Author Topic: Post Semi-FIRE Update  (Read 6743 times)

Libertea

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Post Semi-FIRE Update
« on: April 15, 2018, 10:20:31 AM »
So since I'm goofing off on the internet right now instead of doing something productive, I figure I should at least post an update, because I always liked hearing about what happened to other people after they quit their jobs, and a lot of them kind of stop posting very much at that point.  (Present company included - sorry). 

To recap since it's been over a year, I quit my FT job in January 2017 at age 41, took six months off to travel/spend time with family, and then started an internship in a new (much lower paying) field.  I am also still working (very) part time in my old field, about one day per week on average.  Because of that, I have not had to touch my stash at all, and in fact, it's grown considerably larger.  (I semi-FIRE'd with about $600k and am now just north of $700k.).

First, I want to say that while I still don't love my old field, it is MUCH more tolerable when I'm only working in it PT.  Even if every day that I'm doing it sucks (which it doesn't), it's only like 4-5 days per month, so it's not a constant vampiric drain on my psychic energy.  I have gone back and forth about whether to quit doing it altogether, and I almost did quit last month.  But I ultimately decided to continue for a while longer for several reasons, including wanting to have enough money to continue helping family and donating to charity at my current levels, neither of which I would be able to afford to do while not working unless I double my stash. 

Second, I really like the new field a lot, and I would even consider continued FT work in it if I could find a reasonable position.  Unfortunately, I am not sure how possible that will be, but I'm looking at options.

Third, I am not less busy than I was before semi-FIRE'ing.  In fact, if anything, I have less free time than before.  That is not such a welcome surprise, but it is what it is.

Last, I really like Tony Robbins's concept of graded FI, which he outlines in his book (Money Master the Game) and on his blog.  We speak a lot here about FU and FI levels, but in general people tend to think of FI and RE as all or nothing.  Meaning, you're either FIRE or you're not, analogous to how you're either pregnant or you're not.  However, while it is not possible to be half-pregnant, it is most definitely possible to be half-FI, or any other gradation in between 0-100%.  Robbins has five levels of stashes, from financial security (meaning you can cover your basic living expenses but no luxuries/discretionary spending) all the way up to absolute financial freedom, where you have enough money to cover all of your dream goals as well as your expenses and luxuries.  By his accounting, I am at the second level for sure (expenses + half of everyday luxuries) and am at or getting close to the third (expenses + all everyday luxuries), but I still have a way to go to be able to fund a lot of the dream goals using my stash.

On a (somewhat) related note, has anyone here read the book "Happy Money"?  The authors apparently make some arguments for spending more money on specific things that free up your time and energy for other things that you enjoy doing more.  (Say, paying someone to clean your house for you if you're like me and don't enjoy cleaning.)  I haven't read the book yet, but it sounds intriguing.  I've struggled for years with this specific issue of whether to pay someone to clean my house (it doesn't just bother me financially - I find it kind of ethically icky too.  But that's another story.)

DreamFIRE

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Re: Post Semi-FIRE Update
« Reply #1 on: April 15, 2018, 11:55:01 AM »

It sounds like semi-FIRE is working well for you.  In 2019, if I FIRE on schedule, I might offer to my employer that I stay on part time 1 to 3 days per week for at least a year.  But I don't know if my employer will go for that since I'm budgeted as a full time position, so they just might try to replace me.  But due to specific skill requirements, it's possible they will keep me on part time for a while.  I think semi-FIRE will be heaps better being off more days in a week than I work.

Paying someone to do house cleaning has come up in a few recent posts.  Some people do it.  I haven't done it during my career, so it seems even less likely I would do it during FIRE/semi-FIRE.  I can see the advantage of freeing up time if someone doesn't mind spending the extra money for something they could do themselves.

Basenji

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Re: Post Semi-FIRE Update
« Reply #2 on: April 15, 2018, 02:03:50 PM »
Thank you for updating! Sounds like you are doing very well. The Happy Money struggle is real. For me it's DIY. Do I really learn how to remove and reinstall baseboards, buy supplies, make mistakes, or do I just hire someone? Will have to check out the book.

mausmaus

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Re: Post Semi-FIRE Update
« Reply #3 on: April 15, 2018, 03:39:04 PM »
Great post. I want to take a moment to analyze why people feel icky about paying someone to clean their houses.
I don't think the activity per se is problematic. We hire people to do lots of things for us (plumbers, housepainters), and I don't see cleaning as essentially different. No reason for ethical qualms there.
I think the problem lies in the fact that usually house-cleaning ladies are treated very unfairly. Most are ghastly underpaid and in some cases employers take advantage of problematic situations like lack of immigration visas.
I think employers should feel guilty (and act accordingly) if that were the case.

As (former) employees, we should be sensitive to the needs that every employee has (and house-cleaning workers are no different): a fair wage, healthcare, retirement, paid vacations, sick days off, reasonable obligations and a good working environment. As long as we provide those conditions, we should feel no shame about employing a person.

Financial.Velociraptor

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Re: Post Semi-FIRE Update
« Reply #4 on: April 15, 2018, 04:49:52 PM »
I was just wondering if you kept the part time gig or not.  Glad to hear it is an optional consideration at this point.

Libertea

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Re: Post Semi-FIRE Update
« Reply #5 on: April 15, 2018, 06:10:32 PM »
Great post. I want to take a moment to analyze why people feel icky about paying someone to clean their houses.
I don't think the activity per se is problematic. We hire people to do lots of things for us (plumbers, housepainters), and I don't see cleaning as essentially different. No reason for ethical qualms there.
I think the problem lies in the fact that usually house-cleaning ladies are treated very unfairly. Most are ghastly underpaid and in some cases employers take advantage of problematic situations like lack of immigration visas.
I think employers should feel guilty (and act accordingly) if that were the case.

As (former) employees, we should be sensitive to the needs that every employee has (and house-cleaning workers are no different): a fair wage, healthcare, retirement, paid vacations, sick days off, reasonable obligations and a good working environment. As long as we provide those conditions, we should feel no shame about employing a person.
I think you've hit on one factor, which is that there is certainly a potential imbalance of power.  Though I don't think fixing it is all that easy.  If I have someone clean my place for an hour or two once a month, or even once a week, it doesn't seem terribly realistic for me to be providing them with healthcare, retirement, and paid vacations.  A fair wage certainly sounds reasonable on the surface, but the problem is that I'm not sure what that means in this context, because I don't pay myself a single cent when I clean my own place.  If I think $50 would be fair, and someone else thinks $75 is fair, how do I know if I'm right or they are, beyond trying to find someone willing to work cheaper?  Never mind services; prices of even tangible objects are so arbitrary anyway.  Thank you Dan Ariely for disabusing me of the notion that economics is any more logical than any other human endeavor. :-/

To me, though, the greater part of the ickiness factor comes from the invasiveness of having someone who is likely a complete stranger (or at most a bare acquaintance) come into your personal space and handle your personal things.  I don't typically even have my friends come into my bedroom, for example, let alone people I barely know.  Maybe I'm just weird that way, but there you have it.

I was just wondering if you kept the part time gig or not.  Glad to hear it is an optional consideration at this point.
Yeah, for now I'm keeping it.  The whole OMY disease runs strong, particularly because I know that once I do stop, I'm likely going to be stopping for good.  Glad to see that you're still around this forum.

sui generis

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Re: Post Semi-FIRE Update
« Reply #6 on: April 15, 2018, 06:25:16 PM »
I haven't been around long enough to read your prior posts, but it's great to hear another example.  Can you say what field your internship is in?  Just curious, but more importantly, how does it feel to be an intern at your age?  I'm almost that age, too, so there's definitely no insulting tone behind those words, but honestly wonder how it might feel to start a new field with people half one's own age.

Libertea

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Re: Post Semi-FIRE Update
« Reply #7 on: April 15, 2018, 07:07:55 PM »
I haven't been around long enough to read your prior posts, but it's great to hear another example.  Can you say what field your internship is in?  Just curious, but more importantly, how does it feel to be an intern at your age?  I'm almost that age, too, so there's definitely no insulting tone behind those words, but honestly wonder how it might feel to start a new field with people half one's own age.
I sent you a PM, but the general gist is that I do feel like I'm not in the best social environment possible.  However, that has less to do with the fact that my coworkers are a bunch of millennials (although yes, there is something of a generation gap), and more to do with the fact that, although they're generally very nice people, they're all total spendthrifts. 

mausmaus

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Re: Post Semi-FIRE Update
« Reply #8 on: April 15, 2018, 08:52:41 PM »
I think you've hit on one factor, which is that there is certainly a potential imbalance of power.  Though I don't think fixing it is all that easy.  If I have someone clean my place for an hour or two once a month, or even once a week, it doesn't seem terribly realistic for me to be providing them with healthcare, retirement, and paid vacations.
Agreed. I only spoke of the extreme case of full-time employment, which I think is rare, to make the point that all employment rights should be met as if it were any other job.

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A fair wage certainly sounds reasonable on the surface, but the problem is that I'm not sure what that means in this context, because I don't pay myself a single cent when I clean my own place.  If I think $50 would be fair, and someone else thinks $75 is fair, how do I know if I'm right or they are, beyond trying to find someone willing to work cheaper?  Never mind services; prices of even tangible objects are so arbitrary anyway.  Thank you Dan Ariely for disabusing me of the notion that economics is any more logical than any other human endeavor. :-/
I will check out that Dan Ariely guy. Although it is true that there's no one way of determining the price, my point was less nuanced in that in some cases it is blatantly obvious that basic needs cannot be met with certain wages. Your point is certainly more interesting and complex, and here's to spending probably my next hour researching that Ariely guy online.

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To me, though, the greater part of the ickiness factor comes from the invasiveness of having someone who is likely a complete stranger (or at most a bare acquaintance) come into your personal space and handle your personal things.  I don't typically even have my friends come into my bedroom, for example, let alone people I barely know.  Maybe I'm just weird that way, but there you have it.
Now I get the ickiness factor. Understandable.

Libertea

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Re: Post Semi-FIRE Update
« Reply #9 on: April 16, 2018, 06:24:14 PM »
Dan Ariely is a behavioral economist and the author of "Predictably Irrational." 

googooplex

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Re: Post Semi-FIRE Update
« Reply #10 on: April 17, 2018, 04:02:45 PM »
Last, I really like Tony Robbins's concept of graded FI, which he outlines in his book (Money Master the Game) and on his blog.  We speak a lot here about FU and FI levels, but in general people tend to think of FI and RE as all or nothing.  Meaning, you're either FIRE or you're not, analogous to how you're either pregnant or you're not.  However, while it is not possible to be half-pregnant, it is most definitely possible to be half-FI, or any other gradation in between 0-100%.  Robbins has five levels of stashes, from financial security (meaning you can cover your basic living expenses but no luxuries/discretionary spending) all the way up to absolute financial freedom, where you have enough money to cover all of your dream goals as well as your expenses and luxuries.  By his accounting, I am at the second level for sure (expenses + half of everyday luxuries) and am at or getting close to the third (expenses + all everyday luxuries), but I still have a way to go to be able to fund a lot of the dream goals using my stash.

I hear ya on this point. Wife and I "retired" a couple of years ago with a fairly modest stash, something like Robbin's "Financial Security" level - We bought and paid for our house and land, and we get enough income from our stash to cover very basic living expenses. Our home uses very little energy too. We love it. Total freedom to not work, and then when we want to indulge in a trip or some big purchase, well, we take up some paid work for a little while.

It took us a while to get our head around this version of FIRE as a possibility because, as you say, the impression you get from most of the FIRE discussions I've seen is that you either have enough money stashed to do everything you can imagine yourself ever wanting to do, or you don't. Setting the bar a bit lower and targetting somewhere else along the continuum allows one to exit the accumulation phase earlier, which was of immense value to us.

Steve Ainslie

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Re: Post Semi-FIRE Update
« Reply #11 on: April 21, 2018, 10:56:23 AM »
I am also semi-FIREd. I have enough stache to make it part way, but not enough to cover everything unless I do some major, major downsizing - like selling the house, moving somewhere rural and living in a trailer. I'm not sure I want to do that and I am certain my wife doesn't want to.

That said, after losing my FT sales management job unexpectedly about 18 months ago, I've been able to cover expenses with some freelance consulting and using savings.

The benefits of not working have been outstanding. After 30 years of working, it took me almost 12 months of being self employed before I stopped getting that Sunday night dread I always felt in the pit of my stomach.

I exercise in the middle of the day. I get out in the sunshine every day. I eat breakfast with my wife every morning. We we walk the dog  together every evening.

Had I realized I could make a living as a PT freelance consultant, I would have done this years ago.
« Last Edit: April 23, 2018, 06:58:37 AM by Steve Ainslie »

Daisy

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Re: Post Semi-FIRE Update
« Reply #12 on: April 22, 2018, 09:38:46 PM »
Nice update Libertea!

I came here to answer this:

The benefits of not working have been outstanding. After 30 years of working, it took me almost 12 months of being self employed before I stopped getting that Sunday night dread I always felt in the pit of my stomach.

The removal of Sunday Night Dread while FIREd is amazing!

BTW, happy TGIM tomorrow! (TGIM is trademarked by @spartana)

Orca2

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Re: Post Semi-FIRE Update
« Reply #13 on: April 24, 2018, 09:19:59 PM »
I like it - sliding towards that soon - best wishes, keep it up

Linea_Norway

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Re: Post Semi-FIRE Update
« Reply #14 on: April 25, 2018, 02:39:45 AM »
The benefits of not working have been outstanding. After 30 years of working, it took me almost 12 months of being self employed before I stopped getting that Sunday night dread I always felt in the pit of my stomach.

I would so much like to have this at the end of every vacation and every (long) weekend at our cabin. It is always a stress to plan to be back on time, influencing the last couple of days of your vacation. And the eternal queues on the road on Sunday afternoons because everyone needs to be back home from their cabin at Sunday night.

I exercise in the middle of the day. I get out in the sunshine every day. I eat breakfast with my wife every morning. We we walk the dog  together every evening.

Had I realized I could make a living as a PT freelance consultant, I would have done this years ago.

This. Especially in a country where the days are short, getting outside in the middle of the day and catching a bunch of daylight is very important to prevent depression. And having a relaxed breakfast together with your partner is a great way to start the day.


Tiff

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Re: Post Semi-FIRE Update
« Reply #15 on: April 25, 2018, 11:03:31 AM »
Love the idea of graded FI. I think this concept can help a lot of people break their fears and get rid of OMY syndrome! (myself included)

Cubert

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Re: Post Semi-FIRE Update
« Reply #16 on: May 22, 2018, 04:45:30 AM »
I should visit the forums more often. Here I thought I might have come up with a new FIRE term and I even posted about it a few weeks back. Whoopsie!

Mainly, just happy to read that folks are considering the SemiFIRE option, rather than thinking they have to tough it out in a difficult cubicle situation Full Time.

Libertea

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Re: Post Semi-FIRE Update
« Reply #17 on: January 01, 2019, 01:07:38 PM »
Sorry, I haven't been around much recently, but I figured I'd post again to update anyone who's interested.  I'm still working PT in my old field but planning to cut back even more, and I will likely stop altogether in 2-3 years.  Also, I'm going to move this summer to do something new again.  Still don't feel like I want to stop working altogether, but definitely looking forward to stopping the PT work in my old field.  The main reason I'm not stopping it altogether now is actually less to do with the money and more because of the networking opportunities it provides in my new locale.

For those who are interested in finances, I was just approaching $800k until the recent stock market dive, but I'm still ending this year at about $730k.

Also, I still don't like having someone come over to clean my house, and I still don't like cleaning it myself.  This is not a problem for which I have yet found a good solution, but I'm open to suggestions if anyone has some. :-p

Bird In Hand

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Re: Post Semi-FIRE Update
« Reply #18 on: February 22, 2019, 07:50:35 AM »
Thanks for coming back and posting an update!  These kinds of post-FIRE or post-Semi-FIRE updates are of great interest to me, and I'm sure to others as well.

I'm still working PT in my old field but planning to cut back even more, and I will likely stop altogether in 2-3 years.

IIRC before you were working ~1 day per week in your old field?  How much more is there to cut down?  :D

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For those who are interested in finances, I was just approaching $800k until the recent stock market dive, but I'm still ending this year at about $730k.

Still way above the ~$600k when you started.  That must be comforting.

kei te pai

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Re: Post Semi-FIRE Update
« Reply #19 on: February 23, 2019, 02:09:41 AM »
Regarding the house cleaning, how would you feel about having a cleaner come while you were home and only clean the kitchen/living room and other semi public areas?
Bedroom and bathroom you do yourself.

Libertea

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Re: Post Semi-FIRE Update
« Reply #20 on: March 08, 2019, 06:30:59 PM »
IIRC before you were working ~1 day per week in your old field?  How much more is there to cut down?  :D
Hahahaha, well, I'll be cutting back to one day every other week starting this summer.  For real. :-D

But I do have another gig that I'll be doing that will be my main gig.  And of course, I *say* that I'll only be working every other week, but we'll see if that actually happens.  Because things have a way of growing on you.  So....you might be right that it's going to end up being more like one day a week still.  We'll see.

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Still way above the ~$600k when you started.  That must be comforting.
Yes.  Keep in mind though that I haven't taken any out at all; I've been able to completely support myself on my semi-retirement income.  In fact, I've kept contributing some money to the retirement accounts.  But the portfolio does a good amount of the work of contributing to itself now, both because the assets appreciate and because I re-invest all of my dividends.  Will be checking again in a few weeks for the end of this quarter.

Regarding the house cleaning, how would you feel about having a cleaner come while you were home and only clean the kitchen/living room and other semi public areas?
Bedroom and bathroom you do yourself.
Hmm, interesting idea.  Is this even possible?  Have you (or has anyone else here) ever made this kind of arrangement?

kei te pai

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Re: Post Semi-FIRE Update
« Reply #21 on: March 09, 2019, 01:35:39 AM »
Ive been the cleaner! As a second or third job at various times.I just did whatever was wanted for a couple of hours a week, whether it was windows, vacuuming, general dusting etc. We agreed the hours, pay rate etc between ourselves. No agency or anything.

Zette

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Re: Post Semi-FIRE Update
« Reply #22 on: March 09, 2019, 07:48:04 AM »
IIRC before you were working ~1 day per week in your old field?  How much more is there to cut down?  :D
Hahahaha, well, I'll be cutting back to one day every other week starting this summer.  For real. :-D

But I do have another gig that I'll be doing that will be my main gig.  And of course, I *say* that I'll only be working every other week, but we'll see if that actually happens.  Because things have a way of growing on you.  So....you might be right that it's going to end up being more like one day a week still.  We'll see.

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Still way above the ~$600k when you started.  That must be comforting.
Yes.  Keep in mind though that I haven't taken any out at all; I've been able to completely support myself on my semi-retirement income.  In fact, I've kept contributing some money to the retirement accounts.  But the portfolio does a good amount of the work of contributing to itself now, both because the assets appreciate and because I re-invest all of my dividends.  Will be checking again in a few weeks for the end of this quarter.

Regarding the house cleaning, how would you feel about having a cleaner come while you were home and only clean the kitchen/living room and other semi public areas?
Bedroom and bathroom you do yourself.
Hmm, interesting idea.  Is this even possible?  Have you (or has anyone else here) ever made this kind of arrangement?

I have exactly this arrangement. Someone who comes for one hour 3 times a week to fold laundry and clean the kitchen while I am home. Over the last 3 years Iíve gotten to know her (we often chat when she first arrives) and learned she used to own her own business providing care to disabled individuals. She sold her business (the stress and physical demands became too great) and switched to cleaning because setting her own hours allows her to be home with her kids after school.  Being able to work for herself enabled her to leave a bad marriage. A previous cleaner was semi-retired ó cleaning part-time was part of her FIRE strategy. While spending money on this is not mustachian on my part, the job itself pays better per hour, is more agreeable, and has more flexibility than a fast food or retail job for some people who need a way to earn money. Iím providing employment to someone who needs it, and that is a social good. 

BicycleB

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Re: Post Semi-FIRE Update
« Reply #23 on: March 23, 2019, 11:42:59 AM »
Hi, @Libertea. I just dropped in to the post-FIRE section for the first time even though I've been in thin FIRE for several years. Your thread here is the first one to catch my eye.

I really like your updates. Also, as someone who became a bit too reclusive so far, I admire that you found your new field, and that you found a good part-time bridge from your old field. Good luck in your upcoming move.


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Still way above the ~$600k when you started.  That must be comforting.

Yes.  Keep in mind though that I haven't taken any out at all; I've been able to completely support myself on my semi-retirement income.  In fact, I've kept contributing some money to the retirement accounts.  But the portfolio does a good amount of the work of contributing to itself now, both because the assets appreciate and because I re-invest all of my dividends.

Re the stash doing some of its own work, I differentiate between the 4% withdrawal rate and the extra money from appreciation beyond 4%. That gives me a safety layer for when the markets go down, but raises the question of how to decide when I can spend more from increased wealth.

If I cover my expenses by new earnings, like you are doing, my plan for budget purposes is to only count the increase as 4% of original stash, plus any amount I put in from the new income. I'd do this whether the actual account values were up or down, because the 4% already assumes the values will fluctuate.

Example: my budget is about 20k/year from original stash (was 18k, is now about 20k after inflation). If I covered my expenses for a year by new work, plus added $10,000 of new investment from the work earnings, I'd raise my allowed spending by $1200 per year:

20,000 from original stash, based on 4% rule plus inflation
10,000 new investment
--------
30,000 increase in stash-for-living-on
x 4% = $1,200 budget increase from earnings

New budget:
20,000 from original stash
  1,200 from new earnings
--------
21,200 new total budget after earning extra money

If my stash went up from 500k to 550k due to rising stock values, plus I added $10k, I'd have $560k. 4% of that is $22,400. But I would only consider my budget to $21,200.

Just sharing the thought in case it increases your safety. Elsewhere on the forum, I've read that the 4% of original stash method is 95% safe for 30 years, but the 4% of current stash method is only 70% safe. In other words, increasing spending based on rising values made people run out of money 30% of the time in the past, unless their spending during downtowns shrank below the original spending rate. I hope I'm not butting in - I'm sure you will continue to prosper!
« Last Edit: March 23, 2019, 12:05:51 PM by BicycleB »

Libertea

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Re: Post Semi-FIRE Update
« Reply #24 on: March 23, 2019, 05:55:05 PM »
I have exactly this arrangement. Someone who comes for one hour 3 times a week to fold laundry and clean the kitchen while I am home. Over the last 3 years Iíve gotten to know her (we often chat when she first arrives) and learned she used to own her own business providing care to disabled individuals. She sold her business (the stress and physical demands became too great) and switched to cleaning because setting her own hours allows her to be home with her kids after school.  Being able to work for herself enabled her to leave a bad marriage. A previous cleaner was semi-retired ó cleaning part-time was part of her FIRE strategy. While spending money on this is not mustachian on my part, the job itself pays better per hour, is more agreeable, and has more flexibility than a fast food or retail job for some people who need a way to earn money. Iím providing employment to someone who needs it, and that is a social good.
I like this way of looking at things.  Thanks.

Hi, @Libertea. I just dropped in to the post-FIRE section for the first time even though I've been in thin FIRE for several years. Your thread here is the first one to catch my eye.

I really like your updates. Also, as someone who became a bit too reclusive so far, I admire that you found your new field, and that you found a good part-time bridge from your old field. Good luck in your upcoming move.


Quote
Still way above the ~$600k when you started.  That must be comforting.

Yes.  Keep in mind though that I haven't taken any out at all; I've been able to completely support myself on my semi-retirement income.  In fact, I've kept contributing some money to the retirement accounts.  But the portfolio does a good amount of the work of contributing to itself now, both because the assets appreciate and because I re-invest all of my dividends.

Re the stash doing some of its own work, I differentiate between the 4% withdrawal rate and the extra money from appreciation beyond 4%. That gives me a safety layer for when the markets go down, but raises the question of how to decide when I can spend more from increased wealth.

If I cover my expenses by new earnings, like you are doing, my plan for budget purposes is to only count the increase as 4% of original stash, plus any amount I put in from the new income. I'd do this whether the actual account values were up or down, because the 4% already assumes the values will fluctuate.

Example: my budget is about 20k/year from original stash (was 18k, is now about 20k after inflation). If I covered my expenses for a year by new work, plus added $10,000 of new investment from the work earnings, I'd raise my allowed spending by $1200 per year:

20,000 from original stash, based on 4% rule plus inflation
10,000 new investment
--------
30,000 increase in stash-for-living-on
x 4% = $1,200 budget increase from earnings

New budget:
20,000 from original stash
  1,200 from new earnings
--------
21,200 new total budget after earning extra money

If my stash went up from 500k to 550k due to rising stock values, plus I added $10k, I'd have $560k. 4% of that is $22,400. But I would only consider my budget to $21,200.

Just sharing the thought in case it increases your safety. Elsewhere on the forum, I've read that the 4% of original stash method is 95% safe for 30 years, but the 4% of current stash method is only 70% safe. In other words, increasing spending based on rising values made people run out of money 30% of the time in the past, unless their spending during downtowns shrank below the original spending rate. I hope I'm not butting in - I'm sure you will continue to prosper!
Hi BicycleB,

You're not at all butting in; I appreciate your input and I'm glad that you felt inclined to respond to my thread.  You raised some good points.  I do already have a safety factor as well as some redundancy of my own.  First, I'm using a 3.6% withdrawal rate instead of 4%.  One of the things I especially like about about a 3.6% withdrawal rate is that it's nice and divisible by 12 months of the year: I have 0.9% per quarter, or 0.3% per month.  If using a 4% withdrawal rate, 1% per quarter works too, but a third of a percent per month is not so nice and neat. :-p

Second, I haven't started removing any money from the stash yet.  But once I do, I plan to remove that 0.3%/month or 0.9%/quarter regardless of the size of the stash.  I can do this because I have some flexibility in my spending.  In years that do well, I'll end up taking out more than I need and build up a bit of a cash surplus.  In years that don't do well, I'll use some of that cash.  So exactly like you said: I can spend less in some years than my original plan.

Third, since I'm still working anyway, I have set myself a new TBTF (too big to fail) goal.  Call it my super-FIRE number.  This would provide well above what I'm currently spending even at a 3.5% withdrawal rate and even with a massive market dip.  I don't know exactly how long it will take me to get there since I'm not maximizing my earnings and savings any more, but it doesn't really matter since this is kind of one of those goals I'm setting just to set a goal.  And trying to reach a ridiculous super-FIRE amount (my goal is to reach $1.4 million) while not doing jobs I dislike primarily for the sake of maximizing my earnings and savings definitely adds to the challenge and interest of attempting it!