Author Topic: Anyone else having problems with Coast FIRE?  (Read 7151 times)

Mmm_Donuts

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Anyone else having problems with Coast FIRE?
« on: July 11, 2020, 06:47:11 AM »
Hereís some background: I semi-FIREd in March, before the pandemic. I stayed at the same job but went from full time permanent to part time status. I was hoping it would make life easier and freer - ability to take more vacations, to think about things other than work, develop new hobbies and rekindle old ones, spend more time with family.

I did expect some decompression time, as everyone here warns about. But Iím not sure if itís due to the stress of the pandemic, inability to travel and do some of the things I wanted to do, or due to the nature of the job, but I havenít been able to unwind as Iíd hoped, and the job itself is taking up more of my mental space than I want it to.

I quit because of the politics of the place. I liked the work itself, but couldnít stand the dysfunctional power structure. Iíve worked in a lot of places but never one like this. Thereís no transparency about anything, no support, out-to-lunch management, bad to no leadership, co-workers who were useless, lack of respect, etcÖ I could go on. I left every day feeling frustrated and unheard. And I wasnít being overly negative around people but Iím also not afraid to speak up when I disagree with a decision. I didnít want to stay long enough to move up any ladders so I really had nothing to lose, and I know they really liked the quality of my work.

Long story short: I still like the work itself but now that weíre all working from home, the politics have, in a way, gotten worse. I am now completely in the dark on decisions affecting my team. Iím only part time so this probably shouldnít bug me, but it does. I know I SHOULD just do my work (itís only a couple of days/week) and fuggetabout it. I need a hobby or something to distract myself - a side gig, a creative project, house repairs, fitness goals, anything - but instead Iím stewing about work far more than I should. I try to disengage but every week something happens thatís people- or politics-related that sets off a new chain of worries and/or anger.

So my decompression phase is not going as planned! Financially we are still about 85% to our FIRE goal. The idea was to cover our expenses for 2-3 years while the portfolio grows. Of course, the recent volatility has made me less confident in the plan, and we saw our portfolio go down to 62% of the goal back in March. We could sell the house to downsize, and be at 100%, but weíre not really ready to do that.

TLDR: Coast FIRE feels like the worst of both worlds - the same old headaches but with less money.

Also, I'm really aware that I'm in a very lucky position to even HAVE a job right now. I have a lot of friends who are unemployed due to Covid and have much more precarious situations so I do have to remind myself to be grateful for the income.

Has anyone else done the Coast FIRE thing only to find themselves still stuck with the same old work issues? Any suggestions to move forward and get out of this way of thinking? Sometimes I regret not grinding it out till the end but I would have lost my damn mind.

never give up

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Re: Anyone else having problems with Coast FIRE?
« Reply #1 on: July 11, 2020, 07:08:42 AM »
Hi Mmm_Donuts. Iím not Coast FIRE but it is something Iím seriously considering so Iíll be interested in seeing your responses. I tend to think you are primarily a victim of bad timing here. Had the pandemic not occurred you would have been engaging in hobbies and travel and adjusting to your new work life balance. Instead your free time has been restricted providing more time to think about work but without the opportunity to impact the working environment positively as youíre not there as much.

So more than half of your week is being spent on work where Iím guessing the idea was for your life outside of work to dominate your time. Iíve always envisioned that when I go part time Iím going to ignore all the politics and just do my job. When work ends for the day/week then I just forget about it. Whether Iíll be able to do this Iíll just have to wait and see!

Could you try a post work routine to take your mind off of it immediately when the working day ends such as meditation or yoga or something you are able to do safely during the pandemic?

I wouldnít worry too much about the maths. Part time work is very powerful indeed when you are 85% of the way there.

Morning Glory

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Re: Anyone else having problems with Coast FIRE?
« Reply #2 on: July 11, 2020, 08:17:45 AM »
Can you try to find a different part time job in your field? One that doesn't stress you out so much. Or spend your extra time increasing your skills in a related field. Even if you don't find one the looking might give you a better sense of control.

happy

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Re: Anyone else having problems with Coast FIRE?
« Reply #3 on: July 11, 2020, 08:19:31 AM »
I downshifted for over 23 years working part-time, largely to reduce the stress of working in a dysfunctional system. I found the same thing...if you don't set up some boundaries work will still take up too much mental and emotional energy.And also you are still living with a regular dose of negative energy, just less of it, so it is still there.

What I found helpful was to create some boundaries around work...for me one of them was a longish drive home through the country side...I left one piece of urbanscape, drove through the bush and came out into my village.  Obviously WFH with COVID 19 makes this not possible, but you might like to think of some little closing ritual to demarcate when you are stopping work. Like clean up/close of your workspace, then wash your hands mindfully..( you are washing your hands of the work literally and metaphorically) then spend a short time doing something you like like have a nice beverage whilst listening to music, doing some exercise, meditating, whatever.

I'm not a regular meditator but years ago I did practice some relaxation meditating repeating "letting go" as a mantra in time with my breath. It was helpful at the time and I still practice this if I am really disturbed and stewing over something...it works more immediately and more effectively now than when I first started. I'm retired, but yes stuff still happens that one can stew about.

Definitely you need some engaging plans for your days off, or as NGU says create a set routine for your days off, that will stop you sitting around stewing. I think its not different to full-time retirement...you need something to retire TO.

If you really are unable to distract yourself from negative ruminations, then cognitive therapy can help, by learning to reframe your thoughts and reactions to difficult situations. I did some of this when I ended up depressed from a divorce, and it helped for that. But it also made a huge difference in the rest of my life once I learnt to identify some of the negative thinking patterns I had developed and replace them with more constructive ones. Really it was what enabled me to stick to my stressful job all those years.

Freedomin5

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Re: Anyone else having problems with Coast FIRE?
« Reply #4 on: July 11, 2020, 08:26:56 AM »
We are Coasting our way to FIRE and enjoying the journey so far.

One glaring difference I see is that we thought about what we were FIRE-ing towards, before making the leap. We had other interests and goals that we were interested in, but work was getting in the way. By reducing our work hours, we had more time to spend on enjoyable things.

We also viewed coasting as a way to get out of bad work situations. Because we knew our stash had enough seed money to grow on its own, we had the freedom to take on less lucrative work opportunities. When we were full-on laser focused on FIRE, DH and I both worked full-time jobs and a side hustle. We lived off of DHís full-time income and saved the other three incomes. But once we hit our coast FIRE number, DH quit his side hustle, and when the office politics and incompetence of leadership got to be too much, I also quit my side hustle. A few years later, our coasting status gave me the freedom to quit my main job, though I lucked out and a really good job fell into my lap after I made the decision to quit.

We are not so focused on maximizing our earnings anymore. We are more focused on building into our lives things that bring us joy. Interestingly, our savings rate hasnít suffered much in all of this.

okits

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Re: Anyone else having problems with Coast FIRE?
« Reply #5 on: July 11, 2020, 09:38:30 AM »
I quit because of the politics of the place. I liked the work itself, but couldnít stand the dysfunctional power structure. Iíve worked in a lot of places but never one like this. Thereís no transparency about anything, no support, out-to-lunch management, bad to no leadership, co-workers who were useless, lack of respect, etcÖ I could go on. I left every day feeling frustrated and unheard.

It sounds like your workplace itself is a big part of the problem.  If things are tough in your industry right now then the near future might not be a great time to make a move but finding somewhere else to work could be a substantial solution to look at when hiring picks up.

I think people often have a hard time scaling back in the same job or company where they had a full-time career.  You and the people around you have ingrained habits and expectations and those are hard to break.  If part of your identity is to be an overachiever grinding it out, stepping back is a big mental change.

I downshifted into a new organization and a new role and even with the clean slate, as a part-time worker, I have to be very firm in protecting my non-work time.  I am very accommodating with my schedule to meet workplace needs, but the job doesn't get to own me seven days a week at all hours indefinitely, and some big endeavours are for me + a team to handle, not everything is 100% up to me.

If it's at all appropriate in your role to sometimes say, "not my circus, not my monkeys", well, sometimes I think that phrase is really helpful in putting things in perspective. 

BigMoneyJim

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Re: Anyone else having problems with Coast FIRE?
« Reply #6 on: July 11, 2020, 02:05:02 PM »
I feel ya. I retired in October. I intended to semi retire, but I have yet to put any effort into making money.

The pandemic is interfering with my decompression and plans, and I'm sure I don't yet fully understand how that all impacts me. I think we're kind of blazing new trails here.

I am also ridiculously lucky as I could get pretty much my old job back remotely if I wanted, and I have enough money not to want to bother with it right now. I've considered it, because I'm just hanging around the house, anyway. But nah, I want to get used to being retired and explore what it means to me.

I don't really have any answers beyond that I think combining decompression+retirement+pandemic is just a lot more challenging than one might imagine. But it's the kind of problem to have, I think.

jim555

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Re: Anyone else having problems with Coast FIRE?
« Reply #7 on: July 11, 2020, 06:59:14 PM »
I never understood the whole Coast FIRE thing.  My thinking was always get the most cash for the least time and get out.  Coast means you need to work more time at lower pay, which defeats the one purpose of retirement, which is having your own time.

spartana

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Re: Anyone else having problems with Coast FIRE?
« Reply #8 on: July 11, 2020, 07:25:40 PM »
OP can you take a long work break? A year or two or whatever you feel is needed to refresh and re-set yourself from your job? A lot of people who plan to do the Coast FIRE thing do so via long sabbaticals before re-entering the work force either full time, part time, seasonal or temporary. All the while never touching their stash or adding to it but earning enough to cover current living expenses. Seperation from a job for awhile can often be very liberating even if it isn't true. FIRE

BigMoneyJim

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Re: Anyone else having problems with Coast FIRE?
« Reply #9 on: July 11, 2020, 09:43:00 PM »
I never understood the whole Coast FIRE thing.  My thinking was always get the most cash for the least time and get out.  Coast means you need to work more time at lower pay, which defeats the one purpose of retirement, which is having your own time.

That makes perfect sense when years away from retirement. When I felt I was within 5 years of my stash-only goals, got laid off, then added my pension and SS into my retirement plans I realized I had a decent chance of being able to retire immediately, and a much safer scenario if I were to supplement my income somehow.

And once that goal is in sight, it's hard to keep working 40+ hours per week, 50 weeks out of the year, and at least for me I started exploring the alternatives.

Regular part-time work was the first obvious thing, but I kind of agree with you there in that you can't work half the time for half the pay, and it's still a 5-day-a-week, 50-week-per-year deal which doesn't give me the time freedom I want. I want more than a few hours a day freed up.

I don't have a pat answer yet, but I hope to figure it out over the next couple of years. I need to either find some income, lower my expenses, or get pretty lucky with market returns sequencing.

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Re: Anyone else having problems with Coast FIRE?
« Reply #10 on: July 11, 2020, 10:35:52 PM »
I never understood the whole Coast FIRE thing.  My thinking was always get the most cash for the least time and get out.  Coast means you need to work more time at lower pay, which defeats the one purpose of retirement, which is having your own time.

It depends. I did three days a week for the last three years before I left the corporate world behind. I don't regret that. Once you get close to your goal your stash is probably growing on its own faster than you're contributing new money to it anyway. In my case I dropped down to 60% of full-time hours at 60% of my full-time salary (resulting in more take-home pay per hour because progressive tax brackets), kept full benefits (more benefits value per hour), and got more of my own time before leaving entirely. I could have perhaps accelerated my retirement timeline by a few months by staying on full-time, at the cost of many more working days and more related stress over a three-year period. I think the trade-off I made worked well for me.

Mmm_Donuts

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Re: Anyone else having problems with Coast FIRE?
« Reply #11 on: July 12, 2020, 07:40:44 AM »
Thanks everyone for the thoughtful and insightful replies.

@never give up - I think thatís true, the timing of quitting has really not been great. A lot of the things I had envisioned doing arenít possible due to the pandemic, so the decompression period is feeling very isolated and confined. There are certain Ďdecompression activitiesí that are suitable to confinement though - yoga and mediation as you mentioned, as well as reading, doing artistic hobbies, writing, etc. I have been doing all of these in small amounts but they donít really fill my days enough. Once the decompression period is done I imagine Iíll be able to get more established in a bigger creative project like writing a book or something similar but for now that is just too ambitious. Iím trying to avoid doing anything too strenuous. (I think thatís the crux of the problem - trying to fill my decompression time without doing anything too ambitious!)

Things I could do more of: going for walks, maybe more yoga and meditation, more workouts. One great thing about physical activity is it often shuts down the brain chatter really well. I have practiced meditation and with regular practice it can really help but on some days I find the mental chatter just gets worse when I sit. So - exercise may be the way to go on those days.

I like the idea of having an after-work ritual. We tend to eat dinner fairly early so usually itís just shutting down the computer and starting dinner but maybe thereís something else I can do to shut down the mental chatter. I like the idea of doing a quick post-work meditation and using Ďletting goí or something similar as a mantra like @happy mentioned. Even 5 minutes of that would be a good practice, I think.

After reading the replies I gave it some more thought. I had a particularly bad week this week - often times I CAN get by just doing the work and not really being aware of whatever politics are unfolding behind the scenes. Anyway, I have been thinking that I could use some stoic practice here, when it comes to dealing with the politics. My contract is ending at the end of September. I can imagine the Ďworse caseí scenario (which may be a best case), when the contract ends and they donít renew it. (Low likelihood of that but with the pandemic you never know.) In this case I will look for freelance work so that I can remain in the work force but just do part time work on that basis. This would probably cover my expenses. I also have >2 years worth of cash at the moment in savings, not even looking at income from dividends and all that. So Ö nothing really to worry about. I'm not interested in getting another FT job at the moment and there's not much PT in my field (which is the main reason I stay at my current job.) But I can eventually look around for freelance gigs if it comes to that.

Ideally I donít want to touch the cash as itís more of a buffer for sequence of returns risk in actual full-on retirement.

So as @Aunt Petunia mentioned I could be prepared to take on another job, which does give me a sense of control. I will be updating my resume and website this week (an update which is long overdue.)

@Freedomin5  thanks for your perspective. I agree having something to FIRE towards is key. I have plenty of things to do, but little willpower to do it, which I think comes from the bad timing that NGU mentioned. I feel like my decompression period has been compromised by the stress of Covid (which, as someone else mentioned, is not the worst problem to have.)

@okits you are right about the ingrained habits. I hadnít really considered that when I planned to go from FT to PT at my current workplace. I thought the resentments would fade but theyíre still there. And yes, there is a part of me that finds it hard to slow down and take a second seat. I knew that would happen though, and have taken that as the tradeoff to having more freedom. I will definitely have to get used to taking the back seat and go into Ďnot my circusí mode.

@BigMoneyJim it sounds like weíre in a similar boat. Yes, not a bad problem to have, but it is a unique, once in a lifetime sort of challenge.

@jim555 as others said it gets harder to stay on full time as you get close to your FIRE goal. Funnily enough, as stressful as the pandemic situation has been, it actually has been much less stressful working part time through all of this than full time at my job in pre-pandemic times. Which is an indication how stressful the job was. For some of us the stress of full time just takes too big a toll on mental and physical health. I definitely do not regret going Coast FIRE at all - I just need to figure out this decompression space.

A lot of it also comes down to giving myself permission to just not do much of anything at all. Maybe sitting and reading a book outside for an entire day would be a good activity. I usually reserve this sort of thing for weekends only but - why? So, this sort of thinking needs to be reconsidered. I need to fully allow myself to not do anything too ambitious or in any way work related. (I work in a creative field so even creative projects can seem strenuous right now. Hopefully that will change.)

Thanks again everyone for the replies. It's been really helpful to hear others' perspectives.

chevy1956

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Re: Anyone else having problems with Coast FIRE?
« Reply #12 on: July 12, 2020, 05:11:34 PM »
I never understood the whole Coast FIRE thing.  My thinking was always get the most cash for the least time and get out.  Coast means you need to work more time at lower pay, which defeats the one purpose of retirement, which is having your own time.

It doesn't have to be this way. I'm having a sabbatical starting October for a year. I may or may not go back to work. The advantage of going back to work to me would be that I would try and work part time at the same job (so I would be paid the same amount per hour) and the chance if they want to sack me of getting a nice redundancy payout.

I have a year to figure out if I want to be lean fire or go back to work and do coast fire. It'll be interesting how much we spend and what decision I make.

mspym

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Re: Anyone else having problems with Coast FIRE?
« Reply #13 on: July 12, 2020, 07:14:07 PM »
Another form that friends of mine use is short-term FT contracts. Get in, do the work, get paid and get out. And then you have time off in between where you don't need to think about work at all

Missy B

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Re: Anyone else having problems with Coast FIRE?
« Reply #14 on: July 12, 2020, 10:59:42 PM »
So until just now I thought 'Coast Fire' was actually moving to, like, the gulf islands or the PNW, maybe build your own house out of straw bale and learn to crochet your own rugs, downshift into the pacific coast lifestyle.

I'm sure now that some of my advice to people attempting Coast Fire sounded rather... odd.

Anyway. As you were.

RainyDay

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Re: Anyone else having problems with Coast FIRE?
« Reply #15 on: July 13, 2020, 06:00:34 AM »
So until just now I thought 'Coast Fire' was actually moving to, like, the gulf islands or the PNW, maybe build your own house out of straw bale and learn to crochet your own rugs, downshift into the pacific coast lifestyle.

I'm sure now that some of my advice to people attempting Coast Fire sounded rather... odd.

Anyway. As you were.

Haha!  When I first heard the term, I assumed it meant moving to one of the coasts!  Naturally, that perplexed me because in a lot of cases living on the coast is more expensive. :-)

Much Fishing to Do

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Re: Anyone else having problems with Coast FIRE?
« Reply #16 on: July 13, 2020, 06:40:45 AM »
For background, I was at 103% of my FI number before the big drop, dropped to about 78% at the worst, and now sit at about 98%.

In the past couple years I made a move (selling my company and then consulting for the buyer) that took me from 50-70hrs week to 10-30 hrs week all from home, all depending on current workload. 

It also removed a lot of pressures, the main one being the extreme financial risk (no longer have to worry about a money losing project or getting sued if a project goes poorly, no matter how unlikely any of that was, etc).

What is hard to change is work used to be on my mind all the time....and now, except for the slowest of weeks, the pressures of work can still be on my mind all the time.  On the flip side, except for the busiest of weeks now I generally do have the hours in the day to do the other things I want to do.  Covid did screw with that somewhat as the plan was for me to have all my work hours all occur while the kids were at school, which they haven't been to in a while now, but I assume that will fix itself at some point....

It seems like I should be able to find that switch to shut off the mind wrt work during the rest of the day now that it doesn't dominate the hours in my day, esp. that there are no real personal risks I should be worrying about (even getting fired at this point would just kick off my RE).  There are things obviously I could do with the 'extra' money I could make over another year or two of working, like a lot of the work I do do, and want to phase out in the right way from this natural end of career, so I've not given up on trying to solve this yet. 


ontheway2

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Re: Anyone else having problems with Coast FIRE?
« Reply #17 on: July 13, 2020, 07:48:03 AM »
I never understood the whole Coast FIRE thing.  My thinking was always get the most cash for the least time and get out.  Coast means you need to work more time at lower pay, which defeats the one purpose of retirement, which is having your own time.

For me, it's so that I can have a better balance while I still have at least one kid at home. If I continue as I am, both of my kids will be adults by the time I am totally free. If I choose to coast in the next couple of years, I can always ramp back up some in my 40s if I wish to shorten the timeline some

spartana

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Re: Anyone else having problems with Coast FIRE?
« Reply #18 on: July 13, 2020, 08:41:33 AM »
I never understood the whole Coast FIRE thing.  My thinking was always get the most cash for the least time and get out.  Coast means you need to work more time at lower pay, which defeats the one purpose of retirement, which is having your own time.

For me, it's so that I can have a better balance while I still have at least one kid at home. If I continue as I am, both of my kids will be adults by the time I am totally free. If I choose to coast in the next couple of years, I can always ramp back up some in my 40s if I wish to shorten the timeline some
I agree. I think a lot of people who aren't FI yet but have a decent amount of savings/stash want to take a long work break or go p/t or temp while they are younger for a whole variety of reasons. Some of the opportunities you have, like being with kids while they are little, only come around in that small window of time and being able to Coast FIRE is a darn good way to take advantage of that small window.

I started on the Coast FIRE route - via the long work breaks followed by f/t employment rather then reducing hours - and would do it again. I discovered I was able to full FIRE on my second long break (first was 2 years followed by 4 years working followed by 5 years work break) by cutting expenses (thanks to sites like MMM) so never went back to work. However if someone isn't at their full FIRE number and an opportunity to take a break or reduce hours happens I think people should go for it even if it pushes FIRE back further. Like me they may find reducing expenses while Coasting actually means they are closer to (or even at) full FIRE already.

StarBright

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Re: Anyone else having problems with Coast FIRE?
« Reply #19 on: July 13, 2020, 09:01:10 AM »
I never understood the whole Coast FIRE thing.  My thinking was always get the most cash for the least time and get out.  Coast means you need to work more time at lower pay, which defeats the one purpose of retirement, which is having your own time.

I will be tentatively Coast FIRING in a few years.

I look at it this way: I currently have a job that requires so much mental effort and stress and is not in an industry I particularly enjoy. I am on call constantly and I often wake up in the middle of the night thinking of something new that must be done. I bear a lot of responsibility for keeping a small business going. For this I receive very good (but not spectacular) pay. But it also effects my health.

I have two young children and a spouse with no interest in FIRE. My spouse essentially just started his career in the last couple of years and is at the bottom of his pay scale. As long as the world doesn't fall apart in the next year and health care costs don't wipe us out, he should actually make enough money to cover all of our expenses in 3-4 years.

I plan on staying in my industry until then to make sure my retirement accounts are more than sufficient by the time I reach 59. But once I'm satisfied with my retirement accounts and DH is covering our expenses, I plan to work at least part time in a lower paying field that I am passionate about and that won't affect my health. My hope is that it will also give me more time with my children as they reach their middle school years (which I tend to think require as much support and availability as the early elementary years).




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Re: Anyone else having problems with Coast FIRE?
« Reply #20 on: July 13, 2020, 09:56:50 AM »
My "real" job was paying so much more than a typical PT job that it made more sense to tough it out.  If you are making 1/4 the salary, then you need 8x number of days (fewer hours @ 1/4 pay) to make the same money. 

ontheway2

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Re: Anyone else having problems with Coast FIRE?
« Reply #21 on: July 13, 2020, 10:03:28 AM »
I never understood the whole Coast FIRE thing.  My thinking was always get the most cash for the least time and get out.  Coast means you need to work more time at lower pay, which defeats the one purpose of retirement, which is having your own time.

I will be tentatively Coast FIRING in a few years.

I look at it this way: I currently have a job that requires so much mental effort and stress and is not in an industry I particularly enjoy. I am on call constantly and I often wake up in the middle of the night thinking of something new that must be done. I bear a lot of responsibility for keeping a small business going. For this I receive very good (but not spectacular) pay. But it also effects my health.

I have two young children and a spouse with no interest in FIRE. My spouse essentially just started his career in the last couple of years and is at the bottom of his pay scale. As long as the world doesn't fall apart in the next year and health care costs don't wipe us out, he should actually make enough money to cover all of our expenses in 3-4 years.

I plan on staying in my industry until then to make sure my retirement accounts are more than sufficient by the time I reach 59. But once I'm satisfied with my retirement accounts and DH is covering our expenses, I plan to work at least part time in a lower paying field that I am passionate about and that won't affect my health. My hope is that it will also give me more time with my children as they reach their middle school years (which I tend to think require as much support and availability as the early elementary years).

So I have an elementary and a high school kid, and flexibility during the middle school years is SO helpful. After 12, kids age out of care. There are hardly any summer camps or after school programs that will take them, but they are young enough that being alone for 50 hours a week is not ideal. I don't even really trust my high schooler that much; that much free time will only get them in trouble. Being home when they get home from school, or shortly after, and able to do snack and help with homework questions without being rushed is important even if you are raising independent kids. If they are in any sports or activities, they really ramp up the commitment in the teenage years also. Yes, they are dropped off at stuff, but you won't have hardly any time with them.

FIRE 20/20

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Re: Anyone else having problems with Coast FIRE?
« Reply #22 on: July 19, 2020, 04:11:44 PM »
I never understood the whole Coast FIRE thing.  My thinking was always get the most cash for the least time and get out.  Coast means you need to work more time at lower pay, which defeats the one purpose of retirement, which is having your own time.

Your comment is probably true in many fields, but in some fields coasting can have a minimal impact.  My last year I did kind of a lightweight CoastFIRE by transitioning from a high-stress position that would have set me up for significant career growth to a low-stress dead-end position within the same company.  My pay and benefits stayed the same, but in addition to the reduced responsibility and stress, I was able to use a few hundred PTO hours that year as well.  The PTO would have been paid out afterwards so I did lose that money, but instead of working 50 hours / week I worked 32-36 hours a week for the same bi-weekly pay.  My partner transitioned to an official 32 hour week (instead of what I did by using PTO) and did take a 20% pay cut, but with the lower taxes and keeping the same benefits the reduction in pay was less than 20%.  She made the transition about 2 years before FIRE, and the reduced stress was worth far more than the reduction in pay.  We probably had to work an extra 2-4 months or so, but that last 1-2 years were the best of my working life.  We both left work at work for the first time in our careers, we took plenty of vacations, and either one or both of us was off work almost every Friday. 

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Re: Anyone else having problems with Coast FIRE?
« Reply #23 on: July 19, 2020, 07:27:47 PM »
I never understood the whole Coast FIRE thing.  My thinking was always get the most cash for the least time and get out.  Coast means you need to work more time at lower pay, which defeats the one purpose of retirement, which is having your own time.

I have pension issues but consider myself Coast Fire right now.  I can retire with an immediate pension and medical in 5 years.  Iím not cutting back work but am considering changing offices to HCOL San Francisco where Iíll end up dramatically upping my spending and therefore not saving as much for a portion of those years.  Why because temporarily living in SF sounds like fun to me right now for both professional and personal reasons.

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Re: Anyone else having problems with Coast FIRE?
« Reply #24 on: July 23, 2020, 10:51:13 PM »
Iíve been self-employed part-time for 20 years now while raising kids, so my lifestyle has been ďcoast-fireď all along, though I wouldnít have called it that. Now Iím really coast-firing, and working a little - not sure I can cut expenses enough to say Iím truly fired yet. While raising kids (during middle school in particular), there was a big difference for me between working 10-15 hours per week, vs working 25-30 hours. At 25 hours, it felt stressful, and I was constantly either working or parenting. Now, with one in college and one in high school, I can work 10-12 hours/week without it impacting my relaxed lifestyle. Iíd rather not do more, and am grateful, even though I might be working at this pace til social security kicks in. ;)

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Re: Anyone else having problems with Coast FIRE?
« Reply #25 on: July 30, 2020, 03:38:18 PM »
I never understood the whole Coast FIRE thing.  My thinking was always get the most cash for the least time and get out.  Coast means you need to work more time at lower pay, which defeats the one purpose of retirement, which is having your own time.

I think it's a deeply personal thing - as shown by all the varied replies.  it depends not only on you and your work, but also on your idea of what a good lifestyle looks like.  Don't forget that lots of people actively choose to do a part time job of some kind in retirement (early or normal) even if they don't need the money.  If you can find a lifestyle that suits you and pays enough to allow the stash to continue to build in the background / gets you closer to other income streams like SS then it may make perfect sense to switch to that lifestyle early rather than continuing to slog at a lifestyle you weren't enjoying just to get to a point where you don't need an income you'd actually be happy earning. 

achvfi

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Re: Anyone else having problems with Coast FIRE?
« Reply #26 on: July 31, 2020, 08:15:47 AM »
....but instead Iím stewing about work far more than I should.....

OP, Can you explain how is your part time week structured. Its likely you can adjust it to suit your personality.

I am working 3 days a week this year. Knowing myself to be one who tends to stew about work in general. I set my 3 day work schedule to be such that I get 4 days continuously off work including weekend days. Either combination of Sat,Sun,Mon,Tue OR Thu,Fri,Sat,Sun. This way I have enough time to focus away from work.

When I am off work, disassociate completely from work. No Checking emails, taking calls, talking to colleagues..... You cant get curious and everything can wait.

Malcat

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Re: Anyone else having problems with Coast FIRE?
« Reply #27 on: July 31, 2020, 01:20:43 PM »
I never understood the whole Coast FIRE thing.  My thinking was always get the most cash for the least time and get out.  Coast means you need to work more time at lower pay, which defeats the one purpose of retirement, which is having your own time.

Everything about FIRE depends on what kind of work you can do and your relationship to that work.

If someone really enjoys working, but only part time, then CoastFI is perfect because you gain so much by having your stache in the market for so much longer. You save a chunk, which lets you get off the hamster wheel earlier than saving for full FI. Then all you need is to earn enough to cover your spend, and time will pump up the savings just by leaving it alone.

One of the downsides of rapidly saving for FIRE is that you have so few years of compounding working for you before you start withdrawing. That means that earnings have to do the heavy lifting for funding your retirement. The longer you can put off withdrawing from the stache, the more time does the heavy lifting for you.

That only makes sense though if the person's ideal life always involves some degree of work. If the dream is to never work again, then obviously, it's not an optimal solution.

If the dream is to live like Pete and have the freedom to pursue only the work you want to do, then it's ideal.

Dropping from full time to part time but staying in a job situation you want out of? That's the worst.

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Re: Anyone else having problems with Coast FIRE?
« Reply #28 on: July 31, 2020, 02:40:08 PM »

I will be tentatively Coast FIRING in a few years.

I look at it this way: I currently have a job that requires so much mental effort and stress and is not in an industry I particularly enjoy. I am on call constantly and I often wake up in the middle of the night thinking of something new that must be done. I bear a lot of responsibility for keeping a small business going. For this I receive very good (but not spectacular) pay. But it also effects my health.

I have two young children and a spouse with no interest in FIRE. My spouse essentially just started his career in the last couple of years and is at the bottom of his pay scale. As long as the world doesn't fall apart in the next year and health care costs don't wipe us out, he should actually make enough money to cover all of our expenses in 3-4 years.

I plan on staying in my industry until then to make sure my retirement accounts are more than sufficient by the time I reach 59. But once I'm satisfied with my retirement accounts and DH is covering our expenses, I plan to work at least part time in a lower paying field that I am passionate about and that won't affect my health. My hope is that it will also give me more time with my children as they reach their middle school years (which I tend to think require as much support and availability as the early elementary years).

So I have an elementary and a high school kid, and flexibility during the middle school years is SO helpful. After 12, kids age out of care. There are hardly any summer camps or after school programs that will take them, but they are young enough that being alone for 50 hours a week is not ideal. I don't even really trust my high schooler that much; that much free time will only get them in trouble. Being home when they get home from school, or shortly after, and able to do snack and help with homework questions without being rushed is important even if you are raising independent kids. If they are in any sports or activities, they really ramp up the commitment in the teenage years also. Yes, they are dropped off at stuff, but you won't have hardly any time with them.

@ontheway2  - just saw this response - thank you! My gut feeling (just based on having once been a tween and teen) was that middle and high schools are actually a really important time for parental support and availability. Your response just made me feel better about our family plan :)

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Re: Anyone else having problems with Coast FIRE?
« Reply #29 on: July 31, 2020, 03:27:56 PM »
I worked 10 hours a week while going to college once my kids were in elementary school. I transitioned to full time when the youngest was 12. For us that was perfect and I also wanted to earn a pension. Retired at 58 but within 7 months was asked to teach a online college class and also do occasional consulting. 8 years later I am still doing it.

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Re: Anyone else having problems with Coast FIRE?
« Reply #30 on: August 01, 2020, 09:48:52 AM »
....but instead Iím stewing about work far more than I should.....

OP, Can you explain how is your part time week structured. Its likely you can adjust it to suit your personality.

I am working 3 days a week this year. Knowing myself to be one who tends to stew about work in general. I set my 3 day work schedule to be such that I get 4 days continuously off work including weekend days. Either combination of Sat,Sun,Mon,Tue OR Thu,Fri,Sat,Sun. This way I have enough time to focus away from work.

When I am off work, disassociate completely from work. No Checking emails, taking calls, talking to colleagues..... You cant get curious and everything can wait.

It's usually 2 or 3 days back to back but it can vary. I find I'm definitely happiest when it's just 2 days, with 5 days off to recover and do my own thing. I'm thinking of limiting it to that - they just assume I want extra work and give me more when it's available. And I have so far said yes, thinking I can use the extra money, but I am thinking at this point for the sake of sanity it's probably not worth it. Two days covers my expenses and I don't really need or expect to be saving/accumulating at this point. 2 days is manageable and sometimes even enjoyable; 3 days I start to feel stressed, and 5 days is OMG I hate this job. Easy to ignore the politics in 2 days of WFH but not as easy in longer stretches.

I've gotten a bit better at not checking email when I'm off. And the amount I think about work in nonwork hours is getting a bit better too. Key is to feel ok about having a "do nothing" day - which for me means reading, lounging around the house, working out, surfing online, going for walks. It's about reframing life to not feel like I have to do something "productive" with my time. That is the biggest challenge, and I have to consciously say to myself in the morning "ok, today I'm going to have no plans and do nothing." And feel ok about it.

Hopefully I am just going through this decompression phase and will eventually want to do meaningful projects again. When we hit our number I'll retire fully - could happen anytime in the next 6 months to 2 years. We'll see. Can't get too fussed about it either way. Each month we get closer to the goal, and each month I care less and less about the financial aspects of whether I stay at this job (or any job) or not.

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Re: Anyone else having problems with Coast FIRE?
« Reply #31 on: August 06, 2020, 09:51:39 PM »
Iím really confused, what does this have to do with the beach, which is usually overrated? Why donít you try a more rural place where youíd be able to avoid a junky job? Junky jobs arenít FIRE, they are junky careers.

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Re: Anyone else having problems with Coast FIRE?
« Reply #32 on: August 07, 2020, 05:29:31 AM »
Iím really confused, what does this have to do with the beach, which is usually overrated? Why donít you try a more rural place where youíd be able to avoid a junky job? Junky jobs arenít FIRE, they are junky careers.

Coast FI isn't about living on the coast, if that's what you're referring to? Coast FI is about getting to a certain investment level and then coasting the rest of the way there. Many people do this by only working part time - just enough to cover their expenses.

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Re: Anyone else having problems with Coast FIRE?
« Reply #33 on: August 08, 2020, 11:17:15 AM »
Iím really confused, what does this have to do with the beach, which is usually overrated? Why donít you try a more rural place where youíd be able to avoid a junky job? Junky jobs arenít FIRE, they are junky careers.

@smoghat , can you add more detail to your post?  I don't understand any part of it.  What does the beach have to do with it?  Why the recommendation to move to a rural place, and where do junky jobs fit in? 

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Re: Anyone else having problems with Coast FIRE?
« Reply #34 on: September 02, 2020, 01:27:18 PM »
TLDR: Coast FIRE feels like the worst of both worlds - the same old headaches but with less money.

Sounds like you've mostly worked this out, but I figured I would post since I was in a similar, but different situation.  When I "coast" semi-FIRE'ed back in 2019 I went into it with a situation of working full time, but intermittently.  Like 3 mos on, 3-6 mos off.

This solved for the problem of thinking about work when I wasn't there.  However, it created a problem where I found myself cycling through a repeating pattern.  A few weeks before starting work again I'd have some pretty horrible dread.  Then once starting again realized it wasn't the end of the world and things would be Ok for awhile.  4-6 weeks in I hated work again and was just counting down the days to being done. Rinse-repeat.  Not really the healthiest pattern to be in, so I recently quit completely.

Interestingly, quitting completely was more stressful than I thought.  So the benefit of already having a lot of free time prior really helped this transition.  Now I have a lot of "off time" hobbies to look forward too, and had gotten used to no income for long periods of time.  Even though that above cycle wasn't ideal, I think it was very helpful from a psychological standpoint.  Establishing what RE C_L would be doing with his time.  I think this psychological component is one that most people ignore in their years of accumulation.

The second advantage to taking this step down approach is that I learned what I did and did not like about working, all the while still having the potential to turn my high income spigot back on to FT whenever I wanted too.  This has given me a much better view of the type of work I want going forward, as I still don't consider myself FI.  But know I would end up working again (even if only for myself) at some point even if I was.

Lastly, I think saving money and seeing the pile get ever larger is very addictive.  Allowing for it to slow it's growth has really helped me think in terms of accepting lower paying work that is more congruent with my lifestyle and values.  Because money isn't everything, as a matter of fact, it's almost nothing when you have it.  You can't measure your freedom or happiness in dollars, you can only measure it in freedom and happiness.  This is an important distinction, something from YMOYL era of FI that is often missing in our next generation of upcoming graduates. 

Edit: 
If I were to do this all over again, I'd probably take the time to find some, new, interesting to me, part time work to quit too after a little time totally off.  Something congruent with my values and lifestyle, and just not worry about the pay at all.  Then decide if I want to step down further from that position.   The problem here is that back when I went PT initially, my thinking hadn't yet evolved to the point of understanding that the above was the best option.  I was still too money earning efficiency focused, so I doubt I'd have been wise enough to heed my own advice above.
« Last Edit: September 02, 2020, 01:32:40 PM by Classical_Liberal »

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Re: Anyone else having problems with Coast FIRE?
« Reply #35 on: September 02, 2020, 09:12:03 PM »
I never understood the whole Coast FIRE thing.  My thinking was always get the most cash for the least time and get out.  Coast means you need to work more time at lower pay, which defeats the one purpose of retirement, which is having your own time.

This.  2.5 years of FIRE for me, 1 for my spouse.  I will say decompression takes time, but once youíve achieved it thereís absolutely no better feeling than knowing you own your time.

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Re: Anyone else having problems with Coast FIRE?
« Reply #36 on: September 03, 2020, 03:40:06 PM »
I never understood the whole Coast FIRE thing.  My thinking was always get the most cash for the least time and get out.  Coast means you need to work more time at lower pay, which defeats the one purpose of retirement, which is having your own time.

This.  2.5 years of FIRE for me, 1 for my spouse.  I will say decompression takes time, but once youíve achieved it thereís absolutely no better feeling than knowing you own your time.

For a lot of people it's probably kids that change the equation.  It's often more appealing to take the foot off the gas in order to spend better/more quality time with your kids, vs nose-to-the-grindstone and barely seeing them (and feeling/acting stressed out while with them) during their formative years.

The concept of 'owning your own time' also takes on a different meaning when you have kids.

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Re: Anyone else having problems with Coast FIRE?
« Reply #37 on: September 03, 2020, 06:15:25 PM »
You don't necessarily need to take a lower paying job, you could just work fewer hours at the same job or do some consulting or teaching in your field. It works best when you are already close to fire and the investments are doing the heavy lifting.

PhilB

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Re: Anyone else having problems with Coast FIRE?
« Reply #38 on: September 04, 2020, 11:01:18 AM »
I never understood the whole Coast FIRE thing.  My thinking was always get the most cash for the least time and get out.  Coast means you need to work more time at lower pay, which defeats the one purpose of retirement, which is having your own time.

This.  2.5 years of FIRE for me, 1 for my spouse.  I will say decompression takes time, but once youíve achieved it thereís absolutely no better feeling than knowing you own your time.

For a lot of people it's probably kids that change the equation.  It's often more appealing to take the foot off the gas in order to spend better/more quality time with your kids, vs nose-to-the-grindstone and barely seeing them (and feeling/acting stressed out while with them) during their formative years.

The concept of 'owning your own time' also takes on a different meaning when you have kids.


This.  You definitely don't fully own your time when you have kids in school so a little light coasting fits well

spartana

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Re: Anyone else having problems with Coast FIRE?
« Reply #39 on: September 05, 2020, 08:45:50 AM »
I never understood the whole Coast FIRE thing.  My thinking was always get the most cash for the least time and get out.  Coast means you need to work more time at lower pay, which defeats the one purpose of retirement, which is having your own time.

This.  2.5 years of FIRE for me, 1 for my spouse.  I will say decompression takes time, but once youíve achieved it thereís absolutely no better feeling than knowing you own your time.
Sometimes opportunities come along that may not be options later. Or you have things you want to do why younger and fitter that may be more difficult or even impossible once older. Or as others mentioned wanting to be a bit free and do some things like long term or rougher travel before kids come along as well as be a SAHP once they do arrive. I love FIRE and it would be extremely hard for me to go back to a job now, but I see a lot of value in Coast FIRE if it means you can do something that you can't (or don't want) to put off until full FIRE.