Author Topic: Calling all downshifters!  (Read 6055 times)

Retire-Canada

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Calling all downshifters!
« on: October 24, 2017, 10:40:35 AM »


I downshifted back in July from a 40hrs/week contract gig + some side gig hours to a 3 x 8hrs/day Mon-Wed contract gig. With 4 months of part time work under my belt I am noticing I don't fit in well to the discussions FT workers are having nor do I resemble the lucky bastards who are FIRE. Downshifting seems to have its own unique set of benefits and challenges. So I figured it was worth starting a thread where MMMers who have reduced their work hours from FT, but haven't quite managed to FIRE yet can gather and chat.

FIRE related definitions are arbitrary, but they provide a framework to base discussion off of so here are mine:

- Working = greater than 75% FT hours
- Downshifted = 25% - 75% FT hours
- FIREd = less than 25% FT hours

So if you've downshifted I'd love to hear about:

- why you did it?
- what your downshift looks like?
- what do you like about it?
- what isn't so awesome about it?
- what are your plans going forward around downshifting and FIRE?

Canadian Ben

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #1 on: October 24, 2017, 10:48:14 AM »
I'm looking at downshifting in 2020, moving down to 40hrs/per month, rather than per week.

Should be a fun change! I plan on working at places that I use money in FIRE in to reduce my expenses (work a few shift at a rockclimbing gym to get free membershift, same type of thing for brewery/wine making stores in order to borrow their cleaning apparatus/simplifying my own wine/beer making. In Winter I'm hoping to get a job on a mountain, in order to start learning to get quite good at skiing.

All of these I'm starting to get my foot in the door now (talking with owners/managers) in order to see which ones will allow such a barter type trade. It's a win-win, since most of their costs are fixed, no matter how many people are using the facilities, and my "volunteer" hours to pay for membership are all profit for them.

Stachey

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #2 on: October 24, 2017, 11:11:53 AM »
In the last couple years before I FIREd, I sort of downshifted.  I worked four-tens which are four days with ten hours per day so still 40 hours per week. 

Having done that I would recommend that downshifters NOT do it.  The three day weekend every week is great of course but the extra long days just drained me of all energy.  So M-Th I would have no energy in the evenings to do anything and Friday would just be a recovery day.

I would recommend a three day weekend but still only work 8 hour days as a better way to start downshifting.
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limeandpepper

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #3 on: October 24, 2017, 11:20:29 AM »
I'm not sure if I will end up being a permanent downshifter, but I haven't been working full-time for over 3 years now. Back then I quit my full-time job, went off to travel for several months, then got back and started doing contingent/casual work. Recently I quit that and have gone off for another big trip (I'm currently travelling). I'm still open to the idea of going back to a full-time job, but I would prefer part-time. Something like 3-4 days a week, or around 25 hours a week would suit me, I think.

- why you did it?
After all the travels, I didn't particularly want to go back to full-time work. It just seems like so much work... :p  I was still open to full-time jobs, but I definitely found myself being more attracted to part-time options when I was applying for jobs.

- what your downshift looks like?
As a casual worker, every week was different. I wouldn't mind doing casual again, but a more stable permanent part-time job with guaranteed hours would be good, too.

- what do you like about it?
So much more free time! Even with a rotating roster, I find this lifestyle more relaxing, as long as it averages out to significantly less than full-time hours. The pace suits me.

- what isn't so awesome about it?
Earning less!

- what are your plans going forward around downshifting and FIRE?
Continue doing casual or part-time work, and continue doing mini-retirements with several months off (to travel or whatever) like the ones I've been doing. If I do go back to full-time work I'd still kind of consider myself to be a downshifter due to the planned inclusion of mini-retirements every few years.

Retire-Canada

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #4 on: October 24, 2017, 11:45:11 AM »
Why you did it?

I'm 48 and I am several years out from having my full FIRE $$ target saved/invested. I'm also very active and the more I think about trading my free time at the prime of my life away for $$ to reach FIRE the more it seems like I should be enjoying more free time now. I've got a limited amount of time left where I can mountain bike, surf, kiteboard, etc... at full fury levels so I want to get more sporty things done and work less while I can really enjoy them. My GF also has to work 8-9 more years FT to get a sweet pension so if I rush to FIRE I am not really free to do whatever I want anyways...unless I want to be single!

What your downshift looks like?

I'm working Mon - Wed 7am to 3am = 8hrs. I can easily take 4 or 5 weeks off a year. I'd like to push that towards 8 weeks+. I do quality management work for an aerospace composites manufacturing company. So 50% desk work and 50% walking around the factory looking at stuff.

What do you like about it?

Having 4 days off each week means I have tons of time to do whatever I want locally. I can deal with all my errands mid-week and then enjoy the weekend with my GF without any distractions. When I think about doing stuff I never have to say no because I just don't have the time. For example my cat wants to go on a 1hr random leashed walk? Sounds good. A friend needs help with their bike? Okay! I need to schedule a dentist appointment? Anytime Thurs or Fri works for me.

On a different tack living off a reduced income that is close to my FIRE budget is a great way to validate my planned spending in FIRE is realistic. I also get time to mentally/socially transition to FIRE instead of going from being a FT worker on day X and being a fully retired on day X+1.

What isn't so awesome about it?

As a FIRE aspirant the obvious issue with downshifting is that my high savings rate has gone to shit since I've traded savings for free time. That means my FIRE is delayed a while. My rough back of the napkin calculations show something like 2.5yrs to ~4%WR at FT work and 3.5yrs to ~4%WR at this level of downshift. So an extra year before FIRE to get that additional free time each week.

The other issue is having more free time is great, but most of my friends work FT so it's harder to find activity buddies mid-week. Luckily I have one younger friend who is a kept man and doesn't work, I have a couple friends near normal retirement age and then a couple friends who are retired. So there are a few options. I am also cunningly serially hanging out with friends who are taking their annual holidays.

What are your plans going forward around downshifting and FIRE?

I'm just going to roll along and see what happens. I'll probably FIRE at ~5%WR because I don't think I can wait the 3.5yrs my rough calculations show until I hit 4%WR. If possible I'll likely supplement my FIRE investment income with ~$8K-$10K/yr of side-gig work to keep my actual WRs closer to 4% and hopefully my investments will grow to the point where I can live on a 4%WR without any additional income.
« Last Edit: October 24, 2017, 12:02:24 PM by Retire-Canada »

Retire-Canada

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #5 on: October 24, 2017, 11:51:12 AM »
In the last couple years before I FIREd, I sort of downshifted.  I worked four-tens which are four days with ten hours per day so still 40 hours per week. 

Having done that I would recommend that downshifters NOT do it.  The three day weekend every week is great of course but the extra long days just drained me of all energy.  So M-Th I would have no energy in the evenings to do anything and Friday would just be a recovery day.

I would recommend a three day weekend but still only work 8 hour days as a better way to start downshifting.

I did the 4 x 10hrs thing for around a year prior to the downshift. I consider that still FT work because as you note it's a big energy suck. I do prefer 4 x 10hrs to 5 x 8hrs weeks because I don't feel like I do anything overly useful in the evenings on a 5 x 8hrs schedule anyways and I really really like having that extra day off each week. That said the 3 x 8hrs schedule is way better...low stress and lots of energy/time to do my personal stuff.

Of course everyone is different. I think a 30yr old me would love 4 x 10hrs or 3 x 10hrs schedules.
« Last Edit: October 24, 2017, 12:02:47 PM by Retire-Canada »

Retire-Canada

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #6 on: October 24, 2017, 11:55:15 AM »
I'm looking at downshifting in 2020, moving down to 40hrs/per month, rather than per week.

Should be a fun change! I plan on working at places that I use money in FIRE in to reduce my expenses (work a few shift at a rockclimbing gym to get free membershift, same type of thing for brewery/wine making stores in order to borrow their cleaning apparatus/simplifying my own wine/beer making. In Winter I'm hoping to get a job on a mountain, in order to start learning to get quite good at skiing.

All of these I'm starting to get my foot in the door now (talking with owners/managers) in order to see which ones will allow such a barter type trade. It's a win-win, since most of their costs are fixed, no matter how many people are using the facilities, and my "volunteer" hours to pay for membership are all profit for them.

At 40hrs/month you are retired in my books. I agree doing in PT work in areas you enjoy and where you would be spending your money anyways is smart. It's likely that I will work in at MEC [ie. REI in Canada] or a bike shop when I am FIREd.... at least at some point. My one issue with outdoors retail is the requirement to work weekends. So I'll have to see if I can score something mid-week like doing stocking/warehouse work. If that doesn't workout I'll stick to doing some very limited consulting gigs. Since the $$ are so much better I'd only have to do a few a year to make $8K - $10K.

Retire-Canada

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #7 on: October 24, 2017, 11:59:20 AM »
- what are your plans going forward around downshifting and FIRE?
Continue doing casual or part-time work, and continue doing mini-retirements with several months off (to travel or whatever) like the ones I've been doing. If I do go back to full-time work I'd still kind of consider myself to be a downshifter due to the planned inclusion of mini-retirements every few years.

Did you have a fairly sizeable 'stach when you start travelling/PT work? Are you expecting that to grow to fund FIRE?

Linda_Norway

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #8 on: October 24, 2017, 12:01:01 PM »
PTF

limeandpepper

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #9 on: October 24, 2017, 12:18:38 PM »
Did you have a fairly sizeable 'stach when you start travelling/PT work? Are you expecting that to grow to fund FIRE?

I was maybe about 30% on the way to FIRE when I did my first mini-retirement. Afterwards, when I did PT work, I was still able to save. So I'd like to continue with this work-part-time-and-still-add-to-the-stash path, if possible. I think I'm now about 40% on the way to FIRE? Just a rough estimate, it's kind of tricky to calculate now because my partner and I are newly joint-owners of an apartment and I'm not sure how much that will cost to maintain and improve in the long run.

Vegasgirl

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #10 on: October 24, 2017, 12:29:12 PM »
I don't know if this counts but since August of this year through FIRE (estimated 12/18 - 3/19) I'm only working 4 days a week (36 hours) drawing down leave balance.  I did do the 4 10's for about a year a few years back and it was brutal especially since I had a commute on both ends.

I'm just tired.  I also want to have more time to live life outside of work these days.

2Birds1Stone

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #11 on: October 24, 2017, 12:42:45 PM »
My plan is to work FT until March 31 2020, where I will take a 6-12 month sabbatical, after which I would like to explore the possibility of a 3-4 day work week.

I will still be a ways away from my full FIRE # using 4%, but a large majority of my recurring day to day expenses should be covered.
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LifeHappens

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #12 on: October 24, 2017, 01:46:40 PM »
I'm in the process of downshifting to 3 to 4 days per week. I am a self-employed consultant. Prior to August, I was working on a contract basis for two different organizations. I dropped the smaller of the two contracts and am down to one client. It's a stable, long-term project, so I don't have many concerns about this being a sustainable arrangement for a few years.

Why you did it?
My husband is quite a bit older than me. I'm 40 and he's 68 (yep), so time is precious. We live in a sub-tropical environment, own a boat and play music together as a fun and not-very profitable side gig. We have plenty of things to keep us busy and I was spending way too much time with my ass in a chair in front of the computer.

What your downshift looks like?
I'm *trying* to work 9-5 on Tuesday-Thursday. At certain times (like the past two weeks when my project director forgot about a grant report deadline!), things get busier and I have to put in more time.

What do you like about it?
Um... Less time at work? Last week we declared Wednesday a play day and went boating with friends. We also took last Friday mostly off (I had a 1 hour phone call) to take a weekend trip. What's not to like about that? DH will be starting to claim his Social Security soon, so our income will actually be going up a bit. That's kind of nice, too!

What isn't so awesome about it?
Well, this is my own damn fault, but at the same time I let one contract expire, I made a commitment to do the Data Scientist Specialization on Coursera. It's taking more time that I expected, so my weeks are not as short as I hoped they would be.

I feel vulnerable having only one job! I've been working multiple contracts for 8 years, so having a single source of income is a bit scary.

What are your plans going forward around downshifting and FIRE?
I don't know that I'll 100% retire in the foreseeable future. DH still works on a part time basis and would like to work some hours as long as he is able. We are considering a different living situation, so our expenses might change. We also plan to do some pretty significant traveling in the next couple of years.

markbike528CBX

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #13 on: October 24, 2017, 02:25:53 PM »
PTF
      I plan on not working summers (May-15th to Sept 15th) starting in 2018.   
I believe that when working, I'd be doing 5x8hrs and up to 6x12 hrs when on field assignments (2wk to 1 month, no more than twice in 6 months).

I'm sort of easing myself in to coasting to May, but lots of stuff happens.

happy

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #14 on: October 24, 2017, 03:46:25 PM »
Why you did it?
I've worked part-time for 22.5 years. I started it as a temporary episode after my first child was born. I then had another child and when my firstborn was 4 became a single parent. I liked it so much I just stayed part-time usually between 2- 3.5 days a week.
I didn't know it then but downshifting was becoming a thing in Australia as documented by the Australia institute.www.tai.org.au/documents/dp_fulltext/DP50.pdf
and www.tai.org.au/documents/downloads/NL34.pdf
I guess I was an early adopter and part of the movement described.

What your downshift looks like?
I currently work 3 days a week, somewhere between 8-10 hours each day. Every now and then I do a week on call which is full on.

What do you like about it?
I get to spend time doing stuff I like, mainly simple living things e.g. baking bread, growing vege etc
I have time to have life organised, run errands without wondering how I'm going to register the car and go to work at the same time.
I enjoy work more because I'm not so chronically burnt out and the quality of my work is improved.
Less stress.

What isn't so awesome about it?
The only downside is that I'm a bit limited in what I can put my hand up to do at work - some of the interesting things require a full-timer. At times the ambition gene bites and I become deluded that I want to achieve dizzying heights in my career again. A few self-administered face punches soon fixes that.

What are your plans going forward around downshifting and FIRE?
I'm barebones FI. I've just started a little realestate project that should top that up nicely when completed.
I will work 1 year more and go on 6 months long service leave. I will fully retire once the real estate project no longer requires cashflow/borrowing power. It would be nice if thats before I go back to work, but these things always take longer than expected. If I need to go back to work I might cut back to 2 days a week.
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FIRE_at_45

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #15 on: October 25, 2017, 08:13:55 AM »
PTF as I may continue doing some work in RE to keep my mind active and engaged.
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Blissful Biker

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #16 on: October 25, 2017, 09:11:22 AM »
Why you did it?
I am 45 and have many years of high stress engineering project work under my belt.  I am the primary breadwinner and we have a couple of young teenagers.  My industry is cyclical by nature and when we went into a downturn a couple of years ago I, along with others, volunteered to reduce my hours.  I love having more time with the kids, time to play outside and still contribute to the office, earn a solid hourly rate and continue to save, albeit at a lower rate.  My cohorts have returned to full time work, driven by financial need, but I am quite content to stay PT.

What your downshift looks like?
My role requires me to be available every day so I work about 5 hours each weekday, generally in the morning, and play outside with my dog in the afternoons.


What do you like about it?
Lower stress, more time, more freedom to do what matters to me.  Lets me savour the last few years we have with the kids and enjoy the great outdoors.  The stache is about 62% of what we need to FIRE, so still aways to go but we are at the point where the market returns have a bigger influence than my continuing contributions.  Rough math shows that if I work FT I could FIRE in 5 years, continuing PT I would FIRE in about 7 years.  I like the PT lifestyle so much that I do not feel the urgency to retire. 

What isn't so awesome about it?
The adrenaline junkie in me misses the big roles on the big projects.  I try to fill that need for adrenaline on bikes and skis but it isn't quite the same.  I sometimes feel that I am not "being all I can be" as uncle sam would want for me.

What are your plans going forward around downshifting and FIRE?
I am going to try to stay PT until FIRE but if work really picks up and the office needs me back FT I would do it to support them.  Being flexible increases my job security and I also genuinely want the team to be successful.  And my consolation will be an earlier FIRE.  Everybody wins.
« Last Edit: October 25, 2017, 09:17:06 AM by Blissful Biker »

Retire-Canada

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #17 on: October 25, 2017, 03:08:30 PM »


Thanks to every one sharing their downshifting stories. It's interesting to hear all the different combinations and permutations of part-time work.

I'm just wrapping up a few loose ends and then heading home after another long 3 day work week. ;) 24hrs feels like a great amount to work each week. It's enough to get a lot done if you are efficient and it forces you to focus on getting results. It's also enough money to fund a 50% saving rate lifestyle with no reductions in awesome.
« Last Edit: October 25, 2017, 03:11:12 PM by Retire-Canada »

BTDretire

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #18 on: October 25, 2017, 03:27:40 PM »
By your definition I'm Fired.
 But I don't feel that way!
We have a small business, my wife continues to run the business,
In the slow season I'm working 1-1/2 day a week and 10 minutes everyday
unloading and preping for the next day. Busy season may double that or more.
 Only working because my wife will work 85 hours a week if I don't, I get her down to 70 :-(
- why you did it?
 I'm old, don't want or need to work, neither does she.
- what your downshift looks like?
I sit at the computer 4 or 5 hours a day, surfing, watching stocks, reading MMM.
Occasional hike, or bike, breakfast with the guys twice a week, electronics hobby fun
- what do you like about it?
 Not having to WORK, No schedule.
- what isn't so awesome about it?
My wife still working, having to work at having enough enthusiasm to do things.
- what are your plans going forward around downshifting and FIRE?
More travel to see my kids and other sites.

BlueMR2

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #19 on: October 26, 2017, 03:31:43 PM »
A little confusing.  Where I come from, "downshifting" means to rev up and go faster...  However, using the examples here, I hope to downshift with the rest of you in the next couple of years!  :-)

Retire-Canada

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #20 on: October 26, 2017, 03:49:58 PM »
A little confusing.  Where I come from, "downshifting" means to rev up and go faster... 

Think of it as downshifting as you come to the red traffic light of retirement as opposed to downshifting to pass a truck on the highway. ;)

John Doe

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #21 on: October 26, 2017, 06:35:00 PM »
I did this as of April 1st going to a 50% arrangement.  I basically now go into the office two days a week and then handle whatever comes up the balance of the week via my phone.   It seems to be going well as I am in the process of transitioning my role to my colleague. I signed a two year agreement to work in this fashion with my option to continue on as long as I wish thereafter (there are some financial incentives through the first two years). So  to answer the questions:

why you did it?

Well I am FI at age 50 and while I enjoy what I do for a living, I donít love it. There are other things to do and try in life and I would like to do them while health allows.  We have no idea how long we have on this planet so my view is if you are not passionate about what you do for a living then you have no reason to continue  doing so once you reach FI.  If you are passionate about your occupation then you are truly blessed and I understand why you would continue on after reaching FI.

 what your downshift looks like?

See intro above


what do you like about it?

Time! Since transitioning I have 1) read actual real books 2) gone skating for the first time in 35 years 3) biked more 4) tried pickleball 5) travelled to Paris, BC, England.  I also feel like whatever stress my professional life added to my life is for the most part gone.

 what isn't so awesome about it?

I do miss the social interaction of a work place.  I have discovered that I need that interaction in my life so I need to get it elsewhere on those days I am not in the office. I was also surprised that my ego felt a little bruised when I no longer was Ďthe maní at work.  Iíll get over that in time.

what are your plans going forward around downshifting and FIRE?

I want to continue to try new things. I also really need to lose 40 lbs so I want to kick that into gear.  My wife will be working full time for another two years so I have that time to find my new routine. Not knowing what the rest of my life would look like was not in my view a reason to not make a change. The challenge is to now fill in those blanks.
« Last Edit: October 26, 2017, 06:46:11 PM by John Doe »

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #22 on: October 26, 2017, 07:11:22 PM »
I down shifted from 60 hour weeks and extensive multi-week travel to a 40 hour week with mid week travel only. Back of the envelope calculations indicate that this has shortened my FIRE date due to lower cost of living.

One year in and I'm still adapting to the lack of stress, I can go whole weeks without needing asprin! The reduction in social status is a real thing, but I was never comfortable with my previous elevated status. I struggle to get my opinion respected internally in my new company but that is mostly because of communication challenges rather than anything else. With three dependents, FIRE date is still 5 years away but I intend to work "full time" at least until the youngest leaves home (in 10 years) as I actually enjoy the work.

I'm trying to spend more time practicing my musical instruments, but gigs keep on getting in the way. I am self taught and need to break down bad habits which might make me play worse before I play better. I have very little talent so the next 10 years of "wood shedding" are needed to get me a nice side income in retirement.

waltworks

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #23 on: October 26, 2017, 09:16:37 PM »
Great thread idea.

I downshifted from 30-40 hours a week to 15-20 this year. I'm lucky to work for myself so I also can work whenever (insomnia? go do some welding!) I want.

- why you did it?

I wanted to spend more time with my kids and wife, and we also completed a basement apartment remodel in January which brings in ~40% of our total spending needs. It seemed silly to keep missing art projects at school and bike rides just to make more money.

- what your downshift looks like?

A very chaotic schedule (which is fine) involving me mostly working 2-3 hours a day, "scheduled" around kids activities, exercise, and volunteering. I'll work more hours occasionally to get ahead a bit so we can go out of town for a week or two.

- what do you like about it?

I like still being engaged with work (though in theory I could quit and we could just barely get by on passive income sources) and having a *little* bit of stress about getting projects done on time. Obviously the flexibility and free time to do fun stuff is huge.

- what isn't so awesome about it?

On occasion I screw up or get backed up and have a bit more stress than I'd like, but that would probably happen regardless of whether I was working full time or not. I would probably be more efficient working longer hours, there's some wasted time getting set up in the shop and back into the task I was working on. Overall, there's not much to dislike.

I have to admit that I enjoy watching account balances grow, too. It hurts a little bit to not be putting away $5k/month anymore (instead it's only $3k or something). But that accumulation mindset is what I'm trying to defeat now, like many people here who are FIRE.

- what are your plans going forward around downshifting and FIRE?

I doubt I'd downshift further or fully quit, unless my health forced me to or something. My wife will probably return to some form of part time work after our 3 year old goes to kindergarden, so then we'll be rolling in extra dough. At that point we'll need to think about long term plans - take the whole family abroad for a year or two to learn Spanish? Keep accumulating indefinitely? Give more money to charity? Regardless, I don't think I'd quit my job entirely, it's too enjoyable.

-W

brian313313

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #24 on: October 27, 2017, 08:21:15 AM »
I'm currently 51 and I've had mini-retirements as they're called my entire career. They've been the product of burnout rather than planned breaks though. Fortunately, I was frugal enough to handle it financially. My financial situation is getting to where I could retire pretty soon, but I kind of like what I do so I don't really want to retire. I can't say I love it but I don't want to get out if it either.

I'm currently contracting for a smallish consulting company and have been offering to take time off between projects when they have project shortages. This is just starting, and I'm currently nervous about the situation. I'll go from living off 1/3 my income to 1/2 my income. This still leaves a lot of money left over for saving/blowing on useless but fun stuff but it's a change. I woke up the other night with some anxiety over it. I'm sure this will pass though. It's just a big change of attitude for me.

- why you did it?
My wife & I don't have children or anyone to leave all the extra money to when we die so why keep earning as much as possible. I have some things I want to blow money on but time will provide for that.

- what your downshift looks like?
Working 45hrs/week when on a project but off between projects. I'm hoping for about 3/4 time. I'm currently hourly so it's not an issue but I'm trying to make this a permanent position because of the high cost of health insurance and the fact that it's not deductible. I have a slight margin advantage with that, plus it puts the company a little more on the hook for keeping me busy.

- what do you like about it?
Free time for hobbies, which also means spending more. Hopefully, having the time built in will reduce job burnout for me.

- what isn't so awesome about it?
Some anxiety about having less money.

- what are your plans going forward around downshifting and FIRE?
Work for as long as I'm able, but possibly slowing down more as I age. Unfortunately, I don't travel well. I have special dietary needs. This means I'm somewhat of a homebody.


Wandles

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #25 on: October 27, 2017, 10:38:27 AM »
I guess I fall into the "Working category (Working = greater than 75% FT hours) but I'm going to post anyway.  I negotiated a 32 hour/week position when I changed jobs this past August.  There are some weeks I work more but I haven't worked more than 38 since starting.  I'm a 32 year old Software Engineer but while my title hasn't changed I'm not really writing code at my new position.

- why you did it?
To spend less time at work.  Also I'd been at my old position for 6 years and I liked the idea of change.  That being said, I wouldn't have taken the new position if I wasn't offered an increase in hourly pay and a decrease in hours.

- what your downshift looks like?
I work 32 hours / week, Mon-Thurs.  If I need another day off though they have been fine with letting me shift me schedule around.  I only get 6.4 hours off per holiday, but I am still receiving full vacation time and full benefits.

- what do you like about it?
Less time at work! This has allowed me to catch up on some personal stuff that was lagging behind.  I'm also able to read more and study and play poker more (which I eventually plan on making a FIRE side hustle).

- what isn't so awesome about it?
I don't like the work as much as what I was doing before, but I still think the trade off was in my favor.  Also everyone making snarky comments about my schedule.  I think that mostly stems from jealousy though (and their inability to get by on 80% of their paycheck).  It has slowed down my march to FIRE but not significantly.  I'm still maxing out pre-tax accounts and able to save money in my taxable account as well.  It's probably adding 1-3 years depending on how the market behaves  (I probably had 4-5 years when I left my old job).

- what are your plans going forward around downshifting and FIRE?
I think a year before FIRE I'd like to request moving down to ~24 hours and/or working from home 1 day per week.  If my company doesn't like that idea I might try and find a work from home gig even if it's full time to bridge the gap to my FI number.  I'm thinking I'll try to earn 1/5 or more of my annual expenses in retirement so I will pick up some work post FIRE but it'll probably not be engineering work because I doubt I can find a position w/ so little "on time".

nickybecky1

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #26 on: October 27, 2017, 10:53:50 AM »
Currently still working, though I only work 11 months/year. I'm hoping to cut back a little bit to 4 days a week during those 11 months in the next year or so, which will put me at about 73% over the year. My spouse shares a job with someone else and works 3 days a week. His job share partner works 3 days also and they overlap on Wednesdays. In both cases, as long as we're working 50%+ we keep our benefits and accrue leave (though the accrual is pro-rated).

Like many here, we value time more than money and can live on less. We're currently still saving a decent amount with this arrangement and we're pretty big fans. We did a bunch of relaxing, house projects, and traveling when we first started. Even with me still working full time, our life has gotten a lot more relaxed and fun, because he's taking care of some of the adulting stuff while I am at work, and our weekends and evenings can be much less work and much more fun stuff.  Lately, I've been having some health issues and it's been really helpful to have someone who has a bit more time and space to care for the house and our dog, since my energy levels have been quite low.

We plan to continue to work part time until we hit FIRE numbers, and maybe beyond. If the job share ever dissolves, my spouse may switch to contracts, working a few months a year and having the rest of the time off, in lieu of working part time year round. We both like what we do but would like to do it less.

Stasher

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #27 on: October 27, 2017, 11:04:31 AM »
By your definition I'm Fired.
 But I don't feel that way!
We have a small business, my wife continues to run the business,
In the slow season I'm working 1-1/2 day a week and 10 minutes everyday
unloading and preping for the next day. Busy season may double that or more.
 Only working because my wife will work 85 hours a week if I don't, I get her down to 70 :-(
- why you did it?
 I'm old, don't want or need to work, neither does she.
- what your downshift looks like?
I sit at the computer 4 or 5 hours a day, surfing, watching stocks, reading MMM.
Occasional hike, or bike, breakfast with the guys twice a week, electronics hobby fun
- what do you like about it?
 Not having to WORK, No schedule.
- what isn't so awesome about it?
My wife still working, having to work at having enough enthusiasm to do things.
- what are your plans going forward around downshifting and FIRE?
More travel to see my kids and other sites.

Dang are we clones?
Just add my freelance work to it, I'm not considered old yet at 43 and the kids are still at home.
Wife, small business, surfing on the laptop and having fun all the same :)
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Kakanui

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #28 on: October 27, 2017, 08:47:27 PM »
I gave up semi-retirement to go back fulltime for 2 years which somehow stretched to 6. After 2 years my wife decided time was right to retrain and become a midwife,with 2 teenage kids made sense t have 1 fulltime income coming in (previously we'd both done 10-20 hrs per week each). When she graduated I wanted to renovate our small bach (NZ for holiday home) to prepare it to become our longer term main residence. No way she would allow me to do that without a fulltime income so did one more year full time).

What your downshift looks like?
Chucked in job and this year to ease into retirement have been working for a charity developing and delivering literacy programmes Mon-Weds, spending a couple of days a week at my bach, playing sports ettc, Did a bit of travel (took kids on their first overseas holiday, my wife and my first one in 20 years). The kids they had to save for half their airfares and all their spending money from their after school jobs at McDonald's.

- what do you like about it?
4 day weekends every week.
More time to work on my rental properties- have done 3 reno projects in the past few months.

- what isn't so awesome about it?
Going back to work on Monday's. Am over it really. Should have only done 2 days per week, longer I am on these hours the less I want to do them and keener I am for full FIRE! I saw this as an easing back into retirement and not looking at continuing this role next year. 

- what are your plans going forward around downshifting and FIRE?
Am heading overseas for 12 months working fulltime for free! Heading to Kiribati as a volunteer for 12 months starting late Jan with a New Zealand based NGO that does a lot of work in the Pacific. Kiribati is a small country at the equator facing lots of issues, including loss of their very limited land area due to sea level rise (max elevation is 3 metres above sea level). Looking forward to getting way out of my comfort zone and being able to utilise my skills to support a tertiary organisation over there.

Had wanted to getting into development work years ago and did a post grad qual in it but other things happened so am now getting back onto that track and hoping to spend quite a bit of time over the next 10 years involved in volunteering projects around the world, funded in part by my rental property portfolio.

Craig

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #29 on: October 29, 2017, 07:21:19 PM »
I guess we are still working by the OP definition at 32 hours per week, but it sure feels like downshifting!

Why did you do it?
Life is short. A cliche, but when your dad dies at 53 like mine did, the closer you get to his age (I'm less than a decade now), it develops a little more oomph. DH has a chronic condition, so the healthcare that comes with my job is crucial. This way we can spend less time at work but still reap most of the benefits, including retirement accounts that we continue to feed.

What does it look like?
Fridays off, but flexible to move days. We work a 40hr week every now and then; typically it's our choice and not a directive. We work for small organizations.

What do you like?
A) More time away from work. 3 days where we can wake up when our bodies tell us to instead of the alarm. 3 days to get projects done around the house; it's nice to not have to rush or feel bummed that we couldn't get everything on the list done.

B) Less time needed to take vacations. Luckily, DH is keeping his full vacation accrual. Mine is prorated, but I have so many hours already that it will take a long time to draw it down.

What isn't so awesome?
Some people are having a hard time wrapping their brains around our new schedules. See the thread about "The Look" and you'll get an idea. I have a hard time not adding work to my plate, out of interest. Have to curb that, which is sometimes a bummer.

What are your plans going forward?
Just started in July, so still seeing how things play out. We are pretty close to our projected annual spend, so I am optimistic we are on target. Plan to work 5-10 more years. Health insurance situation for US citizens is likely to be THE deciding factor on FIRE for us. (hopefully the market won't make me eat crow for that last sentence).

steveo

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #30 on: October 29, 2017, 11:51:01 PM »
Why you did it?

My work lets me work from home one day per week. I don't really do much work. Sometimes I've done this 2-3 days per week but at the moment it's one day per week. I intend to do it more as I get closer to FIRE because it will give me more time to do harder physical activity. I'm 44 now and I do jiu-jitsu. My body is already struggling and at some point I'll have to quit. I want to do jiu-jitsu as much as possible prior to not being able to do it all.

What your downshift looks like?

I get to work from home one day per week. I can't really call it downshifting but I'm going to push it a little because I intend to expand on this when I get closer to FIRE. So my wife will quit work in 2020. Hopefully we will be at a 5% WR by then and I will work part time for a couple of years and then retire.

What do you like about it?

I spend my work from home day going to the gym, eating well and having the house to myself. I love the time out from work and the time to myself.

What isn't so awesome about it?

Currently for me there is no downside.

What are your plans going forward around downshifting and FIRE?

I intend to work less - 4 days paid per week with one day working from home - within the next 2-3 years. Then I intend to work for another 2-3 years and then quit work completely.

boarder42

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #31 on: October 30, 2017, 10:07:33 AM »
PTF ...

plan to downshift to 4 day weeks at the birth of child one and possibly 3 day weeks at child 2... hopefully child one arrives sometime next summer!
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FireLane

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #32 on: October 30, 2017, 06:54:28 PM »
PTF. This is my plan too, so it's good to hear how it's worked out for others. I'll probably hit my RE number before my original 2020 goal, but I may cut back to 4 or 3 days a week instead of quitting entirely. Ideally, I'd do that for a year or two and see how it feels.

It'll be a nice way to test the waters of early retirement, to make sure I won't be bored with a slower-paced life before I commit myself. Plus, given all the uncertainties around health care, it wouldn't be a bad thing to have a few more years of employer-paid insurance before I venture out into the individual markets.

boarder42

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #33 on: October 31, 2017, 04:10:21 AM »
Does anyone here have a large perk attached to staying employed at least half the year. I do with my company. Just wondering how the company feels about it. I do know my bosses husband who works for us is quite leveraging this part of our system so it would be quite difficult to say I can't do the same.
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MasterStache

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #34 on: October 31, 2017, 05:44:52 AM »
I'll play.....

Why you did it?

The biggest motivator was the job itself. Some folks can sit in a cubicle four 8 hours everyday for 40 years. I lasted 10 years and that was good for me. I never had a job before that had me sitting for so long. I like activity not sedentary. I like learning new things not applying the same knowledge and methods over and over again. It was also great for family life. I am home each day when the kids leave for school and get off the bus. I take on more house chores. 

What your downshift looks like?

Currently just working side jobs. Brought in some good cash rebuilding a deck for some friends of ours. Have some house rehab work coming up for a cousin. And one of my wife's co-workers has some home projects she is passing off to me soon. I also occasionally build furniture. I did stay on as a part-time contractor through my previous employer. It's been 4 months and they haven't called me back in once. But that is likely to change as the end of year approaches and folks take their vacations while they are trying to get projects completed and on the books. My old boss has already called me a couple times to determine my availability over the next couple of months.

What do you like about it?

Everything. Waking up relaxed and planning my day. Working out when I want to. Working on projects that I actually enjoy. Watching the sun rise. No traffic jams.

What isn't so awesome about it?

Not having a steady income. Sometimes I worry even though I shouldn't. I still need to bring in some cash to help pay bills, but don't really need to save. I like to have built up cash reserves for the next 5-6 months of expenses. But when that starts to dwindle, it worries me.   

What are your plans going forward around downshifting and FIRE?

Nothing really. Ramp up projects outside of my own house I guess. My wife still has her full time job and plans on keeping it for another 9-10 years after which we'll both full time RE. Just keep on keepin!

Blissful Biker

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #35 on: October 31, 2017, 05:17:43 PM »
Does anyone here have a large perk attached to staying employed at least half the year. I do with my company.

If I drop below 24 hours as a standard work week I lose my health benefits, my vacation accrual become prorated, and I would be no longer eligible to participate in the stock option program.  So I do not plan to ever drop below 24 hr/week before I FIRE.  But that is just fine with me.  I can have a rich and fulfilling life working 24hrs/week.

happy

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #36 on: November 01, 2017, 04:33:38 AM »
Not specifically but if I reduce less than 3 days a week things don't work well. If I drop to 2 and a half days, then the half day always tends to be nearly a whole day, for less pay. My job doesn't modify to fit 2 days a week well without major compromises, and that  gets irritating with not enough momentum/ continuity. All my entitlements are pro-rata so thats OK.
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boarder42

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #37 on: November 01, 2017, 05:48:16 AM »
Yeah i'm more concerned about how i approach it.  at 30 years old its hard to say i just want more time to myself. --- Thats why i want to gear it around the birth of children b/c i feel like thats a societally acceptable norm.  alternatively i run a charity and could request it so that i have more time to work on that and grow my events.  Just hard to approach in a "norm"al way at such a young age.  But then again my bosses husband took most of this year to explore his passion of running biking events while still staying partially employed.  So it will be an interesting conversation when i have it.
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Bird In Hand

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #38 on: November 01, 2017, 09:54:16 AM »
PTF because downshifting is part of my semi-FIRE plan.  But I'm also going to cheat and answer the questions hypothetically.

Why you will do it?

Live more, work less!

What your downshift will look like?

First go from 5x8=40 down to 4x8=32 for a year or two.  Then 3x8=24 or possibly 4x6=24.  Ultimately something like 4x5=20 or (2x8)+(1x4)=20

What do you expect to like about it?

Less health-killing sedentary work, more time to be active and spend time with family, hobbies, etc.

What might not be so awesome about it?

I'll probably no longer be the go-to person for high-profile/interesting/challenging work assignments.  It's also possible that I'd be more likely to be laid off than a full-time employee.

What are your plans going forward around downshifting and FIRE?

We've achieved barebones FI recently, but still need high income to support some short-term expenses.  We also still need a bit of time to let the stash grow to support our preferred FIRE lifestyle.

However, our retirement saving is becoming relatively insignificant compared to market returns.  Downshifting becomes feasible in a few years when our living expenses drop.  I'd like to shift to 80% in 3 years, then gradually down to 50%.  Then it's just enjoying health insurance + other benefits for OMY while the stash grows.
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boarder42

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #39 on: November 01, 2017, 11:22:21 AM »
Why you will do it?

Currently planning a family and i'd like to be a part of their young lives more than weekends and after work

What your downshift will look like?

I've got 2 plans
1. Go to 4-8s at the birth of first child then 3-8s at the birth of second child
2. Start taking summer sabaticals

What do you expect to like about it?

Freedom to spend time with my family- i actually think work will get more out of me with more decompression time. - more time to travel in the summer to see national parks with plan b

What might not be so awesome about it?

I like to do what i'm not supposed to be doing at the time so I'll probably end up doing some work while i'm off and non work while i'm working

What are your plans going forward around downshifting and FIRE?


Baby 1 should hopefully come in 2018 - have the conversation with my boss at my review in 2018 and decide whats doable.  they may offer up 9-80s which i may start with before i downshift to 4-8s but we'll see.
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Stache-O-Lantern

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #40 on: November 03, 2017, 01:07:24 AM »

Why did you did it?


We had a kid.  It allowed me to spend more time with my kid, and also save on daycare costs than if i had worked full time.  I've been on this schedule since he was 6 months old, and now he's 4.  My wife also works a 30-hr schedule, and she takes one day a week off.  Grandma covers the other 2 days.

What does your downshift looks like?


I work 30 hr weeks, three 10-hr days Tuesday through Thursday.

What do you like about it?


I get Mondays and Fridays off (generally, see below).  That's awesome.  And I spend much of those days with my kid (he's in preschool half the day now).

What isn't so awesome about it?

The clients at my work DO work Mondays and Fridays, and i have some responsibility to them.  So sometimes I have to work a few hours to take care of something at some point over my 4-day weekend.  That gets filed under "Mustachian people problems."  Usually i just make a couple phone calls or emails to keep things rolling on those days, and it is no big deal at all.

What are your plans going forward around downshifting and FIRE?


This is a big question I haven't decided.  If i worked full-time once my kid is in full-time school, i could reach FIRE faster.  But I'm also thinking, what's the point?  I already have substantial extra time.  It seems like a variant of the "one more year" phenomenon.

happy

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #41 on: November 03, 2017, 04:50:56 AM »
Yeah i'm more concerned about how i approach it.  at 30 years old its hard to say i just want more time to myself. --- Thats why i want to gear it around the birth of children b/c i feel like thats a societally acceptable norm.  alternatively i run a charity and could request it so that i have more time to work on that and grow my events.  Just hard to approach in a "norm"al way at such a young age.  But then again my bosses husband took most of this year to explore his passion of running biking events while still staying partially employed.  So it will be an interesting conversation when i have it.

Yes I found I needed a societally acceptable narrative. Having kids was the perfect start, and once I was a single mum I could ride on that for a long time. Altruistic pursuits like a charity would work I think.

Once folks get used to you working part-time it gets easier.  I know a professor who went to 4 days a week for a specific reason fro a year, then just stayed that way. He told me  no one really noticed /worried so he just stayed that way but never really mentioned it to anyone.

Now my kids are grown, firstly I've developed an auto immune disease that causes fatigue, so this seems acceptable to my bosses. Also I DGAF what anyone thinks at this point.
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Astatine

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #42 on: November 03, 2017, 05:18:15 AM »
PTF out of interest

2Birds1Stone

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #43 on: November 03, 2017, 10:13:03 AM »
I've "downshifted in place", unintentionally.

My boss got fired on my 3rd day in this job, then a few weeks later the one who did the firing quit.

I've only been going into the office 1-2 days a week. Working from home while the weather is nice. I work enough to meet the requirements but am enjoying this temporary arrangement before I either get fired or motivated back to production.
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leighb

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #44 on: November 04, 2017, 10:56:50 AM »
Why?
My job was stressful although rewarding. The stress was effecting my health. I had enough financial cushion to take a little risk.

What does it look like?
Right now I'm working as a private math tutor 7-10 hours a week. I also have a side hustle of rust-belt-rentals, which is what really pays the bills and takes very little of my time.  With my remaining time I'm advertising my services, doing pottery, walking the dogs, cooking, cleaning, reading, hiking, volunteering, driving the kid around and gardening. I can pick up more hours at a lesser rate as a sub right now but haven't done that yet. My goal is to have a good work-life balance work four days a week and do 4-8 hours a day. A perfect day would be running the dogs, pottery, tutor sessions in the afternoon followed by dinner.

What I Like
I like that every day is different. I like being in charge of my own time. I like the variety of my days and being in charge of prioritizing what's important. I like feeling like I'm doing this.

What's not so great
Right now I'm not making as much money as I'm spending. Although this was planned, it is still stressful. Sometimes going to work was a nice break from family life and drama. No health insurance, no pension...

Plans
Keep finding clients and filling my time. I've given myself until April to be "successful" in my shifting. If I'm not successful
then I will go back to full-time employment.

AnnS

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #45 on: November 07, 2017, 05:24:18 AM »
Why I did it?
I was craving free time, craving a 'natural' schedule, fantasising about my ideal life, and sometimes dreading going to work.
What my downshift looks like?
I work freelance for 20 hours a week, earning the same as when I worked 50 hours for a salary.
What do I like about it?
The free time, getting more sleep, slower mornings, not going to meetings, pursuing my ideas, day-dreaming, and never dreading work (because I am in control of it).
What isn't so awesome about it?
Well it is pretty awesome. I miss the camaraderie at work a little bit and I feel as though I could have achieved more highly if I had stayed at work. In a way I wasn't done with it, ambition-wise. But that is a price I am happy to pay.
What are my plans going forward around downshifting and FIRE?
Keep doing what I'm doing, enjoying the freedom to adjust how much work I take on and how much I earn. Enjoy saving and investing. Could be FI now if we sold the house but don't want to kick young adult children out and want to be near ageing parents.

druth

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #46 on: November 09, 2017, 12:46:12 PM »
  • why you did it?
    Because I could.  Once I realized it was an option there was very little thought process on the side of not doing so.  Why work more when you can not work more?
  • what your downshift looks like?
    I used to work a 40 hour a week IT job.  I did have lots of WFH, but I sure don't miss it overall.  I was only in the real job marketplace for 2 years.  I left at 25, have been doing my own thing for 2 years, now 27.

    I coach a high school team that pays a small stipend, I consider this a volunteer job, and I would do it regardless of needing the small amount of money it gives me.  This is around 15 hours a week.  When I think "how many hours did I work this week?" I don't generally consider these hours as part of that.  I was doing this also while I worked my old job.

    I also do private tutoring for $45/hour.  I need to work 7 hours a week to meet my spending, but usually do between 10 and 15 so that I can add to savings and vacation/lavish spending budgets.

    However you want to look at it I have cut at least 25 hours of work out of my life every week.
  • what do you like about it?
    Sleeping in.  Sometimes I get unsolicited job offers and I occasionally look into them and then I remember how much I hate waking up at 7.  Getting errands done during the day.  Going to the dog park every day.  Eating lunch with my boyfriend at home.  Not having a boss.  Being in charge of my entire business process.
  • what isn't so awesome about it?
    Running a business isn't always fun, sometimes it's stressful.  My work can only happen during non-school hours, which does interfere with some social life things.  I haven't noticed the less money on a day to day basis, since I still make more than I have ever spent.
  • what are your plans going forward around downshifting and FIRE?
    I haven't completely decided.  I can save nothing and be FI at 50ish.  That's not what I'm doing right now but I haven't set a hard plan for the balance between work more now or fewer hours longer.
« Last Edit: November 09, 2017, 12:48:49 PM by druth »

happy

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #47 on: November 09, 2017, 02:23:05 PM »
  Why work more when you can not work more?

Exactly! This was my thought many years ago!
Journalling at Happy Aussie Downshifter

less4success

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    • My journey to part-time/semi-FIRE
Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #48 on: November 17, 2017, 08:43:25 PM »
PTF. And I'm hoping I'll have something to add to this thread within the next few months... :)

Linda_Norway

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #49 on: November 18, 2017, 11:44:27 AM »
  Why work more when you can not work more?

Exactly! This was my thought many years ago!

In my case now: fulltime work makes more money, which makes total FIRE come sooner. As I can`t wait to FIRE, I want to achieve it as fast as possible. Even thought I would benefit a lot from downsizing. But maybe, if we reach a certain amount of money too early, so that we cannot start taking out the 4%, we might work part time for a year.