-How old were you when you became FI?
-Was this carefully planned or happened suddenly (inheritance/job payout)?
A bit of both. DH was laid off and received a severance, but we had been saving and paying down the mortgage for years in preparation for FIRE.
-What was the biggest surprise you didn't expect after FI?
How when so few people believe it is possible, it is sometimes hard to believe it myself.
-What was the most difficult adjustment?
Most of the adjusting has been relatively smooth, except for changes in social scene (see below) and figuring out what we can sensibly spend. We have a variable spending plan in retirement, but it's hard to spend above the baseline when we are in the early years of FIRE and nervous about market volatility.
-Do you tell people you are FI? Why or why not?
Sometimes it comes up, since DH lost his job and isn't trying too hard to find a new one. People ask if we're worried or stressed, so I have to tell them no, he's retired. I'm not sure if they believe me because they continue to ask. It's just beyond most people's paradigm of reality in a workaholic, spendahlic culture. Or maybe they see us not upgrading our kitchen every 5 years and not travelling to Europe every year and equate that with hardship. Who knows. I am learning to let go of what people do or don't think of the situation.
-Did your social life/friends change after FI? How?
Yes. We have lost several friends who can't deal with it. Either because they are professionals who define themselves by their work and can't relate to us anymore because we're no longer on that path, or because they are struggling financially and can't relate to us anymore because we are not struggling. It's been sad, I don't like losing friendships, but am doing my best to maintain and strengthen the friendships with those who have stuck around. Ultimately we haven't changed as people, but I can't change how people feel about the situation.