-How old were you when you became FI?
In my late 30s, around 1999. But everyone who invested in the NASDAQ or the S&P500 back then was financially independent, right?
But seriously, we kept running the numbers in the late 1990s (FinancialEngines.com, FIRECalc) and they kept giving us green lights. But those were all dependent on my military pension starting in 2002, so I served out my final years until the pension "vested".
I retired from active duty at the age of 41. More details are here:http://the-military-guide.com/about/about-me/http://the-military-guide.com/for-the-media/authors-biography/
-Was this carefully planned or happened suddenly (inheritance/job payout)?
I'm a nuclear-trained submariner. "Planned" is an understatement.
-What was the biggest surprise you didn't expect after FI?
1. I didn't expect to enjoy surfing as much as I do. In retrospect, I'm glad that I didn't know how to surf while I was on active duty. I would've struggled to make the "right" decision about showing up for work.
2. The accumulated chronic fatigue. Like RootOfGood, I expected that I'd sleep in for a day or two and bounce right up into the ER lifestyle. The reality is that I needed several months of two-hour naps before I felt ready to rejoin the human race.
3. I did not expect aging to be so difficult. I'm 54 years old, and my body betrays me every day with slow recovery, unexpected injuries, and rapid falloff of whatever fitness level I achieve. I've exercised my entire life and I still have strength & stamina, but when I use either of them then I know there'll be a day or two of payback (and intravenous ibuprofen). If I skip a week of workouts then I'll have to exercise for a month to regain that previous level.
4. I did not expect to find so many different ways in ER to save money and to earn money. When I was working I pretty much projected that budget into retirement without expecting any big changes in expenses. I also didn't expect to be able to earn any income, yet it's been much more straightforward than I expected (and much more pleasant). Is this a great country or what?!
5. Nobody, including me, and least of all any of my old XOs, expected me to write a book.
-What was the most difficult adjustment?
In retrospect (it always is) I was too tight with the purse strings during the first few years of ER.
In my defense it was a recession, we were at war, and I was learning how to handle spending after years of accumulation. Now I know that when you start a 4% SWR during a downturn then you should spend the entire 4% SWR. If a recession hits while you're ER'd on the 4% SWR, then each year during the recession you should be comfortable spending at least 4% of your portfolio. Maybe 5%-6%.
-Do you tell people you are FI? Why or why not?
Not during our introductions, but I do when I'm asked. Most of the time (especially in the surf lineup) the phrase "retired military" is enough. Once in a while I'll get the "No, really, what are you doing now?" followup.
A side benefit of living in Hawaii is that many residents have no visible means of support, and we can all dress like beach bums. It's difficult to tell whether I'm FI or merely chronically unemployable. Of course the same is true of the bloggers and entrepreneurs with whom I hang out at blogger conferences. They all keenly understand FI so they're not surprised to learn that about me.
My family and relatives are aware that I'm FI, although a few of them don't see how it could ever possibly apply to them. Nobody asks for advice. My father-in-law is convinced that I'm going to make his only daughter and his only grandchild homeless, but my spouse's parents are out of our lives. My brother-in-law and his spouse have just reached FI (with better finances than us, too) and this is his last season as a tax CPA. He absolutely gets it and I think he's celebrating his financial freedom on 16 April. My brother and his long-time girlfriend will start their own vagabond RV ER lifestyle in a few more years.
Other servicemembers & veterans want to know all the gory details of FIRE, so I explain everything for as long as they're willing to listen. I hold seminars wherever people invite me-- libraries, coffee shops, and the occasional conference room at a military command. On the beach after a surf session is particularly good.
However I'm also surrounded by entrepreneurs who can't understand why anyone would ever want to stop working. We get along fine as long as we tolerate each other's quirky philosophies about paid labor.
Our neighbors are an example of "Will never get it". We've lived next to them since 2000, and I stopped wearing a uniform in 2002. They know I'm retired. I occasionally go to an investment meeting in slacks and an aloha shirt (which around here is the dress code for "a job") so once when they saw me pulling out of the garage in that attire they must have formed the opinion that I have a job. My spouse had a conversation with them one morning:
Neighbor: "So how does Doug like his new job?"
Spouse: "Job? He's retired. He doesn't have a job."
Neighbor: "But I hear him pulling out of the garage almost every morning at 5:30 for rush hour-- isn't he going to a job?"
Spouse: "Debbie, he goes surfing! He's doing dawn patrol."
-Did your social life/friends change after FI? How?
We chose to do a lot less socializing after we retired. We're introverts and we prefer to be alone together, although I get plenty of Internet socializing. I hang out with the surfers and go to a few investment meetings every month, with maybe an occasional lunch or coffee.
We have the same friends we've always had, but most of them are peripatetic military. It's a mobile relationship with plenty of gaps, but when we're together we pick right up where we left off. Social media and Internet forums help a lot with that too.
Ok, that's probably enough questions for now! Thanks again moderator "arebelspy" for opening this subforum!
I think this is a good experiment, especially if the admin and moderators don't have to do anything different than the usual routine. Let's see how it works out.
And the benefit of that break is sweet, sweet data-gathering, which will help you to make the decision that should work best for you.
One of the military's tropes is "the fog of war", so I wrote a post about "the fog of work":http://the-military-guide.com/2011/01/06/the-fog-of-work/