Author Topic: Anybody else taking the FU money + freelancing/entrepreneurship approach?  (Read 3072 times)

liberate_life

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Hi all.

Long time lurker, first time poster!

I'd put MMM up there as one of the biggest influences on how I live. My wife and I both have good professional careers but spend far less than we earn. However, despite originally intending to do the 'FI in ten years or less' thing, I had an epiphany a couple of years ago which led us to abandon that course.

To cut a long story short, we'd already spent a couple of years saving > 50% of our income when I started dreading spending my thirties absolutely flogging myself to then never have to work again. Reading around a few personal finance blogs confirmed that many people who achieve FI at a relatively young age go on to, almost accidentally in some cases, earn some income after they quit.

This got me to thinking about working much less but starting that lifestyle immediately. Predictably, as a Mustachian, I'm a programmer/engineer (embedded firmware) and I really enjoy the technical parts of my vocation. Fortunately, it pays pretty well too, particularly as a freelancer. I also had a small side hustle business which was bringing in a non-negligible extra bit of income. I figured that if I could land the projects and keep up the micro-business, I could work roughly 30-40% of full-time hours, live frugally but comfortably and still retire a (sterling) millionaire in my late 50s.

I am now successfully living my 'Pareto Financially Independent' lifestyle (I call it that as I consider this strategy to give me 80% of the benefit of being fully FI). We've still got way more money in the bank than the 'average' couple and we're also forced to keep our high-earning professional skills in good shape for longer which makes me feel a bit more comfortable than killing 'the goose that laid the golden egg' after 10 years. If I want to take a couple of months off, it's doable. I get to pick and choose between projects. I'm really glad I made this choice.

There are definite pros and cons to each approach (i.e. FIRE ASAP vs FIRE eventually but miss out the ten years of grind). I imagine I'm not alone in choosing this approach and just wondered how many more of you are doing something similar.
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Playing with Fire UK

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Sounds great. I'm looking to do that over the next couple of years.

I thought I could move to consulting sooner but part of my cashflow froze up and what would have been my first consulting client gave me a bad feeling so I'm looking for opportunities but waiting it out for now.

What % of your FIRE number were you at when you moved to the Pareto lifestyle? (love that name).

Did your wife do a similar thing? If not was she supportive? I'm a little concerned about the impact that it would have on my SO if we went from two to one reliable salaries.

ketchup

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This is similar to what I have planned. 

My SO will probably never fully retire, as she is self-employed doing what she loves (she has said that she literally cannot think of a job she would like more).  She's also able to essentially work as little or as much as she wants, as demand for her is pretty consistent.

I'm still not 100% sure what my side of the equation will be.

kudy

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I'd like to as well - not sure how much FU money I will need before I feel comfortable, but I think I'm a bit too cautious in this realm (just another version of the "one more year" syndrome?), and I'll probably be one of the folks who says, "I should have done this years ago!" when I finally pull the trigger.
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big_slacker

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Pre-kids I was based in a small ski resort town and did a mix of remote work and travel. It. Was. Awesome. Get up in the morning, do some work. Mountain opens, get in some turns for an hour or two, head home and answer some e-mails, etc. Did good work, not much pressure and got to live a ski bum lifestyle without the brokeness. We weren't clued in yet to the mustachian style of living/saving, wish we had been!

I plan on doing this again post-kids. Right now I'm sort of stuck in the W2 world due to kids needing healthcare, steady income and location for best available public schools. Once they're off to college or careers the plan is to immediately downsize the domicile and go back to the part time/travel or maybe even digital nomad if the wifey can handle it. The difference will be having a nice stache AKA the FU money. That way I'd want to work enough to live without touching that nut but ultimately have the upper hand when it comes to what work to do or not, not be a hostage to a company that provides the remote work, etc.

My target would be 25% working time.
« Last Edit: July 29, 2016, 03:26:47 PM by big_slacker »

FIPurpose

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Definitely, and I strongly advocate for more people to do this. Not only does it get you out of the full-time rut, it makes both your life and job more enjoyable.

Our current plan is to join the peace corps while our investments increase for about 3 years. After that, I'm not sure what we'll do. I don't think we'll have enough to fully retire, but we definitely won't need to be super savers either. We've talked about so many possibilities that it's impossible to predict which one we'll go for. Our list includes:

1. Grad School (Iowa State was offering ~1500/Mon stipends)
2. Start a business
3. Get a Fed job and find a way to move to part-time.
4. Find a job to immigrate to Canada. (I haven't discussed this one with the wife yet, but I know she would be on board.)
5. Continue our international service? (Depends on how we like it)

I'm sure we'll come up with plenty more, but it's fun and relieving to have options instead of feeling stuck.
We have received an offer to join the Peace Corps, and will be heading out in the second half of 2017. We'll be writing a newsletter to send out when we can here:
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toodleoo

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This is similar to what I have planned. 

My SO will probably never fully retire, as she is self-employed doing what she loves (she has said that she literally cannot think of a job she would like more).  She's also able to essentially work as little or as much as she wants, as demand for her is pretty consistent.

I'm still not 100% sure what my side of the equation will be.

If you feel comfortable sharing, what does your SO do?
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lackofstache

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Yes. My wife & I have done design/art projects together since the beginning of our relationship & done it as a side business for the last 8 + years while I've been working a full time job & she's been at home with the kiddos. Our youngest starts school on Monday & we're going Nearly Full time as of 8/12. I say nearly because I'll also start a new job that pays a decent amount hourly, but has an amazingly flexible schedule to keep on the side. It would've taken a long time to reach actual retirement & I probably would keep doing these projects anyway because it's what I feel a passion for & I'm somewhat good at it, so "retire" now on our FU $ & keep working anyway. We've landed three contracts in the last month which puts us way ahead of plan & I think it'll be great.

ketchup

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This is similar to what I have planned. 

My SO will probably never fully retire, as she is self-employed doing what she loves (she has said that she literally cannot think of a job she would like more).  She's also able to essentially work as little or as much as she wants, as demand for her is pretty consistent.

I'm still not 100% sure what my side of the equation will be.

If you feel comfortable sharing, what does your SO do?
She's a traveling showdog photographer (about as nichey as it gets; there's roughly 3-4 other people in the country that do what she does as well as she does).  She determines which shows she goes to based on people booking her for photoshoots at said shows.  She could just as easily elect to go to fewer shows to scale down her business if she wanted.

toodleoo

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This is similar to what I have planned. 

My SO will probably never fully retire, as she is self-employed doing what she loves (she has said that she literally cannot think of a job she would like more).  She's also able to essentially work as little or as much as she wants, as demand for her is pretty consistent.

I'm still not 100% sure what my side of the equation will be.

If you feel comfortable sharing, what does your SO do?
She's a traveling showdog photographer (about as nichey as it gets; there's roughly 3-4 other people in the country that do what she does as well as she does).  She determines which shows she goes to based on people booking her for photoshoots at said shows.  She could just as easily elect to go to fewer shows to scale down her business if she wanted.

Very cool, that does sound like an amazing job.
My side hustle. Grand total so far: $1,121.75! http://www.instagc.com/681614

aschmidt2930

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What you're doing is awesome, pretty much my plan as well.  I really like what I do, and it's an easy job to freelance. 

startingsmall

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This is my dream, thought I'm not sure whether we'll feel comfortable with me going freelance work or whether I'll end up with a more stable PT job.

cerat0n1a

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I'm a programmer/engineer (embedded firmware) and I really enjoy the technical parts of my vocation. Fortunately, it pays pretty well too, particularly as a freelancer. I also had a small side hustle business which was bringing in a non-negligible extra bit of income. I figured that if I could land the projects and keep up the micro-business, I could work roughly 30-40% of full-time hours, live frugally but comfortably and still retire a (sterling) millionaire in my late 50s.

Interesting. I'm also in the UK, done a fair amount of embedded/assembly stuff in the past, could be unexpectedly hitting my FI target next month, 3 years earlier than planned. The idea of doing something like this part-time for a few years is very appealing.

If you feel comfortable sharing, is your 40% a couple of days per week, or is it more that you're full time for a few weeks, then nothing for a few weeks? Are your projects done from home? Are you contracting with a specific company or companies?

Bloodbuzz

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 However, despite originally intending to do the 'FI in ten years or less' thing, I had an epiphany a couple of years ago which led us to abandon that course.


Definitely, and I strongly advocate for more people to do this. Not only does it get you out of the full-time rut, it makes both your life and job more enjoyable.

Our current plan is to join the peace corps while our investments increase for about 3 years.


I love reading about people doing this! - its my plan too; work and save hard in my regular job for 4 years to get the investment snowball rolling, then spend 4-5 years doing a combination of low cost travel and teaching English in Asia - then after that whilst I won't have enough to retire in the UK, ill have enough to slow travel / adventure around the world pretty much indefinitely - which is what I intend to do long into the foreseeable future. 
I can either carry on adventuring/travelling/living comfortably in Thailand or Cambodia for most of the year etc (drawing under 4% and living off cash savings) as my investments grow or do some extra work if I want to top up the snowball or spend more on luxuries and hobbies.

I definitely think its about spreading your happiness across your whole life rather than living a binary of 'misery and paradise'

Freshwater

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She's a traveling showdog photographer

Oh. My. Dog. Living the dream - I am in awe! How long did it take for her to be in the top 4 show dog photographers?

ketchup

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She's a traveling showdog photographer

Oh. My. Dog. Living the dream - I am in awe! How long did it take for her to be in the top 4 show dog photographers?
She has a very specific set of skills (like Liam Neeson) combining photography and knowledge of dog structure, movement, etc.  There's not much competition because it's such a rare combination of skills. 

Photography in general is an oversaturated, pricing-race-to-the-bottom market in general (everyone thinks they're a photographer), so you really have to specialize to get anywhere, in addition to being good at it.

She's 23 and has been a "photographer" for pretty much her whole life, but she got her first "real" full-frame camera and started charging (not very much) for work around 2010.  At that point, she was doing mostly family/maternity/etc portraits, and despite her skills, she couldn't demand more than ~$75 for a photoshoot on Craigslist.  She started getting noticed in dogs in 2013, quit her "dayjob" in late 2014, and really surged in popularity last year and finally started charging what she's worth and getting places (her work is all over the pretentious dog show magazines now).  And her work keeps getting better.

She's got enough demand now, that like I said before, she can pick and choose which shows she goes to (trying to bring this tangent back on topic), that she can really do as much or as little work as she wants.  She's worked her butt off the past month or so, so now she's decided to take it easy for 2-3 weeks because she can and there aren't any big shows she's missing.

liberate_life

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As I suspected, a few people are thinking along similar lines!

Sounds great. I'm looking to do that over the next couple of years.

I thought I could move to consulting sooner but part of my cashflow froze up and what would have been my first consulting client gave me a bad feeling so I'm looking for opportunities but waiting it out for now.

What % of your FIRE number were you at when you moved to the Pareto lifestyle? (love that name).

Did your wife do a similar thing? If not was she supportive? I'm a little concerned about the impact that it would have on my SO if we went from two to one reliable salaries.

We are nowhere near FI! We are 33 (me) and 36 (the wife) and our NW is still in 5 figures (sterling). However, we don't own a house and most of what we have is not in pensions (retirement accounts for you non-UK folks) so what we do have is excellent liquidity and fund accessibility. In the worst case scenario, we could probably squeeze 2.5 to 3 years of living expenses out of the stash in an emergency.

I've added a link to my signature to one of the articles I've written which gives a reasonable overview of our lifestyle if you're interested. The short version is that over the past 5 years, my wife and I have both become gradually more part-time in our jobs. Before becoming a freelancer, I was working a 4 day per week schedule. She's actually on maternity leave following the birth of our second child a couple of weeks ago and has a 3 day per week job to go back to next July if she chooses to. Our agreement on the division of labour (in terms of income earning - she does more with the kids etc) was that I would earn two thirds of the total and she would earn the remaining third. However, since we now have 2 kids instead of one, we'll likely switch to around a 3:1 ratio when she goes back. That will work out that she will either have a permanent 2 day per week job (if her employer will oblige) or otherwise she'll need to do between 50 and 60 ad hoc days of locum work per year (she's a veterinary surgeon).

I definitely hear what you're saying about the psychological impact on a SO of switching to a less conventional, seemingly riskier lifestyle. My wife, by natural disposition, is very cautious. However, I've been a small-time entrepreneur for years and after a few of my 'schemes' (as she likes to call them) had been proven, she started to see things my way a bit more! You also can't argue with a large pile of cash on hand. Our agreement is, if I fuck up and the stash starts to go down, it's all on me to work my arse off to build it back up. I'd go as far as to say that, further than just being supportive, she's now very much in favour of our chosen lifestyle.

I'm a programmer/engineer (embedded firmware) and I really enjoy the technical parts of my vocation. Fortunately, it pays pretty well too, particularly as a freelancer. I also had a small side hustle business which was bringing in a non-negligible extra bit of income. I figured that if I could land the projects and keep up the micro-business, I could work roughly 30-40% of full-time hours, live frugally but comfortably and still retire a (sterling) millionaire in my late 50s.

Interesting. I'm also in the UK, done a fair amount of embedded/assembly stuff in the past, could be unexpectedly hitting my FI target next month, 3 years earlier than planned. The idea of doing something like this part-time for a few years is very appealing.

If you feel comfortable sharing, is your 40% a couple of days per week, or is it more that you're full time for a few weeks, then nothing for a few weeks? Are your projects done from home? Are you contracting with a specific company or companies?

My freelancing strategy is basically to have ongoing relationships with very small design consultancies and product companies (including the one I used to work for). Therefore, the 40% is basically the area underneath quite an erratic curve depending upon who needs what. I started freelancing properly last June, had 3 months off, did 1 big project for 1 of my consultancy clients (full-time for ~3 months September-December), had another month off, then was asked to work on some legacy stuff for my old employer for a couple of days per week (still ongoing).

I've also done some project planning work for a very small product company on the side (only worth 4 figures but every little helps). At the moment, there are 2 other self-contained projects in the pipeline but the start dates are uncertain. They fall into the 'interesting work and nice to build the stash up a bit more but ultimately don't need them' category.

One of the key parts of my strategy is that I intentionally did not get involved with any agencies but rather started building peer-to-peer relationships with the businesses who need my services. This was challenging and a bit nerve wracking (especially watching my previously growing nest egg depleting!) but I'd really recommend it as a long-term strategy. An agency will get you work quickly but it will be very much of the 'employee for hire for 3 or 6 months' type of arrangement and they will juice you for 25-30% on rates for every bit of work you do for that client in the future.

If you do work in my field and are considering this as an option, perhaps we could have a chat and potentially help each other out. I have avoided chasing some things because, as a one-man-band, they would have overwhelmed me. However, I'm really keen on getting together some sort of loosely affiliated group of freelancers who could come together when required to form an ad hoc consultancy.

Definitely, and I strongly advocate for more people to do this. Not only does it get you out of the full-time rut, it makes both your life and job more enjoyable.

This is exactly what I felt like ~2 years ago. I went back to uni at 24 and worked really hard to get in to my profession because I absolutely love electronics and computers. It was absolutely not the (good parts of the) work that I wanted to escape from. I figured that if I did eventually FIRE, I'd probably do, ooh I don't know, maybe 3 months per year of consultancy work just as a hobby which would.... oh yeah, completely cover our living expenses! So why the hell would I torture myself for ten years first?

If interesting enough projects pop up along the way, I imagine that we'll still end up FI well before 60 because it's not like I'm just going to enforce a ban on any work which would take me over 40% of full-time hours. I'm also always messing around with little business projects which I'm hoping will trickle in the odd bit of money here and there.

Thanks for the responses guys - I feel that my choice has been somewhat vindicated and I'm not entirely crazy!
You don't need to be FI to have autonomy!

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FINate

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Posting mostly to follow what others are doing, but also throwing in my $.02

We FIREd about a year ago. Our kids are both preschool age and I want to be home with them for the 1-2 years before they're in school full time. But I'm looking down the road a couple of years and planning something similar. I'm also an engineer in tech and have always really enjoyed technical work, but don't like being in an office 9-5 5x/week. It's too much of a time sink, and I have other things I want to do. Also, traditional employment involves way too much BS: office politics, performance reviews (aka more politics), reorgs, drama....bahhh!, I just can't deal with that stuff anymore.

So I have a few ideas for side business that would make it possible to focus on the type of work I enjoy while also making a few extra bucks. Flexibility is key for me, so I'm focused on things I can choose to do as little or as much as I want.

seanmerron

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I've been questioning this myself as well. I'm on track to be FI in 8 years doing the grind but have a feeling I'll cut out in 5. However, I don't want to consult/contract for other people, it's not the time of business I want to run. I want to develop my own products to sell solving problems I'm passionate about. It's a little harder to just leave the FTE benefits in this situation with the unknown but we'll see!
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dmd149

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 However, despite originally intending to do the 'FI in ten years or less' thing, I had an epiphany a couple of years ago which led us to abandon that course.


Definitely, and I strongly advocate for more people to do this. Not only does it get you out of the full-time rut, it makes both your life and job more enjoyable.

Our current plan is to join the peace corps while our investments increase for about 3 years.


I love reading about people doing this! - its my plan too; work and save hard in my regular job for 4 years to get the investment snowball rolling, then spend 4-5 years doing a combination of low cost travel and teaching English in Asia - then after that whilst I won't have enough to retire in the UK, ill have enough to slow travel / adventure around the world pretty much indefinitely - which is what I intend to do long into the foreseeable future. 
I can either carry on adventuring/travelling/living comfortably in Thailand or Cambodia for most of the year etc (drawing under 4% and living off cash savings) as my investments grow or do some extra work if I want to top up the snowball or spend more on luxuries and hobbies.

I definitely think its about spreading your happiness across your whole life rather than living a binary of 'misery and paradise'

Re: The traveling/teaching thing.

I spent about 6-7 months teaching English in Egypt, thinking it would be a fun way to make money and travel around the region. The thing I learned is that teaching is actually a job, and if you're not inclined to it, it's actually quite difficult and a pain in the butt, especially your first year. You might be trading in the day job you have now in your home country that you don't like for a lower paying job you don't like in Thailand (or wherever).

Another thing is living in a less developed country presents its own challenges. Things that are charming while visiting a developing country can become quite irritating when trying to live there. I had to get internet set up in my apartment in Cairo and it was a real pain in the ass. Comcast looked like saints compared to an Egyptian internet company.

Not trying to be a downer here. Just want to point out that playing the currency/location arbitrage game may not be as glamorous as you think. I would question whether or not you actually want to do it, or just want to escape your current situation.
« Last Edit: July 30, 2016, 11:47:09 AM by dmd149 »

CopperTex

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Photography in general is an oversaturated, pricing-race-to-the-bottom market in general (everyone thinks they're a photographer), so you really have to specialize to get anywhere, in addition to being good at it.

She's 23 and has been a "photographer" for pretty much her whole life, but she got her first "real" full-frame camera and started charging (not very much) for work around 2010.  At that point, she was doing mostly family/maternity/etc portraits, and despite her skills, she couldn't demand more than ~$75 for a photoshoot on Craigslist.  She started getting noticed in dogs in 2013, quit her "dayjob" in late 2014, and really surged in popularity last year and finally started charging what she's worth and getting places (her work is all over the pretentious dog show magazines now).  And her work keeps getting better.


This is exactly my reasoning for pursuing FI. I have been a family portrait photographer for 12+ years and have made over 100k every year, but the changes in the market, which I started seeing around 2009, led me to start saving aggressively. I'm so glad I did as my income has been cut by more than half. I worry about it drying up completely due to the reasons you stated, otherwise I would choose the route of "FU money + entrepreneurship". I just don't trust the industry enough to do that. Glad your SO has found her niche, hopefully it is something that stays stable for her.

arebelspy

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We could have, and maybe should have, and if we were doing it all over, probably would have.  :)

Thanks for not linking your blog directly--I'll go ahead and do it.  :)
http://liberate.life/index.php/how-i-live-comfortably-without-a-job/

It is much easier to earn money than you'd think, and at low levels of expenses (ESPECIALLY if you travel overseas but earn in USD) even a few bucks helps cover expenses, drastically lowering a WR, or allowing one's stache to sit and accumulate by itself.

I love the idea, now, of semi-ER, and think it's not done nearly enough.  There are lots of other threads on this that are worth reading, if you're into the idea.
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duckling

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I did exactly this a few years ago, before I knew about Mr. Money Mustache, back when my financial understanding was Dave Ramsey driven (which is better than nothing).

I had a GREAT job. Six figure salary. Great benefits. Tenure-track. I hated it for...reasons. I quit with nothing like FI--I had living expenses for a year and a side-freelance business that was bringing in about $40K/year at the time. (Also my husband and I had $360K in student loans.) So quitting was not smart, but my hatred was real.

Four years later, we're done with the student loans, almost done with the mortgage (yes, I know, but I will feel better with it paid off than not, so there), and I have more than $150K in retirement funds. Plus my personal life satisfaction went up about a billion percent. Doing something I loved paid off.

We're not at FI yet. I mean, we might be, but I don't like my safety margin, so--we're not at FI yet. But I feel confident that we will get there in a couple of years.

My experience is that (a) the straightest path is not always the best path, and (b) the path that looks to diverge from one goal may actually be a shortcut.

But also--I am consistently one of the luckiest people I know. So. YMMV.

AK

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Do not have FU money but a few years worth of living expenses. Like you, I am in I.T. I am going the freelance route all-in without any clients in a couple weeks. Have various leads in the pipeline so expect to have clients after my last day at my full-time job on Friday.

At first it felt scary but now it's very exciting. Good luck on your journey!

liberate_life

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I have a few ideas for side business that would make it possible to focus on the type of work I enjoy while also making a few extra bucks. Flexibility is key for me, so I'm focused on things I can choose to do as little or as much as I want.

This is one of the main reasons I keep dabbling with little projects besides my main engineering activities. My freelance work tends to be project based. This is good in the sense that money comes in quite big chunks but bad in the sense that there's quite a bit of inertia when it comes to turning the tap on/off. If I only did the freelance work, there's a good chance that I'd be doing full-time stints followed by months of downtime which, although better than 9-5 all year round, is not what I wanted to achieve.

I therefore try to keep a few very small plates spinning alongside the freelance work to dribble in a small bits of regular income which lessens the need to jump on every big engineering project that comes in. For example, plenty of people at the cowork space I use know that I'm good with IT and so there are lots of opportunities for fixing web hosting, fiddling with WordPress etc.

I've been questioning this myself as well. I'm on track to be FI in 8 years doing the grind but have a feeling I'll cut out in 5. However, I don't want to consult/contract for other people, it's not the time of business I want to run. I want to develop my own products to sell solving problems I'm passionate about. It's a little harder to just leave the FTE benefits in this situation with the unknown but we'll see!

I hear what you're saying (as I've also considered trying to build a niche electronic product of some sort) but bear in mind that consulting/contracting can earn you double your employee hourly rate (or more!), more than compensating for any benefits you get. So, as a means to an end, I'd take the freelance approach to bootstrapping a product company over being an employee any day.

Perhaps you could make your business a consulting and product company and then just scale back on the consulting when you no longer need it. If you picked your market right, perhaps (after the initial design and bug-fixing phase) a well-designed product might be a good way of building some 'almost' passive income.

I love the idea, now, of semi-ER, and think it's not done nearly enough.  There are lots of other threads on this that are worth reading, if you're into the idea.

I suppose it doesn't sound quite so compelling as pulling the plug completely at 30-something. The thing that strikes me is that the people who are open-minded enough to behave differently from everybody else in order to achieve FI are generally intelligent, creative and above all, good at being economically productive in some field. Combined with a reasonable amount of cash to fall back on, a lot of these people could be Pareto Financially Independent really quickly.

I'd love to read about some other similar stories if anybody can remember what threads they popped up in.

Thanks for not linking your blog directly--I'll go ahead and do it.  :)

Thanks! :-)

Do not have FU money but a few years worth of living expenses. Like you, I am in I.T. I am going the freelance route all-in without any clients in a couple weeks. Have various leads in the pipeline so expect to have clients after my last day at my full-time job on Friday.

At first it felt scary but now it's very exciting. Good luck on your journey!

Thanks AK. Good luck to you too. My only tip would be to remember that the beginning is the hardest part. As soon as you have a few solid relationships built on mutual respect, you'll be flying!

It will be really interesting to hear how you're getting on in a few months.

P.S. I think I'd used Jim Collins' FU money definition - i.e. enough to step back for a while. As I said earlier in the thread, we're absolutely nowhere near FI.
You don't need to be FI to have autonomy!

Why the financial independence community is wrong: http://liberate.life/index.php/2016/09/02/financial-independence-community-wrong/

GU

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Re: Anybody else taking the FU money + freelancing/entrepreneurship approach?
« Reply #25 on: February 28, 2017, 05:57:35 PM »
*first time poster, short-time lurker*

I did exactly this a few years ago, before I knew about Mr. Money Mustache, back when my financial understanding was Dave Ramsey driven (which is better than nothing).

I had a GREAT job. Six figure salary. Great benefits. Tenure-track. I hated it for...reasons. I quit with nothing like FI--I had living expenses for a year and a side-freelance business that was bringing in about $40K/year at the time. (Also my husband and I had $360K in student loans.) So quitting was not smart, but my hatred was real.

Four years later, we're done with the student loans, almost done with the mortgage (yes, I know, but I will feel better with it paid off than not, so there), and I have more than $150K in retirement funds. Plus my personal life satisfaction went up about a billion percent. Doing something I loved paid off.

We're not at FI yet. I mean, we might be, but I don't like my safety margin, so--we're not at FI yet. But I feel confident that we will get there in a couple of years.

My experience is that (a) the straightest path is not always the best path, and (b) the path that looks to diverge from one goal may actually be a shortcut.

But also--I am consistently one of the luckiest people I know. So. YMMV.

DAYUM, how did you pay off those loans so fast?

HoundDog

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I love this thread. It really pulls together a few ideas that have been bouncing around in my head half-formed. I'm glad to learn that other people are on this track. Frankly I don't know that I'll be in position to FIRE any time soon. But this route seems viable enough, and could be pretty low-key and enjoyable.

CargoBiker

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It is much easier to earn money than you'd think, and at low levels of expenses (ESPECIALLY if you travel overseas but earn in USD)

I've got a buddy who does ecommerce, earning in USD, and floats around asia living it up and paying next to nothing.


First:  He gets the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion + Housing Allowance, for living outside the U.S. , so he gets to keep his first 150k tax-free.

Second: He doesn't choose to live frugally, but what he does spend goes so far.  In Bali, he rented a 3-bedroom villa with a view, a pool, and a cook/maid for $800/mo. He eats out every meal, and pays $1-2 to do so.  He might pay $7 if he really wants to eat fancy.

FIstateofmind

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 However, despite originally intending to do the 'FI in ten years or less' thing, I had an epiphany a couple of years ago which led us to abandon that course.


Definitely, and I strongly advocate for more people to do this. Not only does it get you out of the full-time rut, it makes both your life and job more enjoyable.

Our current plan is to join the peace corps while our investments increase for about 3 years.


I love reading about people doing this! - its my plan too; work and save hard in my regular job for 4 years to get the investment snowball rolling, then spend 4-5 years doing a combination of low cost travel and teaching English in Asia - then after that whilst I won't have enough to retire in the UK, ill have enough to slow travel / adventure around the world pretty much indefinitely - which is what I intend to do long into the foreseeable future. 
I can either carry on adventuring/travelling/living comfortably in Thailand or Cambodia for most of the year etc (drawing under 4% and living off cash savings) as my investments grow or do some extra work if I want to top up the snowball or spend more on luxuries and hobbies.

I definitely think its about spreading your happiness across your whole life rather than living a binary of 'misery and paradise'

Re: The traveling/teaching thing.

I spent about 6-7 months teaching English in Egypt, thinking it would be a fun way to make money and travel around the region. The thing I learned is that teaching is actually a job, and if you're not inclined to it, it's actually quite difficult and a pain in the butt, especially your first year. You might be trading in the day job you have now in your home country that you don't like for a lower paying job you don't like in Thailand (or wherever).

Another thing is living in a less developed country presents its own challenges. Things that are charming while visiting a developing country can become quite irritating when trying to live there. I had to get internet set up in my apartment in Cairo and it was a real pain in the ass. Comcast looked like saints compared to an Egyptian internet company.

Not trying to be a downer here. Just want to point out that playing the currency/location arbitrage game may not be as glamorous as you think. I would question whether or not you actually want to do it, or just want to escape your current situation.

Yup. I lived in Korea as a teacher, student and intern. (at different times). Teaching 40+ hours was the worst. I highly enjoyed the other 2, in which I worked/studied for about 20 hours and had the rest of the time to explore.
♥♡ Happiness is not the absence of problems, it’s the ability to deal with them.

trollwithamustache

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The funny thing about freelancing is you can often charge really high rates... and in a 60 to 80 hour work-month for a client make close to what you'd have made on a W-2 for the full ~170 hours.  Don't be scared to possibly scare off a client or too with high rates.

I'm on a plan roughly in line with what you've laid out. Pre MMM I had a high savings rate and had calculated a magic number that if I have by 40, I figured with conservative market growth I could retire fully FI at 60. I hit that number with some padding well before then. Anything saved moved the fully FI age in. Kids have been more expensive, but since I am working, I've scaled that up some to easily cover that stuff.

The biggest benefit is I love what I do a heck of a lot more now. I turn down assignments with a lot of corporate drudgery (PO approval? that's my bosses problem.) and do far more of the type of work I enjoy figuring out what information we actual need from vendors and how to actually design stuff.

Learning to sell myself was a transition, but if you are on the MMM program, its actually pretty forgiving if you "business" isn't that successful at first. Once again, don't set your rates to low. I bet you can find your self working 65-755 of full time and still saving $$$.


MandalayVA

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I'm getting laid off in June with a fairly decent (by my standards) severance/retention bonus package.  I'm dipping my toes in the water of freelance writing/editing and hope to get a business started out of it.  Much fun is to be had!
"When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro."  Hunter S. Thompson

"I do understand though, it seems everyone wants us to be incensed or outraged at all times. It's pretty tiring now..."  Devin Townsend

Follow my road here:  The Road To Mandalay



AK

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Hey Guys. My update after 7 months freelancing:

The Good

- For me, the lifestyle is awesome. It feels like I'm living the FI lifestyle already by working full-time remotely, having more time to spend with family and friends, and not having to deal with office politics.

- In my particular I.T. segment, there's a shortage of qualified professionals so it's been relatively easy to find new work.

- Clients want to hire me on full-time but I keep saying no. Some offers are very tempting.

- Much less stressful than expected. Not having to worry about day-to-day expenses helps so much. The hardest, most stressful part was the setup part. That was incorporating and getting systems and the team in place despite being the sole employee.

- You can dial up or down the work as much as desired. Some clients want full-time work while others want part-time work.

- Solo 401K. You can potentially invest up to $54,000 per year, $18,000 as an employee and $36,000 through employer contributions. Looked at Vanguard's i401K offering and decided against it because you can only invest in their "investor level" funds so only VTSMX and not VTSAX for example. Also, you can only have a pretax account and there are other limitations. I decided to go with a custom 401K plan and use Fidelity.

The Bad & Ugly

- Cliche but Health Insurance is so expensive, especially without any subsidies. One thing that helped balance it out for me was getting separate insurance plans. One for my spouse and I and one for our child. I always thought everyone in the household had to be on the same plan but that's not the case. It can be mixed and matched anyway you'd like. Our child has an HMO plan that pretty much covers all the usual stuff with no deductible or out-of-pocket expenses. The tradeoff is our child has to see the PCP first and then get referred.

- Professional Loneliness. I miss talking shop with other people on a whim. This is mitigated somewhat when you're onsite with the IT team and if you're working with other IT professionals but it depends on the project.

- Finding the next contract can be stressful. This is the position I'm in now since I decided not to renew my primary project. It's offset by having a part-time engagement with a company that is awesome to work with and gives me work based on my availability. Having multiple years of living expenses saved helps too.

Tips

- Decide how to structure your business and get your team, CPA, Lawyer, etc, in place as early as possible.
- Shop around for health insurance, if needed.
- Speak to recruiters for contracts as needed. They take a cut so your hourly will be lower than having a direct client but can be faster than finding clients yourself, especially when starting out.
- Interviewing seems to be easier because clients generally seem to think you're the expert so are mostly seeing if you'd be a good fit for their project.
- Network and keep up relationships. It's as much about people as it is technology. Let people know you're looking for work and you'll get leads if not clients. Make new connections with others by joining and participating in user groups, meetups, speaking at conferences, and other avenues. This also helps to market yourself and establish credibility with potential customers.
- Don't spend a lot of time on the little things such as a company name or even a website it you're going into consulting / freelancing. Your company name can be renamed and your website can usually be redone easily too.

CargoBiker

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- Professional Loneliness. I miss talking shop with other people on a whim. This is mitigated somewhat when you're onsite with the IT team and if you're working with other IT professionals but it depends on the project.

For me, this was the biggest negative for going on my own.  Being at home all day.  I try to meet up with a friend for lunch once a week, go to the gym, maybe work from a coffee shop occasionally... just to get out of the house.

I tried a co-working place... but I didn't particularly like the people or atmosphere at the local place, and I couldn't justify the cost.


FIstateofmind

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I'm at the point with my venture that I can work 25 hours a week and save about 30% of my paycheck. I'm trying to find ways to increase my income, but honestly, I couldn't be bothered for now since I'm pretty happy where I'm at and still getting settled at this new level. The forum stresses me out sometimes since the main path tends to be to just front load all the work, but I enjoy having my free time as well. Looking for kindred spirits :]
♥♡ Happiness is not the absence of problems, it’s the ability to deal with them.

life_travel

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Love this thread , we are thinking of doing something similar , I just can't stand being "locked up" from 7 to 7 5 days a week ( including my commuting time) anymore . My husband and I agreed to do it until 2020 and then slow travel to LCOL countries to stretch our savings until our retirement stache grows for 10-14 years . The variation of this plan would be working *very* part -time remotely or coming back to Australia each year to pick up some casual work for 3-6 months.
To be honest I don't know if I can stomach it until 2020 , so while DH will happily chug along for another 3 years, I may look for another job, freelancing opportunity , small business , or combination of all three .
I just want freedom and flexibility.

sbryant31

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I want to chime in and say I'm doing something similar. I believe there's an article where MMM mentions that the most important part is doing what you love - not necessarily FIRE, and that if he could go back, he would've retired earlier.

I personally am nowhere near FI, but I have a pretty comfortable nest egg. I spent the first couple years of my career punching the clock before I had the epiphany you discussed.

I've spent a lot of time traveling, working on startups (and getting paid $0 for months on end), etc. My career has gone from a long, boring slog to more of an adventure.

* Ability to only work for a premium compensation package (due to the confidence of being able to say FU.)
* Ability to choose whatever projects I work on.
* Ability to work how I want, where I want, when I want.
* Insane productivity boost when actually working (due to living life on my terms and only working on my terms)
* Life is an adventure.

The only real problem I've had is finding other people in their 20's who live similar lifestyles. It can get lonely.

Norgirl

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Yes! I love the label, Pareto-retirement

MrMoneySaver

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I totally want to do this. I really want to get away from the corporate grind and spend more time with my kids.

A little worried about the marriage dynamic, though. My spouse would carry our health insurance. It's possible that going freelance would cause my earnings to be lower than hers. That's not assured--it's also possible my earnings would increase.

I would plan on picking up more of the household duties. She says she's on board with it all, but who's to say it might not breed resentment?

Is there a distinct line between Pareto Retired and lazy bum?
« Last Edit: March 13, 2017, 02:25:53 PM by MrMoneySaver »

CargoBiker

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I would plan on picking up more of the household duties. She says she's on board with it all, but who's to say it might not breed resentment?

It might.

Our situation has worked out pretty well, although that's not to say that my wife isn't jealous of me sometimes when she's trying to hustle out the door after a rough night's sleep, and I'm sippin' coffee in my PJ's. 

All in all though, she was more "resentful" when I was working long hours, and leaving her with the kid on a number of evenings.  Overall, she's very happy I'm around more.

MrMoneySaver

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CargoBiker, did switching to this work arrangement affect your earning level one way or another?

CargoBiker

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I quit my job when my business was ramping up.

Going to my day job was costing me more in lost profits, than it was making me in salary.


Getting to work 30-40 hours a week on the business has probably 3x-4x'd our income in the last year.