Author Topic: Some Thoughts after 2 years FIREd  (Read 4699 times)

Mr. Green

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1763
  • Age: 35
  • Location: Wilmington, NC
Some Thoughts after 2 years FIREd
« on: July 13, 2018, 01:35:06 PM »
Well I suppose the Internet Retirement Police could be called on me for saying two years of FIRE. Many of you know I FIREd in June 2016, then returned to my job from Sept 2016 to June 2017, being half-time for six of those months. I re-FIREd, if you want to call it that, exactly one year after my original FIRE date.

So far FIRE has been very different than what I thought it would be. I took a part-time job for fun at Publix for two months over this past winter and, while I learned a ton about how grocery stores work and really enjoyed the experience, I no longer believe that picking up a part-time job during a recession or a bad sequence of returns is a good safety net. I was naive to think that. I had almost no control over the hours I worked (time of day) in the Publix job and it was almost impossible to take off for more than 3-4 days in a row. Based on what I heard from other co-workers while I was there, that's a pretty standard experience in the retail industry. For those of us who have retired, a job like that will quickly reveal to you just how intolerable a lack of control over your own time has become to you. If we were truly in a bad way financially I could deal with it but I think my happiness in that situation would be reduced significantly more than I imagined it would be. Given the wage I was earning ($10.50/hr) I think a creative person could easily find ways to make money doing something they control, a side hustle, etc. that would still allow you that freedom over your own schedule. If we ever found ourselves in the position that more income was needed, I would be looking there first, and at a part-time job as my last resort.

We also have not done nearly as much travel as I thought we would have. I have a chronic knee injury, likely from years of being undertreated and it not being as high of a priority to me as it should have been, that flared up in February. Unrealized by me at the time, the muscle in my left leg had atrophied from favoring the leg for so long that my right thigh is two inches larger in circumference than the left. I had lost all the muscle definition in my left quadriceps. I decided that enough is enough and I'm going to treat my rehabilitation of the injury like an athlete would. There's an amazing physical therapy office that focuses on athletes where we used to live in Maryland so I've been driving from NC to MD every 2-3 weeks to see them and advance my rehabilitation. Every day I'm doing something to rehabilitate the injury. Even on the days I'm not weight lifting there are activities that help facilitate muscle regrowth and healing. I'm spending 1-3 hours every day focused solely on getting my knee back to 100%. I would never have been able to do this while I was working. There simply wasn't enough time in the day, and when I was younger I didn't have any idea I'd still bean dealing with the injury five years later. I'm just over 8 weeks into my therapy and I'm very excited about the results that I'm seeing. It's promising that I might be able to return to unrestricted physical activity within the next year, and before now I thought it was likely that I'd never be able to do certain things again. That's a hard pill to swallow at 34 years old. Because I have made my knee my top priority, that has meant giving up extended trips because I have to have weightlifting equipment available to do what needs to be done. Ultimately, giving up extended travel for the next 6-12 months will be worth it if it ensures that I'm 100% rehabilitated and we can do whatever travel we want for the next 2-3 decades.

We've seen family more this past year than we did when we lived less than 30 miles from everyone. My wife was still working remotely until recently (she just FIREd two weeks ago - BOOYAH!) and she had to go back to MD every so often and work a week in the office. Between that and my return trips to see the therapist, we've been seeing family practically every two weeks. When we first moved to NC our families figured they would see us a lot less, and we could tell they were sad about that. We both grew up together and our families all live within 30 miles of one another. However, I knew that having the freedom to control our time would mean we'd still see them a lot. We tried telling them this but I knew they wouldn't believe it until they experienced it. Well they've been experiencing it now and I can tell that everyone is happy, and surprised, that we're back in MD as often as we are. This likely won't continue forever though, because we want to make a huge multi-month tour of the US, and start travelling internationally, once my knee is rehabilitated.

I've realized that I'm a lot more okay with doing nothing than I thought I would be, and by nothing I mean activities that don't really have any purpose beyond filling your time. It's actually fairly easy to pass the day without a whole lot going on. I go for walks, bike rides, occasionally to the beach, I read, surf Flipboard for interesting articles, do some household chores, have dinner with everyone (we live with another family) and wind down the night with a little TV. My rehab limits my ability to be too physically active outside of my therapy because we're already trying to push the envelope as far as we can to rehabilitate my knee as fast as we can so additional work puts me at risk for re-injury. Prior to FIRE, I don't think I would have viewed myself as a person who was happy just letting the days pass, but so far I've really been enjoying myself.

Over the past year I've been actively working to streamline our lives so that when we finally have the green light to travel, we can just leave. I've been selling/giving away the things we've been most hesitant to get rid of and eliminating other tasks and chores that do not facilitate flexible, spontaneous decisions. Now every decision we make to buy, sell, or give away something is focused on whether that thing will help us be mobile, or allow us to do the activities we want to. I've been surprised at how much of a process this has been. Though, I think it's really only been this way because we don't have a hard deadline like the sale of a house, and we're not yet in the position that we could say tomorrow that we wanted to drive away from home and not come back for six months. Our trips back to MD have been a dry run of sorts for us, in that we get to see what it's like to try and take as little with us as we need to get through the week. We're really pairing down clothing and gear and I'm relishing the nimbleness than accompanies being lightweight. I think when we do finally start travelling I'm going to enjoy living out of a backpack (or something close to it).

So life is good! When I think about going back to my old career now I'm almost repulsed by the thought. It just seems so unnatural, so unhealthy (office environment, less exercise, etc.). I told my wife during an exceptionally nice week in NC this past Spring that I've never been happier to be alive. Truly. It might be the first time in my life I've experienced unbridled joy. There are days where I find myself almost disbelieving that this is real life, like I'm dreaming. It's a wonderful feeling.

bluebelle

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 212
  • Location: Toronto
Re: Some Thoughts after 2 years FIREd
« Reply #1 on: July 13, 2018, 02:28:04 PM »
sorry about your knee, I know how much knee pain sucks....I'm glad you've found therapy that's working.

your retirement sounds like the one I want....congrats

Financial.Velociraptor

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1309
  • Age: 46
  • Location: Houston TX
  • Devour your prey raptors!
    • Financial Velociraptor
Re: Some Thoughts after 2 years FIREd
« Reply #2 on: July 13, 2018, 02:54:09 PM »
How is your diet?  I imagine the need to put on 2 inches of circumference in new muscle mass would require great nutrition and lots of protein.  Can the clinic provide a steroid to accelerate the process?  You don't want to use steroids long term but they can be hugely beneficial over the short term for dealing with an injury.

Not a rehab thing but for maintenance after you are 100%...I'm finding good success with the Strong Lifts 5x5 program.  Never in my life have I been able to lose weight or gain muscle.  Now I'm doing both at the same time.

I'm almost 6 years in and I can't imagine having to deal with a day where I don't have at least an hour of idle time.  It clears my mind.

Best of luck!

https://stronglifts.com/

soccerluvof4

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3685
  • Location: Artic Midwest
  • Retired at 50
    • My Journal
Re: Some Thoughts after 2 years FIREd
« Reply #3 on: July 13, 2018, 03:44:09 PM »
First , Congratulations on finding your freedom! well done. Second , Im with ya in at about 3.5 years and have always been battling something. My knees are shot, neck/spine thing going on and a foot issue but I just workout that which is not hurting at the time. I need to get my knees replaced and I keep putting it off and this was suppose to be the year I was going to start getting things done! Anyhow thanks for sharing your story. I often have thought about part time job more for a social thing but I never take the step as I have plenty to do and I agree that with a little creativity if need be I can come up with something better. Also Like you I need to address some of the things I got going on. Bit  of inspiration to do that! good luck.

lhamo

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8806
  • Location: Seattle
Re: Some Thoughts after 2 years FIREd
« Reply #4 on: July 13, 2018, 04:55:22 PM »
Add me to the "don't wanna live on anyone else's schedule anymore" club!  I'm already dreading the kids going back to school in the fall, which means getting up to get them fed and out the door.  Technically they could get themselves up, but it really is one of my only responsibilities so doesn't seem like I should just sloth around.  Usually DH and I alternate so that takes a bit of the yuck out of it.

I'm really glad to hear you have found a groove -- I remember your rough entry into FIRE the first time.

I'm taking time off running because my left knee has been bugging me -- seems like a pretty classic case of runner's knee, though ironically it doesnt really hurt when I run but more when I go up and down stairs or hills (mostly up).  If it doesn't resolve by the end of summer I'll probably seek PT for it.  As well as for the lingering case of vertigo I seem to have acquired over the past couple of years. 

Mr. Green

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1763
  • Age: 35
  • Location: Wilmington, NC
Re: Some Thoughts after 2 years FIREd
« Reply #5 on: July 13, 2018, 05:54:59 PM »
How is your diet?  I imagine the need to put on 2 inches of circumference in new muscle mass would require great nutrition and lots of protein.  Can the clinic provide a steroid to accelerate the process?  You don't want to use steroids long term but they can be hugely beneficial over the short term for dealing with an injury.

Not a rehab thing but for maintenance after you are 100%...I'm finding good success with the Strong Lifts 5x5 program.  Never in my life have I been able to lose weight or gain muscle.  Now I'm doing both at the same time.

I'm almost 6 years in and I can't imagine having to deal with a day where I don't have at least an hour of idle time.  It clears my mind.

Best of luck!

https://stronglifts.com/
Ideally I'm trying to get back to CrossFit. I had been doing that for 4 years when I got injured.

My diet is decent but I'm working on making it cleaner. I've done Paleo before while CrossFiting and I'm considering going back to that. Though I need to lose weight as well. I was 245 (6' tall) and I have dropped to 220. I want to drop to 180 unless muscle mass made more than that. I've read that for overweight people 1 pound of weight loss reduces 4 pounds of load on the knee. So there's a huge benefit to continuing to drop weight, but ensuring I get enough protein to build muscle is important too.

I know they say you can't effectively build muscle mass and loss weight at the same time but I'm not trying to build big mass right now (other than the left thigh) so I think I can still lose weight and see the gains we're looking for. The leg is weak enough that steroids probably aren't an option just yet. I'm now front squatting a 45# bar basically pain free. It was that bad after the last flare up. I will keep the steroid thought in the back of my mind as we get to the point where I'm starting to lift weight in earnest.
« Last Edit: July 13, 2018, 06:05:04 PM by Mr. Green »

Dee

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 648
  • Location: Ottawa, Canada
Re: Some Thoughts after 2 years FIREd
« Reply #6 on: July 13, 2018, 06:03:07 PM »
Loved the end of your update! So glad to hear about your joy in early retirement.

okits

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 7701
  • Location: Canada
Re: Some Thoughts after 2 years FIREd
« Reply #7 on: July 13, 2018, 11:18:32 PM »
I took a part-time job for fun at Publix for two months over this past winter and, while I learned a ton about how grocery stores work and really enjoyed the experience, I no longer believe that picking up a part-time job during a recession or a bad sequence of returns is a good safety net. I was naive to think that. I had almost no control over the hours I worked (time of day) in the Publix job and it was almost impossible to take off for more than 3-4 days in a row. Based on what I heard from other co-workers while I was there, that's a pretty standard experience in the retail industry. For those of us who have retired, a job like that will quickly reveal to you just how intolerable a lack of control over your own time has become to you. If we were truly in a bad way financially I could deal with it but I think my happiness in that situation would be reduced significantly more than I imagined it would be. Given the wage I was earning ($10.50/hr) I think a creative person could easily find ways to make money doing something they control, a side hustle, etc. that would still allow you that freedom over your own schedule. If we ever found ourselves in the position that more income was needed, I would be looking there first, and at a part-time job as my last resort.

This is a really valuable insight, thank you for sharing it (and your whole update, in general).  I've been hovering around the edges of realizing what you have, which is being a low-wage employee probably doesn't give the kind of scheduling flexibility I want.  Your point that a FIREd person could probably come up with a more lucrative and flexible side hustle is astute.  👍

You mentioned living with another family.  Is that a cost-saving decision, or one for logistics/labour sharing, or a companionship choice?  I am intrigued.

I hope your knee continues to improve and that your and your DW's happiness keeps growing.  :)

Mr. Green

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1763
  • Age: 35
  • Location: Wilmington, NC
Re: Some Thoughts after 2 years FIREd
« Reply #8 on: July 14, 2018, 01:25:13 AM »
You mentioned living with another family.  Is that a cost-saving decision, or one for logistics/labour sharing, or a companionship choice?  I am intrigued.
It started as a combination of the first two and the third has increasingly become a factor. We planned to build a house within spitting distance of some very good friends of ours. When that didn't work out (I couldn't handle the stress of building a place myself) they offered for us to move in with them as a means of moving to the area without a huge, irreversible commitment. We took them up on it.

It gave us the chance to get our old house rented without the pressure of finding a new one. Given our travel plans it also means we won't have a house sitting empty while we're gone. Splitting the chores of one household between four adults is a great perk as well. One of our friends is a damn good cook so we eat phenomenal meals, and pitch in or take turns cooking to provide him a reprieve from duty.

We've all been living together for almost a year now and everyone really seems to be enjoying the communal aspect of the arrangement, our friends' kids especially. It's really cool being able to have a 3-4 person board game at any time. The house is big enough that you can still get some "alone" space if you need it.

Our experience has made me consider that we're missing out on a wonderful opportunity in the US by having our homes be so nuclear. Granted, personalities really need to mesh for something like this to work out. We've all been friends for almost 20 years, back from college. I think this situation is a great way to save money and time (less chores), while adding another element of happiness to life. We don't have any idea how long we will all live together. My wife and I figured we'd have a child by now but we've been thrown a couple curveballs. Our friends just had a surprise third child. We're taking it as it goes and trying to enjoy the uniqueness of the opportunity.

steveo

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1692
Re: Some Thoughts after 2 years FIREd
« Reply #9 on: July 14, 2018, 03:21:58 AM »
Good to hear that you are doing really well apart from the knee.

okits

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 7701
  • Location: Canada
Re: Some Thoughts after 2 years FIREd
« Reply #10 on: July 14, 2018, 09:10:04 PM »
You mentioned living with another family.  Is that a cost-saving decision, or one for logistics/labour sharing, or a companionship choice?  I am intrigued.
It started as a combination of the first two and the third has increasingly become a factor. We planned to build a house within spitting distance of some very good friends of ours. When that didn't work out (I couldn't handle the stress of building a place myself) they offered for us to move in with them as a means of moving to the area without a huge, irreversible commitment. We took them up on it.

It gave us the chance to get our old house rented without the pressure of finding a new one. Given our travel plans it also means we won't have a house sitting empty while we're gone. Splitting the chores of one household between four adults is a great perk as well. One of our friends is a damn good cook so we eat phenomenal meals, and pitch in or take turns cooking to provide him a reprieve from duty.

We've all been living together for almost a year now and everyone really seems to be enjoying the communal aspect of the arrangement, our friends' kids especially. It's really cool being able to have a 3-4 person board game at any time. The house is big enough that you can still get some "alone" space if you need it.

Our experience has made me consider that we're missing out on a wonderful opportunity in the US by having our homes be so nuclear. Granted, personalities really need to mesh for something like this to work out. We've all been friends for almost 20 years, back from college. I think this situation is a great way to save money and time (less chores), while adding another element of happiness to life. We don't have any idea how long we will all live together. My wife and I figured we'd have a child by now but we've been thrown a couple curveballs. Our friends just had a surprise third child. We're taking it as it goes and trying to enjoy the uniqueness of the opportunity.

That sounds super cool and yeah, enough adults for board games is a big plus!  There is definitely a social aspect where "home" is more interesting because your friends are there. 

There's a housing affordability crisis in the city where I live and arrangements like that (entered into thoughtfully and gladly, not under duress) sound like one solution for individual families to consider.

FIREby35

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 541
Re: Some Thoughts after 2 years FIREd
« Reply #11 on: July 21, 2018, 07:31:32 AM »
Great to hear things are looking up Mr. Green. I've enjoyed catching updates on your FIRE adventures over last couple of years. I have definitely thought about it as I inch closer to 35!

BuffaloStache

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 708
  • Location: Colorado
Re: Some Thoughts after 2 years FIREd
« Reply #12 on: August 03, 2018, 01:11:49 PM »
I took a part-time job for fun at Publix for two months over this past winter and, while I learned a ton about how grocery stores work and really enjoyed the experience, I no longer believe that picking up a part-time job during a recession or a bad sequence of returns is a good safety net. I was naive to think that. I had almost no control over the hours I worked (time of day) in the Publix job and it was almost impossible to take off for more than 3-4 days in a row. Based on what I heard from other co-workers while I was there, that's a pretty standard experience in the retail industry. For those of us who have retired, a job like that will quickly reveal to you just how intolerable a lack of control over your own time has become to you. If we were truly in a bad way financially I could deal with it but I think my happiness in that situation would be reduced significantly more than I imagined it would be. Given the wage I was earning ($10.50/hr) I think a creative person could easily find ways to make money doing something they control, a side hustle, etc. that would still allow you that freedom over your own schedule. If we ever found ourselves in the position that more income was needed, I would be looking there first, and at a part-time job as my last resort.

This is a really valuable insight, thank you for sharing it (and your whole update, in general).  I've been hovering around the edges of realizing what you have, which is being a low-wage employee probably doesn't give the kind of scheduling flexibility I want.  Your point that a FIREd person could probably come up with a more lucrative and flexible side hustle is astute.  👍
...

Sorry for the mega-quote but I totally agree, this is really valuable insight. I keep a list of "Post-FIRE part-time job ideas" that I'm not serious how much I'd want to actually do the said job, but are listed for perks, ease of schedule, or other opportunities. I remember being a waiter in High School and it was relatively easy to go on ~2 week vacations (you just wouldn't get scheduled and wouldn't work), but I think it would be difficult to go on ~2 month+ trips. I could also see that after a long stint of having complete freedom over your time, having inflexible demands could be difficult to adjust to.

I wonder if volunteering or similar things could provide social stimulation with less of the time burdens?

Anywho, congrats on the anniversary and good luck!