rate.

    My monthly post-tax income is a little under 3K. Yours might be a bit more, I guess. So I’m inferring that you’ve been socking away 2 – 2.5K a month for a decade and more, while living on maybe 1K a month to cover all other expenses.

    No need to confirm or deny, there are completely understandable limits about what you want to share. And I don’t doubt your word for a second. I just want to applaud the strength of character it takes to rein in spending that hard for that length of time. No wonder you have such warm words for Jacob Fisker !

    I could probably fashion some kind of ultra-lean FIRE myself now. I haven’t saved as intensively as you (excuse : I have two children), but I have paid off the mortgage on a house in London, I have respectable 6 figure sums in both a SIPP and an ISA, and I can expect a modest public sector DB pension when I get to 67. For various reasons, it’s not the right time for me, but it’s really great to have that safety net / FU option.

    Anyway, huge congratulations, and thanks so much for all the insights.

  • 13 The Investor April 13, 2021, 5:51 pm

    My monthly post-tax income is a little under 3K. Yours might be a bit more, I guess. So I’m inferring that you’ve been socking away 2 – 2.5K a month for a decade and more, while living on maybe 1K a month to cover all other expenses.

    You’ll remember @TA considers his pension as part of his FI stash. (Recall the ISA-to-pension bridge posts). So I’m not sure looking at savings entirely on a post-tax basis is appropriate.

    With normal higher-rate taxpayer sums, an employer contribution bump and also the tax relief (/potentially deferral) are enormously valuable at upping your FI pot for every £ you forego in post-tax spending money.

  • 14 Where2how April 13, 2021, 6:19 pm

    A fantastic post that summarises it all. Thank you.
    I’ve passively followed Monevator for many years now and retired early a few years ago. I’m still coming to terms with taking money out. I agree with pretty much everything you wrote, and would not disagree with any of it.
    Please do keep it up.

  • 15 The Accumulator April 13, 2021, 7:09 pm

    @ never give up – you inspired me! I changed the pic on the other post too. In my mind’s eye, he’s on dry land, flinging the oars aside, but my artistic skills failed me.

    You sound like you are absolutely gunning for the finish line and with good reason. Please do post updates in the comments when you get a chance. I hope you make it off Vader’s ship.

    @ Luke – you’re absolutely right. The second half feels like a sprint in comparison to the first.

    @ AtlanticSpan – Congratulations! And yes, just sharing a few musings, almost at random really 😉

    @ Sam – I was coming to realise that something was wrong. Promotions, more money and stuff weren’t making me happy. I guess I was hitting the downward leg of the Happiness U in my thirties. Life was feeling like Groundhog Day and there didn’t seem much point fighting for the corner office or whatever.

    If you retire again, do you think it will be for good this time? Or do you see the future as a series of intermittent retirements?

    Jacob did give up the job after a few years. He said he did it for the life experience, not the money. I don’t doubt it given his interest in the subject.

    @ JimJim – good point! That bit didn’t really work. I’ve attempted a fix. I meant 18-months in relation to the previous post rather than the crisis, but yes, I can see why anyone not in my head might not know that 🙂

    @ JDW – yes, spot on about the mortgage. We hit that hard and paid it off before going for FI. In retrospect, it would have been better to do both in parallel but we needed to get one problem under control before thinking too hard about the next. Paying the mortgage was the warm-up act for FI.

    @ Hal – I think the size of your cash buffer is a function of what helps you sleep at night. There’s plenty of research out there to show that holding that much cash is a drag on returns but the only strategy that works is the one you can live with.

    If it helps I used to count my redundancy package as part of my cash buffer.

    @ Budget Life List – you will get there. Have you ever read Your Money Or Your Life? There’s some inspiring case studies in that book about people from all walks of life who’ve reached financial independence – some after many, many years.

    @ Stonebridge – £1K a month each is in the right ballpark. The Investor is right, I counted employer pension match and pension tax relief in my numbers. The advantage of starting late was (as TI pointed out to me at the time) I could use a SIPP as my primary vehicle and benefit from the UK’s generous tax breaks.

    I also had a couple of side-hustles which, while not lucrative, dropped straight into the pension and so largely avoided tax. Doing that could mean going at it seven days a week sometimes. Somehow the side-hustles didn’t feel like work in the same way though.

    The thing I love about Jacob is that he’s a brilliant thinker and a true original. There is no option he won’t consider, and he cares less about what other people think. I love his philosophy, strategic mindset and radical approach. He always makes me think even if I draw the line at living in a RV.

  • 16 Naeclue April 13, 2021, 7:42 pm

    Fantastic journey, well done for sticking to it.

    I just read the first link and it is amazing to think you started less than 8 years ago, albeit from a mortgage and kids free position. I am sure that maxing out pensions early on helped considerably, but is there anything you would have done differently? Held on to the mortgage for longer perhaps?

    With the benefit of hindsight I realised we were too conservatively invested with a 60/40 portfolio for too long. I would tell my younger self to up that to 90/10 in the early days, dropping to 80/20 over time.

  • 17 never give up April 13, 2021, 7:49 pm

    TA – I’m honoured I inspired you! I can completely visualise him flinging the oars aside. Thanks for the well wishes, I’ll post updates from time to time.

  • 18 Naeclue April 13, 2021, 8:05 pm

    We hit FI in 2012 when I quit and sold my company shares to staff/existing shareholders, but I went back as a part time consultant. The plan was for me to give up management and stick to the technical stuff which I enjoyed.

    Unfortunately that isn’t how it worked out. The company got sucked into the project from hell. Very profitable, but incredibly demanding in so many ways. I ended up doing 5 to 6 day weeks, 7 sometimes, and had to go back into project management. If I hadn’t done it there was a significant risk that we would have ended up with a complete idiot imposed upon us. Got out as soon as the project was over and the experience cured me of any residual interest I had in work.

  • 19 Marco April 13, 2021, 10:05 pm

    Massive congratulations! My own story mirrors yours almost to the day on all the major events. I guess the GFC may have created many people with similar fears and motivations. It’s been great having someone inspiring and helping me through the process.

    You’re spot on in about the second half being a breeze compared to the first. Once you start seeing your net worth going up by more than your earned income some months due to the share price growth, it all feels more achievable.

    My only question is what to do now. Unlike you, I’ve not hit the send button on that resignation email. In fact, I now feel as though I have some unfinished business at work, in particular I see some personal growth areas (fears unconfronted, and ugly behaviours) that I feel I want to focus on and work is not such a bad place to address them.

    Oh, that and I’m intrigued to see how quickly that dream house becomes achievable now I have built my retirement stash!

    Best of luck, and I’m excited to hear how the next chapter goes for you.

  • 20 Accidentally Retired April 13, 2021, 11:50 pm

    As always…great thorough article. I know this was quoted from another article of yours, but really true: “The downside is that now I’ve freed up that brainspace, it’s as if I’ve nipped down to the anxiety exchange to see what other troubles are available.”

    I think that is inherently the problem with reaching FI. Once you do, you are left there to sit with your happiness and/or unhappiness, and that in and of itself creates a whole new challenge!

  • 21 Matthew April 14, 2021, 12:13 am

    @TA – How did you go from no pension & no mortgage overpayment to saving 70%? Were you a heavy cash saver beforehand? Did you have to make big lifestyle changes and run that past Mrs A? And since the passing of the GFC did your motives somehow morph from survival to escaping the hamster wheel? – Because if it was purely survival in a crisis I could imagine you could’ve survived a change to any job, especially if Mrs A kept her job.

  • 22 Rosario April 14, 2021, 7:32 am

    @Marco: “Oh, that and I’m intrigued to see how quickly that dream house becomes achievable now I have built my retirement stash!”

    I’m halfway to FI, or there about, and often think this is where I’ll go post FI. I live a comfortable enough life now, certainly not what many would consider frugal but well within my means. I often think whether when I reach FI I’ll just be happy with my lot and opt out of the 50-60 hour work week or whether I’ll continue working and begin to let lifestyle inflation run away with itself somewhat. An extra couple of years working for a dream house does seem very tempting to me…

  • 23 Playing with Fire April 14, 2021, 7:56 am

    Thanks for this fantastic post and sharing your story. It’s definitely one to bookmark and come back to for the links and an extra shot of motivation!

    I’m envious of your experience of work between the resignation letter and last day, I want to feel that same relaxed attitude in my final working years, but don’t seem to have the temperament. Maybe I need to write the letter…

  • 24 Jim McG April 14, 2021, 9:35 am

    Great post, keep ’em coming! For me, it’s still a definite thumbs up for FI, but I can’t say I’m a big fan of Retiring Early, based on my past experience of it. I still have a clear memory of long, boring winter days looking out the window at the rain and wishing I had something constructive to do! That I would get paid for in recognition of a satisfactory job done. A job that involved some social contact with people not necessarily of my choosing, working with teams, achieving something. I could go on, and I used to in my blog, until I bit the bullet and went back to work (never regretted doing so either). I couldn’t, however, and cannot see a downside to FI, from having a goal, planning to attain it, being flexible, learning about investing, encouraging others….the list of positives is endless. As I approach retirement again (at 58) I’m still learning, and will be to my dying day (when hopefully I’ll have executed a financial plan on inheritance issues). I’ll also hopefully still be reading Monevator, and can’t praise you guys enough for keeping this site going in such a friendly, informative and worthwhile manner.

  • 25 Tom-Baker Dr Who April 14, 2021, 9:58 am

    @TA – It’s a great relief to see that you haven’t abandoned us after firing!

    It’s also nice to see the picture of the little fellow arriving safely and ahead of time on the FIRE island. My sense of closure desperately needed to see that picture.

    I’m looking forward to reading the future posts on what life is like over there. Specially because I’m almost getting there myself finally!

  • 26 The Accumulator April 14, 2021, 10:30 am

    @ Naeclue – that’s very interesting. It sounds like you did right by your former colleagues and that was the final boost you needed to head off in your own direction.

    Did you find something else that gives you the same enjoyment as the technical stuff?

    Re: doing things differently. I’d have started earlier!

    If I’d known in advance what the stock market would do then I’d have run the mortgage and FI objectives in parallel. But that really is the benefit of hindsight talking. In reality, paying the mortgage in six years taught me that FI was doable. Predictions on the future of the economy/interest rates, at the time, ranged from secular stagnation to hyperinflation so I’m comfortable with the decision to secure the house first.

    If I had another life, I’d like to know what would have happened if I’d focussed more on raising income by going up another rung or two on the career ladder. I did the calculation a couple of times and the next promotion didn’t seem to knock many months off the timeline. It meant entering an even more ruthless environment and having a bigger target on my back, so didn’t seem worth it.

    Really, starting earlier is the big thing.

    @ Marco – Cheers! And I bet you’re right about the GFC causing/forcing many to reassess the course of their lives. The early ‘90s recession didn’t much affect me as a Gen-Xer, so the GFC is a massive shock when it shows up after 16 years of moderation.

    @ Marco and Rosario – Mrs A and I have similarly dreamed of the dream house. But then I realised we love living where we are. Somewhere new probably wouldn’t much move the happiness dial for us if we chased it.

  • 27 The Accumulator April 14, 2021, 10:31 am

    @ Matthew – paying off the mortgage was the proving ground. That goal created the incentive for a step change in how we lived, and we kept taking bigger steps.

    I was very lucky that Mrs A was onboard from the beginning and naturally so. She’s not really a material girl so living on less in the service of a bigger dream was something we could easily agree on.

    I was not a heavy saver before paying off the mortgage. Anything but. We didn’t rack up debt (apart from mortgage) but we didn’t have anything to fall back on and weren’t doing anything to pay off the interest-only mortgage.

    Looking back, it seems unbelievable to me now, and something of a mess. I was just lucky that I’d somehow picked up an inveterate fear of consumer debt along the way.

    The GFC was like a road to Damascus experience but the key to increasing the savings rate was only spending on things that really made us happy, ruthlessly dropping the rest and keeping it dropped.

    Substitution was also critical. I loved eating out. But as it turned out, I loved eating in too. I used to burn a lot of cash on go-karting. I replaced that with playing football – just as fun and cost a pittance to participate. Certain loves had to be suppressed and remain so – such as a car that roars. Some sacrifices are worth it.

    Re: motivations. The GFC taught me that I needed a lifeboat and an independent means of survival. Wearying of the hamster wheel was coming anyway but exacerbated by the GFC.

    I imagine it’s common in your thirties to think of the trail you blazed in your twenties as a rut. Being a specialist cog in the machine just gets old.

    I guess people generally double-down and reach for the next rung.

    It’s like a videogame – defeat the boss, enter the next level – which you hope/assume will be amazing. It’s not amazing, but the next level surely must be…

    @ Jim McG – I owe you a big debt of gratitude. Your blog was a massive wake-up call for me and gave me so much to think about. I recognised a lot of myself in your writing, and I’ve come to realise that I’ll need to manage myself carefully in the transition. It’ll be very interesting to see how my morale holds up in the winter.

    Is there something you’ll do differently next time around?

    @ Tom-Baker – haha, thank you, I can’t believe I nearly left the little guy drifting just offshore.

  • 28 Naeclue April 14, 2021, 12:32 pm

    @TA, the first goal for us after we stopped work was to join in on the “Atlantic Rally for Cruisers”, a cross Atlantic cruise organised by the World Cruising Club. We would then cruise round the Caribbean for the winter. It took a year to get ourselves and the boat ready. We both got our Yachtmaster qualifications and did some yacht deliveries for a friend who used to run a yacht charter business in Turkey.

    Outside sailing I started helping out an old university friend, now a professor, with some electronics/microcontroller projects. I had done no electronics since university so had a lot of catching up to do first, but I find it fun. I even get paid sometimes. Payment is complicated though as there are rules about how much casual work you are allowed to do before employment rights, etc. kick in. Neither of us want this to be a full time thing and the university has rules about repeated short term contracts. I am happy to work for free though and do far more hours per contract than is necessary.

    I plan next to have a go at archaeology. Something I have always been interested in and I signed up last year for a course to obtain some qualifications. It was cancelled unfortunately due to Covid, but I hope to do it this year.

    We rapidly paid off the mortgage on our first properties as well. That was back in the 80s with double digit mortgage rates and it just seemed the right thing to do. We did put some money into PEPs as well, but most of it went into the mortgage. Being mortgage free was great. It gave me the confidence to set up in business with some colleagues. Something I might not have done if we still had a big mortgage (by big I mean 60k!). We did not have kids back then and it was not such a big risk really. I was still young and could easily have got a proper job after a year if it didn’t work out, but it felt like a big step at the time.

  • 29 Bill G April 14, 2021, 12:46 pm

    Thank you for posting this TA. I think that the final strait for my journey to FI is just about round the next bend, or the one after. Your article is a wonderful carrot, promising rewards in the foreseeable future.
    If anyone is looking for some stick to compliment it I should like to point them at the British Gas engineers having to reapply for their jobs on worse terms than before. A couple are quoted in the press as only swallowing the changes because they are in their 40’s / early 50’s with big mortgages to service.
    I do not know anymore than that about their individual situations, but it sums up why I am pushing for any semblance of FI (very lean right now, but improving with every passing month).

  • 30 G April 14, 2021, 3:12 pm

    Thanks for sharing, TA. I very much agree on the snowball effect.

    I know about the opportunity cost around paying off your home – but not paying rent or a mortgage each month also acts as an accelerant on your savings as for many it’ll be their biggest bill.

    After clearing that, it was down to shoving as much as I could into the pension (and I got enormously lucky on timing).

    Lastly, bill minimisation worked very well – and again is accumulative. ERE is really good on this.

  • 31 EcoMiser April 14, 2021, 4:56 pm

    Congratulations on your success and thank you for documenting your journey.

    Just after you got your wakeup call, I got my marching orders (same trigger). I decided I was probably FI, so declared myself RE. Then I had to figure out how to optimise investments, and eventually found Monevator, which has been an enormous help. Thanks for that too.

  • 32 Jim McG April 14, 2021, 5:29 pm

    @TA thanks for the compliment on my blog! Who knows, I may restart it as I’m about to leave the workplace again – through redundancy – and five years down the line I’m in a slightly different financial and mental position. I’m also 57, so can’t really claim to be RE, but I’m loathe to say I’m retired this time ’round anyway as I want to keep options open. I may work again, I may not. I think what I want to do differently this time is to give my days and weeks real structure – write objectives into my Google Calendar, the more the better. And I’m going to try things instead of thinking “I might” and then failing to do anything about them. Finally, I want my DOH to retire too as I found the friction of one of us earning and the other not, to be difficult to handle last time. It’s a work in progress, but I’m optimistic that I’ll rest easier out of the workplace this time and appreciate it more as the years fly by.

  • 33 Matthew April 14, 2021, 7:02 pm

    @TA – I used to watch stock cars and bangers – that way you get engines that roar and you’re helping the environment by taking out old cars. Do you think you’ll take up old hobbies again given the time and any spare money if sequence of returns go well? We were moderate cash savers before we discovered investing when we had just bought our house and then had to think mortgage overpayment vs pension, we have DB pensions too and enjoy our work so we aren’t scrimping too hard, but I had a bit of a health scare that endangered my job for a while so I wanted the security, but on the other hand wife is a spender (within limits) and happy wife = happy life, or happy spouse=happy house.

    I tell everyone that my goal is to save up for a bungalow in addition to retirement, hence using LISAs to draw down at once post 60, but really I’m hoping to avoid needing to buy that and just dont want to be pressured into retirement the moment I become FI, so I shoot higher, cautious SWR, hope to have a comfortable retirement more than an early one and help our son, against the wishes of the mrs who thinks we shouldn’t, either way though I can guide him and there probably would be something to inherit.

    I used to hope to avoid care home costs by owning house as tennants in common but thanks to investment success there’s no chance of avoiding it now, my best bet it to exceed it. I don’t want me/ the wife to be reluctant to get care because of cost, I imagine by the time we need care in old age it’d be too late to further help our son anyway.

  • 34 Weenie April 14, 2021, 8:46 pm

    A wonderful summary, TA – another one to bookmark (I have many Monevator ones!), to view again and for all the useful links.

    As I’m still accumulating, I don’t want to dwell on what happens next too much, else I end up just wishing the years away without appreciating the journey.

    However, I shall enjoy reading about your ‘what happens next’ to give me pointers and ideas.

  • 35 David April 14, 2021, 11:50 pm

    I just want to congratulate you on hitting your number and gaining freedom for you and your partner. Congratulations!

    I wish you every happiness in life as you reap the fruits of the seeds you have sown.

  • 36 Financial Samurai April 15, 2021, 4:03 am

    In response to your question, yes, I’m done with the online grind for a while and I won’t be looking for a FT job with two young kids.

    Unless there’s another pandemic lockdown, it’s all about living my remaining life to the Max. There will always be endless money to be made!

    Sam

  • 37 Grumpy Tortoise April 15, 2021, 9:46 am

    A fabulous post TA and one that will certainly refer back to in future. I’m intrigued as to how people have calculated how much they need in order to achieve FIRE.
    I’ve got 5 years to go before I do the ‘RE’ part. In terms of the ‘FI’ element, I have an idea of how much I need to live on per month (about £2.5k) and the proportion of my current net income that would offer me a comfortable living (about 65%).

  • 38 E&G April 15, 2021, 12:57 pm

    From the linked post I presume “making the right calls on ISA v SIPPs” means largely focusing on a SIPP but putting just enough into the ISA/cash to provide a bridge until you can draw that down? Finding the right balance is, as far as I can see it, the key to making this all work. In my case, at 35 and in a best case scenario (modest income, relatively low savings rate, biggish mortgage to pay and 3 young kids) the very earliest I can see myself retiring – with a very fair wind and maybe a package – is 53/54 (or 4/5 years prior to accessing a pension). I have a DB pension but also benefit from having a shared cost AVC – which gives me a tax free £1 (as it’ll be my lump sum) for every 67p (21% tax, 12% NI) put in, and I’m loath to put much into an ISA when I have what appears a much better alternative in the likely event that I don’t retire until 58 or later. My current plan is to pay as little as possible to the mortgage knowing I’ve the lump sum to come that could clear it or meet monthly payments from income, and drip the ‘savings’ into an ISA, but no idea how that’ll pan out.

  • 39 Tom Brine April 15, 2021, 1:53 pm

    Glad to read its been done in 8 years and with an impressive savings rate too. This website helped me immensely when I stumbled upon it some years ago and has helped me to hone my plan. I’m 37 now and the pot is currently like this,

    Pension £143,909.21. Contributing £2429.17 per month (Salary Sacrifice 45% + 10% Employer contribution).
    Employer Share Plan £13,317.47. Contributing £243 per month with 25% discount through matching shares.
    LISA £6635.89. Contributing £333.33 per month.
    Vanguard ISA £6,038.90. Contributing £100 per month soon to increase to £200 on clearing student loan repayments in a few months.
    Scottish Mortgage Shares £16,046.77 (My first ever investment prior to finding Monevator, no tax wrapper, maintained due to zero fees to purchase/hold).

    Total to date £185,948.24 with a savings rate of 71% and a new job with pay rise secured to start in a few months time. Still have a large mortgage we are paying off and are currently trying for a child. But I wouldn’t be where I am without the knowledge I have gained from this site. My end goal isn’t set yet, its about maximising my options in later life through tax efficient saving, ensuring I keep as much of the money I earn as possible, all thanks to yourself and your colleagues. I hope you enjoy the other side!

  • 40 FireSoon? April 15, 2021, 3:00 pm

    A superb open and honest account as always, thank you @TA, this is why I love this site. Some interesting comments about decisions on paying off the mortgage vs increasing pension contributions vs investing in other ways. I wonder if I am one of the few naive ones who decided it made sense to clear mortgage debt without thinking too much further ahead. As the mortgage approached four figures I began to wonder what I would do with the excess cash I was shovelling into the mortgage every few months. I couldn’t get remotely excited about squandering it (as I saw/see it) on flashy cars etc, so started taking much more interest in the investment world at that point, and inevitably from there towards FIRE. So much of this journey is about what you are comfortable with at various stages of life as opposed to optimising every little thing. No matter whether you choose to pay off the mortgage, put money into pension pots, or ISAs, with a high savings rate, the outcome is good.

  • 41 The Accumulator April 15, 2021, 6:53 pm

    @ Naeclue – the way you’ve lived your retirement sounds like the dream to me: taking on projects for fun, for challenge, because they fascinate you. I hope my retirement is half as fun.

    @ Bill G – absolutely right. I’ve come across a slew of stories like this recently in the press and through friends. Many businesses continue to squeeze their workforce and the best defence in my view is to have options.

    @ G and EcoMiser – it sounds like you’ve both navigated the terrain very well. Do you feel like the optimisation or minimisation action you took was a sacrifice? Personally speaking, the cuts I made years ago may have felt like a compromise at the time, but now feel like so much baggage I’m happier without.

    @ Jim McG – Those all seem like very sound steps. I think structure will be important for me too. I’ve got a few projects that will form the backbone of my week and then I’ll improvise from there.

    @ Matthew – It’s funny you should mention that, I have immediately resurrected one old hobby that I have long missed.

    Mostly though, I’m heading down the Naeclue route of trying things I’ve never made the time for. I’ve immediately picked up an unplanned gardening project that I love for its physicality and sense of promise – but I’ve never done a day’s gardening in my life before.

    It sounds like your approach is about keeping your options open which can only be a good thing.

    @ Sam – good luck with retirement part II – sounds like your hands are full with the little ones but that’s time you truly wouldn’t want to miss anyway.

    @ Grumpy – cheers! After years of tracking our expenses I’ve got a good idea of what we spend, plus extra for large, occasional expenses (e.g. new computer), plus a back-up fund (e.g. roof blows off). As a couple of people mentioned on another thread, the year of COVID has shown how little we can really live on if needs be.

    @ E&G – spot on. The tax advantages of a pension were a massive tailwind. I’d still be accumulating if I was trying to fund a decade or more from ISAs.

    In my case, I only need to bridge 6 years to minimum pension age. Things are getting tricker as the pension age has been turned into a moving target but hopefully younger generations will benefit from being opted in to pensions from the start of their careers.

    Good luck on your own journey!

    @ Tom – you’re doing much better than I at 37, and I like your strategy of ensuring optionality. As others have pointed out, financial independence is an unqualified good (the RE more an acquired taste), and every step you take towards FI gives you more power over your own destiny.

    @ FireSoon? – I don’t think you can go wrong with clearing your mortgage. All those articles about investing vs paying off your mortgage would look like historic folly if the market had gone sideways for the last 10 years.

  • 42 Matthew April 15, 2021, 7:53 pm

    E&G – you could have a lifetime s&s isa at your age – the relief would be a tad less (you wouldn’t get salary sacrifice on NI conts) BUT you also might be able to avoid breaching the 20% tax band in retirement. You could keep your fast growers in the LISA which is not taxed on growth and bonds in the sipp which is taxed when you draw it so as to not push against that threshold. You can also avert the risk of potentially running into the 40% tax band in retirement if your equities did really well!

    Downside would be that the LISA will in just over 3 years destroy any eligability you may have had for universal credit if you lost your job. Also inheritance tax is potentially better with pensions, if that’s a problem.

  • 43 NewInvestor April 15, 2021, 8:45 pm

    @TA

    After years of tracking our expenses I’ve got a good idea of what we spend, plus extra for large, occasional expenses (e.g. new computer), plus a back-up fund (e.g. roof blows off).

    Throughout reading your highly informative posts on hitting your number and your planning (and going through the archives), I’ve never been able to gauge how much, in relative terms, you have set aside for large, occasional expenses nor a back-up fund?

    Grateful for any info you might wish to disclose about what you considered would be sufficient for your purposes (and I appreciate that you’ve written that one can’t cater for all eventualities).

  • 44 E&G April 15, 2021, 9:03 pm

    Thanks TA.

    @Matthew I have a single share in a LISA – had intended to stick the full entitlement away each year and buy two shares to satisfy the devil on my shoulder wanting to play at active investments while benefiting from tax free growth if the extra risk was rewarded – but I then moved jobs and made the sensible decision to take the extra avc gains on offer from the new employer. I might fancy I can beat the market but definitely not when giving it a 13% head start. I have been thinking of using it on the basis that I could load up the SCAVC post-50 but who knows if that will still be available then and even if it was I’d have lost out on compounding away the NI saving.

  • 45 Matthew April 16, 2021, 1:06 am

    @E&G – LISA doesn’t have to be active, for example buy Vanguard ftse global all cap/ lifestrategy range/ target date range
    To me a pension/isa/lisa are just tax wrappers that can hold the same types of fund within.

    In my mind you can layer wrappers for different age ranges – i.e:
    68+ DB pension + State pension
    60-68+ LISA
    57-60+ Private pension
    >57 S&S / cash isa

    Other considerations – if you might have children and might be able to get universal credit then go all in for private pensions to deduct the means tested income.

    And if you plan to finish with x% equities and y% bonds then maybe consider (if you have the discipline) to buy the equities first while they’re cheaper than they probably will be (esp while young)

    Also consider your DB pension and the state pension to be part of your very safe bond allocation – effectively TIPS gilts/ an annuity. The safety of the DB means you can afford more risk and worry less about SWRs, your private pension and lisa doesn’t need to last your life necessarily

  • 46 E&G April 16, 2021, 9:33 am

    Thanks Matthew – I meant I’d dabble in active investments using my LISA. Completely agree that DB is a bond proxy and I’m not expecting to get much if anything in a state pension by the time I get there. Current loose plan based on current rules would be to maximise SCAVCs, drip a wee bit into S&SISA and SIPP, use ISA to bridge to 58 (and beyond if funds allow), exhaust SIPP with £16kish (25% tax free plus full allowance) then take DB with the actuarial reduction, topped up with what remains of SCAVC pot once the mortgage balance has been cleared. If funds allow I’ll consider using a LISA for fun money/to substitute funds used giving the kids a wee start on a house deposit etc.

  • 47 Matthew April 16, 2021, 10:37 am

    @E&G – I couldn’t imagine the state pension totally disappearing – at most it might be means tested, but even that would be politically toxic to any party that attempted – you’re prudent enough to plan on it not being there, but many of the electorate have built their plans around it – we can probably count on it being there or at least being ok in old age (remember we still have lifelines like equity release, or even selling up and getting UC to pay the rent – point is people who are less prepared than us do survive).
    Tories wouldn’t do it because it’d undermine the meritocracy of earning NI conts and destroy plans, Labour wouldn’t do it because it’d cause hardship by undermining plans – anyone who built the state pension into their plan isn’t really in the crosshairs of either party (Lab target the most rich, Con target the most workshy).
    [likewise both parties would want to raise minimum wage but for different reasons and different perceptions of affordability]

    It is difficult to weigh up something like a sipp vs your SCAVCs – you’re getting a good price for what I assume is extra DB time – you probably could outperform it if you took risk passively and kept costs down, but it boils down to how you feel. IF you were for working after 60 you could recycle LISA money into a pension more than you’d be allowed to recycle a tax free pension lump sum back into a pension (which you can still do a little) – so it *might* be cheaper in a way to buy your SCAVCs after the age of 60 with the help of a LISA bonus – the uncertainty here would be that the SCAVCs might get more expensive with age, but on the other hand you could take risk to grow to meet/exceed that.

    You could also say that there’s efficiency in focussing on one age layer at a time as far as possible – Ie cash can wait till last, but on the other hand there are safety advantages to doing a bit if everything at once – you have emergency cash, and you’d be safer in deflation, just not taking full advantage of inflation.

    If your cash can match or come close to your mortgage rate then I see no real reason to favour the mortgage – it locks the money away for pension sorts of time, the only reason I can see for that would be to dispose of cash to qualify for UC if you lost work (but a sipp could do that too, and better). Its actually cheaper to pay off the mortgage via a pension/lisa than directly.

    As for emergency cash – think about what your emergencies actually would be and dont forget your ability to obtain credit for these things like most of the population does (most people don’t keep 6 months cash and the BoE knows it and plans around it, so I don’t ses why we should) – I do though keep an S&S isa for emergencies and cover it with unused credit cards – if I need the money I either sell the investment or if markets are bad I could borrow on the card at 4% (you can get 0%!) – so you limit your losses but avoid the opportunity cost of cash.

    My LISA holds vanguard ftse global all cap, I chose that over the cheaper hsbc tracker because vanguard is more comprehensive in its holdings and if Vanguard offer Lisas in the future I would be able to transfer in specie rather than selling & rebuying.

  • 48 David Andrews April 16, 2021, 10:46 am

    Well done at hitting your target and taking moving on from your day to day employment.

    I’m 48 and have also hit my FI target. Being 7 years ( at least ) away from pension access my plan is to drawdown funds from my ISA if required to augment the income I get from my BTL to property. I’m fully debt free including mortgages.

    Once I hit my FI target I found that my work motivation has fallen off a cliff but I’m finding it tough to make the final leap.

  • 49 BBlimp April 17, 2021, 9:39 am

    @TA – Congratulations on RE ! Like many of the others here I have read the above articles but having them set out in one place IN THIS CONTEXT is certainly food for thought !

    I personally have decided that the FI is more important to me than the RE, in much the way Rosario and others have above. Infact, your article on personal inflation rate had me chuckling to myself remembering some of the things I had done previously, for eg in my 20s two friends and I shared a room went we went on holiday; taking turns to share the bed. Although they were really lovely holidays a bit of lifestyle inflation is not bad thing 😉

    There was an article in the time this week (paywalled but I’ll add it if drops off) about how to save for an early 20k/year retirement. If I can, I’d rather go on 40k/year. Your debate with the numbers guy (or greybeard?) and TI where TNG had gone back to work really made me wonder if all the sacrifices involved in a super high savings rate just to return to the workplace when you leave it were worth it. I look forward to hearing about your FIRE life with interest – maybe you’ll tip the scales !

    @E&G – I’m a fraction older than you and managed to buy quite young when prices were much lower and interest rates quite a bit higher. I was absolutely chuffed to get a fix at 5.74pc as a first time buyer, and this was just before the GFC. All my friends in their mid 30s think interest rates will be superlow for ever. Maybe they will. But if you do have a large ( compared to earnings) mortgage worth running the sums for each percentage point rise at the end of your fix – if my mortgage did return to being 5.74pc (up from its current 1.49pc) I could afford it but I’d be bloody miserable 😉

  • 50 Calculus April 17, 2021, 10:25 am

    Fire; plasma, the fourth state of matter. Highly energised ‘free’ electrons and ions, loosely confined, giving off radiation. Also highly conductive and strongly affected by external electric and magnetic fields! All the best @TA.

  • 51 The Accumulator April 17, 2021, 6:20 pm

    @ NewInvestor – I was just thinking this week I haven’t tackled that topic on the blog yet. I’ll bump it up my to do list.

    @ David – it’s understandable that you want to take your time over such a big decision and make sure that it’s right for you.

    @ BBlimp – Ha, yes, some of the lifestyle choices of my 20-something self definitely don’t suit my 40-something frame. The Details Man (aka Young FI Guy) FIRE’d in his twenties. I think he’s part-time now and much happier with that cadence. I don’t think RE would have worked for me either in my twenties. I didn’t know myself well enough and hadn’t yet seen enough of my potential career path to know that I would want to cut it short.

    Most of the retirees I know absolutely love it, and I think the majority of Monevator readers on that side of the finish line give it the thumbs up too. How many of those are RE, I’m not sure.

    @ Calculus – That about sums up how I’m feeling right now 🙂

  • 52 EcoMiser April 18, 2021, 11:37 am

    @TA #41 I never thought I was ‘sacrificing’ anything, neither before nor after retiring. I was just squirrelling away spare money for a rainy day. If I wanted something, (and still wanted it after due consideration of value for money, if it was expensive) I bought it. FWIW, 12 years into retirement and my net worth is still increasing as I don’t really want much.
    #51 Is 58 RE? I count it as such, although private pensions are accessible earlier.

  • 53 Al Cam April 18, 2021, 2:27 pm

    @EcoMiser:
    Re: “FWIW, 12 years into retirement and my net worth is still increasing …”
    I am slowly coming to the conclusion that this is probably the most likely outcome.
    If I may, was/is the increase in your net worth a surprise to you and if so what were the main contributors?

  • 54 David Andrews April 19, 2021, 9:00 am

    @EcoMiser – I’ve got a similar mindset to yourself. My household have always lived below its means but we don’t feel we’ve sacrificed anything. Travel on a budget can be exciting and rewarding. Learning to fix something yourself means you sometime save money and learn a new skill.

    There’s usually something we want but never anything we desperately need. For the past few years my investment returns have met the household’s everyday spending requirements so practically all employment income was saved or invested. My trusty spreadsheet suggests I’m going to have to force myself to spend more money in my later years.

  • 55 Naeclue April 19, 2021, 2:46 pm

    @Al Cam, The annualised TR of the world market has been about 13% over the last 12 years. Bonds have also done exceptionally well. Anyone retiring 12 years ago should have experienced a stunning sequence of returns unless very unlucky with their choice of investments.

    That said, the most likely outcome is investments will increase in value during the initial retirement period. An initial withdrawal rate is set low with an eye on avoiding very bad outcomes that can, but are unlikely to happen, which means the average outcome can be expected to be good.

  • 56 EcoMiser April 19, 2021, 3:24 pm

    @Al Cam Yes, it was somewhat of a surprise, I’d planned on net worth slowly dwindling to zero around age 105 (although if I was still around at 100 I’d adjust the plan 🙂
    The reason for my increasing wealth is simple: favourable Sequence of Returns, namely a 10 (or is it 12 with a blip) year bull run starting around when I retired. That and following The Greybeard’s hints and getting into Investment Trusts for a nice smoothed, slowly increasing, dividend income. So far that’s worked well, even through Covid, though prices may be rising quicker than the dividends.

  • 57 Al Cam April 19, 2021, 5:03 pm

    @EcoMiser(#56), @Naeclue(#55)
    I fully get the maths and the favourable SoR angle, but was interested to see if there was anything more to it than that? In my own case – over an admittedly shorter period thus far – favourable returns is also not the only factor.

    BTW, I rather like the idea of a re-plan at 100!

  • 58 Al Cam April 20, 2021, 8:43 am

    @EcoMiser(#56), @Naeclue(#55):

    These graphs (see https://retireearlyhomepage.com/reallife21.html) have fascinated me for years. They are the closest thing I can find (albeit US based) to long run (>20 years) real world results – as opposed to pure indices without costs, etc. The things that stand out for me are:
    a) dispersion in results due to portfolio selection/make-up; and
    b) sensitivity to start date (2000 start date vs 1994)

  • 59 EcoMiser April 21, 2021, 4:34 pm

    @Al Cam. There is another factor for me, I’m not even spending the whole of my pension income, at least not on normal living expenses. Nevertheless, the growth in my portfolio, dividends not included, and also excluding further money added, far exceeds unspent pension.
    The review at 100 comes from my initial ‘Am I FI’ calculations when faced with redundancy. Assuming zero real growth and constant real spending at the same rate as then gave the money running out at age 105. Good enough to stop worrying, schedule a review five years before then.

    The Real-Life Retiree Returns graphs do show that both the ‘skill’ of picking the right strategy, and the ‘luck’ of retiring at the right time both have significant influence on the outcome.

  • 60 Al Cam April 21, 2021, 6:34 pm

    @EcoMiser (#59):
    Thanks for the further info. I suspect a lot of folks who are lucky enough to have pension income [will ultimately] fall into that category. I am yet to draw my DB pension but now forecast this outcome may well apply to us too.

    Like you, my calculations prior to “pulling the plug” seem to have been rather conservative with the benefit of a handful of years of lived RE experience. Time will tell; I may still become a late onset spendthrift!

    Re ‘Skill’ and ‘luck’ – I agree; is this not just the recipe for life!

    Lastly, does “Assuming zero real growth and constant real spending at the same rate” mean: current Pot divided by estimated annual spend?

  • 61 EcoMiser April 22, 2021, 11:12 am

    @Al Cam Yes. Simple and conservative estimate based on having no real data on market performance, and knowing I could live on what I was living on.

  • 62 Al Cam April 22, 2021, 3:31 pm

    @EcoMiser (#61)
    IMO, simple models have a lot going for them. And, they rarely let you down.
    I guess the only remaining issue is what are you going to do with it all. Not the worst problem to have but I would imagine you do not want to leave sorting that out until you are 100?

  • 63 EcoMiser April 23, 2021, 5:25 pm

    @Al Cam
    Following the year-end review, 2019/20 I’d decided I needed to up my spending on household improvements and recreation. For some reason that mostly got put on hold.
    There’s a strong possibility that I’ll need to pay for care, in my own home, or later, in a home, so giving too much away too soon seems inadvisable. But I could up my giving to some local organisations. And I need to make a will, but I’m a procrastinator, and I don’t know what I want to do, beyond what the intestacy rules will do anyway.

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