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!