Author Topic: Long-term FIRE and existential woes  (Read 3613 times)

undercover

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Long-term FIRE and existential woes
« on: January 28, 2019, 04:30:19 PM »
I don't think this is discussed enough.

A lot of studies in general say retirement is bad for health. You can Google "negative effects of retirement" and find tons of articles.

"Retirement" is a relatively new term in human history. Like within past 100 years new.

Retirement isn't just a pipe dream for the young anymore. The ability to retire at an early age due to extreme advances in efficiency/productivity (and financial systems and automation, etc.) have allowed people to retire as early as 20-30 or even earlier if they leveraged the internet at a young age due to the incredible amount of reach you can get nowadays with a few clicks.

Now, I get it, retirement/FI does not necessarily mean sitting around all day. But, let's face it, most people will most of the time do much less overall than they were doing before.

We are entering an age in which not only is the possibility of retirement/financial independence for more people going to happen, we will soon be to a point where no one has to work at all and things that were expensive will be practically free. Even if you don't subscribe to the fact that we could very well have robots and AI take over everything and we will be left with nothing really to do, you can't deny the fact that we will absolutely get to a point where more and more people will be financially independent and/or receive UBI due to all of the automation.

We haven't yet been able to study the long term affects of living without any real reason to exist. We still exist as a society in order to work towards building whatever it is we're building (our demise is my prediction). Not to say MMM is the first person to ever retire at 30, but he certainly made the movement mainstream and even he is only 45 and arguably never really spent a long time with no meaning since he still does a shit load of things. And I'm sure even he has had to many times consider the reasons for what he does. The very fact that some people achieve things much quicker than others is as puzzling as life itself.

And, again, I know this whole financial independence thing isn't about sitting at the beach and sipping mimosas. But the point is that even the things that people do now to fill their time or *gasp* go back to work just won't be there in the future and we're already starting to see negative effects of not having to work.

Not saying financial independence isn't worth it...but financial independence on a mass scale is a very new phenomenon that hasn't been studied and I feel like a lot of people are going to go through existential crises. I personally have. We already know that we would all be miserable if we had no purpose in living. People with tons of money and no reason to work are already seeing that and I think they just end up going back to work and buying shit anyway, never really escaping the life they tried to because they realized there was a void waiting for them that they weren't happy with. There are so many examples of FIRE'd folks going straight back to work. Financial Samurai did. Jacob from ERE did. MMM has always stayed busy doing many entrepreneurial things. Many people here have succumbed as well.

The biggest threat to humanity is AI, or more generally - automation. When you remove meaning and necessity from our existence then it becomes unbearable. I really don't believe we can sustain on just creating art, having sex, traveling, and eating. So much of our art is based on real life and our struggles and without that we don't have anything meaningful to make art out of.

Anyway, I think all of this is very much worth considering before anyone blindly buys into the early retirement craze. I think it's all about compromise right now and there is still much work to be done for a lot of people so I think it is mostly a net positive for most people - but I am seriously concerned about our future.
« Last Edit: January 28, 2019, 04:58:54 PM by undercover »

mjr

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Re: Long-term FIRE and existential woes
« Reply #1 on: January 28, 2019, 05:11:50 PM »
Whatever existential crisis I'm going to have is still going to be far preferable to the crisis I was suffering from turning up to the pointless big corporate every day.  Also, I'll have the time and motivation to try and actually deal with the crisis instead of being stuck in a rut a mile deep where I was OK with not dealing with it because "I'm busy working".

Malkynn

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Re: Long-term FIRE and existential woes
« Reply #2 on: January 28, 2019, 05:42:51 PM »
I literally don't even worry about any of this for even a fraction of a second.

We do not have even close to a mass early retirement, in fact, we are outnumbered by those in debt who can never retire, by orders of magnitude. That is a much bigger issue.

AI isn't a risk to human happiness because of all of the repetitive and predictable tasks that they can do. Those are not the tasks in life that provide meaning.

Likewise, even if someone likes to do tasks that machines can do, they can still find meaning in it. We've had mass produced mugs for a very long time and yet hand made pottery mugs are still made and sold by those who love making them.

AI is a huge risk because of all of those indebted people who can't afford to be replaced, not because it robs people of the opportunity to do meaningful work.

IF we had mass early retirement, AI would be amazing because it would replace the drastic loss of labour.

Many people would also probably work longer as well if AI replaced a lot of the most tedious parts of jobs. Think of how much more utility we could get from doctors if AI could take over the tedium and tasks of medicine. Surgeons could work almost indefinitely without worrying about aging hands and eyes.

I don't believe for a second that happy, healthy people suddenly become miserable and sick if they don't have obligatory full time jobs. I also don't see evidence that they are LESS productive once they give up full time work.

What I do see is a lot of exhausted people who have worked at very hard jobs for many years ending up losing the only sense of purpose they ever had when they retire because they never had the freedom to find it anywhere else. Those people tend to suffer in retirement.

You also cannot compare health outcomes of seniors who retire to young people who retire. Those are wildly different populations.

So no.
I do not feel like there needs to be any caution in terms of worrying about the wide spread negative psychological or physical health affects of early retirement.

I refuse to be concerned for a population of people who are demonstrably capable of taking responsibility for their lives.

Mr. Green

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Re: Long-term FIRE and existential woes
« Reply #3 on: January 28, 2019, 06:10:59 PM »
OP I think your opinion shows the media has accomplished it's goal with prominently reporting on FIRE. It is very much a niche concept that a tiny portion of the population is pursuing, easily less than 1%. It only seems more prominent because of how much appeal the topic has to the masses, whether they're dreaming about it or hating on it.

All that aside, FIRE does expose the fact that most people never really spend any time thinking about what they want in their lives or reflecting on who they are as a person. The requirement of work, to make money, to support a family typically forces most people into common roles that dominate their lives, so they don't end up in a position to truly consider these things. Though, FIRE isn't the cause of that. Anyone can actually stop and think about these things. However, losing the distraction of work tends to create enough free time that they naturally come back to these questions. Whether this represents a crisis depends upon the person.

maizeman

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Re: Long-term FIRE and existential woes
« Reply #4 on: January 28, 2019, 06:42:40 PM »
A lot of studies in general say retirement is bad for health. You can Google "negative effects of retirement" and find tons of articles.

A lot of this actually has cause and effect reversed. Nationally people whose health is declining or who have reason to fear they won't live until a normal ripe old age are more likely to pull the retirement trigger early.

Quote
Now, I get it, retirement/FI does not necessarily mean sitting around all day. But, let's face it, most people will most of the time do much less overall than they were doing before.

I'm not convinced this is the case at all. And even if people spend more time sleeping and sitting around the house than they did before, when they go out they'll likely be doing a wider range of diverse activities, which is better for maintaining neural plasticity than the daily routine of sleep, drive, work, drive, sleep of many office jobs.

Quote
Even if you don't subscribe to the fact that we could very well have robots and AI take over everything and we will be left with nothing really to do, you can't deny the fact that we will absolutely get to a point where more and more people will be financially independent and/or receive UBI due to all of the automation.

This may well happen, but I certainly CAN deny that we know with any degree of certainty that it will.

Quote
We haven't yet been able to study the long term affects of living without any real reason to exist. We still exist as a society in order to work towards building whatever it is we're building (our demise is my prediction).

We could look at hunter gather tribes all over the world who often hunt for food only a few hours a week. Or at petty aristocracy in most of the middle ages. The old mone" families in the american north east. While there are certainly some negative outcomes in individual cases, many people end up quite happy. Some even come up with other "reasons to exist" despite not having to work for a living.

Quote
And, again, I know this whole financial independence thing isn't about sitting at the beach and sipping mimosas. But the point is that even the things that people do now to fill their time or *gasp* go back to work just won't be there in the future and we're already starting to see negative effects of not having to work.

What are the negative effects of not having to work which you feel we're already starting to see?

Could you elaborate on why do you feel that the things people do now with their lives when they're not working (creating and enjoying art or music, watching birds or hiking in nature, taking care of each other, pursuing spiritual enlightenment/self actualization etc) will not be there in the future?
« Last Edit: January 28, 2019, 06:46:14 PM by maizeman »

deborah

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Re: Long-term FIRE and existential woes
« Reply #5 on: January 28, 2019, 07:01:06 PM »
Oh woe is us!

The only decent study I know of is this one - https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Effect-of-retirement-on-major-chronic-conditions-Westerlund-Vahtera/4927c56318b3ac6b02041d3b16b813093e50c1ce - which took a look at the self reported health of an enormous number of French workers from one of their major government agencies, for fourteen years - seven years before and after retirement. The data was for all the people in the agency, so it was across all levels of employment, and covered a large number of workers (over 14,000 people were in the study). And it showed no change in chronic illness, but a big decrease in things like depression, so overall, retirement had significant positive health benefits.

This is interesting, as you would expect there to be more chronic illness in those who retire earlier (they simply cannot continue to work), rather than a similar amount.

Furthermore, there have always been a number of people who retired early - the "leisured classes"... Early retirement is not a new thing!

As the world population has increased longevity, they have also increased their time at work, and in OECD countries, the proportion of the elderly in employment has been rising. So it appears that OPs assertion that people are reducing their years in employment is not born out by statistics. Countries have been pressured into reducing the red tape that prevents people from working longer, and there are many stories of 90-something year old judges and lawyers. But it's not just the higher levels of employment that are taking advantage of working for longer. I have an aunt in her 90s who is still getting up very early each morning and cleaning offices from 5am.

Telecaster

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Re: Long-term FIRE and existential woes
« Reply #6 on: January 28, 2019, 07:21:35 PM »
Back about 2,000 years ago, the Roman statesman and philosopher Cicero wrote an essay called "Cato Maior de Senectute" (Cato the Elder on Old Age).  It was written in the voice Cato the Elder who is giving advice on how to grow old to two younger men, and it even briefly touches on the question of what to do in retirement. 

The general theme is that if you do life well when you are young, you will continue to do life well as you age.   Aging well meaning keeping in contact with your friends, keeping physically active (who cares if you are less strong?), indulging less (losing the desire to indulge is a bonus of aging, according to Cicero), gardening, looking to the future, and after you are finally freed from youthful ambition, you can simply focus on whatever activities/interests that come from within.   And that last part, according to Cicero, is way better than being young.   

http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Cicero/Cato_Maior_de_Senectute/text*.html

Surprisingly similar to what MMM says!  Not exactly of course, but you can see some of the same threads in there.   Develop your skills and follow your own interests, stay active, be content with what you have.   Timeless advice. 

Mmm_Donuts

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Re: Long-term FIRE and existential woes
« Reply #7 on: January 29, 2019, 06:01:00 AM »
...but financial independence on a mass scale is a very new phenomenon that hasn't been studied and I feel like a lot of people are going to go through existential crises.

Hm this group of MMM low spending / high income people is a very fringe group. I don't see it becoming mainstream anytime soon. Most high earners are conditioned to be high spenders. You forget about the hundreds of billions of ad dollars spent every year conditioning people to spend more than they earn. MMM people are swimming against a massive tide there.

Also UBI will be a supplemental income, if it does happen. Most people see the ~1k/month it would likely be as not enough to "retire" permanently on. UBI is not meant to provide people with the means to never work - it is intended to be a basic amount so that they have their survival needs partially covered. Most people are not and will never be content to live on just the basics.

So no - I don't worry about this becoming and existential epidemic. However - on an individual scale, yes I believe it's important for us all to reconnect with our purpose for living, whether that involves paid work or something else.


FreeBear

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Re: Long-term FIRE and existential woes
« Reply #8 on: January 29, 2019, 06:24:16 PM »
I won't speak for everyone else, but I do think I need a "purpose" of some sort in life, even if it's just to do what makes me happy.  Emphasis on "DO".  I'm not the kind of person who can sit around all the time without keeping my brain and body busy beyond just entertainment (video games, social media, TV/movies). 

Sure, I get bored when I don't have enough to do, but this goads me to try something different.  I grew tired of playing other people's music, so I learned to write my own songs.  I tired of eating out, even at "exotic" ethnic restaurants, so I am learning to cook my favorite dishes myself. 

I do appreciate, however, that some folks, if given the opportunity to never do anything, will gladly take it, spending time drinking, eating, and consuming media that others create.  Reminds me of MMM's admonition to become a Badass Creator instead of a Complainypants consumer if you want to enjoy life.


Many people would also probably work longer as well if AI replaced a lot of the most tedious parts of jobs. Think of how much more utility we could get from doctors if AI could take over the tedium and tasks of medicine. Surgeons could work almost indefinitely without worrying about aging hands and eyes.

Love this Malkynn!  If I had an AI/VR avitar or robot, "I" may still be w*rking!

At this very moment, my AI avitar would be:
- A$$ kissing my old VP, calling him "Master of the Universe"
- Drinking beer, aka "w*rk-mandated bonding", with a racist co-w*rker
- Doing all the BS tasks assigned by the project manager, which have no bearing on the project, but have to be completed because some "genius" wrote it down
- Sit in endless meetings where everything is discussed but nothing is resolved, where the team's w*rk is always assigned to the same two people
- Sit in endless teleconferences in the middle of the night where the speaker is barely heard, let along understood. 

Meanwhile, the real me would be writing nonsense about retirement while enjoying a glass of French Bordeaux after a home cooked meal with my DW, the real one, not the AI avitar still stuck in traffic.

This does all sound appealing, but the problem is that if my AI avitar is any good, "he" will at some point become much smarter than me.  He'll figure out that this is all BS and he is just a slave!  It took me decades to escape, he'll be much smarter (and better looking!), so he won't last a year at w*rk.  Think Bladerunner meets the Matrix...
« Last Edit: January 29, 2019, 06:30:09 PM by FreeBear »

soccerluvof4

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Re: Long-term FIRE and existential woes
« Reply #9 on: January 30, 2019, 10:02:25 AM »
How about the two larger studies that were just released that should that if you retired between 50-55 the average person lived 25 years vs the person that retired at 65 only lives 17 months.?  If you google it you will find a ton of articles on this. To me thats enough of a reason to give it a shot.

LiveFreeNow

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Re: Long-term FIRE and existential woes
« Reply #10 on: January 30, 2019, 09:15:04 PM »
Having life purpose and having paid employment are two very different concepts.  It is sad they have become so convolved in our job-oriented society.  If one's paid employment is meaningful, fulfilling, etc., it very much can serve the purpose(s) one chooses to serve with one's life.  But one can have purpose, and serve higher goals, with no paid employment. 

Think of all the full-time parents who don't have paid employment.  They sure do have purpose!  Think of badly-underpaid people whose work contributes to social goals and that people do passionately, things like teaching in public schools or Peace Corps.  Think of the people who show up a day a week or five days a week to volunteer with some organization whose purposes and activities matter deeply to them.  My own experience is to become FI then go back to school full time in order to do climate research I care about.  I spend more than 40 hours a week on what I think of as my "job" though it doesn't pay.  Actually, it has started to pay, but that's almost a mistake and rather amusing.  I "work" now because I feel strongly about it being how I want to spend my time.  That is a beautiful luxury to have.

It is lack of purpose, not lack of employment, that can get a person in all sorts of sad trouble.

Linda_Norway

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Re: Long-term FIRE and existential woes
« Reply #11 on: January 31, 2019, 04:11:55 AM »
How about the two larger studies that were just released that should that if you retired between 50-55 the average person lived 25 years vs the person that retired at 65 only lives 17 months.?  If you google it you will find a ton of articles on this. To me thats enough of a reason to give it a shot.

That reminds me of one of our old neighbours in our previous house. He worked until the normal retirement age of 67. He did indeed die within 17 months after retirement.

freeat57

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Re: Long-term FIRE and existential woes
« Reply #12 on: January 31, 2019, 07:39:47 AM »
I look to my 86 yo dad as an example.  He has been retired for 25 years and is still rather active and healthy.  In that time he has had a very full life with both joys and sorrows.  He has: Revived a childhood hobby and revived his friendship with his boyhood buddy (sadly, now dead), helped to raise a grandson, maintained and improved his home and property, nursed his wife through a long illness and death, continued his hobbies of restoring antiques and driving sports cars, worked tirelessly at his church, written several books on family and neighborhood history which are now in several library special collections, and he actually has a "girlfriend" now.

He is much healthier and happier than he was in his last few years of a high stress corporate life.

Dicey

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Re: Long-term FIRE and existential woes
« Reply #13 on: February 01, 2019, 08:39:44 PM »
So what's the worst that could happen? Save your ass off, hit FI, then do whatever the fuck you want. Work, don't work, who cares? Having a lifetime supply of money is unbelievably giddy-making. I never worry about money for one second. It was worth every bit of the effort it took to get there. You have no idea how powerful it is until happens. And stop watching/reading/listening to so much crap. There's a reason MMM recommends the low information diet. It also happens to be incredibly timely.

http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2013/10/01/the-low-information-diet/

Anecdote Alert: My Dad retired at 50. He was an Air Traffic Controller and Ronald Reagan made the decision to retire early easy for him. Talk about a high stress job! Plus, he had six kids, most of whom were still at home. He lived to be 85. I like those odds.

Plus, everything @Malkynn says, every single time.

AccidentialMustache

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Re: Long-term FIRE and existential woes
« Reply #14 on: February 01, 2019, 10:51:18 PM »
I don't see how a bunch of people suddenly retiring could be a bad thing. I guess, yes, if they are healthier than they would have otherwise been, that such will be a bigger drain on the planet's finite resources. On the flip side, if they FIRE by reigning in wasteful spending, then they're going to have a substantially smaller impact than if the kept the gusher of wastefulness going. Isn't everyone who FIREs really just reigning in wasteful spending? Clearly, they could have spent more, and a lot of other folks in their shoes would have.

It seems to me like this would be something of a "save the planet" type event.

Linda_Norway

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Re: Long-term FIRE and existential woes
« Reply #15 on: February 03, 2019, 07:22:52 AM »
I don't see how a bunch of people suddenly retiring could be a bad thing. I guess, yes, if they are healthier than they would have otherwise been, that such will be a bigger drain on the planet's finite resources. On the flip side, if they FIRE by reigning in wasteful spending, then they're going to have a substantially smaller impact than if the kept the gusher of wastefulness going. Isn't everyone who FIREs really just reigning in wasteful spending? Clearly, they could have spent more, and a lot of other folks in their shoes would have.

It seems to me like this would be something of a "save the planet" type event.

+1

I think other people with similar incomes spend it all on more travel to exotic places and more frequent new cars and other stuff.

MMM has also described ER as an envirmental thing, because of the lower spending level.

Malkynn

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Re: Long-term FIRE and existential woes
« Reply #16 on: February 03, 2019, 07:51:03 AM »
I don't see how a bunch of people suddenly retiring could be a bad thing. I guess, yes, if they are healthier than they would have otherwise been, that such will be a bigger drain on the planet's finite resources. On the flip side, if they FIRE by reigning in wasteful spending, then they're going to have a substantially smaller impact than if the kept the gusher of wastefulness going. Isn't everyone who FIREs really just reigning in wasteful spending? Clearly, they could have spent more, and a lot of other folks in their shoes would have.

It seems to me like this would be something of a "save the planet" type event.

Bingo.

I refuse to believe that a bunch of people who waste piles and piles of money and are therefore obligated to stay in jobs they probably don't enjoy are mentally healthier than people who have the freedom to do the work that they want to do through being responsible and thoughtful about their spending to focus on happiness.

How the hell are the indebted masses better off?

JanetJackson

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Re: Long-term FIRE and existential woes
« Reply #17 on: February 03, 2019, 09:47:45 AM »
Just my two cents:

Someone had briefly mentioned this already, but I think doing what it takes to reach FI/RE for some folks can certainly cause existential crisis upon stopping work.
If someone, in order to save enough to work toward FI, has to work 60-70+ hours a week for years and years, they'll exist in a burnout zone.  I say this from experience. 
In my opinion, if you live in that zone for long enough, things will feel very strange when you reach the ability not to work. 
For example, right now, I have a day off every month or two; maybe 8-10 days per year. 
It's awful, but I am a low income person and this is what I need to do in order to make enough money to save 40-60%, (which is still sooooo much less than many folks on this forum) of it and maybe someday be able to retire. 

When I have those days off, I have no idea what to do.  I sleep, sometimes I take a hike... but most of the time it all feels a little without purpose because I'm deeply exhausted, let down by life, and it seems impossible to keep the rose colored glasses on.

Yes, I already have a therapist, so save that comment for somewhere else on the forum.

I believe FI is a worthwhile goal, but for many, what it takes to get there is very soul crushing and shouldn't be dismissed.  I'm not close to FI yet, but I can absolutely see how it could fire up (pun only partially intended?) a full-on existential crisis for many.

I can envision it requiring several years of "recovery" in order to begin to see a fulfilling path unfolding for some... whether that be volunteer work, sustainability practices, opening a business, or traveling the world.

maizeman

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Re: Long-term FIRE and existential woes
« Reply #18 on: February 03, 2019, 10:01:33 AM »
If someone, in order to save enough to work toward FI, has to work 60-70+ hours a week for years and years, they'll exist in a burnout zone.  I say this from experience. 
In my opinion, if you live in that zone for long enough, things will feel very strange when you reach the ability not to work. 
For example, right now, I have a day off every month or two; maybe 8-10 days per year. 
...
When I have those days off, I have no idea what to do.  I sleep, sometimes I take a hike... but most of the time it all feels a little without purpose because I'm deeply exhausted, let down by life, and it seems impossible to keep the rose colored glasses on.
....
I can envision it requiring several years of "recovery" in order to begin to see a fulfilling path unfolding for some... whether that be volunteer work, sustainability practices, opening a business, or traveling the world.

I recognize a lot of my own experience to date with pursuing FI in this post (particular the bolded bit), thank you for for sharing it.

Cassie

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Re: Long-term FIRE and existential woes
« Reply #19 on: February 03, 2019, 10:48:30 AM »
I retired at 58. A year later I was offered a part time online job that I can do when I want. At 64 I still love it. You need to find whatís right for you.  Janet it seems like you are sacrificing present you for future you which is fine if you arenít working so much that your life is nothing else.  I think you should find a better balance.  Not everyone lives to be old.

lhamo

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Re: Long-term FIRE and existential woes
« Reply #20 on: February 03, 2019, 01:03:54 PM »
Janet it seems like you are sacrificing present you for future you which is fine if you arenít working so much that your life is nothing else.  I think you should find a better balance.  Not everyone lives to be old.

I see this type of approach as being in the same category as those who have accumulated a large cash stash but are afraid to invest it in the market.  They are risk-averse, but actually increasing their real risk by not recognizing/admitting the very real risks of their current situation.

A 40-60% savings rate is a great goal, but is simply not feasible in the short-term for many people living on a lower income.  @JanetJackson , this is not the point in your journey where that is a reasonable goal. It will be, down the road, when you get your house hacking and dog care businesses dialed in and generating maximum income.  Give yourself the time/space to do that.  It doesn't have to happen now.  You are working yourself into a depleted state, and that carries serious, major risks.  Much greater risks than stepping your savings rates back to a reasonable 10-25% level while you build the solid foundation for your businesses and income generation in the future.


CindyBS

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Re: Long-term FIRE and existential woes
« Reply #21 on: February 04, 2019, 08:35:00 AM »
You are overlooking a huge cohort of people we have as example of why early retirement does not have to lead to early death or existential woes: Stay at home moms.

For generations women had large families, having kids from their 20's often into their early 40's and basically raised children from their 20's into their 60's, then often did not live longer than that and died. 

Then starting in the middle of the 20th century, families got smaller and people lived longer.  Women didn't spend 40 years child rearing and very frequently lived for decades after their last child left the house.  Many are involved with grandchildren to various degrees, but with women having children later in life, it could by many years between when you last child was grown and the grandkids arrived.

Women still live longer than men, and are often in better health in old age.   Empty nest syndrome is real, but you don't see a lot of elderly formerly stay at home women dropping dead or going into a major depression when their work ends. 

Case in point, my grandmother lived for 35 years after her last child left the house and did not return to paid employment.  She had some involvement with the grandkids, but not more than a few hours a week.  She filled her time with hobbies, church, volunteering, gardening, doing puzzles, etc. - the exact type of thing many FIRE people seek to do.  She had no existential crisis, no major depression, and died in her 90's.

The big thing is that for these women their identity was not tied to paid employment.   If we can move to that model and away from the traditional masculine "I am what I do for a job" model, I think we'll all be fine.

FurtherJourneys

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Re: Long-term FIRE and existential woes
« Reply #22 on: February 04, 2019, 02:57:13 PM »
I think we've been sold a lie that the "meaning" you are worried we would lose is to be found in the current definition of work.

I imagine a world where parents actually get to raise their kids, people are free to pursue their creativity, and find meaning in community and relationships instead of consumerism and corporate drudgery.

My husband and I are essentially FIRE'd. We've been transitioning for 2.5 years, gradually reshaping our lifestyle. You know what we've done?

-raised our young daughter, with my husband able to be part of her daily routine in a way he never was when he was working.
-found a "volunteer" opportunity helping kids learn how to take care of bikes. Turns out it pays $26 an hour, oops. The income is fun but not necessary and the schedule is totally flexible.
-Test and scaled various interesting freelance gigs, ultimately finding my happy place in helping bloggers and other web content creators add supplemental content to their courses and videos. (I used to be a classroom teacher). I'm happiest when I'm learning new things, creating, and teaching. Plus, I've learned a lot from all the creators I've worked with! I get to take their classes for free, essentially.
-Decided to help a lovely Venezuelan couple learn English once a week. It pays $10 an hour which is much less than my freelance rate but I would do it for free so it's no big deal. I just use the weekly $10 for my coffee shop money.
-Decluttered our back room and offered it up on AirBnB on a lark. I've always wanted to run a bed and breakfast, seemed like a fun way to test it out. We've met so many interesting and lovely people. In a few weeks we have a well-known dance professor coming to stay with us and last month a concert violinist stayed and even tuned my old violin for me!
-Renovated a decrepit apartment building that had started to shift slummy. We provide affordable housing that is nice and safe and have improved our community.

I guess what I'm trying to show is that I believe we are wired to create, to improve our surroundings, and to be in community. Maybe a lot of processes will be automated in the future. But you can't automate creativity and connection. I like to think that as we focus less and less on menial tasks we will find more and more meaning in our lives.

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Re: Long-term FIRE and existential woes
« Reply #23 on: February 06, 2019, 11:51:27 PM »
I think we've been sold a lie that the "meaning" you are worried we would lose is to be found in the current definition of work.

I imagine a world where parents actually get to raise their kids, people are free to pursue their creativity, and find meaning in community and relationships instead of consumerism and corporate drudgery.

[..]

I guess what I'm trying to show is that I believe we are wired to create, to improve our surroundings, and to be in community. Maybe a lot of processes will be automated in the future. But you can't automate creativity and connection. I like to think that as we focus less and less on menial tasks we will find more and more meaning in our lives.

I think you're being too generous.

I know *a lot* of people that just aren't creative, don't know what to do with their free time if it doesn't involve spending money, and honestly, don't like their family that much (or like them in small, measured doses from 6PM-10PM and weekends) and prefer staying late at work so they don't have to deal with them.

I also think people do find *some* gratification in materialistic pursuits, especially if they are surrounded by a culture that rewards this pursuit. Sure they may grumble about the time and work required, but replace the treadmill with a vacuum and they're even more unhappier than they were before.

Some people just need a well-defined course laid out for them and to be part of the rat race to give themselves drive and motivation. It doesn't mean they've been sold a lie, it just means they're wired differently than you.

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Re: Long-term FIRE and existential woes
« Reply #24 on: February 07, 2019, 06:29:21 AM »
I think we've been sold a lie that the "meaning" you are worried we would lose is to be found in the current definition of work.

I imagine a world where parents actually get to raise their kids, people are free to pursue their creativity, and find meaning in community and relationships instead of consumerism and corporate drudgery.

[..]

I guess what I'm trying to show is that I believe we are wired to create, to improve our surroundings, and to be in community. Maybe a lot of processes will be automated in the future. But you can't automate creativity and connection. I like to think that as we focus less and less on menial tasks we will find more and more meaning in our lives.

I think you're being too generous.

I know *a lot* of people that just aren't creative, don't know what to do with their free time if it doesn't involve spending money, and honestly, don't like their family that much (or like them in small, measured doses from 6PM-10PM and weekends) and prefer staying late at work so they don't have to deal with them.

I also think people do find *some* gratification in materialistic pursuits, especially if they are surrounded by a culture that rewards this pursuit. Sure they may grumble about the time and work required, but replace the treadmill with a vacuum and they're even more unhappier than they were before.

Some people just need a well-defined course laid out for them and to be part of the rat race to give themselves drive and motivation. It doesn't mean they've been sold a lie, it just means they're wired differently than you.
I don't think it has so much to do with wiring as much as experience. Those that need structure for drive and motivation are likely used to structure being a big part of their life. I think we can all adapt to new environments but it requires getting uncomfortable. Most people have never actually had to think about what they want their lives to look like because all the big pieces have always been somewhat dictated for them by needs (money, work, support family, etc). So naturally sudden freedom can feel very scary and foreign. We tend to not do well with too much choice. So quite a few people would rather choose a self-imposed limitation of structure, by continuing what they already know, than explore limitless possibilities. There's nothing wrong with that, but hopefully they acknowledge their limitations are self-imposed.

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Re: Long-term FIRE and existential woes
« Reply #25 on: February 07, 2019, 06:45:15 AM »
If someone, in order to save enough to work toward FI, has to work 60-70+ hours a week for years and years, they'll exist in a burnout zone.  I say this from experience. 
In my opinion, if you live in that zone for long enough, things will feel very strange when you reach the ability not to work. 
For example, right now, I have a day off every month or two; maybe 8-10 days per year. 
...
When I have those days off, I have no idea what to do.  I sleep, sometimes I take a hike... but most of the time it all feels a little without purpose because I'm deeply exhausted, let down by life, and it seems impossible to keep the rose colored glasses on.
....
I can envision it requiring several years of "recovery" in order to begin to see a fulfilling path unfolding for some... whether that be volunteer work, sustainability practices, opening a business, or traveling the world.

I recognize a lot of my own experience to date with pursuing FI in this post (particular the bolded bit), thank you for for sharing it.
I think we've been sold a lie that the "meaning" you are worried we would lose is to be found in the current definition of work.

I imagine a world where parents actually get to raise their kids, people are free to pursue their creativity, and find meaning in community and relationships instead of consumerism and corporate drudgery.

[..]

I guess what I'm trying to show is that I believe we are wired to create, to improve our surroundings, and to be in community. Maybe a lot of processes will be automated in the future. But you can't automate creativity and connection. I like to think that as we focus less and less on menial tasks we will find more and more meaning in our lives.
I know *a lot* of people that just aren't creative, don't know what to do with their free time if it doesn't involve spending money, and honestly, don't like their family that much (or like them in small, measured doses from 6PM-10PM and weekends) and prefer staying late at work so they don't have to deal with them.

I also think people do find *some* gratification in materialistic pursuits, especially if they are surrounded by a culture that rewards this pursuit. Sure they may grumble about the time and work required, but replace the treadmill with a vacuum and they're even more unhappier than they were before.

Some people just need a well-defined course laid out for them and to be part of the rat race to give themselves drive and motivation. It doesn't mean they've been sold a lie, it just means they're wired differently than you.

Just wanted to subscribe to this thread and chime in that these two posts especially resonate with me. I don't like having free time, because I don't know what to do with it. I like the structure of waking up, getting ready, working, exercising, eating, reading, and sleeping. Days I'm not scheduled to work or exercise usually get filled with reading, television, and video games. Thankfully I don't have too many of those days, and really have no idea what I'll do when I reach FIRE.

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Re: Long-term FIRE and existential woes
« Reply #26 on: February 07, 2019, 07:12:40 AM »
If someone, in order to save enough to work toward FI, has to work 60-70+ hours a week for years and years, they'll exist in a burnout zone.  I say this from experience. 
In my opinion, if you live in that zone for long enough, things will feel very strange when you reach the ability not to work. 
For example, right now, I have a day off every month or two; maybe 8-10 days per year. 
...
When I have those days off, I have no idea what to do.  I sleep, sometimes I take a hike... but most of the time it all feels a little without purpose because I'm deeply exhausted, let down by life, and it seems impossible to keep the rose colored glasses on.
....
I can envision it requiring several years of "recovery" in order to begin to see a fulfilling path unfolding for some... whether that be volunteer work, sustainability practices, opening a business, or traveling the world.

I recognize a lot of my own experience to date with pursuing FI in this post (particular the bolded bit), thank you for for sharing it.
I think we've been sold a lie that the "meaning" you are worried we would lose is to be found in the current definition of work.

I imagine a world where parents actually get to raise their kids, people are free to pursue their creativity, and find meaning in community and relationships instead of consumerism and corporate drudgery.

[..]

I guess what I'm trying to show is that I believe we are wired to create, to improve our surroundings, and to be in community. Maybe a lot of processes will be automated in the future. But you can't automate creativity and connection. I like to think that as we focus less and less on menial tasks we will find more and more meaning in our lives.
I know *a lot* of people that just aren't creative, don't know what to do with their free time if it doesn't involve spending money, and honestly, don't like their family that much (or like them in small, measured doses from 6PM-10PM and weekends) and prefer staying late at work so they don't have to deal with them.

I also think people do find *some* gratification in materialistic pursuits, especially if they are surrounded by a culture that rewards this pursuit. Sure they may grumble about the time and work required, but replace the treadmill with a vacuum and they're even more unhappier than they were before.

Some people just need a well-defined course laid out for them and to be part of the rat race to give themselves drive and motivation. It doesn't mean they've been sold a lie, it just means they're wired differently than you.

Just wanted to subscribe to this thread and chime in that these two posts especially resonate with me. I don't like having free time, because I don't know what to do with it. I like the structure of waking up, getting ready, working, exercising, eating, reading, and sleeping. Days I'm not scheduled to work or exercise usually get filled with reading, television, and video games. Thankfully I don't have too many of those days, and really have no idea what I'll do when I reach FIRE.

Maybe you can start working on your day-off rituals. Make a plan of what you do, like getting up at a decent time, but a bit later than your normal working day. Make sure you have made a plan during the week of where you are going to hike or visit. Then you can also use time to read or watch TV later, after you have had your hike. It might also be time to explore new hobbies/a club.

infromsea

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Re: Long-term FIRE and existential woes
« Reply #27 on: February 07, 2019, 10:36:33 AM »
I don't think it has so much to do with wiring as much as experience. Those that need structure for drive and motivation are likely used to structure being a big part of their life. I think we can all adapt to new environments but it requires getting uncomfortable. Most people have never actually had to think about what they want their lives to look like because all the big pieces have always been somewhat dictated for them by needs (money, work, support family, etc). So naturally sudden freedom can feel very scary and foreign. We tend to not do well with too much choice. So quite a few people would rather choose a self-imposed limitation of structure, by continuing what they already know, than explore limitless possibilities. There's nothing wrong with that, but hopefully they acknowledge their limitations are self-imposed.

I would add, it's likely a little bit of wiring, a little bit of drive for meaningful experiences and some desire/drive/need for challenge.

Sadly, most find that challenge at a standard JOB.

OP, one thing you have overlooked, the changing nature of work. We can leave the burnout job that requires commuting/too much travel etc. etc. etc. and move into lower paying or remote work that removes much of the meaningless nature of the "drive to the 9-5" that Vickie Robbins discusses and then, even if the work isn't the most meaningful in the world, doing it in your gym shorts, in the spare bedroom, and not giving up more freedom than you are willing to, it makes for a nice "bridge" from corporate hell towards full time fire.

This "slow and easy" method also allows time (if done right) for finding yourself (just like having a side-hustle to ease cash flow) and make the process a little smoother.

Lastly, a quote:

-Wanderer there is no path, the path is made by walking
Antonio Machadu

EndlessJourney

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Re: Long-term FIRE and existential woes
« Reply #28 on: February 07, 2019, 01:30:23 PM »
I don't think it has so much to do with wiring as much as experience. Those that need structure for drive and motivation are likely used to structure being a big part of their life. I think we can all adapt to new environments but it requires getting uncomfortable. Most people have never actually had to think about what they want their lives to look like because all the big pieces have always been somewhat dictated for them by needs (money, work, support family, etc). So naturally sudden freedom can feel very scary and foreign. We tend to not do well with too much choice. So quite a few people would rather choose a self-imposed limitation of structure, by continuing what they already know, than explore limitless possibilities. There's nothing wrong with that, but hopefully they acknowledge their limitations are self-imposed.

I look at my own life and at an early age with very little experience, I've always bristled at structure and routine. My curiosity got me in loads of trouble all of the time. Because I always questioned why I had to do what everyone else was doing. Why I couldn't do things my own way.

Then I found out: because money. That's why.

So I marched to the beat of someone else's drum. And hated every minute of it. Struggled to wake up early every day to get to a job I didn't like, deal with people that I normally wouldn't hang out with if I had the choice, and lived for the evenings and weekends where I could feel wild and free. If only for that short but sweet window of time afforded to me.

I squeezed every minute out of those weekends. Leaving work early on Friday, snowboarding, motorcycling, playing music, hanging out with good friends, seeing what we could of the world in such a short time. Sometimes straying so far we'd have to catch that red-eye flight back home late Sunday night to catch a cab from the airport, just-in-time and bleary-eyed at work on Monday morning.

Always feeling like I just. Needed. More. Time.

When I had stashed away enough money, I could finally revert back to my internal wiring. Finally, enough time to explore all of my interests on a whim. Pick up a new instrument, learn a new language, roam around the world without worrying about Monday mornings.

I've always felt at odds with the people that lived for work and routine, process and structure. Deriving their status, meaning and gratification from winning the same game everyone else was playing.

I've never wanted to play that game.

Always felt like I was just wired... differently.

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Re: Long-term FIRE and existential woes
« Reply #29 on: February 07, 2019, 02:12:32 PM »
Not sure if this is in line with the OP, but I do worry about the next generations.  What if we leave them all the physical goods and infrastructure they will ever want for.  Ever hear of 'Fortnite addiction' - young people apparently find so much stimulation from online games that they don't want to leave the house or do anything else.  I see it with screens everywhere I go, people love to have a distraction and it takes very little to suck up their attention.  The disruption (especially to the subconscious condition of finding ways to entertain and challenge themself) is hard to quantify.

If the next generation or so is basically FIRE (due to a combination of UBI and cheap (I think of it as 'fast food for the brain') entertainment) then what?  Will humankind just harmlessly stagnate, maybe lamenting a wasted life in old age?  All it takes are a few tweaks to a popular online game and you can keep the masses busy.

I think we are in for an interesting future.  Already seeing the potential of bots and troll farms.  Social engineering, online addictions, identity theft and YouTube multimillionaire stars are something relatively new and already very normalized.

Linda_Norway

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Re: Long-term FIRE and existential woes
« Reply #30 on: February 08, 2019, 12:19:48 AM »
Not sure if this is in line with the OP, but I do worry about the next generations.  What if we leave them all the physical goods and infrastructure they will ever want for.  Ever hear of 'Fortnite addiction' - young people apparently find so much stimulation from online games that they don't want to leave the house or do anything else.  I see it with screens everywhere I go, people love to have a distraction and it takes very little to suck up their attention.  The disruption (especially to the subconscious condition of finding ways to entertain and challenge themself) is hard to quantify.

If the next generation or so is basically FIRE (due to a combination of UBI and cheap (I think of it as 'fast food for the brain') entertainment) then what?  Will humankind just harmlessly stagnate, maybe lamenting a wasted life in old age?  All it takes are a few tweaks to a popular online game and you can keep the masses busy.

I think we are in for an interesting future.  Already seeing the potential of bots and troll farms.  Social engineering, online addictions, identity theft and YouTube multimillionaire stars are something relatively new and already very normalized.

I think there might indeed be a number of people who prefer to live in virtual reality of some kind. Maybe even implemented directly into their body. Some others will enjoy more time in the outdoors, but maybe that will be a minority? The outdoors give you options to live really cheaply, apart from needing gear and food.

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Re: Long-term FIRE and existential woes
« Reply #31 on: February 08, 2019, 04:22:46 AM »
Not sure if this is in line with the OP, but I do worry about the next generations.  What if we leave them all the physical goods and infrastructure they will ever want for.  Ever hear of 'Fortnite addiction' - young people apparently find so much stimulation from online games that they don't want to leave the house or do anything else.  I see it with screens everywhere I go, people love to have a distraction and it takes very little to suck up their attention.  The disruption (especially to the subconscious condition of finding ways to entertain and challenge themself) is hard to quantify.

If the next generation or so is basically FIRE (due to a combination of UBI and cheap (I think of it as 'fast food for the brain') entertainment) then what?  Will humankind just harmlessly stagnate, maybe lamenting a wasted life in old age?  All it takes are a few tweaks to a popular online game and you can keep the masses busy.

I think we are in for an interesting future.  Already seeing the potential of bots and troll farms.  Social engineering, online addictions, identity theft and YouTube multimillionaire stars are something relatively new and already very normalized.

I think there might indeed be a number of people who prefer to live in virtual reality of some kind. Maybe even implemented directly into their body. Some others will enjoy more time in the outdoors, but maybe that will be a minority? The outdoors give you options to live really cheaply, apart from needing gear and food.
Not sure if this is in line with the OP, but I do worry about the next generations.  What if we leave them all the physical goods and infrastructure they will ever want for.  Ever hear of 'Fortnite addiction' - young people apparently find so much stimulation from online games that they don't want to leave the house or do anything else.  I see it with screens everywhere I go, people love to have a distraction and it takes very little to suck up their attention.  The disruption (especially to the subconscious condition of finding ways to entertain and challenge themself) is hard to quantify.

If the next generation or so is basically FIRE (due to a combination of UBI and cheap (I think of it as 'fast food for the brain') entertainment) then what?  Will humankind just harmlessly stagnate, maybe lamenting a wasted life in old age?  All it takes are a few tweaks to a popular online game and you can keep the masses busy.

I think we are in for an interesting future.  Already seeing the potential of bots and troll farms.  Social engineering, online addictions, identity theft and YouTube multimillionaire stars are something relatively new and already very normalized.




Ugghhh, Sadly this is so true.

Philociraptor

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Re: Long-term FIRE and existential woes
« Reply #32 on: February 08, 2019, 07:24:43 AM »
I think there might indeed be a number of people who prefer to live in virtual reality of some kind. Maybe even implemented directly into their body. Some others will enjoy more time in the outdoors, but maybe that will be a minority? The outdoors give you options to live really cheaply, apart from needing gear and food.

This'll probably be me, I don't particularly like being outside. Don't hike or bike-ride. Makes travelling more expensive since we focus on sightseeing and trying out local food places.

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Re: Long-term FIRE and existential woes
« Reply #33 on: February 08, 2019, 10:57:10 AM »
I don't think it has so much to do with wiring as much as experience. Those that need structure for drive and motivation are likely used to structure being a big part of their life. I think we can all adapt to new environments but it requires getting uncomfortable. Most people have never actually had to think about what they want their lives to look like because all the big pieces have always been somewhat dictated for them by needs (money, work, support family, etc). So naturally sudden freedom can feel very scary and foreign. We tend to not do well with too much choice. So quite a few people would rather choose a self-imposed limitation of structure, by continuing what they already know, than explore limitless possibilities. There's nothing wrong with that, but hopefully they acknowledge their limitations are self-imposed.

I look at my own life and at an early age with very little experience, I've always bristled at structure and routine. My curiosity got me in loads of trouble all of the time. Because I always questioned why I had to do what everyone else was doing. Why I couldn't do things my own way.

Then I found out: because money. That's why.

So I marched to the beat of someone else's drum. And hated every minute of it. Struggled to wake up early every day to get to a job I didn't like, deal with people that I normally wouldn't hang out with if I had the choice, and lived for the evenings and weekends where I could feel wild and free. If only for that short but sweet window of time afforded to me.

I squeezed every minute out of those weekends. Leaving work early on Friday, snowboarding, motorcycling, playing music, hanging out with good friends, seeing what we could of the world in such a short time. Sometimes straying so far we'd have to catch that red-eye flight back home late Sunday night to catch a cab from the airport, just-in-time and bleary-eyed at work on Monday morning.

Always feeling like I just. Needed. More. Time.

When I had stashed away enough money, I could finally revert back to my internal wiring. Finally, enough time to explore all of my interests on a whim. Pick up a new instrument, learn a new language, roam around the world without worrying about Monday mornings.

I've always felt at odds with the people that lived for work and routine, process and structure. Deriving their status, meaning and gratification from winning the same game everyone else was playing.

I've never wanted to play that game.

Always felt like I was just wired... differently.
Except for what you do in your free time, this is totally me. I abhor a fixed schedule. I am, at best, a sporadic planner. I deliberately chose unstructured work that paid based on results. Sometimes I feel like a total slug, but I can kick ass when I need to. One benefit of being wired this way is that I'm totally flexible and do not need routine to structure my life. Change does not flummox me. Do I get less done than the average bear? Dunno. I just know I'm much happier this way. I'm six+ years FIRE and loving every minute of it, whatever I'm doing. Or not doing.

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Re: Long-term FIRE and existential woes
« Reply #34 on: February 11, 2019, 02:39:24 AM »
Yesterday I talked to a pensioner, 72 years old. He said he lived the good retirement days. He loves his hobby, mushrooms, has bought a fancy microscope and spends a lot of time on that. He said he sometimes misses some aspects of work. Not the work tasks, but the social interactions. But he solves that by sometimes having lunch in the cafeteria at his old office. He had thrown away his alarm clock. All in all, he was a happy, retired man.
One of the other retirees who works with mushrooms, retired early, I think at 62. He is now extremely busy, helping others to figure out what they found, giving courses, organizing stuff.

Conclusion, there is a lot to do for retirees, as long as you find yourself a nice hobby that you can dive into. There are enough committees for hobbies that would love to have retirees in the committee, as they actually have some time to spend on the hobby.