Author Topic: 5 years later, how are the newly FIRE and Post-FIRE folks doing?  (Read 2690 times)

alcon835

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 448
in the old thread asking for advice from folks who had been FIRE'd 10+ years (https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/post-fire/what-has-workednot-worked-for-you-guys-who-have-been-fire-for-10-yrs/), there were a ton of folks who were about to FIRE or who were newly FIRE'd responding. There is so much great info in that thread (and tons of amazing links) that I'm sure I'll be clicking my way through for months to come. But all those almost/new FIRE folks in 2015 got me thinking...

For the folks who FIRE'd in the last 5-7 years how are you doing? What's life like 5+ years later and what advice do you have for those of us working our way toward FIRE?

Here are the people from the original thread, but I'm also interested in folks who weren't part of that thread :)

@Nords is exempt because he kindly replied to me on the other thread before gently reminding me to start a new one (though he might want to copy his post over here, because it is excellent).
@Jon_Snow
@clifp
@bella
@Exflyboy


Miss Prim

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 407
  • Location: Michigan
Re: 5 years later, how are the newly FIRE and Post-FIRE folks doing?
« Reply #1 on: April 17, 2020, 07:27:43 AM »
Fired for 5 years now, but did not retire very early.  I was 61 and husband was 65 when we retired.  I was on the ACA until 65 and it was getting more and more expensive so I was happy to get on medicare.  We have been pulling 4% a year from our "stache" and it still grew by a lot until this downturn.  We still have the same amount of money that we had maybe 2 years ago, so we are doing fine.  This year we will probably not have to pull 4% as we are not doing any travelling and eating out, so our expenses are way down.  Hopefully someone younger will respond to give you a better example of retiring early, but for us, it is working out fine.

alcon835

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 448
Re: 5 years later, how are the newly FIRE and Post-FIRE folks doing?
« Reply #2 on: April 17, 2020, 07:45:06 AM »
Fired for 5 years now, but did not retire very early.  I was 61 and husband was 65 when we retired.  I was on the ACA until 65 and it was getting more and more expensive so I was happy to get on medicare.  We have been pulling 4% a year from our "stache" and it still grew by a lot until this downturn.  We still have the same amount of money that we had maybe 2 years ago, so we are doing fine.  This year we will probably not have to pull 4% as we are not doing any travelling and eating out, so our expenses are way down.  Hopefully someone younger will respond to give you a better example of retiring early, but for us, it is working out fine.

That's great to hear!

I am curious, how was the ACA and how expensive did it get? My wife has a chronic illness. I am hoping to retire around 40 years old and expecting to either go on ACA or Medi-Share at that time. I'm curious about your experience with the ACA as its something I am planning to lean on when I get ready to FIRE.

Greystache

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 449
Re: 5 years later, how are the newly FIRE and Post-FIRE folks doing?
« Reply #3 on: April 17, 2020, 08:35:48 AM »
My wife and I retired in 2015 at the age of 55.  So far, everything has gone according to plan.  We accurately estimated our FIRE budget and have stuck to it without the need to increase it for inflation. We have been on ACA for health care. We are both relatively healthy so we have been on a bronze plan with an HSA.  Our premiums vary but average around $100 per month. Over the last five years, we have made the maximum contribution to the HSA and have only made small withdrawals to pay for medical expenses. We now have a $30K HSA balance. We enjoy our hobbies and travel extensively, although our plans to visit Europe again this spring got postponed. We have been invested more conservatively than most on this forum. Only about 50% in stock index funds.  Our net worth has grown over the last 5 years and the recent downturn did not hit us too hard.  Reading what I just wrote, it sounds boring and uneventful. Maybe that's a good thing.

Nords

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3323
  • Age: 61
  • Location: Oahu
    • Military Retirement & Financial Independence blog
Re: 5 years later, how are the newly FIRE and Post-FIRE folks doing?
« Reply #4 on: April 17, 2020, 09:41:40 AM »
in the old thread asking for advice from folks who had been FIRE'd 10+ years (https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/post-fire/what-has-workednot-worked-for-you-guys-who-have-been-fire-for-10-yrs/), there were a ton of folks who were about to FIRE or who were newly FIRE'd responding. There is so much great info in that thread (and tons of amazing links) that I'm sure I'll be clicking my way through for months to come. But all those almost/new FIRE folks in 2015 got me thinking...

For the folks who FIRE'd in the last 5-7 years how are you doing? What's life like 5+ years later and what advice do you have for those of us working our way toward FIRE?

Here are the people from the original thread, but I'm also interested in folks who weren't part of that thread :)

@Nords is exempt because he kindly replied to me on the other thread before gently reminding me to start a new one (though he might want to copy his post over here, because it is excellent).

Sure!  The more people who see it in either place, the better. 

Here's the posts that I quoted from the end of that other thread:
I am curious who those who RE are doing now, 5 years later. Especially those who were 3-5 years from retiring. Would love to hear how the lessons discussed in this thread helped you, especially since I am (hopefully) 6-8 years away from FIRE myself.

@alcon835 

You should start your own thread instead of bumping a really old one. You could still reference this one, but most folks are bad about only reading the first few posts (if not just the original post) and respond only to that one... by starting your own thread, referencing this one, you'll still get responses but they'll be better keyed to your specifics instead of the OP from 2015. ;)
Here's my update on my individual posts in that old thread, with the links included in case people want to read the details.

https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/post-fire/what-has-workednot-worked-for-you-guys-who-have-been-fire-for-10-yrs/msg695264/#msg695264
I'll hit 18 years on 1 June 2020.

Our net worth is even higher:
https://the-military-guide.com/fear-and-despair-in-a-bear-market/
https://the-military-guide.com/yet-another-decade-in-review-post/

Here's a BiggerPockets podcast rundown of five sets of FI people who stopped working, including one who quit his job in January.  His feedback in April?  "I wish I'd quit even sooner."
https://www.biggerpockets.com/blog/biggerpockets-money-podcast-119coronavirustime-give-financial-independence
--------------------


https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/post-fire/what-has-workednot-worked-for-you-guys-who-have-been-fire-for-10-yrs/msg695356/#msg695356
We've simplified our asset allocation.  It's not "less volatile" or "higher return" or even "better"-- just simpler.

Our criteria since 2017 is ">95% equities."  The current numbers in our brokerage accounts are:
98% stocks, 2% cash.
Of that 98%, here's the breakdown:
56% total stock market ETF VTI.
23% Berkshire Hathaway “B” shares.  Holding indefinitely.
9% dividend ETF DVY, slowly moving to VTI or to charities.
10% angel investments, winding them down.

We think that we're done rebalancing.  I've disabled options trading on our brokerage account, and I don't see myself ever turning it back on.  It worked great while we used it but it was also... work... and our current asset allocation is way simpler.
--------------------


https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/post-fire/what-has-workednot-worked-for-you-guys-who-have-been-fire-for-10-yrs/msg700740/#msg700740
No changes here.

I'd also like to call everyone's attention to the new best podcast on the 4% SWR that I've ever heard:
https://www.biggerpockets.com/blog/biggerpockets-money-podcast-120early-retirementasset-allocation-safe-withdrawal-rates-michael-kitces
--------------------


https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/post-fire/what-has-workednot-worked-for-you-guys-who-have-been-fire-for-10-yrs/msg702130/#msg702130
No changes here.  My FIL is now 86 years old.  As far as I know he and my MIL are still CDs & Treasuries.
--------------------


https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/post-fire/what-has-workednot-worked-for-you-guys-who-have-been-fire-for-10-yrs/msg711886/#msg711886
No changes here either, but go back to that Kitces podcast link above.  His 4% SWR explanations say it all better than me, including vocabulary like "bajillion", "blind lemmings", and “frickin’ scary to pull the cord and tap out of all income potential for the rest of their lives.”
--------------------


https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/post-fire/what-has-workednot-worked-for-you-guys-who-have-been-fire-for-10-yrs/msg739780/#msg739780
And no changes here either.

We've only made two moves in our portfolio during the last five months.

Last November we cashed out some DVY shares to fund our baby granddaughter's 529 account.  She was born in January and her parents got her 529 set up in early March.  They were all thrilled to buy ETF shares at a 25% discount.

Earlier this week we donated another tranche of DVY shares (and our stimulus checks) to our Fidelity charitable gift fund.  That trade settled last night and we've asked Fidelity to send the cash to our local Hawaii Foodbank.  The food bank is running low and they've appealed for more funds.  I don't know whether Fidelity does this with a paper check or an electronic funds transfer (Hawaii Foodbank is probably happy with EFTs) but Fidelity says the money is on the way.

We'd normally do this donation in late November anyway (as part of our annual tax planning) so we've accelerated it to this month and we're giving our entire annual donation to just the one 501(c)3.

Exflyboy

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 7473
  • Age: 60
  • Location: Corvallis, Oregon
  • Expat Brit living in the New World..:)
Re: 5 years later, how are the newly FIRE and Post-FIRE folks doing?
« Reply #5 on: April 17, 2020, 11:09:57 AM »
Firstly my hat is off to Nords for both surfing instruction... Yes he actually got My Wife and I standing up on a surf board in one lesson!.. and for linking to all those posts!..:)

So I quit (first time) in 2014 at age 52. Got an offer I couldn't refuse and took a couple of contracts after that. Now this turned out to be the most fun work I have ever done so I don't regret going back to work. No I didn't need the money.

The money so far has worked out fine. but honestly our WR rate has been trickling along at about 1.5% in our most expensive year so far. This is mostly due to the bull market. Before the C19 crash we had roughly double what I had in 2014.

We also have two small pensions that will bring in about 65% of our yearly spend in about 2 years time. In the meantime we have 2 rentals, one of which is a single wide trailer. The rentals bring in about 40% of yearly spend.

I don't see myself being in the rental business for too much longer but we have great renters and they both work at the local hospital. Needless to say this is NOT the time to be culling off sources of income..:)

Healthcare wise we use the ACA. Monthly premiums run at less than $20/month on a Bronze plan which worked out great until I broke my wrist and we got walloped with the max OOP ($8k) bill. Fortunately I had $15k or so in a medical retiree account from my employer that I took an early retirement package from in 2012.

Money is about 50% pre tax/post tax. If the ACA goes away (sadly a real possibility) we will take that opportunity to rollover.. State taxes are a killer though.

Like most people I have found our spend has gone way down since the lockdown. So much so that our 2 years of cash is more like 5 years.

We run a simple portfolio of about 80/17/3 (VTSAX/VBTLX/cash).. Funds similar to those in 401k plans as they don't all have Vanguard of course.

Honestly as far as money goes I feel a "little" like that the post from MMM when he said "If you retired in the 1920's you would hardly notice the Great Depression carnage in the streets below as you look out the window of your rosewood paneled tea room".

I don't know why that stuck in my head, guilty pleasure partly combined with a sense of "well I would NEVER be like that".. Of course I am a little guilty of doing exactly that in this current crisis. This troubles me!

Now retirement.. Hmm.. Its a major life transition. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying. My Wife in particular had a hard time with it. Suddenly you have to learn to spend a LOT more time with each other and reinvent yourselves.

It turns out we each had different views of what we wanted. DW wanted to "save the World" and honestly that sounded like more work than actually working.. I mean if I was going to do that I might was well earn a shit-ton of money while doing it!

We eventually compromised by DW pretty much filling her week with volunteer stuff and me doing whatever I wanted.. Mostly working in my shop.. or not..:)

We also gave each other permission to take vacations by ourselves. This was a major shift for us but it actually worked out great. I went SCUBA diving in the Philippines for 3 weeks and Wifey went off to Europe with a gal pal... We both feel pretty good about the experience.

So yeah I'd say I'd give retirement about a B+. I miss the structure of work (heck I like earning money too) but I sure don't miss the stress..:)
« Last Edit: April 17, 2020, 05:24:41 PM by Exflyboy »

spartana

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2368
  • FIREd at 36 ...sort of.
Re: 5 years later, how are the newly FIRE and Post-FIRE folks doing?
« Reply #6 on: April 17, 2020, 04:52:01 PM »
I don't really have much to add but I've been FI and RE as long as @Nords I think. Had planned to FIRE at 38 but pulled the plug at 36 instead (fairly lean FIRE) and spent a couple of years budget travelling. Went back to my old government job to save a bit extra at 38 (while divorcing) then left at 42 for good. I was not a high earner (enlisted military than blue collar government job) but maxed out all tax deferred investments I could, bought and paid off an inexpensive little fixer house, and lived a low cost debt-free life. I had a small future gov pension coming to me once 50 plus I could use the VA for free or low cost medical (have a military service connected injury/disability).

My FIRE is fairly lean by the standards of most here but I have very low bare bones expenses that are easily met with about 1/3rd of my current FIRE passive income.

SwordGuy

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8216
  • Location: Fayetteville, NC
Re: 5 years later, how are the newly FIRE and Post-FIRE folks doing?
« Reply #7 on: April 17, 2020, 10:15:19 PM »
We retired just shy of 2 years ago.

As far as financials and happiness goes, we've been doing great.   Finished renovating (finally!) rental #3, sold flip #1, bought and renovated rental#4.   It as mostly fun to do the work, particularly on the nice days outside.

Bought a couple of houses to flip for cost to help out a business buddy or my daughter's adopted grandma.   Selling them in the next few months.

Bought a house last fall to renovate to turn into a charity house.  Got some of the work hired out but got busy with other things so we haven't done out part of it yet.   I think I may hire out the rest so it gets done this year.

Letting two medical folks stay for free in an empty rental for the duration of the covid emergency so they don't get their families sick.   

Bought a new house for ourselves and moved into it.  (That would be "the other things" that occupied our time.)     Went on SS this January.   My SS will cover the new mortgage less about $2000.   Takes the pressure off of selling the old house.

And, because we chose to retire with a plan that had lots of safety margins, we just don't have to worry about money, even though we own 4 more houses than we really want to at the moment.    We have to pay attention to our spending, but we don't have to worry.

It's nice to have a plan work out.

And, at times like these, not having to worry about money or keeping some boss happy so we keep a job we need is a wonderful thing.

alcon835

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 448
Re: 5 years later, how are the newly FIRE and Post-FIRE folks doing?
« Reply #8 on: April 18, 2020, 12:32:48 PM »
These are awesome answers! It's great to hear :D

Cassie

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 7036
Re: 5 years later, how are the newly FIRE and Post-FIRE folks doing?
« Reply #9 on: April 18, 2020, 12:57:04 PM »
We retired 8 years ago. I was 58 and husband 53. His was involuntarily as he got laid off and has only been able to get a few engineering contracts. We have 2 small pensions and I was just able to take my micro SS due to WEP it’s only 377/month. We have my retiree HI which is pricy and I also have Medicare. This covers all our needs. We have savings for travel.

Frankies Girl

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3649
  • Age: 83
  • Location: The oubliette.
  • Ghouls Just Wanna Have Funds!
Re: 5 years later, how are the newly FIRE and Post-FIRE folks doing?
« Reply #10 on: April 18, 2020, 01:54:59 PM »
I was also in that thread and I'm just past my 5th anniversary of being FIRE, with a spouse that FIREd about a year later than me. Two adults, no kids, 40s.

We live waaaay below our means, no debts other than small mortgage on our small house in an older established neighborhood. On ACA and control our MAGI so well we get max subsidies/cost sharing and have really great health care coverage for 2 adults for $125/month and they pay us to do healthy things (I've "earned" the cost of two months premiums just by getting flu shots/watching health tip vids/exercising).

No future pensions other than SS to look forward to, and that's decades away, so it is totally us doing our thing supported completely by our portfolio.

Have had some unexpected expenses pop up since FIREd, but they were just lumped into the month they occurred and no noticeable changes were needed to meet them. We just pay as we go, and the portfolio keeps on growing. I would roughly estimate we live on about 2% so it's been easy so far, and supposedly after 5 years, the whole sequence of returns risk is minimized.

Basically, there's been zero money/spending issues in the 5 years so far, and I'm getting more relaxed about the whole "will there be enough" at this point.

I worried a bit regarding the crash/bear that is ongoing this year, as it was a pretty significant drop for my portfolio. I lost over 1/3 of it in a week. But it never dropped lower than what I'd FIREd with 5 years ago, and that was comforting, and the other thing was to look at the amazing amount of jobs hiring in my area that I could get just by showing up. Psychologically, it was concerning, but it was not my first experience with crashes/loss so while it was larger than any that came before, I just try to remind myself we have options if it becomes long-term/flatlines for a few years. AA has not changed (80/20 ish, still pretty aggressive for FIRE, but we're young and I'm fine with the many other options like get a job or reduce expenses).

May be looking at a hobby farm in the next couple of years. Had plans for traveling but that's likely a few years down the road now (not just due to the COVID19 thing, but because my volunteering with stray/feral cat care was a terrible idea due to me being a sucker soft-hearted, as we have too many #@$! cats now that would need a sitter/boarding and I don't like the idea of either).
« Last Edit: April 18, 2020, 03:03:32 PM by Frankies Girl »

jim555

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2671
Re: 5 years later, how are the newly FIRE and Post-FIRE folks doing?
« Reply #11 on: April 18, 2020, 02:36:59 PM »
I'm in the 5th year so far.  Pulled the plug at 49, 31 years working history (28 years in one company).  Travel plans on hold for now.  Pension is on hold, about $1,100 a month which goes up about 6% a year for every year I delay it.

Investments are CDs/certificates and preferred stocks which more than cover expenses.  Medical covered by NYSOH ACA which is $20 a month.  Housing and car are owned free and clear.  Lean/frugal spending is the norm.

Woodshark

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 85
Re: 5 years later, how are the newly FIRE and Post-FIRE folks doing?
« Reply #12 on: April 19, 2020, 10:21:02 AM »
We retired almost exactly 5 years ago at ages 54 and 51. House paid off, no kids and a single pension that is COLA'd yearly. We're invested 50/45/5 and it lets me sleep well. If pressed, we could get by on our investments alone but having the pension and health benefits really makes a big difference.
Since retiring we've done a bit of traveling and did some major remodeling and additions to our house.
It's funny, the recent crash has had the opposite effect than I thought it would. Even with our investments down, we realized that we would still be fine at the new lower level. We had a good buffer of cash and had been looking for a new minivan for a couple of months.  So when I ran across a good deal on a slightly used one, we paid cash for it. Even with the market taking a nose dive we did it without a worry at all. Feeling secure has changed us in other ways too. We're more generous givers with larger tips, paying off a relative in needs taxes and donating our older (but still in good shape) vehicle.
We're doing fine. Thanks for asking.

Shane

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1406
  • Location: PA
Re: 5 years later, how are the newly FIRE and Post-FIRE folks doing?
« Reply #13 on: April 19, 2020, 11:17:12 AM »
Our family officially FIREd in early 2016 at 50, 59, and 8 years old. For the first 2 years, while slow traveling around the world, moving to a different country every 1-3 months, spending an average of ~$4K/month, our AA was usually ~99% VTI and ~1% cash. World Nomads provided our travel insurance for ~$100/month. By ~2.5 years into FIRE, in late 2018, even though we'd already spent ~$120K on living expenses , our net worth had still grown by ~1/3. That level of growth in the stock market started to seem really unsustainable, so I sold off 1/4 of our shares in VTI in the taxable account and used that money to buy BND, instead, which gives us ~7 years of living expenses in bonds, which we will start using if and when the price of VTI falls below the inflation adjusted amount we paid for it in 2016.

Late last year, after moving across the country to a LCOL area, we paid cash for the first new car we've owned in the 26 years we've been together. Then, a few months later, we paid cash for a house that is way bigger than the 3 of us need, but we're thinking if and when we need to earn a little extra money, we can rent rooms or whole floors of the house out via Airbnb or VRBO or maybe to students, since we're only about a block from a college. Last year, after establishing residency in our new state, we were pleasantly surprised to learn that we qualified for Medicaid. So far, our experience using Medicaid to pay for checkups has been great. Medicaid even paid for us to get a dental check up and cleaning.

The recent stock market drop has, of course, lowered our NW on paper, a little, from what it was a couple of months ago, but we still have more money invested in stocks and bonds than we did when we started out in 2016. Plus, we've got an almost brand new car parked in front of a huge house, both completely paid for. Completely by chance, we happened to be sitting on about 4% of our NW in cash when coronavirus hit. We had been planning on using that money to hire a contractor to do some completely optional work on our new house but, now, we're planning on holding onto that cash to live off of over the next 1+ years, while we wait to see what happens with the whole Covid-19 crisis.

Feeling really, really grateful to be in the position we're in now.

Linea_Norway

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 7663
  • Location: Norway
Re: 5 years later, how are the newly FIRE and Post-FIRE folks doing?
« Reply #14 on: April 27, 2020, 04:48:11 AM »
Our first month of FIRE (Januari 2020) was quite relaxed. We spent a lot of time at our cabin, skiing. The month after we got back in home sale modus for a second attempt to sell. We sold in March and used some time to organize conteact and such. Then corona started, we bought quite a lot a food. And immediately DH developed symptoms, so we stayed at home for 2 weeks. That was quite relaxing because we didn't have any obligations. At the end of March or start April we had our first camping trip to an uninhabited island close to home. That felt like a real vacation. Then came the time we started looking for a rental to move into. Lots of internet searching, a road trip of 2000 km to visit several options. And a bit of stress as we didn't succeed. But now we found something, that we both weren't in doubt about. We hope we can spend May doing some camping trips (near home), or visit our cabin. Through all 2020 we have been selling stuff that we can miss if we downsize. Our phones are plinging each time someone is interested in an object. We have also been looking into buying another car, and have been in doubt about which car. We have test driven a few. Now we finally agreed on which car and are just waiting for the best slightly used car that comes along. June will be used for moving. We will move so close that we can drive up and down with a trailer many times, and we have the whole month to move and clean the old house. We will also have to organize the address change notifications. And replace the front window in the old car and sell it. Then we hope that from July, we can really go on trips, like hiking in national parks. The plans will probably differ from what we originally planned because of corona, but that doesn't matter. July, August and September are all good hiking/vacation months. And even october to a certain degree, depending on how early the snow will come.
We won't really start looking for a next house to buy until 2021, at least, that is the plan.