Author Topic: Calling all downshifters!  (Read 17187 times)

druth

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #50 on: November 18, 2017, 12:37:59 PM »
  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.

In my case I'm making more hourly from my freelance work than my full time job.  I figure total hours worked in my lifetime will be lower this way.

FIRE Artist

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #51 on: November 22, 2017, 10:22:33 AM »
I downshifted by replacing a high stress, long hour, high paying private sector job for a low stress, no overtime but lower paying public sector job.  My contract is for 37 hr work week, and I give no more than that, and after being on call 24 x 7 as a front line manager in the international oil patch, it still feels like I am semi- retired 5 years into it. 

I did this for mental health and work life balance, but I only felt able to do this because I was already FI.  My stash is large enough to FIRE by many MMMers standard, but I want a larger cushion/more fun money so I will continue to work a few years more at a job I don't hate.  I am no longer aggressively saving, rather letting my stash increase in value until it converges with my annual spending, I am also building more equity in my house too.  My take home pay (after mandatory pension contributions) is currently around where I want to keep my annual spending, and my FIRE stash is already 82% funded for that so it is just a matter of how the markets play out - if the valuation stays stagnant, it will take a maximum of 6 years to get where I want, just through pension contributions and dividend payments.  I expect to be FIRE in half that time though as I am not a pessimist. 

Step37

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #52 on: December 01, 2017, 11:42:34 PM »
- why you did it?
Before my current position, I was at a company that was growing very quickly. For the last three to four years of it, almost all I did was work - long days, weekend days (to ďcatch up,Ē which obviously never happened). The culture got toxic and I was burnt out; the company getting sold was the end of the line for me, as I had no loyalty to the new owners. I agreed to go to work for a friend at his one-man operation; he wanted to grow the business, but needed someone to do the books and admin. I agreed, on the condition that I could buy in if I thought it made sense after getting the books in order (seeing the shareholders of the company I left get 80x their investment after eight years may have influenced my desire to want a piece of ownership;).

Being burnt out, I wanted more time off, so I said Iíd only do four days per week. It was enough for the first few years (with some f/t weeks thrown in at busy times), but 2017 got very busy and I was back to f/t and NEVER caught up. I didnít want to work this much and I have no need to work this much.

- what your downshift looks like?
Partway through this year, I hired someone to take over the day-to-day aspects of the business and I immediately got back to four days per week. She is very solid in the position now, and I am CAUGHT UP (an amazing feeling that I never thought Iíd feel again) and ready to reduce down to my goal of half time (two office days and an hour or two from home on the other days). This starts next week. I will have to increase to f/t to cover off holidays, but thatís only a few weeks per year.

- what do you like about it?
I know Iím going to love driving less (itís a 30 minute commute each way, and winter always brings frustrating traffic delays). I will enjoy having more free time to read, do house projects, cook, visit friends/family... whatever I want, really. I have badly wanted this for a long time and I feel a deep sense of satisfaction that itís finally happening.

- what isn't so awesome about it?
Iím a bit worried that I will feel out of the loop, but Iím sure I will get over it!

- what are your plans going forward around downshifting and FIRE?
Assuming this goes well, I think I would be quite happy to be 20-50% time for the next five years at least. I would not want to be a completely uninvolved shareholder, so unless the company gets sold or one of my partners wants to purchase my shares, I will be there in a financial oversight capacity.

The retirement stash is enough now for barebones RE, so working p/t will cover all regular expenses as it grows. My husband is still working for a year or two. The company is also paying dividends which, if it continues to grow as it has, could more than fund our modest lifestyle. Given this, itís possible that we have oversaved, but nothing is guaranteed.

Iíve been wanting to get more involved in my community league and saw that the Treasurer position is open. I emailed about it and I seem to have gotten the (volunteer!) job, so that will take up some of my new free time. Itís a good match for my skill set and Iíll be able to meet some new people who live nearby (not easy to do when one has no children).

Bolshevik Artizan

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #53 on: December 02, 2017, 03:36:51 PM »
Just turned 48, 1 kid aged six. Dual income family. Downshifted from suits, planes, meeting Central Bank Governors etc etc blah blah to copywriter and editor 24 hours a week, using the sole trader model. Initially FIREd completely at 45, then gradually built up my own business in the last 2 years. Have sold 24 pieces of my own writing this year (journalism, poetry and short stories) and have two books ready to pitch to editors in the new year.

Why did you do it?

I no longer recognised the person I thought I was. I did not know the person I'd become: earning $250,000 per year and flying around US Canada and Europe doing something I hated with a bunch of emotionally limited egomaniacs. I did two literature degrees on scholarships and was a published novelist, reviewer and writer of poems. The day job had seriously started to get in the way of my home life, my ambitions and interests. Having supported my wife through an MSc and PhD, it was time to change once she'd started earning.

What do I like?

No suits, no offices, no politics. No people making assumptions about who I am and what I like based on where I work and how I (had to) dress. Time to write my own stuff, dress how I want, exercise and above all look after my boy. I went back to London -- where I worked for 10 years -- last year and everyone who was still on the treadmill looked 10 yrs older than me.

What don't I like?

Less cash. But income has grown now to the point where we are able to enjoy a few luxuries and I am writing this from a spendypants hotel at a very well known ski resort.

Plans

Carry on for as long as possible. Currently zero interest in retiring because I like my work and only work 25 hrs a week. Am going to post my 2-years-in update in the forum soon (I only post once every six months or so) so that will tell you more... FWIW still adding cash to the stash to the tune of approx. C$26,000 per year. Stash is circa C$1 mil liquid and growing at an aggregate 6.8% per year over the last 2 years as well. But Canada is not a cheap place to be, especially not the left coast!

BA

happy

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #54 on: December 02, 2017, 10:32:59 PM »
Sounds like a great plan BA.
When I downshifted 2 decades ago, I let go of the "opportunity" to fly around the world presenting at conferences as a world expert, blah , blah, blah. Its pretty well heresy to say that in my profession, but I hated all the drama of flying, disliked staying in prestigious hotel rooms, and being away from home. I have the ability to do it, but it didn't increase my pay rate per hour ( probably decreased if you counted all the extra time spent travelling), and I really wasn't after the honour and the glory just for the sake of it, with, as you said so aptly, a bunch of "emotionally limited egomaniacs".


smoghat

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #55 on: December 03, 2017, 07:05:19 AM »
Why you did it?

I've been a successful academic but I wound up with a windfall from a family real estate property. Students today are not motivated much, donít do the readings, and whine about not getting As. Since I taught in an Ivy, I knew there wasnít anywhere better to go. The thrill was gone. Plus I wanted to go into a related creative field so this gave me time to pursue that. My position had been non tenure track and I had no interest in another job search or moving again.

Add to this my health was going in the crapper.

What your downshift looks like?

I teach two weeks out of ever semester in a school overseas that doesnít pay much, about $9k a semester after expenses (which isnít bad given the time invested) but against which I can deduct a ton of expenses, books, creative supplies, even the last round of car payments; plus I wind up going to do other things overseas when I get there.

I have been there for over a decade (I used to moonlight there and helped found the program) so I have lots of friends I generally enjoy seeing.

What isn't so awesome about it?

Teaching isnít just what you do in the classroom; it involves lots of prep time. I avoid most, but not all, of the mindless administrivia. The rate is a fraction of what I used to get since I would be paid for 4 full time courses when I was full time and that would have been about $25k a course by now.

I am cheap and donít like to travel or stay in hotels plus the city itself is ho hum so when I go there I typically teach the whole first day; that is hell on two hours of airplane sleep.

The administration are ludicrously stupid, McKinsey Consultant trainee types and enjoy throwing roadblocks into the path of foreign faculty seeking to get paid.

I love deductions. I hate doing taxes. Then again, last year I had zero income taxes, so no bad.

What are your plans going forward around downshifting and FIRE?

Comrade Trump and his minions are screwing me over every way he can. We live in a state with high local taxes. I donít mind them since my kids are learning to write better papers than graduate students in the Ivies can today (nobody seems to remember what a thesis is). Thatís going to cost me and we predicated my retirement on Obamacare being around. Thanks to the Republicans, insurance is going from $1200 a month with a $4500 In network deductable to $1700 with a $6000 deductable (roughly, Iím in my iPad so could be off marginally). Blue Cross blames Trumpcare and no way am I giving money to Oscar, which is run by Jaredís family, even if it is cheaper (and I hate HMOs so no Amerihealth). I am going to talk to a local college about teaching a course a term to get on their medical insurance. That will mean four a year which is full time. Somehow Iím hoping that wonít be too onerous.

NinetyFour

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #56 on: December 03, 2017, 07:10:21 AM »
Hi smoghat--sorry for the hijack, but I'm wondering how you got into the teaching overseas gig.  I am also in higher ed and am about to retire, and would love to get into a gig like yours.  Please PM me if you'd rather not offer up the details here.  By the way, I totally hear you about students not being motivated these days.  :(  Thanks!

Bolshevik Artizan

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #57 on: December 03, 2017, 08:56:48 AM »
Sounds like a great plan BA.
When I downshifted 2 decades ago, I let go of the "opportunity" to fly around the world presenting at conferences as a world expert, blah , blah, blah. Its pretty well heresy to say that in my profession, but I hated all the drama of flying, disliked staying in prestigious hotel rooms, and being away from home. I have the ability to do it, but it didn't increase my pay rate per hour ( probably decreased if you counted all the extra time spent travelling), and I really wasn't after the honour and the glory just for the sake of it, with, as you said so aptly, a bunch of "emotionally limited egomaniacs".

Thanks Happy, that's good to hear.  In my community there's a former KPMG dude who was forcibly retired at 45 then set up his own accountancy firm in rural BC which is now thriving the way he wants it to. Like hearing it from you, having him tell me I'd done the right thing and that time with my child was worth any amount of money and alleged "prestige" was reassuring to me. And the egomania thing is stunning... do these people think they are the Dalai Lama, rather than a banker or whatever who's made a few bucks?

smoghat

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #58 on: December 03, 2017, 09:31:46 PM »
Hi smoghat--sorry for the hijack, but I'm wondering how you got into the teaching overseas gig.  I am also in higher ed and am about to retire, and would love to get into a gig like yours.  Please PM me if you'd rather not offer up the details here.  By the way, I totally hear you about students not being motivated these days.  :(  Thanks!

PMíd.

NinetyFour

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #59 on: December 04, 2017, 05:16:56 AM »
Thanks!

2Birds1Stone

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #60 on: December 05, 2017, 06:31:45 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.

One month of downshifting in place complete. I would say I "work" about 30-40 hours a week right now, on my own time, primarily from home.

Still haven't replaced my manager, so we will ride things out for a while longer =P

ACyclist

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #61 on: December 05, 2017, 10:20:49 AM »
This is our plan for 2021, or 2022.  We will shift to 9 months of work and 3 months off.  I already have three months off.  Sometimes, you have to take the opportunity as it comes available.  A 9 month job opened up a couple of years ago.  If I didn't take it, the shadow only knows when another partial schedule job would open up again. 

rab-bit

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #62 on: December 05, 2017, 10:32:55 AM »
PTF.

Retire-Canada

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #63 on: January 27, 2018, 08:58:43 AM »
So I am about 7 months into my downshift [working Mon -Tues - Wed 8hrs/day]. In general I love it. My days are short enough that I don't hate being at work and the weeks are short enough they are over before I start wondering "is it the weekend yet?" I use Thurs and Fri to relax and get all my chores done plus ride my mountain bike. That way when the real weekend comes I can hang out with my GF and not have to do anything else. I definitely feel happier and more relaxed than working full time.

If I was going to point out one thing that was maybe less awesome than I thought it would be it's that I have totally become accustomed to the new schedule so it doesn't feel amazing or special to me any longer.

If I could do one realistic change that would make my downshift better I'd work 4 days a week in the winter and 2 days a week in the summer to average out to 3 days a week. With our rain and cooler temps I don't need more than a 3 day weekend in the winter to do all the outdoor sports I want. OTOH in summer I'd be stoked to have 5 days off every week to adventure. I don't think I could swing this schedule, but if I could it would be rad.

So ya all in all downshifting is great. It doesn't hurt that the market has been on a tear and my accounts are growing like gangbusters even though my additions have been modest.

« Last Edit: January 30, 2018, 08:33:09 AM by Retire-Canada »

kork

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #64 on: January 27, 2018, 08:32:32 PM »
My situation is different and I struggle if it's a downshift or not...  But I often describe myself as feeling like I only really work 2 days of the week so here goes...

I've worked from home 3 days a week for the past 6 years with two different companies. Two days of the week I put in 8 hour days at the office. The remainder of the time I work remotely and it's flexible. I don't need to be at my desk 9-5 and I don't punch a clock for productivity. I am "on call" much of the time, but for the last year with my new company, It's not something that occurs often (or ever really).

I don't look forward to the weekend the way that most do because, well, I can do lots of the same stuff on the weekdays. I'm NOT working for the weekend!

Why you did it?
I absolutely hated being in the office Monday to Friday, 9-5... Watching the clock and literally going insane thinking "there's 6 more hours to go in this place." It's not the office itself, it's the requirement to be there for such a long period of time for so many days in a row.

What your downshift looks like?
I spend two days of the week at the office,  the remaining days I balance between working, getting the kids off to school, picking them up, going to the gym, getting groceries, running errands, doctors appts, cutting the grass, blowing the snow, some occasional retro gaming, etc.

I will admit that my productivity isn't related to clicking on a keyboard though. I tend to think about my work and solving problems when cutting the grass or working out. In effect, it's actually better for my job than sitting stationary in an office I feel trapped in.

What do you like about it?
Full salary and bebefits is great and the fact I can control my own scenery is amazing. I can sit with my laptop outside, sit in my recliner, have a movie playing, etc.

What isn't so awesome about it?
Isolation. I need to get out of the house nearly daily for social interaction.  But the kids get home from school mid afternoon and can add enough conversation that's required for the whole day.

What are your plans going forward around downshifting and FIRE?
I'm going to keep doing what I'm doing while I can.  Much of my role is ensuring smooth operation and things moving forward.  With a good team, I can do just that. Get the ball moving and watch it roll!

If/when this opportunity dries out (some early signs it might) I will look for another job. But it won't be in the office 9-5, Monday to Friday unless I choose for it to be. I think I may look for some new opportunities. If we earn enough to "maintain" we're absolutely set to FIRE in 5-10 years with well over a $1million stache.

Vegasgirl

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #65 on: January 30, 2018, 08:28:37 AM »
RC - Thanks for the update !  I downshifted to 4 days per week last fall and am still working the schedule through mid-February.  We are going on vacation in Feb and I've pretty much decided that when I return on March 1 - I'm only going to work three days per week.  My FIRE is planned for Dec 1st this year and I've got leave to burn.  I've already informed my boss about using my leave up as well as a couple of my closest co-workers.  My goal here is to actually get started with my intended post-FIRE routine a little ahead of time.  Looking forward to a little less commuting and a little more sleep and outdoor activity once spring hits !!!

Retire-Canada

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #66 on: January 30, 2018, 08:35:24 AM »
RC - Thanks for the update !  I downshifted to 4 days per week last fall and am still working the schedule through mid-February.  We are going on vacation in Feb and I've pretty much decided that when I return on March 1 - I'm only going to work three days per week.  My FIRE is planned for Dec 1st this year and I've got leave to burn.  I've already informed my boss about using my leave up as well as a couple of my closest co-workers.  My goal here is to actually get started with my intended post-FIRE routine a little ahead of time.  Looking forward to a little less commuting and a little more sleep and outdoor activity once spring hits !!!

That sounds great. I think the switch from working FT to retired can be quite a shock. Being able to ease into it over months if not years is a nice feature of downshifting. Congrats on your up coming FIRE. :)

Malkynn

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #67 on: January 31, 2018, 06:25:30 AM »
Iím 35 and I downshifted after only 3 years of work and while still in a few hundred thousand in debt.

- why you did it?
My job was taking too much of a physical toll, 30ish hours a week is still a bit too much given my pre-existing injuries and health issues.
The job I downshifted to is fewer hours, but much more prestigious in certain ways. Working where I do gives me automatic professional clout, which is great for side projects. Plus itís simply infinitely more pleasant to go to work every day.

- what your downshift looks like?
I work 3 long days per week, Iíve recently had to add some shifts, but not by choice and it wonít be long term, but I have to meet demand until we can hire someone else to take the load. Thatís down from 4-6 long days including some 14 hour days and some Saturdays.

- what do you like about it?
Pretty much everything. The fact that itís a much better work environment is huge, but itís also amazing being more rested, in less pain, being able to prioritize my home life and marriage, and having time for other meaningful professional projects.

- what isn't so awesome about it?
Slower debt repayment. However, weíre also spending less because itís so much easier to be strict about spending when you take a voluntary pay cut and when you are not miserable. Never underestimate the spending power that stress has.

- what are your plans going forward around downshifting and FIRE?
Man, what arenít my plans??
Iím so so soooo happy that I didnít wait until hitting an arbitrary financial target before giving myself permission to live better. Granted, I will wait until the debt is gone before downshifting further.
My focus is on doing what I love in a way that I enjoy and thatís healthy for me. I donít really worry about FIRE anymore as I expect living my best life to be highly profitable and as long as I stay frugal and make smart financial decisions, the finances will work out. Iíve given up targets because Iím positive I will exceed them just by doing what I love.

Trudie

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #68 on: February 28, 2018, 10:10:25 AM »
Why I did it:
I am 47, and my husband is 9 1/2 years older.  We achieved our FIRE "floor" last summer while I was almost ten years into a stressful job with a commute that was taking up 1 1/2 hours each day (in good weather).  My company was in a growth mode and I was doing all of the accounting and HR functions, which was progressively becoming more complex (parts of which I enjoyed).  But going into this past fall I just started feeling this weight -- compounded by the fact that deep down I knew I no longer really needed to be there -- and started to wonder why I was staying.  My back and fitness were suffering from the commute and constant sitting, my boss was demanding more across the organization but not rewarding people with bonuses, pats on the back, benefits, or increased staff resources to accommodate the new growth.  I was starting to lose sleep.  So, I decided to resign my position to focus on this next chapter of our lives which has started to unfold in a more real way.

What my downshift looks like:
These are early days, so the answer is, "I'm not quite sure yet."  I am doing some very part time paid work as Treasurer of a local non-profit.  It's not much money at all, but it does give me a purpose and it's a "gig" that allows me to associate with some good people on a worthwhile goal.  Even when it's frustrating, I realize that at least we're doing something to improve peoples' lives and that feels good.  I'm also trying to give more time to my church.  When I was working long weeks I couldn't devote as much time and just gave money, now I'm trying to change that balance.

I haven't devoted much time yet to how/when/in what capacity I'll go back to paid work.  And, I'm not depressed about it either.  I just sort of feel like I'm in a state of suspended animation.  Maybe this is because I'm in the present, which is a good thing.  I'm not ruminating about things in the past (I've accepted this was a good decision), and I'm not ruminating about what's next.

My husband is still working full time at a job very close to home.  We're still saving toward our retirement, but have eased off quite a bit to improve our cash flow.

What I like about it:
I no longer have the pit in my stomach because I'm worried about something that got missed or screwed up at work -- which was so far away that I couldn't just go in and handle things.  I was also "over" managing staff.   I like not having to do repetitive things; I can focus on creative projects.  I enjoy cooking, bread-baking, gardening, reading, getting "out and about."  My job was very isolated and isolating, so I have more latitude to see people and spend time with them, so I think staying at home will be less isolating.  My work life was very deadline driven; deadlines ruled my life.  I like the freedom of not having too many deadlines and having the autonomy to shift my schedule around in a way that makes sense for me.

It would be interesting to answer these questions in another year, but I also find that I enjoy taking care of the day-to-day management of our household when I have time to do it and it's not an "add on" to my already stressful schedule.

The town I worked in was nothing -- a little rural spot on the road that was frankly a very depressing place.  The town I live in is a college town, with a very vibrant downtown and lots of people who are doing their own thing.  There are lots of creative types and professional (mostly academic) women here.  I feel much more "understood" in this environment than I did in the environment in which I worked.  I feel like I have more latitude to be myself here.  I feel at home.

I also can tell that my husband is happier, and it's not because I'm waiting on him hand and foot:-)  That's not how we roll.  He just sees that I'm happier and I'm not stressed out and grouchy at home.  That makes him happier.  We enjoy meals together now.  We do more things together in the evenings -- performances and lectures at the college (most are free, the rest are low cost.)

What's not so awesome:
Right now, it's pretty awesome... but I think the thing that will be most challenging for me is undergoing a shift in my identity and professional identity.  So, "identity, identity, identity."  As a woman who's worked hard to have a professional identity and left the work force when I was making pretty decent money, I think I may have some challenges coming to terms with that.  Because this decision doesn't conform to norms, I get questions that I'm not comfortable answering yet.  People I know well understand it and affirm it.

But then I remember how much I had to battle and the sexism I dealt with when I was on the job too... so, it's a pretty good trade-off.

My plans going forward and down-shifting:
Again, not really sure... and I'm trying to be okay with that for awhile.

My first step is just to adapt to our new income, and manage our household in a simple way.  I want to do more DIY stuff at home.  I want to take care of things that have fallen by the wayside.

I also want to re-commit to serious workouts... get back to long-distance running.

I'm trying to decide if I want to continue on the path I'm on (CPA) on a part-time basis, if I want to work for myself, or if I want to embark on an encore career of sorts.  The more I detach the more the idea of an encore career is appealing to me.  I just know that whatever I do it will be vastly different from the last ten 1/2 years of my life, even if it just means that I'm working a lot less.

ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #69 on: February 28, 2018, 11:09:36 AM »
This was a really fun thread to read during my lunch break.

I'm currently 30 and am an attorney working for a solo practitioner.  I've watched my boss for about three months and her model is pretty great--she has two staff and me basically do everything.  She probably brings in $250k-350k per year and takes whatever is left at the end of the year.  She's here 10-15 hours a week tops, so it's almost like a source of passive income at this point.  Granted, she owns a $700k house and has a bunch of other business ventures, so she works way more than that.

Being pretty frugal, I've basically structured my own personal life so that we can live off just my wife's income.  This gives me some cushion to eventually start my own practice if and when I think I have enough clients to at least make some money doing that.  Basically, once I think I can get $50,000 in revenue on my own, I'll probably jump ship.

My ultimate dream is to work 15-20 hours per week, delegate the simple stuff to a hopefully competent assistant, manage 3-6 pieces of civil litigation, and fill in my time with low stress stuff like wills, guardianships, traffic tickets, etc.  This would keep me active enough both professionally and in the legal community (which I really enjoy), but also not worry about all the regular 9:00-5:00 stuff, putting on a shirt and tie every day, etc.

Again, this thread was an awesome thread to motivate me to get there within 3-5 years.

Erica

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #70 on: March 03, 2018, 06:57:21 PM »
So if you've downshifted I'd love to hear about:
I am 49 yrs old. Husband is 56 and works part time as a Contractor.

- why you did it? Old enough now I know myself well. Enjoy working p/t and like the medical & dental benefits. More time to cycle for fitness.
- what your downshift looks like? 44.5 hrs a week to 36.5 hrs in 3 days. I used to fill in for absent employees plus work my reg 3 day shift.
Paid to sleep 7-8 hrs while on shift (on call) but hardly ever, woken up. Listen to online sermons while I  fall asleep in bed. Difficult to do at home as husband interrupts me alot. Or I worry it keeps him up. It relaxes me to fall asleep quicker.

- what do you like about it? medical benefits,dental, extra $$ saved for Skilled Nursing Fund via cash put into the safe. We live in a small town that requires driving 45 min to the nearest town where I work. Everything is much cheaper with multiple health food stores, just everything we need. Otherwise we'd need to drive there once a week to shop anyhow
- what isn't so awesome about it? Sometimes it's taxing but work is completed in 3 days with 4 days off each week.
- what are your plans going forward around downshifting and FIRE?
Will downshift to 20-24 hrs week at age 65.  Replace typical medical benefits with the indemnity policy (both employer sponsored) which acts as a medicare supplement. still keeping a reduced level of accident, dental, vision & life insurance. Use the money to live on while delaying Social Security until age 70. Cash in 401k slowly between ages 67-70 for more favorable tax treatment.
Working p/t in old age keeps people sharp and wards off dementia. My opinion of course. Sorry I cannot seem to unbold this post, it's so bright!
« Last Edit: March 03, 2018, 07:29:35 PM by Erica »

smoghat

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #71 on: April 08, 2018, 06:27:59 AM »
I'm downshifting AGAIN!

A number of you wrote to me about my overseas teaching gig. Careful what you wish for, those things can suck. I'm quitting on Thursday after 13 years.

One thing that is commonly talked about on this site is part-time jobs. Watch out that they don't ruin your life, ok? Yeah, I got 9,000 a semester for six days of contact hours, but I had to teach a new course this semester and it took two months solid. Since I really want to be an artist, I should be applying for residencies. Instead, I missed two residencies that I wanted to apply to because I ran out of time. Meanwhile, I had to fight bigoted knuckle-dragging administrators to get paid, as I do every semester. I had issued an ultimatum saying I quit if you don't pay me by tomorrow. After 30 days of not paying me, all of a sudden, they did and I was crestfallen. Meanwhile the students in this European country are mind-numbing cretins. They informed me that they wouldn't be at one of my classes because it was "student day at the races." F* THAT. I wound up back in therapy for the first time in years. I realized that this wasn't just creating anxiety, but impacting my opinion of myself. It's terrible to feel that you are a bad teacher, or a loser for being there, and the subtle racism (I am American but of Eastern European extraction in a country that looks down on Eastern European immigrants) is galling. I haven't wanted to lose my friendships there, but what sort of friendships are they? 

F* these people, I'm out.  I'm going into art full time.

Steve Ainslie

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #72 on: April 21, 2018, 10:44:38 AM »
why you did it?
My position was eliminated unexpectedly around Thanksgiving 2016 when I was only about 50% to FIRE. After months of interviewing for jobs and not being too interested in any of them, I started a business blog to use as an expanded resume.
To my surprise, someone contacted me for freelance consulting work. After the second person contacted me for this, I turned the blog into a part-time consulting business.


what your downshift looks like?
I had been working 40-60 hour weeks for the past 10 years of my career in different tech sales management positions. Last year, I averaged less than 20 hours per week, but it varied based on my project load. Overall I worked about 25% of the time last year on paying projects.

I did spend a lot of time writing the blog and working on setting up the biz but for me this was unpaid and a creative endeavor. 


what do you like about it?
Setting my own schedule.
Eliminating 95% of all BS - most meetings, unproductive metrics, fluff, business posturing, corporate politics, "face time", travel,  etc.
Free time to spend with my wife and pets during daylight hours. I work mostly when I want to.
I love dealing directly with small business owners and senior execs. We get right to the heart of the matter making decisions quickly and taking effective action.


what isn't so awesome about it?
Lack of steady income!  I made about 1/3 of what I did the previous year. That amount is actually perfectly acceptable. This year, I've landed no sizable projects yet which is not so great.
Health Insurance. Like many FIRE and self employed, I'm in a somewhat shitty situation.
Being a "consultant" I am out of the loop on a lot of internal communication (eg someone I work with gets fired or transferred, a major strategy changes etc.). It's taken some time to get accustomed to this after having been an employee with inside knowledge my entire life.

what are your plans going forward around downshifting and FIRE?
I'd be willing to keep doing this consulting about 25% of the time indefinitely until I earn enough to go full FIRE. Working for myself has been the most enjoyable work I've ever had. I just need to maintain about 3 active clients to make it feasible long term. 

The business exposed me to ideas and work I'd not done in a long time. I enjoy writing so much that I started a personal blog to cover topics not suitable for my business.

freezerburn

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #73 on: April 30, 2018, 06:07:43 PM »
PTF--I plan to downshift to working three days or fewer once I hit certain milestones (so far on track for this to happen in about 6-7 years, 5 if I'm lucky and plan right) and am interested in how others approach this. In most ways my current career suits me, but in my pre-mustachian days I did once have a 3-day/week job and just the aspect of spending more of my days off than at work was a huge boon to my mental state.

My current job involves using 3-5 main skills, and at least 2 of those would translate to freelance work, and moreover they're my favorite parts of my job, so that's what I've been keeping in mind for this. I'd continue that form of downshift while letting my stash compound further until I could RE with greater security.

OtherJen

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #74 on: May 04, 2018, 08:56:43 AM »
I left a full-time research position 5 years ago to focus solely on contract work related to my field. Iím 40.

Why I did it: Initially, severe job burnout. I hadnít taken time to reset my brain after a PhD, and on top of that, my next workplace was a terrible fit. I started exploring contract work as a side gig about 6 months before I resigned from the lab and essentially retired from research. Now I consider myself a ďferalĒ worker who probably wouldnít do well in a traditional work environment. I like my work, my clients, and the ability to control my own time and environment.

What it looks like: I work an average of probably 30 hours per week. No set schedule, although I try to keep Tuesdays free from client work so I can plan errands and attend a volunteer meeting. The nature of my fiel means that the work ebbs and flows. Things are quiet this week due to the end of academic semesters and international labor holidays, but other times my clients offer more work than I can accept.

What do I like: Setting my own schedule. Not commuting. Not having coworkers with anger management issues. Not having a boss who expects me to respond to emails at 2 am or cancel holiday plans at the last minute. Time to cook from scratch, knit, volunteer with multiple community organizations. The ability to (for example) spend the afternoon with my husband on his day off or pick up my retired dad and take him to lunch without asking permission from management.

What isnít the greatest: No company 401k/403b plan, so no employer match. No option for company-sponsored healthcare (fortunately, husbandís employee plan covers me). Estimated quarterly tax payments and having to cover both halves of FICA.

Future plans: This has worked out so much better than even I had hoped. I donít have changes planned, except maybe a few more private clients (my biggest clients are corporate but I love working directly with researchers). Once weíve finished paying off the last of a few house-related debts incurred before I started reading this site, I think husband and I will be able to live off of one income and save the other.

ca-rn

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #75 on: May 05, 2018, 12:07:08 PM »
late 40's in healthcare, originally worked 3 days 12 hour shifts- long hours but 4 days off!  then the all-knowing-nothing-supervisors decided to convert us to 4 days 10 hour shifts which ended up creating chaos and even more overtime opportunities.

why you did it 
now work 3 days 10 hour shifts to take care of chronically ill family member. 

what does your downshift look like
love being back to 3 days but its overall exhausting because its not "free time"  but its family, whatcha gonna do?

what do you like about it
i'm feeling burned out at work mostly because my supervisors style of leadership and actions are eerily similar the trump- daily chaos, totally unprofessional, change policies on a dime and deny saying what ever they just previously said.... so i like seeing them one day less in this downshift schedule.  plus still get full benefits.

what isn't awesome about it
not much- we got a nice pay bump after getting none for a super long while and though my hours are less ( 30 vs 40) i'm about the same as i was taking home at 36 hours.  i was able to sock away more at 40 hours than now but still saving at least 40% anyways due to another stream of income. 

future plans
a bit morbid, but once my family member passes i will fire.  either sell my home and move to a smaller cheaper place/city/state.  i love my job in healthcare,  so i may continue to work 1 day a week or be a dog walker.  or sell it all and become a nomadic traveler or travel teaching esl....  ideas please:)


Zoot Allures

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #76 on: July 27, 2018, 12:20:48 PM »
I posted this in General Discussion and someone pointed me to this thread, so I'll cross-post it here. My downshift is still in the planning stage. Reading through this thread, I don't think I see anything quite like what I'm considering: staying at my company for the sweet benefits and continued access to retirement plan, but a completely different type of job and a big step down in terms of responsibility (and pay).

-------------------------

I'm planning to leave my job next year despite not achieving FI yet, which for me means I'll be entering a phase in which I've got my "old man money" saved up and will turn my attention to more satisfying personal work and projects while bringing in enough income to make ends meet.

I work in management at a large health care organization--good pay, amazing benefits, pension plan (!). I've been here for more than 10 years, and as someone who needs to make major life changes from time to time, I need to get out of here. Even if my department offered me a half-time schedule, I don't think I'd take it--I need a clean break and don't want to keep working on the same projects with the same people. And while my job isn't very stressful, it does come with a lot of responsibilities I'm tired of carrying.

Which leads me to the idea of easing the transition by spending a year or two doing a chill part-time job at this massive organization, such as registration representative (checking people in for their appointments). There would be a huge pay cut, but at 20 hours/week, I would keep my benefits, including the ability to keep contributing to my 403(b)--which I could probably do if I'm bringing in freelance income. I'm not a status-oriented person and I have no issues with doing lower-level work at this point in my career (a word I don't really relate to anyway). Though it did occur to me that in a public-facing new position, I could encounter former colleagues, and that could make for some slightly awkward moments.

Anyone else done or considered something like this? The other options, of course, are (1) leave the organization completely and figure out health insurance, etc., on my own, which I'll need to do eventually anyway; and (2) suck it up and see if I can stay in my department at 20 hours/week.
« Last Edit: July 27, 2018, 12:25:49 PM by Zoot Allures »

Malkynn

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #77 on: July 28, 2018, 08:40:49 AM »
(1) leave the organization completely and figure out health insurance, etc., on my own, which I'll need to do eventually anyway; and (2) suck it up and see if I can stay in my department at 20 hours/week.

What's the worst case scenario if you choose #2? You don't like it and switch to #1.

This seems like a no brainer to me.

MaybeBabyMustache

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #78 on: July 29, 2018, 09:08:57 AM »
Just discovered this thread and am on the cusp of making this decision now. I tried to quit/give a long notice period a week ago, and my manager asked me to consider a part time role (following a sabbatical). I think it might be challenging to come up with a role that is legitimately part time - these do not exist on my team/at our company) & we have complexities with time zones, I'm currently a people manager of a large team, etc. But, if we can, it would be a huge win for me.

why you did it 
I will make the change to allow more flexibility in our lives/schedule. And, because right now I work too much, have to travel, do evening & weekend work. Going part time would curb most/all of that.

what does your downshift look like
I'm hoping it will mean working fewer hours 4 days/week, with Fridays off entirely.

what do you like about it
I'm burned out & need to do a better job of managing my energy (I have lupus). I also want more time for my own endeavors (working out, time with kids, our house, etc). If I am able to negotiate this & work more than 50% (so, 25 hours/week would qualify), I can get healthcare, reduced vesting on my huge grant of stock I'm sitting on, reduced salary, and reduced vacation accrual. If that plays out as I think it would, I would make more part time vs almost any full time job I could find. That would be huge. I have a hard time imagining the company letting me do this without taking a demotion, given my level & salary, but at the moment, they seem quite intent on keeping me. It's helpful that I'm in a very hard to fill niche space.

what isn't awesome about it
I haven't started yet, but things that worry me include: getting paid part time & somehow getting sucked back into nearly full time work in order to complete unrealistic project goals, worrying about what people think (facepunches), concerns that I'll have to give up much of the mentoriship & leadership roles that I do now as I won't have time with a reduced schedule.

future plans
If this plays out for us, I'll likely go full time until January (tentative commitment so far on my side), take a 12 week sabbatical (unpaid, but don't lose options), & then come back part time. I'll try out the part time option & see if it works. if it does, I'd consider doing it indefinitely, as the perks of working at my company are huge, and again, delayed vesting on my current stash of options is worth ~$500k.

boarder42

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #79 on: July 29, 2018, 11:14:25 AM »
Moving to 4 day weeks starting Monday.  I will be taking Fridays off planning on using FMLA to keep my pto accrual at normal levels for 12 weeks then asking to go to 4-8s limited full time starting in mid October officially hacking 20% of my pay and work week. By my calcs worst case it adds 1 extra calendar year of work but thanks to compounding even with reduced income it results in many less days worked.

startingsmall

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #80 on: July 29, 2018, 07:10:59 PM »
I tried to downshift, but hasn't quite worked out like I expected. Apparently, I'm a workaholic.

BEFORE: Worked 40ish hrs/wk as a full-time veterinarian, spent approx 5-10 hrs/wk on freelance writing side hustle.

AFTER: Work 17 hrs/wk as a part-time veterinarian, do occasional relief shifts at other veterinary clinics (avg ~5 hrs/wk), spend approximately 20-30 hrs/wk on freelance writing side hustle.

I'm definitely happier now... I'm not working any less, but I control my own schedule so I have a degree of flexibility that I didn't have before (want to go to yoga class on Friday morning? no problem!). Plus, I'm making a good bit more money than I was making previously. The relief work isn't really part of my overall master plan, but it's $650/day and I actually really enjoy the days I spend at the clinic where I'm mostly doing relief (great team, fabulous clients, fun location within walking distance of cool lunch restaurants)... so I'm not planning to give it up. I'm not ready to give up the stability of at least a PT vet job just yet and the writing is my long-term plan (just didn't expect it to take off so quickly) so that's not going anywhere.

Looks like my downshift will have to wait a while.
« Last Edit: July 30, 2018, 01:37:52 PM by startingsmall »

DreamFIRE

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #81 on: July 29, 2018, 07:48:19 PM »

I'm in a temporary downshift, working 24-hour weeks through July and August and a few short weeks in September.

I love this reduced schedule.  Since I'm using benefit days that I've built up, I'm still getting my full pay.

When I hit my FIRE target in 2019, I'm seriously considering requesting part time hours (8 to 24) for up to a year as opposed to FIREing completely, but I don't know if it will be an option or for how long.  24 hours would allow me to keep my excellent work healthcare plan at the same premium, but 8 to 16 hours sounds more appealing to actually work.

skp

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #82 on: July 30, 2018, 11:23:20 AM »
What does my downshift look like- I downshifted in April to Part time, actually it's called a "job share" where I work.  I share a full time job with another person.
What does it look like- I work 2 12 hour shifts one week and 1 12 hour shift the second.  We split the required weekends and holidays.
Why did I do it- I did it because at the beginning of the year they offered anyone over 55 (I'm 60) who has been working there over 15 years full time benefits for part time work.  I've been saving some of my salary anyway and feel I have accumulated enough to safely retire at 65 when I qualify for Medicare.  There is no way that I am willing to buy health insurance on the open market and I am ethically opposed to taking Obamacare subsidies when I am perfectly capable of working just don't want to.
What do I like- the extra time off, more weekends off, more holidays off.
What I don't like- I worry about keeping my skills up.  That hasn't seemed like much of a problem so far.  I also worry a little about money.  I've always had way more than I needed with a full time paycheck.  I could pretty much write a check for anything I wanted.  Now I'm cutting it close.  My son is getting married next month and I'm stressing out on how I'm going to pay for it out of my checking account.  Goofy of me I know-  heaven forbid if I have to dip into my more than adequate savings :(,
What are the plans going forward- Reassess when I'm 65 and qualify for medicare.

Prairie Gal

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #83 on: July 31, 2018, 05:36:28 PM »
I downshifted to 32 hours a week this year, with only one day a week in the office, and I am considering cutting back even more next year. It seems like the less I work, the less motivated I am to work. And the less willing I am to put up with the B.S.

Malkynn

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #84 on: August 01, 2018, 04:48:58 AM »
I posted earlier in this thread that I downshifted at 34, only 3 years into my career.
Well, now 3 years later Iím looking to downshift again.

I currently work 3 ten hour days and Iím planning on dropping down to only 2 ten hour days in January.

There are two major reasons for this
1: I have 3 side hustles that could really use my attention
2: my job is seriously damaging my body and I spent 36 hours over the weekend unable to move without assistance due to a work related strain injury to my neck.

I really do enjoy my job, I just canít enjoy it when itís hurting me.

FireLane

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #85 on: August 01, 2018, 07:24:24 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.

Oh hey, I have an update!

DW and I both went down to part-time (4 days per week) at the beginning of July. In a sense, this decision was forced upon us, because our daycare provider retired and closed her business and we didn't have another childcare plan. But I'm very glad we did it. It was the nudge we needed.

What our downshift looks like: I work from home one day a week and have off one day a week. DW works from home two days a week and has off one day. There's never a day when we're both in the office, so one of us is always here to watch our son. (We have help from grandparents on our work-from-home days.)

What we like about it: So much! Every week is effectively a three-day weekend. Less stress, more relaxation, more leisure. We're spending more time being parents to our son. We can run errands and do chores during the week so we don't have to cram everything into our precious weekend days.

What isn't so awesome about it: Right now, we have no backup option for childcare. It would definitely be helpful to find a Plan B in case one of us gets sick or we want to take a day off.

Our plans going forward around downshifting and FIRE: Now that I've had a taste of working part-time, I never want to go back to a full-time schedule. As we approach our RE number, I may offer to go down to 3 days a week instead of quitting outright. It depends on how the stock market does in the next few years and what the state of the health insurance market is.

Linda_Norway

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #86 on: August 14, 2018, 01:22:00 AM »
I will work 4 days a week from September. Yeah!! Hopefully my DH will follow soon after.

- why you did it?
Last year has been really stressful for DH and me.
* DH has had (endurance sport based) heart issues, several trips to the intensive care, and a heart operation. In addition to a knee problem.
* I was responsible for testing of 2 software projects at work that both required full time attention and care (both testing myself and management), while I didn't want to work double hours. That means you need to work really effectively and still cut some corners than you are comfortable with. This has been extremely stressful.
* We had a long and tiresome case against the former owner of our house.
* We still have another ongoing case with the house that will take attention from now.
* We need to do a technical modification on our house that eithers costs a lot of money or requires us to use our spare time to do it ourselves.
* DH had an absolutely shitty boss who lets you work until you drop dead. This problem is solved now from August.
* I always have the feeling that I don't have time to enjoy my hobbies and that I'm wasting away my good years at the office.
* Our long weekends are the greatest moments in our life. We usually go some place we like to be (camping or at our/a cabin) and enjoy being active.

- what your downshift looks like?
Working Monday to Thursday, normal hours. I have promised to be a bit flexible and sometimes work on Fridays. DH will also ask for working 80%. He hasn't done that yet. He is scheduled for a new heart operation soon and he wants to ask for reduced hours after that, using the heart issue as an argument.

- what do you like about it?
I hope to enjoy more long weekends on small trips. But this requires that DH also gets his Fridays off.

- what isn't so awesome about it?
Don't know yet. But I heard from MIL many years ago that everyone still expects you to do the same amount of work in those 4 days. For my work, I will still have those same 2 projects to work for. And still not enough people to do the work for me. So I'm still the manager and executioner.

- what are your plans going forward around downshifting and FIRE?
Downshift at 80% until we FIRE. We need to sell of house to free up our money needed to FIRE. We have plans to put it on the market in spring 2019. If we manage to sell if for a good price in 2019, we have enough stash to FIRE for in 2019. Otherwise we'll need to try again in 2020, where we can FIRE no matter what.
And then we need to move somewhere else. The plan is move somewhere out in the country where houses are cheaper (rent first) and where it is a nice area to do your hobbies. We haven't prepared this in detail, yet. So we need some time to prepare both the house sale and making a plan for afterwards.

use2betrix

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #87 on: August 28, 2018, 06:07:30 PM »
Interesting idea for a thread. Iím 30 and not fully downshifting yet, although I currently have my first 40 hr job in my career. Iíve been working around 60-70 on average the last 8 years.

Last year I took my first sabbatical (well, two actually) and only worked 4.5 months. Fortunately the stocks did well and my net worth still increased about $20k.

My downshifting will be very different than most. Instead of cutting back to part time weeks, I will be able to take contract positions working 70-80 hrs for a few months, then taking the rest of the year off. Iíll be able to take home about $20k/mo those months, so Iím hoping to get to the point where I can work 3 months then take 9 months off while the stache grows. Iím unsure when this will happen, but likely in the next 3-4 years. It wonít work exactly as such as I may be needed for longer or shorter periods, but will just plan my time off accordingly.

Since Iíve been working so much for so long, and my wife doesnít work, I can still be pretty energetic working 70-80 hrs a week. Eating healthy, plenty of sleep, and a good diet, goes a long ways.

boarder42

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #88 on: August 28, 2018, 06:27:17 PM »
Official down shift paperwork went in today. Dropped to 4-9s. 10% pay cut for 20% more days off. I typically work 9s and just wasn't charging them so now it's like a free day.

JGB

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #89 on: September 04, 2018, 08:31:48 PM »


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?

I embarked on a forced downshift in 2015. The plan at that time was to hit full blown FIRE by 2018, but that had assumed FT employment in the intervening years. However, I was laid off from a high salary job when my wife was 8 months pregnant. What I'd expected to be 12 weeks off turned into a year, during which I did about a month of $75/hr contracting for the company that laid me off and basically no other paid work. Then I was pulled in to a 25 hr / week gig for a previous employer, which lasted about 18 months. Since then I've done about 9 months of ~15 hour weeks programming for a client that a friend of mine was too busy to help.

During most of this 3 year period, my income hasn't covered our expenses. And our expenses have been higher than expected since my thoughts on my badassity levels were trumped by the difficulties of raising a high needs infant/toddler. We've eaten out an insanely high amount. And insurance rates went from a few hundred per month under my employer to costing more than my mortgage.

Despite all of this, I have managed to only withdraw a total of $20k during the three years we've been in this track. Typically we get back a huge portion of our insurance costs, since I refuse to take the "pay lower premiums" option when on a variable income.

Our net worth has grown to the point that we're past our FI number based on our spending from three years ago, but it doesn't yet cover our current spending.

Obviously, I like the flexibility. I've gone from barely knowing about Pokťmon to becoming a top notch player with sights on reaching World-championship level of skill. That's still far out, but I know I wouldn't be anywhere in the same spectrum if I had to work a normal day job and take care of my kid as well. That has opened up new senses of accomplishment and new friendships. And, as it turns out, if my daughter likes it as much as she seems to, when she gets older it could lead to scholarship money.

What I don't like is continually losing sight of the big picture, and thus continually feeling like we're inches away from being in financial trouble. It has nothing to do with the downshift, but my daughter eats up so much time and energy that I barely feel able to keep up with anything. Additionally, I feel pressure from the outside world that assumes a normal work situation. I often feel judged for being available at times most wouldn't. The assumption being that I'm an unemployed slacker or something. And I also get the other side of the coin from family members who think I should be able to cater to their schedules and needs simply because I theoretically have the time (ignoring anything I actually do have going on).

My plans going forward are mostly to stay the course, using the free time I'll actually get as my daughter grows up to write a series of books, complete some pretty ambitious art projects, and win some Pokťmon TCG championships. Some of that will provide financial rewards, but as long as things don't backslide too much, the long term plan is pretty solid. I expect to still do some downshifted work.  I'm going to try to roll with the punches and see where it takes me. But I'm confident that if our plan ever felt like it was really in question, we'd be able to find our footing and get back on track. And hey, the upside could be pretty great if things go well.

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #90 on: September 05, 2018, 03:32:12 AM »
Thanks for sharing your interesting story JGB, and well done for staying the course.
Quote
What I don't like is continually losing sight of the big picture, and thus continually feeling like we're inches away from being in financial trouble. It has nothing to do with the downshift, but my daughter eats up so much time and energy that I barely feel able to keep up with anything. Additionally, I feel pressure from the outside world that assumes a normal work situation. I often feel judged for being available at times most wouldn't. The assumption being that I'm an unemployed slacker or something. And I also get the other side of the coin from family members who think I should be able to cater to their schedules and needs simply because I theoretically have the time (ignoring anything I actually do have going on).

When I look back over my 23 years of downshifting - initially due to family responsibilities - I can relate to all that you've said here. Downshifting is a compromise for sure. Looking after kids does eat up enormous time and energy, even more so if there are special needs. And I found it takes extra energy to resist conformity ( that of normal work), and folks who want you to march to their schedule. Personally I found the benefits outweighed the negatives, but it didn't come entirely easily and required work to maintain my direction and boundaries.