Author Topic: Goals other than FI  (Read 6170 times)

StetsTerhune

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Goals other than FI
« on: April 17, 2013, 08:18:01 AM »

So my wife and I aren't going to make it to "financial independence." I estimate we're probably only 3-4 away at our current pace, but neither of us has it in us to work full time that much longer. Every week I have to spend 40 hours in an office building inches me closer to being truly miserable.
I only have one rule in life: Don't ever accept being truly miserable. No payoff is worth that.

So I've downgraded my goal:
Acquire enough money so that we never have to worry, day-to-day or year-to-year, about where our money is going to come from. Not so much that we won't have to work again, but enough so that we can skate by making money as it comes up without worrying about either the day-to-day, or about having to save anything for retirement. Basically ourgoal is to have (paraphrasing Warren Buffett) to have enough money to do whatever we want, but not enough to do nothing.

I'm estimating it'll take about 2 more years to have enough to feel comfortable to our risk tolerance.

Does anyone have a goal that's something like this? Am we crazy not to be willing to work a few extra years and just push through and be fully FI?

GreenGuava

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Re: Goals other than FI
« Reply #1 on: April 17, 2013, 08:32:16 AM »
I think it's fine, provided you can find part-time work (whether this is 20 hours/week or seasonal work).  If you aren't FI, you are going to need an income.  Enough to cover the bills might help you become FI from the gains you make in your existing investments. 

I, for one, am planning on leaving the high-paying workforce before achieving FI in favor of a job I'd rather have, at a better work schedule, and at a corresponding lower pay (although one that will still allow me to get to FI, albeit a few years later than I would have otherwise).

the fixer

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Re: Goals other than FI
« Reply #2 on: April 17, 2013, 08:40:36 AM »
I've been toying with this too. I think I can say with some confidence that I'm the type of person that will be "always employable." I have former employers that sometimes come to me asking for help with short-term projects, I'm in a tiny niche within my field which makes me extremely valuable to companies that need what I can provide, and I'm mechanically inclined so I'm good at learning basic skills & trades completely outside my field (I was a part-time bike mechanic for six months, and I've contemplated locksmithing).

All of this means I should be able to develop a pretty safe "floor" income of $15-25k/year doing low-stress work. That means I can work just enough to keep from having to draw down my assets, and my stash only needs to provide enough passive income to make up the difference in a bad year.

There's also this example from this early retirement USA Today article:
Quote
"The key is living like you did when you were a student," says Rich Ligato, 45, who lives in San Diego. While not completely financially independent, Ligato and his wife, Amanda, stopped working steady jobs more than a decade ago. Their goal is working for three years, taking odd jobs, saving their money, then enjoying a year-long vacation break, doing something such as living in India or biking along the Western coast of the U.S. When they return, they take entirely different jobs.

In the last chapter of "Born to Run," Micah True aka Caballo Blanco talks about how he spent most of his time living in Mexican desert, and came back to the US for a few months at a time working odd jobs to save up enough to go back. He probably was doing that with no untouched assets at all, so really these alternative lifestyles are possible without being anywhere near FI. The FI piece just adds an extra safety margin and lets us exit that alternative lifestyle if we later decide to.

arebelspy

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Re: Goals other than FI
« Reply #3 on: April 17, 2013, 09:01:03 AM »
It's the opposite of the "one more year" problem.  Itchy feet.

Personally I'd rather work an extra year or two full time than have to work part time another 10 or 20 years, but it's completely dependent on your personality and life situation, so do what makes you happy.

There's also this example from this early retirement USA Today article:
Quote
"The key is living like you did when you were a student," says Rich Ligato, 45, who lives in San Diego. While not completely financially independent, Ligato and his wife, Amanda, stopped working steady jobs more than a decade ago. Their goal is working for three years, taking odd jobs, saving their money, then enjoying a year-long vacation break, doing something such as living in India or biking along the Western coast of the U.S. When they return, they take entirely different jobs.

Is it just me, or is that example pretty mediocre, at best?  A "work 3 years/take 1 off" assumes only a 25% savings rate, and no assets.

If you have any assets providing passive income (dividends, rental income, whatever) you will beat that work 3, travel 1, and if you can up your savings rate you can easily beat that.  Heck, even a 50% rate (low by this site's standards, and more than half the forum users save over that) lets you work one, travel one.

A 75% savings rate would be "work 1, travel 3."  (Although I do understand that with gaps in work employment, it will be harder to have jobs that pay well enough to save 75%, but it's probably still quite achievable with two wage earners and being used to frugal living).
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bogart

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Re: Goals other than FI
« Reply #4 on: April 17, 2013, 09:10:23 AM »

Is it just me, or is that example pretty mediocre, at best?  A "work 3 years/take 1 off" assumes only a 25% savings rate, and no assets.


I haven't read the quoted article, but I wouldn't necessarily make that assumption.  I'd start by assuming, first off, that anyone with a lick of sense taking that approach does have assets and is allowing those assets to accrue value toward eventually being FI (i.e. not assuming they will be able to work -- or actively generate income e.g. by managing rental properties -- for their entire life course).  Indeed, this appears to be pretty much what MMM is doing, even if he is in principle FI and is working just for fun.  Secondly, I'd guess that the 3:1 rule might have some padding built in so that there can be some choosiness in jobs, some interludes of (unwanted) unemployment, and so on.

Spork

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Re: Goals other than FI
« Reply #5 on: April 17, 2013, 09:12:19 AM »
so:  Been there.  Done that.

I was in a situation where the walk to the office door felt like a walk into the fires of Hades.  And, let's be honest: it wasn't THEM, it was ME.  I knew that even at the time.

I did what I called my Pretirement.  I had a significant financial nest egg -- but not enough to live on forever.  I just gave my 2 weeks notice, told them "no hard feelings" and walked away with no prospects in sight.  I lived 3 years that way -- living extremely low, but comfortably.  I gotta tell you: it has been one of the highlights of my life.  I spent lots of quality time with wifey and did a crap load of manual labor for myself.

I'm back at work now... and now again headed towards FI.  Had I not taken off those 3 years, I'd already be ER'ed.  But I absolutely do not regret it at all.  It gave me time to regroup, time with the wife, time with 2 family members that have passed*.   It was the right thing.

*not exactly.  One passed and one is still alive but has succumbed to alzheimers and no longer knows me.

jrhampt

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Re: Goals other than FI
« Reply #6 on: April 17, 2013, 09:27:19 AM »
I also have another 3-4 years until a baseline FI amount, but I solved my itchy feet problem (at least for now) by transferring to another job within the company which gives me more interesting projects and allows me to work from home more.  So now instead of working 2 days a week from home, I work 3 days from home, which makes me at least 20% happier and saves me even more money on commuting, lunches, etc. while allowing me to take short hikes during the week.  I also tend to feel that most of my jobs have a 2-year period where it's all relatively new and exciting, so I fully intend to exploit that honeymoon period and hopefully ride it out even a little past that point.  If I start flagging again, I will try any of the following: working from home even more often, taking a leave of absence (my company allows up to 3 months unpaid leave), using a flex option such as doing the 40-hour week in 4 days with Fridays off, or trying to negotiate a part-time arrangement.

the fixer

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Re: Goals other than FI
« Reply #7 on: April 17, 2013, 09:35:59 AM »
Yeah I personally wouldn't go for work 3, vacation 1 myself. I'm thinking about doing a "work in the winter, play in the summer" arrangement for the next couple years.

I'm trying to balance an interest in being FI to raise kids, with my short-term interests in outdoor activities (climbing, mountaineering, backpacking) that will become much more difficult to do after kids, especially with the SO. It's also that I do enjoy work, just not 40 hours of it per week, and not the kind that practically comes to me right now and pays me $100k/year with benefits.

So it is definitely a choice based on individual circumstances and preferences.

the fixer

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Re: Goals other than FI
« Reply #8 on: April 17, 2013, 09:49:18 AM »
so:  Been there.  Done that.

I was in a situation where the walk to the office door felt like a walk into the fires of Hades.  And, let's be honest: it wasn't THEM, it was ME.  I knew that even at the time.

I did what I called my Pretirement.  I had a significant financial nest egg -- but not enough to live on forever.  I just gave my 2 weeks notice, told them "no hard feelings" and walked away with no prospects in sight.  I lived 3 years that way -- living extremely low, but comfortably.  I gotta tell you: it has been one of the highlights of my life.  I spent lots of quality time with wifey and did a crap load of manual labor for myself.

I'm back at work now... and now again headed towards FI.  Had I not taken off those 3 years, I'd already be ER'ed.  But I absolutely do not regret it at all.  It gave me time to regroup, time with the wife, time with 2 family members that have passed*.   It was the right thing.

*not exactly.  One passed and one is still alive but has succumbed to alzheimers and no longer knows me.

This sounds a lot like what I was doing in 2012, except mine was more like a pre-FI than a pre-RE. I was part-time self-employed working from home, managed to save some but not a Mustachian amount, and got to take lots of trips and do some mountaineering training that I never would have been able to stick with if I had a full-time job. I got to spend the time at home learning how to give up processed foods and make my own bread, granola bars, etc. I taught myself a lot more about investing and got my finances/retirement accounts in order. It was easily the best year of my life so far.

It also whet my appetite for taking more risks with my life, just the kick in the pants I needed. Now, I intend to make 2013 an even better year than 2012 :)

Arbor33

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Re: Goals other than FI
« Reply #9 on: April 17, 2013, 10:05:59 AM »
Every week I have to spend 40 hours in an office building inches me closer to being truly miserable.
I only have one rule in life: Don't ever accept being truly miserable. No payoff is worth that.

I think we need to delve deeper into the 'why' behind your transition towards being truly miserable. Is it because you hate the work, the people, the feeling of being in an office building, the fact that you're away from loved ones, etc.? Really, understanding why could provide you with more options. Not that I condone the "Office Space" mentality, but you could implement a lower level of apathy and still abide by your rule of never accepting the feeling of being truly miserable.

I once felt truly miserable at a job in the past. Hated the people, the work, the location, the lack of windows. It really wound me up until I convinced myself that it was just a job. I was only trading hours/productivity for money and that's the only agreement I made when I accepted the position. I never agreed to work passionately or to attach emotion to my position. I started coming in, doing work, and only interacting with the people I had to. Anytime something shitty happened, I'd shrug my shoulders and say "It has nothing to do with me, it's just part of the job.". The only thing that I took personally was when I had to work 16 hour days because that did cut into who I was and my personal life.

All in all, a job can only get you down if you let it. If you're confident you could find suitable employment to keep you and your family afloat elsewhere, I recommend that you simply not take your job too seriously. Screw caring about review periods or how you'll look to corporate. If they let you go, whatever. You've got a bit of F U money and you most likely wont end up on dire straights.

TL:DR Although being a good worker is important, you don't need to be anything but. Your job does not define you, it's just something you do for money. Don't take it personally.

Basically ourgoal is to have (paraphrasing Warren Buffett) to have enough money to do whatever we want, but not enough to do nothing.

I think that is a more common goal around here than most assume it to be. I'm starting to see it similarly myself.
« Last Edit: April 17, 2013, 10:09:32 AM by Arbor33 »

madgeylou

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Re: Goals other than FI
« Reply #10 on: April 17, 2013, 11:33:20 AM »
Basically ourgoal is to have (paraphrasing Warren Buffett) to have enough money to do whatever we want, but not enough to do nothing.

I think that is a more common goal around here than most assume it to be. I'm starting to see it similarly myself.

yes, that's basically my goal ... to ramp up the income from the stuff i LOVE doing, so that i don't have to "have a job." i don't need full FIRE for this goal, just a good chunk of eff you money and an income small enough to pay my monthly nut (which is about $1500).

twinge

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Re: Goals other than FI
« Reply #11 on: April 17, 2013, 11:51:00 AM »
I'm with James on this one--since we had kids before FI an important goal is to have enough freedom to enjoy time with them now, even if that means delaying full FI a lot longer as they are going to be with us only a limited time of their lives.  So we regularly have had one or another of us take time off when kids are very young and/or when we're just feeling like life has gotten too stressed and "away from us."  The surplus we build up allows us that freedom.  What usually happens is that we save 40-50% of our income when we're both working, and we only save 10-15% when one is working.  It allows both parents to not lose touch with careers but also not to get burnt out.  That said, could I do a re-do, I would have been more intense about investing pre-kids.  Though without my meandering 20s I probably wouldn't be the same person...

StetsTerhune

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Re: Goals other than FI
« Reply #12 on: April 18, 2013, 10:24:20 AM »
Thanks for the responses, everyone! It's good to know that I'm not alone on this.

As for analyzing what it is that makes me miserable, I've certainly spent a lot of time on that thinking. The problem isn't that I hate my job, I actually like my job, in a lot of ways. It's low-stress, low-time, friendly, not a lot of politics to deal with, and the work is fairly interesting and engaging. The problem is that there's no satisfaction at all to it. So I come home at the end of the day (and I'm not the sort of person who has much energy for anything else after work) and feel like I've wasted my day. So I guess it's more of an existential misery: I'm not actively unhappy at work or in life, it's just that the days and months and years flow by without me getting anything out of them, feeling worse and worse as time goes on

I don't feel like I'd really get satisfaction from any job. And I know this means that I need to get out and find ways outside of work to feel like I'm doing stuff with my life, but I just don't have the energy left after working.

This definitely got more complainy-pantsy than I meant it to. I don't mean to say that my life is awful or anything. My life is pretty awesome by virtually any standard. I'm just saying that I don't have a problem with working, I just have a problem with the amount of work I currently have to do. And this is with a really, really easy (but still full-time) job.

My true ideal would be to work 20 hours a week 6 months a year.  I could easily live on that much (I'm doing it now) and none of the negatives of working for me would be true at that level. Obviously I'm not gonna find that, but I think I could find something close with my skills and contacts.

iamsoners

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Re: Goals other than FI
« Reply #13 on: April 18, 2013, 10:48:31 AM »
Quote
I'm thinking about doing a "work in the winter, play in the summer" arrangement for the next couple years.

That's what I'm thinking of doing.  Luckily I work in a city with a huge IRS center and the HQ of H&R Block--so there are seasonal tax opportunities available.  I don't have it set up yet, but next season will be my first go at it.  May as well be indoors December-April and then enjoy life the rest of the time...

Spork

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Re: Goals other than FI
« Reply #14 on: April 18, 2013, 10:49:43 AM »

As for analyzing what it is that makes me miserable, I've certainly spent a lot of time on that thinking. The problem isn't that I hate my job, I actually like my job, in a lot of ways. It's low-stress, low-time, friendly, not a lot of politics to deal with, and the work is fairly interesting and engaging. The problem is that there's no satisfaction at all to it. So I come home at the end of the day (and I'm not the sort of person who has much energy for anything else after work) and feel like I've wasted my day. So I guess it's more of an existential misery: I'm not actively unhappy at work or in life, it's just that the days and months and years flow by without me getting anything out of them, feeling worse and worse as time goes on


This was exactly how I felt when I was in your shoes, btw.   ... not the "unsatisfied with *any* job" part... but I so related to the quoted portion.

Tyler

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Re: Goals other than FI
« Reply #15 on: April 18, 2013, 12:28:07 PM »
Ditto. I have the same feelings.

The same career that I loved just a few years ago now just doesn't feel as rewarding, and when the reward wears off, the grind becomes much more noticeable. I've tried the switching jobs thing, but it's deeper than that. Some personality types just need new goals to master. 

the fixer

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Re: Goals other than FI
« Reply #16 on: April 18, 2013, 12:30:16 PM »
I'm just saying that I don't have a problem with working, I just have a problem with the amount of work I currently have to do. And this is with a really, really easy (but still full-time) job.
Have you considered that maybe your job isn't challenging you enough?

Theodore Roosevelt quote: "Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing."

limeandpepper

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Re: Goals other than FI
« Reply #17 on: April 19, 2013, 12:08:47 AM »
So I come home at the end of the day (and I'm not the sort of person who has much energy for anything else after work) and feel like I've wasted my day. So I guess it's more of an existential misery: I'm not actively unhappy at work or in life, it's just that the days and months and years flow by without me getting anything out of them, feeling worse and worse as time goes on.

Thank you for sharing how you feel, THIS bit in particular resonates so much with me.

My life is pretty good, I just feel like I want to do more with it that I can't while I'm working full time. Time seems to be passing quicker and quicker, and every year I take stock and feel like I haven't done enough living. On the other hand, I do still find quite a bit of enjoyment in the little things in everyday life, and I like building up my savings, so I haven't been able to bring myself to quit my job yet.

Looking forward, though, I think I owe it to myself to explore the possibilities. My plan is to either take a sabbatical, or scale back to part-time work - either this year or next.