Author Topic: Two years in (hopefully BS free update)  (Read 1912 times)

Bolshevik Artizan

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Two years in (hopefully BS free update)
« on: December 02, 2017, 04:09:09 PM »
Hi all

FIREd two years ago to look after my six year old. Full disclosure; arguably don't qualify as FIRE because altho stash is there and house bought etc, wife is still working. However, I jacked in the corporate life, grew a beard, moved to rural BC and started developing my lumberjacking and construction skills and really, really never wanted to see the inside of a cubicle again.

About six months in I got asked to do a small project for someone I used to work with ten years ago, and that has now grown to the point where two years later I am working approx. 24 hours a week and turning work away. For someone my age (turned 48 yesterday) with a younger (aged six) kid, that feels about right. Wife works officially 5 days a week, but two are from home so not too bad.

I will not lie -- and I say this to everyone I know who is turning to Mustachianism and downshifting, etc -- although we had lived by Mustachian principles and were banking around $100,000+ a year from combined salaries of around $300,000 (tax rate at that level in Ontario is around 51%) -- I still found the drop in income a shock, and we have had a number of other unwelcome shocks, including my father-in-law's death last July. One mistake I made when I look back was to max out my pension contributions for 23 years when working, rather than putting cash in open-ended investments.  Yes, I can withdraw from my pensions, but would have preferred to have a lot more invested cash, rather than pensions. As it stands, invested cash is at approx C$160,000 and growing by c. $15-20,000 pa, so enough.

All in all, whereas I cursed my life when working, I now consider myself a fortunate person. And I think that single thing means more than anything else. On the best days, I almost have to pinch myself as I can't believe my luck. Even on the worst days, I have confidence that we can get through almost anything. And I have been able to follow my passion for writing to the point where I've sold 24 pieces of my work this year.

The only other frank admission I will make is that I realise the extent to which I was floating on a sea of money and meaningless work before. Now I don't have the money to pay for whatever I want whenever I want it, but the payoff is that my every interaction with every person I meet seems somehow to be more real. And we are part of a wonderful community, and get to see our son growing up.

Hope that all sounds honest and not too happy clappy. It has by no means been easy, and I have a friend thinking of downshifting whom I've suggested can expect a different life - but by no means nirvana, or a life without challenges.

Will check back in a year from now, if we're all spared - as they say where I come from.

Cheers

BA

Dicey

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Re: Two years in (hopefully BS free update)
« Reply #1 on: December 02, 2017, 04:28:25 PM »
Hi BA,
Thanks for a great update. That principle of loading up on the taxable investments and even cash as you get closer to FIRE seems crazy, but the reasons why are quite valid.

I know what you mean about not feeling perfectly FIRE. My husband still works too. I'm FIRE, but neither of us can travel because his mom has ALZ and lives with us. This necessitated buying a more appropriate home for our situation and selling our RV, alas. Our property taxes alone are nearly $12k per year! He'd go nuts and feel trapped if he wasn't working, so he might as well keep cruising toward the maximum pension, because the payoff is so good. We live very comfortably on his salary, and still save.

FIRE, like so many things in life, doesn't look a whole lot like what we imagined (yet), but it's still damn good.

I'm looking forward to your continued success and future updates.

Cheers!
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Accidental Fire

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Re: Two years in (hopefully BS free update)
« Reply #2 on: December 02, 2017, 04:45:40 PM »
Wow, thanks for the post, very honest and interesting.  I'm 47 and just went semi-retired 2 months ago.  I'm fully FI, but just scaled back to 20 hours a week to keep my health benes.  Because there are so many awesome FIRE bloggers out there and these forums as well, I had read enough to keep my expectations realistic. I'm working two 10-hour days a week, so I flipped the week on it's head.  On the surface, my friends think I should be in heaven - 2 days of work and 5 off!  But in reality it's been far from perfect.

As you said the best days are amazing.  Waking up on a weekday and having the whole day ahead with no job to go to - it can't help but make you smile.  But sometimes I feel directionless and anxious.  Sort of like "I should be doing all my hobbies now - take advantage of it!" 

I'm still early in this new thing, so I'm hoping to settle down into a rhythm.  I have two side hustles and tons of hobbies, so no lack of things to do, I just need to finish detoxing from my 25+ years of fulltime work I think.

Bolshevik Artizan

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Re: Two years in (hopefully BS free update)
« Reply #3 on: December 03, 2017, 08:59:04 AM »
Hi BA,
Thanks for a great update. That principle of loading up on the taxable investments and even cash as you get closer to FIRE seems crazy, but the reasons why are quite valid.

I know what you mean about not feeling perfectly FIRE. My husband still works too. I'm FIRE, but neither of us can travel because his mom has ALZ and lives with us. This necessitated buying a more appropriate home for our situation and selling our RV, alas. Our property taxes alone are nearly $12k per year! He'd go nuts and feel trapped if he wasn't working, so he might as well keep cruising toward the maximum pension, because the payoff is so good. We live very comfortably on his salary, and still save.

FIRE, like so many things in life, doesn't look a whole lot like what we imagined (yet), but it's still damn good.

I'm looking forward to your continued success and future updates.

Cheers!

Thanks for the kind words, Dicey! Best of luck to you too! BA

Bolshevik Artizan

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Re: Two years in (hopefully BS free update)
« Reply #4 on: December 03, 2017, 09:00:29 AM »
Wow, thanks for the post, very honest and interesting.  I'm 47 and just went semi-retired 2 months ago.  I'm fully FI, but just scaled back to 20 hours a week to keep my health benes.  Because there are so many awesome FIRE bloggers out there and these forums as well, I had read enough to keep my expectations realistic. I'm working two 10-hour days a week, so I flipped the week on it's head.  On the surface, my friends think I should be in heaven - 2 days of work and 5 off!  But in reality it's been far from perfect.

As you said the best days are amazing.  Waking up on a weekday and having the whole day ahead with no job to go to - it can't help but make you smile.  But sometimes I feel directionless and anxious.  Sort of like "I should be doing all my hobbies now - take advantage of it!" 

I'm still early in this new thing, so I'm hoping to settle down into a rhythm.  I have two side hustles and tons of hobbies, so no lack of things to do, I just need to finish detoxing from my 25+ years of fulltime work I think.

Hey AF,

Start a renovation or get a dog - then you'll wonder how you ever managed to work 45 hours a week! Haha! All the best - BA

snappytom

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Re: Two years in (hopefully BS free update)
« Reply #5 on: December 03, 2017, 09:17:20 AM »
.........The only other frank admission I will make is that I realise the extent to which I was floating on a sea of money and meaningless work before. .........

Not RE yet, but your statement above hits my current mood.  Can't wait to exit the cube farm and corporate world but leaving the stream of income behind will be an adjustment.

Moustachienne

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Re: Two years in (hopefully BS free update)
« Reply #6 on: December 03, 2017, 09:31:51 AM »
"The only other frank admission I will make is that I realise the extent to which I was floating on a sea of money and meaningless work before. Now I don't have the money to pay for whatever I want whenever I want it, but the payoff is that my every interaction with every person I meet seems somehow to be more real."

This is the phrase that resonates with me as well.  DH and I are truly Retired (at age 60) and even though we were very Mustachian in many ways, especially in terms of high savings rate, losing our incomes has given us a shock.  We had a much higher psychological dependence on always being able to earn more money that we thought, even if we weren't spending even half of it.

But at the same time, needing to truly live more intentionally in the now, rather than in some abstract future, has been really great.  We get to choose how we spend our time and who we spend it with with very few exceptions.  Incredible!  We need to be more intentional with our money because there isn't a fire hose bringing a huge surplus if/when we want or need it.   Challenging and fun.  More meaningful for sure.

[I think this last point is what many people feel about Mr. MM's firehose from the blog.  He is on a new journey where he needs to keep it dialled down in the face of easily accessible money.  That is no longer the same journey he was on in the early days or that most MMMers are on. Still, as a first world MMMer, I feel/am rich and I look to Mr. MM for ongoing inspiration as to how to give/live responsibly. ]

Bolshevik Artizan

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Re: Two years in (hopefully BS free update)
« Reply #7 on: December 03, 2017, 06:14:17 PM »
.........The only other frank admission I will make is that I realise the extent to which I was floating on a sea of money and meaningless work before. .........

Not RE yet, but your statement above hits my current mood.  Can't wait to exit the cube farm and corporate world but leaving the stream of income behind will be an adjustment.

It is an adjustment and it takes (a lot of) time, but two years after you will know why you did it - but you'll also see there is another way... Good luck! BA

Bolshevik Artizan

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Re: Two years in (hopefully BS free update)
« Reply #8 on: December 03, 2017, 06:17:24 PM »
"The only other frank admission I will make is that I realise the extent to which I was floating on a sea of money and meaningless work before. Now I don't have the money to pay for whatever I want whenever I want it, but the payoff is that my every interaction with every person I meet seems somehow to be more real."

This is the phrase that resonates with me as well.  DH and I are truly Retired (at age 60) and even though we were very Mustachian in many ways, especially in terms of high savings rate, losing our incomes has given us a shock.  We had a much higher psychological dependence on always being able to earn more money that we thought, even if we weren't spending even half of it.

But at the same time, needing to truly live more intentionally in the now, rather than in some abstract future, has been really great. We get to choose how we spend our time and who we spend it with with very few exceptions.  Incredible!  We need to be more intentional with our money because there isn't a fire hose bringing a huge surplus if/when we want or need it.   Challenging and fun.  More meaningful for sure.

So, so important. Apparently Bob Marley's last words were, "Money don't buy you more life." - I am inspired by my late father, who died relatively early, if not young, at 70 - he didn't retire until he was 59, but could have afforded to do so five years earlier and openly told me that he wished he had. I have made more mistakes than I can count or remember in life, but I don't want to make that one as well.

Best of luck!


BA

expatartist

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Re: Two years in (hopefully BS free update)
« Reply #9 on: December 03, 2017, 09:08:05 PM »
Wonderfully authentic post, Bolshevik Artizan. PS: Best username I've seen in a very long time.

Bolshevik Artizan

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Re: Two years in (hopefully BS free update)
« Reply #10 on: December 04, 2017, 06:58:17 AM »
Wonderfully authentic post, Bolshevik Artizan. PS: Best username I've seen in a very long time.

Why thank you very much for the kind words. And it takes a person of refinement and taste to see the pun, expatartist! Best wishes,

Bolschewik (P)artizan ... Der einzige Weg ist Revolution!!

Dicey

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Re: Two years in (hopefully BS free update)
« Reply #11 on: December 04, 2017, 07:17:05 AM »
I think this last point is what many people feel about Mr. MM's firehose from the blog.  He is on a new journey where he needs to keep it dialled down in the face of easily accessible money.  That is no longer the same journey he was on in the early days or that most MMMers are on. Still, as a first world MMMer, I feel/am rich and I look to Mr. MM for ongoing inspiration as to how to give/live responsibly.
Wow, Great insight, M! You really nailed it! Once you've amassed a sufficient supply of it, it isn't all about the money at all.
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dude

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Re: Two years in (hopefully BS free update)
« Reply #12 on: December 04, 2017, 10:27:55 AM »

I will not lie -- and I say this to everyone I know who is turning to Mustachianism and downshifting, etc -- although we had lived by Mustachian principles and were banking around $100,000+ a year from combined salaries of around $300,000 (tax rate at that level in Ontario is around 51%) -- I still found the drop in income a shock . . . .

The only other frank admission I will make is that I realise the extent to which I was floating on a sea of money and meaningless work before. Now I don't have the money to pay for whatever I want whenever I want it . . .

I worry a little about this, too. Even though my math keeps telling me I should be okay. Pension is going to replace 42% of my gross salary, additional supplement bumps that up to around 45%. But when I factor out OASDI, Medicare, 401k savings, retirement contributions, life insurance payments, state taxes (won't pay them on pension here in MA), and a portion of fed taxes (as a result of lower income), it's around 79%.  Bottom line is it looks like I'll be short of my current expenses by @$20,000. Current 401k balance is $700k. Would hope to take no more than $15k from 401k (@2% draw) initially and until supplement runs out (8 years after retiring), making up the other $5k from side hustle. Once supplement runs out, increase 401k withdrawals to 4-5% for the next 8 years, until I start drawing SS at age 70. It all seems to work, but I know it will entail some lowering of current living standard, where fair sums are spent on recreational hobbies and travel. But I am more than willing to make the trade-off for my freedom.

Retire-Canada

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Re: Two years in (hopefully BS free update)
« Reply #13 on: December 04, 2017, 01:08:06 PM »
Congrats on 2yrs away from your corporate gig. I'm working 24hrs a week as well for the last 5 months and really enjoying it. I haven't really noticed the change in income because my spending is basically the same I'm just not saving all that much any more. It's still an embarrassingly decent firehose of cash if I am efficient with my spending. I think downshifting is good practice for retirement both in terms of living on a specific budget and just the mental shift towards not working.

I was just thinking today that working part-time has become the new normal. I still really enjoy 4 day weekends, but they don't feel special anymore. It's just life.

I am excited to retire though and not have to work at all. So I can travel more freely. I figure 2 more years of part-time work and I am there!

Good luck with the next 2yrs. I hope they are great. :)

Bolshevik Artizan

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Re: Two years in (hopefully BS free update)
« Reply #14 on: December 04, 2017, 03:09:04 PM »
Congrats on 2yrs away from your corporate gig. I'm working 24hrs a week as well for the last 5 months and really enjoying it. I haven't really noticed the change in income because my spending is basically the same I'm just not saving all that much any more. It's still an embarrassingly decent firehose of cash if I am efficient with my spending.

I was just thinking today that working part-time has become the new normal. I still really enjoy 4 day weekends, but they don't feel special anymore. It's just life.

I am excited to retire though and not have to work at all. So I can travel more freely. I figure 2 more years of part-time work and I am there!

Good luck with the next 2yrs. I hope they are great. :)

Thanks very much - I tip my touque to you and raise a brew from my metaphorical two-four ... don't drink very much in reality, you see. Also don't eat bacon. Oh wait - they are coming to take my passport away!! Help!!

EfficientEngineer

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Re: Two years in (hopefully BS free update)
« Reply #15 on: December 04, 2017, 03:13:28 PM »
That's awesome! Glad you were able to pull the plug.  What is your new side job?  Creating furniture or something similar?

Bolshevik Artizan

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Re: Two years in (hopefully BS free update)
« Reply #16 on: December 04, 2017, 04:43:39 PM »
That's awesome! Glad you were able to pull the plug.  What is your new side job?  Creating furniture or something similar?

Hi EE

I am a writer and editor for hire, working in financial technology and education mainly at the moment. I have also written freelance music journalism and book reviews for outlets in Canada, the US and UK, but I have given this up to concentrate on my own short stories and a novel.

Thanks for the interest!

Best wishes,


BA

EfficientEngineer

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Re: Two years in (hopefully BS free update)
« Reply #17 on: December 04, 2017, 07:35:21 PM »
Oh ok.  I thought you were doing something with your construction skills.  That's awesome though! A location independent job is something I really should look into during RE.

Bolshevik Artizan

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Re: Two years in (hopefully BS free update)
« Reply #18 on: December 04, 2017, 09:22:31 PM »
Oh ok.  I thought you were doing something with your construction skills.  That's awesome though! A location independent job is something I really should look into during RE.

Having a location-neutral job helps with the travel. My wife's job is also location neutral and she has worked from London UK before when she wanted to. Next year we will both work from the UK for a month or so when we are visiting family.

I would only ever inflict my construction "skills" on my own property - the world's worst framer, and not much better at siding and roofing. Funny story, though: when we were getting my mother-in-law's cottage built, I did all the spade (aka "spoon") work myself to save $3000. Another contractor comes on site to speak to the guy who was helping with the landscaping and completely ignores me as the lowest of the low, the "goon on the spoon" - even though I was, in fact, the client! Haha! Cheers - BA

FIREby35

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Re: Two years in (hopefully BS free update)
« Reply #19 on: December 05, 2017, 04:41:18 PM »
BA - Your writing skills show, even in an online forum.

Congrats. It sounds like you've had a successful two years of "FIRE."

I'm only 33 and still working as an attorney. But, I feel certain echoes of your description because I own my own business and, now with a significant stash, I can basically set the conditions of my work. I think you might have been alluding to this sort of arrangement when you mentioned, "You will also see there is another way."

For me, I really had to readjust my mental programming on the idea that my business doesn't need to make "the biggest profit available at all times." It just needs to make payroll for my team and, every once in a while, catch a big profit event for me. That was a stressful transition and seems kind of like giving up a full-time income for a more relaxed downshift situation like you've created.

Anyway, thanks for the post.

Bolshevik Artizan

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Re: Two years in (hopefully BS free update)
« Reply #20 on: December 06, 2017, 07:12:41 AM »
BA - Your writing skills show, even in an online forum.
 now with a significant stash, I can basically set the conditions of my work. I think you might have been alluding to this sort of arrangement when you mentioned, "You will also see there is another way."

For me, I really had to readjust my mental programming on the idea that my business doesn't need to make "the biggest profit available at all times." It just needs to make payroll for my team and, every once in a while, catch a big profit event for me. That was a stressful transition and seems kind of like giving up a full-time income for a more relaxed downshift situation like you've created.

Anyway, thanks for the post.

... and your analytical skills are shining in an online forum. Yes, absolutely right. The thing MMM has brought us all is the realisation that in order to be able to do what you want you need capital behind you (unless you want to be indigent). In a sense, it's no different to the old model, the difference being that parents would work hard in the hope that their children might have better lives: we're doing this to give both ourselves and our children better lives. That makes me think of another topic for another post - the collapse of the promise of corporate/professional life.... but that's a different post!

Thank you for your kind words. I wish you much success!

BA