Author Topic: The perils of part time  (Read 3235 times)

PhilB

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The perils of part time
« on: May 18, 2019, 12:22:22 AM »
I FIREd in October2018, but agreed to stay on WFH one day a week, term-time-only for a while (Yah Boo Sucks to the IRP).  There were lots of reasons behind this, of which the main one was to have less stress pre-retirement in terms of handing things over. 
Generally it has been working pretty well for me.  I enjoy quite a lot of the work and the social contact with colleagues and it has eased the transition from working to retirement.  I have to say though that the money aspect is really messing with my head - so I thought I'd see if anyone else has had similar feelings.
When my wife and I were working we had a nearly two thirds savings rate which was like having a powerful outboard motor we could use to drive us where we wanted to be.  Like many I struggled with the idea of ditching that motor, but eventually we got to a place where the numbers clearly stacked up and I was happy that we could just let ourselves be carried through life by the current.  I'm pretty sure that's where I would be now, mentally, except this part time job is like someone has given me a child's toy paddle.  It's nowhere near enough to fight the current, but because I've got it, part of my brain is trying to use it to paddle like mad to try and regain control of my vessel.  This has been exacerbated by doing quite a bit of paid overtime the last few weeks - enough to hold us steady against the current by covering all our spending, but far more than I actually want to do.  Those demons that I had to conquer to have the confidence to ditch the outboard are clinging to that tiny paddle and screaming at me to paddle harder and longer and I really wish they'd fall overboard and drown.
[/Rant]

deborah

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Re: The perils of part time
« Reply #1 on: May 18, 2019, 01:19:46 AM »
I can see several possible ways to get out of this situation. Some of them are a bit silly, but our brains are sometimes a bit silly:

1. Work more. If you were working 3 days a week, you would have your paddle back.

2. Look at your projected retirement budget. Pay yourself (automatically, into the account that's currently getting your pay) the amount that you would be expecting to take out each week/fortnight in retirement. This will give you a reasonable amount of money, and you will have your paddle back. It will also get you to think about how you plan to withdraw from your retirement accounts, and get that working smoothly before you totally retire.

3. Stop working entirely. That way, you will no longer feel like you need a paddle.

4. Think seriously about what the paddle means to you, and why you need it.

5. Go on an extended holiday somewhere so that you can reset your expectations.

Hope this helps.

PhilB

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Re: The perils of part time
« Reply #2 on: May 18, 2019, 04:08:22 AM »
Thanks Deborah.  I think what really helped was just organising my thoughts and writing them out.  Option 1 is definitely not on the cards as I don't want to work that many hours and I know that I don't need to.  Option 3 is more likely, but it feels a bit silly to chuck in what's a good situation just because part of my brain can't cope with how to handle the income it generates.
2 and 4 are where the solution lies.  Matters aren't helped by how complicated my finances are as I'm currently living on cash savings until I can access my pension investments in 2 year's time at 55 and then I have various other bits of income kicking in from 10 to 14 years after that.  Life would be much simpler if I just had a pot of investments and was applying the 4% rule :)

daverobev

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Re: The perils of part time
« Reply #3 on: May 18, 2019, 04:32:24 AM »
Set up a quarterly or monthly withdrawal from your retirement savings to your main chequing/checking/current account.

Set up a system where 100% of your earnings go into investments.

Pretend the job is a hobby!

Malkynn

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Re: The perils of part time
« Reply #4 on: May 18, 2019, 04:36:23 AM »
Yeah, just ignore the part time job income.

Switch to a mentality where you are actually retired already and treat the work as a hobby. Sequester the small paycheque away in a totally different account if you want to really ignore it.

seattlecyclone

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Re: The perils of part time
« Reply #5 on: May 18, 2019, 01:41:03 PM »
Consider donating your job earnings to charity. That way you know you're living fully off your savings and the work you do will make a positive difference in some way that's important to you.

MoseyingAlong

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Re: The perils of part time
« Reply #6 on: May 18, 2019, 06:51:26 PM »
PhilB,

I have a similar issue. My work is not fixed at one day a week, sometimes less and sometimes more, and I haven't quite dialed in how to match my availability to what I want to do with my other time. Sometimes I think quitting entirely is the solution so the tug-of-war disappears. Other times I really enjoy my work and feel like I'm contributing to the world plus getting some income so don't want to give it up entirely.

Reading your thoughts is helping distill mine so thanks for starting this thread.

Cassie

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Re: The perils of part time
« Reply #7 on: May 18, 2019, 06:59:51 PM »
Your situation sounds perfect. From 58-65 I worked 10 hours/week from home when I wanted to. Didnít intend to ever quit but the job ended.

happy

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Re: The perils of part time
« Reply #8 on: May 18, 2019, 07:52:34 PM »
Quote
4. Think seriously about what the paddle means to you, and why you need it.

This mayl not be you, and feel free to discard this hypothesis if it doesn't fit.

As a long term part-time worker, I intermittently fought what I called "the ambition gene" for want of a better phrase. If I worked more I could help more people, contribute more, achieve more, do a better job,  get more status, earn more and so on. .Some of it was altruism but plenty of the pull was ego. As the years passed I got better at silencing this voice but it still emerged from time to time. For some of us there is not a free and easy happy medium.

DoNorth

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Re: The perils of part time
« Reply #9 on: May 19, 2019, 01:17:05 AM »
are you not wanting to draw down your assets to cover your living expenses?  or do you have particular savings goals in mind that make the idea of more work/income sound appealing?

I went from FT to PT for 3 years while FI and back to FT (currently under a 2 year contract agreement in Europe).  I don't care for the lack of freedom over my schedule with my current FT gig, but the money is good, travel is awesome, kids are now fluent in another language and daily life when I'm not working is very good.  Plus I get to bike to work and walk kids to school so my current situation and opportunities it presents clearly outweigh the constraints I feel about FT work at the moment.  Would I do it for more than the two years I agreed to?  Definitely not, but with some nice FIRE breaks or mini-sabatticals, I could see going in and out of FT work for many years.

PhilB

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Re: The perils of part time
« Reply #10 on: May 19, 2019, 02:58:11 AM »
are you not wanting to draw down your assets to cover your living expenses?  or do you have particular savings goals in mind that make the idea of more work/income sound appealing?
I think part of my problem is related to the fact that I have some pension income coming on stream in 10 to 14 years time so my assets are notionally divided between a long term drawdown pot and a bridging pot.  If I earn more that means I can move assets from bridging to drawdown, which increases sustainable drawdown income and so reduces the amount I need in the bridging pot, which means more can go into the drawdown pot, etc and off I go down that rabbit hole again.  That multiplier effect can make the earnings from overtime seem much more attractive.

I thnink I just need to remind myself that I've already taken the decision that extra time/freedom is more important to me than extra money.  I need to put my foot down about working extra hours and get back to the lifestyle I was enjoying.  If they don't like it then tough.  Unfortunately though a lot of the extra hours are helping out people who I consider to be friends and will be stuffed if I don't help them.  Ho hum.

DoNorth

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Re: The perils of part time
« Reply #11 on: May 19, 2019, 04:08:27 AM »
makes sense.  we undershot FIRE the first time in 2015.  Had great pension income (still do), but decided to build a house on cash/credit ourselves and we weren't capitalized well enough to do it.  went over on budget and way over time.  it all worked out in the end,, but man it would've been so much easier to keep the 6 figure job for an extra year or two, hire a builder and quit after it was all done and financed.  if it's tolerable work and you do have some concerns about the plan, I would stay stick with it awhile longer and pick up the extra work where you can

infromsea

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Re: The perils of part time
« Reply #12 on: May 19, 2019, 07:02:14 AM »
I think what really helped was just organising my thoughts and writing them out. 

That's often the most valuable part of these things (internet message boards and such), helping to clarify thoughts.

For me, I am retired MIL and work from home but I do it in a manner/mentality of "I'll put in the amount of work it takes, if that's not enough for them... too bad, they can let me go at any time and it's fine..."

Are you attaching to "the paddle" in an emotional way?

PhilB

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Re: The perils of part time
« Reply #13 on: May 19, 2019, 09:02:26 AM »
My level of attachment to the paddle is very much correlated to what's happening on the markets!  When they go up, I think 'What on earth am I bothering with this little thing for?'.  When they suddenly tank my first instinct is still to paddle like mad!  I know that's irrational, as a have a low WR and loads of fat in the budget.  The subset of scenarios where my paddle would ultimately make any difference at all is infinitesimal, but the little ancient homunculus lurking at the back of the brain still wants to seize control and thrash away with it whenever it senses danger. 
I will admit that part of me worries about how I will cope with the homunculus screaming 'What did you drop the paddle for you idiot!' next time DJT tries to destroy the global economy if I do chuck it in, but I think that will be easier to ignore with no paddle available anyway than it is when there's a paddle sitting in front of me.

Mr. Green

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Re: The perils of part time
« Reply #14 on: May 19, 2019, 11:46:26 PM »
I do a quarterly withdrawal. In our case we planned to live on $40,000 a year so it makes for a nice round $10,000 per quarter. As long as our checking account lasts through the quarter I know we're within budget. The great thing about setting something automatic up like this is that you're exercising the 4% rule, or whatever withdrawal rate you're using, and as long as you believe that that rate will sustain your portfolio then it is reassuring. At least it is for me. I believe in the 4% rule so I sleep well at night withdrawing that amount and not going over.

In the beginning of FIRE the loss of income was hard. I think it would have been this way with or without a part-time job. Going from a huge savings rate to a fixed income is as dramatic as it gets. But you have your faith in your withdrawal strategy to rely on, and if you don't have faith in it you're going to struggle. If you create a systematic process for your withdrawals and stay the course it gets easier. As your brain starts to see the process work it reassures you, "hey this is working just like I thought it would," and it gets more comfortable.

Livingthedream55

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Re: The perils of part time
« Reply #15 on: May 20, 2019, 08:40:38 AM »
I do a quarterly withdrawal. In our case we planned to live on $40,000 a year so it makes for a nice round $10,000 per quarter. As long as our checking account lasts through the quarter I know we're within budget. The great thing about setting something automatic up like this is that you're exercising the 4% rule, or whatever withdrawal rate you're using, and as long as you believe that that rate will sustain your portfolio then it is reassuring. At least it is for me. I believe in the 4% rule so I sleep well at night withdrawing that amount and not going over.

In the beginning of FIRE the loss of income was hard. I think it would have been this way with or without a part-time job. Going from a huge savings rate to a fixed income is as dramatic as it gets. But you have your faith in your withdrawal strategy to rely on, and if you don't have faith in it you're going to struggle. If you create a systematic process for your withdrawals and stay the course it gets easier. As your brain starts to see the process work it reassures you, "hey this is working just like I thought it would," and it gets more comfortable.

This.

I'm going to be living on $42,000 a year ($30k from a pension and a $12K drawdown (using 4% rule) from IRA account. So I will get a monthly pension check and I will have Vanguard send $1,000 a month to my checking account.

I have already been offered a 1 -2 day a week remote job from the job I'm leaving at the end of May. Whatever income I get will be funnelled directly to investments (pre-tax) so I will in effect pretend that the money is not there.  I don't need it but will work as long as it's fun and stimulating and the I will know that the purpose of any money earned will be to pad my stache. I don't want any side gigs to cause lifestyle inflation.

Much Fishing to Do

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Re: The perils of part time
« Reply #16 on: May 20, 2019, 10:48:06 AM »
I do a quarterly withdrawal. In our case we planned to live on $40,000 a year so it makes for a nice round $10,000 per quarter. As long as our checking account lasts through the quarter I know we're within budget. The great thing about setting something automatic up like this is that you're exercising the 4% rule, or whatever withdrawal rate you're using, and as long as you believe that that rate will sustain your portfolio then it is reassuring. At least it is for me. I believe in the 4% rule so I sleep well at night withdrawing that amount and not going over.

In the beginning of FIRE the loss of income was hard. I think it would have been this way with or without a part-time job. Going from a huge savings rate to a fixed income is as dramatic as it gets. But you have your faith in your withdrawal strategy to rely on, and if you don't have faith in it you're going to struggle. If you create a systematic process for your withdrawals and stay the course it gets easier. As your brain starts to see the process work it reassures you, "hey this is working just like I thought it would," and it gets more comfortable.

This.

I'm going to be living on $42,000 a year ($30k from a pension and a $12K drawdown (using 4% rule) from IRA account. So I will get a monthly pension check and I will have Vanguard send $1,000 a month to my checking account.

I have already been offered a 1 -2 day a week remote job from the job I'm leaving at the end of May. Whatever income I get will be funnelled directly to investments (pre-tax) so I will in effect pretend that the money is not there.  I don't need it but will work as long as it's fun and stimulating and the I will know that the purpose of any money earned will be to pad my stache. I don't want any side gigs to cause lifestyle inflation.

This is exactly what I am doing now (4%/12 gets moved from VG to my checking acct every month, and the paycheck ust gets direct deposited into VG.  For now the work would cover my expenses but having it set up this way makes the switch to fully FIREd seem a lot less of a leap when it happens.

Laura Ingalls

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Re: The perils of part time
« Reply #17 on: May 20, 2019, 11:43:19 AM »
We have been in this situation for about 5 years.  My suggestion is give it more time.  You will get used to the fact that your active paddle is smaller than your passive paddle.  You need to stop thinking paid income needs to do it all.

Bingeworker

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Re: The perils of part time
« Reply #18 on: June 17, 2019, 05:14:50 PM »
I've been having this issue too.  I switched into accepting that I was FI and not working for money any more on January 1 of this year.  My plan has been to continue at the lowest possible part-time level, just to keep current in my profession, and I did cut back on my quantity of work (which had already been part-time).  However, I have taken a couple of short contracts that not only pay my annual expenses, they'll put me back into saving mode.  I start getting nervous that I'm not making enough, even though I am making around what I always did in a year. 

I'm finding it harder than I expected to get into the mental state of accepting that I don't need to earn money.  Intellectually I know it to be true, but I don't think my subconscious is there yet.  Feeding into it is that my husband worries that I will run out of money and need to work again (despite me explaining the math and the risks, and intellectually he does get it).

Working for money is actually going somewhat badly - the work is still great, but man, where do the find all these dysfunctional managers who thrive on complicating and wrecking any situation that is working well?  I am considering stopping the contracts due to this, but it's hard to wrap my brain around.  Going full RE is as safe for me as it's every been for any middle-class middle-income middle-aged person, but it just seems so final and drastic.  I have decades of conditioning of being a pathologically responsible person to overcome.

I got a good idea from this thread though.  Because I keep a larger amount of my stash in cash compared to the average FI person, I hadn't ever considered doing the quarterly or monthly auto-transfer thing.  However, as I have more than one bank account and usually keep the functional one pretty empty, I could start doing a monthly auto-deposit of my budgeted amount into that account, and reassure myself that it is enough (or get the very necessary but unlikely wake-up that it is not), and that the rest of the stash doesn't get depleted faster than expected by doing that.  In fact, I make myself laugh even considering that, I immediately thought "what a waste to take it out of a higher interest account, I will never spend that much a month".  I think I am going to have to see it though to believe it!


Villanelle

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Re: The perils of part time
« Reply #19 on: June 17, 2019, 05:25:18 PM »
I suspect that what would work for my psychologically is to earmark my part-time money as a specific line item.  Sure, money is fungible but if I looked at my PT money as our travel fund and our eating out fund (for example), I think I could look at it once again as not needing a motor at all, and just having some extra (even if already budgeted) fun money.