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Post-FIRE day update: three months in

Image of a FIRE, to signify post-FIRE life.

The post-FIRE1 day euphoria lasted two weeks. My spirit level of happiness flattened out after a fortnight.

At that point I realised the novelty of life without work had worn off.

So this was it. The place I’d spent seven years dreaming about.

Was it worth it?

Oh god, yes.

I go to bed happy. I wake up excited. Sometimes I catch myself smiling for no apparent reason.

Close friends ask me what I’m doing. There’s a faint sub-text of: “Well, tell me what life in seventh heaven is like. Tell me about the harps, the ambrosia, and bungee-jumping off the Burj Khalifa.”

“Well, GO ON THEN!”

It’s difficult to explain. Life post-FIRE is simultaneously very ordinary and extraordinary.

I haven’t boarded a log flume ride of perpetual hedonism. But I have found joy in the everyday.

The border fence between work and play has come down. Stuff I’d previously classify as a chore no longer seems like an obstacle between me and the good life.

That’s because I’m a sucker for flow. That serene mental state where you’re completely immersed in a task. You come to the surface after what feels like minutes, only to discover time has passed without friction, as if you were in hypersleep.

Now I slip into flow easily because I can do things at my own speed, in my own way, and to the standard I want.

It doesn’t matter what the task is. What matters is that I choose to do it. And that I’m not under some crushing deadline to get it done.

If I can strap the task to some notion that I’m making life slightly better for me, or someone I care about, then I’m happy.

Flights of fancy

In this way, I’ve inhabited a surprisingly small world so far. But my imagination has been free to wander via podcasts and books.

I can lodge my mind in space travel, politics, quantum physics, genetics, the evolutionary history of the octopus, or whatever else fires my curiosity neurons.

I’ve always had a broad range of interests, but there was never enough time in the day. Now there still isn’t enough time, but I don’t want the day to stop.

I’m both less focussed and less distracted. Less focussed because there isn’t a ton of BS (client, business, and asshat-related) to deal with every day. Less distracted because there isn’t a ton of BS to deal with every day.

Humans reputedly thrive when they have mastery, autonomy, and purpose.

I don’t know about the mastery part. But autonomy and purpose mean everything to me.

Other good things about FIRE

I sleep better.

That low-level, chronic stress that afflicts every contemporary workplace: it’s gone.

My physical health is better. There wasn’t much wrong with me that not sitting at a desk for 10 hours a day wouldn’t fix. Now I don’t do any single thing for 10 hours a day.

I’m not worrying about money. I’m not obsessively checking my portfolio or fretting about spending.

I feel carefree again. For the first time since leaving school.

I’m staying in touch with people. Jumping on my bike to see old friends, catching up for breakfast, or having a natter in the garden.

There’s no fixed routine. No longer do I just ‘work, eat, sleep’ repeat.

Mrs Accumulator is happier, she reports. (I didn’t make her fill in an extensive questionnaire, I swear!)

We get to spend proper time together every day, instead of only at weekends and holidays. The weekdays when our only exchange was a bleary, “My god, what time is it?” at stupid ‘o’ clock are but a memory.

So it’s all rainbows post-FIRE?

Like anyone, I’m subject to negative thoughts even when quite content. They turn up like trains at my mind’s central station.

These trains may be on their way to You Should Be Earning More City or You’ve Given Up Street. The doors open, I decide not to board, and the train of thought departs. It’s followed by another one – usually more positive – seconds later.

I think this is normal? It’s part of the human condition, at least as I experience it. As long as I don’t take these thoughts seriously then they disappear.

Maybe I’m fooling myself. I could still be on a Financial Independence high. The real test could be lying in wait. Perhaps in six months, as the seasons turn colder.

We’ll see. Right now I think FIRE is the right prescription for me.

Hopefully I don’t sound too giddy. I genuinely don’t feel that way. I’m just in a good place.

Take it steady,

The Accumulator

  1. Financial Independence Retire Early. []
{ 59 comments… add one }
  • 1 BeardyBillionaireBloke June 30, 2021, 9:43 am

    I was refused access to my work’s gym because of high blood pressure. It’s now normal. Coincidence?

  • 2 Robbo June 30, 2021, 9:59 am

    It’s been nearly three years since I FIREd. I have similar trains of thought from time-to-time too but, as with yourself, they soon pass. Both less focussed and less distracted chimes too. As does the satisfaction of choosing what to do and without an (often artifically imposed) deadline.

    You really can’t underestimate autonomy. Yes, I would like to be financially richer but we’re comfortable. Whenever the train to “You’re a lazy layabout who’s not trying hard enough” turns up and I briefly think that I *should really* be getting onboard I remember that I am the happiest I’ve been in years. Each day is fun with something interesting to do. The only downside is that time passes very quickly now!

  • 3 Naeclue June 30, 2021, 10:17 am

    Pleased to hear you are getting on just fine. I remember the feeling you describe after I stopped work. It was like having a huge weight lifted from my shoulders.

    My daughter completed on her flat last week and I have been redecorating before she moves in and have really enjoyed doing it. Not the sort of thing I had any time for, or could justify from an hourly rate point of view, when working. Need to do a few other bits of DIY and build some flat pack furniture. All fun, but would not enjoy it anywhere near as much if it was my job.

  • 4 Ryan Gibson June 30, 2021, 11:09 am

    Long time reader. I am pleased to hear you are getting on quite great and completely agree with your sentiments.

    I recently sold my business and with a little bit of monthly work we have ‘enough’ to lead a relatively comfortable life long term. I’ve experienced similar feelings. I initially struggled with Inbox zero but have since grown to love it. The days pass by so quickly. With a couple of hours of computer time, spending time with the kids, exercising and reading the days have gone. It’s a great feeling.

    I also sometimes feel I should be keeping up with the latest knowledge within my industry (Digital marketing) but then I ask myself ‘why?’ and it disappeares.

    Please keep posting about your journey (positives and negatives) as it provides perspective for my own.

    Thanks again,


  • 5 Dazzle June 30, 2021, 1:10 pm

    All good to hear!
    I’m approaching my number and struggling with a number of fears.
    Is my number enough?
    Am I only at the number because of high market valuations?
    Am I doing my family out of a more comfortable / luxurious future?

    I’m also really struggling with my job / wfh. Totally fed up with the job itself but I feel also with working full stop. Being so close is frustrating. I had thought that once at number I’d continue for a while to build (further) buffer / protection against a super high market. Right now I couldn’t wait to quit though 🙂
    155 days to go (based upon my wild guess as to when I’ll have enough)

  • 6 Financial Samurai June 30, 2021, 2:14 pm

    I’m glad the joy for you has continued! The sleep and health aspect are huge. Might also coincide with less worry about the pandemic too?

    I’m looking forward to taking a couple months off starting in July. A mini-retirement if you will.

    It’s nice the markets have been steady as well. Let’s hope it doesn’t correct too much in the future.


  • 7 mjcross June 30, 2021, 2:53 pm

    ” I wake up excited. Sometimes I catch myself smiling for no apparent reason.”

    Me too – 18 months in. COVID has put a slight crimp in my plans for a bit of travel and restaurant-sampling; but it’s also reduced my outgoings a fair bit 🙂

    Popped back into the office last week for the first time and it was like falling back into a bad dream.

  • 8 Weird Sister June 30, 2021, 2:56 pm

    Glad to hear that you’re still enjoying FIRE – today I have just finished my last day of work so I’m hoping that it works out as well for me and Mr Weird Sister.

  • 9 Where2how June 30, 2021, 3:09 pm

    I retired early (RE) about 4 years ago and still love it. Yeah ok sometimes I wonder have I done the right thing, but I soon come to my senses. Money isn’t everything (I hope that’s not wrong to say on this site), so long as you have enough. I’ll let you know in 35 years if I got the sums wrong.
    I’m as busy as ever with all my usual interests topped up by volunteering to maintain local county footpaths, which is new and beats a gym (I was in IT), learning new things and sharing my knowledge at my local u3a group (see https://www.u3a.org.uk/ for yours). There is so much more to life than just work, but I can say that now I’ve reached FI.

  • 10 Michelle / F&W June 30, 2021, 3:16 pm

    Love it, love it. Always so happy to hear from a fellow FIRE’r who’s enjoying life so much.

    So much sounded familiar as I nodded along through this one. Tbh, I had very little from the ‘negative train’, perhaps a hint of “it would have been interesting to see how high you could have gone and showed part-time women can be great role models”. But like you, a micro-second later I’d realise I was so happy it was more idle curiosity at ‘that other life’.

    Totally agree about the small things, the ordinary things. I love being able to take my time instead of cramming everything into those brief seconds between work/eat/sleep. Being able to say ‘yes’ to friends and family’. Not having to choose and prioritise every god damn minute to make it all fit.

    No it’s not all puppies & rainbows and anybody who says so either hasn’t really tried it or wants to sell you something! . I still have to do things I don’t want to – like paint the ceiling when a toilet leaks…wonderful. But at least now I don’t begrudge that it uses up my only free time. It’s ok.

    So congrats – I’m glad it’s working out. I’m almost three years in & honestly, so far – the smile’s not faded

  • 11 Accidentally Retired June 30, 2021, 4:17 pm

    You seem to be describing my life. So thank you for putting into words exactly what I’m thinking and how I feel every day 🙂

    I have found that so far these feelings don’t go away.

    I find that the days go by faster and I can keep busier with things that interest me more so than you would ever think.

    Glad your happier and enjoying your FIRE.


  • 12 weenie June 30, 2021, 4:35 pm

    Thanks for this uplifting post to keep those of us still on the FIRE treadmill motivated! I love the thought of smiling for no apparent reason – it’s something I’m looking forward to!

    I’d be a bit concerned if you had painted it all to be rainbows! Life just isn’t like that and human nature will always insert a bit of doubt, to keep us on our toes.

    Buoyant markets and nice weather may be adding to all the good stuff, so yes, perhaps there’s a real test on its way, with darker days and possibly crashing/correcting markets.

    In any case, enjoy all the giddiness!

  • 13 FI-FireFighter June 30, 2021, 5:01 pm

    I was hoping you were going to do this kind of post periodically, as we reached this key milestone at the same time its always going to be interesting to see how each is doing as the years go by (well to me anyway).
    I can’t really disagree with anything you said, I liked the – ‘simultaneously very ordinary and extraordinary’ sentiment, as I feel very fortunate to be in the position I am in.
    My wife and close friends will quickly remind me that I have worked all my life, never been unemployed (luckily) and planned and saved for this period of my life.
    But I still feel fortunate, which is why I liked – ‘Sometimes I catch myself smiling for no apparent reason.’ So do I 🙂
    Work colleagues are very keen to know what its like and what am I actually doing, I’m getting the questions so often that I now give the same answer ‘Fantastic and whatever I feel like on the day’, it satisfies some but others want specifics and dig deeper, which is ok.
    I know that I will need ‘something’ to occupy me and keep the brain cells active at some point, so I have started planning some large projects for next year (I’ll be ready then), but this is all for the families future, so very far removed from anything like work!
    My wife says I have lost all sense of time and urgency, I quite like that.
    And I still follow the advice of this guy!
    “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.”
    ― Dr. Seuss

  • 14 never give up June 30, 2021, 5:12 pm

    Phew it’s such a relief to hear you haven’t reapplied for your old job or something! Thank goodness for that. It’s also wonderful to hear about the benefits sleep and physical health wise.

    It definitely sounds like how I want it to be so I may as well continue pursuing my FIRE goal. You’ve convinced me not to give up 🙂

    I’m really glad you are going so well.

  • 15 hal June 30, 2021, 5:52 pm

    Uplifting post, thank you! It’s almost one whole month since I FIRE’d . It took me the last 8 years to get my act together. I’m a few months shy of the big 60 so I guess the RE bit is kind of squiffy. However, I managed to gain an extra 5-7 years of financial freedom by being laser focused on my exit strategy. That extra 5-7 years of freedom means everything to me. It’s too early to know exactly how I feel…but there’s a calmness that has set in… and waves of sheer joy. The big chill. One weird thing I’ve noticed is people tend to ask me ‘what are you going to do’? I guess the answer is ‘whatever I feel like doing’?

  • 16 ermine June 30, 2021, 7:25 pm

    Well done. Work is deeply overrated as a source of meaning in life, eh 😉
    I haven’t run out of interesting things to stick a snout into after nine years…

  • 17 Factor June 30, 2021, 9:20 pm

    I’m told that when I was five years old, I was asked by a relative, “What are you going to do when you grow up?” Apparently I replied, “I’m going to sit under a tree and eat my lunch”!

    That “lunch” tasted oh so good on the first day after I FIRE’d, 18 years ago, and it’s tasted just as good every day since then :).

  • 18 Deltrotter June 30, 2021, 9:30 pm

    Really enjoyed this update, please keep posting them from time to time.



  • 19 BillD June 30, 2021, 10:55 pm

    Great to read your update, good to hear all is going well. Just 4 months in myself and enjoying it – I was working part time for 2 years and got made redundant from my software developer job in February which was fine as I had planned to retire 10 years before my state pension age. Not missing all the office / work from home stuff at all. This morning I enjoyed cutting the grass, filling the bird feeders and watching some starlings over lunch. In the afternoon I played around with some video clips of a Pine Marten I took up north last week using a free video editing package I have been learning . I did check my portfolio today as a got an email notification about some dividends – some ETFs dropped quarterly dividends in my ISA, very nice. I thought if anyone asks, I can just say I’ve got some great people working for me all over the world! Keep smiling – life is good, enjoy!

  • 20 Maximus June 30, 2021, 11:28 pm

    Aww, that’s great to hear (De)Accumulator. 🙂
    I’m seven years into early retirement (at age 47) and my main thoughts looking back are: How I ever managed to fit work into my life, and how my job became such an all-consuming force which (in retrospect) gave little of any real value back – apart from the money to FIRE of course. 😉
    My advice? Easy: Enjoy Your Freedom! :-))

  • 21 IP July 1, 2021, 3:24 am

    Thanks for the update TA, keep em coming.

    You’ve unplugged yourself from the matrix, welcome back to the real world.

  • 22 John Bray July 1, 2021, 7:14 am

    As the song goes “We’re busy doin’ nothin’,Workin’ the whole day through, Tryin’ to find lots of things not to do. We’re busy goin’ nowhere, Isn’t it just a crime. We’d like to be unhappy, but We never do have the time …”

    I always worry that the self-starting bloggers need the pressure of a job, so its great to have a counter example.

    4 years in, no room in my life for a job.

  • 23 Brod July 1, 2021, 9:45 am

    @TA – lovely article and I’m glad it’s working out for you so far! Very inspirational.

    I’ve not pulled the trigger yet but I’m beginning to put together a list of things to do – WSET Diploma (and I’ll try and pick up a part time job in a wine merchants somewhere to support it and give me some fun money); learn piano; keep fit; maybe that maths A level I flunked; house work; Dad’s taxi service. And whatever takes my fancy.

    I’ll have to be disciplined though, otherwise I’ll just drift by surfing the net and taking afternoon naps. Anyways, off to serve the Man now… 🙁

  • 24 The Accumulator July 1, 2021, 10:05 am

    @ Robbo – “I am the happiest I’ve been in years.” That’s how I feel too.

    @ Naeclue – “It was like having a huge weight lifted from my shoulders.” That’s it in a nutshell. I have the same feelings about DIY too. I couldn’t fit it in when working but it’s fun to have wee projects and to spend time doing something physical. When I tire of it, I can put it down and come back another time to finish it off. In fact, one of the joys generally is being able to switch focus between lots of different things without overdosing on any one of them.

    @ Ryan – I had similar thoughts about keeping up with developments in my industry. It was just another back-up plan driven by doubt. But like you, as I’ve relaxed into my new life, that anxiety has gone. There are so many better ways to spend the time.

    @ Dazzle – I think those doubts are only natural. It’s a big step. Hope it works out for you. Those 155 days will pass in a flash.

    @ Weird Sister – Well done on making the leap! You must feel like you’re walking on air?

    @ Where2how – nice link. Great to hear you’ve hit on some new passion projects you’re really enjoying.

    @ Michelle – that’s an excellent point about ‘that other life’. I think a lot of discontent stems from our mooning about paths we didn’t take. Except we ignore the fact that the other life would have been full of leaking toilets too 😉

    @ Accidentally Retired – cheers! 🙂

    @ Weenie – haha, thanks. Keep doing what you’re doing!

    @ FI-FireFighter – Agreed. I feel very fortunate too. Things might not have worked out this way – long period out of work, sideways markets, relationship disaster, ill-health… I hear you on losing all sense of urgency. Time feels like it’s on my side now. I still just about know what day it is 😉

    @ never give up – keep going! It will be worth it. Funnily enough, I did have a couple of job offers. It was lovely that people thought of me but I was happy to be able to turn them down. If I hadn’t, Mrs Accumulator would have done it for me. She heard me having one of those conversations on the phone and immediately came rushing into the room with a “Don’t you dare” look on her face 🙂

    @ Hal – yes! I’m glad it’s working out even as it’s taking time to sink in. That ‘What are you going to do?’ question is inevitable I guess. It’s nice not to have to supply an answer.

    @ Ermine – haha thanks. Actually, your range of interests is quite inspirational.

    @ Factor – that made me smile.

    @ BillD – love the idea of ‘your global workforce’. Your day sounds great.

    @ Maximus – “How I ever managed to fit work into my life.” Absolutely. It already feels impossible to imagine.

    @ John Bray and IP – both excellent ways to put it. Loving all the different takes on the joy of being your own person.

  • 25 The Accumulator July 1, 2021, 10:08 am

    @ Brod – having that list already sounds like you’re well on the way to making a success of it. Roll on your independence day. Clever idea about the wine merchants. Hope they do you a generous discount 😉

  • 26 Brod July 1, 2021, 10:38 am

    @TA – thought had never crossed my mind!

  • 27 In my Shed July 1, 2021, 11:23 am

    I’m 6 months into early retirement, I’ve never been busier: allotment never been more productive; garden is a picture; house projects progressing well and a list of future projects as long as my arm. The key is having the choice of if, when and how I do them. Never been happier.

  • 28 Tom-Baker Dr Who July 1, 2021, 12:20 pm

    I’m glad to read that your new FIRE life is suiting you so well!

    To be able to indulge in “whatever else fires my curiosity neurons” really sums it up what for me is one of the key motivations to FIRE. Like you, I’ve got many varied interests that having to work keeps me from exploring as freely as I would like to. Hopefully it’s looking like I will be able to FIRE soon. The peace of mind it brings is even improving my driving skills: my 14-year old Honda Jazz used to do 38 miles per gallon, now it does 40.7 miles per gallon.

    Your post-FIRE updates are inspiring, please keep posting them.

  • 29 EcoMiser July 1, 2021, 12:41 pm

    41 years (in August) since I finished full-time work, 13 years since I finished paid work, and I still sometimes smile for no particular reason.
    Volunteering can be a bit of a two-edged sword – it’s great to be doing something and give back to the community, but sometimes deadlines and expectations and having people relying on you creep back in. Instead of one paid job there’s half a dozen unpaid jobs.
    Enjoy your FI and RE, you’ve worked for it.

  • 30 never give up July 1, 2021, 1:13 pm

    It’s so great hearing how many have FIRE’d in recent times and are settling into their new post-work life so well.

    TA – I’m poking fun at myself there really. I have Andy Murray powers of determination when it comes to my FIRE goal. I have no chance of giving up.

    Turning down job offers must be an incredible feeling. I like the thought of Mrs Accumulator giving you “don’t you dare” looks.

  • 31 Ownitall July 1, 2021, 1:29 pm

    One month in and at the two week point applied for a part-time role for a charity as been pondering about the “What are you going to do?” question.

    Role well within my experience and skillset but thought of it as giving back as money insignificant. Promptly got rejected on the basis of lack of skills and experience. Reminded me of what the darker side of the darker side is all about so the momentary lapse passed and then I went back to smiling about health (now exercising daily and spending 3/4 hours outdoors before noon on weekdays), DIY things ticked off (like the cracked picture frame, plants needing tlc, IT set up at home needs re-jigging, etc. ), cooking properly – this is something that got neglected, seeing friends and family, did my first bit of video editing too like BillD.

    Maybe when not summer months things will feel different but at the moment I am not short of things to do that qualify as improving my life in some way. My main fear is about about worst case financial disaster happening but keep telling myself remaining life is the scarcer commodity than remaining money. A lesser fear is about wasting my time so I do slip into a splash of planning but only to the extent of having a broad idea for the week and then night before about the next day.

  • 32 Michael July 1, 2021, 8:03 pm

    I read this with such a huge smile on my face. I’m nowhere near my FI target, but even being a decade or so away, I felt giddy on your behalf and loved reading about how you spend your day. The comments below from fellow people who are FI only added to that overwhelming feeling of joy. Congratulations and enjoy every day, you’ve earned it!

  • 33 The Accumulator July 2, 2021, 10:44 am

    @ Ownitall – “My main fear is about about worst case financial disaster happening but keep telling myself remaining life is the scarcer commodity than remaining money.”

    You’ve put your finger on a key point. We all know that life is ‘use it or lose it’ but that’s really been foregrounded for me since FIRE. Knowing how good this feels has stamped out my ‘What if?’ financial worries.

    If I run into problems later, I think it will be worth it to have experienced what I’m going through now. I’d rather back myself to cope with future challenges than to work on for years to try and squeeze out another few per cent of risk.

    When I line-up my post-FIRE demons, the ‘What if you get a terminal disease tomorrow’ spectre is far scarier than the ‘What if you have financial difficulties in 30 years time’ ghoul.

    @ Michael – I agree. It’s wonderful to hear about everyone’s adventures. Often FIRE gets a bad press because there’s the occasional casualty, and commentators can hack together columns going: “See, see, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.”

    But FIRE threads on Monevator are overwhelmingly staffed by satisfied FIRE customers.

  • 34 Hak July 2, 2021, 3:10 pm

    This article when coupled to TI’s recent musings are enlightening. As someone that was FI at 31 (my active investing proved i was skillful or darn lucky) i find myself five years hence with no desire to quit work. Indeed, being an academic means i essentially get to do as i like 90 percent of the week and get paid for “work” i would do anyhow free of charge. That is why I enjoy the FI but cannot see me ever having to pull the RE part. Of course, i know few people have the luxery of being a lay about academic.

    Thanks for the articles.

  • 35 Andrew July 2, 2021, 7:42 pm

    At 35, the RE part seems like a pipe dream to me.

    Even with a fairly ok sum already in my pension and maxing it out from here on I don’t see retiring before 60.

  • 36 KeepOnKeepingOn July 2, 2021, 9:50 pm

    Uplifting, inspiring, reassuring – stick with the programme.

    Thanks also for the many additional comments from others on the “other side”, great to hear so many kindred spirits.

    Not far away – the next Lions tour will be the start!

  • 37 JimJim July 3, 2021, 6:29 am

    Hey @TA!
    Yet another post that has informed me. Honestly, I think I can even feel the tone of your posts being less stressed about things and a definite improvement/change in the quality of the articles you have written post FI. The comments from the numerous already FI individuals here share your thoughts unanimously. I was hoping for at least one response that had a strong counter argument or at least highlighting a terrible downside that I had not planned for! 36 comments in and not a one. (Oh Matthew, where-art thou?)
    As I have said before here, I am not too far away from the fence of FI/(RE?).
    This article and its responses are the Sirens luring me across that fence.
    Last week my Father passed. Life has been a funny old thing since, and not all bad. Perhaps it is time soon to jump the fence.
    Many thanks for this.

  • 38 mr_jetlag July 3, 2021, 8:43 am

    As someone who is FI but not RE, these posts are really reassuring and I hope to join all of you on the other side of the fence sometime next year. The biggest struggle is already being mentally checked out while waiting for a meaningful (1x on current pot) work windfall. It means the difference between an OK (not lean, but not fat) FIRE and a few great years of active retirement. I suppose life always comes up with reasons not to upset the status quo…

  • 39 159F July 3, 2021, 9:37 am

    Great to read.

    Great to have a balance of describing what actually happens on arrival at the destination. The human experience. I somehow imagine the leap into freedom is still made with some small final private doubts as to whether it delivers all that was imagined.

    Compliments perfectly the understanding more mechanical parts of the journey plan and navigation.

    Keeping it real – as they say.

  • 40 Seeking Fire July 3, 2021, 9:49 am

    Congrats and a great read.

    Jim / Jim – “I was hoping for at least one response that had a strong counter argument or at least highlighting a terrible downside that I had not planned for! 36 comments in and not a one. (Oh Matthew, where-art thou?)”

    My only counter argument to this personally is this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VeMr0n4pvtM

    you need to have a strong constitution to ride out a decade long + bear market when you are accumulating and to stay the course. You need to have a much stronger constitution to do that if you are living off your capital. DB pensions don’t count! I’m fine when accumulating. Not so sure when the engines are turned off and I’m gliding around on the winds or storms of investment returns!

    This is by no way a critique of the author or anyone else. It’s just the fundamental issue I can’t quite get over. We haven’t had such a bear market since 1999 – 2008 and I doubt there’s any reader who started ‘fire’ back in 1999 – shout if there is as keen to hear (or indeed let 1960’s!). Note 2007 / 2008 doesn’t count really as while it would no doubt have been [very] worrying there was a substantial snap back within a year or so.

    The counter to the counter though regarding the depreciating asset of time has been well articulated in the above comments!

  • 41 The Accumulator July 3, 2021, 10:31 am

    @ Hak – yes, in those circumstances why would you pull the plug? I’ve come across stats before for the percentage of the workforce who describe their job as their passion. Under 10% from memory. You’ve done well to find the thing that you love.

    I suspect I don’t have a single passion that I’d love doing for 40+ hours a week to the exclusion of other interests. And to the point that someone would pay me for the privilege. There’s many things I enjoy doing for under 20 hours a week or at an amateur level.

    @ KeepOn, JimJim, Mr Jetlag – I’m excited for you being so near! Hopefully you’ll be dropping in happy ‘other side’ comments soon. JimJim, I’m sorry to hear about your father.

  • 42 The Accumulator July 3, 2021, 10:45 am

    @ 159F – those “small private doubts” is a good way to put it. I imagine my brain will keep this new situation in this kind of ‘review’ mode for some years until it feels like my natural medium and something I don’t question. I’d guess that’s the brain’s way of double-checking any novel situation.

    @ Seeking Fire – You make a good point and I’ve thought too about how things could get harder. And do I have the reserves – both mental and asset-wise – to weather risks A to Z?

    But we’ll never be short of things to worry about. Yesterday I listened to podcasts about the climate crisis, threats to globalisation and US democracy. What a great day! During each one, a little voice said, “Well that could bugger things up couldn’t it?” But at some point I’ve just got to get on with my life. I can’t live it fearful of everything that might be.

  • 43 Sara July 3, 2021, 11:06 am

    Not jealous at all 😉
    So glad it’s turning out as you hoped. You are probably also missing out on the (post?) Covid “what’s the point of my job? I really don’t care anymore.” mental blah that seems to be pretty universal at the moment. I’ve certainly got it.
    I’ve just muttered to my manager that I’d like to reduce my hours more in the next 12-24 months so let’s see if that gets anywhere.

  • 44 Hannah July 3, 2021, 11:25 am

    Great article!
    I’m not fire’d, but I’m now managing a low maintenance business to keep me going. It’s been a dream of mine for years and I finally took the plunge and quit my job.
    Some days are great, but some days I feel a bit of loneliness creeping in. Kids are at school and friends are at work and I find myself just tidying and cleaning. Has anyone else experienced this? Work was a big social side to my life and I haven’t worked out how to replace that bit yet (covid probably hasn’t helped).

  • 45 momac July 3, 2021, 4:42 pm

    Hi TA, as always, you have found just the right words to describe the sheer joy of not having to prioritise paid work ahead of anything that is important or interesting right now. After three years of full RE at 55, the feeling of ‘how lucky am i’ just gets stronger as the portfolio of self selected activities and projects evolve to match what you truly enjoy doing.

  • 46 Seeking Fire July 4, 2021, 10:00 am

    Accumulator – Agreed. I think it’s basically a matter of personal perspective. If I was say 15 years older and therefore on the boarders of early retirement / retirement then I would definitely pull the plug as the number of years of healthy living is going to be proportionately lower and so the trade-off of one more year is proportionately higher. I’ve commented before that I think the human capital that someone has who has fired much earlier than normal is likely to have been eroded if you need it in a decades time . e.g. the altitude of the plane is lower than you would have liked and you need to fire up the engines. Therefore whereas I currently have the engine taps open full and every month keep climbing to the tune of thousands of pounds investing, when I choose to fire I increasing think it will be a lower stress role – engines idling so to speak! That will give more balance to ones life. I have read with interest some people who have early fired and seem at a loss as to what to do or just have less meaning in their life. I wouldn’t do that though at 55 – I’d cut the fuel cord and take it as it comes! It’s a very personal experience I guess. The only point I keep making to myself is that the current investing climate – low volatility and seemingly ever increasing markets is goldilocks and is very unlikely to continue into the future simply because if it does from a corporate finance perspective, the risk premium that you receive from investing in equities should be removed.

  • 47 The Accumulator July 4, 2021, 1:38 pm

    @ Seeking Fire – I really like your gliding analogy. Think I’ll probably nick that at some point 🙂 I hear you about the market. I would not have been able to FIRE if it hadn’t stayed on the boil for the last decade without bubbling over. Financial history tells me that can’t last forever, so at least it won’t be a shock when it doesn’t. I think I’ll weather OK anything short of a disaster.

    Re: human capital. Agreed. At age 49 the time-money trade-off has decisively swung in favour of time for me.

    If I needed to go back then I think I’d rather not go back to what I used to do. Ideally I’ll accumulate enough skills in the interim that I could be meaningfully paid for something else I enjoyed – if it came to it.

    I’ve got nothing against taking money for doing something I like – as Hak mentioned in his comment.

    @ Momac – cheers. Love your ‘self-select portfolio of fun’ metaphor.

    @ Sara – yes, I think reducing hours is another way to skin the cat. The Investor is a big fan of this solution.

    @ Hannah – Good for you re: your business! I’ve experienced flashes of that ‘it’s too quiet’ feeling. I’m very happy in my own company for long stretches but definitely need other people in my life too. I’ve surprised myself by how well I’ve kept in touch with work mates since leaving. Many males are rubbish at staying in touch and I’m one of them. I’ve found that the occasional meet-up for coffee, zoom call, or even ‘Hi, how are you?’ email goes a long way. Then Mrs TA comes home and all is well.

    That ‘afternoon loneliness’ issue is something I’ll be keeping an eye on in the winter, when options seem fewer. Jim @ sexhealthmoneydeath.com wrote several moving posts about it and I think it undid his initial FIRE experiment.

  • 48 Al Cam July 4, 2021, 2:03 pm

    @TA: Nice post, and glad that things are working out well for you & yours.

    @Seeking Fire: good to see the ‘piloting’ analogy is alive and well. Might be worth remembering that you can only strap on so many jerry cans [of fuel] before you will need a bigger plane!
    Hari and IIRC Malcolm (aka xxd09) have both been retired for some time now; see for example https://monevator.com/weekend-reading-get-ready-for-the-drop/#comment-1199467

  • 49 Allocator38 July 4, 2021, 10:32 pm

    My own experience of retirement is I love it but it’s bad for me. Have gone back to work for 3 days a week and loving it !

  • 50 flyingcat July 5, 2021, 12:41 am

    one thing certainly put smile on my face is when job hunter email me telling me job vacancies and sometime I even look online myself to see what are the available roles on the market in my industry – not for job hunting but just to feel happy as knowing that I do not need a job anymore 🙂

  • 51 The Accumulator July 5, 2021, 11:02 am

    @ Allocator38 – you can’t leave us on tenterhooks like that 😉 Tell us more about why full-time retirement proved bad for you.

  • 52 Jane in London July 5, 2021, 11:07 am

    I’ve been retired for 5+ years now (I downshifted to very part-time working 4 years before that). I still relish the freedom I have now, and feel grateful every day.

    I thought I’d take on loads of voluntary work, but actually I found I did not want that tie. Having spent my working life in the not-for-profit sector, and given lots of my time and professional skills to worthwhile causes when I was still working, I felt it was time just to allow myself to be a bit ‘selfish’.

    I’ve surprised myself by how relaxed I felt when the markets wobbled in 2020: I seem to be braver than I thought I was, lol!

    I’ve also honed a useful response to boastful people at parties who tell you they are a high court judge/brain surgeon/astronaut or whatever, and then ask what job *you* do. I quietly say “well, I’m fortunate enough to have a private income, so I actually don’t have a job”. That usually shuts them up nicely.

    Jane in London

  • 53 The Accumulator July 5, 2021, 2:31 pm

    @ Jane – great to hear that the FI gloss hasn’t worn off for you even five years in. Love that line. I’m gonna try that out

  • 54 Al Cam July 6, 2021, 2:29 am

    @Seeking Fire:
    Might also be worth taking a look at John P. Greaney’s (JPG) blog; albeit that it provides a US perspective. JPG retired early in 1996 , see https://retireearlyhomepage.com/chronidx.html and has been charting his progress since then. His annual updates – the latest being from 2020 (posted April 2021) – contain IMO lots of useful comparative data.

  • 55 Seeking Fire July 6, 2021, 7:36 pm

    @54 – Thanks Al Cam. The old blogs are the best. His and Dirk Cotton (RIP) I have a fondness for

    @47/48 – TA /Al Cam. The plane analogy like everything else in FIRE is recycled and not mine! It kind of works but only to a point. Mind you – with a plane, you generally know (a) how long you’ll be in the air (b) what the forecast conditions are likely to be (c) how far the fuel in the plane’s tanks will move the plane. You don’t know any of that in FIRE. Your can just infer from historical precedent, which is not a bad start. But picture this – you are flying at 10k feet – suddenly a few mins later you’ve dropped to 5k feet (your financial headroom….) Breezily your pilot (you) turns round to your passengers (your family / significant other) and says – well that was a rum thing but don’t worry this happens every so often – historically it’s always worked out fine – there’s an updraft due any minute. Do they (a) say jolly good and pass the nuts (b) strap on the seat-belt and start shouting aggressively to the pilot 🙂 Hence why a 100% equities portfolio in FIRE requires nuts of steel!

  • 56 Al Cam July 7, 2021, 11:40 am

    @Seeking Fire:
    Sounds to me like you are in a very good place for your age; and unfortunately none of us are getting any younger! Whilst I recognise your concerns about a very early retirement some additional ‘context’ may be helpful.

    There is mounting evidence that a lot of retirees do not spend down their assets in de-accumulation. This finding is somewhat at odds with the prevailing theories of lifecycle economics. You may find this 2018 US paper interesting: https://www.ebri.org/docs/default-source/ebri-issue-brief/ebri_ib_447_assetpreservation-3apr18.pdf?sfvrsn=3d35342f_2

    A UK ‘equivalent’ from the IFS is available, search for: The use of financial wealth in retirement by Rowena Crawford also from 2018.

    Both of the papers – by data crunching design – tend to exclude very early retirements. However, the US paper does look at some of the differences that may be attributable to DB pensions.

    And, both papers, of course, rely on historical data and nobody can know the future. But, FWIW, I was not really aware of this behaviour when I pulled the plug a few years back.

  • 57 theFIREstarter July 10, 2021, 12:51 pm

    Hi TA,

    I had written a long and thoughtful comment but one of my chrome plug ins killed my page and it got lost in the ether. I don’t want to write it all down again but just wanted to say huge congratulations on hitting your number, pulling the plug and enjoying the first 3 months of your ER.

    I’m a year into semi retirement and enjoying it but it sounds quite different to your experience so maybe a full ER is the thing to aim for me next 🙂

    +1 for future updates, every 3 months probably isn’t overkill in the first year at least!

    All the best

  • 58 John Barber May 9, 2022, 4:38 pm

    Interested to see a latest Fire update…unless I have missed a recent one I can only see the 3 months in one

  • 59 The Investor May 9, 2022, 5:55 pm

    @John — Here’s two more, there’ll be another in a couple of weeks:



    FIRE archives:


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