Poll

Should I stay or should I go?

GTFO my friend, the beaches of Barcelona are calling!
23 (82.1%)
Rent That House
0 (0%)
Sell That House
0 (0%)
Stay on the hamster wheel, corporate drone man!
1 (3.6%)
Drop down to a lower paying job with better hours and bicycle to work!
4 (14.3%)

Total Members Voted: 28

Author Topic: Reader Case Study -- Early Working Semi Retirement -- Am I A Madman?  (Read 2160 times)

ErrantVenture

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Good Evening Mustachians!

I have an interesting story that doesn't quite fit the norm, and an interesting question that I want your help with.

I graduated from college in 2007 in rural New York (the greater, greater, huger Buffalo NY area), with a liberal arts degree. For the first year or so after that, I parlayed my experience as a volunteer EMT into paid EMS work, at the princely sum of $8/hour. Being Mustachian before it was cool, and my dad having lost his job while I was in college, I rode a bicycle to work, in Buffalo, for a year, in the snow. I was in phenomenal shape. I eventually worked my way up to a college security job, and found my way into a Major Metropolitan Police Academy in 2010. Smack dab in the middle of the Great Recession, I was excited to have a job, with a pension...except that the city had slashed the pension, unbeknownst to me, in between my conditional acceptance and the completion of the background check.

Slightly disillusioned with the city, I stumbled upon Mr Money Mustache in 2013, sold my financed car, rode a motorcycle for a year, and saved up enough money to buy a car in cash and relocate to Pennsylvania in 2014 to take advantage of the natural gas rush there, work hard, and stack a fat Stache. This worked well for a year until the bottom dropped out of the oilfield in early 2015. I spent a year in Nepal doing earthquake relief as a volunteer, and discovered how well and simply you can live when you can ride a bicycle (or even better, the outside of a beautifully painted bus blaring Bollywood music) everywhere you want to go, and you're surrounded by fun people. More convinced than ever of the power of early retirement, I came home to visit my parents in Michigan, and got sucked into sales in the mortgage industry.

I'm making money that I never dreamed of making, especially since I lack a serious degree. I'm currently clearing $120,000 per year, but the job is all consuming. I've been here just under three years and I don't have any really solid, non-work relationships, and I'm being forced to chose between hitting goal at work, eating healthy food, eating simply and cheaply, working out, or having a social life. It's sort of a pick one, one and a half if you're lucky, any given month. My minimum work schedule is eleven hours a day, five days a week, with extra days when we're not on pace for goal, and the expectation that we help our clients out on our off days through at-home access and the good old smartphone.

Needless to say, most of the guys at work are Living Their Best Lives -- parties, BMW's with the extra cool badging, there's a guy who shows up at the office every month to do custom tailored suits...

I'm worn out and I don't have enough vacation time to take a decent sabbatical. I requested a leave of absence and was denied (have to have a medical reason). At this point, I could step down to a lower income/lower workload position in the industry, but this would require moving to a different company. In the meantime, part of my dream for early retirement was traveling the world simply, living in places for six months to a year at a time to truly get the flavor for the place, and working part-time as an English teacher or disaster relief worker.

At the moment, I have the opportunity to go teach English in Barcelona, Spain. I'll be able to work 20-30 hours per week and should be able to break even on the cost of living, at a minimum, and gain a CELTA certification in the process. That plus experience will give me the ability to sustain myself comfortably in all the fun places I want to go -- Korea, Japan, Mexico, Ecuador, Morocco, Beirut, etc. It will also give me a skill I can use to feed myself while studying for a master's degree in disaster relief/preparedness, which I would like to do in Beirut, Cairo, Istanbul, or one of several Asian countries.


Life Situation: I am currently single, unattached, with no dependents, no plan or desire for kids. I hate the demanding, hamster wheel nature of my job. I have been working 50-100 hours/week for my entire adult life, and I just want to slow down and ride the bicycle more and work less. 

Gross Salary/Wages: $110,000-120,000/ann, commission-based. I maxed out my 401(k) contributions early in the year and have already maxed out the Roth IRA.

Debt Obligations: Mortgage - P and I of $511/month, T and I of $275/month, Mortgage Insurance of $75/month for the next 9 years. If values keep rising I can pay $500 to get the home appraised and get the PMI dropped off early, or I can pay $15,000 to get the principle to 80%. Whenever I run the numbers, it doesn't make sense to refi/pay down/drop the PMI, verses the 7% return on investing.

The House! Original Purchase price of the home: $102,000.00, purchased with 1% down and closing costs covered by the seller, 4.625% on a 30 year. Current estimated value, $110,000.00. The home is sturdy but not purdy. I would probably need to redo the kitchen and bath to get higher than bottom barrel rents (and tenants) in my area. Rents in my area go from $900/month to $1300/month for comparable properties, and the home is close to my parent's, who are in their sixties and OG mustachians (dad clocks over 1000 miles/annually on his bicycle and does all my car repairs when I don't have time to do them myself, and has a basement full of appliances he's busy resurrecting and selling on EBay to tickle his old electrical engineering fancy. He also picks up odd jobs doing home renovation and remodeling when he feels like it. Mom has been sewing clothes and canning fruit and cooking hearty home cooked meals for forty five years now).

Expected ER expenses: I really enjoyed living in Nepal, and did that comfortably under $12,000 annually. I imagine I'll need more when I'm older, but plan on having the home paid off by the time I hit 65. I figure I can handle living on $24,000/year, but $40,000 would of course be nice, especially if I find a lady friend. I expect over the next thirty years to find something that I enjoy doing, can get paid to do, and wouldn't mind doing well into my retirement on a part time or freelance basis. Whether it's teaching English, or going back to school for a master's in disaster management and becoming a professional do-gooder/do-goodery consultant. I don't feel comfortable going back to school now because I'm allergic to debt and don't want to spend sixty hours a week working and going to school.

Assets:
$15,000 cash in the bank -
$5,000 in Personal Capital's interest bearing cash account
$6,000 invested a Fidelity Brokerage Account (FZROX zero fee S&P 500 fund)
$24,000 invested in a Vanguard Brokerage Account (Split between VTSAX and VBIAX for a bit more stability for the emergency fund)
$86,000 in Fidelity 401(k) funds through work managed FXIAX / SP500 Index
$34,000 in a Vanguard Rollover IRA brokerage account (split between VIMAX and VSMAX)
$27,000 in a Vanguard Roth IRA VTSAX

Bought with cash 2009 Honda Fit (manual! with no farkles!) with 150k miles
Bought with cash 2002 Honda VFR Interceptor 800, because chicks dig V4's and it got me through the years when I refused to finance a car.

Liabilities: One student loan, $2200 balance with a fixed 5% interest rate and $150/month payment, and the mortgage, taxes, and homeowner's insurance.

Income vs. Savings:
2017: $97,000 vs $33,000
2018: $117,000 vs. $46,000 and bought a house
YTD 2019: $60,000 vs. $34,000.00

QUESTION 1: I am 36 years old. I currently have $175,000.00 in investments. By my back of the envelope calculations, based on a 7% rate of return, even if I never invest another dime, I'll have comfortably over $1,300,000 by the time I turn 65. With a 4% SWR I'll have a comfortable $52,000 annual income, which is more than enough for me to live on by myself currently in America, and will support a very high standard of living abroad. So in my estimation, as long as I can find fulfilling work that pays the bills at a "subsistence" level for the next 29 years, I will be able to comfortably hit FIRE at 65 (or earlier, if I'm happy with surviving on less that $52,000/annually) without ever investing another dime. Am I free to simply spend the next 29 years doing whatever I want as long as I don't dip into my investment accounts? Is this a reasonable use of the 7% rule? Do I need to factor in inflation? Should I use a smaller number than $175k for long term forecasting since I've had such great returns on investment over the past three years of growth? Is there something I'm missing in this calculation, or is it time to tell my boss that I'm simply not coming in on Saturdays anymore, start packing my bags, and get ready for a departure to Barcelona in December?

QUESTION 2: - should I rent or sell the home if I move overseas?

QUESTION 3: - what would you do in my shoes?

QUESTION 4: - how cool is it that, 5 years after leaving a rewarding but not very financially sound public service position, with $20,000 of rollover pension and 401(k) money and $5000 in the bank, I'm now on top of my own pension program and ready to start a working semi-retirement? Thank you America, Mom and Dad who taught me the glories of spreadsheets on a 486 computer in 1995 and who tracked every dollar they've spent over their 45 years of marriage, and you MMM loonies.
« Last Edit: July 29, 2019, 09:20:03 PM by ErrantVenture »

Faramir

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Re: Reader Case Study -- Early Working Semi Retirement -- Am I A Madman?
« Reply #1 on: July 30, 2019, 01:22:13 AM »
I don't have an answer for sell vs rent out your house but I voted for go to Barcelona and teach for 20-30 hrs a week.  It'll make you happier, lead on to work you want, and you'll have time to cycle around, get fit and have a social life.  Plenty of cheap travel options from Barcelone to other parts of Europe, too.  It sounds like a no brainer to me, the current work scenario sounds awful, despite the good pay.


Hirondelle

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Re: Reader Case Study -- Early Working Semi Retirement -- Am I A Madman?
« Reply #2 on: July 30, 2019, 03:37:39 AM »
Go for it. Worst case you're teaching for a year, break even on your income/expenses and head back to the USA the next year while your stash is waiting for you.

I've done the whole teaching abroad thing for half a year and would go back in a heartbeat. I loved it. This sentence is what it's all about to me: discovered how well and simply you can live when you can ride a bicycle (or even better, the outside of a beautifully painted bus blaring Bollywood music) everywhere you want to go, and you're surrounded by fun people.

Your current coworkers think they're living their best lives with BMWs and parties. You know all you really need is that Bollywood music blaring bus ;)

reeshau

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Re: Reader Case Study -- Early Working Semi Retirement -- Am I A Madman?
« Reply #3 on: July 30, 2019, 03:53:59 AM »
QUESTION 1: I am 36 years old. I currently have $175,000.00 in investments. By my back of the envelope calculations, based on a 7% rate of return, even if I never invest another dime, I'll have comfortably over $1,300,000 by the time I turn 65. With a 4% SWR I'll have a comfortable $52,000 annual income, which is more than enough for me to live on by myself currently in America, and will support a very high standard of living abroad. So in my estimation, as long as I can find fulfilling work that pays the bills at a "subsistence" level for the next 29 years, I will be able to comfortably hit FIRE at 65 (or earlier, if I'm happy with surviving on less that $52,000/annually) without ever investing another dime. Am I free to simply spend the next 29 years doing whatever I want as long as I don't dip into my investment accounts? Is this a reasonable use of the 7% rule? Do I need to factor in inflation? Should I use a smaller number than $175k for long term forecasting since I've had such great returns on investment over the past three years of growth? Is there something I'm missing in this calculation, or is it time to tell my boss that I'm simply not coming in on Saturdays anymore, start packing my bags, and get ready for a departure to Barcelona in December?

I agree--go try your adventure.  You seem quite capable of it, and have your eyes open from past adventures. (rather than naively approaching it)  It does not have to set your life path forever--see how it goes.

Regarding question 1, remember when projecting this far ahead that inflation will also keep on going.  Your calculation is in "nominal" or future dollars.  (or seems to be:  7% is a conservative nominal number, given current valuations.  It's high if you think it's already inflation-adjusted)  In real dollars, 30 years from now, you will be earning about half. (by the rule of 72--with continued low interest)  So, think of $52k in 2048 dollars as $26k now.  Still comfortable?  It's doable, but no, no miracle occurred.  (although Einstein did call compound interest [returns] the eighth wonder of the world)
« Last Edit: July 30, 2019, 03:58:42 AM by reeshau »

2Birds1Stone

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Re: Reader Case Study -- Early Working Semi Retirement -- Am I A Madman?
« Reply #4 on: July 30, 2019, 04:21:11 AM »
Spain is calling......I would make it a point to add significant chunks to that $175k over the years, when you can of course. A year or two of higher paid work tossed into the mix can greatly improve the likelihood that you end up being set for old age retirement long before age 65.......but for now? Go teach, explore, and figure out that that "thing you could do for the next 30 years" will be, even if it might change several times over that period.

Stashing Swiss-style

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Re: Reader Case Study -- Early Working Semi Retirement -- Am I A Madman?
« Reply #5 on: July 30, 2019, 04:21:52 AM »
The beaches of Barcelona will be there for a long time to come, as will other glorious places to visit.  You're 36 and have $175k in investments - good but not great.  If you want to retire early but still have a meaningful life between now and date of FIRE, then I think you should change jobs, build a life, including relationships (friends, family, intimate etc), keep saving and living the MMM way (which you are clearly great at).   Maybe you need to find seasonal type work that allows you 2-3 months of freedom every year.  But first get rid of all debt, including mortgage, so that you are really "free" to do what you want, in whatever country you want.


Zamboni

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Re: Reader Case Study -- Early Working Semi Retirement -- Am I A Madman?
« Reply #6 on: July 30, 2019, 06:02:34 AM »
1. I think you should move to Spain . . . I'll be right behind you as soon as my kids are 18. Seriously. In any case, tell your boss you are no longer working on Saturdays starting immediately no matter what you decide to do. Read a book about boundaries (or find Capt Awkward's website) if you need snappy comeback language for having your boundaries about not working on weekends challenged.

2. The rent vs. sell question is best for arebelspy . . . but he'd need to see the numbers (Realistic selling price, realistic renting price, mortgage details). There is a landlord forum here and you can @ him on that.

3. Move to Spain

4. It's very cool . . . awesome work!

mistymoney

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Re: Reader Case Study -- Early Working Semi Retirement -- Am I A Madman?
« Reply #7 on: July 30, 2019, 06:26:15 AM »
The beaches of Barcelona will be there for a long time to come, as will other glorious places to visit.  You're 36 and have $175k in investments - good but not great.  If you want to retire early but still have a meaningful life between now and date of FIRE, then I think you should change jobs, build a life, including relationships (friends, family, intimate etc), keep saving and living the MMM way (which you are clearly great at).   Maybe you need to find seasonal type work that allows you 2-3 months of freedom every year.  But first get rid of all debt, including mortgage, so that you are really "free" to do what you want, in whatever country you want.

While I agree that 175k isn't a huge amount at 36, the job is available now, the OP is unencumbered by relationships currently, and Spain is full of people to make friends/fall in love with. If that's what they're into.

sounds like OP is itching to be an expat, not put roots down.

It might be worth it to keep the property, given family being near and loose plans to just try to break even from here on out - aka, won't have a ton for down payments if wanting to settle down at home 10 years out if property prices go up significantly. With dad's handiness, would he be up for managing the property for you? Maybe in conjunction with a management firm to do the leasing, screening, etc.

But if not, sell and be free.

When does the job start? When do you have to give a decision?

Or - is this not a firm offer at this time?

 


mistymoney

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Re: Reader Case Study -- Early Working Semi Retirement -- Am I A Madman?
« Reply #8 on: July 30, 2019, 06:30:28 AM »
And OP is a very good salesman.....

I'm now thinking....hmmmm.....teaching English abroad part time.......

Rdy2Fire

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Re: Reader Case Study -- Early Working Semi Retirement -- Am I A Madman?
« Reply #9 on: July 30, 2019, 06:46:40 AM »
And OP is a very good salesman.....

I'm now thinking....hmmmm.....teaching English abroad part time.......

I looked into this years ago. I still think about it periodically, doesn't pay great but so what. Only issue is committing to it means you can't just pick up and travel.

SuperSecretName

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Re: Reader Case Study -- Early Working Semi Retirement -- Am I A Madman?
« Reply #10 on: July 30, 2019, 07:19:32 AM »
QUESTION 1: I am 36 years old. I currently have $175,000.00 in investments. By my back of the envelope calculations, based on a 7% rate of return, even if I never invest another dime, I'll have comfortably over $1,300,000 by the time I turn 65.
....in today's dollars.  you need to account for inflation.  using 2% inflation, (e.g. 5% net), you have 756k after 30 years. 

You should just knock out that student loan now.  5% with no tax benefit is a tad high to keep it hanging around.

In terms of life advice:  your salary isn't as great as you think.  you make ~80k, but just work at 1.5 jobs.  Still a good salary, no doubt.  But if you wanted your life back, you will need to take a paycut.

Your savings allow you to do whatever you want - it just can't be nothing.  Whatever you do, you just still need to bring in some income.

You don't seem to be able to do any type of job long term.  Not saying that to disparage you, but that seems like a fact.  You can't try to fight that, and probably just have to roll with it and embrace it.  You are able to live simply which is very valuable.  Your accumulated savings will help smooth out the transitions.  I think there is a very slim chance of you making it to 65 without dipping in to the savings at some point.

Given the statements above, I wouldn't go back to school, as you are likely to change your mind on what you want to do.   It's a lot of time/effort/money for something which may not stick.
« Last Edit: July 30, 2019, 07:57:34 AM by SuperSecretName »

coffeefueled

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Re: Reader Case Study -- Early Working Semi Retirement -- Am I A Madman?
« Reply #11 on: July 30, 2019, 07:56:15 AM »
Even if you don't go to Spain your current job isn't the life you want. Don't get stuck there. Sounds like the masters in disaster relief and globe trotting life of do-gooding would be a good fit. Before you take the leap to go to Spain (or while you're there) I'd look into what you really need for that industry. A structural engineering degree or strong EMS skills would expand your options beyond emergency mgmt. positions. Spain sounds like a good interlude but make sure you're still planning for what's after that.

ErrantVenture

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Re: Reader Case Study -- Early Working Semi Retirement -- Am I A Madman?
« Reply #12 on: July 30, 2019, 09:21:33 AM »
Go for it. Worst case you're teaching for a year, break even on your income/expenses and head back to the USA the next year while your stash is waiting for you.

I've done the whole teaching abroad thing for half a year and would go back in a heartbeat. I loved it. This sentence is what it's all about to me: discovered how well and simply you can live when you can ride a bicycle (or even better, the outside of a beautifully painted bus blaring Bollywood music) everywhere you want to go, and you're surrounded by fun people.

Your current coworkers think they're living their best lives with BMWs and parties. You know all you really need is that Bollywood music blaring bus ;)

Oh man. Once I found out you can ride ON TOP of vehicles in the "developing world," I realized where I wanted to live for the rest of my life. I used to blast AC/DC and Five Finger Death Punch while riding a cheapo mountain bike through Kathmandu traffic. So much fun, and I was in teriffic shape, when I wasn't vomiting up all the intestinal hitchhikers. Kept me skinny though...

QUESTION 1: I am 36 years old. I currently have $175,000.00 in investments. By my back of the envelope calculations, based on a 7% rate of return, even if I never invest another dime, I'll have comfortably over $1,300,000 by the time I turn 65. With a 4% SWR I'll have a comfortable $52,000 annual income, which is more than enough for me to live on by myself currently in America, and will support a very high standard of living abroad. So in my estimation, as long as I can find fulfilling work that pays the bills at a "subsistence" level for the next 29 years, I will be able to comfortably hit FIRE at 65 (or earlier, if I'm happy with surviving on less that $52,000/annually) without ever investing another dime. Am I free to simply spend the next 29 years doing whatever I want as long as I don't dip into my investment accounts? Is this a reasonable use of the 7% rule? Do I need to factor in inflation? Should I use a smaller number than $175k for long term forecasting since I've had such great returns on investment over the past three years of growth? Is there something I'm missing in this calculation, or is it time to tell my boss that I'm simply not coming in on Saturdays anymore, start packing my bags, and get ready for a departure to Barcelona in December?

I agree--go try your adventure.  You seem quite capable of it, and have your eyes open from past adventures. (rather than naively approaching it)  It does not have to set your life path forever--see how it goes.

Regarding question 1, remember when projecting this far ahead that inflation will also keep on going.  Your calculation is in "nominal" or future dollars.  (or seems to be:  7% is a conservative nominal number, given current valuations.  It's high if you think it's already inflation-adjusted)  In real dollars, 30 years from now, you will be earning about half. (by the rule of 72--with continued low interest)  So, think of $52k in 2048 dollars as $26k now.  Still comfortable?  It's doable, but no, no miracle occurred.  (although Einstein did call compound interest [returns] the eighth wonder of the world)

This is the niggling doubt that made me ask this question. I had figured on being able to retire of necessity at 55, or more comfortably at 65...I was not calculating properly for inflation. I've spent a lot of today figuring out what a good number is, and what a great number is. My gut is comfortable at $3000/month in today's dollars, which means I need to plan for $6000/month in 65 Year Old Me dollars.

The good news is, I'm still wealthier than most other 36 year olds. The bad news is, my 30's are my last chance to get real phenomenal returns from compounding interest.

On top of that, I'm not in the enviable position of being able to earn $60-80k annually very easily. Anything that I do that isn't in mortgages will either not pay very well for the first few years, or take some investment in schooling to do, pushing back my ability to start building the stache into my 40's. I do wish I had taken better advantage of my first adult decade.

QUESTION 1: I am 36 years old. I currently have $175,000.00 in investments. By my back of the envelope calculations, based on a 7% rate of return, even if I never invest another dime, I'll have comfortably over $1,300,000 by the time I turn 65.
....in today's dollars.  you need to account for inflation.  using 2% inflation, (e.g. 5% net), you have 756k after 30 years. 

You should just knock out that student loan now.  5% with no tax benefit is a tad high to keep it hanging around.

In terms of life advice:  your salary isn't as great as you think.  you make ~80k, but just work at 1.5 jobs.  Still a good salary, no doubt.  But if you wanted your life back, you will need to take a paycut.

Your savings allow you to do whatever you want - it just can't be nothing.  Whatever you do, you just still need to bring in some income.

You don't seem to be able to do any type of job long term.  Not saying that to disparage you, but that seems like a fact.  You can't try to fight that, and probably just have to roll with it and embrace it. No disparagement at all! It's the truth! Eventually I'd like to find something that will keep my ADD mind occupied for longer than a few years, which was part of the reason I started my FI journey -- so I could spend more of my time solving problems that are interesting to me, and less time stuck on a treadmill/career path. This is why it might be a much better idea to spend the next five years working in my field in a less intense capacity, with heightened frugality, to cement in a solid stache that will really take off in my 40's/50's. --EV  You are able to live simply which is very valuable.  Your accumulated savings will help smooth out the transitions.  I think there is a very slim chance of you making it to 65 without dipping in to the savings at some point.

Given the statements above, I wouldn't go back to school, as you are likely to change your mind on what you want to do.   It's a lot of time/effort/money for something which may not stick. Couldn't agree more!

So the decision to make right now is - capitalize on a high earning job (for me) that will be tough to replicate in the future, AND capitalize on the compounding effect of putting money in now, as opposed to waiting for my 40's. If I truly, truly want FIRE, it would probably be wiser to continue working in this industry, in a $50-60k position with fewer hours, and stack a bit more cash now, and spend the 40's being a nomad.

OR -

Capitalize on my youthful (late) 30's, Take the leap to Barcelona, enjoy some beaches, and find out if I can save $300/month in the process. If I can, I'm on a solid path to FIRE still, and enjoying the world. If not, just call it a year's working sabbatical, and come back to Michigan for a bit.

My rough calculations for $3000/year in now dollars at 65 require an additional $15,000 invested now, or $3000/year for ten years between 40 and 50. Of course, at that point I'm now counting on 7% returns over a 15-20 year period instead of a 29 year period. This is potentially a bit riskier and, as pointed out by Swiss Stache, I'm no longer actually pursuing FI/RE, I'm pursuing a working retirement now with FIRE wayyyyy later:

The beaches of Barcelona will be there for a long time to come, as will other glorious places to visit.  You're 36 and have $175k in investments - good but not great.  If you want to retire early but still have a meaningful life between now and date of FIRE, then I think you should change jobs, build a life, including relationships (friends, family, intimate etc), keep saving and living the MMM way (which you are clearly great at).   Maybe you need to find seasonal type work that allows you 2-3 months of freedom every year.  But first get rid of all debt, including mortgage, so that you are really "free" to do what you want, in whatever country you want.
« Last Edit: July 30, 2019, 09:29:58 AM by ErrantVenture »

LifeHappens

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Re: Reader Case Study -- Early Working Semi Retirement -- Am I A Madman?
« Reply #13 on: July 30, 2019, 09:31:13 AM »
You have tons of options, which is great! I do have to bring up this point. Your current work is highly dependent on the economic cycle. In a recession, mortgage sales takes a big hit. Would it possible for you to gut it out for a while longer, pad your stash, pay down debt and get ready to hit the road during the next crash?

ErrantVenture

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Re: Reader Case Study -- Early Working Semi Retirement -- Am I A Madman?
« Reply #14 on: July 30, 2019, 09:43:02 AM »
The beaches of Barcelona will be there for a long time to come..

...
When does the job start? When do you have to give a decision?

Or - is this not a firm offer at this time?

This deserves it's own post -- I don't have a job lined up in Barcelona. :)

https://www.oxfordtefl.com/oxford-tefl-courses/tefl-certificate/dates-prices/barcelona/

It's one of several places I've looked into for paying to get the CELTA certificate.

My "buy in" will be $2500-3000 for lodging, food, and six weeks of classroom training, the certificate, and assistance for the visa process. After that, there are multiple networks for finding language schools or private language tutoring opportunities. I have a few different friends with 3+ years of teaching English in Korea as well, so job opportunities are there as well once I secure the CELTA and classroom experience.

I'm still putting together the business plan and gathering the costs of living, and will be operating off the cash and not touching the investments. My goal, naturally, will be to make sure I can survive not breaking even without affecting the 'stache, and see if I can break even in the first year and resume some level of retirement savings in the second. 

I'm aiming for December because the best hiring seasons are August and January, and I hit my three-year vesting in the 401(k) in November at my current job.

oldladystache

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Re: Reader Case Study -- Early Working Semi Retirement -- Am I A Madman?
« Reply #15 on: July 30, 2019, 09:46:53 AM »
Go now, follow your dream, but don't think of it as a lifetime commitment. Things will happen, your dreams will change.

In a few years you will probably have very different plans and that's ok.

SuperSecretName

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Re: Reader Case Study -- Early Working Semi Retirement -- Am I A Madman?
« Reply #16 on: July 30, 2019, 09:57:48 AM »
My rough calculations for $3000/year in now dollars at 65 require an additional $15,000 invested now

...that 15k seems doable with your current salary.

What if you wait until Aug of 2020?  It's not like there is an offer in Jan that will expire.  It's your own schedule.  Waiting a few months will allow you to save a good chunk of change. 

Zamboni

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Re: Reader Case Study -- Early Working Semi Retirement -- Am I A Madman?
« Reply #17 on: July 30, 2019, 06:12:52 PM »
My cousin teaches in Portugal. She loves it there, and there is a lot of reasons to love it. I say go for it!

There is also an interesting book called Millionaire Teacher by Andrew Hallam, who has been teaching overseas for years. Now I see that he has a newer book called Millionaire Expat that I'm going to check out thanks to this thread!

mistymoney

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Re: Reader Case Study -- Early Working Semi Retirement -- Am I A Madman?
« Reply #18 on: July 31, 2019, 06:27:02 AM »
as there is no formal offer, and a paid-for training requirement upfront (with no guarantee of placement?) my answer changes.

Stick it out one more year with the man. Save every penny you can, pay off student loan, max 401k and roth/ira for 2020 money, save up the costs for the course/training and a few months abroad expenses incase you don't get a spot right away. Maybe have a 250k goal for current stache.

What is your house situation? Can you rent out 1 or 2 bedrooms? Then when you leave, pack up your things into the basement, and rent out your room (assuming dad is willing to manage, perhaps at 10% rents commission).

in 20-30 years, the difference in starting at 175 vs 250 will be huge. If you could break even abroad, and have a couple hundred a month in rents building your stache, that would be even better.

Its a good idea, but lay more ground work.

Hirondelle

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Re: Reader Case Study -- Early Working Semi Retirement -- Am I A Madman?
« Reply #19 on: July 31, 2019, 06:53:24 AM »
One more thing to add btw; don't underestimate the potential to save in these jobs. I know it highly depends on what part of the world you're in and that salaries vs COL in southern Europe aren't all that high, but in most Asian and Middle Eastern countries you can get way ahead rather than just breaking even.

In my case I worked 20ish hours/week, netted around $1500/month and saved about $1100 of that. Now the first 1 month or so I was still looking for jobs and made closer to $1200, while later on my income was a bit higher than that average. I was a non-native English speaker so I didn't even have access to the very best jobs. Some of my friends are still living there and living a less frugal lifestyle (I'm el cheapo), but making $2000-2500/month and saving $1000-1500 of that. This was/is in SE-Asia btw.

Zamboni

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Re: Reader Case Study -- Early Working Semi Retirement -- Am I A Madman?
« Reply #20 on: July 31, 2019, 07:22:50 AM »
My cousin teaches science and was recruited to teach at a high school . . . already had a degree in the science field and didn't pay for any training as far as I know. So, it's a bit different than your situation.

Your idea is awesome, but it sounds like you still need to do quite a bit more research about this type of work. The good news is that you have some time, especially if you draw a hard line about your current work hours so they don't sap all your energy. How about just laying down the law in your own mind about working your 40 hours -- 8 a day -- and then going home? Any other requests for working over can be answered with "That's just not going to work for me." Unless you are disrespectful about it, I don't think they will fire you over it in the short term. Obviously you can make an exception for a single work emergency at your discretion, but working the hours you have been describing should not happen on a normal weekly basis.

You also have some resources. Andrew Hallam (book author) was an English teacher overseas, so his blog might have connections to others doing this, and I know there are some folks here including right here in your thread. You could search for more specific threads on ESL overseas or start a new one now on MMM. I have another friend who had a brother move to Viet Nam to teach English, for example. What you are talking about doing is obviously a completely legitimate way to explore another culture while making some money.

But do you know if you will like teaching? Do you have particular skills in lesson planning, knowledge about affect and cognition, an understanding of learning progressions in languages? This is probably why the Oxford program has training that you pay for. Some people sign up on a lark, then burn out immediately because it's just not as easy as they are imagining. Others take to it like a fish to water. You would be paying them to provide you with some basic skills and help with your visa, but you are also paying for them to have the opportunity to screen you for whatever skills and personality they are looking for. Pretty sweet deal for them, eh? If you don't have what they want, then you might be stuck without help from them when it comes to jobs.

You need to find out what they are really looking for before you make the leap . . . I would also suggest trying to find some part time opportunity to tutor ESL in your local community now. That way you'll make a better impression on your extended job interview that you are paying to attend, and you'll also know if you like teaching English enough to seriously consider make this big of a move. Good luck!

ErrantVenture

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Re: Reader Case Study -- Early Working Semi Retirement -- Am I A Madman?
« Reply #21 on: July 31, 2019, 07:36:26 PM »
My cousin teaches science and was recruited to teach at a high school . . . already had a degree in the science field and didn't pay for any training as far as I know. So, it's a bit different than your situation.

Your idea is awesome, but it sounds like you still need to do quite a bit more research about this type of work. The good news is that you have some time, especially if you draw a hard line about your current work hours so they don't sap all your energy. How about just laying down the law in your own mind about working your 40 hours -- 8 a day -- and then going home? Any other requests for working over can be answered with "That's just not going to work for me." Unless you are disrespectful about it, I don't think they will fire you over it in the short term. Obviously you can make an exception for a single work emergency at your discretion, but working the hours you have been describing should not happen on a normal weekly basis.

You also have some resources. Andrew Hallam (book author) was an English teacher overseas, so his blog might have connections to others doing this, and I know there are some folks here including right here in your thread. You could search for more specific threads on ESL overseas or start a new one now on MMM. I have another friend who had a brother move to Viet Nam to teach English, for example. What you are talking about doing is obviously a completely legitimate way to explore another culture while making some money.

But do you know if you will like teaching? Do you have particular skills in lesson planning, knowledge about affect and cognition, an understanding of learning progressions in languages? This is probably why the Oxford program has training that you pay for. Some people sign up on a lark, then burn out immediately because it's just not as easy as they are imagining. Others take to it like a fish to water. You would be paying them to provide you with some basic skills and help with your visa, but you are also paying for them to have the opportunity to screen you for whatever skills and personality they are looking for. Pretty sweet deal for them, eh? If you don't have what they want, then you might be stuck without help from them when it comes to jobs.

You need to find out what they are really looking for before you make the leap . . . I would also suggest trying to find some part time opportunity to tutor ESL in your local community now. That way you'll make a better impression on your extended job interview that you are paying to attend, and you'll also know if you like teaching English enough to seriously consider make this big of a move. Good luck!

as there is no formal offer, and a paid-for training requirement upfront (with no guarantee of placement?) my answer changes.

Stick it out one more year with the man. Save every penny you can, pay off student loan, max 401k and roth/ira for 2020 money, save up the costs for the course/training and a few months abroad expenses incase you don't get a spot right away. Maybe have a 250k goal for current stache.

What is your house situation? Can you rent out 1 or 2 bedrooms? Then when you leave, pack up your things into the basement, and rent out your room (assuming dad is willing to manage, perhaps at 10% rents commission).

in 20-30 years, the difference in starting at 175 vs 250 will be huge. If you could break even abroad, and have a couple hundred a month in rents building your stache, that would be even better.

Its a good idea, but lay more ground work.

This thread is really helping me evaluate things, which is good.

Honestly, the decision to start looking into this was driving by a bit of desperation. My income is entirely based on commission, and I don't really make enough money to break even with my expenses until I hit 60-70% of goal (and they will fire you if you average lower than 70-80% of goal over three months). On the flip side, if you hit goal regularly, they promote you, increase your goal, and increase your compensation. So it's tough to rein things in, and I'm a high-anxiety perfectionist with slightly obsessive tendencies.

It's really tough for me to pace myself and actually live my life the way I tell myself I'm going to live it - actually leave on time (I can't pare down the hours below the scheduled 0800-1900, but I have successfully fought to have my Fridays and Saturdays free. It's tough for me to "turn off" work and "turn on" fun, even though I'm telling myself, "Dan, you have a stache, you have FU money, you can afford to set real limits, enjoy your life, and if you underperform and get fired, there are plenty of other options," I have a hard time actually doing this.

Anywho, I just finished the month at 60% of goal, and in spite of a few mini-freakouts and epic obsessive research into a new job, I'm still getting paid enough to break even for the month's expenses, and my boss has given me a lot of space since I told him I was thinking about quitting last week. We will see where it goes from here, but I'm embracing it as a time to be disciplined about all the things I say I want to do more of with my spare time, but don't do when I actually do have days off -- ride the bike, catch sunsets, explore the city, take a mini beach trip.

I've got a tentative goal to stay in this role until November, because that will mean I'm vested in another $2500-3000 of my 401(k).

TESOL in Barcelona is a few things for me --

number one, a parachute plan if I continue underperforming at work and get let go.

number two, a well earned sabbatical between this job and another one, and a chance to try out the teaching thing. I'm pretty sure I'll do well at it, I love learning stuff and passing it on to other people, I'm great with kids and crowds, I led wilderness education trips in college and can play Rock Paper Scissors with the best of them. And I have enough sales and corporate experience to be very useful in the non-English speaking business world, if they want to operate with English speakers. I talk with people from every region of America on a daily basis (and man, it's a head trip getting off the phone with someone in NYC, to speaking to someone in California, to Kentucky...code-switching is a thing). So if nothing else I can be a dialect and cultural consultant for companies working in the American market.

I think the inflation thing is a big wake up call. $52k sounds great, $26k does not, and it means I don't have the slim FIRE at 55 either. So I do need to revamp the retirement targets.

I think either way, unless I really figure out how to work this job and at least have a tolerable social life, I'll be heading overseas for some TESOL time in the next year, either as a working sabbatical before another job, or the test run for a serious Stache'ing opportunity in the Asian market. Europe, from my research, is more for kicks, giggles, and the quality of life than actually making money.

Spot on as well, Zamboni -- I need to squeeze some actual English teaching into my spare time here to see what it's like. I'm not in emergency mode yet, though sometimes at work it feels like it.

And getting off the high-paid gravy train is a decision to postpone real, honest to God FU FIRE for ten to twenty years of semi-working retirement. Work is always gonna be work...I should make sure I'm really well and properly set up before transitioning to something else.
« Last Edit: July 31, 2019, 07:56:50 PM by ErrantVenture »

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Re: Reader Case Study -- Early Working Semi Retirement -- Am I A Madman?
« Reply #22 on: August 01, 2019, 08:51:28 AM »
As someone who has had to rely primarily on commission to build wealth, I feel for you.

As someone who is also under-performing, and largely due to external circumstances, I understand the need to have an escape plan.

Milk the job while you can. Mortgage interest rates should be dipping a big, election year means things will be rosy from the outside looking in, and hopefully you can squeeze out a few more high pay months to pad the stache a bit.

Right now, even increasing your stache by 10% shouldn't take too long, and the impact to compounding can be huge down the line.

It's good to have a plan b, plan c, and plan D. Hard to internalize these things, sales can suck the life out of you during non working hours. I've been there, the burnout is real, and comes on quick.

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Re: Reader Case Study -- Early Working Semi Retirement -- Am I A Madman?
« Reply #23 on: August 01, 2019, 10:32:18 AM »
First things first, unless you have some sort of odd sentimental attachment to it, nuke the student loan. You have the cash and it's definitely not earning 5% to cover what that loan is costing you.

For the rest of it, continue researching the teaching option while you milk the mortgage job to pad your stache. You are the perfect candidate for Barista FIRE since you're flexible, happy for adventure, and innately Mustachian. Why are you trading your happiness for net worth while pretending to be a corporate drone? This job is grinding you down because you are a star shaped peg in a square shaped hole. Spend some time developing a reasonable (cough short cough) timeframe on how long you can really continue to do this and set an adios date. Throw your free time and energy into planning for your next chapter. You'll probably get a huge amount of happiness from the process since research shows that planning trips increase happiness more than the trips actually do.

On the teaching option - once you get that certification, does it set you up to take on any teaching job globally? I have a friend that I met while traveling in Chile who does the expat teaching thing. She's probably one of the most interesting people I know and loves her life. Moves around every few years to a new country if she gets bored. If the teaching option works out, you'll be getting paid and can target saving even a small amount of that pay so your retirement won't be completely based on the stache you have now.

Go prepare for your next adventure.

ErrantVenture

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Re: Reader Case Study -- Early Working Semi Retirement -- Am I A Madman?
« Reply #24 on: August 01, 2019, 10:05:01 PM »
As someone who has had to rely primarily on commission to build wealth, I feel for you.

As someone who is also under-performing, and largely due to external circumstances, I understand the need to have an escape plan.

Milk the job while you can. Mortgage interest rates should be dipping a big, election year means things will be rosy from the outside looking in, and hopefully you can squeeze out a few more high pay months to pad the stache a bit.

Right now, even increasing your stache by 10% shouldn't take too long, and the impact to compounding can be huge down the line.

It's good to have a plan b, plan c, and plan D. Hard to internalize these things, sales can suck the life out of you during non working hours. I've been there, the burnout is real, and comes on quick.

It's it's own crazy little world. I keep reminding myself that it's a great opportunity to learn to compartmentalize stress and not obsess about stuff I can't control. Easier said than done, but every day I leave on time and let the chips fall where they may, every time I stand up for myself while not being an asshole, I'm building better habits and ultimately a better, more useful, and more resilient me.

Which helps me stay longer to pad the stache - because I'm not just staying for another month, another few thousand dollars. It's another month, a fatter stache, AND becoming a better and more stable person. Specifically when it comes to letting the things I don't like crowd out my ability to enjoy the things I do like. Yeah, I don't have a lot of spare time -- but I'm not spending the spare time I have as if it's leisure time. I'm obsessing over how I can escape this situation and get into a better one, which is way too close to "grass is greener if I could just get over there" thinking. Or the "everything will be perfect if I can just get to FIRE" thinking.

This is a weakness I have -- when things aren't perfect I tend to miss out on the good stuff while I'm annoyed by/obsessed with/trying to fix the stuff I don't like. So I can focus on working on that and building a better, stronger, working me while I sort out whether or not I can hit goal AND be less stressed at work. And if I can't...well, then I know what to do next!

First things first, unless you have some sort of odd sentimental attachment to it, nuke the student loan. You have the cash and it's definitely not earning 5% to cover what that loan is costing you.

For the rest of it, continue researching the teaching option while you milk the mortgage job to pad your stache. You are the perfect candidate for Barista FIRE since you're flexible, happy for adventure, and innately Mustachian. Why are you trading your happiness for net worth while pretending to be a corporate drone? This job is grinding you down because you are a star shaped peg in a square shaped hole. Spend some time developing a reasonable (cough short cough) timeframe on how long you can really continue to do this and set an adios date. Throw your free time and energy into planning for your next chapter. You'll probably get a huge amount of happiness from the process since research shows that planning trips increase happiness more than the trips actually do.

On the teaching option - once you get that certification, does it set you up to take on any teaching job globally? I have a friend that I met while traveling in Chile who does the expat teaching thing. She's probably one of the most interesting people I know and loves her life. Moves around every few years to a new country if she gets bored. If the teaching option works out, you'll be getting paid and can target saving even a small amount of that pay so your retirement won't be completely based on the stache you have now.

Go prepare for your next adventure.

Word. I like it.

As far as the teaching goes, some of the more lucrative countries to teach in don't even require the certificate. Teaching English abroad is sort of a wild west thing. There aren't any governing bodies, there's no standardization, it's a big money small business in many Asian countries, so quality can be very hit and miss. The M.O. is either to come in through a government program like JET in Japan or EPIK in Korea, or simply show up in country and start walking into language schools. You can also typically find private lessons through the local equivalents of craigslist, facebook, etc.

Most people start with a certificate, and a lot of the more hitchiker crowd say you don't really need the certificate. Just fly to Vietnam or Thailand and jump right in. Personally, I would rather pay a bit to make the first few years more survivable, especially since I don't have any teaching experience, and I'd like the chance to work at better schools and in more legit/less scammy operations from the get-go, so the investment in the most widely recognized and rigorous certificate seems to be a good decision. And my Spanish is passable so Spain seemed like a good place to dip the toe before diving into Japan/Korea/China for the money.

It's not as good money as having a ed. degree and teaching at international schools...but I'm not ready to dive into getting a real degree right now.

Spot on on the student loan, I'll kill that shortly, as long as it doesn't interfere with the cash reserves for the eventual TESOL adventure.

Barrista FIRE...I like that. Don't tell anybody, but I can't tell the difference between good coffee and mud mixed with battery acid. Blasphemy, I know, but it certainly has helped me stay mustachian. I'm thinking Bartender FIRE is more my jam. Thick stouts and philosophy.
« Last Edit: August 01, 2019, 10:09:13 PM by ErrantVenture »

mistymoney

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Re: Reader Case Study -- Early Working Semi Retirement -- Am I A Madman?
« Reply #25 on: August 02, 2019, 08:35:53 AM »
My cousin teaches science and was recruited to teach at a high school . . . already had a degree in the science field and didn't pay for any training as far as I know. So, it's a bit different than your situation.

Your idea is awesome, but it sounds like you still need to do quite a bit more research about this type of work. The good news is that you have some time, especially if you draw a hard line about your current work hours so they don't sap all your energy. How about just laying down the law in your own mind about working your 40 hours -- 8 a day -- and then going home? Any other requests for working over can be answered with "That's just not going to work for me." Unless you are disrespectful about it, I don't think they will fire you over it in the short term. Obviously you can make an exception for a single work emergency at your discretion, but working the hours you have been describing should not happen on a normal weekly basis.

You also have some resources. Andrew Hallam (book author) was an English teacher overseas, so his blog might have connections to others doing this, and I know there are some folks here including right here in your thread. You could search for more specific threads on ESL overseas or start a new one now on MMM. I have another friend who had a brother move to Viet Nam to teach English, for example. What you are talking about doing is obviously a completely legitimate way to explore another culture while making some money.

But do you know if you will like teaching? Do you have particular skills in lesson planning, knowledge about affect and cognition, an understanding of learning progressions in languages? This is probably why the Oxford program has training that you pay for. Some people sign up on a lark, then burn out immediately because it's just not as easy as they are imagining. Others take to it like a fish to water. You would be paying them to provide you with some basic skills and help with your visa, but you are also paying for them to have the opportunity to screen you for whatever skills and personality they are looking for. Pretty sweet deal for them, eh? If you don't have what they want, then you might be stuck without help from them when it comes to jobs.

You need to find out what they are really looking for before you make the leap . . . I would also suggest trying to find some part time opportunity to tutor ESL in your local community now. That way you'll make a better impression on your extended job interview that you are paying to attend, and you'll also know if you like teaching English enough to seriously consider make this big of a move. Good luck!

as there is no formal offer, and a paid-for training requirement upfront (with no guarantee of placement?) my answer changes.

Stick it out one more year with the man. Save every penny you can, pay off student loan, max 401k and roth/ira for 2020 money, save up the costs for the course/training and a few months abroad expenses incase you don't get a spot right away. Maybe have a 250k goal for current stache.

What is your house situation? Can you rent out 1 or 2 bedrooms? Then when you leave, pack up your things into the basement, and rent out your room (assuming dad is willing to manage, perhaps at 10% rents commission).

in 20-30 years, the difference in starting at 175 vs 250 will be huge. If you could break even abroad, and have a couple hundred a month in rents building your stache, that would be even better.

Its a good idea, but lay more ground work.

This thread is really helping me evaluate things, which is good.

Honestly, the decision to start looking into this was driving by a bit of desperation. My income is entirely based on commission, and I don't really make enough money to break even with my expenses until I hit 60-70% of goal (and they will fire you if you average lower than 70-80% of goal over three months). On the flip side, if you hit goal regularly, they promote you, increase your goal, and increase your compensation. So it's tough to rein things in, and I'm a high-anxiety perfectionist with slightly obsessive tendencies.

It's really tough for me to pace myself and actually live my life the way I tell myself I'm going to live it - actually leave on time (I can't pare down the hours below the scheduled 0800-1900, but I have successfully fought to have my Fridays and Saturdays free. It's tough for me to "turn off" work and "turn on" fun, even though I'm telling myself, "Dan, you have a stache, you have FU money, you can afford to set real limits, enjoy your life, and if you underperform and get fired, there are plenty of other options," I have a hard time actually doing this.

Anywho, I just finished the month at 60% of goal, and in spite of a few mini-freakouts and epic obsessive research into a new job, I'm still getting paid enough to break even for the month's expenses, and my boss has given me a lot of space since I told him I was thinking about quitting last week. We will see where it goes from here, but I'm embracing it as a time to be disciplined about all the things I say I want to do more of with my spare time, but don't do when I actually do have days off -- ride the bike, catch sunsets, explore the city, take a mini beach trip.

I've got a tentative goal to stay in this role until November, because that will mean I'm vested in another $2500-3000 of my 401(k).

TESOL in Barcelona is a few things for me --

number one, a parachute plan if I continue underperforming at work and get let go.

number two, a well earned sabbatical between this job and another one, and a chance to try out the teaching thing. I'm pretty sure I'll do well at it, I love learning stuff and passing it on to other people, I'm great with kids and crowds, I led wilderness education trips in college and can play Rock Paper Scissors with the best of them. And I have enough sales and corporate experience to be very useful in the non-English speaking business world, if they want to operate with English speakers. I talk with people from every region of America on a daily basis (and man, it's a head trip getting off the phone with someone in NYC, to speaking to someone in California, to Kentucky...code-switching is a thing). So if nothing else I can be a dialect and cultural consultant for companies working in the American market.

I think the inflation thing is a big wake up call. $52k sounds great, $26k does not, and it means I don't have the slim FIRE at 55 either. So I do need to revamp the retirement targets.

I think either way, unless I really figure out how to work this job and at least have a tolerable social life, I'll be heading overseas for some TESOL time in the next year, either as a working sabbatical before another job, or the test run for a serious Stache'ing opportunity in the Asian market. Europe, from my research, is more for kicks, giggles, and the quality of life than actually making money.

Spot on as well, Zamboni -- I need to squeeze some actual English teaching into my spare time here to see what it's like. I'm not in emergency mode yet, though sometimes at work it feels like it.

And getting off the high-paid gravy train is a decision to postpone real, honest to God FU FIRE for ten to twenty years of semi-working retirement. Work is always gonna be work...I should make sure I'm really well and properly set up before transitioning to something else.

ok - so - if Barcelona is a real possibility, why would you care if you got fired? You could maybe get unemployment while setting up the Barcelona thing.