Author Topic: Calling all downshifters!  (Read 126860 times)

SpareChange

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #300 on: October 19, 2022, 10:52:25 AM »
Happy to report that as of today, I joined the ranks of downshifters.

We are at 85% of the magic number, and it would make sense to tough it out to the full FIRE. But COVID and the war in the place I'm from made me
a) think that the bright future isn't necessarily assured. Might as well live now.
b) less able to concentrate on work for 8 hours every day. Less able to concentrate in general.

So I switched to a contractor's position, with an understanding that I will work close to 4 hour days. I would prefer a 3-day week, but my role is partially support, and it's not really an option. Got a raise to compensate for the loss of benefits, and then a bit on top of that. Plus, my wife moved to a significantly better (and also part-time) job. With that, our income may not be affected all that much.

It was surprisingly easy, and my employer was very supportive. I'm genuinely excited.

Awesome. Sounds like a great deal.

Anon-E-Mouze

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #301 on: January 21, 2023, 09:42:23 AM »
I'm getting ready to put in a request to my employer to shift to 4 days a week schedule. Although I really enjoy the subject matter of my relatively new job (I joined the firm 14 months ago) and find my work colleagues and the work culture excellent, I'm running out of steam. I'm going on 58, I've been working full time with long hours (I'm a lawyer) almost non-stop (only one one-year break) for 30 years, and I've been the sole income earner in the household for many of those years.

I've realized that in the past couple of years I've lost my motivation to pursue my passions (photography and animal rescue). I need some time and psychological space to rekindle those interests.

We are comfortably FI but would like to pad the retirement budget a little more. Also, I do really like what I do and I get paid a LOT to do it. I just want to do less of it. I have a performance review coming up, and I also expect to hear from my bosses what their plan is in terms of adding more staff to my practice area. I'm aiming to make the request to go 80% by the end of Q1.

Well, my dream of asking to downshift had to get put on hold almost as soon as I made this post. But the reasons for downshifting soon (if not "tomorrow") have become more pressing.

In the past few months, my sister and I have been supporting my dad as he goes through bladder cancer treatment - and when I made the post above, he had finished chemo and radiation and had come through the treatment better than expected. We don't know if he's clear of cancer yet (we'll find out in a month or so), but at least the treatment didn't kill him or completely wipe him out. 

A few days after I made the post above, my stepmother began to experience such excruciating pain in her chest and back that she had to go to the ER. She had been experiencing some pain in the past few months but her chest X-ray had been clear in December and the doctors had diagnosed her with a spinal fracture relating to osteoporosis.

It turns out that she the melanoma she had been treated for in 2020 had metastasized EVERYWHERE, very quickly, and she now has cancer in her liver, spine, lungs and brain. She was told she has weeks to a few months to live.

So now, her two adult children (who are juggling childcare plus difficult job situations and/or health problems) and my sister and I are supporting my stepmother and dad as they navigate this transition. My dad and stepmother are financially on very solid ground and we live in Canada, so thank goodness healthcare is relatively inexpensive and MAID (medical assistance in dying) is available. There is a lot of grieving going on, but there are financial cushions and compassionate systems in place to make this diffcult process easier.

But now I'm balancing my work with the need to fly cross-country every few weeks to provide various kinds of support. I'm glad for the opportunity to do so, and I'm also glad that my employer is very understanding and has given me the flexibility to work wherever and whenever I want - or to not work if I choose to do so. 

So, for now, I'm working full-time when I'm at home (but with lighter expectations regarding time-sensitive or stressful work) and part-time when I'm in B.C. I anticipate that I'll need to take some bereavement leave later this spring to help my dad. But for now, it's not practicable to shift to a formal 4-days a week schedule. And my high income is helping cover the unexpected costs associated with frequent travel etc.

At the same time, my motivation to achieve better work-life balance is strong than ever. My own mother died at a relatively young age (67), very soon after she retired from work. I am going to downshift and then retire when I'm still healthy enough to enjoy the time I have left.

So, now my plan is to reconsider the 4-day schedule either in Q3 or Q4 depending on how our family situation evolves in the next few months.

2022 was a hell of a year (with an emphasis on hell) for the reasons (and more) noted above, and now it's January 2023 and I'm very burned out notwithstanding that my employer (as an institution), my managers and my colleagues bent over backward to provide me with the flexibility, support and compassion I needed to get through 2022. And I still enjoy my work, most of the time, and I'm not ready to quit altogether despite the burnout.

So I put on my big-girl pants and went to the person in charge of legal professionals, and then to one of my 5 (!) bosses and asked for a reduction in hours. Not only did they give me exactly what I asked for, effective as soon as I wanted to implement the change, they told me they understood, that they supported me in making this decision for quality of life reasons and that they didn't want to lose me.  The immediate manager I spoke to (I report to a group of 5 practice leaders) actually said he was honoured and grateful that I felt comfortable speaking to him about this and welcomed the opportunity to work with me to communicate my request to the other practice leaders and then implement the plan for change. (He took care of the discussion with other practice leaders and reported back to me within 48 hours.)

I had told them that I wanted to reduce my hours to 90% effective immediately (i.e. 9 out of 10 days) and stay at that level for a couple of months (probably until the end of March) while I figure out with others how to shift some responsibilities and also complete a major project. And then I'll shift to 80% (4 out of 5 days) on April 1. I'll stay at full pay and vacation accrual until April 1.

I know that going down to 80% might not seem like a lot but I've been working in a profession (law and regulatory affairs) for 35+ years where 50+ hour (albeit well-compensated) work weeks are the norm.

As for the burnout, I'm also planning to take advantage of our very generous mental health reimbursement benefit (as well as our wellness benefit and full reimbursement for an executive medical) this year.

I hope the reduction to 80% will enable me to continue enjoying my work while enabling me to engage in some of the activities that make me "me' :)

LightTripper

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #302 on: January 23, 2023, 03:15:22 AM »
Good to hear from you and I'm sorry 2022 was so awful.  I'm glad you are getting to shift to 80% even if a bit slower than you anticipated.  I shifted to 60% 2 years ago now (also later than I planned but due to Covid rather than family issues) and it was a big improvement to have time during the week to get on with chores/lifemin, so weekends could be properly family time (I was about to type "relaxing" but not sure that is quite the right word!)  A big impact was just that I started to get enough sleep more often than not, which sounds like a small thing but truly is huge especially when you are trying to come back from burnout.

I would just encourage you to take it gently and to cut back your hours harder if you feel it is working for you but your 1-2 free days per fortnight go faster than you think... sounds like your employers are on board and you have a good team around you.  Personally for me I like baby-steps and trying things out before I take a big leap, but my 60% has now turned into about 10-20% so for me the part time shift turned out to be part of a bigger move, rather than a temporary breather!

SpareChange

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #303 on: January 23, 2023, 07:22:55 AM »
2022 was a hell of a year (with an emphasis on hell) for the reasons (and more) noted above, and now it's January 2023 and I'm very burned out notwithstanding that my employer (as an institution), my managers and my colleagues bent over backward to provide me with the flexibility, support and compassion I needed to get through 2022. And I still enjoy my work, most of the time, and I'm not ready to quit altogether despite the burnout.

So I put on my big-girl pants and went to the person in charge of legal professionals, and then to one of my 5 (!) bosses and asked for a reduction in hours. Not only did they give me exactly what I asked for, effective as soon as I wanted to implement the change, they told me they understood, that they supported me in making this decision for quality of life reasons and that they didn't want to lose me.  The immediate manager I spoke to (I report to a group of 5 practice leaders) actually said he was honoured and grateful that I felt comfortable speaking to him about this and welcomed the opportunity to work with me to communicate my request to the other practice leaders and then implement the plan for change. (He took care of the discussion with other practice leaders and reported back to me within 48 hours.)

I had told them that I wanted to reduce my hours to 90% effective immediately (i.e. 9 out of 10 days) and stay at that level for a couple of months (probably until the end of March) while I figure out with others how to shift some responsibilities and also complete a major project. And then I'll shift to 80% (4 out of 5 days) on April 1. I'll stay at full pay and vacation accrual until April 1.

I know that going down to 80% might not seem like a lot but I've been working in a profession (law and regulatory affairs) for 35+ years where 50+ hour (albeit well-compensated) work weeks are the norm.

As for the burnout, I'm also planning to take advantage of our very generous mental health reimbursement benefit (as well as our wellness benefit and full reimbursement for an executive medical) this year.

I hope the reduction to 80% will enable me to continue enjoying my work while enabling me to engage in some of the activities that make me "me' :)

Been a long time coming. Glad you're finally there! I delayed going PT for several months when my dad passed away suddenly and my mom's financial status was in limbo. So, I feel ya. I've never heard anyone do anything but rave about going to 80%. I hope that holds true for you as well. Maybe this is the first step to 70%, 60%, 50%..... :)

RyanAtTanagra

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #304 on: January 23, 2023, 10:48:34 AM »
I know that going down to 80% might not seem like a lot

Oh it's a lot.  I did this a few years ago and it's significant.  The workweek doesn't really feel much shorter, because it's only 20% shorter, but weekends are way longer and feel much more restful, because they're 50% longer!  I didn't really think of it like that at first, until I switched and was trying to figure out why it felt so different.  (It's of course only like this if your extra day off is Mon or Fri.  Midweek breaks I can't speak to).

Congrats on finally getting there, and condolences on such a hard past year.

the_hobbitish

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #305 on: February 08, 2023, 03:14:08 PM »
Today was the start of 6 weeks paid leave while I figure out how to downshift or find a coast fire job.  My work situation is toxic and cultish, so I'm going to avoid going back unless it's in a very different job.

I'm starting to feel excited about step 1.  Here's to getting step 2 figured out before the 6 weeks is up.

weebs

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #306 on: February 08, 2023, 04:53:10 PM »
Today was the start of 6 weeks paid leave while I figure out how to downshift or find a coast fire job.  My work situation is toxic and cultish, so I'm going to avoid going back unless it's in a very different job.

I'm starting to feel excited about step 1.  Here's to getting step 2 figured out before the 6 weeks is up.

Congrats and enjoy the six weeks.  Keep us updated, I'm curious to hear how it goes.

I was thinking about posting to this thread, so it's timely that it was bumped.  DW and I determined we have enough to RE almost a year ago.  At the time, we both decided to keep working for three years to pad the stash and ensure our affairs are in order before pulling the plug.  She's still very much plugged into her role, but I've completely let go of most of the baggage around mine.  I used to be one of the first guys online and working and one of the last to hang it up for the night.  I also spent a fair amount of time doing things that were not officially mine to do - promoting the work our team is doing, working with other teams to ensure enough work is in the pipeline, troubleshooting other people's stuff, etc, etc.

That ship has sailed.

My mornings are now much more chill.  Time previously spent doing damage control is now spent having coffee on the couch with my dog.  I'm no longer the last one to sign off.  I no longer feel the need to respond to every email or IM immediately.  I take time to think about the best way to do something instead of the fastest way and have no problem punting requests to someone else.  I have engineered my position in such a way that I take on the work I want to do and have no problem telling my boss that I'd rather not do something.  I don't freak out if our team misses a deadline.  I don't work nights or weekends.  One of our executive leaders was using terms like "maximize efficiencies" and "reduce overhead" in a meeting today.  This is corporate speak for "shit will soon hit the fan".  That would have freaked me out earlier in my career and caused me to crank up an already hectic pace to avoid being on The List, but now I would gladly volunteer for a package (probably not gonna happen).  My wife has even noticed the change.  I'm sleeping better (but not great, stressing less and taking more PTO.  My job is now something I do for money, not a lifestyle.

I'm still full time, but I've completely downshifted.

It's not all sunshine and unicorns.  Parts of last year sucked, both personally and financially.  That being said, all is well in our household and I'm optimistic about the next two years.

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #307 on: February 12, 2023, 05:34:15 AM »
I think I may now belong in this thread :)  I quit my job last year with the intention to FIRE, and a few months later (just as I was getting used to it and not freaking out that we didn't have enough money!) my old boss called up and asked if I could come back in some capacity.  So now I'm working PT as a contract worker. Initially it seemed like it was maybe only going to be a month or so of work, but now it has turned into something with more of a multi-year potential.

- why you did it?
I guess for me the question is why I went back PT rather than staying FIREd.  Answer: I actually quite liked aspects of my old job, most of which are retained with the PT option (decent coworkers, interesting/meaningful things to work on, good pay relative to work intensity).  I disliked other aspects: commuting (this got dropped in the pandemic and will now continue for me), having to live in a VHCOL area (job was in SF Bay Area, company policy is that my old role could not be held by someone out of state, but contracting is apparently a way to get around that policy).  I will admit also that while I was not particularly worried about money by the time this opportunity came up...having some money coming in does help with not stressing about inflation or unexpected large expenses.

- what your downshift looks like?
Basically I'm now able to fit work around my son's school schedule without it being a big juggling act.  He goes to school, I work for 4-6 hours and then still have time for exercise, making dinner, etc.  He has a relatively late school start this year and working FT I would have been having to plug into work an hour or so before he's due to leave.  Now we spend that time together reading or doing other activities and I'm not constantly checking my phone.  Another plus is that the contract position does not come with a company smart phone, so it's much easier to really step away from the job outside of work hours.

- what do you like about it?
I like having some portion of my day that uses some of my intellectual skills. I also definitely like having the security of some extra money, with considerably less stress. DH has also retired now so I like that we have time to do things like weekday "dates".

- what isn't so awesome about it?
Definitely being in the contract position means there's some potential for more boring work that nobody else wants to touch gets shoved on me. On the other hand, I have a lot more flexibility to only do as much of that as I have time/capacity for on any given day.

- what are your plans going forward around downshifting and FIRE?
Back when DH and I first started working towards FIRE, I sort of had this idea in my head that our 30s would be for accumulating (work FT and stash as much as we could), 40s would be more of a "coast" period (work enough to cover expenses and leave the stash alone to work some compounding magic), and that 50s onward would be for complete retirement.  As we got later into our 30s I was realizing more and more that the idea of just working enough to cover expenses might be tricky to execute and was getting myself okay with the idea of just being FIREd.  Now it seems like maybe I'll be able to go back to the original plan, at least for a while.  I do kind of get the sense that my boss would eventually like me to come back FT but I am not interested in the role I think he might have in mind, as it's really more like a 2-3 person job the company has kept shoving onto one person (though there seems to be some recognition that it's not sustainable to keep it as a one-person job).  So I plan to continue this for as long as I can keep it PT and still have time to focus on my main priority right now, which is parenting.  I do not want to enroll my son in before/after school care or have to put him in full-day camps for the majority of summer break, his school day is long enough as is.  Overall I am currently looking forward to being able to continue with a more relaxed pace of home life.




bottlerocks

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #308 on: February 21, 2023, 03:06:25 PM »
I downshifted Jan 1, 2023.  Didn't think I'd be in this position but it's pretty great so far.

- Why you did it?
I had some ambitions of FIRE'ing altogether at the end of this year but it became pretty clear over the past couple of years that wasn't going to happen.  A little bit of real inflation, little bit of lifestyle inflation, and a little bit of considering starting a bigger family have all been drivers.  On somewhat of a whim last year I decided that part time work still gets me most things I want while increasing my quality of living substantially.  I ran the idea by my boss and HR and luckily found out most of the logistics work in my favor so it was a bit of a no brainer.

- What your downshift looks like?
I work in a closed space with limited outside interaction and was doing a 4-10 work week which drove me insane.  Now I do a M-W 9-9-7 type week on average.  I'm contractually obligated to do 25 hours but can do as many as I want at the same pay rate.  I wake up later (no alarm) and leave at my leisure.  I've only had 4 or 5 actual free Thursdays so far and I've spent them catching up on sleep, video games, and lingering house chores.  I suspect it will stay that way for a while until I feel all caught up.  Then I'll transition to some kind of side hustle project.

- What do you like about it?
I feel like I'm getting a decent amount of sleep for the first time in years.  I'm someone who needs at least 8 hours per night but does better on 9.  My wife works from home and so I get an extra day with her at least in my vicinity on Thurs.  That extra day of laziness (or even yard work) does wonders for the social energy I've had on the weekends.  We've been entertaining family/friends/weddings almost every weekend since the New Year and normally I'd be a cranky bitch by now but I'm actually doing decent on social batteries.

- What isn't so awesome about it?
Literally the only downside so far is I'm not saving as much.  My boss has even offered me a promotion later this year that would allow me to stay part time which is bonkers.  I'm not sure I want the extra responsibility but the pay increase would put me at parity with what I was making full time 5 years ago.

- what are your plans going forward around downshifting and FIRE?
Just playing it by ear right now.  My wife and I need to make a child-having decision before the end of the year.  It wouldn't change my downshifted schedule but would probably prolong me being in this position until a true FIRE scenario.  If we gave up her salary and added in child costs we would reduce our savings to <20k/year but if the market grows even reasonably I think we'd be in a comfortable FIRE position within 5 years. 

My largest concern is getting laid off.  My industry is due for a down cycle IMO and I have no feeling for where I would be in the pecking order.  If I had to guess, low, but the conditions might necessitate coming back in full time.  I'd be hard pressed to find a part time opportunity like this at another company I haven't built up a repertoire with.

Extramedium

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #309 on: February 22, 2023, 01:26:46 PM »
Thanks for including your examples.  I think I'm close to a NW level where I'd be comfortable with a downshift (depending on the day's market ups and downs, so who knows how close I actually am?), and these are like food for my endurance, sustaining me.  I'll be sure to fill out the form myself to help others, too, once I've crossed that first line.

FIRE 20/20

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #310 on: February 22, 2023, 01:40:08 PM »
Thanks for including your examples.  I think I'm close to a NW level where I'd be comfortable with a downshift (depending on the day's market ups and downs, so who knows how close I actually am?), and these are like food for my endurance, sustaining me.  I'll be sure to fill out the form myself to help others, too, once I've crossed that first line.

What is your level where you'd feel comfortable?  My partner and I waited until we had about 20x our planned spending, and really downshifted after hitting 25x.  We had reasons for working a little while past 25x, but my downshifting experience was such that I wish we had dropped to part-time at 15x or maybe even 10x our planned FIRE expenses.  For us, downshifting was so much better than full-time that we wish we had done it sooner.  And it doesn't slow down progress towards full-FIRE as much as I expected. 

RyanAtTanagra

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #311 on: February 22, 2023, 01:58:14 PM »
What is your level where you'd feel comfortable?  My partner and I waited until we had about 20x our planned spending, and really downshifted after hitting 25x.  We had reasons for working a little while past 25x, but my downshifting experience was such that I wish we had dropped to part-time at 15x or maybe even 10x our planned FIRE expenses.  For us, downshifting was so much better than full-time that we wish we had done it sooner.  And it doesn't slow down progress towards full-FIRE as much as I expected.

I'll second this, and so many others have said the same thing after making the leap.  I took a 20% paycut to go to 4 days, which after taxes is more like a 10% paycut, but the quality of life improvement was sooooo much.  I wish I had had the guts to do it sooner.

Another way to think of it, if it helps, is to think about in terms of your savings rate, not your stash.  If it only drops your take-home by 10%, what does that do to your savings rate?  Is it still respectable?  If so, F it, just do it.  That's what finally convinced me.  My savings rate was so stupidly high, I was just like 'wtf am I doing?  why am I working so much?'.

Extramedium

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #312 on: February 22, 2023, 02:13:52 PM »
What is your level where you'd feel comfortable?  My partner and I waited until we had about 20x our planned spending, and really downshifted after hitting 25x.  We had reasons for working a little while past 25x, but my downshifting experience was such that I wish we had dropped to part-time at 15x or maybe even 10x our planned FIRE expenses.  For us, downshifting was so much better than full-time that we wish we had done it sooner.  And it doesn't slow down progress towards full-FIRE as much as I expected.

I'll second this, and so many others have said the same thing after making the leap.  I took a 20% paycut to go to 4 days, which after taxes is more like a 10% paycut, but the quality of life improvement was sooooo much.  I wish I had had the guts to do it sooner.

Another way to think of it, if it helps, is to think about in terms of your savings rate, not your stash.  If it only drops your take-home by 10%, what does that do to your savings rate?  Is it still respectable?  If so, F it, just do it.  That's what finally convinced me.  My savings rate was so stupidly high, I was just like 'wtf am I doing?  why am I working so much?'.

Thanks for the insightful comments, you two.  I'm really receptive to this message right now, after just finishing listening to Die with Zero, which is mostly about maximizing life rather than wealth.  I'm 52, and trying to time it so that I can still FatFIRE before 60, and am plotting out the different expected return scenarios to try to satisfy both CoastFIRE and still retiring early enough to call it early.

The other thing is that my wife is starting to think about getting back in the job market.  If she gets hired within the next year (after SAHM for several years), this could accelerate everything on the schedule!

Bird In Hand

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #313 on: March 04, 2023, 09:07:30 AM »
I'll second this, and so many others have said the same thing after making the leap.  I took a 20% paycut to go to 4 days, which after taxes is more like a 10% paycut, but the quality of life improvement was sooooo much.  I wish I had had the guts to do it sooner.

Another way to think of it, if it helps, is to think about in terms of your savings rate, not your stash.  If it only drops your take-home by 10%, what does that do to your savings rate?  Is it still respectable?  If so, F it, just do it.  That's what finally convinced me.  My savings rate was so stupidly high, I was just like 'wtf am I doing?  why am I working so much?'.

I'm replying mostly so I can look back at my own words at some point and eventually (hopefully) find the courage to permanently downshift.  I've long used similar reasoning to what's written above to persuade the logical side of my brain that downshifting is not risky after saving 20x expenses.

Despite saving what feels like an absurd amount these days -- about $70k/yr pre-tax and $30k/yr after-tax -- the OMY side of the equation keeps winning out due to high inflation, a retirement portfolio that has stalled over the last year, and a little bit of lifestyle inflation.

Malossi792

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #314 on: March 05, 2023, 12:19:13 AM »
I'll second this, and so many others have said the same thing after making the leap.  I took a 20% paycut to go to 4 days, which after taxes is more like a 10% paycut, but the quality of life improvement was sooooo much.  I wish I had had the guts to do it sooner.

Another way to think of it, if it helps, is to think about in terms of your savings rate, not your stash.  If it only drops your take-home by 10%, what does that do to your savings rate?  Is it still respectable?  If so, F it, just do it.  That's what finally convinced me.  My savings rate was so stupidly high, I was just like 'wtf am I doing?  why am I working so much?'.

I'm replying mostly so I can look back at my own words at some point and eventually (hopefully) find the courage to permanently downshift.  I've long used similar reasoning to what's written above to persuade the logical side of my brain that downshifting is not risky after saving 20x expenses.

Despite saving what feels like an absurd amount these days -- about $70k/yr pre-tax and $30k/yr after-tax -- the OMY side of the equation keeps winning out due to high inflation, a retirement portfolio that has stalled over the last year, and a little bit of lifestyle inflation.

Signature checks out.

If you have 20x desired yearly spending saved, why not try 4-day weeks?
Not much to lose, I mean 20% less pay for 50% longer weekends, and a time to fi that I would bet is made only a couple (much more bearable) months longer.
What's not to like?
I'm at around 20x barebones (wouldn't go without a roof and wouldn't starve, with utilities and internet kept running) and I'm already using up accrued PTO to try 4 workdays a week (although not all of them weekdays, and not all 8 hour workdays, but that's always been the case for me).
Started it only recently, so can't really comment on it yet.

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #315 on: March 06, 2023, 09:45:58 AM »

never give up

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #316 on: March 18, 2023, 06:57:37 AM »
Hi Downshifters! An aspiring downshifter (maybe) here.

Iím a little bit cautious and a nervous stock market investor. I was a mortgage over-payer for years and found MMM a couple of years ago aged 40. The main thing I learned from the blog wasnít really frugality but not being scared to invest. So I have no debt (yay) and have invested 80%+ for the last two years (yay) but am scared of a crash (boo) and how to approach the next part of my FIRE journey...........


This is a really useful thread. I was really inspired by happyís story among others and was hoping to feel emboldened by those actively living the part time life.

It would be interesting to know what gave people the confidence to make the move to part time. It may have been a partners income for example. Iím single so donít have that. Iím struggling a little to see through the full time to FIRE versus part time fog, and understand what level of expenses is good enough to have saved in order to achieve FIRE inevitability, allowing part time to be a sensible option.
Phew, I canít believe this post was over three and a half years ago. Where on earth does the time go! After five and a half years pursuing FI Iíve finally summoned the courage to go part-time. Iíve received considerable help from the forum and this thread is a good one with lots of great stories.

Why you did it?



I appreciate the average worker happiness is impossible for me to know but Iíve felt extremely lucky over the years. When I think of my working feel good factor having worked at the same company since I left Uni, I just feel so incredibly grateful. I felt valued, part of a really close knit team, and really well supported. We had a department subculture that just rocked. Iím sure I had above average happiness in my workplace for a sustained period of time. In truth I probably took this a bit for granted. I knew no different, and of course why would I think about the possibility of that ending. I faced a few knocks to my work feel good factor after a minor re-org and the Global Financial Crisis. As bad as the GFC was it didnít really impact my working environment though and I bounced back pretty quickly in terms of my working feel good factor.

As with life in general, so much is out of our control though. Only about 6 weeks after finding the concept of FIRE a massive re-org came along that ousted my lovely boss I had been with since the start of my career. The department changed beyond all recognition, and my enjoyment at work plummeted. Internal politics became a thing, a more unpleasant and cutthroat working atmosphere developed, and for someone shy like me I was side-lined and undermined constantly. I started to hate work.

Thankfully this didnít last long. A change of line manager, hours, and work from home all helped greatly. I also had the goal of part-time that I was striving for and didnít seem to be that far away in the future.

Iím a bit cautious of living off my money for the rest of my life, so the part-time approach is a great way of getting out of the full-time grind earlier, still being engaged in something, having some structure to the week, but ensuring that work doesnít dominate the week. I want employment to be something I do that fits around the rest of my life, rather than the other way around. Iíve saved hard (80%+) for the five and a half years since finding the concept of FIRE. My expenses have been artificially low here, so I will now be increasing them. Iím not FI but I have achieved enough of a financial accomplishment that I can now reduce my hours and achieve that balance in my life.

What your downshift looks like?

I will now be working four days a week with Mondayís off and will have over seven weeks annual leave too. Iím in the same role in the same company.

What do you like about it?

I start in the middle of next month. Iíll have to come back and give an update after a few months. IĎm hopeful I feel less stressed and have more time for my out of work goals.

What isnít so awesome about it?

Again, Iíll have to provide a future update. I hope I can avoid some of the less enjoyable aspects of the job and focus on the bits I really like. Working extra hours to keep up is my largest fear. I will do everything I can to ensure this doesnít materialise. That would be the worst case part-time outcome.

What are your plans going forward around downshifting and FIRE?

I hope to achieve a great work life balance now. My working feel good factor has recently dipped. I wonder if that was because I knew this period would be the end of my full-time era? I'll be interested to see how it responds having now gone part-time. I hope the part-time set up gets me to a place where Iím closer to a 3% WR. I see this as a first stage in my part-time journey. A second stage could see me drop to two days a week which seems ideal, or a part-time role in a different industry doing something completely new. Ideally this would be something I would happily do for free. Earning money, protecting the stache, and enjoying work as part of a great balance where no one individual thing requires more than 15-18 hours a week would be my perfect life set up.
« Last Edit: March 18, 2023, 07:14:03 AM by never give up »

Malossi792

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #317 on: March 18, 2023, 08:25:16 AM »
Sounds lovely.
Please, do come back with updates!

SpareChange

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #318 on: March 18, 2023, 09:06:23 AM »
Never Give Up...a lot's happened in the world since that post you quoted. Glad you were able to plow through and get to this point. 3 day weekends and 7 weeks off sounds like a pretty good altitude to cruise at! Let us know how it goes.

Extramedium

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #319 on: March 18, 2023, 11:52:28 AM »

I hope to achieve a great work life balance now. My working feel good factor has recently dipped. I wonder if that was because I knew this period would be the end of my full-time era? I'll be interested to see how it responds having now gone part-time. I hope the part-time set up gets me to a place where Iím closer to a 3% WR. I see this as a first stage in my part-time journey. A second stage could see me drop to two days a week which seems ideal, or a part-time role in a different industry doing something completely new. Ideally this would be something I would happily do for free. Earning money, protecting the stache, and enjoying work as part of a great balance where no one individual thing requires more than 15-18 hours a week would be my perfect life set up.
[/quote]

Thanks for the update, and looking forward to hearing dispatches from how things go as this change goes from novel to ordinary life!

never give up

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #320 on: March 18, 2023, 02:34:24 PM »
Thanks Malossi792. Iíll report back.

Itís been a crazy few years SpareChange. Iím really fortunate to have such a good set up.

Thanks Extramedium. Iím looking forward to adjusting.

happy

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #321 on: March 21, 2023, 05:13:58 PM »
Nice update NGU! I predict you'll love it.

never give up

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #322 on: March 23, 2023, 10:47:24 AM »
Thanks happy. I agree with your prediction!

JupiterGreen

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #323 on: March 24, 2023, 11:58:45 AM »
This was a great update and really helpful to read, thank you @never give up

never give up

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #324 on: March 24, 2023, 01:18:45 PM »
Iím glad you found it useful JupiterGreen. I can recommend the entire thread for anyone thinking about a part-time set-up.

Off the Wheel

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #325 on: March 24, 2023, 01:28:22 PM »
With every passing week and month, I am more sure that full time work/the corporate ladder is a TRAP.

I first downshifted after my mat leave ended, in September 2020 - 4 days a week. I was still in the same role, juggling responsibilities, stress was high but Fridays off was priceless.

In March 2021, we made the decision to move out of the VHCOL city we'd been in. My husband has landed a well paying remote job, and it felt like the time to risk it. I was hoping my tenure and reputation at my company would enable me to work out some kind of deal where I could still work there, but permanently remotely (it was still talk of hybrid then, and it's materialized into a 2-day-a-week-in-office requirement.. for everyone but me!) They agreed to try remote.

We moved, we loved it, but I was still expected to go back once a month - a full day of driving. I went back to the negotiation table in early 2022, and we agreed to make the remote deal permanent, to drop the monthly travel requirement, and to go to 60% (3 days a week) if I dropped from my executive role to an individual contributor. That all materialized in July 2022.

It is THE BEST.

I never knew it would be possible to work part time in a more traditional white collar job. I still make decent money (though recognize the fact that my husband still works FT at a high salary makes it very very easy to not stress about reduced income) and we save a lot. I feel engaged and competent in my days in work, and really appreciate owning my own time and output (vs being a director in endless meetings and held responsible for other people's work). And I LOVE 4 day weekends.

Never going back. (Unless I absolutely have to.) Now I'm just trying to figure out a way DH can downshift as well!

never give up

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #326 on: March 24, 2023, 01:38:51 PM »
Thatís great Off the Wheel. Itís brilijant to hear such a positive story and Iím glad it is working so well for you.

Off the Wheel

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #327 on: March 24, 2023, 06:38:45 PM »
Thatís great Off the Wheel. Itís brilijant to hear such a positive story and Iím glad it is working so well for you.

Thank you! I agonized over the decision to downshift - move/downgrade the title - but made it happen in part due to the great advice here, so I'm very grateful.

never give up

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #328 on: March 25, 2023, 01:20:14 AM »
Yes I can relate to the agonizing and the great advice here. I'm glad it has worked out well now for you and hope your DH can join you too. I'm so excited by it all I can see I invented a new word above! I haven't done that before so that's a brilijant achievement too.

Metalcat

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #329 on: March 28, 2023, 07:22:30 PM »
Yes I can relate to the agonizing and the great advice here. I'm glad it has worked out well now for you and hope your DH can join you too. I'm so excited by it all I can see I invented a new word above! I haven't done that before so that's a brilijant achievement too.

Lol, I remember agonizing about it too when I downshifted and walked away from a role that I was basically famous in my industry for getting. It felt like *such*a huge deal to walk away from at the time, especially since there was no going back.

Now it feels like such a silly thing to fret about. Like, I get why I did at the time, but knowing how dramatically and rapidly life got better, it seems insane in retrospect to have ever hesitated.

Granted, my job was so bad for my mental health that it took about 3 years for my heartrate not to skyrocket when driving by the building.

never give up

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #330 on: March 29, 2023, 08:58:55 AM »
Yes I was convinced for a while there I must have been making the biggest decision ever made by anyone in the history of humankind. As I adjust to the income and routine I expect in a few months Iíll think picking something for dinner can sometimes be a more difficult choice than this should have been. I even had polls in my journal asking if I should do it, if I should then when should I do it, for crying out loud! And Iím barely a grain of sand in a desert in my industry Metalcat! Iím sorry you had such a stressful time of it but am glad to hear how rapidly life got better for you.

Iím hoping with the benefit of hindsight this decision falls into the ďone of the best things I ever didĒ category.
« Last Edit: March 29, 2023, 09:03:19 AM by never give up »

Metalcat

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #331 on: March 30, 2023, 02:09:23 PM »
Yes I was convinced for a while there I must have been making the biggest decision ever made by anyone in the history of humankind. As I adjust to the income and routine I expect in a few months Iíll think picking something for dinner can sometimes be a more difficult choice than this should have been. I even had polls in my journal asking if I should do it, if I should then when should I do it, for crying out loud! And Iím barely a grain of sand in a desert in my industry Metalcat! Iím sorry you had such a stressful time of it but am glad to hear how rapidly life got better for you.

Iím hoping with the benefit of hindsight this decision falls into the ďone of the best things I ever didĒ category.

It hard to shed the societal indoctrination that makes it hard to reduce our workload.

It is amazing though that once you do, it just doesn't feel like a big deal. Like, I'm retraining in a whole new career, and it's one that I could easily work full time or part time if I wanted to.

I feel literally zero pressure to work full time. I'll work as much as I feel like working and if full time is optimal for my lifestyle, that's what I'll do. But it just seems so natural to let my lifestyle dictate how much I work, not some arbitrary expectation.

Granted, I specifically chose a profession where this is easier. But even then, it felt like the most natural thing in the world to prioritise a more flexible profession.

I looked at a lot of careers that would make more money that required full time commitment and I was like "m'eh, I think I can do better."

It's just so OBVIOUS now that I need to let my life dictate my amount of work and not the other way around.

It's some serious red pill shit when it happens.


the_hobbitish

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #332 on: April 03, 2023, 01:56:13 PM »
Is there an easy way to calculate the tax savings from working less hours? I was guessing using last years AGI but I think I'm missing how the itemized/standard deduction changes the result...

ixtap

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #333 on: April 03, 2023, 03:07:05 PM »
Is there an easy way to calculate the tax savings from working less hours? I was guessing using last years AGI but I think I'm missing how the itemized/standard deduction changes the result...

I am not sure what you mean by the tax savings; you are going to have less take home if you have less income, unless you qualify for a handful of credits by reducing your income.

We moved from the 32% bracket into the 22% bracket. Being in the 22% bracket means not having to worry about supplemental income being underwithheld. It also means not being subject to NIIT. When we halved the income, the federal.tax bill was about 1/3 as much. But we would still have a lot more in our pocket if we earning twice as much.

A quick and dirty way to look at is salary minus traditional contributions minus standard deduction (if that applies to you) and see what tax bracket that lands in. It is generally to find charts that summarize each bracket (ie, when you are in the 22% bracket, your taxes are X to fill the lowe brackets plus 22% for everything in the 22% bracket).

the_hobbitish

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #334 on: April 03, 2023, 04:04:42 PM »
I guess a better way to put it is how as you move up the tax brackets you keep less of each dollar. So you're keeping less of the earnings for each hour you work. The 22% to 24% jump where I'm at is probably not that striking, but I've been trying to crunch the numbers on take home pay and whether the difference would be as much as I initially thought if there's less tax.

markbike528CBX

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #335 on: April 03, 2023, 05:26:27 PM »
I guess a better way to put it is how as you move up the tax brackets you keep less of each dollar. So you're keeping less of the earnings for each hour you work. The 22% to 24% jump where I'm at is probably not that striking, but I've been trying to crunch the numbers on take home pay and whether the difference would be as much as I initially thought if there's less tax.

better visualization

https://engaging-data.com/tax-brackets/

SpareChange

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #336 on: July 22, 2023, 10:48:10 AM »
I'm going to assume that the silence in this thread is indicative of the satisfaction everyone is feeling with their downshifted status :). Any juicy updates? Plans going more or less as envisioned?

I was sat down in January and told I would need choose between going back FT or dropping to PRN by the end of spring. Didn't really care for either, so I started picking up more hours in our short-staffed dept. Then not too long ago, our dept decided to move from 5 day to mostly 4 day weeks instead. They found a niche for me working 2 consecutive 10hr shifts. I still keep my benefits. I still have to take call here and there, which I don't like, but overall I'm optimistic.

startingsmall

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #337 on: July 22, 2023, 10:56:57 AM »
I tried to downshift, but hasn't quite worked out like I expected. Apparently, I'm a workaholic.

BEFORE: Worked 40ish hrs/wk as a full-time veterinarian, spent approx 5-10 hrs/wk on freelance writing side hustle.

AFTER: Work 17 hrs/wk as a part-time veterinarian, do occasional relief shifts at other veterinary clinics (avg ~5 hrs/wk), spend approximately 20-30 hrs/wk on freelance writing side hustle.

I'm definitely happier now... I'm not working any less, but I control my own schedule so I have a degree of flexibility that I didn't have before (want to go to yoga class on Friday morning? no problem!). Plus, I'm making a good bit more money than I was making previously. The relief work isn't really part of my overall master plan, but it's $650/day and I actually really enjoy the days I spend at the clinic where I'm mostly doing relief (great team, fabulous clients, fun location within walking distance of cool lunch restaurants)... so I'm not planning to give it up. I'm not ready to give up the stability of at least a PT vet job just yet and the writing is my long-term plan (just didn't expect it to take off so quickly) so that's not going anywhere.

Looks like my downshift will have to wait a while.

It's been roughly a year and a half since my last update, so here's another...
- Still working 17 hrs/wk as a part-time veterinarian.
- Relief work temporarily increased (avg. of 10 hrs/wk), but then I cut WAY back (10 hrs/month). Planning to stop completely after April.
- Freelance writing holding steady at 15-20 hrs/wk.

I'm trying to decide what's next.

The official plan is to hold steady at this level for the next 2-3 years, then relocate towards the coast. At that point, we (husband & I) will be roughly 75% of the way to FI and I plan to REALLY downshift at that point (stop the PT vet work and just write).

Recently, however, I've been much busier with our daughter. She begged for violin lessons and I significantly underestimated how much of a parental time commitment Suzuki violin lessons would involve!! Between than and some other volunteer commitments, I'm feeling kind of fried. I'd like to downshift even more on my work right now, but I don't know how. My PT job provides our health insurance, so it seems stupid to give that up until we see how the election/ACA goes. The writing is my post-relocation income plan (assuming that the ACA sticks around in some form), so it seems silly to cut back on that. I guess my best bet is to stick with the official plan, but I don't know.

Just reread my previous posts and decided that I might as well share another update.

First of all, WE MOVED TOWARDS THE COAST!! YAY!! My husband got a new FT job, which he enjoys, and I'm loving the increased access to outdoor recreation.

I ended up completely stepping away from veterinary practice, both as an employee and relief vet, during COVID. I'm now working solely on freelance writing and averaging ~30 hrs/wk (some weeks more, some weeks less). Even that was bit much while I was homeschooling our daughter through COVID, but it's more reasonable now that she's in summer camps (9 am until 1-4 pm, depending on the week). I think it will be even easier when school starts in the fall (she'll be in school/aftercare from 8-5ish).

I'd like to find time for some specific volunteer work that I'm hoping to get involved in, but I don't feel like I can make it work right now. Maybe it will be easier once school starts. If not, I'll need to decide whether to decrease my workload further or just keep plugging away until we're closer to full FIRE (2028).

Almost 3 years of updates! Nice. How long were you in vet med? Do you still enjoy the freelance writing, or has it moved more towards a flexible means to an end?

I spent a total of 14 years as a practicing veterinarian, which was more than enough for me!!

I do still enjoy the writing, though my enjoyment has waned a bit now that I'm doing more of it. I can't ever see myself stepping away from it completely, but I'm looking forward to reaching a point where I can scale back to just my favorite clients and feel free to say no to anything that will involve zoom/phone calls or multiple rounds of review. LOL.

2023 update: I'm still doing freelance writing at about 25-30 hrs/wk and still enjoying it! Things are a bit slower right now, but that's the norm while all of my clients slow down during summer vacation season and things always pick up in the fall.

We're currently dealing with some significant uncertainty re: husband's job and likely planning to move in the next year or so, but my work situation is still perfect and I'm grateful for the flexibility. I have no regrets and don't foresee any changes in my work situation!

Currently on track to FIRE in 2030, though that's pretty tentative. My husband's next job may involve a career shift and/or salary reduction, and there's always a possibility that I'll decide to continue gradually scaling back my work. We'll see! My current work life feels quite sustainable, so I'm in no rush.

« Last Edit: July 24, 2023, 09:42:17 AM by startingsmall »

Jack0Life

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #338 on: July 23, 2023, 03:50:37 PM »
- why you did it?
The pandemic changed everything. I was out of work for over 1 yr and I enjoyed every bit of it.
I got my job back and my wife quit her end of Sept.
I'm at about 70% of what I worked before and will go down to 50% next year to get ACA for 2022.
- what your downshift looks like?
I work 3 days a week. Sometimes 4 sometimes 2. Basically whatever I want.
My 3 days will cover all our expenses while letting our current stash  grow. NW around $1.4 million.
- what do you like about it?
What's not to like about it ??
- what isn't so awesome about it?
We do have a budget now and we follow it.
It's all mentally actually. We can maintain our lifestyles just as before but since the work income only cover expenses, we don't want to over spend and dip into our current stash. But then again our stash is growing exponentially.
- what are your plans going forward around downshifting and FIRE?
My job is very flexible. I can basically take off when ever my want while my wife cannot.
Since she quit last Sept, we are free to travel as we please.
We have gone to Colo. in Oct. We have a trip to Tahiti end of Nov.
Ski trip in Dec and many afterwards as we have the Epic pass this season.
We will hit Colo, Tahoe, Utah, Vermont and others during this winter season. This will get us through end of April.
Looking at a big trip in May. Europe or Vietnam. We'll see what Covid will be like by that time.

UPDATE: Almost 2 years later.
We spent about a year in 2021-2022 travelling our butts off. Now in 2023, we are pretty much home bodies.
So far in half way through 2023, I've worked 327 hrs and made $24k.
That's an average of 12.6 hrs per week when I used to average 38.
We've been on ACA last 2 yrs so can't make much money anyway.
NW now is at 1.55 million.
I foresee by 2025 we are completely done. By then, we will sell primary home, move back to rental(which is paid off) and can live on ~$50k with a paid off home. 10 yrs later, SS will kick in and that's when the FatFIRE will start.
We don't have kids so no need to leave any money.

SpareChange

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #339 on: July 24, 2023, 07:49:48 AM »
Great updates! Nice to see people making steady progress towards their goals even through the macro challenges of the last few years.

Jack0Life

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #340 on: July 26, 2023, 09:30:27 PM »
YES, I like to see more people quoting their old post with an update.
If you just update without the old quote, it's hard searching for it.

SpareChange

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #341 on: July 27, 2023, 09:51:17 AM »
YES, I like to see more people quoting their old post with an update.
If you just update without the old quote, it's hard searching for it.

Yeah, that's a good point. I'll try to hunt my original down. I know it varies by state,  but how has your experience been with the ACA? At some point I will transition to being a PRN with no bennies, and it's going to have a decent sized impact on decision making I think.

SpareChange

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #342 on: July 27, 2023, 12:27:43 PM »
I'm soon to downshift. Been looking forward to it for quite some time.

Why you did it.

I was essentially always planning to downshift at some point, as my career makes it easy to do so. It was the timing that was in question. I was starting to burnout a bit. There were a couple of periods last year when I chose to work 35-40 days straight. Our volume tends to go up in winter, and during the last one I was physically feeling it a lot more. Not getting any younger. Also, my father passed away this July and this will give me more flexibility in helping my mother over the long term.

What your downshift looks like. 

Halftime. One week on/one off, more specifically 5 days on (40 hours), then 9 days off. Call every 5th weekend. Still eligible for bennies, albeit with health insurance at a higher rate...going from $16.62/paycheck to $45-50. 4.6% 403b match and 12% pto intact. Will have pto bank maxed at 480 hrs. Plan to keep most of that as a ST disability policy for now. Can easily take more work or call on. We have an app to trade shifts. At base, looking at earning $40k/yr minimum.

What are your plans going forward around downshifting and FIRE?

The flexibility and stability inherent to my job makes it difficult to cross whatever threshold is needed to FIRE from it completely. In fact, at some point, I could downshift even further. Being able to ignore SORR is tempting. Even so, I'd like to keep myself on a strong pace until I reach FI, and reach a comfortable RE amount in 5-10 years. I'll still keep investing:). My portfolio is at about 85% of basic living expenses using the 4% rule.

Going on 4 years now since moving to PT. At that time I was having a couple of physical issues due to overuse. Those cleared up after about 4 months. We got my mom's financial situation largely figured out about 8 stressful months after dad passed.

Net Worth back then was 364k. Last month was 673k. During the pandemic my employer lifted the cap on PTO, so my bank has grown to about 690 hours. Still half-time, but schedule has moved to 2 10's per week. Base income going forward is about 45k, but I've yet to work the minimum over the course of a year.

Numbers

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #343 on: September 12, 2023, 08:33:48 PM »
I rarely post, but have lurked plenty, with occasional posts over the years but now I get to join the 'club' in this thread.

- why you did it?

Because I can? Well sort of; my financial picture seems pretty clear will be a version of FatFire. I had been continuing to work the past 2-3 years due to some huge but very interesting and satisfying projects. I had informed my boss in spring of 2022 that 4 day weeks was where I wanted to head. I have a great relationship with him but he asked if I could hold off until several moderate projects got completed on schedule which I did.

Turn around nearly a year later and as one of the Huge projects for our operations team was finishing up, they had enough customers to be viable, but not enough to retain the full team; decent sized layoff planned (which I always know the juicy stuff months in advance due to my role). My boss informed me that he would need to lay me off too (informed me in March for possible May departure to give me time to look), and I basically simply reminded him that my goal was to go part time anyway and also reminded him of the value I bring to the org. He went off to think about it and within a week decided that 4 days a week would be just fine; that while he personally could do my work he literally did not have the time or desire to add all of it to his plate (no one else in the org available or capable of it anyway. Its good to have key skills). So mid-April I transitioned to Fridays off.


- what your downshift looks like?

80% pay at 32 hours/week, with Fridays off (I looked and would miss out on at least 6 more days off in my company over the first 12 months if I took Mondays off instead). Interestingly, while I thought my company pro-rated vacation, sick, etc.. based on the hours per week vs 40 it turns out that I keep full vacation, sick, etc.. accruals going. You have to be below a 75% work schedule to be considered 'part time'. And with more than 4+weeks (176 hours) of time off between all buckets it'll almost be hard to use them all with Fridays off too.


- what do you like about it?

Lots to be said about both getting the extra day off for long weekends, while also keeping my head 'in the game' and mentally sharp. Allows a slower transition to get time to think about next steps or full retirement without dropping off in one step. Plus spending more time with my family. Although life was insanity level busy for 3+ years prior to this and so I'm spending a lot of time getting to important but not urgent stuff every Friday still (5 months later!) while also mixing in athletic activities and getting back into better shape. (perspective: Though it's also true that my company has been a very interesting spot to be and the exec team that I work with daily is all trying to do the right stuff with the least amount of overt internal politics I've ever run into (400+ person multinational company)). Plus I actually like working from the office one day per week (I bike in during summer).


- what isn't so awesome about it?

Not much to put here. In general it's great. DW is still working, plus with my 80% salary we have few financial worries for now.

- what are your plans going forward around downshifting and FIRE?

Lots of open questions around this topic in our house for the moment. DW would quit sooner than later, but that's mostly due to her current company being truly horrific (seemed so nice when she interviewed/started 1.5yrs ago). She's looking elsewhere, but probably tough to match her pay rate in her field so she's looking at lower paid stuff, but being overqualified. Tough search. Why hunt at all with FU money? She also has few hobbies or interests and wants to work to some degree, whereas I have literally tons of hobbies or desired hobbies.

We have an 8th grader in the mix too so are tied to the school schedule for 4.75 more years too. So even if I pulled the plug down to 0% I wouldn't get too far for trips or etc.. outside of school breaks (naturally the most expensive time to do anything is on school breaks!). Plus the one remaining parent, my MIL has some level of dementia/Alzheimer's and moved in a couple years ago. Physically fine, but mentally always pretty confused about what is going on or why, or recalling anything short term and often not a lot of long term memory either etc... Kind of like having a very slow 1st grader or so is my best description. Hard to guess how long till she will need more support than in-home help. Basic gist is we are trying to ease toward FIRE knowing that there are lots of things going on that seem like we should just keep mostly going for a minute or two till things resolve a bit more. Our son definitely needs the example of hard work to see us doing more than talking the talk too (that's just part of who he is, every kid is different of course).


RyanAtTanagra

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #344 on: September 13, 2023, 05:19:29 PM »
80% pay at 32 hours/week, with Fridays off

Hell yea, I did the same, best pay cut I ever took.  Our company got bought a few years ago and we're all slowly getting laid off a chunk at a time.  I'm not looking forward to having to get a new job and go back to 40hrs.  Ugh.  I'd do 4 10s, but 2-day weekends again?  F that.  3-day weekends every week is SUCH a significant difference.  Friday is my "get shit done" day, and is my favorite day of the week.

Freedomin5

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #345 on: September 13, 2023, 05:27:45 PM »
I downshifted from 60 hrs/week to my current ~40 hrs/wk (only 26 hrs are in the office) and take 5-6 weeks off each summer, so I donít think I meet criteria for being downshifted according to the definition per this thread. But I feel downshifted (compared to where I was before), so Iím PTF.

why you did it?
Started getting severe chest pains and numbness in one arm. Thought I was having a heart attack but then realized it was mainly stress-induced. Also started having trouble sleeping.

what your downshift looks like?
Going from 60 hours, 6.5 days per week to 3 days per week in the office, 2 days working (or not working) at leisure from home

what do you like about it?
The flexibility. Avoiding rush hour traffic. Being able to work around DDís school schedule. Not having chest pains anymore. Being able to sleep at night without my mind racing. Avoiding workplace politics since Iím not in the office enough to hear the gossip and when I am, I have stuff to get done.

what isn't so awesome about it?
Nothing. I prefer my current work arrangement over any other arrangement, except it would be nice to cut down my hours even more. We are even saving slightly more than when I was working 60 hrs/wk because my work flexibility has allowed DH to take full-time work.

what are your plans going forward around downshifting and FIRE?
Short-term plans to keep the same arrangement for 1-2 more years. Then FIRE! We are currently 100% Barebones FI, 75% Full FIRE, and 65% Fat FIRE.

WhoaÖI wrote this 5 years ago. I ended up downshifting again 1 year after writing the initial post. Still a FT job, but the new job gives me three months vacation, allows me to work around DDís school hours, and the work is much easier. The pay+benefits is about the same.

why you did it?
Asked for a raise after working for the company for six years and was denied, even though I was one of their top performers. Also got tired of working evenings and weekends even though I got some weekdays off.

what your downshift looks like?
No evenings. No weekends. No emergency calls. Easier work.

what do you like about it?
Lots of vacation time that matches DDís schedule. Easier work in a less stressful environment. Better benefits package. Company housing is a 10-minute walk from work and school.

what isn't so awesome about it?
The ďcurse of the competentĒ. Over the past few years, they have promoted me and added duties beyond what I was initially hired to do. Recently, they moved me from being an individual contributor to a people managing position. I enjoy being an individual contributor more than being a people manager, but due to COVID, itís been hard getting qualified people to come to China. Iím hoping itís temporary, and if itís not, Iím thinking of making it temporary by FIRE-ing.

what are your plans going forward around downshifting and FIRE?
Short-term plans to keep the same arrangement for 1-2 more years. We are actually staying because DDís fancy private school tuition is part of my benefits package, and staying 2 more years will mean a natural transition point in her schooling as she moves from elementary to middle school. Then FIRE! We are currently 100% Barebones FI, 100% Full FIRE, and ~80% Fat FIRE.
« Last Edit: September 13, 2023, 05:30:49 PM by Freedomin5 »

never give up

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #346 on: December 23, 2023, 01:51:20 AM »
Hi Downshifters! An aspiring downshifter (maybe) here.

Iím a little bit cautious and a nervous stock market investor. I was a mortgage over-payer for years and found MMM a couple of years ago aged 40. The main thing I learned from the blog wasnít really frugality but not being scared to invest. So I have no debt (yay) and have invested 80%+ for the last two years (yay) but am scared of a crash (boo) and how to approach the next part of my FIRE journey...........


This is a really useful thread. I was really inspired by happyís story among others and was hoping to feel emboldened by those actively living the part time life.

It would be interesting to know what gave people the confidence to make the move to part time. It may have been a partners income for example. Iím single so donít have that. Iím struggling a little to see through the full time to FIRE versus part time fog, and understand what level of expenses is good enough to have saved in order to achieve FIRE inevitability, allowing part time to be a sensible option.
Phew, I canít believe this post was over three and a half years ago. Where on earth does the time go! After five and a half years pursuing FI Iíve finally summoned the courage to go part-time. Iíve received considerable help from the forum and this thread is a good one with lots of great stories.

Why you did it?



I appreciate the average worker happiness is impossible for me to know but Iíve felt extremely lucky over the years. When I think of my working feel good factor having worked at the same company since I left Uni, I just feel so incredibly grateful. I felt valued, part of a really close knit team, and really well supported. We had a department subculture that just rocked. Iím sure I had above average happiness in my workplace for a sustained period of time. In truth I probably took this a bit for granted. I knew no different, and of course why would I think about the possibility of that ending. I faced a few knocks to my work feel good factor after a minor re-org and the Global Financial Crisis. As bad as the GFC was it didnít really impact my working environment though and I bounced back pretty quickly in terms of my working feel good factor.

As with life in general, so much is out of our control though. Only about 6 weeks after finding the concept of FIRE a massive re-org came along that ousted my lovely boss I had been with since the start of my career. The department changed beyond all recognition, and my enjoyment at work plummeted. Internal politics became a thing, a more unpleasant and cutthroat working atmosphere developed, and for someone shy like me I was side-lined and undermined constantly. I started to hate work.

Thankfully this didnít last long. A change of line manager, hours, and work from home all helped greatly. I also had the goal of part-time that I was striving for and didnít seem to be that far away in the future.

Iím a bit cautious of living off my money for the rest of my life, so the part-time approach is a great way of getting out of the full-time grind earlier, still being engaged in something, having some structure to the week, but ensuring that work doesnít dominate the week. I want employment to be something I do that fits around the rest of my life, rather than the other way around. Iíve saved hard (80%+) for the five and a half years since finding the concept of FIRE. My expenses have been artificially low here, so I will now be increasing them. Iím not FI but I have achieved enough of a financial accomplishment that I can now reduce my hours and achieve that balance in my life.

What your downshift looks like?

I will now be working four days a week with Mondayís off and will have over seven weeks annual leave too. Iím in the same role in the same company.

What do you like about it?

I start in the middle of next month. Iíll have to come back and give an update after a few months. IĎm hopeful I feel less stressed and have more time for my out of work goals.

What isnít so awesome about it?

Again, Iíll have to provide a future update. I hope I can avoid some of the less enjoyable aspects of the job and focus on the bits I really like. Working extra hours to keep up is my largest fear. I will do everything I can to ensure this doesnít materialise. That would be the worst case part-time outcome.

What are your plans going forward around downshifting and FIRE?

I hope to achieve a great work life balance now. My working feel good factor has recently dipped. I wonder if that was because I knew this period would be the end of my full-time era? I'll be interested to see how it responds having now gone part-time. I hope the part-time set up gets me to a place where Iím closer to a 3% WR. I see this as a first stage in my part-time journey. A second stage could see me drop to two days a week which seems ideal, or a part-time role in a different industry doing something completely new. Ideally this would be something I would happily do for free. Earning money, protecting the stache, and enjoying work as part of a great balance where no one individual thing requires more than 15-18 hours a week would be my perfect life set up.
Back in March I promised future updates, but resisted temptation to come back and report too early. I wanted to really settle and for any novelty to wear off rather than report back in the "honeymoon period". I'm now nine months into my part-time lifestyle and am currently at the start of 18 DAYS OFF thanks to my annual leave situation. Full FIRE practice! Woohoo! Happy holidays to everyone!

Here are my key findings/observations since going part-time in no particular order. I've no idea if these are representative of others but hopefully my experiences are useful to any others like I was, struggling to take the plunge and go part-time.

Work Perspective

1. Firstly, I don't call it part-time at the office, I just refer it as a "four day schedule" with colleagues. I feel "part-time" suggests a slowing down or a shift away from work being the most important thing. While both of these are true (ha!), I don't want that to be the impression I give my employers. I also want to stay engaged and do a good job, so although this is just a low-level detail thing, I do think this description is important as a way of helping me communicate with my bosses and fellow employees.

2. I am generating the same output at four days a week as I was at five days a week. The efficiency comes from having more power to concentrate on my job and decline pointless/corporate fluff activities, such as ridiculous meetings and other such corporate nonsense. I found it quite easy to remove a days worth of corporate fluff from my calendar by providing the justification that I'm not full-time, equating to the same time each week to deliver my actual work. As I enjoy my work and detest the corporate environment, this is a double-win. We love double-wins!

3. I didn't receive one word of congratulations from anyone at work. Some aspire to be a director or something by a certain age. I aspired to remove the need for full-time employment. It is an equivalent achievement in my mind. It's not easy to eliminate the need to work full-time. Reactions were interesting.

4. 90% of people at work thought me going part-time was a worrying event. I.e. Am I ok? Is everything alright? Has the company forced this on you? Interesting.

5. On the downside, I have occasionally had to work additional unpaid hours to keep up. I hope to minimise this going forward.

6. Interestingly, my work feel-good factor as shown in my graph above has stayed horizontal. I'm less stressed but also work isn't the most important part of the week now, so I haven't seen a rise or a fall here. I don't know what this means.

7. I've adapted seamlessly to the lower salary. My take-home pay is largely unchanged which helps, as it is my pre-tax pension contributions that have taken the hit, with the stache now taking some of the strain here. I never think about what I could be earning were I full-time.

Personal Perspective

1. The novelty or honeymoon period is not yet over and I see no end in sight. Every Friday I think to myself, "Woohoo, a three day weekend" and every Monday morning I wake up and think to myself, "Woohoo it's Monday!"

2. The maths is interesting. A four day week is 80% of a full/normal working week. Therefore 20% has been eliminated. Therefore, it should feel like an 80% schedule. However it doesn't. It feels like a 50% schedule. When I added up my Monday's off, weekends and annual leave it comes to roughly half the days of the year. That will explain why it feels like a 50% schedule then!

I think what this is really driving at, is that when working full-time, weekends tend to be life-admin/recovery periods rather than times where we can necessarily thrive. So although a full-time schedule sees work days only accounting for 65% of days of the year, it actually feels like 80-90%.

Therefore dropping down to a four day schedule has given me the feeling I've dropped from 80-90% work to only 50% work. This drop is far more powerful than just losing a single day of work. I'd expect such a feeling if I had dropped to a two or three day working week. The fact that this was achieved by just losing a single day is remarkable, and I still have to pinch myself. That 5:2 working day to weekend split becomes 4:3 instantly. That is a big shift and it feels more substantial in reality, than the logic of looking at those numbers in print.

3. My Mum's mobility has declined rapidly these last couple of years. I'm now able to take her out more and help around her house more. This had become hard maintaining both my home and hers while working full-time.

4. A chunk of the newly gained time-off has been spent on my fitness and I feel a whole load better. Who knew that exercise was healthier than being hunched over a screen all day.


That's everything I can currently think of. I'll remain engaged with this thread as I think it's one of the best one on the entire forum. I appreciate not everyone has the opportunity, or a job that is well-suited, but I do believe that a part-time schedule can eliminate a lot of the worst things about work. It can provide many of the FIRE benefits earlier, reducing sequence of return risk and inflation concerns quite considerably (depending on the stage someone goes part-time at) and allows for a more rounded desirable life-style when compared to slogging all the way straight to FIRE.
« Last Edit: December 23, 2023, 02:09:08 AM by never give up »

Step37

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #347 on: May 03, 2024, 11:22:02 PM »
- why you did it?
Before my current position, I was at a company that was growing very quickly. For the last three to four years of it, almost all I did was work - long days, weekend days (to ďcatch up,Ē which obviously never happened). The culture got toxic and I was burnt out; the company getting sold was the end of the line for me, as I had no loyalty to the new owners. I agreed to go to work for a friend at his one-man operation; he wanted to grow the business, but needed someone to do the books and admin. I agreed, on the condition that I could buy in if I thought it made sense after getting the books in order (seeing the shareholders of the company I left get 80x their investment after eight years may have influenced my desire to want a piece of ownership;).

Being burnt out, I wanted more time off, so I said Iíd only do four days per week. It was enough for the first few years (with some f/t weeks thrown in at busy times), but 2017 got very busy and I was back to f/t and NEVER caught up. I didnít want to work this much and I have no need to work this much.

- what your downshift looks like?
Partway through this year, I hired someone to take over the day-to-day aspects of the business and I immediately got back to four days per week. She is very solid in the position now, and I am CAUGHT UP (an amazing feeling that I never thought Iíd feel again) and ready to reduce down to my goal of half time (two office days and an hour or two from home on the other days). This starts next week. I will have to increase to f/t to cover off holidays, but thatís only a few weeks per year.

- what do you like about it?
I know Iím going to love driving less (itís a 30 minute commute each way, and winter always brings frustrating traffic delays). I will enjoy having more free time to read, do house projects, cook, visit friends/family... whatever I want, really. I have badly wanted this for a long time and I feel a deep sense of satisfaction that itís finally happening.

- what isn't so awesome about it?
Iím a bit worried that I will feel out of the loop, but Iím sure I will get over it!

- what are your plans going forward around downshifting and FIRE?
Assuming this goes well, I think I would be quite happy to be 20-50% time for the next five years at least. I would not want to be a completely uninvolved shareholder, so unless the company gets sold or one of my partners wants to purchase my shares, I will be there in a financial oversight capacity.

The retirement stash is enough now for barebones RE, so working p/t will cover all regular expenses as it grows. My husband is still working for a year or two. The company is also paying dividends which, if it continues to grow as it has, could more than fund our modest lifestyle. Given this, itís possible that we have oversaved, but nothing is guaranteed.

Iíve been wanting to get more involved in my community league and saw that the Treasurer position is open. I emailed about it and I seem to have gotten the (volunteer!) job, so that will take up some of my new free time. Itís a good match for my skill set and Iíll be able to meet some new people who live nearby (not easy to do when one has no children).

UPDATE

Around March/April 2018 the busy season started. I worked some extra days during that time, but have mostly managed to keep it to 3 days per week (2 days per week simply did not happen yet, sadly). I am starting to get a lot of pushback from one of my business partners (the majority shareholder) about working more. Heís not saying it directly, but it feels like he wants me to implement our expansion into a new geographical location. Iíve explained that since I have less than zero enthusiasm for expansion (or working more, period), that itís not me who will be driving this initiative.

This ďscheduleĒ conflict (which is mostly him having terrible work habits and worse organizational skills and thinking my presence in the office will help ó my tasks that Iím responsible for are easily done in 2-3 days per week) is going to end up with me leaving the company, I am quite certain. Provided I can get bought out for fair value of my shares, Iím completely fine with that. I donít think that he will be; it will make for an interesting transition (possibly something for the Epic FU Money thread, but I hope not). The person I hired in July 2017 to take over my everyday tasks is still awesome and I am eternally grateful to her for making my downshift possible.

Iíve gotten more comfortable in the volunteer treasurer role. It turned out to be a bit more work than expected, but after getting past the first year, everything is more familiar and should go more smoothly. The monthly board meetings can be a bit of a drag, but I have met some great people in the community by taking on this role, so I think it is worth it. Itís not forever, either!

Yay! Someone resurrected this thread, which Iíve been wanting to update. In somewhat of a DREAM COME TRUE, my company has agreed to be purchased, and we are in the due diligence phase (one week down of an anticipated four) - this has me working full-time for the next bit, which Iím more than happy to do to facilitate the transaction. The sale talk with the company thatís purchasing us started in early July, so itís a huge relief to finally have things underway. It would take a pretty big disaster to have this transaction not happen, but Iím still offering up a prayer to the universe that all goes through. Itís structured as an earn out, so we will see 1/6 of the price at closing, another 1/6 after a year, 1/3 after two years and the final 1/3 after three years. The agreed (minimum) price has me quadrupling my initial investment (after having received healthy dividends along the way); there is also strong potential to exceed this amount with the way itís structured. While it would be nice to have everything up front, I think the long game could work out extremely well.

As for downshifting . . . The purchaser is aware of my preferred schedule, and actually mentioned to my partner that ďthere may be redundancies in accounting now, so what do you think Step37 will think about that?Ē to which he replied that Iíd be happy to stay on to facilitate whatever transition for as long as they need (accurate). When he told me this, it was presented as good news/bad news (good that we are going to be getting an offer/maybe bad for you, Step37) - I made sure to emphasize that that was ONLY good news! My two partners are the people who are key to the deal (technical knowledge of the industry) - they arenít going to let the earn out fall apart, so I think I might comfortably be able to step away prior to the three years being up. If not, I should at least be able to maintain a p/t schedule, which isnít a bad worst-case scenario. Iím not under any illusions that it will be easy, clear sailing for the next while, but at least there is a reasonable end in sight (with a good payout!).

My husband fully downshifted at the beginning of November, when he received a package from his employer. The timing could not have been better, as he was planning to leave within the next several months anyway. Now heís fully in charge of the cooking and general house stuff, so even if I have to work more for the next while, it will be with so much less stress. Iím beyond grateful for all of the above.

Well. Well, well, well. I havenít posted here in years but have never closed the browser window. I wanted to revisit this post and I cannot believe the date on it - one might think Iíd jinxed myself, but it all worked out in the end. The purchase deal that should have closed in March 2020 of course got put on hold when the world turned upside down that month (a ďpretty big disasterĒ indeed!). Thankfully, it still closed at the end of 2020.

I completed my three-year earnout/contract on Dec. 31/23 and managed to keep it mostly part time (had to hire more help to make this possible and found another fantastic person). Going from a tiny company where you can make any decision to a large corporation would never be easy, but it ended up being mostly tolerable. As far as corporations go, this seems to be a pretty good one. I even stayed on for a bonus five months that wraps up at the end of this month (they tried to get me to stay permanently ó but seriously, I have been wanting to exit for SEVEN years and there is nothing that could make me stay).

It is happening! I am retiring at 50!

Financially, the earnout exceeded my wildest expectations. My husband and I were able to build our ideal, custom home in the neighbourhood we have lived in and loved for 20 plus years. It is fully paid for and the income suite in the basement more than covers taxes, utilities and maintenance. Building the house gave me something to distract me from the grind and look forward to in retirement. I loved the process. We moved in last summer and hedonistic adaptation has yet to set in. Not sure it ever will. Iím going to get into gardening and read more books and just be glad to not worry about work!

My community volunteer role came to an end as well (3 2-year terms is the limit). Sort of crazy how it all ended at once, but I was extremely relieved to see it go in December as Q1 of real work was intense with finalizing the earnout and a full ERP change. I will re-engage with community volunteerism (in a different capacity) now that work is all but done. Itís so strange. Iím really only there to answer questions. Iíve handed off everything and do very little. I guess it offsets the stressful times.

I am beyond grateful for how well this has worked out. I would not have been in such a good position to start with had it not been for all I learned from MMM and this community.

Malossi792

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #348 on: May 04, 2024, 01:39:44 AM »
Thanks for the update! Keep them coming folks, these stories are so inspiring!

Idlewild

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Re: Calling all downshifters!
« Reply #349 on: May 04, 2024, 03:00:41 AM »
Congratulations! I hope you post more about your experience of retirement. :)