Author Topic: Experience with Friends/Family after FIRE  (Read 7711 times)

tat96

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 41
Experience with Friends/Family after FIRE
« on: August 10, 2015, 09:26:05 AM »
I was just wondering if anyone else experienced such strong opposition to FIRE as my wife and I have been receiving from friends and family.

My wife is about 1.5 years away from pulling the plug on full-time work and moving in to part-time.  I have recently had to move due to wife's work but still maintain part time work with the National Guard.  I am about 5 years away from a military pension and my wife will also receive one.  We have a considerable sum of liquid assets and retirement accounts which is why I am so confused as to why my family and friends are so opposed to us working part time (not even fully quitting work!!!).  Note:  I am in my early 30's and she will be in her early 30's at FIRE date.

I am sure some of it is cultural.  My FIL was career military and is a government employee.  My mother is state employee and has had numerous divorces and sporadic work history so I think she is against it because she can't manage her own money, so how on earth could her son do it?  It seems like everyone in the family is obsessed with collecting government pensions and benefits despite the fact they all hate their jobs and overburdened with work, kids, expenses, etc.  I guess a lot of this stems from a fear of uncertainty.  I think they all like the idea of working for the government and suffering through it long enough to be vested and pull a pension.  Like their is some sort of sick dignity/nobility in being miserable as long their is a mediocre paycheck at the end of the long road to unhappiness.

My FIL even told my wife that she would need $3-4 Million in assets before she could even consider retiring because that is how much you need!!  This makes even less sense considering he lives in one of the cheapest cost of living areas of the deeps south!

Has anyone else experienced this?  Is it jealousy or fear?  It seems like nothing we say is getting through and instead of being happy for us we are getting guilt and disappointment.  It doesn't change my plans to FIRE but I am a bit overwhelmed with the negativity.

2Birds1Stone

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4688
  • Age: 31
  • Location: Earth
  • K Thnx Bye
Re: Experience with Friends/Family after FIRE
« Reply #1 on: August 10, 2015, 09:37:27 AM »
I guess it varies by how financially literate your family is. I have spoken with my father who is yet to retire @ 60 about me pulling the plug @ 40 and he completely understands how the math works.

There will always be uncertainty. Just do you =) Once you are FIREd or working part time and getting by just fine, they will hopefully see that it is doable. Maybe your own choice will inspire them to reevaluate their own situations.......

DTaggart

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 266
Re: Experience with Friends/Family after FIRE
« Reply #2 on: August 10, 2015, 09:55:17 AM »
I haven't told my family about our RE plans because I know that my dad will have a serious conniption fit. He, too, thinks you need $3+ million dollars to even think about retiring because he once read an article that said so. I have two older brothers who suck at life and had to have my parents "help" them out financially a lot, so no matter how much money I have in the bank my dad acts like any little thing *I* do is going to bankrupt HIM. Nevermind that I'm 38 and haven't asked him for a cent since I got married 19 years ago :p

I'm not sure what we're going to tell them once we finally pull the plug. I've considered just not telling them, which wouldn't be very hard because they live 500 miles away and would have no idea whether I'm really getting up and going to work every day or not, and as a rule I don't discuss my job with them anyway. The only problem is we plan on a lot of travel once we FIRE and I don't think I could hide that.

I'll probably tell them I'm freelancing or something vague, or maybe that my hubby's photography "business" has taken off.

tat96

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 41
Re: Experience with Friends/Family after FIRE
« Reply #3 on: August 10, 2015, 09:59:49 AM »
I guess it varies by how financially literate your family is. I have spoken with my father who is yet to retire @ 60 about me pulling the plug @ 40 and he completely understands how the math works.

There will always be uncertainty. Just do you =) Once you are FIREd or working part time and getting by just fine, they will hopefully see that it is doable. Maybe your own choice will inspire them to reevaluate their own situations.......

My FIL is fairly financially literate, however; I think he has a serious case of "Keeping up with the Joneses" and expects all his children to outdo all his friends children.  I think this is a case of using your children as pawns to enhance your owns self image.  My mother on the other hand is an absolute catastrophe financially and has declared bankruptcy recently.  I am hoping that my retirement pushes them to reevaluate.

tat96

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 41
Re: Experience with Friends/Family after FIRE
« Reply #4 on: August 10, 2015, 10:14:44 AM »
I have two older brothers who suck at life and had to have my parents "help" them out financially a lot, so no matter how much money I have in the bank my dad acts like any little thing *I* do is going to bankrupt HIM. Nevermind that I'm 38 and haven't asked him for a cent since I got married 19 years ago :p

I'm not sure what we're going to tell them once we finally pull the plug. I've considered just not telling them, which wouldn't be very hard because they live 500 miles away and would have no idea whether I'm really getting up and going to work every day or not, and as a rule I don't discuss my job with them anyway. The only problem is we plan on a lot of travel once we FIRE and I don't think I could hide that.

I'll probably tell them I'm freelancing or something vague, or maybe that my hubby's photography "business" has taken off.

Interesting thoughts!  My wife has two sisters which have required a TON of financial help and job connections from my FIL to get jobs and that may be an underlying fear on their behalf that if we quit work something bad will happen and he will have to "bail" us out like the other girls.  My wife wants to keep our FIRE situation secret/ambiguous but she wants to do like 3-6 month foreign trips every year and I fear that living in the same town and trying to keep the secret will be too much. 

Additionally, my wife's two sisters need a ton of "Economic Outpatient Care" (The Millionaire Next Door) in the way of child sitting and $$ from my MIL and I am afraid if we move back home we are going to be hit up for babysitting and help all the time as we have a lot of "free time".  My sister-in-law just bought a house and had my FIL put up a brand new fence (at his expense) to keep their dog in the backyard.  After all was said and done it turned into a full-blown family affair with all the guys in the family donating their weekends to haul lumber and cement to build a fence. 

I am not against helping family but these sorts of activities are becoming the norm back home.  There isn't a day that goes by where my SIL is not dropping her kids off with her mother while she takes a 3-4 day vacation or asking for large multi-day labor intensive favors from all the guys in the family.  The youngest daughter is trying to have a baby now and I don't want to step in the middle of a situation with 4-6 infants/toddlers and being the "go-to" person when someone needs a favor.

I guess I am a little worried that my free time will be taken advantage of by time "poor" people.  My own family has taken advantage of me in the past and I don't want all of my frugality and hardwork to be taken advantage of.  I don't honestly feel like I am being selfish however, I fear that is how it will be viewed.

DTaggart

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 266
Re: Experience with Friends/Family after FIRE
« Reply #5 on: August 10, 2015, 10:58:43 AM »
Additionally, my wife's two sisters need a ton of "Economic Outpatient Care" (The Millionaire Next Door) in the way of child sitting and $$ from my MIL and I am afraid if we move back home we are going to be hit up for babysitting and help all the time as we have a lot of "free time".  My sister-in-law just bought a house and had my FIL put up a brand new fence (at his expense) to keep their dog in the backyard.  After all was said and done it turned into a full-blown family affair with all the guys in the family donating their weekends to haul lumber and cement to build a fence. 

I am not against helping family but these sorts of activities are becoming the norm back home.  There isn't a day that goes by where my SIL is not dropping her kids off with her mother while she takes a 3-4 day vacation or asking for large multi-day labor intensive favors from all the guys in the family.  The youngest daughter is trying to have a baby now and I don't want to step in the middle of a situation with 4-6 infants/toddlers and being the "go-to" person when someone needs a favor.

I guess I am a little worried that my free time will be taken advantage of by time "poor" people.  My own family has taken advantage of me in the past and I don't want all of my frugality and hardwork to be taken advantage of.  I don't honestly feel like I am being selfish however, I fear that is how it will be viewed.

Those sound like pretty legitimate concerns. Both my brothers have kids and get plenty of free babysitting from my parents. Both my SILs have had some medical issues over the years, requiring my mom to go over and stay several days to help with the kids and house, etc. And if anyone's car needs to go in for service, of course mom & dad are happy to loan out one of their cars because a family can't possibly survive 2 days without 2 functional cars. Computer issues? Call dad - he'll fix it or give you a new one. Need to install sprinklers or a new water heater? Mom and dad know how to do that!

I agree that its great if family can help you out through a tough spot every now and then, but at some point its no longer help but complete and utter dependence. I'm actually quite thankful I ended up as far away from the family as I did, I think it forced me to grow up and take care of myself and is likely part of the reason I'm looking at FIRE and my brothers are... well, not.

okits

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 7712
  • Location: Canada
Re: Experience with Friends/Family after FIRE
« Reply #6 on: August 10, 2015, 11:13:09 AM »
I have two older brothers who suck at life and had to have my parents "help" them out financially a lot, so no matter how much money I have in the bank my dad acts like any little thing *I* do is going to bankrupt HIM. Nevermind that I'm 38 and haven't asked him for a cent since I got married 19 years ago :p

I'm not sure what we're going to tell them once we finally pull the plug. I've considered just not telling them, which wouldn't be very hard because they live 500 miles away and would have no idea whether I'm really getting up and going to work every day or not, and as a rule I don't discuss my job with them anyway. The only problem is we plan on a lot of travel once we FIRE and I don't think I could hide that.

I'll probably tell them I'm freelancing or something vague, or maybe that my hubby's photography "business" has taken off.

Interesting thoughts!  My wife has two sisters which have required a TON of financial help and job connections from my FIL to get jobs and that may be an underlying fear on their behalf that if we quit work something bad will happen and he will have to "bail" us out like the other girls.  My wife wants to keep our FIRE situation secret/ambiguous but she wants to do like 3-6 month foreign trips every year and I fear that living in the same town and trying to keep the secret will be too much. 

Additionally, my wife's two sisters need a ton of "Economic Outpatient Care" (The Millionaire Next Door) in the way of child sitting and $$ from my MIL and I am afraid if we move back home we are going to be hit up for babysitting and help all the time as we have a lot of "free time".  My sister-in-law just bought a house and had my FIL put up a brand new fence (at his expense) to keep their dog in the backyard.  After all was said and done it turned into a full-blown family affair with all the guys in the family donating their weekends to haul lumber and cement to build a fence. 

I am not against helping family but these sorts of activities are becoming the norm back home.  There isn't a day that goes by where my SIL is not dropping her kids off with her mother while she takes a 3-4 day vacation or asking for large multi-day labor intensive favors from all the guys in the family.  The youngest daughter is trying to have a baby now and I don't want to step in the middle of a situation with 4-6 infants/toddlers and being the "go-to" person when someone needs a favor.

I guess I am a little worried that my free time will be taken advantage of by time "poor" people.  My own family has taken advantage of me in the past and I don't want all of my frugality and hardwork to be taken advantage of.  I don't honestly feel like I am being selfish however, I fear that is how it will be viewed.

Dude, do not live close to your wife's family.  Tell your wife it's so you can hide your ER better (pretend your vacations are six month job/contract postings, or be away entirely but not mention it.) But I totally get why you don't want to be unpaid labour for spendthrift family, or for them to feel entitled to your time or help.

If you can't avoid them, start every conversation with, "I'm so glad you called/we ran into you!  I was going to call to ask you to help us <insert huge, unpleasant chore>!  Can we count on you for the next three weekends?" See if you can train them to avoid you!  ;)

Edit: you could also start every conversation with pressure for them to lend you money. Or, lend them a few hundred bucks and have them avoid you indefinitely rather than repay!

Cassie

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4564
Re: Experience with Friends/Family after FIRE
« Reply #7 on: August 10, 2015, 11:20:38 AM »
I don't think in that situation that I would move to the same town. I would just tell everyone you consult & work from home.

Spiffsome

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 202
Re: Experience with Friends/Family after FIRE
« Reply #8 on: August 10, 2015, 07:30:33 PM »
I don't think in that situation that I would move to the same town. I would just tell everyone you consult & work from home.

This. My mother-in-law retired last year at a normal age, and now she's spending her retirement raising her granddaughter. I absolutely will not live in the same town as her family.

Jon_Snow

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4509
  • Location: An Island in the Salish Sea (or Baja)
  • Red breasted nuthatch and N. Flicker whisperer...
Re: Experience with Friends/Family after FIRE
« Reply #9 on: August 10, 2015, 07:39:50 PM »
Very recently I have spent some extended time with some family at my FIRE-place (aka Jon_Snow's island). I think the lightbulb went on for quite a few of them. When the extended family got wind of my decision to walk away from a six-figure job almost a year ago now there was quite a bit of puzzlement and a fair bit of scorn.

After seeing what my days consist of now...it is amazing to see the difference in the attitude towards my decision. I suspected this might be the case. Unfortunately for most of them, even if they wanted to "follow in my footsteps", it is probably much too late. Big, big, mortgage debt seems to be the norm - as is the case for much of Vancouver's homeowners.

Pika

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 7
Re: Experience with Friends/Family after FIRE
« Reply #10 on: August 24, 2015, 02:15:44 PM »
Yep, the resistance you are getting is pretty common, unfortunately.  Pursuing financial independence in a real way (not the token way most people do) and especially early retirement is a subversive act in our culture.  My mom supported my decision, but still doesn't understand it.  My father has only now gotten on board after I walked him through our financial position in detail.  These are both very financially educated people, but the whole concept was foreign to them.

What is even more interesting is how your friends and coworkers will react.   Misery loves company, and some people will get upset that you aren't sticking around.  Not only that, your departure sends the message that there is a different way of living.  This may be a deeply disturbing notion to folks that have for years told themselves that there is no alternative to the standard lifestyle for "normal" people.  Another bunch will get it, and be supportive of you.  They will tell you they wish that they were in your shoes, but that they just can't do it themselves. Interestingly, no one will ask you what steps you took to have this freedom in the first place.

Only maybe 5% of the population actually gets that the concept of early retirement is a real option - it could be even lower.  That means only one in twenty people that you talk to will actually understand you - that is about the ratio that I have seen to date.  Talking to the rest about your financial position will only make you feel uncomfortable and doubt yourself.  Don't try and tell people the steps that you took to have the freedom that you have, and get them to come over to your way of thinking.  If you got in great physical shape while a friend of yours put on more pounds, would he appreciate hearing from you how you did it?  I don't think so. 

Good luck.

Exflyboy

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5641
  • Age: 57
  • Location: Corvallis, Oregon
  • Expat Brit living in the New World..:)
Re: Experience with Friends/Family after FIRE
« Reply #11 on: August 25, 2015, 12:11:32 AM »
I definitely resonate with the "How can my Son possibly know what he's doing deal.

I am a professional engineer, I have built 2 airplanes, I taught aerobatic flying, I fly on instruments, I have rebuilt several cars and I have 30 years of experience in a wide range of engineering disciplines.

If I ever express an opinion (even one I am clearly expert in) to my Parents I am promptly ignored.. Blatantly!

I am continuously told how "brilliant" my Niece and nephew are.. The Grandkid thing. The fact I am the only one in our extended family with a higher education is somehow kind of irrelevant... Incidently the Grandkids are indeed very smart..:)

Now I am FI they look at me as though I'm some kind of idiot.. and then change the subject.

Its a very odd relationship I have with my family.

firedup

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 40
Re: Experience with Friends/Family after FIRE
« Reply #12 on: August 28, 2015, 01:55:47 AM »
I am getting the same from people. A couple weeks ago we were at an in-law family function and I had to tell one person after another that I was no longer at my job. So then that led to so where are you now? All ears and eyes on me. I finally resorted to saying that I wasn't sure what I was going to do; find another job, or maybe go back to school. Then someone asked hubby how I was getting us insurance etc. No-one said a word when he retired 5 years ago and I kept working. It was ok when they thought I was paying the bills and supporting him. That's all we have heard is she can't retire, she's not old enough (translation or smart enough). I'm the same age as hubby when he got done. My sister is so hateful every time I talk to her. Her seething jealousy that I am not working is unbelievable. I worked for 35 years. ARGH!

G-dog

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 12111
Re: Experience with Friends/Family after FIRE
« Reply #13 on: August 28, 2015, 08:35:27 AM »
Interestingly, no one will ask you what steps you took to have this freedom in the first place.

Oh, lightbulb moment ^^^^

I hadn't noticed this. I retired July 2 - while I got a lot of congratulations / I am jealous comments, I never realized that not one person asked how I could do this.

I think they just assumed that I have very special circumstances - we are DINKs, my husband will continue to work, etc., etc. And therefore, they are correct in believing that they cannot do this too. I've given many people the basic rundown, they just shake their heads, probably thinking I am some poor deluded fool.

HAH! The joke is on them as I enjoy my freedom and they self-impose their own slavery.

Cookie78

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1858
  • Location: Canada
    • Cookie's Goals
Re: Experience with Friends/Family after FIRE
« Reply #14 on: August 28, 2015, 09:22:07 AM »
I am getting the same from people. A couple weeks ago we were at an in-law family function and I had to tell one person after another that I was no longer at my job. So then that led to so where are you now? All ears and eyes on me. I finally resorted to saying that I wasn't sure what I was going to do; find another job, or maybe go back to school. Then someone asked hubby how I was getting us insurance etc. No-one said a word when he retired 5 years ago and I kept working. It was ok when they thought I was paying the bills and supporting him. That's all we have heard is she can't retire, she's not old enough (translation or smart enough). I'm the same age as hubby when he got done. My sister is so hateful every time I talk to her. Her seething jealousy that I am not working is unbelievable. I worked for 35 years. ARGH!

That really sucks.

My suggestion would be to have a confident and sure answer to the questions for when they come up. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but when I read "I finally resorted to saying that I wasn't sure what I was going to do; find another job, or maybe go back to school." I read it as almost apologetic and insecure. You and I both know that's not the case. You are on this forum and I can safely assume you've planned and worked your ass off for this moment. You kick ass. Perhaps if you answer their questions like you know what you are doing (even if you don't know the details) there would be less responses with the words 'You can't'.

I can picture myself in some cases with wishy-washy answers when I FIRE too. I'll need to be aware of that. Luckily, not with my immediate family or most of my extended family. Default go to answer: Whatever I want to do!

Cassie

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4564
Re: Experience with Friends/Family after FIRE
« Reply #15 on: August 28, 2015, 10:13:59 AM »
I would just say that we saved so we could retire early. WE value that over stuff. Some of our friends were happy for us & some were not. Eventually I dumped the ones that were not when it was obvious it was not going to work. It is much harder to dump family:))  While we were downsizing friends that were in late 60's & still working were building new 3,000 sq ft home.  They act like they will be able to work forever. Of course they have a big mortgage to go along with big home.

Shinplaster

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1287
  • Location: up in Canada complaining about the weather
Re: Experience with Friends/Family after FIRE
« Reply #16 on: August 28, 2015, 12:26:03 PM »
My family is no problem.  Everyone is very frugal, good with money, and has retirement covered.  On hubby's side, we just don't talk about it.  MIL has been trying to convince him to pay for a $4500/month seniors home for her - yeah, that's not going to happen!  She isn't destitute, but thinks because we retired before the magic age of 65, we must be rolling in it, and therefore should share.  Sigh.  Not the first time she's hit us up, but the Bank of Oldest Son is now closed.

Oh, those friends and former co-workers.  I think if one more person tells us how "lucky" we are to be able to retire (and not all that early even) I will scream.  Pika is correct - not one of them has asked how we did it, or if we could show them what we did so they can do it too.  For most of them, it's way too late anyway.  Their assumption seems to be that somehow the gods have smiled on us, and thrown pots of money at us, 'cause you know, magic.  While we were scrimping and saving, those same people would sneer that we didn't have a fancy car, or weren't going on $20,000 vacations, and didn't eat out every night.

Hubby has just started replying, "not lucky, just smart".  And then he walks away.  I think I'm going to do the same.

Financial.Velociraptor

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1310
  • Age: 46
  • Location: Houston TX
  • Devour your prey raptors!
    • Financial Velociraptor
Re: Experience with Friends/Family after FIRE
« Reply #17 on: August 28, 2015, 03:08:03 PM »
Almost 3 years into FIRE and I still have people I tell, "I work from home these days."  Which is only technically true because managing my finances and writing my blog only takes up about 3 hours a week.  It's become less of "i don't want the hassle of friction" and more a matter of "none their business" though.  I mean really, people didn't ask how I paid the bills or afforded healthcare before (and it would be enormously rude if they did) but now suddenly everyone is allowed up in my business?  Not if we aren't that close you aren't.

RetiredAt63

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 9445
  • Location: Eastern Ontario, Canada
Re: Experience with Friends/Family after FIRE
« Reply #18 on: September 15, 2015, 12:38:57 PM »
 I didn't retire early (by Forum standards) so can't help there.  However, being busy really helps.  Age is irrelevant at times, once you are retired people think you have masses of free time to do whatever.  I am as busy as I want to be right now, I have been saying "no" a lot lately.

Re the baby-sitting, my Mom made it clear to me that she would not be an on-call baby-sitter, and the fact she lived in a different city didn't hurt.  I have done the same with my (so far single and childless) DD.  My neighbour, OTOH, has been doing major baby-sitting for her grandson this summer while her DD gets lots of extra over-time. Neighbour is exhausted, has neglected the garden she loves, she is close to 70 and her husband has health issues.  Because of that and a bunch of little things, I just gave her my "you need better boundaries" talk.  She knows she has lousy boundaries where her daughter and sister are concerned.  She hears it from her husband, now she has heard it from me.  Oh, I also give me the "boundaries" talk, I need to hear it too.

So, boundaries - and remember, "no" is a complete sentence.  Thank you, Selfish knitters and crocheters group on Ravelry.  Really, if we let people overstep our boundaries (or don't make them clear in the first place) we start to really resent them, and relationships suffer.  Better to never let things get that bad.

Cassie

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4564
Re: Experience with Friends/Family after FIRE
« Reply #19 on: September 16, 2015, 03:56:20 PM »
Being a door mat is never good for anyone. When we first retired some of our younger friends kept asking us to do things like take their dogs to vet, run errands, etc because we had the time. I did for awhile but then resented it so learned how to say nope.