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Weekend reading: What’s it like to escape from the rat race?

Weekend reading

Good reads from around the Web.

Blogger Ermine has been retired for nearly two years now. Many Monevator readers are familiar with his dispatches from the other side of the 9-to-5, which he recapped this week in a monster anniversary post sharing what he’s learned.

The following section stood out for me — because instead of the stereotypical vision of an early retiree quipping “so long, suckers!” before hitting the golf course, it makes Ermine sound like a rescued battery chicken relearning how to peck about in the grass:

“I retired early because I was stressed and became increasingly out of sync with the way work was being run.

I am still recovering from that.

It is only recently that I can reliably hear what is good in music, and there’s still a while to go before I will have recovered this to what I once had

In a myriad of small ways I am still reminded that I pushed my luck flying into the storm for three years, and indeed to carry on after I had been off sick.”

Thank goodness he got out! As I’ve said before, don’t kill yourself for your job. It’s not worth it.

Escape if you need to and do something different. If it’s less lucrative, cut your cloth. Anyone who has found and can read this website has many options.

My solution long ago was to escape office life — with all its comforting security and its progression — to become a freelancer and mini-entrepreneur. To my kind of spirit, the security and progression of a typical job feels like systematically moving through the prison system towards parole.

We’re all different. I know a few people who love their jobs, and more who love their careers.

But if you’re 30, say, and you already feel you’re going the way Ermine did, don’t postpone your salvation for 20 years.

Turkeys may vote for Christmas, but the smart ones hop the fence.

From the blogs

Making good use of the things that we find…

Passive investing

Active investing

Other articles

Product of the week: You can get 5% interest on up to £2,000 with a current account from the newly-listed TSB. The good news is it’s not a bonus rate, but you do need to pay in £500 a month and register for online banking.

Mainstream media money

Some links are Google search results – in PC/desktop view these enable you to click through to read the piece without being a paid subscriber of that site.1

Passive investing

Active investing

  • Hold the line with long-term compounders [Search result]Merryn/FT
  • Re-emerging markets offer opportunities [Search result]Redwood/FT
  • Should you buy into the bombed-out supermarkets? – Telegraph
  • TSB jumps 10% on IPO price – ThisIsMoney
  • A day in the life of a UK fund manager – ThisIsMoney
  • Don’t buy the FTSE 100 to bet on Britain [Video] – Motley Fool

Other stuff worth reading

  • Virgin Money tops tables with new 2.1% cash ISA rate – ThisIsMoney
  • The ins and outs of let-to-buyGuardian
  • Don’t forget: £15,000 NISAs from 1 July – ThisIsMoney
  • How indirect taxes clobber the poorest taxpayers – Guardian
  • Six scenarios that highlight the inheritance tax threat – Telegraph
  • Counting the cost of the finance sector – Buttonwood/Economist

Book of the week: Want to be a buy-to-let millionaire? Monevator reader Rob Dix sent me a copy of his motivational book, Beyond The Bricks, a few months ago. I enjoyed it but I haven’t figured out how to feature its lessons on this site yet. (Partly because one lesson is definitely “be lucky!”)

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  1. Reader Ken notes that: “FT 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”.” []

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{ 17 comments… add one }
  • 1 ermine June 21, 2014, 10:57 am

    Thanks for the highlight TI!

    One of the things that galvanised me is I saw colleagues’ start to have problems in their late 40s and fifties who looked physically fit to me but weren’t happy/failed to adapt to the changes. Two people I knew personally at work are no longer with us from heart attacks and one was begged by his doctor to quit a year early after he suffered a TIA (which some sort of heart attack). People seem to grow less resilient to internalised stress with time.

  • 2 Ben June 21, 2014, 5:39 pm

    You seem to be getting further and further into BTL love-ins.

  • 3 Dawn June 21, 2014, 7:13 pm

    ‘Find what you love to do and you will never have to do a days work in your life’
    I believe we are all gifted in some way and have a calling, we have our part to do to contribute to society. to make the world turn around. In my opinion its not about getting out early. escaping! .Ifthat’s the case then you’ve not found your true calling. there will come a time when we need to wind down and that’s when our saving and investing comes in.

  • 4 The Investor June 21, 2014, 7:14 pm

    @Ben — I’ll look at anything, everyday.

  • 5 Cap_Scarlet June 22, 2014, 10:21 am

    I haven’t started a blog yet although i probably should as there are none specifically written for people like me.

    What is “people like me”?

    People like me is people who are earning a shedload of money and are neither particularly stressed / bored / pissed off at work but have no passion outside of work that draws them (particularly) strongly to early retirement.

    So for me there are probably three considerations:

    (a) Could retire early but would have to take a fairly major reduction in income to do so [but actually would probably have enough money to live a decent existence]. But don’t really want to be bored….

    (b) …..partially retire and do something else (freelance, contract work etc.) but could not make anything like the money currently earned [but probably don’t need it]

    (c) Sit and do nothing…..and hope not to get a terminal illness before getting to “enjoy” a long and happy retirement with a nice stack of cash.

    It feels like a lazy mans life (i.e. not too stressed at work, loads of money) but actually the major stress is trying to find a mission to fill the retirement void. Oh sure, there are lots of “interests” but nothing that is madly fullfilling. That’s concern number 1.

    Concern number 2 is simply the fear of pulling the trigger; knowing that once you are gone there is no going back. Not being in the $40-50,000 per year income bracket but rather the $500,000 per year income bracket …..those jobs don’t come around every day! Well…you may say …if you have $500,000 rolling in every year (less after taxes) what the HELL! are you worried about. Hmmmm….there’s a kind of odd satisfaction in seeing the money roll in every month (but knowing that lots go into savings).

    So maybe my blog will be called “sleep walking into retirement”….

    Lets see.

  • 6 SemiPassive June 22, 2014, 12:52 pm

    Feeding from some of the themes above, I find it difficult to believe I will be in my current line of work beyond about 50, thats if I’m lucky. Just look around your office at the age profile, if companies can get away with employing younger staff on lower wages – so low they can only afford house shares or live with their parents – then they will. Often when
    Same with offshoring, if they can they will.
    This is often regardless of whether you have extensive specialist IT, or whatever skills, although you’ve got to keep retraining to at least try to maintain valuable skills as long as you can hack working for The Man and the money is worthwhile.

    Ermine is probably of the last generation that will have any kind of final salary pension outside the public sector.
    The key danger in my opinion is not having enough time to invest and built your pot before your primary source of income dries up.

    The beauty of BTL property is once you have stumped up the deposit the tenant is doing the heavy lifting for you.
    You don’t have to pump in several hundred pounds a month or more from earned income for decades to build up an asset that will provide a solid income once the mortgage is cleared.
    Spare me the morals, there are more suitable forums to discuss the politics of it all.

    And I also agree that generalist IT skills are still very important, especially if you want to do freelance work as part of a semi-retirement.
    The rates may be lower, but on top of some passive income and a paid off mortgage the extra £££ s would be a welcome boost.

  • 7 dearieme June 22, 2014, 7:32 pm

    “Spare me the morals”: what morals? Willing buyer willing seller; willing landlord, willing tenant: no moral problems at all.

  • 8 weenie June 22, 2014, 9:29 pm

    @Cap_Scarlet – please do start a blog as it would make very different and interesting reading!

  • 9 George June 23, 2014, 5:05 am

    > ‘Find what you love to do and you will never have to do a
    > days work in your life’

    And I won’t have any income, either.

  • 10 Survivor June 23, 2014, 5:02 pm

    Greetings Investor-Man,

    I found your site recently & liked it so much I trawled through it all to educate myself. [embarrassing to realise my SIPP was a dumbass closet tracker all this time with not even a half-decently low ‘management fee’ for that insult] It actually saved me from then moving my SIPP funds into a % charging broker vs a flat-fee one – fortuitous timing given the penalty to change again …… on understanding that mistake. I am intrigued by the whole peer-to-peer revolution taking place at the moment and after cautious research have played around with Funding circle for ~ 6 months now….. it’s relatively early days yet but still, I am quite impressed by it. I know you have done an article on Zopa a while back, but I would be interested in your thoughts on the likes of Funding circle too. As an aside it’s ironic that I found your website by accident when googling ‘compound interest calculator’ a while back, then saw a recommendation for it in a Guardian article today. (I read the Guardian all the time – people laugh at it as the champagne socialist’s paper, but amongst others, I think the finance articles are really good)

  • 11 The Investor June 23, 2014, 6:03 pm

    @Cap_Scarlet — I’m possibly a bit more like you then it may seem. I don’t intend to retire as such, if retire means never working for money. I’ve had a (temporary) taste and seen its impact on others and I’m not convinced it’s a pure good, at least not for me. (Being financially free and having a f-off fund that can weather any storm — that’s another matter!)

    I’d be interested in more tales from the contented side of the office. I guess in some ways it’s the mainstream media portrayal of work, but for whatever reason you’re right, it’s a rare POV for blogs.

    @Survivor — Hah, anyway you get there works I suppose! I hadn’t noticed the Monevator reference in The Guardian, so thanks for that.

    I have been wary of Funding Circle in the past; nothing specific, the rates just seemed a little too good compared to Zopa and Ratesetter, and the latter now have protection funds. I may re-investigate, however. Watch this space.

  • 12 BeatTheSeasons June 24, 2014, 12:58 pm

    @ The Investor – Personally I’d rather hear ‘tales from the contented side’ from those who aren’t working in an office at all, whether they be scientists, teachers, gardeners, etc or anything that I could imagine people being passionate about. Sorry, but anyone who tells me they love their office job….. I just can’t help feeling they must be unhinged in some way.

    Recently on RetirementInvestingToday I was discussing with Mr RIT the idea of an intermediate transitionary stage where you’ve accumulated the majority of your FI pot and you just let that grow organically while trying out a lower paid job that is more fun and cover your living expenses that way. It increases your timescale to retirement but may reduce misery overall. It’s certainly something I’m considering in a few years time.

  • 13 living cheap in London June 24, 2014, 2:52 pm

    @BeatTheSeasons – that’s kind of where i’m at. My FI pot is a long way from self-sufficient yet, but I only work a 3 day week. I already feel retired from the rat race & have time to enjoy my family & hobbies – It’s great.

  • 14 SG June 24, 2014, 4:57 pm

    I’m coming up to three years ER and have not regretted it at all. Funding Circle is the nearest thing I have to a job. I’ve been in it since it began, steadily trickling money in.

    I spend about an hour a day on it Mon-Fri, usually in the late afternoon when many of the auctions end, looking through the pitches and making bids. I started manually and then switched to auto for about a year, but reverted to manual a few months ago, when I realised that I wasn’t getting the best rates. At the moment I clear about 7% before tax.

    I find it sufficiently interesting for an hour a day, but not so interesting that I’d want to do it for much longer. However, spending your own time on something that you can see directly translates into income, albeit not huge, is not a bad price to pay for a bit of added FI.

  • 15 Cap_Scarlet June 24, 2014, 6:01 pm

    You quite often hear people talk about whether or not a job is interesting or satisfying but I don’t think that’s a relevant argument. The key thing for me is whether I would rather do doing something else and the answer is always an emphatic yes.
    You see my job is pretty good (well as good as it gets for accountants), there is a lot of variety, its intellectually interesting, I get to travel a lot and nobody tells me what to do. So pretty good. But skiing would win hands down every single time.
    I am a great believer in sayings generally but as it relates to work my favorite is that nobody on their death bed ever said “I wish I had spent more time in the office”.
    People talk about stress but frankly they don’t know what they’re talking about. Stress is worrying whether you will be able to eat that day not about whether you might be a bit bored. I am simplifying but I do get the feeling people get themselves into a situation where work impinges on their own feelings. But let me tell you this, if you get hit by a bus tomorrow people will be shocked and sad for about 3 days and then they will move on. So don’t think you’re indispensable or if you don’t deliver that report on time the whole world will end. It won’t.
    I am pragmatic, honest and also a bit mercenary. I’ve followed a career path where I have been honest with myself, I know what I needed to do to get on and have done it. Sometimes there were tough decisions and sometimes I had to stab people in the back (not many!). I have seen people who were better than me but have not progressed because they did not want to move away from family and friends or to take a role outside their comfort zone…..and that’s fine….but don’t complain if you don’t get the promotion / salary you “think” you deserve.
    Life is about making decisions and choices and rarely does everything line up perfectly. I made a decision that I wanted a career that paid lots of cash. My brother took a career that allowed him to take lots of time off. I think we are both in the same place from a happiness perspective. The key message is, make informed decisions, be conscious of the choices and tradeoffs you are making and don’t moan (too much!) when things don’t work out because somewhere along the line it’s probably your own fault.

  • 16 Dawn June 24, 2014, 10:42 pm

    @ George
    what the saying means is if you really enjoy/love your work , yes your getting paid for it, but it wont ‘feel’ like work because your doing some thing you really enjoy.

  • 17 Survivor June 26, 2014, 6:50 pm

    @ TI …….. Peer-peer, Funding Circle etc.

    That’s partly why this phenomenon is so interesting – because they are evolving all the time ….. & quite quickly too. In the case of Funding Circle, I have noticed they are adding capability as they grow organically & seem to be getting a few things right – they always ask for feedback for a start. An inventor buddy of mine fed up of struggling with venture capitalists or the bureaucracy of the relevant Govt. funding bodies tried them out recently after his Angel funding ran out. He said the rates you get off them are not the cheapest, but what he liked was that the due diligence took a couple of days, as opposed to weeks, so you’re not left hanging; it’s yes or no for the money pretty quick & you can move on either way…. that’s a good service. Also, they’ve just started on property, which I think, if done right, could be a killer move – frustrated small builders, including just a single individual can now go & list a one property fix-up or new build as an individual project to raise money. This will give the small fry, [like me] with limited funds, a shot at the property boom ….. if it’s a success, can you imagine the potential scope? In theory every homeowner without the starting lumpsum capital could borrow a few grand to add a room for example, then pay back however slowly from salary over the next few months. That would revolutionise liquidity for micro-finance projects, in so doing really democratise development and be a game-changer for the economy if collectively individuals eventually accounted for more of the building industry activity than the well-established landbanking corporations. I really hope it works – on the other side of the coin, it’d be good for micro-investors too – to at least have the option of risking a little of their portfolio on property….. without the hassle/greater risk of having to do the whole actual project themselves or, most critically, losing everything when the bubble next bursts. [The investor in this circumstance would effectively only be a lender/exposed for the agreed loan, irrespective of the value or sale of the project property in question]

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