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I hit my FI number

A person completes their FI journey after a long slog.

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

Okay, these aren’t quite the scenes at Accumulator HQ – because I’m an emotional pygmy.

But I have hit my number… and I don’t really know how to feel.

I actually hit my FI (Financial Independence) number during the stock market surge in January.


That looked like the end of that dream. I was minded of Alf Ramsey’s words to the England team before extra-time in the 1966 World Cup Final:

You’ve won it once. Now go and win it again.

But the Central Banks came out blazing – better than a Geoff Hurst hat-trick any day – and eight months later “I’m over the moon, Brian” about my Independence Day 2.

2020 has cast an air of unreality over everything so for sanity’s sake I’ve stopped obsessing over my target figure.

That’s meant prioritising cash savings since February. There should now be enough in my vault to see out the next half-decade or so.

If the stock market dives again, I’m not changing the plan.

It’s meant to survive crashes of historic magnitude.

(No, that doesn’t mean it’s safe.)

I did it my way

I’m no poster child for the FIRE1 movement – I’m 48. But maybe my story can offer hope to other late starters:

  • I didn’t set out for the FI Promised Land until age 41.
  • I’ve never earned a six-figure salary.
  • I’m not a tech bro or finance pro.
  • I’ve peaked at mid-five figures in a declining industry.
  • My personal finances were a mess that I didn’t begin to clear up until age 35.

Financial independence can be achieved surprisingly quickly – faster than the 10 years I reckoned on.

The middle years can be bleak but you gain momentum once you’re over the halfway hump.

What now?

Just chillax and enjoy life? You must be joking. That’s not me at all. I need negative energy to feed upon.

But there’s no need to grasp around for any old anxiety. I’ve had mine lined up for ages.

An earlier version of me crashed and burned when I got all the time and freedom I could mishandle. I was like a small child who loved Haribo and then, when given control of their meal plan, ate Haribo morning, noon, and night.

Inevitably there was a reckoning and it still affects me years later.

So this time… no sudden moves. 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.

That much rapid change is a shock to the system. It’d be too shocking for my system.

I need to take things slowly and acclimatise. It’s not very devil-may-care, but I’m a cautious soul by nature.

Hard-charging for financial independence meant a massive lifestyle shift. But it also threw into relief the many things I’m damned if I know how to change.

I’m wired up a particular way. For better or worse I come with complementary baggage that I can’t just pop down and leave. Wherever I go, I’ll still be bringing ‘him’ along.

I may be FI but I’m still the same sack of problems. I haven’t reached the end of the rainbow.

So I’m carrying on as normal for now. Or at least as normal as it gets in the midst of a global pandemic – which has frankly made me reluctant to even talk about FI these past months.

Stress relief

One thing is for sure, a recession is much less scary for following the FI path.

All those stories back in March about FIRE being over? They were garbage at the time, anyway, but more importantly everybody who was on the FIRE journey was (and is) in a better place for it – whatever the future holds and no matter how far down the track you are.

I’ve seen the look of fear on colleagues’ faces as demand slumped. Then the relief when a client crackled back into life – like radio comms from a rescue team in a post-apocalyptic movie.

But 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.

Something else changed, too

During our December FIRE debate, The Investor (and I hate admitting this to him) got to me more than I realised. His crudely repetitious argument for working beyond FI lodged itself in my brain, even though I clearly crushed him intellectually…

I’d always imagined that making FI would be swiftly followed by pulling the trigger.

I set the number so that could be the case.

But I haven’t gone for a super-resilient, sustainable withdrawal rate (SWR) of 3% or less. And I’m on the lean side of FIRE. A little more room for manoeuvre wouldn’t go amiss.

Carrying on working in some capacity seems a lot more sensible than fretting about bond yields. It suits my ‘no sudden moves’ self-management plan.

What I really wanted was an end to work as marred by the riptides of restructurings, obsolescence, misfortune, performance assessments, and all the BS of office politics (you remember offices?)

I’m not worried about any of that now I don’t have to fight for survival in the corporate jungle.

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

FIRE-d up

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

That’s what I’ll focus on for the next few months. It’s a liberating feeling.

And I am happy. Did I mention I was happy?

Take it steady,

The Accumulator

  1. Financial Independence Retire Early []
{ 153 comments… add one }
  • 1 Al Cam September 15, 2020, 10:13 am

    I remember a similar milestone; albeit I was a bit older than you.
    If my experience is anything to go by, what follows should be an interesting time for you. There is no need for any rash decisions, but lots of things that other people dread will now be seen by you as an opportunity.
    Best of luck and please keep writing about your journey – as I forecast it will get quite interesting now and you have about a 1-in-4 chance of living for another 48 years, see:

  • 2 diy investor (uk) September 15, 2020, 11:07 am

    Many congratulations TA and I hope you work out a workable solution to the next stage of RE now you are FI!

  • 3 Fremantle September 15, 2020, 11:22 am

    Great news TA, congratulations.

  • 4 never give up September 15, 2020, 11:24 am

    Woohoo congrats! I’ve enjoyed this series of posts although I appreciate they have been spread over seven years. In your first post back in 2013 you mentioned you were heavily investing into pensions with a ten year plan until 2023. You mentioned that if things went well you may hit your target earlier, but have an issue with the gap to pension access age.

    Has this materialised or did you change strategy to invest more heavily in ISA’s some way through? I found FIRE when I was 40 (currently 43) so have a similar awkward length gap to fill, especially as pension access age is likely to be 57/58 for me.

  • 5 Carlos September 15, 2020, 11:44 am

    Congratulations! I’ve been reading you for quite some years now, and I feel really happy to see you hitting your number like this.

    And I agree with the “no sudden movements” theory… I think when I hit my number, I’ll follow a similar approach

  • 6 ermine September 15, 2020, 12:01 pm

    Good for you – congratulations!

  • 7 Rosario September 15, 2020, 12:13 pm

    Huge congratulations, it may happen faster than you first imagine but its always a long hard road especially if you’re not pushed along by a six figure plus tail wind.

    Personally as someone just less than half way to FIRE and often frustrated that its not going quickly enough I love hearing about the experience of those that have made it. Where it takes them is not so important to me, everyone has their own goals, but your slowly slowly approach with no sudden movements is certainly in line with my way of thinking. I’m looking forwards to reading where your journey takes you next.

    Congratulations again.

  • 8 J.D. September 15, 2020, 12:37 pm

    Now you need to change your handle to The Decumulator, or The Man Formerly Known As The Accumulator.

  • 9 Nathan September 15, 2020, 12:54 pm

    Well done Mr A. Enjoy your hard earned lack of financial anxiety.

  • 10 EcoMiser September 15, 2020, 1:09 pm

    Once you do finally say goodbye to paid employment you may find yourself busier than ever. I certainly did.

  • 11 PaulH September 15, 2020, 1:10 pm

    Congratulations! Hitting, then missing, then hitting again must have been quite the rollercoaster. I’m looking forward to hearing how you settle into FI, and perhaps in due course RE.

  • 12 Nick H September 15, 2020, 1:31 pm

    Congratulations. I’d advise taking things steady but you’re already there. Enjoy the feeling.

  • 13 Passive Pete September 15, 2020, 1:42 pm

    Well done, I’m pleased for you.
    Your plan sounds sensible. When I got to the figure it happened on the buy-out of my company and I had to work for at least a further three years, by which time I’d acclimatised to the situation and I even managed to work a few more years after that on a part time basis. When you don’t need to work you can gain more enjoyment from it know you have FU money.
    Now you’ve sorted that out, perhaps you could have a look at available alts for retail investors, such as BH Macro that @ZX recently mentioned; I don’t have a clue what to start researching, so a little direction from you guys would be appreciated 😉

  • 14 Andy September 15, 2020, 1:42 pm

    Well done on reaching your target! Don’t blame you for continuing to work, the huge elephant in the room is inflation, which I can see exploding over the coming years. It already has exploded in assets (hence why you reached target so quickly!) since the money printing taps were turned on back in 2008, however, I think it’ll be very hard to keep out of the “official” stats going forward. Nothing worse than a strong bout of inflation for someone living on a fixed income. But you know that 🙂

  • 15 Chris September 15, 2020, 1:49 pm

    Been reading you guys for years – it’s great you’ve made it 🙂

  • 16 Lemsip September 15, 2020, 1:54 pm

    Congratulations !
    I hit a similar milestone at 48 and have been FIREd for 2 years now. The COVID shock and Q4 2018 freakout supplied a nasty jolt to my portfolio too, but being mentally prepared for the possibility helped navigate it relatively unscathed. it is certainly a relief to not be unduly stressed by a worsening economic situation, brexit etc which normally would have caused concerns about job stability, finances and so on. Congrats again !

  • 17 John B September 15, 2020, 2:05 pm

    Well done! It would be a shock for you to both stop work and writing such an active blog on how to stop work, look at poor RIT. I think you need to think of a new focus for your energy, as I doubt like me you could FIRE at 48 and potter for years.

  • 18 db94 September 15, 2020, 2:16 pm

    Great news TA. Jolly well done, and enjoy!

  • 19 ermine September 15, 2020, 2:23 pm

    I’ve had the time to read this in more depth and I congratulate you for the wisdom. I’m a big fan of not making huge lifestyle changes in the first six months, because you need to get to know your retired/FI/free of The Man self whatever shape that will be.

    Must be a strange time to do it, when you are surrounding by others’ palpable fear.

    What I really wanted was an end to work as marred by the riptides of restructurings, obsolescence, misfortune, performance assessments, and all the BS of office politics (you remember offices?)

    I’m not worried about any of that now I don’t have to fight for survival in the corporate jungle.

    Freedom tastes good – though I still want to form a fist when I hear the term performance management, eight years after hearing the term for the last time!

    Good for you. Enjoy your new life!

  • 20 Fatbritabroad September 15, 2020, 2:29 pm

    Congrats ti that’s amazing
    I’m probably 5 years away and struggling with the idea of taking a leap and making a change now to see if a new role is more positive with the knowledge I have fu money (4 years worth of spending easily covered) or keep my head down and coast in a miserable job for the final push

  • 21 { in·deed·a·bly } September 15, 2020, 2:34 pm

    Congratulations TA! A good job well done.

  • 22 Scrooge September 15, 2020, 2:36 pm

    Well done and congratulations.
    A 70% savings rate can’t have been easy.
    Enjoy your freedom.

  • 23 weenie September 15, 2020, 2:39 pm

    Congratulations on hitting your FI number, TA!

    I’ve just hit a milestone myself so can imagine your joy (whether you show it or not!) is 10-fold of what I’m feeling!

    You absolutely don’t want to do an RIT and relocate your family to some other country immediately – he realised later that he needed a lot more time to decompress but it looks like you’ve got that in hand, taking things slowly to acclimatise to this new freedom as it were!

  • 24 Banker on FIRE September 15, 2020, 2:44 pm

    Big congrats TA! Wonderful news – very happy for you.

  • 25 Dawn September 15, 2020, 2:50 pm

    Well done TA so happy for you. Very inspiring too for those who start their FI journey late.

    I still work part time because I enjoy it but it’s on my terms now. I’m not worried about clients anymore. If they are there or not. Dosnt matter anymore.

  • 26 Ian September 15, 2020, 2:51 pm

    Yes, well done TA! High fives all around.

    I think it was RIT who said that FI is both a qualitative and quantitative challenge. Now that the quantitative (in some ways easiest?) part is solved, I’m looking forward to you scaling the very top of Maslow’s pyramid!

  • 27 Guacamole September 15, 2020, 3:05 pm

    Congratulations. Looking forward to future posts on how you approach life going forward. Working my way there.

  • 28 Frugalharpy September 15, 2020, 3:05 pm

    Wow! Congrats! It’s an amazing feeling… Enjoy it! For me, I’m trying to figure out what’s next without giving myself too much undue pressure to meet societal expectations.

  • 29 Nigel B. September 15, 2020, 3:14 pm

    Congratulations. It’s a nice feeling! I’m with you on the gradual change v rapid change front. With your level of self-awareness you’ll have no difficulty in answering the question “will this change be helpful or harmful to me?”.

  • 30 AZ Joe September 15, 2020, 3:19 pm

    Good Job and congratulations. If you can find a copy (cheap or free – perhaps a library?) of Vickie Robin and Joe Dominguez’ book “Your Money or Your Life” over there, check out the last chapter – #9: Now That You’ve Got It, What Are You Going to Do With It?
    I found it very helpful when preparing for leaving employment and “moving on.”

  • 31 Cigano99 September 15, 2020, 3:31 pm

    Tah-dah!! many congratulations TA in not just hitting your FI number, but in formulating and executing on your plan and staying the course 🙂 Glad you plan now is to relax a little and take time to figure out your next steps, no doubt yours will be an intersting Journey and i do hope you keep sharing with the Monevator community that you and TI have built here.

  • 32 PassiveNoob September 15, 2020, 3:33 pm

    Well done, great news. Sincere congratulations! 🙂

  • 33 SirRik September 15, 2020, 4:07 pm

    Congratulations MrTA! I read your articles from Venice, Italy, and never added a comment before…but this time it’s a must. Well done and thank you for your precious work. Talking to my Team, once I said that when I’m getting bored reading financial newspapers I switch to Monevator…I hope this gives the idea about how valuable myself and others consider your articles. SirRik

  • 34 PC September 15, 2020, 4:20 pm

    “Being able to walk away makes walking away much less urgent” that’s the key point for me. Thanks for the article.

  • 35 Andy J September 15, 2020, 4:28 pm

    Whoop! \o/ Congratulations @TA thats brilliant news. I can’t wait to read your continued wisdom during the next stage.

  • 36 Really? September 15, 2020, 4:37 pm

    Weak and lacking article, and time-wasting , to say the least:

    1. Lacks numbers – what’s your actual FI figure ? £150 ? £250k ? £1m £1.75m ? £5m? Provide more info !

    2. Seems to be a ‘waste of space article’ which should be deisgnated for your mates over a pint or 2 i.e. you’re coming across a boastful and spewing a lot of “hey look at me” attitude – rather than provide INFORMATIVE and educated wisdom to readers and investors on how you got there ! E.g. Balanced/aggressive portfolio of Stocks ? Cash ? Bonds ? BTLs ? Horses ? Paintings ?

    p.s. I achieved FI ( low 7 figures £ at between 38-39) . Sorry to burst your bubble.

  • 37 SemiPassive September 15, 2020, 4:57 pm

    Congrats TA, a monumental achievement 🙂 Please keep blogging on the next phase.
    48 isn’t very old either.

    In reply to Andy, staginflation is most certainly on the way, businesses are using Covid as an excuse to freeze salaries while at the same time today I’ve just had emails showing 10%+ increases in my electricity bill and mobile phone bill.
    Wait until insurers pass on the Covid bill into all forms of insurance, car, home, everything.
    Next up food, fuel, appliances, etc… will it actually show up in the CPI figures – who knows. But it will hit people in the pocket.
    A Monevator article on the impacts of real life inflation vs government figures on incomes – and investing – would be great if you have time TA or TI?

  • 38 Ruby September 15, 2020, 5:11 pm

    Well done, good for you.
    Only tip I can pass on – carry on working; paid, unpaid, full time, part time whatever, just carry on working.

  • 39 Carl September 15, 2020, 5:23 pm

    This made me very happy, congratulations! I will be interested to read about what comes next, and also the lifestyle shift you mentioned – I wonder if this has been a positive part of the experience?

    I find myself a much happier and healthier man for starting to tackle financial independence, although I’m a long long way off at 32. It’s helped me kick the smoking habit and seeing that cost disappear has been great. Plus now it’s replaced with walks, foraging, cooking, and all sorts of other inexpensive hobbies that I find both rewarding and enjoyable.

    I wonder if TA or anyone else has had friends or family state, ‘It’s good you’re saving and all that, but be careful, you don’t want to miss out on things now’…or something to that effect?

    My response has so far been, ‘Miss out?! I’m having the time of my life!’

    Anyway, thanks for the inspiration, look forward to more!

  • 40 Colin September 15, 2020, 5:35 pm

    Congratulations! I’ve followed a similar path and did not panic during the Covid “crisis”. I think your idea of moving slow and figuring out what you want to do now. I found the book “Die With Zero” by Bill Perkins very useful and thought provoking. It’s easily found on Amazon.

  • 41 David September 15, 2020, 5:49 pm

    Brilliant. I’ve been reading your posts since around 2011 and am so pleased you’ve made it. I think I’m about 80% of the way there; this blog has really helped me get that far.

  • 42 John September 15, 2020, 5:53 pm

    Congratulations seems a strong word considering how like warm you are on it. Liberating rather than life changing perhaps – certainly for the moment anyway.

    Very positive post though – thanks for sharing.

  • 43 Victoria September 15, 2020, 6:02 pm

    You might want to look at the US blog Our Next Life. She’s just published Work Optional. I haven’t read it but it’s likely to have info that may help you as they FIRE’d a couple of years ago.

  • 44 Pinkney September 15, 2020, 6:15 pm

    Super congratulations Mr A a great achievement. Interesting times ahead in which you can relax and observe. I was going to pull the trigger this year but the whole working at home and Covid thing has made me just wait for a little longer as it’s quite frankly perfectly fine to be working. I hope you keep up the great articles and deaccumulation is a whole new topic to get your mind working on.

  • 45 Tyro September 15, 2020, 6:18 pm

    Excellent, many congratulations! But what about Ms Accumulator? Does she still have years of slog ahead of her while you eat lotus?

  • 46 AfroLatino September 15, 2020, 6:48 pm

    A big congrats to you! Very well deserved. Thanks for taking out time to educate us on FI. Wishing you good health and God’s blessings.

  • 47 Algernond September 15, 2020, 7:07 pm

    Congratulation @Accumulator.

    Not to put a downer on things, but ….
    With what the government has been doing the last 6 months in regards to (what I perceive) as a rapid descent into despotism and authoritarianism, I am concerned that it won’t be too long before pension funds could be significantly raided for years to come in the name of ‘public health’ and the ‘welfare of the state’ . Obviously this would impact one’s FI number.
    Do you think that this is a legitimate concern and should be factored in?

  • 48 AlwaysLearnin September 15, 2020, 7:24 pm

    Many congratulations TA. You’ve done what you need to do what you want. I look forward to reading all about it!

  • 49 Prometheus September 15, 2020, 7:31 pm

    Wow, Accumulator …Well done and congratulations!

    You’re spot on, it’s about freedom to decide what you want to do….not just what you don’t want to do.


  • 50 Dat boi September 15, 2020, 7:37 pm

    Jesus I love your writing style. You’re so dry. Why am I just finding this site now

  • 51 Victoria September 15, 2020, 7:51 pm

    I wish I could respond directly to other comments, but I’d like to tell ‘Really?’ to sod off and stop being a dick.

  • 52 Steveark September 15, 2020, 8:08 pm

    Way to go, I retired slightly early five years ago. I enjoyed work a lot and was in no hurry to leave it behind, until I realized I had exceeded FAT FI, and then inherited seven figures on top of that. I still planned to keep working but something inside me changed. Rather than cruising through work blissfully I found my tolerance for corporate bad behavior shrinking. And my CEO could see he no longer struck any fear in me. The combination of not needing money and not tolerating over bearing management made me realize I had to go. I was tired of them and they were scared of me. So I left. All that to say being FI “ruined me” from the company’s perspective because I had changed. Beware, it may happen to you too!

  • 53 sam September 15, 2020, 8:29 pm

    Can you go through your exact (as much as you can divulge) process for reaching FIRE. Just one long blog post summary of your detailed FIRE journey.

  • 54 Mr G September 15, 2020, 8:45 pm

    Accumulator – congratulations on a fantastic achievement

    @really. I don’t agree with your take on this. There are a lot of people who have been following this site for years . The Accumulator has achieved a significant milestone and he’s understandably delighted and wanted to share. I don’t agree that he was boastful or coming across as ‘look at me.’ Your final comment fits into that bracket. There are a lot of people on here who are chuffed for him. He’s given a lot to the readers of this site over the years. So I think a ‘well done’ is in order rather than demanding figures and slating the post.

  • 55 Theodran September 15, 2020, 8:49 pm

    I’m happy that you’re happy . I hope you don’t change too much too soon as you say, but now the “accumulator” has accumulated maybe a name change is in order?

  • 56 159F September 15, 2020, 8:54 pm

    Gotta admit. Kinda jealous. But congratulations all the same.

  • 57 Pendle Witch September 15, 2020, 9:15 pm

    Great news, TA, and Congrats! What now? Well, it’s obviously time for the obligatory One More Year 🙂

  • 58 Rhino September 15, 2020, 9:16 pm

    Good work TA. Played for and got.

    Now comes the hard part, what to do next. Haha.

    I reckon trick could be to continue to produce and be useful, not just consume. And to have fun, plenty of fun.

  • 59 Annabelle September 15, 2020, 9:42 pm

    That’s awesome news!! Inspiration to keep plodding along for sure! Well done

  • 60 Adam K September 15, 2020, 9:51 pm

    Congratulations and best of luck with meeting your dreams! I’m 47 and have hit my number for lean FI, but i’m a hoping for the next 10 years to help me reach a fat FI. Weirdly, that has taken the emotional boost i was expecting out of hitting my milestone? i often find i need to remind myself that i can relax and enjoy the ride, instead of feeling like i’m still fully on the treadmill! From your article i’m sure you haven’t the same problem!

  • 61 Matthew September 15, 2020, 10:03 pm

    Well done! For me I persue FI out of fear that medical problems will force me to stop, but I enjoy work
    If I was FI I’d go back to uni and try to become a part time astronaught, or follow in the footsteps of John B Goodenough and try to radically improve technology (he’s still working at 98! On solid state batteries, after he already won 2 nobel prizes for his work on developing RAM for computers and again for lithium ion batteries)

  • 62 Richard September 15, 2020, 10:21 pm

    Well said Victoria

  • 63 Maximus September 15, 2020, 11:27 pm

    Tremendous; your accumulations have paid off; literally! It’s a good feeling huh?
    I’m 53, and retired at 47 after a fairly classic FI path which began with Legal & General passive funds in the mid nineties and continues today with Vanguard and some ETFs.
    I haven’t regretted a day of freedom so far.
    Enjoy! 🙂

  • 64 Eddie September 15, 2020, 11:34 pm

    Congrats TA! I’m in a similar position but contemplating going back into employment after a COVID sabbatical to build a longer runway for what might be coming. Huge mindset reorientation necessary with such a ‘phase change’, which I’m presently working my way through — I’ve found this article helpful for that: https://www.scotthyoung.com/blog/2020/09/07/beyond-self-improvement/

  • 65 Financial Velociraptor September 15, 2020, 11:41 pm

    I saw your tweet. Gratz a thousand times. I’m 48 myself but I’ve been retired since shortly after my 40th birthday. Hitting your number as I remember sure makes a lot about corporate America more tolerable. “We need to drop everything, work the weekend, and do ALL THE THINGS.” “No.” “?!?”
    Haha. It is inconceivable to a lot in management that an employee is not a wage slave and has the option to say NO.

    If you aren’t quite ready to pull the plug, can you go half time? Switch to Barista FIRE?

    Don’t be afraid to say “NO” at work. Promise me.

    -Lizard King-

  • 66 C September 15, 2020, 11:47 pm

    Hugely pleased for you TA. I reached the same point a few years ago around the age of 45. For me, it was a cue to move out of an unsatisfying middle manager role involving lots of toxic politics into a fun one that was part-time. I embarked on a few new hobbies – one of which looks to be turning into another source of income.

    When you have a moment, it would be good to hear your numbers. Like you, I started off as lean FI and it has slowly become fatter since.

    I have been interested in the recent Gov announcement on private pension age changes from 55 to 57 – and it looks like we may both scrape through. Did that affect your declaration at all?

  • 67 E17jack September 16, 2020, 12:17 am

    @Really – thanks for providing proof, and a warning, that FI doesn’t necessarily buy you happiness…

    @TA – congrats, and thanks for sharing. This site is pretty much the best thing about the internet, i have been addicted to your weekend posts (and the rest) for 3 or 4 years now.
    And it’s worth noting that the comments are usually a harmonious place, which is incredibly rare online.
    Long Live Monevator!

  • 68 Learner September 16, 2020, 1:25 am

    Yet more congrats TA. Delighted to read your humble bullet list. It often seems the FI scene is composed of folks with high salaries, family wealth, BTL portfolios and gold plated pensions. I am 41 now, though unfortunately I don’t own any property; even a modest home will consume >10 years worth of net income so 48fi sure ain’t happening!

  • 69 Kat September 16, 2020, 7:11 am

    Thank you very much for sharing! I love the style of this column, very open, emotional and sincere. Thank you! I’m just at my very beginning of FIRE, but nevertheless very excited and can see it coming. In my case yeah, covid moved thing for few month, but definitely didn’t crash anything. It actually gave me opportunity to study, research and observe movements in the economy and make me even more confident in investing. Because if we get through that, hell with any other market crash that about to come in future! We’ll nail it down!

    Enjoy your transition from corporate to leisurely lifestyle, and yes! Keep working! Whatever it is you enjoy doing or never had chance/time to dive into, now if definitely the time to do so!

    Once I reach my number I open a business, or actually few and yes, I’ll chill on the beach like a true boss, but also work my ass off the same I do now.

    Warm greetings from Middle East!

  • 70 Foxy September 16, 2020, 7:57 am

    Controlling your time is the highest dividend money pays.

    Congratulations TA!

  • 71 The Accumulator September 16, 2020, 9:41 am

    Thank you all for those wonderful comments. They really have put a smile on my face. I have got a great deal from the FI community along the way and I’m very glad that such a generous part of that community is to be found here at Monevator.

    @ never give up – Re: pension bridge. I decided to go all out for filling my pension first and leave ISAs until late – apart from emergency fund. Two reasons:

    1. Make the most of pension tax relief while I could (hard not to get affected by those perennial rumours of it being cut).

    2. I felt that if I had a large ISA it might create a moral hazard for myself. That I might lose motivation if there was enough in ISAs to support say, the next decade, but not a whole lifetime.

    The reason I didn’t declare FI back in January was that though the market surge took care of THE NUMBER, there wasn’t enough cash to bridge the gap to the pension. That’s what I’ve been working on since.

    @ Rosario – hang in there. The second half feels much faster than the first.

    @ JD & Theodran – haha. Funnily enough I said the same thing to The Investor. He wasn’t keen.

    @ Andy – you may be right and that’s partly way I keep faith with linkers despite the negative returns. Perhaps one of the most difficult parts of the journey to come will be not worrying too much when crises hit. Historically speaking SWRs in this ball park have gone up against horrendous bouts of inflation, world wars, the Great Depression and so on. Of course there’s always the chance of being swamped by a bigger wave.

    @ Ermine – cheers. Haha, performance management is alive and well. I could probably write a thesis on managing the performance managers.

    @ Fatbritabroad – that is a very tough choice. The Investor would advise finding pastures new. I started my journey in response to a grim work situation but that really turned around in later years. I didn’t have to leave to make it better.

    @ Dawn – sounds like you’ve found a great balance.

    @ Ian – haha. I’ll get my crampons on.

    @ AZ – I’ve got a copy of Your Money Or Your Life, that’s a good idea. I wonder how it will read now that I’m looking at it from the other end of the telescope.

    @ Carl – I completely agree. A friend of mine kept saying, “What if you get knocked over by a bus tomorrow?” She struggles to see that there’s another way and spending doesn’t equal happiness. Also, no buses. So far.

    @ Colin – thanks, I’ll check it out.

    @ Victoria – Thank you! Though I can’t help but think it’s The Investor writing after he’s had a skinful.

    @ Tyro – haha, I showed Ms Accumulator your comment. She’s covered by the number too, although we’re shy of a few years bridging cash in her case. That’s OK because she’s worked part time for many years and only needs to do two days a week to cover the gap. Rest assured the plan has been signed off at the highest levels.

    @ Algernond – no, I don’t worry about pension confiscation. The government depends on grey votes and can’t even walk away from the triple lock, despite it being unaffordable, never mind mount a raid on pensions. It’s personally important to me to not project bad news out into a nightmare scenario. I’m happy to account for probable risks but I’ll never get anything done if I get bogged down in the improbable.

    @ Steveark – I can see that happening. Probably not a bad thing.

    @ Sam – you asked for it! 😉

    @ Mr G – that’s a lovely thing to say.

    @ Maximus – that’s good to know. I don’t think I’ll regret it either.

    @ C – looks like I will scrape through at age 55. I’d have to delay about 8 months if it’d been 57. I have scattered my numbers around the internet at various points but will come back to it for sure in future posts.

    @ Ruby and others – I hear you. I intend to stay fully engaged with the world – in my mind I have the opportunity to do that now more than ever – and to keep on writing for Monevator as part of that. It’s great to know that sharing what I discover along the way is helpful.

    @ all – it’s great to hear from those who already are FI that it’s been worth it. To those still pushing hard, keep going! It will happen for you. Thank you again to everybody for your warm-hearted comments.

  • 72 Mezzanine September 16, 2020, 9:42 am

    Brilliant news TA!

    I’m not far behind you and beginning to daydream. After a bumpy ride this year where I held on tight, I’m now 3 months from “technical FI” (including emergency and liquid special purpose funds) with an additional 6 months(ish) to reach my “safe” number shortly after my 50th.

    I’m looking forward to conversations over the New Year along the lines of how and when to reduce my working hours to zero. I too had a taste of freedom a couple years ago when I took a break from work and actively chose to down-shift my career – I loved it and can’t wait to move into the next phase of my life. Like you, I may choose to continue working but it’s the freedom of choice thats liberating…

  • 73 Grumpy Old Paul September 16, 2020, 10:53 am

    Hearty congratulations! No-one, even people who “know you well” and are “people-oriented” can give you sound advice about the life choices you now can make. People who comment freely on here know little about your personal circumstances, past experiences, personality, values, interests and aspirations. You now have a degree of freedom which few people possess and which would scare most. Make the most of it in whatever way makes you happy and fulfilled.

  • 74 never give up September 16, 2020, 11:11 am

    Makes sense TA, thanks, and congrats once again.

  • 75 ZXSpectrum48k September 16, 2020, 11:32 am

    @TA. Congratulations. It would be interesting to know how much of “the number” came from working/saving and how much from investment returns. This decade was good for investment returns but normally it’s the working/saving that still does the heavy lifting.

    @ Algernond. I don’t worry about direct pension confiscation. I do think that taxation will become more severe on pensions. Pensions are an easy tax target losing the Exchequer £40bn/annum. They have only been politically protected by the “grey vote”. That changes, however, from 2025-2030, which is when Millenials and younger cohorts will outnumber older cohorts (Silent Gen,Boomers and early Gen X etc). I think that political change in the balance of power will cause a whole host of volatility.

  • 76 Matthew September 16, 2020, 11:59 am

    Further to what @zx said I wouldn’t count on pension freedoms for the younger cohort because there’s a lot of time in which a potentially hard left gov could get in and make people buy annuities, and for me a sipp isn’t for life since I have a db pension for later, it’s just to tide me over between 57 and 68. Even though prioritising the sipp would theoretically make more sense for me I prioritise the LISA because I don’t think it’ll get regulatorily tampered with in that way, and I can always later on sipp that at 60 if I’m still working, if it makes sense to

    Really it doesn’t take much of any method to nominally beat mortgage overpaying, on the other hand peace of mind and enjoyment of work and life in general is more important than efficiency

  • 77 Prav September 16, 2020, 12:06 pm

    Congratulations! I’m so happy for you! I’ve been lurking here for 6 years now. You started me on my FI journey. Thank you and I do hope you keep writing. People tend to drop off their blog after FI.

  • 78 Naeclue September 16, 2020, 2:18 pm

    Congratulations! Any chance of cutting your hours with your current employer? Many people I know who cut down to 3-4 days per week found it transformational. More time to get on and plan for eventual retirement. An ability to not give a toss about upsetting “the boss” can work wonders as well.

    I haven’t a clue when I reached FI. I was not organised enough, too busy and did not give it a lot of thought. Keeping spending under control is a key though. It helps that I am a mean sod and have always had the attitude that I will not overpay for something even if I can afford it. I have met many wealthy people who say they cannot afford to retire, because they have failed to keep their spending under control.

    I think I must have worked around 2 years longer than the point I realised I did not need to continue, not particularly because I really enjoyed the work or felt I needed the money, but because I was working in a small consultancy I had set up with a handful of colleagues. I felt I should keep going out of loyalty to friends and for the sake of our employees.

  • 79 ChesterDog September 16, 2020, 2:50 pm

    “Really” seems to be significantly outnumbered…

    Many congratulations to you, TA. Very well done.

    Welcome to the bright side.

  • 80 Another David September 16, 2020, 2:52 pm

    Amazing news TA! I’ve been following for many years as well, and it’s great to hear when it all comes together for somebody (you feel like) you know. The more I read FIRE and other blogs, the more I realise that money is the ‘easy’ part! You still have to decide what you want from your life, but isn’t it great to have the time and headspace to focus on that now? Best of luck to you, and I look forward to hearing all about it.

    And if RIT is reading this… some of us are starting to worry about you 🙁

  • 81 miner_49er September 16, 2020, 4:00 pm

    An inspiration to us still on the journey, thanks for sharing your trip to FIRE!!! 🙂 lookforward to future updates

  • 82 BillD September 16, 2020, 4:11 pm

    Congratulations! I have enjoyed reading your blog articles over the years. I reached FI some time ago but decided to continue working part time. It gives some choices and lifts a lot of anxiety and stress in the corporate world of work . There is not so much to worry about and you can take things on your own terms as for as a work situation goes. I didn’t really realise I could have FI/REd myself until I had made good readings of this site and other blogs which made me think about my numbers.

  • 83 Vanguardfan September 16, 2020, 4:53 pm

    Bit late to this party! Read the post, thought ‘interesting, must add my twopennorth’
    I’ll add later once I’ve read the responses….

  • 84 cat793 September 16, 2020, 4:55 pm

    Well done!

    I am really looking forward to your post FI reports. I can get my head round the accumulation phase but as a bit of a financial worrier the post FIRE/de-accumulation phase strikes me as potentially stressful in a different way. I could claim to be FI purely on the numbers (lean FI) but prefer the security of working part time, still saving and accumulating for the next few years. To see how you manage this new phase in life is going to be of great interest.

  • 85 Sparschwein September 16, 2020, 5:16 pm

    Congrats @TA. It’s quite an achievement; more so from an average salary.
    All while helping many others along the way.

  • 86 Vanguardfan September 16, 2020, 5:21 pm

    Ok, most of the posts were short and congratulatory, so I’d better be polite and add my heartfelt congratulations! Though I confess to being more interested to hear your reflections on the next stage of the journey, selfishly.
    I think you should change your name. It will help with the change of mindset. Accumulators/hoarders often find it painful to embark on the decumulation phase, and cannot really do it, ending up with more when they finally shuffle off….the OMY is one example of this. Not that it’s a bad thing, just something to be aware of, in case you want to change it…
    I have to say I am at the moment slightly struggling with the RE bit. After several years prevaricating, I thought I was ready to finally let go of my career. I do still work in a hobby job, which I feel is useful, but less fun that it was, 2 days a week. However, at the moment I am somewhat bored and frustrated. It’s not that I miss the office, I don’t think, it’s more that I feel a bit of a spare part. Can’t work out how much of this is pandemic related – so many of my hobby activities and travel ambitions are on hold, and the restart dates recede further into the future….it’s enough to make me wish I was at work, as that seems to be the only government sanctioned activity right now. Or maybe I’ll try (again) to contribute to test and trace….

  • 87 Richard September 16, 2020, 5:50 pm

    Many congratulations, really well deserved.

    Maybe now you have hit your number, keep working and spend a bit more on things you sacrificed, like a fancy car. Then you will have a new number and can enjoy the journey again ;). But really, you should def use the excess earning power for some expensive trips or buy an expensive treat or something. Just don’t get used to it !

  • 88 MoneyMountaineer September 16, 2020, 6:06 pm

    Heartfelt congrats TA! I appreciate your success all the more for our situations being very similar albeit in about 7 years behind you. Gives me the motivation to double down on the journey while I’m in that tricky middle phase of FIRE accumulation where both the start and end of the journey feel quite a few years off. Especially as 5 years ago I was only 8 years off thin-FIRE, then ‘life happened’ (new partners, now a baby) and that finish line feels like it’s constantly receding towards the horizon.

    Thanks so much for your great example.


  • 89 Xailter September 16, 2020, 6:10 pm

    Congratulations TA! I hope you find a new challenge to engage yourself with now you’ve met such a big one!

  • 90 Jonathan September 16, 2020, 6:44 pm

    Well done on making the distance. I did it a year ago and walked away and even now I am still adapting. I found it a bit like train spotting where the train is miles away and then suddenly it’s there as the compound interest engine enables it to flash past you. You almost at the end do it with ease and you forget the early years of financial suffering.
    I then found that it felt like I didn’t deserve it and was in an alien place where I could afford things such top of the range Mercedes sports car. The 12 year journey to FI and a high saving rate has meant that I cannot culturally do such a reckless thing. When I had no money and was a wage slave I could! Funny that.
    The best thing is all my thoughts are about my friends and family and what we want to do. No thoughts are now in my head for the tedious minutiae of work and I have missed not one part of it. This in itself takes some adapting. Thinking when I am on my mountain bike what I would be doing now if I was working. I took a lot of stick for shopping in Aldi but my god is the freedom now worth it as my ex colleagues face the cull to end all culls.
    Thank you for running a brilliant blog and helping with the journey with some great insights. Enjoy the freedom of where you are now.

  • 91 ZXSpectrum48k September 16, 2020, 6:56 pm

    @Vanguardman. How can you possibly not enjoy being out of work? I took a sabbatical in late March and spent the whole of spring/summer just lazing around, decluttered the house, playing computer games, educating the kids. No stressful family holidays. Never went into London or anywhere beyond a 5 mile radius. Met no one. Talked to no one. Didn’t miss anything. Lockdown was bloody brilliant.

    I went back to work a couple of weeks ago. I’m working from home but the hours are long. Stress is back. I have to talk to other humans. I even have to be polite sometimes. It’s as rubbish as I remembered it. I’m here waiting for the Federal Reserve to pronouce their pointless views in the next 5 minutes. You don’t know how lucky you are …. 😉

  • 92 Barn Owl September 16, 2020, 8:26 pm

    @TA Congratulations! Sovereignty over how you spend your own time is the best thing money can buy. Doing it on an average salary is an even more impressive achievement. I’d like to also add my thanks for all the helpful posts you have put out over the years. I have been following them for the last 6 years or so and pointing people at your blog. Coming from the UK , it’s really nice to have investing and FI/RE ideas expressed by a fellow Brit and in the context of our tax system. As an aside thanks also to the many commenters who add considerably to your posts.

  • 93 FireSoon? September 16, 2020, 9:25 pm

    I have been reading your site for years and it is the one that has stayed on message, superbly written, and with unerringly good content throughout. I am of similar age to you and can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I am very pleased for you and hope you go on to relate your experience of FI with the same dry wit as has distinguished your posts so far. Thanks!

  • 94 The Details Man September 16, 2020, 9:36 pm

    Well done TA, congrats! A thank you on behalf of all Monevator readers for the help you have given to us on our own financial journeys.

  • 95 c-strong September 16, 2020, 9:40 pm

    Congratulations! As someone who has never been tempted by FIRE (I like nice things, Mrs c-strong likes them even more, and though I don’t absolutely love my job it’s pretty engaging) I’m always incredibly impressed by those who have the dedication and patience to see it through. Well done.

    I’m curious as to whether hitting the Number makes you worry more about sequence of returns risk? I guess since you’re not actually retiring yet you’re delaying that issue, but it would be a bummer to suddenly see the Number not, you know, be the Number any more. Is that the logic behind the cash cushion – a bucket approach whereby you spend down the cash in the event of a stock market downturn?

  • 96 Stu September 16, 2020, 10:05 pm

    Warmest congratulations mate. I have joined the party very late and am only at the start of the process, although we are similar ages. I have really enjoyed reading your posts over the last few months and like others , would enjoy to continue to hear what you are doing in the future now you have your security blanket around you.
    Any advice for an auld yin would be appreciated, I hope to be FI any time between between 57 and 63, appreciate this is not exactly retire early by most folks view in this space. Also in a very modest salary bracket, but certainly live within those means.

  • 97 Brod September 16, 2020, 10:25 pm

    @TA – can I add my belated congrats too? Chillax, dude, you’re home and dry.

    I’m pretty sure I’ve reached skinny FI too. Well, more anorexic FI. But some serious life choice mistakes, sorry, bonuses like not meeting my wife till I was 40 and now, aged 54, having an 8 y.o. and a 7 y.o. mean anorexic FI not really achievable, in our judgement. And quite right. Ho-hum.

    @Matthew – I don’t really thing you know what “hard left” means. ANY sensible government would/should be looking at pension freedoms. Which is why I’ll go into drawdown asap on 9th January next year as I figure that’ll be OK (but fairly sure I’ll be OK with this shower of *** Government). And yes, “enjoyment of work and life in general is more important than efficiency” but not so sure about beating it being easy to beat paying down the mortgage. A bit of recency bias, perhaps?

  • 98 Kid Cocoa September 16, 2020, 11:35 pm

    Congratulations, and dare i say it, Deaccumulator!

    Can’t really add anything to the vast amount of positive well-wishing comments, other than to say the sheer volume of them says it all.

    Being a slight pessimist, for me personally i would be a little concerned if having just crept over the FI line, and then slumped down into my comfy RE armchair, how i would feel if the stock market took a 20% hit, and then flatlined for an extended timeframe. The old comfy armchair might suddenly start to feel a bit like a bed o’nails!

    Hopefully won’t be an issue for you though, and like others here’s hoping you have even more time to talk us all through the arguably even more important stage of decumulation. When’s the first post!

  • 99 Marco September 17, 2020, 12:00 am

    Congrats! This market has driven our portfolio into new all time highs. I’m in denial about being FI even though I am because my once great job has become deeply unenjoyable recently and I’m trying to not walk away in hope things improve.

  • 100 Calculus September 17, 2020, 12:24 am

    Well done TA, great site and contributors..(wish id found this a long time ago instead of a clueless financial advisor!) and hope you find it a reward in itself to keep going. While Im making progress on FI too, I dont think Im ready for the idea of RE, but Ive been able to find a secure (for the foreseeable) job that I like doing and have a good share of the ownership, so at this point it doesn’t feel like real work..that may change of course!

  • 101 Vanguardfan September 17, 2020, 5:24 am

    Ok so can we please stop calling ‘mid 5 figures’ an ‘average’ salary? Planet Monevator is full of very high earners, one would hope bright enough to at least be aware of that fact.
    (Although, as always, you can make statistics say anything – I also found a table that suggests that £50k is close to the mean for a 45-49 year old male – although much higher than the median of course)

  • 102 SparkleBee September 17, 2020, 6:57 am

    A big well done TA especially given the current pandemic and yet you have succeeded in crossing the line and reaching that milestone.

    Look forward to more posts on how to manage finances and navigate the FI path, while working or not, it is now your choice.

    The one thing I pursue FI for, the ability to have choices.

  • 103 The Accumulator September 17, 2020, 10:09 am

    @ ZX – Circa 75% is savings, I reckon. Re: lockdown – yes it’s startling how different the experience could be for people. If you had safe personal space, reliable income and could happily live with only a core of key humans then it was an incredible experience. Suddenly the world was remade for introverts. I felt it too.

    @ Cat793 – I think that’s a good approach – the extra bit of income eases the worry and that’s priceless.

    @ Sparschwein – Cheers! Mrs Accumulator googled your name to find out what it meant – love it!

    @ Richard – haha. Yes that would definitely give me a new infusion of negative energy. Hopefully I can resist the lure of the Dark Side!

    @ MoMo – seven years ago I was reading those who had declared FI and could only wish I was there already. Now I’m kind of rubbing my eyes in disbelief. It will happen for you.

    @ Jonathan – love your train analogy. Also your point about no longer having to fill your head with concerns like, ‘the 3rd quarter sales figures for the Widget 5000’ is a big one for me. I’m looking forward to refilling my head with a broader range of interests and that’s why I think FI lets us be more engaged with the world than ever.

    @ c-strong – yes, sequence of returns risk does loom large now whereas it was once a sort of ugly speck in the distance. Stocking up on cash is one part of the answer. It’s not a bucket approach because I won’t maintain that much cash in the future. I’ll run it down, but a larger slug now will help get me through the nervy opening phase of deaccumulation. I really don’t want to have to wake up in the night every time the market heads into correction territory. Working on in some capacity is another part of the answer. That will lower my SWR and give me some structure as I get used to the new life.

    @ Stu – the toughest part was maintaining the faith in the middle years. Once you’ve set the plan up and the initial excitement fades, it’s easy to give it up like another fad diet. If you can hold on through that period you should be OK.

    @ Calculus – that sounds like a wonderful place to be.

    @ Sparklebee – I couldn’t agree more. It is about choices. FI has always been about empowerment.

  • 104 Neverland September 17, 2020, 10:09 am

    There is this thread on MoneySavingExpert which starts in 2010 where this guy starts talking about having enough money to retire early

    I think in fact he actually retired in 2019, although he did drop to 2/3 days a week the last couple of years

    I am looking to forward to the Accumulator post in a couple of months ‘Why I am still working’ which will have most sequels than Rocky

  • 105 The Accumulator September 17, 2020, 10:11 am


  • 106 IanH September 17, 2020, 10:30 am

    Congratulations! I’m sure you are right to be wary of sudden moves, and if you really do feel innured to “all the BS of office politics” why not keep on for the time being. It just goes to show, I suppose , there is no ‘number’ that can make up your mind about decisions of the magnitude of walking away from secure employment into an uncertain future. And significant others, outstanding commitments and so on all have to be considered and honoured too – no man is an island and all that… Don’t forget though that old Father Time is ticking a box off your personal calendar every day, and be mindful that there’s quite a big differece between the youthful vigour you have as a mere 48 year-old and the encroaching of proper old-age at you may well feel at 68. 20 years dude – do you really want to spend a lot of that time on the tube or in meetings about quarterly sales of hoovers, or whatever it is you do?

    I’m looking forward to the new era of postings on Monevator though – I’m sure you’ve got a lot more to say. Perhaps that’s a starting point for new thoughts on what next for you.

  • 107 Getting Minted September 17, 2020, 11:56 am

    Well done on joining the FI club. 48 is on the young side compared to 55-57 or 65-67, so it’s a big achievement. Having the ability to RE at a time of your choice when going to work should also feel good. I’d be interested to read a more detailed numbers review, and lessons learned, looking back on it all, in due course.

  • 108 Nick S September 17, 2020, 1:31 pm

    Huge congratulations TA,

    you got me started on my journey with investing in index funds nearly 7-8years ago it must be!? Madness! So my thanks for that, my situation is much better than it was. That said, I’m in the horrible middle bit and it has majorly messed with my head with regards to work and meaning etc.

    Have you ever found or read anything useful in regards to your work and purpose/meaning? It’s hard to know whether chasing work that provides meaning/purpose is possible or I’m just chasing something ephemeral that will just keep me occupied until hitting FI. If it is the latter, it makes me a little sad to be honest, exchanging all that time and energy just to escape it, who know I’d want me work to be it’s own reward!

    Congratulations again, you’re taking a very sensible approach and one that’ll produce the best results when you decide to change your working life. Please celebrate/reward yourself, it’s something I find difficult to do but I know it’s a must!

  • 109 Greg September 17, 2020, 2:56 pm

    Very happy for you mate! I am getting close to my number too after 8 years, although that number seems to just increase over time. Most of my assets are not cash flowing so well, hence I won’t be triggering my own leave soon. I do plan to reduce to 60% towards the end of next year though, let’s see how that goes 🙂

  • 110 Aidan September 17, 2020, 4:19 pm

    Congrats! I highly recommend thinking about going part-time – it’s a great compromise and life-style stepping stone. On the other hand, explaining to co-workers why is best kept to yourself. Haters are ?Really everywhere….

  • 111 veritas September 17, 2020, 5:02 pm

    Congratulations on hitting your number!

    Fantastic post – really enjoyed reading about the pyschological side reaching the milestone

  • 112 The Accumulator September 17, 2020, 7:06 pm

    @ Nick S – While it’s possible to hit the jackpot and find work that you love, everything I’ve read suggests that relatively few do so. Naturally the mega-successful and passionate are most prominent and it skews our view. I became happier when I stopped trying to find my work intrinsically meaningful and focussed more on creating my own meaning from it (e.g. supporting my team, serving my clients, doing my best).

    This is a good video from the School Of Life on how ‘fulfilling work’ is a relatively recent idea: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=veriqDHLXsw

    I found a few books helpful too. Second Mountain by David Brooks – on transitioning beyond a work life driven by personal ambition and into a more meaningful second phase based on fulfilment through serving the community.

    Man’s Search For Meaning by Victor Frankl – an incredible book. Potentially life-changing.

    @ Ian H – Father Time ticking off my boxes – that’s a powerful image! I suspect I might nick that phrase for an article somewhere along the line. Full credit to you when it happens.

    @ All – thank you for the encouragement to share more of the personal details. I’m always a little reticent about it because I tend to think it’s not universally applicable or it’s too navel gazey. Hopefully it’ll be fine when threaded between plenty of the usual Monevator content.

    Deffo think that those advocating a better part-time balance are onto something. But bloody hell… that’s what The Investor said 9 months ago. Damn him.

  • 113 NewInvestor September 17, 2020, 7:31 pm

    Firstly, congratulations on getting there. Thank you for the posts you’ve written on this site: they have certainly helped me clarify my investing approach.

    And thank you for this little gem of yours from an earlier comment, it really made me laugh:

    …Though I can’t help but think it’s The Investor writing after he’s had a skinful.

    Doubtless The Investor was simultaneously muttering remarks such as “Bold as brass, telling everyone he’s now FI. Huh! And a house-is-an-investment denier to boot.” 🙂

  • 114 Gizzard September 17, 2020, 7:33 pm

    You sound a bundle of laughs.

  • 115 Naeclue September 17, 2020, 11:35 pm

    At some point, I would be interested to hear what your decumulation strategy is and why you chose it.

  • 116 Playing with Fire September 18, 2020, 8:06 am

    Congratulations TA! A great achievement albeit the natural conclusion of following all the excellent, simple, difficult advice you share here.

    Has your number changed since you first set it? I find mine increasing for some reasons that were foreseeable (inflation, new mortgage) and others that I didn’t see coming (new potentially expensive hobby, refined ideas about spending, reasonable but non-frugal wants of my SO). I also hate my work less than I did when I first found the FIRE movement which makes it easier to contemplate working longer for a chunkier FIRE.

    I will never find satisfying work, but realising that about myself is very freeing and makes for a happier life (for me). I work for a salary and I work in order to not work. That is enough meaning for me.

    Thanks so much for all your efforts over the year.

  • 117 The Accumulator September 18, 2020, 8:43 am

    @ Playing with Fire – yes, same here, my first number was too tight and didn’t weather well when pitted against tracked expenses. I adjust the number every April for RPI (which was like being pushed back out to sea this year) but still I don’t think my first stab was realistic enough. It needed an amortisation allowance, our personal inflation rate was probably higher than RPI (large exposure to food in our basket of goods), and I built in a safety margin once I learned about dynamic withdrawal rates. On the other hand, learning about the levers I could pull meant I became less of a Nazi about a 3% SWR.

    This is the definitely the stuff of a future post.

    @ Naeclue – Somebody – it may well have been you – suggested doing a Slow & Steady style series on deaccumulation, which I’m definitely going to do. What’s a bit weird though is that all the action takes place once a year. In other words: you assess portfolio, adjust for inflation, sell assets, withdraw cash, rebalance assets, pray you’re not in a historically cursed cohort. But it all happens at once, so there’s not a lot to say for the rest of the year – other than perhaps another check in six months later. Maybe that second annual post could be more about tracking that retirement cohort against its historical precedents or against a counter-factual, ghost car-style alternative strategy. I don’t think there’d be enough material for a quarterly series. What do you think? What does everybody think? What would you like to see in an ongoing deaccumulation series?

    @ New Investor – haha, I shall never live down the ‘house-is-an-investment denier’ shame.

  • 118 MrOptimistic September 18, 2020, 9:41 am

    Well done ( although an arrow on the trajectory diagram might have removed ambiguity: like the politics of the ageing the default direction is left to right) . So what are your life ambitions now, or to quote Lucifer, what do you really desire?

  • 119 Another David September 18, 2020, 10:15 am

    I would be very interested in the deaccumulation series. Not so much what happens to asset values, which is in many ways beyond your control, but what happens to your spending and your psychology along the way. I find my spending keeps increasing every year but a lot of that is due to having kids who are getting older. At the same time I find my core expenses falling now that I have more time and headspace to think properly about how to get what I need and want without buying a product or service every time.

  • 120 Greg September 18, 2020, 10:24 am

    Regarding: What do you think? What does everybody think? What would you like to see in an ongoing deaccumulation series?

    I’d love that! As others have said, for me too this blog was a big part of the journey these last (7, 8?) years, so it would be great to also cover the next logical stage of deaccumulation. I may be wrong but it does certainly feel like there is a lot less out there on that phase of FI, presumably because the beginning of the journey inspires many, while fewer get to the goal at the end.

    Also I totally get the hesitation about offering more details into how you got there – one reason (besides my inability of and passion for writing ) that I never started a blog is that I always felt like there’s just to many individual things that wouldn’t be relatable to others. Then again I always love to read how people got to “their” FI….so perhaps you should write about it 🙂

  • 121 Degrees of Freedom September 18, 2020, 10:26 am

    Massive congratulations!
    I’m a long time reader (since 2015 anyway!) and first time commentator. Just want to say this blog has helped me so so much; thank you from the bottom of my heart.

    My finances were a mess in 2015 and I’ve slowly dug myself out of a debt hole since. I became debt free by the end of 2017 and reached 10k in savings for the first time in my life by the end of 2019. An unimaginable amount before! 5 figures!

    By the end of this year I should hit 21k spread across various cash accounts, LISA and S&S ISAs as well as low-mid 5 figures in my pension. This blog and its community has been an inspiration and overall good to the world. So please keep it up!
    Thank you, thank you once again. Congratulations and enjoy yourself!

  • 122 The Rhino September 18, 2020, 10:38 am

    @ZX – good work on the sabbatical, is that a repeatable thing or a one off? i.e. could you follow in indeedably’s seasonal working pattern or something along those lines?

    I’ve had spring summer off too, but key difference was it wasn’t of my choosing. Still quite enjoyed it, but it was interspersed with anxiety of the ‘I’ll never work again’ type variety.

    Lockdown meant I couldn’t do certain things, removing the need for me to decide not to do certain things, which made my life a bit simpler, and simpler is normally better – I quite enjoyed it.

    Back to grindstone shortly though, this time its a complete reinvention – London Fintech! I’ve no idea if I’ll be able to hack it?

  • 123 Al Cam September 18, 2020, 11:35 am

    I agree with Greg; real lived deaccumulation experience is rarely written about – especially in the UK. There are, of course, a few notable exceptions – who I may have mentioned previously. I would imagine that there is plenty of space for good quality deaccum stuff from your “pen”.

    I suspect you will find there is lots for you to write about as you discover just how all the moving parts (including you and yours) really interact – which may well not be quite as you had always assumed or even imagined!

    As many a mountaineer would attest the descent is often far trickier than the ascent.

  • 124 Nick S September 18, 2020, 11:42 am


    thank you for addressing my comment, interesting video, also read Frankl and had the second mountain on my reading pile, you’ve just bumped it up!

    “I became happier when I stopped trying to find my work intrinsically meaningful and focussed more on creating my own meaning from it (e.g. supporting my team, serving my clients, doing my best).”

    So essentially performing the same role but putting greater emphasis on serving? Did you find that tough at times? I feel like I get paid basically the same amount whether I work like a dog or whether I slack (that said, like you the slacking doesn’t fit me well.)


    “I will never find satisfying work, but realising that about myself is very freeing and makes for a happier life (for me). I work for a salary and I work in order to not work. That is enough meaning for me.”

    Did you struggle to accept this? I’ve tried viewing it this way and I just cannot get it to fit, it feels wrong to me. Perhaps naviety? Perhaps just hard to accept given I’ll have at least a decade to go unless I hit some good fortune. Any recommendations well received!

  • 125 Brod September 18, 2020, 11:47 am

    @TheDeaccumulator – I too think it would be great. As you know, ERN has done a fabulous job on various drawdown strategies in his SWR series, although from a US perspective, so I’m not sure there’s too much mileage there. But the psychological/mindfulness approach may be interesting – after the market dropped 25%, how are you feeling? Are there any UK specific wrinkles that could be addressed? Tax and benefit gotchas? (Caveated – seek advice, don’t rely on a stranger from the internet)

    @Another David – your spending keeps increasing due to the kids getting older? That’s depressing.

  • 126 Another David September 18, 2020, 12:14 pm

    @Brod – Yes, because older children need proper shoes and clothes, they eat more food (and no longer get free school meals), and they start to do a wider range of activities, all of which cost money. But I’m writing this from the perspective of somebody who didn’t waste much money when they were babies. We were fine with hand-me-downs and didn’t feel the need to buy loads of specialist equipment. If you spent thousands on your babies then you probably won’t find costs going up so much. Also if you paid for childcare then that of course reduces once they start school as you only have to cover the holidays.

  • 127 ZXSpectrum48k September 18, 2020, 1:01 pm

    @Rhino. 2020 was just an anomaly. Sabbaticals aren’t easy in my line of work as the bonus is on a calender basis. The CIO always says in Dec he wants me next year to take 4x the risk to make 2x as much. I nod but ignore. Anyway by mid March, I’d made 3x using 0.5x the risk. Target 150% achieved after 2.5 months. I felt justified in telling him “job done, bonus now pls, I’m off, see ya in the Fall”. Amazingly he accepted. I think at that instant he had much bigger fish to fry (or to be precise, fire).

    I’m finding it hard to go back since a) I don’t like any form of work b) it’s having less impact. It’s clear that in the last few years work/savings is becoming far less material impact vs. investment portfolio returns. A 5% move in markets is now an average year of after tax savings. It probably now requires another 20 years of work to double net worth (assuming no portfolio returns). I suppose that is the reality of the ‘snowball’. I don’t have an ‘FI number’ like TA but perhaps my definition of FI is simply when work is just a perturbation of my net worth.

  • 128 Al Cam September 18, 2020, 1:49 pm

    You may find this post about the “snowball” interesting:

  • 129 Naeclue September 18, 2020, 2:23 pm

    @TA, a review and thoughts on the various popular drawdown strategies (glidepaths, McClung, age in bonds, etc.) from a UK perspective would I am sure be of interest to many people.

    My initial drawdown strategy was based on a trickle investments in and trickle them out approach, maintaining my 60:40 portfolio in deaccumulation, lazily setting an annual budget of 3% start of year total investment value, excluding property. It worked well, but that’s because I did not see a significant collapse in the portfolio value (it generally went up!), so we never saw a huge drop in the budget. Not really a good strategy for the long term either as it would likely mean our beneficiaries ending up with large IHT bills.

    Varying income according to investment returns is I think essential, but a straight 3% of portfolio value was potentially too variable.

    Inheritance, helping offspring (how much can you afford to give away and when) and IHT issues start impacting deaccumulation planning as well, but maybe you have not considered these aspects yet.

  • 130 The Accumulator September 18, 2020, 8:08 pm

    @ Mr Optimistic – Have you been put up to this by The Investor? He’s been haranguing me for seven years about that pic not reading left to right. I drew it the other way because, to me, it symbolised a journey from the old world to the new. But now Mrs Accumulator has weighed in on your side too

    @ Degrees of Freedom – thank you for saying. It sounds like you’re on your way now. Keep going!

    @ Nick S – yes exactly that – helping others is the surest way of helping ourselves. I hear you about the financial reward not reflecting your efforts but personal reward rocketed once I stopped measuring progress in pounds and job titles. I don’t mean to make it sound straightforward. It’s not a panacea. I’ve never found a happy switch I can just flip. There are inevitably tough times but I’m in a much better place now versus ten years ago for changing my expectations about ‘what should happen.’

    @ ZX – Nicely played. I have never taken a sabbatical because I couldn’t imagine how I’d come back. Just had to keep going hard in one direction.

    Without a set target, how do you reflect upon IanH’s observation that “old Father Time is ticking a box off your personal calendar every day”?

    How will you know when you’ve done enough?

    Thanks all for ideas for future posts. Keep them coming.

  • 131 Playing with Fire September 18, 2020, 10:25 pm

    @Nick S

    I spent a LOT of time assuming the opposite to be true and trying variations on work to make it more meaningful (work harder, slack more, did a “save the world” type job, switched to a training role, switched back). None of it worked and the process was exhausting and unfulfilling. By the time I’d come to the conclusion that there was no magic passion job out there, it was so obviously true (for me, people are different) that I didn’t find it a struggle to accept it. It was more that I’d stumbled upon a mathematical law.

    By compartmentalising work into a thing that I do rather than who I am; I find I have more energy for things out of work. I think of the next years of work as a time to prepare for what is coming next. For me that’s two specific hobbies, fitness for those hobbies, and curating other minor interests. It was helpful to imagine I FIREd already; what did I wish that I spent the past few years doing make the most of it (fitness and languages are examples, music or art for other people, making and strengthening relationships, etc).

    Would it help to allow a fixed time to throw yourself into finding your calling, and accept that if it hasn’t made itself known in a year, then you don’t have a calling at work? You can still find satisfaction in some work activities, and outside of work, but you might not be someone who will look forward to work every day.

  • 132 Matthew September 18, 2020, 10:29 pm

    For deaccumulation I reckon everyone needs a certain amount of guaranteed income (annuity/db pension/cash) or at least access to money Ie equity release, and on top of that you can have a more speculative layer. I would definitely not go out of my way to leave an inheritance – giving a child good advice and showing them their options should be more than enough to help them – if we didn’t get given the money ourselves and worked (or risked) to get it then by rights that should primarily be ours to enjoy. Kids can have any unspent leftovers of the 4% (or 3%) rule. They need an appreciation of the value of money themselves and the satisfaction of feeling like they independently achieved things

    If someone has no one to leave a legacy too, I wouldn’t hesitate to use equity release, even with kids it might be worth doing it to invest or just to consider it as a line of credit as an emergency fund of sorts

  • 133 Nick S September 18, 2020, 10:59 pm


    If you weren’t measuring in pounds etc, how did you measure in terms of people helped? It sounds ambiguous? Apologies if I’m coming across as difficult, I’ve just been focusing on this stuff for far too long without answers, it’s rare you speak to intelligent people who have not only been in the same position but have essentially made it over the obstacle you’re standing staring at. I’ve tried to mentally transport myself to money being no issue but I struggle to imagine it with much clarity. My best guess is I’d still do some skill which could be done within a job, so it makes sense to try and align myself with that job to get paid for said skill-building. Probably I’ve just read so much content on meaning/purpose I’ve convinced myself I need to do all these good things when in reality if I was FI I’d be covered in cheeto dust in my bath on a Tuesday afternoon…


    Thank you for the respond, I really appreciate it, you never found meaning in your various pursuits then? It has been a topic I’ve been pondering, your path is eerily on point with my planned attempts to find fulfillment/meaning in work. I have infact worked a social good job, to a large degree it unfortunately just felt like the same crap for less pay. As such I’m on the edge in terms of career changes or whether I just need to suck it up.

    When work is just that, do you not struggle to give it a decent effort? Adopting that perspective, I can imagine getting landed with a piece of work late afternoon and thinking, no chance, rather than getting on with it and that becoming something that would erode value in things I produce over time.

    Interesting idea, I’d probably be close to burning that year already with setting myself for various potential career paths to try. I do love learning which makes it interesting but I’ve put a bit too much pressure on myself to finding some sort of calling I can achieve mastery in.

    Do you find it hard to not resent work from your current viewpoint? I could see it becoming something toxic for me pretty quickly.

  • 134 Snowman September 19, 2020, 7:49 am

    Well done TA!! Must be a great feeling.

    I reached financial independence accidentally after a project I was working on ended and then after deciding to take a break, I almost accidentally realised I was financially independent. So didn’t get your thrill of reaching the number.

    Only advice I would offer is to do your own thing. And remember that any positive things that work gives you (apart from the salary) can be easily replaced, for example by doing voluntary work or by doing some work that is low paid but rewarding.

  • 135 Playing with Fire September 19, 2020, 8:19 am

    @Nick S
    “I have infact worked a social good job, to a large degree it unfortunately just felt like the same crap for less pay.”

    Ha, I’ve said the same thing!

    I’ve thought repeatedly that I was about to find meaning, as I was starting or in the early stages of a new role, that this is the one. This is what I was born to do, this is what will fulfil me and this is how I will change the world… I’ve never found lasting meaning. Months later I’m disillusioned, dreading Mondays and second-guessing what is wrong with me.

    I do absolutely resent working, but accepting that I resent work and will always resent work makes that resentment far less of an active problem. I know that even if my job was tasting vintage wine while listening to my favourite band live and saving all the starving orphans, I would still resent it after a couple of months and the sense of obligation would suck the joy out of the wine I loved. It sounds counter-intuitive, but knowing that I would resent even this job puts my current job into perspective. Have you read about people who turn their hobbies into a full-time job and then start hating the hobby because they have to consider their client and do it all the time? I’m 100% that person. Knowing that it isn’t the job’s fault makes it easier to suck it up. My resentment is a quiet voice in the corner rather than a shouting noise that consumes me.

    When I get asked to do a crappy task in the afternoon, I find it reassuring to remind myself that it is “work” and you are getting paid for this, if it was meant to be joy and light all the time it would be called “fun”. My motivation is higher knowing that I feel crap when I’m behind on my work and better when I’m on schedule. I think a degree of detachment helps me when I need to prioritise what is truly important to a work project and what is a “nice to have”, but not worth breaking the project budget or burning out over. I’ve observed in the past that there is a poor correlation between the amount of my soul I pour into my work and the value that it provides to my client and the value that is recognised by my employer. This approach makes the balance better.

    For me, focusing on well-paid work has been a benefit. I know that it isn’t easy to just go and get a well-paid job, especially in these times, and that our society is strange/broken about the type of work that is highly paid and the hard, important work that is rewarding with clapping on a Thursday and low wages. It’s easier for me to commit to a sprint to FIRE than a marathon of happy work. At one point I was against commuting into London because commuting is the opposite of fun. When speaking with a recruiter I named what I thought was an astronomical wage that I’d need in order to make it worthwhile: I got it and seven years later I’m earning double that. My FIRE timeline tumbled, it was totally worth it. I still hate commuting, but by reframing it as the cost of earning in London and living in a cheaper town it’s far more manageable.

    This all sounds very negative, but I’m upbeat most of the time. There are plenty of tasks at work that I actually enjoy and look forward to. I just know that I’m working to earn and live rather than living for my work.

    I’m on the MMM forums if you want to discuss more.

  • 136 John B September 19, 2020, 10:31 am

    @Playing with Fire

    I agree that some will like most any job they are in, and others will dislike them all. I only enjoyed one job in my career, and after 15 more years and 7 more jobs I hated, I was all to ready to FIRE. Its working with people I don’t like, they just do things wrong. But I learnt to play the system with contracts and tax breaks while not spending more. Now my conservation colleagues annoy me, and I’ve abandoned one online project because the others were rude. No team spirit for me.

    If you like working with people, you need a job or job-like thing, but it can be great to escape it all.

  • 137 The Accumulator September 19, 2020, 11:00 am

    @ Nick S – you’re not being difficult at all and it’s an interesting topic. This may sound ironic springing from a post called “I’ve hit my number” but the key is not to measure such things. Goals and targets are replaced by doing things because they mean something to you and those you care about. For example, if you felt a sense of joy, connection, or self-respect from helping the proverbial old lady across the road, you wouldn’t then set yourself a target of helping six other old ladies across the road this week. Instead, you’d know that you’re the kind of guy who helps old ladies across the road (when they’d like you to) no matter how busy and stressed you are.

    Moreover, you’d seek to make a connection while you’re doing it – ask the person how they are, ask to see the picture of the grandkids they mention, say how nice it was to meet them. As opposed to whisking them through busy traffic at top speed, dumping them on the other side, before dashing off to a more important appointment. AKA going through the motions.

    Anything more is a byproduct of being yourself and living your values. You do it because you know it’s a good thing, or it makes you feel happier in some indistinct but certainly noticeable way.

    Do this enough and you’ll experience a compounding effect. A stronger sense of self-worth. Belief that you’re on the right track. You’ll be less mentally vulnerable to the vicissitudes of corporate politics, fashion, or opinion. Perhaps your community will take notice and think more of you too. Perhaps one day you’re in trouble and people unexpectedly come to your aid. That’s a happy byproduct, not something you wish for, or seek to engineer.

    The important thing is to build some sense of the person you want to be, the things that really matter, to notice what does and does not make a difference to your wellbeing.

    I think it’s difficult to retain a sense of what really matters to us in the face of the conventional programming. In much the same way that it’s difficult to stick to broccoli when you live in a sweet shop. It can be helpful to write your own list of values – ideally borrowing liberally from the wisest minds of the past 3,000 years.

    I have to keep reading and reminding myself that I haven’t just got a screw loose. We’re constantly bombarded with images of what ‘success looks like’. But most of it is advertising. There are jarring reminders everywhere that we do need to adjust our sets. A couple that stuck with me:

    Listening to Olympic athletes talk about their obsessive devotion to winning that gold. One glorious day it all pays off. They mount the podium to deafening acclaim, and they feel… empty.

    Mo Gawdat – former Chief Business Officer at Google – talking about the day he knew he needed to change: he’d just bought the latest addition to his fleet of supercars. Sat in it for 20 minutes feeling happy before the emptiness returned. Like Dr Jekyll no longer able to keep Hyde at bay because his serum no longer works.

    Many many others – some of whom are superstars by standard lights – discover that they no longer want to renew their subscription to society’s gym. Your mind and experience seem to be sending you the same signal. It doesn’t mean that the path you’ve been on was a waste of time. It could be that we simply reach a crossroads later in life, and we’re meant to take a different turn. David Brooks makes a powerful case for that in Second Mountain. It sounds like you may have reached the top of your first mountain.

    I do believe that work has inherent benefits but it’s only one timber of my house. The problem with corporate life is it tends to overstep its boundaries. Apparently our hunter-gatherer forebears ‘worked’ for 20-30 hours a week. Spending the rest of their time with their families, playing, sleeping, lounging about, telling tall tales no doubt. That sounds about right. I don’t believe any of us are meant to spend 50-80 hours a week obsessing about the Widget 5000.

    Like Playing With Fire, I haven’t found the answer in work and experience tells me I shouldn’t expect to. The answer for me lies in broadening my conception of myself and how I connect to the world and others.

    You’ve likely come across this Alan Watts’ quote but it sums it all up beautifully: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qHnIJeE3LAI

  • 138 The Accumulator September 19, 2020, 11:03 am

    @ Snowball – It’s been ages – congratulations!

  • 139 Aussie_fan September 19, 2020, 11:30 am

    Congratulations Accumulator – that is an awesome, and well deserved, achievement. I’ve really enjoyed reading your posts here over the years, especially the sprinklings of dry humour. Please don’t stop writing for the blog!

  • 140 Sara September 19, 2020, 2:22 pm

    @TA I am a bit behind the curve but “Congratulations and Jubilations”, champagne corks etc. I am nearly there myself but I’ve made changes already knowing that I am really close. Last year I had a new manager who was a total pain in the arse and made a job that I mostly enjoy far less enjoyable. So I decided to reduce my working hours by one day because life is just too short. Two ironic things happened – the manager changed again and a pandemic. New manager is so far much less of a pain. Do I regret reducing the hours – not one little bit 🙂

    I am lucky enough to have as “safe” a job as it is possible in current times but knowing that I have enough finance behind me if anything should happen AND to tell them where to stick it if needed is just such a massive weight off my mind.

    Congrats and well done again.

  • 141 zipzapzoom September 19, 2020, 8:46 pm

    Congratulations TA! Really happy for you mate!! All mountains are equally difficult to climb 🙂 so please enjoy your accomplishment before preparing for the second mountain.

    I achieved my lean FI number a couple of years ago but didn’t feel secure or confident enough to RE. It is not so much the financial security aspect that is holding me back, but the fear of leaving the game in my prime, and what would I productively do to fill the time. I work in a job, where if I leave the game, entering it again after a few years will be nearly impossible, and moreover, I don’t have a side hustle/hobby to fill the void/structure. Really interested to see how you get on with the next phase of your journery.

    Best Wishes…

  • 142 The Accumulator September 19, 2020, 9:13 pm

    @ Sara and Zipzap – You both sound like you’re in a good place with options aplenty. I think it goes to show that there are many roads to FI.

  • 143 Matthew September 19, 2020, 9:32 pm

    I think the problem with work for most people is the format it comes in – too rigid, too pressured, whilst people will happily do chilled out &convenient but low paid work like yougov surveys, casual work and self employment (promises convenience but not so much in reality)

    So maybe division of labour is only efficient when you’re paying by time, whereas if you pay by task people will work cheaper and happier

    Remember too that all work is valuable to whoever pays for it even if it seems abstract and that a “permanent contract” doesn’t force you to stay. We apply for jobs and celebrate when we get them, we take up “the man’s” offer to sell our time and work, we need to remind ourselves how fortunate we are to have work. We would still face hunger and need for shelter even if there was no corporate overlord to exploit our work, and we attain a much better standard of living and quality of products and free time than we could ever hope for if you lived self sustainably off grid

  • 144 ZXSpectrum48k September 20, 2020, 1:36 pm

    @TA. “old Father Time is ticking a box off your personal calendar every day”. I don’t disagree. I set a stop date at which point, whatever the numbers, I can give it up.

    I reached what most people would have considered FI in 2010 (late 30s), about 2% in SWR terms. The big issue then though was developing a strong sense of guilt/anxiety after having children. The world I’ve brought them is shaping up very badly. So I wanted to tip the playing field as much in their favour as I could. It wasn’t enough for me to be FI. My children also needed to be FI. This became the new (albeit somewhat vague) stretch target.

    This year, the combination of work and the portfolio both shooting the lights out, means those targets have been reached. I carry on because it’s an unstable equilibrium (perhaps the portfolio drops 25% by year-end etc). Yes, the pot is now much bigger, spending modestly higher but asset valuations are far worse. I do think long-bond real yields and equity yields matter.

    I also carry on because I reached that level rather faster than expected. The period 2014-17 was a heavy slog, slow progress. I thought I’d hit my stop date before hitting the target. Suddenly it all turned around and, boom, I was there. It was one reason I took the sabbatical. Time to think. Time to try being a professional bum. It suited me well (as I expected). I went back to work because there is little need to rush decisions.

  • 145 Jim Mcg September 21, 2020, 4:19 pm

    Well done TA. Of course the worst thing in the world is not getting what you want, and the second worst thing… 🙂
    I hit my FI target a few years ahead of my plan too, providing I kept within certain spend parameters. But that felt a bit unrealistic as your spending plans can change. A bigger question was could I allow those spending plans to actually increase? Could I treat myself? And, if so, by how much? For me, the saving and investing became the easy years. The harder ones came when I had to decide how to de-accumulate. What was a safe spending level and how wide was the margin for error? Partly in order to give me a wider margin for error, I went back to being a wage slave. Best decision I made.

  • 146 The Accumulator September 21, 2020, 7:57 pm

    @ ZX – I hope you get another chance to ease off again soon.

    @ Jim – Do you now view work with renewed enthusiasm after your decumulation experience? With the benefit of hindsight was FI a waste for you? Or does the security give you more freedom to work on your terms?

    It’s good that you’ve found the right balance now. I wonder if you went back into the same career or struck out on a new path? I think there’s a lot to be said for being able to reinvent yourself in later life.

  • 147 Hare September 25, 2020, 9:59 pm

    Congratulations. I have a case of the warm and furries. I love the new name The Deaccumulator. It’s a subject rarely written about and even rarer written from lived experience.

    Blog posts I’d like to see:
    – Using natural yield and capital gains rather than selling capital
    – Accumulating without the assumption of a pension (or without much of one). This is because pension contributions are tied to employment earnings and if a person’s income/earnings are not employment related, stashing a whole bunch into a pension isn’t an available option
    – How to do one’s best with FI when a person’s income means it’s never going to happen (very low incomes etc). I’m thinking big improvements in financial stability could be made even with the knowledge that FI will not happen but quality of life in terms of feeling better
    – Ermine put forward that he doesn’t have bonds in his portfolio because of a DB. I would love to see that explored.

    Plus more fabulous posts like this on how it is for you. It’s so valuable.

  • 148 miner_49er September 28, 2020, 1:28 pm

    It would be nice to here about how to deal with the Anxiety or have to change mindset of having to use this stash of money we have been collecting/accumulating over the years? that may/will start to reduce.

  • 149 The Accumulator September 29, 2020, 12:57 pm

    @ Hare and Miner – thank you for the ideas both – have cut n paste on to my list.

  • 150 Nick S October 3, 2020, 10:23 pm


    Any chance you could give an example of the switch from finding an increase in wage meaningful to something more ambiguous? I guess it seems like you know you’re on the right path but if it’s mentoring someone to a promotion for example…this seems unrelated to specific technical skills, it’s more about being a good person. If the technical elements or the ‘work’ doesn’t matter much then I guess there’s no point in switching jobs or developing much in that technical sense?

    I did read The Second Mountain and re-read the section on vocation. I found it underwhelming to be honest. Seems his premise is basically that something will bubble up and grab you, not much you can do other than say yes to every opportunity apparently!


    I’ve lots of questions if you don’t mind, clogging up the comments section here though so I’ll attempt to find you on MMM forums


    Do you enjoy your work at all?

  • 151 The Accumulator October 17, 2020, 10:42 pm

    @ Nick S – sorry, I missed that you came back to this. I agree that the problem may not be the work itself, but one’s expectations of it. For example, in the contemporary era we’re bombarded by ideas that work should be fulfilling or fun or about changing the world. That’s a pretty tall order.

    Or it could be the work environment that’s the problem. I hated my job when it was like working in a viper’s nest. Eventually the vipers slithered away, the good people stayed, and for the last four years I’ve had the pleasure of working with the most supportive and conscientious team that I’ve ever been part of.

    I became much happier once I stopped thinking about the next promotion. I no longer had to worry about whether I was projecting the ‘right image’, or taking on the ‘right projects’, or cultivating the ‘right people’. All the stuff that makes me die inside. The side-effect is that I didn’t push my salary up much during my peak earning years, but that’s OK, it was enough and I made it to FI anyway.

    Switching jobs may be the best thing you ever do, but it won’t make any difference if the problem is you. I learned that from my father who regularly changed roles but was miserable in all of them.

    Your idea of mentoring others is an excellent example of finding purpose in work aside from the pursuit of power and money.

    Taking pride in your work is another possibility. It sounds trite I know. But I poured my heart into a recent project and the way it turned out will make me glad for years to come. The project would have been more profitable and efficient and done to an acceptable standard if I’d put 40% less effort into it, but I wouldn’t have been happy with it.

    I’ve read management theory about how you’re meant to ‘pull credit up’ and ‘push detail down’ if you want to get ahead. That makes me want to shoot myself in the head.

    Speaking truth to power is another possibility. An enjoyable exercise in itself and can ironically lead to you being more valued as long as you’re not an arsehole about it.

    I’ve expended significant political capital on defending people at work who were unjustly scapegoated for things that went wrong. That doesn’t necessarily help you win friends and influence people above but it makes it a lot easier to live with myself.

    I’ve got this amazing team of ‘Moneyball-esque misfits’. Don’t know if you’re read Moneyball? The gist being that you can build an incredible team from under-rated people who don’t look like the archetype of success, but are more than the sum of their parts when correctly combined. Often in the past, people in my workplace were hammered for their weaknesses or for not fitting in. Creating an environment in which those weaknesses are instead compensated for by a mutually supporting web of trust has been the greatest pleasure of my career.

    Winning greater autonomy over your time at work can be another fulfilling direction.

    It will likely take a good deal of reflection and experiment to discover what works for you. I could not have predicted my happiest outcomes in advance, much of it is serendipity, and it remains a work in progress.

  • 152 Ideastocover? September 10, 2021, 7:45 am

    Hi TA – just revisited this post as I’d hit a motivation wall (trying to keep going when you’re in the middle) and thought I’d take inspiration from someone who ‘kept on the path’

    I have thoroughly enjoyed reading all your posts and am beyond happy for you that you reached your goal. On ideas for future articles – hopefully these won’t be too simple for you to cover if you’re so inclined…..

    1) 25% tax free lump sum- not 100% on this (if you have multi pots how does it work?, if I take 25% from 1 do I need to do that with all pots?, what if I don’t take it but draw an income then regret not taking the 25% later? – what are the pros and cons of taking/not taking, should I take it if I don’t need it and if I do what do I do with it?)

    2) Same with a db scheme – is it worth taking the cash lump sum or not?

    3) Any ideas on what people should do with retirement when you and your partner have a significant age gap?

    4) Techniques on how to be comfortable spending rather accumulating your pot – this terrifies me! Especially when I’m working so hard and sacrificing to make it grow!

    5) What if you have a pension from another country – take it first take it last – any tax implications, how do I figure out what do do without going to a financial adviser? – I have a v small pot!

    6) Any tips on what to get from your job in the last couple of years to retirement (eg get everything fixed on private health coverage, use the cash to get your house fixed up so you don’t have costs when retired, best way to transition into retirement)

    7) Is there a set way to plan how you spend your money in retirement? (Ie get all travelling done early/later, spread things out so you have something to look forward to every year etc)

    8) If one needs to build up a large pot for retirement outside of a pension as they are retiring early and you are not married but in a relationship. As far as I can see there are tax issues if you die but want to leave your money to your other half. Is there anything that can be done other than get married?

    9) Any general advice = things I wish I’d known or done before I retired?

    Just a few suggestions – sorry if these are obvious to most people but they aren’t to me

  • 153 The Accumulator September 11, 2021, 1:49 pm

    @ Ideas – hey, keep going. The middle years are the toughest but once you’re beyond halfway it’s like running down hill.

    Thank you for the great selection of ideas. There’s some there I can immediately think of what to do with, and others I can have fun researching.


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