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Weekend reading: The blogger bringing sexy back (as well as health, money, and death)

Weekend reading: The blogger bringing sexy back (as well as health, money, and death) post image

What caught my eye this week.

Long-time lurkers around these parts may remember the cult FIRE blog Sex Health Money Death.

That’s ‘cult’ as in the author carved out a niche for himself, you understand, not in that he carved anyone up for unsavoury ends…

Indeed Sex Health Money Death was the first early retirement blog I can ever remember conceding that quitting work to aimlessly kick about the house all day in your early 50s might not quite live up to the marketing hype.

Laconic posts about lonely trips to the gym and banter-less hours stretching out every afternoon were typical of this unique voice in blogging. Fans even looked past the fact that there was never any sex – a classic bait-and-switch.

Alas Sex Health Money Death eventually chucked in both the blog and retirement, and went back to work.

But now he’s back! His first recap reports that:

I certainly didn’t want to moan about retirement in a blog, but maybe I could share some of the challenges and what positive things I have found to come from them.

Off the top of my head, in the last year I’ve learned loads about pensions and developed a hard-won withdrawal strategy that I’m finally comfortable with; I’m way fitter than I’ve ever been; I’ve massively expanded my cooking repertoire; I’ve discovered Youtube DIY videos and saved hundreds of pounds in repair costs; I’ve learned a bit about gardening; I’ve read more books than I ever have; I’ve worked hard to increase my social circle; in any given week I average 15,000 steps a day, double what I used to do when working; I make time for audiobooks and podcasts; my golf handicap….nah, you don’t want to know about that. 

In short, a good retirement takes effort, as does a good blog and a healthy sex life. Although on reflection perhaps I’d rather hear about that golf handicap first.

Welcome back SHMD! And have a good weekend everyone.

From Monevator

The Slow & Steady Passive Portfolio update: Q2 2022 – Monevator

Crowdfunded valuations and some investment trust NAVs still need to come down – Monevator

From the archive-ator: When to buy insurance – Monevator


Note: Some links are Google search results – in PC/desktop view you can click to read the piece without being a paid subscriber. Try privacy/incognito mode to avoid cookies. Consider subscribing if you read them a lot!1

Average standard variable rate mortgage in UK tops 5% for first time since 2009 – Guardian

China economy shrinks on zero-Covid policy – BBC

More bank closures named by Barclays and by Natwest and RBS – Which

Tech talent shortage is crimping UK tech sector growth – BBC

US inflation hit 9.1% in June, far worse than anticipated – CNBC

Spain announces free rail journeys from September until end of year – Guardian

UK retail sales fall at fastest rate since lockdown – BBC [graph from Yahoo Finance]

Products and services

Zopa Bank launches Best Buy easy-access account paying 1.5% – ThisIsMoney

How much could you save on car insurance by paying annually? – Which

Open a SIPP with Interactive Investor and pay no SIPP fee for six months. Terms apply – Interactive Investor

How to switch bank accounts – Be Clever With Your Cash

Is a hub shared by several banks really the answer to mass branch closures? – ThisIsMoney

Homes for a heatwave, in pictures – Guardian

Comment and opinion

The era of Great Exasperation arrives for investors [Search result]FT

Luck vs skill – Kevin’s Newsletter

The US yield curve is inverted again – Morningstar

How to feel rich even if you can’t get rich – Financial Samurai

If this is your first bear market, there’s no need to panic – Washington Post

Neglected investing ideas – Humble Dollar

Why are so many middle-aged people leaving work? – Prospect

The upside of downside – Compound Advisers

Why a higher fiduciary duty helps everybody [US law but relevant] –  Morningstar

Commodities never belonged in your portfolio – Washington Post [via Abnormal Returns]

Position size matters, especially with volatile allocations like Bitcoin – Elm Funds

This time it’s different (/worse) mini-special

The market risks are growing – DIY Investor (UK)

Limits to growth and declining living standards – Simple Living in Somerset

An update on ‘country risk’ for investors in 2022 – Musings on Markets

Crypt o’ crypto

The cryptoland adventures of Alan Howard [of Brevan Howard fame; search result]FT

Leading lender Celsius files for bankruptcy, withdrawals still suspended – Ars Technica

Crypto isn’t really a hedge against equity risk – CFA Institute

Naughty corner: Active antics

On bullshit in investing – Noahpinion

The best infrastructure trusts to shelter your money from inflation – MoneyWeek

Why this week’s high US CPI print was not a shock – Calafia Beach Pundit

Some hedge fund strategies delivered good returns in the rotten first half – Institutional Investor

The [admittedly wild] data suggests the US is not in recession. Yet. – Peterson Institute

The implosion of the once-booming SPAC sector – ExecSum

Covid corner

Infection levels reach new record UK high for the pandemic, estimates show – Independent

Tim Harford: a riskier approach to new vaccines will pay off [Search result]FT

Kindle book bargains

Amazon Unbound: Jeff Bezos and the Invention of a Global Empire by Brad Stone – £0.99 on Kindle

Secrets of Sand Hill Road: Venture Capital and How to Get It by Scott Kupor – £0.99 on Kindle

Mother of Invention by Katrine Marçal – £0.99 on Kindle

Be Careful What You Wish For by Simon Jordan – £0.99 on Kindle

Environmental factors

How to buy great fashion that doesn’t cost the earth – Guardian

Fires ravage Portugal as another blistering heatwave scorches Europe – Axios

The ULEZ effect: diesel car ownership down by a quarter inside the zone – ThisIsMoney

Humans need to value nature as well as profits to survive, says UN report – Guardian

Tory leadership contenders skip ‘game-changing’ climate change briefing from Sir Patrick Vallance – iNews

Off our beat

The $100 trillion global economy in one chart – Visual Capitalist

Will these new algorithms save you from quantum threats? – Wired

She thought a job was waiting for her in Europe. Then she met her trafficker – Vice

Why Sri Lanka is having an economic crisis – Noahpinion

How to use a walnut to repair scratches in old wooden furniture – Lifehacker

Web3 is about saving us from totalitarianism as much as it’s about crypto – Dror Poleg

And finally…

“In general, it is easier to make money owning businesses with strong franchises than ones with weak franchises.”
– Anthony Bolton, Investing Against the Tide

Like these links? Subscribe to get them every Friday! Note this article includes affiliate links, such as from Amazon and Interactive Investor. We may be compensated if you pursue these offers, but that will not affect the price you pay.

  1. Note some articles can only be accessed through the search results if you’re using PC/desktop view (from mobile/tablet view they bring up the firewall/subscription page). To circumvent, switch your mobile browser to use the desktop view. On Chrome for Android: press the menu button followed by “Request Desktop Site”. []
{ 39 comments… add one }
  • 1 far_wide July 16, 2022, 10:10 am

    Nice to see SHMD return. That retirement takes effort is certainly one truth, though I wouldn’t say it’s a universal one. My father for instance left his career in his mid 50’s and almost literally dived immediately into his vegetable patch. No detailed planning, calenders, clubs. Says he doesn’t know how he had time for work.

    It perhaps largely depends on your level of introversion/extraversion? SHMD says ” book club, or an investment club, or a walking group”. Horses for courses, but I’d much rather instead read a book alone, chat about investment in slow time here or on other forums, and go for a walk with my wife. All of which are very much easier to do in retirement than corralling others.

    I left the office 7 years ago now, and I find it very odd reading about how to replicate chatting over coffee with workmates/having watercooler moments in retirement. I couldn’t wait to not have to have those! And yes I was that guy who said things like “Is this a meeting we actually need to have?”, which to be fair we often didn’t!

  • 2 Tom-Baker Dr Who July 16, 2022, 10:48 am

    I am also glad to see SHMD back.

    On a side note, I’ve just surprised myself when I realised that the first Weekend Reading links I clicked on was the one about how to use walnuts to repair scratches in wooden furniture 🙂

  • 3 E&G July 16, 2022, 10:53 am

    Making FIRE stack up must be much easier if all you want to do is potter about out in the garden, walk or read far_wide!

  • 4 John Kingham July 16, 2022, 11:50 am

    “Why are so many middle-aged people leaving work?”

    One interesting and perhaps unique feature of this slowdown/stagflation is the high employment rate.

    I haven’t done a lot of research but it does look like an interesting anomaly. One argument is that the Boomers have pretty much all retired now and many older and wealthier Gen Xers jumped ship during the pandemic.

    I wonder if we’ll now see a flood of BTL Gen Xers sell their properties and take early retirement as rising interest rates push up their BTL mortgage payments. That might lead to another chunk of labour exiting the market earlier than planned.

    If labour markets remain tight and wages continue to go up to attract talent, it will be interesting to see just how high interest rates need to go crush demand to the point where this inflation cycle is finally broken.

  • 5 ermine July 16, 2022, 12:10 pm

    @ far_wide > It perhaps largely depends on your level of introversion/extraversion?

    I think this is the key. Introverts are discriminated against throughout their working life because they are maladapted to teams. But if they manage to make enough to reach FI, they get to own the space. SHMD was clearly an extrovert and that made RE tougher for him that it was for me.

  • 6 far_wide July 16, 2022, 12:46 pm

    @E&G Well, that’s certainly true in my case. I’m still very much at normal working age and also at the sort of age where people have toddlers, so I’d have great trouble finding people with free time on their hands in the week even if I wanted to.
    More fundamentally, I think people who FIRE early do often struggle to maintain ‘normal’ friendships if they carve out a slightly eccentric less consumerist and no work life. Doing so changes your perspective of others and theirs of you. It’s certainly not for everybody.

    @ermine, yes totally. All I ever wanted is my own space and freedom to pursue what I’m interested in.

  • 7 BerkshirePat July 16, 2022, 1:23 pm

    I’m pondering retiring next year at 57. I’m actually having second thoughts because work, sadly, is my only ‘identity’
    My friends are fathers, husbands, wives , mothers – whereas I have no children and I’m unmarried. The only thing that defines me is my (reasonably) good job in telecoms/mobile. If I retire I’ll effectively cease to exist as a person who ‘counts’ – I’ll just be a middle-aged retired geezer pottering around town trying to fill the hours.

  • 8 Hariseldon July 16, 2022, 2:40 pm


    When you work it very easily becomes your identity, you simply don’t have the time or energy for anything else.

    I’m still a few years from pension age and have been ‘retired’ 15 years.

    I was bored on one day, after 6 months pottering, that was 14 1/2 years ago, the next day I started a mini business, all low key , I never did a job for a customer that would take more than 2 days, never allowed it to interfere with family matters or planned social engagements. I made a lot of connections in the community and did a lot of work at below an economic rate because it helped someone and didn’t hurt me.

    After 3 years it morphed into a different business that started to fade after a further five years and became extinct in Covid era.

    Yet I always had time to go away travelling with my wife for 3 months at a time.

    However very early on I realised my importance was shown by the size of hole, left in a bucket of water, where my fist had been…

    Make a new life, it can be far better than the 60 hour weeks !

  • 9 Neverland July 16, 2022, 2:49 pm

    SexHealthMoneyDeath isn’t an early retirement blog though

    It’s a middle age middle manager redundancy blog

    Six years ago Jim gets fired mopes around a bit complains and then finds another job

    This time six years later he’s been made redundant again…I wonder what might happen?

  • 10 random coder July 16, 2022, 3:20 pm


    When covid hit, my employment situation meant my job that defined me basically had to cease to exist. I am still young-ish but was in a very specialist field. I obtained alternate employment using the same core skillset and degree knowledge soon after but my specific identity garnered through very specialist work ceased to exist over about a 3 month period. Yeah, when covid receeded (or at least vaccines minimised the serious cases) my old role/team was attempted to be rebuilt, but they are still struggling to recruit and the team in place is weaker today. I never once thought about going back as my new role is almost the same pay with much less responsibility, and better promotion opportunities, if I want them. I am no longer in a clearly rare specialist role, but I am a better person now since I saw by my treatment over that period that even the most specialist roles and people can be just cast aside when the economy tanks. I didn’t think I was special or anything, but I quickly realised that I was simply a more specialist ‘resource’ on a project managers project plan.

    I am replying to you only because I went from being maybe one of only 10-20 people in the country doing my old role to being unemployed in 3 months for a brief period until I found a new role soon after. Being in a position to FIRE even if you don’t do it yet is a great position, as your identity i.e. job, as you currently know it, could disappear for multiple reasons that have nothing to do with your abilities or performance, or time of your choosing. If anything, now is the time to start new hobbies, interests, skills or development for YOUR benefit and interest, not your employers. It may make the decision of when to retire easier once you view your work/income situation simply as a means to fund your retirement lifestyle which you have ample time to decide what that will involve. In the process of shaping your future post retirement life you might reach a point where you know the time is right to retire.

    I am quite the introvert, and this makes FIRE easier for me when it comes – I could easily see me spending the first few years of retirement doing all the things in the house that I never got to do properly when growing up due to constant degree education then employment obligations. My first year of retirement could even be playing classic, older, computer games almost all day every day. You don’t need to be impressing anyone or even have a work identity to enjoy the benefits of your lifetime of work and subsequent early retirement, but yeah, spending the next year or two doing the groundwork for your retirement while you are still working is a sensible idea.

  • 11 far_wide July 16, 2022, 4:39 pm

    On another topic, interesting to read the ‘who needs web3?’ , an attempt to disassociate the term from the more toxic parts of crypto. I’m still nowhere near convinced.
    It states 3 goals of web3:
    1) “Make it easy for users to control their own data and content” . Whilst we all have privacy concerns, is this not replacing one long list of pop up radio buttons that few read, with another? How would this be manifested to our benefit?

    2)”Enable users to receive a share of the revenue their online activities generates for the platforms and apps they use” . Fanciful. We had this idea 20 years ago, it was a little silly taskbar thing called AllAdvantage. We also have click through sites now like Topcashback/Quidco, but they require you to purchase something in most cases. But it would already be very easily possible to adapt those sort of sites without having to call it Web3. It doesn’t happen because there’s no commercial viability for it, not because of the absence of ‘web3’ to date.

    3) “Enable web users and applications to resist censorship and the concentration of power in the hands of a small group of companies or governments.

    Really? How, exactly? Are we saying we’ll somehow be bypassing Amazon and Google for our many and various needs somehow? How? (and why?). Meanwhile, we’re going to use web 3 to take back power from the Government and break censorship rules. Again – how and for what purpose?

    So, no. I’m still not seeing it. I think this has been written in a very high level abstract way because the reality is either non-existent or far more grimy and far less idealistic than this sounds.

  • 12 ermine July 16, 2022, 6:28 pm

    @random coder #10

    > If anything, now is the time to start new hobbies, interests, skills or development for YOUR benefit and interest, not your employers.

    ^ this – absolutely. It still staggers me how many people get towards the end of their careers without a hinterland outside work. Cultivate these while you are still at work in the few years before exiting, to soften the transition if nothing else. You don’t want to walk out the door and in the first few months of decompression realise that you gave the best years of your life to a company that really doesn’t care about you as an individual. It’s your output they want, rather than a meaningful relationship 😉

  • 13 London a long time ago July 16, 2022, 7:15 pm

    @far_wide, I concur about introversion/extroversion, but as @Berkshire_pat alludes, practice also matters. My dad completed a pre-retirement course and other than tai chi, walking the dog, completing household tasks for my mom, he became a tv news consumer (CNN etc) …

    He was a financial director who managed a company and yet ended up a passive observer once retired (even when a health diagnosis could have spurred him in a different direction).

    I think the GFC and my dad’s circumstance of retiring with so much money and zero imaginative capacity to ‘live vividly may have prompted my defiant step in ‘retiring’ in my thirties (i lasted six years).

    I tried living ‘big’ at first. My idea was to live somewhere for six months, make friends, move and gather international friends and a global rich world. I chose coronada (an idyllic island community), rode bikes, acquired a navy seal boyfriend and played at freedom. In reality, it was childish. Everyone lived real lives both at home and in Coronado and gave me their spare time. That bf retired – he guards diplomats and I spot him in films/shows as an extra (wired, right!). Of my friends, C4 died helping the Kurds fight IS and PJ is a paraplegic. Real life indeed.

    When in Australia, I pottered in a French way choosing daily ingredients, and walking my hound (thee best decision in that period) and nesting (aka redecorating and curating beauty). Another good part was my new degree and having infinite time to explore new ideas, my gpa was almost a prefect 4.0.

    I’m interested in how to do better. I want to slowly pivot. I have perfect 4 hour mornings, but other than stretching my imagination in books, I struggle. I could return to my yoga cliche days? It’s harder than people realise! I love @TAs posts …

  • 14 X July 16, 2022, 8:54 pm

    @berkshire pat. I sympathise – for too long I defined myself by an admittedly very involving and (mostly) satisfying job. Until it wasn’t, and it became all about navigating internal politics and trying to please the unpleaseable – and often downright unpleasant.

    I concur with random coder. Now is definitely the time to explore what interests and drives you – not your company. One prompt might be: what did you really love or want to do as a child/young adult? I always liked the idea of gymnastics, but was totally uncoordinated and lacked the strength as a child so they were a non-starter. As a middle-aged adult – I thought I would try it. I am never going to win any competitions or make a career out of it, but it turns out to be tremendous fun – and has improved both my coordination and strength.

    And if you are at the stage of FI – why not consider taking some risks at work? eg trying to fix a previously unsolvable problem? Calling out crap working practices? You might be surprised to find how much more enjoyment and other benefits you get from work.

  • 15 Tom-Baker Dr Who July 16, 2022, 9:51 pm

    @Berkshire_pat, random coder, far_wide, London a long time ago, and ermine:
    IMHO this retirement-identity loss-introvert-extrovert problem only exists because society is structured in a way that makes it very difficult for someone not to derive a significant part of their identity from their job. Unfortunately, unless you are one of the few people who can work on something they really like, this identity derived from a job is a big lie. Most jobs will at best only be good compromises to your real calling in life. Even when one is fortunate enough to get those rare ideal jobs, there is no guarantee that they will remain ideal. All it takes for the dream to turn into a nightmare is a change in management or a restructuring process.

    At the risk of boring most people, perhaps it would be useful for someone if I summarise my own experience on this issue.

    Since primary school I decided that I wanted to become a scientist. Many years later, after having spent over a decade in academia, I finally realised that academic freedom was at best overstated, at worst almost inexistent. I realised that the best chance I had to be completely free to do research on whatever fancied me without any constraints was if I had my own financial means. Then I found a private sector job that was a good compromise allowing me to use many of the mathematical skills that I was using in academia and that also paid a much higher salary. I worked for 19 years in this “carrier” but I have never seen it as my identity, only as a bridge to get me to financial independence and academic freedom.

  • 16 Tom-Baker Dr Who July 16, 2022, 9:57 pm

    Sorry I meant “career” rather than “carrier” in comment #14.

  • 17 xxd09 July 16, 2022, 11:10 pm

    Great comments-very personal
    Retd 18 yrs (with wife same age ) at 57-we both had professional jobs
    We travelled a lot to places we could only read about while working and raising 3 kids
    With them all married -families of their own and financially OK we were off!
    Mayan temples,Petra ,the Silk Road-we even managed Easter Island!
    Watching and helping 8 grand children grow up one step removed ie not ours -has been a wonderful experience
    Now slowing down,continental holidays only -money going on teeth implants
    Getting old is expensive in its own way
    Where did the time go?
    We have been lucky/careful-blessed with good genes-who knows
    Not entirely looking forward to the next decade
    Reassuringly my oldest daughter tells me if I can hang on 3 years her house will be free of kids -room for us if required!

  • 18 Al Cam July 17, 2022, 8:09 am

    Good to see SHMD blogging again.
    Interesting discussion in the comments too.
    Some context for the debate may be available in this recent Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) report: https://ifs.org.uk/publications/16087
    The report contains lots of data and one comment that particularly caught my eye was “previous research has found that only 5–10% of retired people ever return to paid work”!

  • 19 ZXSpectrum48k July 17, 2022, 10:15 am

    “Why are so many middle-aged people leaving work?”

    I think that article is rather backward looking. It’s normal to see retirement rates rise at the top of the market. The pandemic gave us a pretty massive top, so no surprise it gave us a larger than normal rise in retirement rates.

    This is already reversing. US BLS data shows that 1.5 million have returned to work this year alone due to high inflation, falling assets prices and a robust labour market. The labor force participation rate for workers aged 55 and over—or the percentage of the population that is working or actively looking for work— is almost back to where it was before the pandemic began. The Great Resignation may well be rotating into the Great Unretirement.

    My view has always been to only retire after a decent sized correction/crash. Too many seem to retire at the top with an inflated view of their wealth.

  • 20 ermine July 17, 2022, 10:30 am

    @ AlCam took the powers that be a long time to jump to it. In the last summarising bullet point

    It looks more consistent with a lifestyle choice to retire in light of changed preferences or priorities, possibly in combination with changes in the nature of work post-pandemic (in particular more remote work) which reduce the appeal of staying in employment.

    Well, duh. A burgeoning rise in the number of people talking about FI/RE is probably an indication of something, it’s why we are all here. Well, bar our illustrious host TI, who has said several times he will never give up working 😉

    Not sure why more remote work particularly reduces the appeal of staying in employment, but the rest squares. I found the workplace got worse as I got older. Now we all get more cantankerous and ornery as we get older, but I don’t think it was just that, the micromanagement, the obnoxious performance management justifying you existence quarterly which got in the way of actually working, it’s like the kid digging the plant up every five minutes to see it’s it’s growing. Anything creative is inherently lumpy and progresses in fits and starts.

    OTOH I don’t really believe “only 5–10% of retired people ever return to paid work”. Depends what their definition of paid work is, but I’d say it was more working for an employer if that is the case, whereas I would consider paid work as, well, work you get paid for. I have never been employed since retiring, but I have done hit and run one-offs for people which only appears in HMRC SA tax returns. If they are looking to the NI number of one ermine and fail to find it in the jobseekers claims and they don’t have a PAYE record do they count it as paid work? The whole ‘work’ pattern of retirees is ratty and fragmented, particularly for the FI sort. I now have enough NI years for instance, so I didn’t pay NI last year and will avoid it in future, I’ve never worked enough since retiring to get over the LEL even though my hourly rate was higher than when working for an employer. I just don’t put the hours in because, well, FI, tax and NI, and life is short etc.

    It still doesn’t mean that I am economically inactive though – there is capital plant in service that I designed as a retiree and making money for people. I’d also argue that making an income from investment is not economically inactive either. On a non-stock-market basis I have invested in people and projects over time which wouldn’t have happened without my input, but I don’t appear in the stats because they enable other people to earn money. That’s the whole bleedin’ point of being FI, you can do interesting stuff without having to make a financial return on it. Tom-Baker Dr Who #15 seems to be doing something like that in a different way, so it’s not just me. One of the things that jars me off about the way economics people talk about retirees is assuming they are deadweight on society because they watch TV all day and potter in the garden.

    Every nature reserve I have been to and all historical places are rammed with retirees doing the sort of low-level stuff that needs doing but probably can’t be paid for. The people doing the flowers in town to make the place look a bit better look like retirees to me. This adds value, not only for residents but for the overseas tourists. Same for the grizzled folk in National Trust places who do their gardens.

    I wrote a report for the town council that resulted the confusing as hell bike route signage to a local nature reserve getting sorted out so people from elsewhere can find it. I guess that was using legacy skills from a technical career in terms of qualifying the problem and focusing on how to fix it, but again, not economic activity the IFS could detect, but it resulted in economic activity – the signs getting sorted, some parts upgraded and people using it.

  • 21 Al Cam July 17, 2022, 10:51 am

    @Ermine (#20):
    Re: “Not sure why more remote work particularly reduces the appeal of staying in employment”
    Possibly an intro/extro thing; e.g. just how much/little of your social contact you derive(d) from work?

  • 22 No Free Lunch July 17, 2022, 11:28 am

    The corporate institutional system is not designed for introverts to work and climb the ladder for years on end. You need to be an extrovert, perhaps with some psychopathic traits, and are not easily susceptible for things like anxiety and depression.

    As Ermine has said numerous times the world of work has changed. Going from tangible output to not know whether you have added any value is perhaps a reason for the performance management culture. Quarterly reviews? What a load of BS.

    My father, retired now since 2016, worked for 4 decades under the same company. Worked like a dog. For pretty average pay (for London). He is very much an introvert, but also suffers from literally 0 anxiety, even under immense pressure. Certainly not a psychopath, very much caring of others, but also very introverted and quiet. He survived to work that long because of his low neuroticism and, perhaps more importantly, producing tangible output in his work with none of the corporate BS you see today.

    People like me, who are also introverted and suffer quite a bit from anxiety, just can’t hack it in the corporate world. It is just not possible. I am early 40s now and have FIRE’d a few years back. It was only natural that it would end up like this. I always hated working at every single consulting firm I worked at. And I have quite the long list of firms I worked at because I kept moving. Even forced some nice pay days via redundancies by bringing my effort levels down. This was easy for me as it was so bad that my motivation went to 0.

    Now, with enough assets under me, I don’t need to work anymore. My financial assets alone are in the 7-figures. Even though I don’t want to rely on it (I certainly don’t need it) and much rather they spend it, my parents will likely leave me with a substantial amount as well.

    The freedom is great, I have never been fitter, I have learnt so much about myself and how the world works. Looking back in my early “career” days I was very naive. At a cringe-worthy level naivety.

    I have gone from being a taxpayer, contributing to the system, to now being very much a liability to the taxpayer till the day I die. It needn’t be like that, but the world is unfortunately the way it is.

  • 23 ZXSpectrum48k July 17, 2022, 12:31 pm

    I’ve become more skeptical in the last few years that retirement is a good idea for me. It may cause as many issues as it solves. I’m an introvert but also autistic, and like many with ASD, I suffer from anxiety disorder.

    If I retire it’s not clear that my anxiety will fall. It’s another example of a conservation law: anxiety cannot be created or destroyed, it just transfers from one issue to another. When I took a 6 month sabbatical, all that happened was my anxiety around work transformed into anxiety about my health. It didn’t decrease. I’m just always anxious about something.

    What I’ve noted is that work has become far more bearable in recent years. Partly that’s due to markets being more in tune with my approach (after the tedium of 2014 – 17). Partly it’s being paid on a pure algorithm (no pointless performance management, just a straight percentage). Partly though that’s through changes in my work approach. COVID allowed me to reduce from 2-3 days in the office to zero and I’m not even averaging 1 day a week now. I hardly interact with anyone except a few colleagues and family. That lack of social interaction is fantastic and has reduced one form of anxiety to a fair degree.

    If I retire, my better half or kids could see that as an opportunity for more social events. No thanks! More travel. No thanks! They can do that but I don’t want to. Work is a very useful excuse for me not to get involved in anything. A protective shield. To retire, I’d need to find an equally efffective shield against the real world.

  • 24 JDW July 17, 2022, 12:43 pm

    Completely argee with you @No Free Lunch. The introvert/extrovert discussion is a fascinating one, especially from an investment/discipline angle. It’s only in the last few years I’ve really known what it is all about. I’ve always shunned parties and large groups and personally I couldn’t think of anything better than a retirement of freedom from the strains of office life and the BS that comes with that, allowing more time for walking, reading, playing computer games, watching cricket (prehaps I’m just in the wrong role/type! I’ve never been at a role/company for more than 3 years). This motivation and introversion has also allowed me to up my savings rate and be happy with what I have although at times it does border on premature misanthropy!

    @TI, thanks for flagging the Simon Jordan book, it’s an interesting read. As a CPFC fan who regularly attended games during with ownership, fair to say I have mixed feelings about him, but he is searingly honest and put his money where his mouth was, despite the ego.

    Have a good weekend all.

  • 25 No Free Lunch July 17, 2022, 12:56 pm

    Your work situation, ZXSpectrum48k, is actually quite rare and one that even I would have persevered for a long while compared to my actual “career”.

    WFH with little interaction with others. Check.
    Tangible output in the form of monetary profits. Check.
    Earnings based on aforementioned tangible output rather than brown nosing. Check.

    I probably should have done something similar to your career, being a top university STEM graduate. But I guess I wasn’t smart or autistic enough!

    I think you are right to some extent about anxiety being conserved, being transferred from one form to another. My social anxiety and “constantly worrying about performance” anxiety went away after I left work. But I did suffer from OCD (which is an anxiety disorder) and some health anxiety in the initial years of being FIRE’d. Although I did do some self help which improved things a lot and now my anxiety levels are pretty low. Maybe they will pop up in another form further down the road, who knows!

    Anxiety is merely just a symptom. The underlying cause of this anxiety is usually some sort of fear (perhaps stemming from past experiences or just some distorted thinking). Many times this fear is not what the anxiety suggests on the surface. It can be very much deep rooted, so the trick is to find this out and then somehow resolve this by facing these fears head on. Easier said than done, I know.

  • 26 Tom-Baker Dr Who July 17, 2022, 4:23 pm

    @ZXSpectrum48K (#23) – My wife worked with autistic kids and she is convinced that I am quite near the extreme end of the spectrum yet highly functional (what used to be called Asperger’s syndrome). She made me take Dr Barron-Cohen’s online test and I got a very high score. Still I am not convinced and I don’t think a formal diagnosis would be useful for me. In fact, I suspect it might be detrimental. If it is not too intrusive, may I ask what’s your view on formal diagnoses and if you have had one done for yourself?

    As to anxiety, my wife and kids always thought that I am a very anxious person, but I have never felt that way myself. The evidence seems to suggest that I am not anxious. I have always slept very well and haven’t been ill with anything (not even a mild cold) for decades.

    During Covid, my family asked me to see a psychologist because they were convinced that my anxiety was getting out of control. After a number of sessions, the psychologist concluded that I am actually not anxious but just think in a way that is very different from the way most people think. For instance, faced with danger, any fear starts disappearing the more I learn about the danger and start taking practical measures to reduce it. The psychologist told me that most people cope with anxiety by just ignoring the danger and pretending that it’s not there. As long as I do what I can to mitigate the danger, I feel that I’ve done my bit and just stop worrying. So my problem was that I made other people anxious by calling their attention to the risks I was observing.

    Perhaps you are not really anxious either and just think differently about danger like myself?

  • 27 No Free Lunch July 17, 2022, 5:48 pm

    Tom-Baker Dr Who makes a very good point.

    Anxiety is completely rational and much of the time it is actually warranted behavior. E.g. many FIRE advocates think people who go in and out of risk assets like they are timing things are completely irrational. Because “time in the market always wins” or “you can’t time these things”. Some even think it is irrational to be anything but 100% equities if you are young enough.

    But investors can only ever follow one sequence of returns. There is no going back and restarting. As a chaotic and adaptive system like the stock market, it is therefore completely rational for people to act risk averse and it is completely rational to act in a way to try to mitigate risks. Now this may very well turn out detracting from your returns or harming them, but the point is that the reasons for the actions are perfectly rational. Just that the strategy itself is likely sub optimal.

    Things like expectations based decision making or utility driven preferences is completely nonsense when it comes to real life situations. We live in a non-ergodic world, from economic systems to competitive sports. We always tend to forget about the rationality of the individual and instead make nonsensical assumptions from aggregate metrics.

    Welcome to a world run by a bunch of clowns dressed up in suits pretending they know how the world works.

  • 28 London a long time ago July 17, 2022, 9:08 pm

    There have been so many candid, brilliant comments.

    @X, dogs are also a brilliant reminder that playfulness should be highly prioritised!! It’s beyond awesome that you started gymnastics!!

    @ introversion comments: I thrived on London MM floors bc of the spectacle, risk, playfulness, silliness, emotional spillovers and insights … yet am highly introverted (technically an ambivert). Environment matters? My current office is beautiful (natural light, incredible views, nice people, bean bags in meeting rooms, but it’s not FUN or LIVELY). I have total autonomy on whether I WFH and thus 95% of the time, I choose home. My fur assistant lies at my heels. I’m fortunate at present in that I prize my team and current role and interesting responsibilities. I think autonomy is key for people like us?

    @ anxiety comments: we get psych tested as part of our clearance process. I’m fine in general, but when experiencing a post stressor adrenal response, I am naturally inclined toward anxiety, neuroticism and excessively oriented toward security. As a highly trained analyst, I can critically factor this into my decision making. Structured analytical techniques can assist too… but basically availability heuristics kick in and I’m quite high functioning even with this predilection.

    Last comment, when I first retired I suffered a spate of hypochondria (it can feel so real)! I think it was caused by a deep-seated belief at the time that I’d left my run at life too late. I was sure I was going to get a terminal disease as payback. Luckily, it was short lived. And proof that a career break was warranted.

    I guess a key point made by others too in the comments is to slow down before jumping ship … I’ll be wiser next time around.

    I remembered that I’m going to keep bees when I grow older! That’s going to be awesome. @xxd09, it’s lovely to hear how brilliantly you’ve managed.

  • 29 BerkshirePat July 17, 2022, 9:17 pm

    Retire to the South Downs to keep bees, like Sherlock Holmes !

  • 30 Mr Optimistic July 18, 2022, 2:32 pm

    Well I have been retired now for 3 years and haven’t found it a problem. In terms of ‘how did I ever have time for work’ which I’ve heard a few times, well I can tell you the answer but better yet here’s an example. I used to get up, shave, shower, get dresed, make packed lunch, have tea and toast all, get in the car within about one hour. It would take almost double that now and I can’t tell you why. Some sort of time dilation thing going on.

    On another topic, having read about the problem with emerging market capital markets, and the problems looming in the German economy owing to energy shortfalls, I am increasingly pessimistic about the markets and pondering whether to move even more to cash even at these levels.

  • 31 PortlyGent July 18, 2022, 8:04 pm

    @Tom Baker – a formal diagnosis for a child is very useful IMO – we got one for a family member, leading to an EHCP and getting a teaching assistant in primary school

    I am on the spectrum I’m sure but can’t see that a formal diagnosis would change anything for me.

  • 32 britinkiwi July 18, 2022, 8:56 pm

    Thanks everyone for the great comment track.

    I’ve just retired at 61 and wondered if my timing is unfortunate, but as (retired) friends tell me there is no right time and there are no pockets in shrouds.

    For myself I’ve gone “casual” with my employer, which is like being a locum with one customer, having decided that I needed a trip to the UK to see my aging dad. Work is definitely deprioritised at the moment and in fact I’m enjoying (?) the heat in London, isolating with friends as I picked up Covid on the flights over, after dodging that bullet for 2 years.

    Planning non-work activities has occupied me in the process to get here so
    I’m very glad to see that I’m not alone in planning more time with computer games, as part of my plan for filling the hours, plus a gym subscription for 3 years and involvement in our countries “Predator free by 2050” target (which involves killing small furry creatures to save small feathered creatures). Plus help wife in garden….(note lower priority). And riding our ebikes together and exploring more of the many mountains and trails around us.

    Maybe I should sign off as kiwiinbrit for this post?

  • 33 ermine July 18, 2022, 9:39 pm

    > “Predator free by 2050” target (which involves killing small furry creatures to save small feathered creatures)

    Shame, shame. Particularly as the feathered ones are too slack to fly 😉 Creative destruction and all that…

  • 34 ermine July 18, 2022, 9:41 pm

    the last comment could be taken too seriously, I was ribbing. Each to their own. Though of course I am inherently on the mustelid side, natch!

  • 35 The Investor July 18, 2022, 9:57 pm

    @ermine @britinkiwi — There’s an incredible passage somewhere of Cook or similar bringing his boat into a natural harbour in New Zealand and the crew being deafened by the bird song, a vast number of which are now extinct following rats/rabbits/cats/farming. Very depressing but at least we know better(-ish) now — good luck with the project!

    @all — As others have said, really interesting and good spirited conversation this weekend, cheers!

  • 36 BerkshirePat July 19, 2022, 10:22 am

    Saving the kakapo I hope ! Wonderful birds- I first heard about them in Douglas Adams’/Mark Carwardine’s book ‘Last Chance to See’

  • 37 xxd09 July 19, 2022, 10:52 am

    Same bunch trying to eliminate stoats in Orkney mainland ?
    With some success -we are seeing Owls again because voles (their main food) are reviving
    Will it be successful?
    Now if we could only control the weather!!!

  • Mogul
    38 The Accumulator July 19, 2022, 1:05 pm

    Really enjoyed this thread, though prevented from taking part due to slaving over hot laptop on behalf of Monevator.

    Congratulations britinkiwi! Love the sound of your plans.

    @ Ermine – consider yourself cancelled you heartless bird botherer 😉

  • 39 britinkiwi July 19, 2022, 2:09 pm

    @TA thanks!

    @TI yes indeed, the silence in many forests in NZ is….uncanny and sad. Even the immigrant birds are silent.

    @BerkshirePat – latest news on the kakapo is that the breeding program is doing well – 250 alive this year. Local objectives are to help preserve a fern bird population in sand flats. But the stoats and weasels we catch are beautiful animals. (Rats not so much….)

    @ermine – I still love your blog!

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